May 2014 6
Bodybuilding. For those of us who have been practitioners of bodybuilding for over 20 years, it is a daily discipline. It’s a life long love affair. It’s not something one does just to impress the chicks, or to scare off the bullies. Or like Gary Strydom once said and I’m paraphrasing, “I didn’t get into this kind of shape to wear a tank top in the mall.” When you get older, bodybuilding becomes much more than that. It becomes a guiding force.
Take Jimmy for instance. Jimmy is in his latter 40’s and is training like a man possessed. I couldn’t help but notice him today as I filmed Ed Brown, Jr. I learned from Jimmy that he’s been married 3 times and has 3 kids in their teens and twenties This is a man who has lived some life. And there he was, pumping up. Getting ready for his next bodybuilding contest.
It’s a daily discipline. A guiding force.
As you progress in bodybuilding, you learn new ways of building muscle, you become more and more interested in bringing out the detail. Detail is what makes a physique look complete. Developing those lesser known muscles not only makes the body part appear bigger as a whole, the measuring tape confirms it.
One of my favorite bodybuilding writers, Dennis Weiss says little things like a twist of the wrist, pulling down the shoulder, raising the weight either a little forward or backward, or holding the barbell momentarily at the peak contraction of the movement can make all the difference between building just
mediocre muscles or literally huge ones.
Take biceps for instance. Most bodybuilding beginners start with barbell curls, dumbbell curls and preacher curls. In the beginning, if you’re doing every thing right, you should put size on your arms pretty readily. After some time though, you have to start seeking out new and creative ways to train the muscles in order to get better results.
Here’s a combo exercise that you can do for size and detail. Ed is 7 weeks out from the Mr. Universe contest and is interested in bringing out lots of detail. The following exercises are designed to do just that.
- Alternate Dumbbell Curls x 8 reps
- V Bar “Priest” Curls x 15 reps
Pro Tip: Ed learned about the V Bar Curls from Lee Priest. Lee mentioned to Ed how much he liked the exercise and how he felt it in the brachialis (or side of the biceps). Who the hell is going to argue with Lee Priest about arms?
Do the alternate dumbbell curls as you normally would with a medium-heavy weight that will allow you to get up to 8 reps. Then, without rest, go immediately into the V Bar Priest curls. At the top of the movement try to keep the elbows up high. This, along with the V Bar handle, makes the difference with this exercise. The biceps receive lots of stimulation from basic pulling motions involving the back. At the intermediate and advanced level, you have to train the biceps differently in order to work those “hard to reach” muscles like the brachialis.
You may notice that you never see anyone in your gym doing this exercise with the V Bar Handle. You see the same people, day in and day out, doing endless sets of biceps curls and triceps pushdowns. That’s fine for them but if you want to achieve serious arm growth and detail, you must explore different techniques like this one in order to avoid pattern overload as well as to get closer to your full potential in bodybuilding. Let’s face it, we don’t go to the gym to waste time, we go to the gym to train hard enough and smart enough to become better than we were yesterday, right?
Spend some time with the exercise combo above for better arm development. Train with an open mind and think about how you can change all of your exercises just a little to get better results. As always, if you have any questions please comment below and we’ll answer them. Below is the video to accompany this article.
Please “like” and share the video if you got something out of it. Thanks!
The bodybuilding experts are everywhere.
Go onto Google + and you’ll see “newbies” asking a question about bodybuilding or fitness. Typically, In just a short matter of time, you’ll see 5 or more different answers to the newbies question. If everyone is an expert, confident in their own ideas and beliefs, how can the average beginner possibly know who to listen to?
Typical questions include what rep range should I use? Should I do cardio before or after the workout? Should I train 2 days on and 1 day off? How many days should I train per week? Should I do volume training or heavy duty training?
The questions keep coming, they get answered and then they get asked again.
Whether you want to get big and strong or lean and shredded, do what the pros do. They aren’t talking about it, tweeting about it, hiding behind a keyboard copying and pasting old articles -they’re in the gym, doing it. They do what works for them. And most of the time, what works for them, will work for all of us. In this article, IFBB Pro Figure Competitor Dawn Hinz Pugh and Mr. Universe competitor, Ed Brown, Jr take you through a Giant Set for chest and back.
You’re going to use 60% – 75% of your regular weight and do 10 to 15 reps on each exercise. Dawn and Ed also through in strip sets in order to take the giant set to the next level. Their workout looked like this:
- Flat Bench Press x 10 reps
- T Bar Rows x 10 (strip sets)
- Nautilus Pullover x 15 reps
- Alternate Reverse Grip Pulldowns x 10 reps
Rest up to 90 seconds and repeat 3 more rounds for a total of 4 giant sets. Both Dawn and Ed have contests 6 weeks away, Dawn is doing the Chicago Pro and Ed is getting ready for the Mr. Universe on July 5th in New Jersey. For this video, they were training at Metroflex Gym in Austin, Texas. You can feel the energy when you walk into this gym, the expectations are high, people come here for results. During the filming, I spoke with one woman who was training. She had her 4 year old son with her. She didn’t use “I have kids” as an excuse. She brought him with her and he was having a blast. There are bodybuilding competitors, figure competitors, business people, and moms and dads. They want to train along side the best in the business. And so they come to Metroflex.
