Saturday, December 5, 2015

Prime and Pump for Back and Triceps



Grow Dragon-like Wings and Torch the Three-headed Monster

by Jared Smith

The Massive Back and Triceps of Dorian Yates

I recall the first time I ever stepped foot in a gym. I saw a man—who would later become one of my mentors—standing in front of the mirror sporting a stringer tank, with a back that looked wide enough to project a movie upon, and thick enough to cushion a fall from a ten-story building.  From that point on, I knew that in order to really look powerful and “swole”, I had to pack on plenty of back beef!
      In addition to having an impressive back, his triceps were monstrous. I had never seen someone standing relaxed that looked so impressive. I remember seeing the veins snaking up the long head of his triceps, and being in awe of the density they displayed. That image stuck with me—and has inspired me ever since: from the first set of barbell rows to the last set of skull crushers. Inspiration is great, but how do we sculpt such gnarly-looking muscle ourselves? A combination of gut busting intensity and laser-like focus! 
If you’ve read the previous installments of Prime and Pump, you know that I am a huge advocate of using the pump from one muscle to enhance the "hammering" of another without wear and tear on the joints. You might, however, be wondering why I choose to pair triceps with back. For starters, training the triceps with the chest or shoulders can sometimes tax the elbows too much. That is not to say that it can’t be done, but, rather, that one must minimize the amount of pounding the joint takes in a given workout. Another reason is getting more "bang for your buck". The pullover actually activates the long head of the triceps more than any other movement. If you take a look at pics of Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates in their heydays, you’ll notice that they had tremendous triceps, and both were advocates of the pullover. The third reason for pairing these groups together is due to the position one must get into for the triceps to be fully contracted. Until the arm is behind the torso, it is not in the fully contracted position. With that said, many movements that will put thickness on the mid-back require that the arms travel in that direction, and that the elbows come as far back as possible. Finally, the last reason will appeal to all those who love lifting heavy: You will NEVER have a big bench if your triceps, lats, and traps are small or weak! Without a dense upper back, to support the weight, how would one expect to squat a ton? The back is the foundation from which the beast is built! 
The Nuts and Bolts
We will start this torture session with a superset of straight arm pulldowns with tricep pushdowns. Keep the reps here between fifteen and twenty for both. At the top of the straight arm pulldowns, "depress" your shoulders by attempting to pull your scapula to your waist. This won’t happen, obviously, but it will cause you to initiate the exercise with your lats. Squeeze these at the bottom for a two-count before ascending. For tricep pushdowns, keep your elbows crammed into your sides as tight as you can get them, and, if at all possible, use a rope attachment and spread it apart at the bottom. If you are lucky enough to have two ropes available, then pull both of them to the end, letting the rubber ends catch at the base of the handle and attach them both to the same cable station. This will allow you to extend past your torso and thighs, allowing your triceps to be in a fully-contracted position. Make sure that you are standing far enough away from the cable station that the cable itself creates a 90 degree angle. This will keep optimal tension on the cable, making the contracted position even harder. After cranking out three rounds of this superset, it is time to move on. 
Next up, we have another superset. This time we pair up straight-arm dumbbell pullovers with skull crushers. When performing pullovers, make sure to depress the shoulders before starting the positive portion of the lift. We ALWAYS want to initiate an exercise with the target muscle. Keep the tempo consistent and "piston-like", only pausing long enough in the stretch position to depress your shoulders and squeeze the lats. When you dive into the skull crushers, do not come down to the forehead. Lower the bar to the crown of the skull, and press back as if you’re trying to touch the wall behind you. This will keep the tension on the triceps! Keep the reps here between twelve and fifteen. After three rounds, it is once again time to move on to the next round of brutality.
For this round, we will go with a “meat and potatoes” combination. Good, old-fashioned barbell rows and close-grip bench presses. You should be pumped to hell and back at this point, so we will drop the reps. Shoot for six to eight on both, with a slow tempo of 3/0/1. By this point, there should be so much blood in your triceps that you have to put on some serious weight to even get the weight down to your chest.  Your lats should be swollen to the point that getting your elbows back far enough will be a task! After three rounds, it will be time to polish the entire workout off.
Here comes the hard part. This will test your mettle and call upon any remaining fibers that haven’t already been thoroughly activated and "fried". We will superset dips with deadlifts. Yes, you read that correctly! By now, you shouldn’t have to add weight to the dips, just crank them out until you fail! Keep as upright as possible, and initiate with the triceps. You can’t eliminate chest involvement, but make sure that your triceps take the brunt of the load. The deadlifts should be initiated by engaging the lats. Grab hold of the bar, and shove your elbows in and back, squeezing your lats. Lower the bar slowly, and come to a complete stop at the end of each rep, and reset. Shoot for six to eight reps on deads. After three rounds, it is time to call it a day! 
At the end of this session, your back should feel thrashed from top to bottom. All three heads of the triceps should be begging for mercy! Is it rough? Of course! Nothing worth having comes easy. Perform this workout once a week, and make sure you are eating enough to feed a small nation!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

