Too Many Warm-up Sets Make You Weak

It is very important to warm-up before extreme exertion for many reasons. It allows a chance for you to mentally prepare yourself for the upcoming endeavor, stimulates synovial fluid secretion in the joints, and makes muscles, ligaments, and tendons more pliable.
On the opposite end of the spectrum if you warm-up too much you can fatigue your muscles unawares and not have the energy you should of had when you attempt your top heavy set or tried setting a new PR.

My recommendation is to do one really light weight to help warm-up the joints. And then a second warm-up that is no more than 50% of your top weight and don’t use high reps.

I am finding in time the Bulgarian or Heavy Duty style of training is more fitting. Do as few warm-up sets as possible to ensure you are properly warmed up while conserving all energy for maximal exertion on the top set.

A warm-up is not just a warm-up. It can make the difference between having a successful workout or not.
It has to have a strategy. Coach Burgener does a warm-up using an empty Olympic bar that teaches Weightlifting technique progression.

So the next time you warm-up think about making it a productive part of the workout. And keep in mind that the objective is to warm-up -not fatigue the muscles prematurely.

The 3-Day Split Training Program

The three day training split is perhaps the most popular bodybuilding training routine of all time. A three day split training routine involves training every muscle group one time in a three day period followed by a day of rest or the cycle can be repeated.

Two of the most popular three day spit training routines used by bodybuilders are:

  • Day 1
  • Chest & Back
  • Day 2
  • Shoulders and Arms
  • Day 3
  • Legs

or

  • Day 1
  • Chest, Shoulders, Triceps (Push)
  • Day 2
  • Back, Traps, Biceps (Pull)
  • Day 3
  • Legs

Many other specialized 3-day split routines exist that fulfill different needs. The first 3-day split mentioned above has significant overlap in the shoulders and arms that is favored by bodybuilders as those muscles are heavily used on chest and back day. The second 3-day split routine avoids this overlap; however, there is the disadvantage that the shoulders and arms don’t get special emphasis. This is why in choosing a 3-day split you need to have a goal in mind.

A 3-day split training program also allows for prioritization. Priority can be given to any weak muscle groups and scheduled at the beginning of the 3-day split following a day of rest. For example, if you wanted to focus on your legs you would simply reverse the order of the days in the cycle so that legs are always the first muscle group trained.

3-day split routines are intended for intermediate athletes and from then on can be used indefinitely. Although beginners are welcome to try a 3-day split, the individual training of muscle groups is not necessary and can lead to muscle imbalances. Beginners are better off doing full body routines and then progressing to an upper/lower body routine before trying a 3-day split.

Powerlifters can also take advantage of a 3-day split. For example, the second 3-day split mentioned above can easily be switched to a bench, deadlift, and squat day and finish with auxiliary exercises.

If you have been training for at least half a year, it might be time to try a 3-day split training routine. It is the most popular training split for a reason – it works.

Crabby Training Partners

There is a certain type of crab that exhibits a strange humanlike behavior. When you go along the beach and collect these crabs in a bucket, you don’t need a lid because once you have two crabs in the bucket they won’t let each other out. They have a characteristic built into their personality – they won’t let any other crabs out of the bucket.

If one crab starts to crawl out of the bucket the other will always pull it back down. These crabs seem to want to keep all the other crabs down at the bottom of the bucket with them.

All too often in life as you start to succeed others people try to pull you down to their level. This behavior is referred to as the crab bucket mentality.

Everyone knows that if you want to be successful, one thing you need to do is place yourself around other successful people. The same is true in choosing a training partner. Having a training partner can be incredibly beneficial. However, be sure you choose someone that has the same goals as you do.

For example, if you are training with someone who only wants to be fit and your goal is to get big you might be better off training on your own. In order to get big you will have to train heavy. Training heavy inflicts pain. Usually only really obsessed people train like this and those interested in fitness always back off. If someone’s goal is fitness they can achieve that easily without having to push themselves hard.

I have had certain training partners in the past that didn’t believe in full range squats and insisted on using a bar pad. however, when it came to chest day we would do 20 sets of barbell presses. Needless to say this type of training didn’t produce the results I wanted and I ended up quitting the gym a few months later.

It is said that, “one man’s food is another man’s poison”. What works for some people might not work for others especially when they have different goals.

20-Rep Exercises to Grow

If you are trying to get big as a natty it is important to choose the right exercises. Some exercises are difficult to learn while others don’t allow much weight to be used.

