April 2014 7
Sometimes even a 215lb bodybuilder needs a break from the gym.
You can stay on track with your bodybuilding goals by using short, challenging workouts at home instead of just skipping your workout altogether. Sure, the gym will always be the best place to workout for most of us due to the atmosphere, the equipment and the like-minded people, but don’t underestimate the need for change to keep things fresh.
Since we know we need to keep the momentum going if we’re going to reach our goals, the trick is to come up with quick, challenging workouts that we actually look forward to and enjoy. I like to keep a few pieces of equipment around the house for these times – including a dynamax medicine ball. Recently, I’ve been doing a medicine ball chest workout at home when I want to do a short, effective workout. Vince Gironda was a big fan of quick 10 minute or less bodybuilding conditioning workouts. He would do 10 sets of 10 pull ups, 10 push ups and 10 dips back to back on a set of parallel bars outside of the original Golds Gym when he wanted to do something different. Lee Priest would workout in the hotel gym and just move from station to station to get a pump when he didn’t have time to do a full, all out workout. I was there with Lee during one of these Hotel workouts which turned into something else – here’s the video. Herschel Walker was famous for doing push ups and sit ups at home, while watching TV. He would do hundreds of reps of each exercise and got great results.
Here’s the home chest workout that I’ve used with good success:
EMOM (Every minute on the minute)
- 10 Medicine Ball Push Ups
- 10 Alternate Medicine Ball Push Ups
- 10 Alternate Medicine Ball Push Ups
Set your kitchen timer, stop watch, smart phone time for 1 minute. When ready, do 10 medicine ball push ups, immediately followed by 10 alternate medicine ball push ups, followed by 10 alternate medicine ball push ups. Once you finish all 30 reps, you should have around 20 seconds or so to rest before starting on the next minute.
Each 30 reps should take around 40 seconds.
Once the second minute starts, repeat this sequence – 10, 10, 10 reps. The alternate medicine ball push ups are done by placing one hand on the medicine ball and the other hand on the floor. Switch hands for the next 10 reps. You’ll hit your chest from different angles, using bodyweight, while improving your balance, strengthening your shoulders and yes, working your core (abs). Use perfect form with full reps.
Repeat this for 5-6 sets. By then, you will have knocked out 150 – 180 reps for chest in 5-6 minutes. It will get harder at the 4th, 5th and 6th minute and your rest time will get shorter. Therein lies the challenge. There’s no time for chit chat or looking at your smart phone, you’re forced to pay attention. One way to spice up this workout from time to time is to change the way you’re placing your hands on the medicine ball. Try a close spacing, medium spacing, wide spacing, staggered spacing when doing the first set of 10 reps. During the alternate medicine ball push ups, you can try different hand placements as well. Experiment. Try to find the hand placement that targets your chest best. Your triceps and shoulders will benefit as well. In fact, you’ll be strengthening tendons and muscles that you may not normally use which could help you reach your goals more quickly.
Here’s a demonstration of this workout with Ed Brown, Jr. (the 215lb bodybuilder mentioned above).
Give this quick chest home workout a try and I’m sure you’ll feel a different pump in your chest! Its always a good idea to mix up your routine on a continual basis. That way you can keep your body guessing and growing to adapt to the changes in stress that you place on your muscles.
One of the biggest difficulties facing bodybuilders is how can they be sure that all of the muscle fibers have been recruited and exhausted during a given exercise? It’s only by achieving this that muscle gains can be maximized.
The simple answer is, you have to work beyond failure and experience a higher level of training intensity than before.
But how do you go about intensifying your training? Below are several ways that the best in the world use and at the very bottom of this article is a calf program along with a video that you can use in your own workouts:
1. Increase resistance – increasing the weight in small consistent increments ensures that the muscle is challenged beyond its previous point of failure thus ensuring this part of the muscle building process. Aim to increase the weight when you reach six to eight reps and failure does not occur.
2. Change the exercise – to achieve maximal gains, all muscle fibers in a body part must be trained. Changing the angle (e.g to incline bench press) or introducing a new exercise will stimulate growth.
3. Reduce rest intervals – giving the muscles less time to recover before exposing them to further work has the effect of increasing intensity.
4. Pre-exhaustion – when an exercise involves two or more muscles the weakest will prevent you from working the primary muscle to failure. The answer is to first isolate and tire the primary muscle before immediately moving to another exercise that works the set of muscles to failure.
5. Introduce supersets – this involves performing two exercises without a rest interval. This means you increase intensity, utilize different muscle fibers and shorten rest periods all at the same time which can stimulate greater growth.