X-Factor Arm Training



Little Known Training Routines for Massively Muscled Arms
 
Arnold shows off his "guns" at their most massive!
     The “x-factors” are those little-known training programs that not many people even know about, let alone actually do.  But for the bodybuilders who do perform these workouts, there can be little doubt: these are the best programs in existence, capable of transforming physiques, and turning proverbial 98-pound weaklings into the big boys of the beach.
     For this installment of “x-factor” training, I thought I would turn my hypertrophy-inducing beacon of light on every bodybuilder’s favorite bodypart(s): the arms.  So if you’re prepared to go down the rabbit hole, to swallow Morpheus’s red pill and enter an arm-training world that you thought only existed on some quantum paradoxical alternate universe, read on.  (And prepare to put inches on your arms as never before.)
Arm Training Specifics
     Despite the fact that this article contains some routines where the “rules” go out the window, arm training is unique compared to other bodyparts.  Let’s first look at what I consider the 2 “specifics” of arm training.  Once you understand—and accept—these specifics it might be a little easier for your eyes (and your mind) to adjust to this new world of mass-building.  Here goes:
  1. Central nervous system (CNS) fatigue is very low with arm training.  If your central nervous system has not recovered from the effects of your training, then it doesn’t matter if your muscles have recovered.  Some research suggests that the nervous system takes more than twice as long than the muscles to recover from a workout.  This means that if a workout session is too intense, your muscle fibers will have recovered before your central nervous system.  The problem this presents is that if your workout is too hard, your muscles could begin to atrophy before your CNS has recovered.  In other words, you could both undertrain and overtrain at the same time—not good.  The good news, however, is that CNS fatigue is very low when training either your biceps or your triceps.  In layman terms, all of this means that you can train your arms very hard—lots of intensity techniques like drop sets, tri-sets, and giant sets—and still be able to recover from the CNS damage before your next workout.
  2. Arms don’t require a lot of exercises for full development.  Just because you are capable of using a lot of sets and a lot of intensity techniques when training your arms, this doesn’t mean that you have to perform a lot of exercises.  Unlike muscles such as the chest and the back—which require “hitting” the muscles from 3 or 4 different angles for full development—you can develop huge biceps and triceps from just one or two exercises per muscle group.  Now, keep in mind from our first “specific” that you can certainly train your arms with multiple exercises if you so wish.  There’s no reason that your arms can’t recover from the damage—it just means that multiple exercises aren’t necessary for full growth and development to occur.
The X-Factor Programs
     Now that we have our 2 specifics covered, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts, the nitty-gritty of why you’re reading this article: the actual workout routines.
     Before we begin, keep this in mind: all three of the programs that follow are meant to be used during a period of training when your sole focus is to make your arms as large as humanly possible.  Do not attempt to train the rest of your body with even close to the same intensity.  Don’t get me wrong, you still need a good staple of squats, benches, chins, and deadlifts while performing these arm-training routines, but you shouldn’t be going overboard.  (The first program incorporates the entire body, and gives you a good idea of the kind of training you need to do for bodyparts other than your arms on the last two routines.)
     With that in mind, let the games begin:
High-Volume, Heavy/Light/Medium Training
     If you have read any of my articles in the past, then you know might know that I favor the heavy/light/medium system of full-body training.  Well, here’s an arm-training version of the same thing—with a twist, of course.  This program has you training six days per week.  Three days will be devoted toward training the chest, back, and legs (with a minimum number of exercises) and the other three days will be devoted toward arm training.  The other twist is that the arm training days will be high-volume—plenty of sets for a massive pump and massive growth.
     Here’s what the program for a week of training should look like:
Day One—Heavy Full Body
1. Squats: 5 progressively heavier sets of 5 reps.  Only the last set should approach muscular failure.
2. Bench Presses: 5 progressively heavier sets of 5 reps.
3. Chins: 3 sets of close-to-max reps, using bodyweight only.
Day Two—Heavy Arm Training
1. Barbell Curls:  8 progressively heavier sets of 3 reps.  Take your time working up over 8 sets to a max triple.
2. Weighted Dips: 8 progressively heavier sets of 3 reps.  As with the barbell curls, take your time working up to a max triple.
3. Barbell Curls: 5 sets of 10 reps.  For these, use the same weight on all 5 sets.  The first couple of sets should be tough; the last three sets should be damn near impossible to get all 10 reps.
4. Skullcrushers: 5 sets of 10 reps.  Use the same set/rep format as the barbell curls above.
5. Barbell Curls: 2 sets of 25 reps.  Now, it’s time for some real torture.  Despite the fact that your arms—at this point—should be pumped and full, you will do both of these sets to muscular failure.  The 25 reps is just a guideline; if it takes more reps to reach failure, do it!
6. Skullcrushers: 2 sets of 25 reps.  Do these the same as the barbell curls.
Day Three—Light Full Body
1. Squats: 5 sets of 5 reps.  Work up to a weight that is approximately 80% of the max weight performed on Day One.
2. Standing Military Presses: 5 progressively heavier sets of 5 reps.
Day Four—Light Arm Training
1. Barbell Curls: 5 progressively heavier sets of 5 reps.  The last set should be hard, but you should still have something “in the tank” when you are finished.
2. Bench Dips: 4 sets of max reps.  This is an exercise that you can train hard, and it still doesn’t take its toll on your recovery system.
Day Five—Medium Full Body
1. Squats: 5 progressively heavier sets of 5 reps.  Work up to a weight that is 90% of what was used on Day One.
2. Bench Presses: 5 progressively heavier sets of 5 reps.  Work up to a weight that is 90% of what was used on Day One.
Day Six—Medium Arm Training
1. Barbell Curls: 8 progressively heavier sets of 3 reps.  Take your time working up to a set that is approximately 95% of what was used on Day Two’s triples.
2. Skullcrushers: 8 progressively heavier sets of 3 reps.  Take your time working up over 8 sets of a max triple.
3. Dumbbell Curls: 5 sets of 10 reps (each arm).  Use the same weight for all 5 sets.  The last few sets should be “all-out.”
4. Dips: 5 sets of max reps.  Using your bodyweight only, do 5 sets of the maximum number of reps you can perform.
The almost-forgotten Joe Bucci still has some of the best arms in bodybuilding history.