If you are an experienced lifter you might already be aware of these exercises; however, many beginners often get stuck on the wrong exercise and seldom get the results they desire.

For example, if you want to get big that is not going to happen by doing biceps preacher curls and bench presses. However, this is all I see people predominately doing in the gym.

The chest and biceps are small muscle groups. If you want to get big you need to focus on training the large muscle groups heavy – legs and back – while still incorporating isolation exercises.

The best exercises to grow are the Romanian deadlift (RDL), floor press, box squat, barbell row, and shrugs. The reason being is that these compound exercises work multiple muscle groups and allow a person to handle the heaviest weight humanly possibly without risk of injury or creating a muscle imbalance. Every other exercise you is considered an auxiliary exercise.

The RDL will build the hamstring and lower back; the floor press will build the chest, front delts, and triceps; the box squat will build the quads; the barbell row will build your upper back, lats, and biceps; and shrugs will build your traps.

Do these exercises with your regular training; do them first after a light warm up and perform one top set of 20 reps. Each workout try to add 5 lbs to the bar and continue doing this until you can no longer manage to get all 20 reps. Depending on the individual and if equipment is used you might be able to add over 100 lbs to each of these exercises before stopping and at least 200 lbs to your shrugs.

The feeling you get form doing these heavy exercises and continuously adding weight to the bar becomes highly addictive and you will soon find yourself treating all other exercises as secondary.

Is it Possible to Expand Your Ribcage?

A debate still exists whether it is possible to expand your rib cage as an adult. I am not sure why this debate even exists today as the principles governing our physiology have become common knowledge.

Before I start to explain how it is possible I first need to express why there is an interest in such a thing. Most people want big arms and a big chest not a large rib cage. Having a large rib cage is important in bodybuilding for various poses such as the side chest pose. There needs to be a solid foundation for inches of serrated pectoral muscle to rest on, as well as fully developed serratus anterior.

The second reason is the bench press. The bigger rib cage you have the less distance the bar has to travel to reach your chest. If you have experience with the floor press you will know that some people come close to touching their chest in this exercise. Also, If you have ever bulked up 30 or 40 lbs you would have also noticed the distance between the barbell and the chest in the floor press.

These two reasons are enough to understand why there is a whole world of expertise on this subject. A one inch difference in the bench press could add 50 lbs to someone’s max bench press.

As you build the muscles of the chest everything grows in tandem with it including the pectoralis major and minor, intercostal muscles, and serratus anterior. And with it so does the rib cage.

If you re one of those people that don’t think ribs can get larger here is a thought for you to meditate on. If I were to train my legs and increase my upper legs from 23″ to 33″ do you not think the femur would have increased in diameter especially considering your squat must have increased from 300 to 900 lbs. Of course your femur would have increased in diameter, as well as the ligaments, tendons, and all connective tissue around each joint.

As the muscles of the chest and back become larger the rib cage expands. This happens regardless of the exercises chosen just as long as the end result is muscular hypertrophy. However, it is no secret that some exercises are more specific for the purpose of rib cage expansion, such as the pullover.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been quoted as saying, “You will not believe the ache in the sternum that this movement will produce!” He attributed the pullover as responsible for his large rib cage. At the end of his chest/back super-set routine he would always finish with multiple sets of pullovers in which he would lie cross-ways over a bench allowing his hips to drop as he took a deep breath and lower the weight stretching the intercostal muscles as much as possible.

If the greatest champion bodybuilder of all time claims to have used this method to expand his rib cage why does a debate over the possibility of rib cage expansion exist? Take the advice of someone who has developed a 58″ chest and ignore the naysayers.

A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Workout get Done

honey-lemonade

The internet is polluted with countless literature about pre- and post-workout snacks. Most of the information is fueled by supplement companies trying to promote their products rather than truthfully research what works best. In fact you might be getting a lot of added food colour into your system from consuming these products that in time has to be eliminated from the body.

A better approach is to simply select natural food choices for pre- and post-workout snacks. It is not only healthier but will also keep you from spending money on items you don’t need.

Pre-workout snacks consist of sugar. That is it. Unless you are doing cardiovascular training, your muscles acquire energy in the form of ATP from glycolosis or anaerobic respiration. Glycolysis in Latin means to break sugar. Literally the sugars you each (glucose, lactose, fructose, etc.) are 6 carbon molecules that are cleaved into two smaller molecules that all athletes love best – lactic acid. The harder you pump your muscles the more lactic acid is produced and eventually muscle contraction stops.