6. Use partial reps – at the point of failure you will not be able to complete the full range of movement for a given exercise. Completing a partial rep that uses only a segment of the lift will still work your muscles beyond the point of failure. This technique is especially useful to advanced bodybuilders as it allows them to increase intensity without adding extra routines that could cause overtraining.
7. Use isometric contractions – this involves holding the weight still at the point of failure to stimulate a static contraction in the muscle.
8. Employ forced reps – this involves completing one or more final reps after the point of failure has been reached. You will need the assistance of an experienced helper to attempt this.
9. Use different rep schemes, pauses and holds. This is a killer. In the video below, Ed Brown, Jr. is using a calf routine from DC Training. It’s only one set, but it will wipe you out. Your average gym rat has never heard of DC Training. It’s a system you should definitely explore.Here’s how the calf routine works:
- Warm up your calves first with any exercise.
- Load a medium heavy weight onto the seated calf raise. Use a weight that you can normally get 20 reps with.
- Begin the set by raising your heels to the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower your heels over a count of 5 seconds.
- At the bottom of the movement, hold the stretch for 15 seconds. Raise your heels to the top of the movement. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps just like this. By the 11-12th rep, you should be screaming for “Mommy”. If not, then you haven’t used enough weight. One of my training partners and I would use this exact method during our calf workouts. We would challenge each other to see who could get more reps. It was always the highlight of the workout week.
Once you have added these techniques to your training regimen you’ll know you’ve done your best to maximize muscle growth.
I walk into the cavernous Metroflex Gym in Austin, Texas.
Across the gym, I see the following and in this order:
- Trainers busy with their clients. Clients are mainly women – business types, moms, etc
- 200lb dumbbells
- Nautilus pullover made famous by Dorian Yates
- A mural on the wall of Ronnie Coleman
I’m in Austin’s Mecca. The mecca used to be Hyde Park Gym on Guadalupe near downtown Austin. But now this has changed. You can feel it, see it and you must experience it. Train here and you’ll get big and strong. There was a time when you could go to the local YMCA or some other public gym and find the types of people that knew how to train to build maximum muscle mass but alas, those days are gone. The truly hardcore have, for the most part, disassociated themselves from these commercial gyms and gone underground. Temple Gym, garage gyms, and this gym are where the strongest bodybuilders on earth train.
Do you really think you’re going to see 200lbs dumbbells at 24 Hour Fitness?
You’re going to hear and see the truth about how to lift here. No one is going to give you a tour of the showers and then try to suck your bank account dry with auto enroll monthly gym dues. I’ve heard about the guy here who bench presses 575lbs raw. He’s a bodybuilder – not a fat slob wearing two powersuits, knee wraps, elbow wraps, wrist wraps and a gut the size of Rosie O’Donnell’s head. You’ll also see regular people who want results. They are not intimated by the size of the members, they are simply after results. They are here to get in their best shape ever.
I see Ed Brown, Jr over there next to Logan, the gym manager, and stroll on over with my camera equipment. I’m here to do some filming and show the YouTube universe how these guys train. Ed is only 10 weeks out from the Mr Universe and he’s leaning out big time from the top of his head all the down to his Chucks. We talk about what we’re filming and then waste no time. First up, is a Monster Set. I’m sure you’ve heard of supersets, giant sets and drop sets. But how many times have you used Monster Sets in your training?
Sometimes bodybuilders get a bad rap for being too big, not conditioned enough and other nonsense. Monster sets will address any doubts about Ed’s lack of conditioning. Here’s what we’re going to do:
- Dumbbell Presses x 8 reps with 130lb dumbbells (Lee Priest)
- Dumbbell Rows x 10 reps with 200lb dumbbells (Dorian Yates)
- Nautilus Alternate Curls x 12 reps with 80lbs (Mike Mentzer)
- Dumbbell Pullovers x 10 reps with 120lbs (Arnold)
- Dumbbell Flyes x 10 reps with 55lbs (Brian Dobson)
You’ll hear why in the accompanying video we listed the names above beside each exercise. At the end of the video, Ed will explain the reasoning behind the exercises.
*Side note – I was watching a YouTube video yesterday of some “expert” who looked all of 160lbs telling my “WHY” I should never do dumbbell flyes, leg extensions and 3 other exercises. WHAT? If the body naturally moves in a direction whether it be the hugging motion (dumbbell flyes) or the leg extension (leg extensions) then, YES, you should definitely do that exercise with resistance. IF a motion is an UNNATURAL motion – think awkward angles and such – then NO you should not do those movements with resistance if at all.