Smolov-Style Power Training
     Former Soviet strength coach S.Y. Smolov must have been one sick commie because he created some of the most hellish squat routines imaginable.  But here’s the thing: if you were capable of making it through his programs—actually man enough to do the hard work required—then you came out of them with bigger legs and stronger squats than ever before.
     Enter Smolov-style arm training.  Make it through the program below, and I can guaran-friggin-tee that your arms will be bigger—not to mention stronger—than they have ever been in your life.
     Follow the program below without deviating.  The first week, there is a chance that you will want to quit because of how sore your muscles are; don’t worry about it.  Your body will adjust to the new workload after a week to a week and a half of training.
Week One
Monday
1. Barbell Curls: 70% (of one rep maximum) for 4 sets of 10 reps.  Don’t worry if the percentage you use isn’t exact, but it should be close.
2. Weighted Dips: 70% (of one rep maximum) for 4 sets of 10 reps.
Wednesday
1. Barbell Curls: 75% for 5 sets of 7 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 75% for 5 sets of 7 reps.
Friday
1. Barbell Curls: 80% for 7 sets of 5 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 80% for 7 sets of 5 reps.
Saturday
1. Barbell Curls: 85% for 10 sets of 3 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 85% for 10 sets of 3 reps.
Week Two
Monday
1. Barbell Curls: 70% (plus 10 pounds) for 4 sets of 10 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 70% (plus 10 pounds) for 4 sets of 10 reps.
Wednesday
1. Barbell Curls: 75% (plus 10 pounds) for 5 sets of 7 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 75% (plus 10 pounds) for 5 sets of 7 reps.
Friday
1. Barbell Curls: 80% (plus 10 pounds) for 7 sets of 5 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 80% (plus 10 pounds) for 7 sets of 5 reps.
Saturday
1. Barbell Curls: 85% (plus 10 pounds) for 10 sets of 3 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 85% (plus 10 pounds) for 10 sets of 3 reps.
Week Three
Monday
1. Barbell Curls: 70% (plus 15 pounds) for 4 sets of 10 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 70% (plus 15 pounds) for 4 sets of 10 reps.
Wednesday
1. Barbell Curls: 75% (plus 15 pounds) for 5 sets of 7 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 75% (plus 15 pounds) for 5 sets of 7 reps.
Friday
1. Barbell Curls: 80% (plus 15 pounds) for 7 sets of 5 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 80% (plus 15 pounds) for 7 sets of 5 reps.
Saturday
1. Barbell Curls: 85% (plus 15 pounds) for 10 sets of 3 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: 85% (plus 15 pounds) for 10 sets of 3 reps.
Week Four
Monday
Rest
Wednesday
Rest
Friday
Barbell Curls: Work up over progressively heavier sets to a max single.
Saturday
Weighted Dips: Work up over progressively heavier sets to a max single.
     Once the four weeks are finished, perform a week of “active recovery” training.  During this week, train 2 to 3 days, using a full-body program.  Perform 3 to 5 exercises per workout for 3 to 5 sets on each exercise.  Don’t take any of these sets to failure.
     Following the “active recovery” week, return to another four-week block of Smolov training.  Be sure to calculate your new one-rep maximum percentages based on your numbers on the Friday and Saturday of your fourth week of training.
The Fantastic Four
     As with the Smolov workout, this program has you training your arms 4 days per week.  Unlike the Smolov plan, you are going to rotate exercises and repetition ranges at each session.
     Before we get to the actual program, here is an outline of what is involved:
  • Workout One will be devoted toward high-set, low-rep, heavy weight training.  This will develop maximum strength, as well as tap into your fastest-twitch muscle fibers.
  • Workout Two will be devoted toward endurance training.  You will perform only a couple of sets of each exercise for 30 to 40 reps.
  • Workout Three is strictly for hypertrophy.  Here, you will use a standard 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps regimen.
  • Workout Four is for “speed” training using explosive reps.  You will perform 10 sets of 3 reps.
     Below is an example of what one-week of training should look like:
Monday—Maximum Weights, Maximum Sets
1. Barbell Curls: Using 90% of your one-rep maximum, perform 8 sets of 2 reps.
2. Weighted Dips: Using 90% of your one-rep maximum, perform 8 sets of 2 reps.
Tuesday—Muscular Endurance
1. Cable Curls: 2 sets of 30 to 40 reps.  For these, use a light weight where you wouldn’t reach failure until approximately the 50th rep.
2. Bench Dips: 2 sets of 30 to 40 reps.  Use your bodyweight only on this exercise.  Be sure that you are not pushing it to your limit.
Thursday—Hypertrophy Only
1. Dumbbell Curls: 4 sets of 6 reps.  Use a weight that would allow for approximately an 8-rep maximum.
2. Skullcrushers: 4 sets of 8 reps.  Use a weight that would allow for approximately a 10-rep maximum.
Saturday—Speed Training
1. Barbell Curls: Using approximately 65% of your one-rep maximum, perform 10 sets of 3 reps.  Every rep should be as fast and “explosive” as possible, while maintaining as strict form as possible.
2. Close-Grip Bench Presses: Using approximately 65% of your one-rep maximum, perform 10 sets of 3 reps.  Every rep should be as fast and “explosive” as possible, while maintaining as strict form as possible.
     Perform this program for 3 weeks straight before taking a “down” week.  On the down week, perform the same workout but cut the poundages used in half.  This will aid recovery, and will prepare you for whatever program you decide to perform next.
Other Factors
     None of these programs are fat-loss workouts.  Make sure that you’re consuming plenty of protein, carbs, and fat.  In fact, go ahead and eat everything in sight.  (If you need to lose a lot of bodyfat, you should probably be on another program anyway.)  Consume at least a gram of protein per-pound-of-bodyweight daily.  Consume at least 15 times your bodyweight in calories every day.
     Be sure to get adequate sleep.  No less than 8 hours every night should suffice.  Any less and you’ll be inhibiting your recovery ability.
     Another important factor is water.  I recommend you drink your bodyweight in ounces on a daily basis.  This also aids your recovery ability and keeps your muscles “fuller” than if you don’t drink this much H2O.
Closing Thoughts
     Give all of these routines an honest try.  You don’t have to do them all back to back.  For instance, you might want to follow the heavy-light-medium program for 4 weeks, then switch over to more of an over-all mass building program for 4 weeks.  After that, you could switch to 4 weeks of Smolov-style arm training, before once again switching over to another program for 4 weeks.
     Good luck and good training.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Prime and Pump Leg Training