So why on earth would you consume protein before a workout which is the advice of many health experts and pre-workout supplements being sold.

So in order to fuel your workouts consume sugars – both complex and simple. Complex carbs are to be consumed an hour before the workout and should be uber easy to digest such as pasta, rice, breads, and other starchy foods.

Simple carbs from food such as fruits can be consumed before the workout as they absorbs quickly into the blood steam and don’t require complex digestion. Remember, muscle cramps can be caused from too much blood being drawn to the digestive tract for intensive digestion.

During your workout it is important to consume as much simple sugars as possible within your calorie restrictions. There will always be sugar in your blood stream and continued absorption of sugars into the blood stream as the complex carbs you consumed continue to digest. The amount of sugar carried in your blood steam is finite and can be expended within minutes through intense anaerobic exercise.

Glycogen stored in the larger muscles and liver also continue to break down releasing sugars into the blood steam; however, this process is inefficient at best compared to supplying your body with a continuous supply of simple sugars that are easily absorbed.

One of the oldest sports supplements I have read about was used back in the 40’s by athletes like Steve Reeves who mixed honey and lemon juice creating their own natural version of a sports drinks. I personally like to drink coffee with 3% milk and raw sugar. Milk is high in lactose, sugar (sucrose) is pure glucose disaccharide that easily breaks down, and the caffeine increase alertness.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are post-workout supplements that contain sugars such as dextrose that help replenish glycogen stores in muscles after a workout. This is complete nonsense. The workout is done. Your muscles and liver will easily replenish glycogen stores in time before your next workout on their own.

Why feed your body extra sugar when you don’t need it to perform?If a glycogen deficit exists it is better for your body to replenish it using your body’s own fat stores.

In fact, the only thing you should eat for a post-workout meal should be rich foods high in protein and other nutrients. After a workout it is time for your body to repair damaged muscles and respond in hypertrophy.

If you are pumping iron your muscles need sugar. There is no way around it. So save yourself the money and consume natural pre- and post-workout snacks.

Build a Chest Like a Fortress

chest-arnold-schwarzenegger-franco-columbu

If you want a chest that looks like that of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Franco Columbu you need to abide by the same training philosophies they did. Their chest workouts consisted of multiple sets of presses following by a stretching exercise for the chest such as dumbbell flyes. Although this may sound basic it happens to be the most widely used style of chest training in the sport of Bodybuilding and Powerlifting.

Franco Columbu contributed 95% of his chest developments to chest presses done at varying angels in the incline, flat, and decline barbell and dumbbell presses. He claimed all the other auxiliary exercises contributed to the other 5%.

A chest workout consisting of 95% presses is ideal for Powerlifters. The only difference is that a Powerlifter would specialize, obviously, in the flat barbell bench presses and consider other conjugate exercise such as the floor press or pin press an addition to less frequently performed incline and decline presses.

The priority of all chest workouts is that presses are to be performed first unless using some other advanced training principle such as muscle confusion where exercises often are performed in reverse order within a workout.

Presses are always done first as they are the meat and potatoes of your program. You need to have full energy and be able to exert maximal impact squeezing out every last inch potentially with the help of a spotter.

After you have finished traumatizing the chest with presses and the muscles are tight, it is time to stretch them out. The other remaining 5% of your chest workout should not be overlooked. 5% can be the difference between champions and those who tried their best.

It is important to remember that these exercises are not intended to build size and strength. If you were going to try doing the splits would you use a 180lbs dumbbell? The same principle applies to other stretching exercise for the chest such as the dumbbell flye, cable crossover, and lying dumbbell pullover across a bench. These exercises are used to stretch the chest and lengthen the muscles. Longer muscles beds equal bigger muscles.

The ideal chest workout is a process of trial and error and is a bit different for everyone depending on your goals, strengths and weaknesses. However, keeping in mind that 95% of chest development can be acquired through pressing exercises, this should be reflected in your workout.

Remember to start with heavy barbell presses (incline, flat, decline) before moving to dumbbell presses and once the muscles are completely fatigued worrying about other auxiliary exercises for the chest. Don’t be one of the morons who tears their pecs trying to do heavy dumbbells flyes. Instead, use that energy to do several extra sets of presses.