COMBINE GIANT SETS WITH STRIP SETS
In order to ramp up their training and get better results, they are using advanced techniques – giant sets and strip sets. During the off season, their training is heavy and more basic – Dawn bench presses 225lbs and deadlifts well over 300lbs. Ed benches 450lbs, squats over 600lbs and deadlifts nearly 700lbs. But now that they’re merely weeks away from the contests, they want to get leaner or “raked” as the insiders say. To accomplish this, they move faster while still staying safe, rest less and do more reps. The weight is heavy enough to challenge their muscles so that they don’t run the risk of losing size, but light enough to do more volume.
Light is relative for each of us – Dawn used 135lbs for reps on the flat bench press, Ed used 315lbs. Those are offseason poundages for lots of people.
If you’re looking to improve your conditioning and burn maximum fat in minimum time, you should consider Giant Sets. In the video below, Ed Brown, Jr and IFBB Pro, Dawn take you through a giant set so you’ll know exactly how to do it.
P.S. Want to get shredded with Ed? Ed Brown, Jr is only 6 weeks out from the Mr.Universe contest! Enter your email below and we’ll share his training, mindset, diet and more!
Five times a week, two hours each visit.
You’ve been more faithful to your gym schedule than you’ve ever been to any girlfriend you’ve had. And for a while it paid off: those muscles started growing and the girls started paying attention.
But then, like a bad dream your body stopped responding. Your muscles suddenly weren’t growing like they used to. You’ve lost the excitement to train and spend your time watching the latest Mike Chang YouTube video in the hopes that you can pick up something new. Some tip that will help you start growing again. You start training longer and harder but instead of getting stronger, you’re getting weaker.
Time to up the dosage.
The Gym Plateau. It hits all of us at one time or another. A lot of fitness and bodybuilding beginners don’t even know that they’ve been hit by it. They wrongly assume that they’ve reached their genetic potential when in fact, adding some intermediate to advanced “shock” techniques may be all that’s needed. Below are some tips and a demonstration video of one of the bodybuilding tips by Lee Priest’s former training partner, Ed Brown, Jr.
If you take a few days off from the gym, plan a new strategy for the next 4-6 weeks and implement one or two of the tips belwo, I guarantee you that your body will start responding to your training again.
- Bodybuilding Tip #1 – Take A Break
This tip sounds easy on the surface but can be difficult to follow if you’re trying to peak for Summer or some important event in your life. Do it anyway. Do not step into the gym or do any workout for at least a week. Let your body and mind recover. Some will need longer, others less. You’ll know you’re ready when you start picking up and carrying your gym bag around the house for no reason.
- Bodybuilding Tip #2 – Training Too Often
Are you training too often? If you’re using enough intensity then you only need to train each muscle group once a week. Every time you train, you damage your muscles. Muscles need time to repair and if you’re training too often, you’ll never give your body a chance to repair itself. This means that if you lift weights every day and are using enough intensity, there isn’t sufficient time for the body to recover. Try to have one day rest between each 2-3 days of weight lifting. Reduce your gym time to 90 minutes or less. Cortisol levels elevate once you’ve sufficiently trained your body. It’s time to get out of the gym, eat, rest and get yourself back into a positive nitrogen balance.
Muscles do not grow in the gym; they grow when you sleep. When you sleep, you are secreting growth hormone for many bodily functions and one of those functions is to repair damaged muscle fibers. That’s why they call it beauty sleep – even for beasts!
- Bodybuilding Tip #3 – Correct Technique
Are you using good form? Lee Priest is known for using amazing form in the gym and it’s one of the reasons that he’s had such a long career. No torn muscles, no major injuries.
If your form is incorrect, not only is your training suffering, you are also inviting injury. I remember going into the gym when I first started and completely skipping the warmups – going directly to 315lb squats and 275lb bench presses. Thankfully, I met some great workout partners who helped me change my destructive ways. When you exercise you must focus, paying attention to how you perform each exercise and each rep. Lift, pause and squeeze the muscles you are working. Mind and muscle must connect! Never never use momentum or swing the weight (unless you’re intentionally using the cheating priniciple for a set or two at the end of the workout). Fight gravity as it pulls the weight down during the eccentric portion of the lift. Try lifting slowly over a three count and lowering slowly feeling the tension in your muscles and resisting the weight at all times.