PRIME time for sliced Hams and PUMPED quads!

by Jared Smith


How a person trains can tell you a lot about that person. There are always the guys and gals who only train the “beach” muscles and seldom pay attention to the really important things such as legs and back. You can also tell when someone has spent too much time doing the “more bang for your buck” movements without properly preparing themselves for it. I have fallen victim to the same thing in the past. I was so excited to get under the bar that I all but ignored the preparation aspect of training, and, after a while, I started feeling the effects. I have no intention of being that old man who still packs a little muscle, yet can hardly get off the toilet without the joints sounding like someone pouring milk over a bowl of Rice Crispies! There is a way to keep pounding at the king of all exercises while preserving your knees and hips—and I will show you how.
If you have read the previous installments of Prime and Pump, you know that I am an advocate of pumping  antagonistic muscles to get the connective tissues pliable and ready to train hard. With leg training it is no different. We will start our session by getting those knees and hips ready for the assault in the squat rack. The first exercise will be lying leg curls. These will be done in two different variations. The first three sets will be done with a "piston-like" cadence while you elevate your torso off the pad, thus putting your hips in a slight position of extension. Perform three sets of these for 10-12 reps. At the top of each rep, you will feel a slight tug at the very top of your thigh, and that’s exactly what you want. The next three sets will be done in the "traditional style", keeping your torso on the pad and trying to push your hips through the apparatus as you curl upward. Lower the weight slowly and squeeze at the top for a count of two. After your third set of 8 reps, it is time to move on. 
One often-overlooked and neglected preparatory measure is making sure that the calves are limber enough to allow for one to keep his or her heels glued to the floor when squatting. We will accomplish this while simultaneously prepping our lower backs for the squat. Start by placing two ten-pound plates on the floor, at around shoulder-width. We will use these to elevate our toes and perform straight-leg deadlifts. By elevating the toes, you will place the calves under a stretch, and semi-stretch the hamstrings, thus recruiting them more than with the traditional version. Make sure that you descend slowly, and initiate the concentric by contracting your hamstrings. The descent should be deliberate, and you should attempt to touch your backside to the wall behind you. Push back with your hips, then push through with them. This will really get your hamstrings "firing", and your lower back should be warm and ready to go after three sets of 10-12 reps.
Now we are ready to get down to business! After a couple of warm up sets to get the nervous system kicking in, we will pound out four sets of squats. Imagine trying to pull yourself to the floor with your hamstrings. This will  keep your descent slow and controlled. The concentric shouldn’t be explosive. We are trying to squeeze the muscle as if it owes us money, even though it's a compound movement. We are after hypertrophy, pure and simple. After four sets of 8-10 with only a minute of rest between sets, you should feel pumped.
Next up, we have leg presses. If you think that since squatting is done the hard part is over, you are very sadly mistaken. We will do seven “doubles” as I call them. (These will be far less enjoyable than a double you would order from the local bar tender.) The first half of each set will be done with a narrow stance for ten reps, the second half will be done with a wide stance for another ten. We are essentially cramming 14 sets into a very short period of time. Rest only 40 seconds between each double, and keep the tempo smooth and piston-like, with no stops at the bottom or top of the movement. 
Next on the agenda will be drop-set leg extensions. These will not be the traditional drop sets you might be used to. These will be mechanical drop sets. This means we will do a more difficult version of the lift first, then, keeping the weight the same, we shift our “mechanical” advantage and continue repping out. The first part of the set will be done with your chest held up high, and a slight forward lean off the back pad, allowing your torso to be at exactly 90 degrees to the thigh, thus shortening the quad from both the hip and the knee. When you reach failure, lean back against the pad which will place the muscle in the midrange where it is strongest. Continue the set until you fail again. Three rounds of this torture, with a minute rest in between, with a controlled negative and a two-count squeeze at the top of each rep, and that is all she wrote!
By this point, your legs should be pumped and, if you pushed your sets to failure, you should be feeling a little shaky—perhaps even a bit nauseous. If you feel like death warmed over, I applaud you for a job well done! 
     Stay tuned for the next installment of Prime and Pump, where I will carve out your path of destruction through a back/triceps workout that will get you grabbing attention even when your back is turned to the “cardio bunnies”!