Take Yoga for instance. You use bodyweight. You position your body into natural positions and stretches. You’re adding weight (bodyweight) to these positions and stretches and, as a result, you get stronger. When bodybuilding, of course you should use good judgement and warm up first, don’t lift more than you’re capable of lifting, don’t become guilty of pattern overload (doing the same exercise too much in a short period of time) and don’t exaggerate the movement by doing extreme ranges of motion.
I guess this guy on YouTube has run out of material so, in this case, he’s reaching. Bottom line – if you want to learn about bodybuilding, getting stronger and bigger – learn from bodybuilders. They teach the doctors and the physical therapists not the other way around. You’ll already know this or you’ll just have to trust me on this.
BACK TO MONSTER SETS
Pick 5 exercises and will be hitting shoulders, back, biceps, and chest. If you’re intermediate to experienced, use a medium heavy to heavy weight. You can see what kind of weights Ed is using in the video. You will not see Tony Horton at this gym. This is a gym where beasts train. This is a gym where the most popular preworkout drink is referred to as “Mud”. More on that another time.
Implement monster sets in different ways.
- If you’re short on time, after you warm up, do up to 5 sets of monster sets with heavy weight (rest 90 seconds in between each monster set) and call it a day – workout complete. If you can do more than 5 monster sets, you’re not using enough weight
- At the end of your regular workout, if you want to finish yourself off, do 1 or 2 monster sets. Rest 90 seconds in between each monster set, NOT IN BETWEEN EACH EXERCISE.
- Only implement this 1-2 times a week. My preference would be once. Twice in a week may be too intense. Experiment with this method to find your preference.
Watch the video. You may grow just from watching. Comment below with any questions or feedback. We’d love to hear it.
Ed Brown, Jr is wrapping his knees.
He’s preparing for 10 sets of 6 reps under a heavy barbell loaded with anywhere from 6-8 forty five pound plates. That’s 315 to 405 pounds. Most people that you see walking around the malls, the work place, down busy streets would be hard pressed to front squat a 45 pound bar correctly. But we’re not talking about most people. We’re talking about someone who did set after set, rep after rep alongside the worlds most popular pro bodybuilder, Lee Priest
Ed has his sights set upon the Mr Universe later this year in New Jersey. He’s won a couple of big contests recently and he’s taking aim at the biggest prize to date. The Mr Universe.
You can learn a lot from guys like this. Guys who are actually showing you via pictures and videos. These are not guys hiding behind a keyboard, posting articles about training that they themselves have never done, using pictures of muscular bodybuilders and lifters that they don’t even know. No, this is the real thing. Real weights. Real reps. The real scoop. This has become a huge problem on the internet. Anyone can claim anything. And then they try to sell you something that they don’t use. That they don’t don’t do. Let’s move on.
Once you’re warmed up, you’ll need to know what your 1 RM max is in the Front Squat. Once you have it, you’ll load the bar with 75% of your 1 RM and do 10 sets of 6 reps. In the accompanying video, Ed is using 2 ten pound plates under his heels. This puts even more stress on the quads instead of on the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. You’ll get a fuller, better sweep in your quads as a result. Typically, when we train legs, we think of 3-4 sets with progressively heavier weights. But in this leg routine for mass, you’re going to experience some localized trauma in the thighs because we’re sticking with front squats for 10 heavy sets of 6 reps. Six reps sounds pretty easy, right? Remember to use 75 % of your one rep max. You can try this workout with the heels elevated or without. Experiment. Try it with wraps and without. You might use wraps for the last 4 sets giving yourself a “reward” if you do the first 6 sets without wraps.
The more you can come up with these mental games and challenges, the better. If you don’t challenge yourself, you won’t put out enough effort to get the results that you’re after.
You’ll hear Ed mention a Russian coach who taught him this front squat routine. Oleg Kechko is an Olympic Weight Lifting World Champion who could clean and jerk 450 pounds at a bodyweight of 169lbs. He knows something about strength. There are many videos of him on Youtube.
If you’re just starting out – awesome – you’re going to progress much faster if you use the info in this article in your own bodybuilding workouts. The key is to be consistent, progressively add more weight to the bar each week or two. After 3-4 weeks, take a rest and do leg presses, leg extensions, dumbbell squats, hack squats and/or sprints. Pattern overload is the nemesis in your training. Mix things up, stay fresh, stay focused. Ignore the social sites filled with garbage bodybuilding and strength routines unless there are videos and pictures of the author or authors buddy actually SHOWING you the routine.
You’ll make much faster progress this way.
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