Monday, October 12, 2015

All About Fat Loss for the Bodybuilder


Control Your Calories, Your Macronutrients, and Your Training for an Awesomely "Ripped" Physique

by Matthew Sloan

Matthew Sloan displays the results of his hard work, both in the gym and in the kitchen.

     This is a very important topic and it is important for one reason: millions of people set their goal to lose fat every year, and only a very small percentage succeed. Some people will say that these people are just lazy, but the simple fact is that the majority of people who fail to lose the fat have been misguided in the way to accomplish their goals. So I am going to attempt to enlighten you on the real way to lose fat and to lose it permanently.
     Let me begin by saying that this is not the ONLY way to lose fat, but this is an effective way and many of these principles are necessary in any fat loss journey. The most important factor in losing fat is one thing, and one thing only, and that is calories. You must be expending more calories than you are consuming daily to lose weight. You can calculate your daily caloric expenditure by going to an online calculator( this number will be based on your weight, height, age, and activity level). Some people will be exceptions to this caloric expenditure number, but you probably are not one of them.
     Calories are important, but only worrying about calories is not going to give you the optimal results you are looking to achieve. Our goal is to not only lose weight but to lose adipose tissue and not muscle that you've worked hard to build. In order to accomplish this, you must also worry about which macronutrients you get your calories from. When I say "macros", I am talking about the three main macronutrients found in foods: protein, carbs, and fats. Your proteins are primarily your meats, beans, dairy, protein powders, and a few other sources. Your carbs are primarily your potatoes, rice, fruits, and your common junk food. Your fats are primarily your nuts, dressings, and other common junk food choices.( I am a proponent of "flexible dieting" or "IIFYM" , so ,yes, you can get your macros from junk food or non "clean" foods, but for health reasons, I would recommend getting majority of your calories from clean whole foods.) It is important to have a balance of all these macros because they are all important in their own way. You need your protein for muscle growth and to prevent muscle loss. You need your carbs for energy and muscle growth. You need your fats for a few important body functions. Everybody will respond differently to these macros, and some people will need more of a certain thing than another. This is where a coach is able to manipulate and adjust your macros for optimal performance. But a good starting place for everyone is to get 25% of calories from protein, 15-20% from fat, and 55-60% from carbs.  (One of the most common macro ratios is a 40/40/20, but this is not optimal because no beginner needs that much protein. 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass is enough.)  This 25/55/20 macro ratio will give you plenty of energy from the large amount of carbs( I am a big opponent of low carb diets, but I will explain that in another article), and this will provide you with a protein amount that is effective, while also making dieting easier.
     OK, so now we know the first two keys to fat loss—your calories and macros—the next thing is your workout program. I would recommend a high frequency training style while cutting—my dad has written multiple articles on high frequency training so just check one of those out; we have tons of awesome ones here at Integral Strength. The reason for this is that the goal of your workouts should be to conserve as much muscle as possible and to burn as many calories in your workouts as possible. High frequency training is going to allow for more protein synthesis in the muscles, and will allow you to train more body parts per workout, leading to more calories burned.
Matthew uses a HFT protocol—similar to many of the articles here at Integral Strength—to help him lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.
     Now that we have the three main components of fat loss explained, I am going to explain how you will implement these for maximum fat loss. So fat is basically just stored calories, or stored energy. This fat was very useful for our ancestors because they may have had to go weeks without eating, and would have needed energy to continue living. In today's society, we have no need for this extra fat, so we wish to get rid of it. So it seems simple—if you starve yourself then you will lose the fat (such as commonly found in today's popular low carb and/or low-calorie diets), right? Maybe, except for one giant, fat (pun intended) problem: when your body goes into "starvation mode", it is going to get energy from your fat and muscles, and simply losing fat and muscle is not going to make you look any better or perform better—its simply going to make you smaller (I have made this mistake in the past). In order to lose fat without losing muscle, you must slowly decrease daily caloric consumption, while slowly increasing daily caloric expenditure.  So for an example, I will use myself. I am coming off of a caloric surplus, and I have been consuming 3200 calories daily. My macros were something around 160 grams of protein, 450 grams of carbohydrates, and 80 grams of fat. I want to ensure I don't lose my muscle, so I have been decreasing my calories by only 100 calories per week. Every 1.5 weeks, I am increasing cardio by five minutes, as well.  ( I jump rope for my cardio but any form of cardio will be fine.)  I have a "macro change" every three weeks—keep calories the same, but decrease carbs and increase protein. The only other thing I do is have a "re-feed" day( back up to 3000 calories) once a week. These are the main key components of my "cut".
     You should now have a good understanding of the basics of fat loss, and if you incorporate these components into your program, then you will lose fat and change your body. I will go into detail on low carb diets, cardio, food sources, and a few other minor fat loss ideas/methods in another article.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Prime and Pump Chest and Biceps Training



C.S.'s note: The chest-training methods that Jared uses in this article are ones that he first laid out in his "Prime and Pump for Massive Muscle Growth" article a couple of posts back.  Do yourself a favor and read that one first, if you haven't yet done so, before proceeding to this new bodypart-centric piece.  If you read the article below without having read the other one, you may be confused over some of the terminology Jared uses.


Prime and Pump Training for a Silverback Set of Pecs and Animalistic Arms!

by Jared Smith

I’ve heard some say that a pump will limit one's ability to go heavy. This could not be further from the truth. Physics dictates that the more mass something has, the more power it will possess. I’m not saying to obliterate a muscle with insanely high reps before attempting to go heavy, but if you pump the muscles that support the lift, it will add “mass” via sarcoplasmic expansion which will lend itself to more strength.
Everyone and their brother wants more strength and more muscle. No meat-head can call himself such if he has never been asked how much he can bench press. I’m not saying that simply moving more weight will cause hypertrophy—because no one technique or scheme of progressive overload will work forever—I am simply stating that there must be some sort of measureable progress if one is to grow larger muscles. The conventional approach to the average chest workout is to simply warm up on the bench, and put it first in the workout. While this is not a bad idea, there is a more efficient way of training. 
We start "priming" our chest by performing barbell curls with a wide grip. This serves a duel purpose: 1. This will get those elbows "ready-to-go" by pumping the biceps, giving you a “cushion” at the bottom half of the bench press. 2. By keeping your elbows in as tight to your sides as possible while curling, you will activate your external rotators, preparing the shoulders for the load to come. While performing the curl, act as if you are trying to touch your elbows together as you ascend.  Control the negative and shove in your elbows as you lower the barbell.  (I promise you the pump in the biceps— as well as the increased range of motion of your shoulder—will have you chomping at the bit to get under some hefty weights!)
Matthew Sloan builds detailed biceps by doing a lot of barbell curls

After four sets of curls for around 10 reps each, you are ready to "get under the bar". Knock out a few “feeler” sets on the bench to lock in your groove. Once you’re ready to go, you will perform five sets of 8-10 reps, resting about 40 seconds between sets. Control the negative, and use inward intent on the bar as if you are trying your damnedest to compress it together in the center. Stop the bar about an inch above your chest and pause for a second before letting it touch, then ascend, continuing with inward intent. By the last set, you should only be able to complete around six reps, but that is fine. The next time you train chest, you should be able to complete ten reps on all sets. Once this happens, you know it is time for you to increase the intensity and add some weight.
Sergio Oliva built an awesome chest by doing little other than flat bench presses

Upon completion of the bench press, it is time to keep that “pump power” going. Hammer out three sets of incline dumbbell curls—supinate on the way up and pronate on the way down. At the bottom, contract the triceps—which will insure that the biceps are fully lengthened—then squeeze the hell out of them! Keep your shoulders depressed and retracted throughout the movement, and make your biceps swell with engorged blood!
Stay where you are, because that incline bench is about to be put to use again. Grab a set of dumbbells, and pound out 4 sets of incline presses. Again, keep your shoulders depressed and keep your entire spine in line with the bench. Lock everything down, and press up and inward, but not so far that the ‘bells are directly overhead. Keep them outside the shoulders slightly to maintain tension on your pecs. Remember, the function of the pecs is not only to bring the upper arm across the torso, but to internally rotate the shoulder. On the negative, rotate the dumbbells by turning your palms in to face each other, and turn them out on the way up. This will make sure that the pec is contracted to the max! Take 40 seconds between each set of 8-10 reps.
One of the greatest "power-builders" of all time, Pat Casey loved heavy incline dumbbell benches!
Before the pump can dissipate, you will now perform three sets of preacher curls for 8-10 reps. Keep your chin up and get your elbows as close together as possible. Never stop at the top or bottom of the exercise. Try to keep a count of three-up, three-down in your mind, and never pause. The burn and pump will be immense, but keep grinding! Keeping with the same rest period, knock these reps out, and make your peaks scream!
To finish off the workout, you will perform a superset that will test your mettle: classic wide grip dips and close grip, palms-in pulldowns. I know what you may be thinking, “Aren’t close-grip pulldowns a back exercise?” and you’re right. It also happens to be—in my humble opinion—the single greatest biceps builder on the planet! Focus on squeezing them throughout the movement, and feeling them contract all the way up to your shoulder. This means you’re hitting your biceps from two points. Not only are you adding thickness to your lower biceps, but the peak contraction you’ll feel is insane! Control the negative of both movements and never stop thinking about contracting the hell out of the target muscle! Three sets of each to absolute failure. Shoot for 8-10 on all sets, but as long as you are failing somewhere close to that on the last set, that is what counts. 

The Rundown: 
Wide Grip Barbell Curls 4x8-10
Bench Presses with Inward intent 5x8-10
Incline Dumbbell Curls 3x8-10
Incline Dumbbell Presses 4x8-10
Preacher Curls 3x8-10
Wide Grip Dips superset with Close Grip Palms-in Pulldowns 3x8-10

     There you have it. The perfect way to pulverize your pecs, and mutilate your meat hooks! The volume is not insanely high, but squeeze each and every rep as if your life depends on it. How do you know your set is done? When the muscle won’t contract anymore! There is nothing complicated about going to failure—you must simply work until that muscle refuses to. Look deep within your own mind, and push past your comfort zone. If you have to use a rest-pause to hit your target rep range on the last set, then do so. If you must perform a drop set to hit the designated number of reps, it’s all good. Intensity is the name of the game. There is no time to screw around and no time to take it easy in the quest for ultimate muscle mass. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Classic Bodybuilding: The Mass Building Methods of Steve Davis

     In the late '70s-early '80s,  Steve Davis became a well-known figure in the bodybuilding world.  He graced the cover of quite a few bodybuilding magazines due to his "classical" physique—he was by no means "massive" in the sense that we think of it today, but he had clean lines, and a well-proportioned physique.  But it wasn't necessarily his build that made him so popular, but, rather, the transformation that occurred in his body.
     You can see Steve's rather impressive transformation on the cover of his popular book "Total Muscularity."

     In addition to the above book, he also wrote a few others, but "Total Muscularity" remained the favorite among his readers.
     When I took up serious bodybuilding training in the early '90s, Davis wrote a monthly column for MuscleMag International that, I'm afraid, was overlooked by many of its readers—I just never felt as if Steve got his just due for (not just) his physique, but his knowledge of muscle-building and his expert dietary advice.
     Steve had some great advice for building mass—advice that can still be used today to great success.  One of the intriguing things that he used was something called a "set series"—the program below is built on the "set series" premise.
Steve shows off his classical lines in competition


Steve's 12 Keys for Building Quality Mass
     Here are the "12 keys" that Steve believed in, and recommended, for building muscle:
  1. Train each bodypart 2x per week.
  2. Use 8 reps for arms, chest, shoulders, and back exercises.
  3. Use 15 reps for calves, lower back, quadriceps, and hamstring development.
  4. Do not do ab work on a mass-building regimen.
  5. Wear a watch and time your rest between sets.  Keep it at 30-45 seconds, the shorter the better.
  6. Perform 2 exercises per bodypart (see sample routine).
  7. For each exercise, do a light warm-up set and then 6 sets using the same weight, reps, and rest between sets.  Steve called this a "set series."
  8. Keep a chart, and increase your weight each week.    Even tiny increases are good.
  9. Rest 3 minutes after each set series.
  10. Think heavy weights.  Lift heavy weights.
  11. Take in one gram of high-quality protein for each pound of bodyweight.  
  12. Follow the "Master Diets" found in any of Steve's books.
On the cover of the defunct Muscle World magazine


The Steve Davis Mass Blast
     Using the following routine, you would train six days on, one day off, your only day of the week off being Sunday:
Monday and Thursday
Chest, Back, and Lower Back
  1. Bench Presses 2x8
  2. Dumbbell Incline Presses 2x8
  3. Dumbbell Pullovers 2x8
  4. Bent-Over Rows 2x8
  5. Behind-the-Neck Pulldowns 2x8
  6. Hyperextentions 2x8
Tuesday and Friday
Shoulders, Arms, and Forearms
  1. Behind-the-Neck Presses 2x8
  2. Dumbbell Lateral Raises 2x8
  3. Barbell Curls 2x8
  4. Incline Dumbbell Curls 2x8
  5. Close-Grip 2/3 Bench Presses 2x8
  6. Non-Locking Pushdowns 2x8
  7. Reverse Curls 2x8
Wednesday and Saturday
Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves, and Lower Back
  1. Front Squats 2x15
  2. Hack Squats 2x15
  3. Leg Curls 2x15
  4. Donkey Calf Raises 2x15
  5. Standing Calf Raises 2x15
  6. Hyperextensions 2x8

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Prime and Pump for Massive Muscle Growth



Why are you warming up, when you could be priming your muscles for growth?!

by Jared Smith

I have never been one to just take the word of a scientist in a lab coat with no real world training experience. Many experienced lifters figure things out years before science finally catches up. For instance, look at the golden era of bodybuilding when antagonistic supersets were all the rage. Science now shows that training a muscle's antagonist increases performance for both! Well before the days of "human performance "labs", much like the one headed up by Dr. Jacob Wilson at the University of Tampa, time-tested meat heads were pumping opposing muscles to get the most out of training. Some of the methods I’ve come to love are unconventional, even by the standards of those who do love the pairing of agonist/antagonist muscle groups. 

Arnold —seen here looking cool—was a big fan of pairing agonist/antagonist muscles

For instance, I’m a firm believer that stretching a muscle before there is any blood in it is dangerous.  We know that static stretching prior to weight training can compromise performance. With that said, how do we effectively warm up without compromising performance? 
(Before anyone thinks that I’m anti-stretching, I am not. There just happens to be a time and place for everything, stretching included.)
     Prior to training, a muscle needs to be activated and the connective tissues need to be made pliable. A dynamic stretch of sorts is needed. A brief stretch repeated several times is great, provided that it ends in a contraction! An example of this is pumping the biceps with some high-rep work prior to training chest. A barbell curl will activate the external rotators as well as stretch the triceps tendon a little bit without having to hold it statically. Remember, the only way for a muscle to be completely contracted is for its antagonist to be completely elongated. With the elbows now primed and ready to go, you also have a pumped bicep that will act as a buffer zone at the base of a bench press (and should make you feel much stronger). As you can see, I am a proponent of stretching, as long as it’s not static, prior to loading your muscle tissues with heavy weights. (Static stretching does have a place, but we will get to that later.)

Personal Experience
There are some movements that felt terrible on my joints, until I started pumping another muscle before training it. The barbell overhead press was definitely one of those. No matter how many “warm-up’’ sets I did, it never ceased to make my shoulders feel as if they were being ground to bits. To remedy this problem, I decided to engorge my traps and rear delts with blood.  Once these muscles had a good, solid pump, I found that my joints felt more stable. Though the weights were slightly down when I performed my work sets, the contraction was much more intense, which is what will make your muscles grow!
The next combination that I’ve found to work  well is one that I admittedly "jacked" from D.C. Training creator Dante Trudel. I find that pumping the calves, followed by an intra-set stretch, promotes greater flexibility and allows me to keep my heals seemingly "glued" to the ground when squatting. I will also perform several sets of leg curls prior to training quads. This allows for my quad tendons ready to be "primed" and preps my knees for the compound assault! 
This protocol is perfect for anyone who has some years under their belt in the gym, as well as any wear and tear on their joints. I must admit: I was surprised at how much my performance increased once I started utilizing this approach. 
     In addition to priming before training, I added stretching where it matters most—after training a muscle! Once I’d thrashed the muscle—and pumped it with plenty of growth-enducing blood—I performed static stretching. I’ve found that this facilitates recovery and loosens the fascia to allow the muscles to expand, which I’ve found is great at eliminating that “tight” feeling the days following a workout. 

Let’s Prime and Pump it!
     Here is what several workouts should look like using this technique:

Workout 1: Chest/Biceps
Preacher Curls 3x 25,15,10
Incline Dumbbell curls(supinate on the way up and pronate on the way down)3x10,15,25
Reverse curls 3x30,20,10
Dumbbell Bench Presses 4x8-12
Incline Barbell Presses 3x8-12
Weighted Dips Superset with Dumbbell flies 2x8-12

Workout 2: Quads/Hams/Calves
Standing Calf Raises 3x10-12. On the last set, hold the stretch position for 10 seconds on each rep.
Lying leg Curls 3x8-12. Hold the contraction for a two count on each rep. You can perform a rest-pause set on the final set if you want to ramp up the intensity, just keep a slow, deliberate tempo and squeeze the hell out of it!
Squats 5x8-12. Make sure to keep tension while squatting. The best way to do so is by imagining that you’re pulling yourself down by the hamstrings. This will force you to keep everything tight. The weight will be somewhat limited by this, but the pump and (good) pain you’ll feel in your quads will be tremendous! The last set should be almost impossible. If you don’t quite get the designated number of reps, that is fine. The point is to push as hard as you can and once you fail, that is all she wrote!
Leg presses 4x30,25,20,15. Keep these moving like a piston to finish off your wheels. If you need to rest-pause these to get all the volume in, feel free!

Workout 3: Shoulders/Triceps
Bent-over Dumbbell Trap Row 3x 30,20,15. This movement is a hybrid—not quite a lat row, and not quite a rear lateral. I find that these get blood into the rear delts, as well as the mid/lower traps, very well. Give them a try and I promise you’ll love them!
Standing Barbell Shoulder press 4x 8-12. Keep these under control. You will find that after the trap row, there will be an intense pump in your upper back and rear delts, which will make this movement feel much better. Being more aware of your upper back when pressing has a good advantage—this will allow you to stay tighter and really torch your shoulders.
Lateral Raises 8x10—Run the rack. Start off with a light weight for ten, and increase three times with no rest. After you’re done with the fourth set, go back the other way. Brutal, but awesome! Your shoulders should be screaming!
Triceps Pushdowns 4x30,25,20,15
Skull Crushers (straight bar) 3x8-12

Workout 4: Back
Before you begin training back, perform a few light sets of flyes for chest, then stretch it out. Since the pecs are the antagonist for the lats, you need to make sure they aren’t tight so that you can get your back in a fully contracted position. Once your pecs feel stretched, only then should you begin.
Stiff Arm pulldowns 4x30,25,20,15. Keep the tempo piston-like and try to get a solid pump before moving on.
Wide grip Pulldowns 3x 8-12. Perform a rest-pause on the last set.
One Arm Dumbbell rows 3x8-12
Deadlifts 3x4-6. These sets should feel like torture after what proceeded them, but the result will be a much thicker back.

     So there you have it: a program geared toward packing on the beef without killing the joints. Wear and tear will happen, but it doesn’t have to slow you down. I’ve given you the tools, now it is time for you to hit the gym and perform some priming and pumping of your own!