In order for muscles to grow, you have to stress them to the maximum and then further. Do enough repetitions until you feel you cannot go any further using good form. You must then either increase the weight or the number of repetitions at the next session. This is called progressive overload, and progressive overload is what forces your muscles to grow. As a general guide, if you can lift more than 12 reps the weight is probably too light and it is too heavy if you’re getting less than 5 reps.
- Bodybuilding Tip #4 – Are you using free weights?
Most machines do not involve as much of the synergistic muscles (supporting muscles) as free weights do. And, therefore, do not build as much muscle mass. Synergistic muscles are the smaller muscles that aid the main muscles in balance and strength in each lift. Machines have their advantages but for smashing plateaus, use free weights.
- Bodybuilding Tip #5 -Try strip sets
In another article we talked about Compound Sets in this article, the focus is Strip Sets. You’ve probably heard of these and have stripped the weight down on common exercises such as bench presses, leg presses, dumbbell exercises and others but how about doing strip sets for Stiff Legged Deadlifts? In the video below, we have Ed Brown, Jr and his workout partner Ivan Meraz demonstrating strip sets. This is an intense technique and one in which you will probably want a training partner or 2 to help you with – unless you’re using a dumbbell exercise. There is massive utilization of your muscles with strip sets and they tax your nervous system unlike anything. Use them sparingly and at the end of your workout. This brutal technique will make you pant, huff and sweat more. This means your routine also has a cardio effect and you will burn calories even after you’ve staggered out of the gym .
A hamstring routine may go like this;
Lying Leg Curls x 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Stiff Legged Deadlifts x 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps
Stiff Legged Deadlifts x 1-2 Strip Sets. Do 10 reps ,strip the weight, do 8 reps, strip the weight, do 8 reps strip the weight, do 30 reps. Done.
30 reps?! Watch the video below.
The human body is fantastic at adaptation. So whatever routine you are on, your body will get used to it. Change your routine every 6-8 weeks. For example, instead of working your chest at the start of your workout, work your back instead. You can reverse your whole routine or change the variations of your exercises or add new ones and take away some old ones. By changing your routine and following some of the tips above, you not only shock your muscles to new growth, you will stay motivated to kick ass every time that you walk into the gym.
There are certain techniques in bodybuilding that are only used by a small fraction. Compound sets are one of those techniques. You probably won’t see compound sets used by strongmen, crossfitters, bootcampers, yoga practitioners or any of those so called “xtreme” sports “athletes”.
You have to want results badly to do these. AND if you are doing compound sets with heavy weight, you have to be a little bit crazy. But that’s the premise behind this website. We are a little bit crazy. This is our reality. We do this type of training because we want results. We don’t give a shit whether the camera is rolling or not. We’re not posting this shit on instagram or google plus to impress anyone.
We just want results. And we’ll fight for them. And we’ll try anything to grow. Bring the lactic acid, bring the soreness. We don’t need a nerd in a white lab coat to tell us what works or doesn’t work. We tell the nerd what works.
In this instance, I just so happened to have my video camera at Metroflex Gym in Austin, Texas. Ed Brown, Jr and Ivan Meraz were training legs. They were using compound sets.
Compound sets are very similar to supersets, except you work the same muscle group. Pulldowns and cable rows could comprise your compound set, or a shoulder press and shoulder raise. Again, little to no rest in between sets; the goal is to move from one exercise to the next as quickly as good form allows. Like supersets, compound sets are a tremendous time saver. Because you are focusing on the same muscles during each exercise, you will not be able to use quite as much weight as a standard set. But compound sets give you the advantage of working your muscles from a variety of angles, a key factor in avoiding the dreaded “plateau.”
After you do your main mass building exercise like squats, hack squats, front squats, etc; you throw in a couple of compound sets. Ed and Ivan did:
- Leg Press for 10 reps with around 1000lbs. Bring your legs down until you feel your lower back starting to rotate upwards. That’s far enough. Guys have broken ribs by trying to go down too far. 1000lbs is a lot of weight for 10 reps.
- Leg Extensions for 3 drop sets. Start with your heaviest weight and do 10 reps. Drop the weight by 10% or so and do more reps. Drop the weight again and knock out 20 reps with a slow negative rep on the last set. If you have anything left, try and throw up some partial reps. Speaking of “throw up”…you just might. Especially after the second compound set. Rest 90 seconds in between compound sets.
You don’t need anymore than 2 compound sets. If you can do more than 2, then you didn’t use enough intensity or enough weight or both.
In the video below, you’ll see compound sets, drop sets and negatives in action. All 3 of these techniques can help you break through any lapses in muscle growth that you may be experiencing. Use them conservatively at first. Try one of the 3 techniques in the beginning and then in time, you can add in a second technique. Both Ed and Ivan have 30 years of experience between the two of them. They’ve earned the right.
Bodybuilding is about experimenting, intensity, and pushing yourself beyond your current limits both physically and mentally. If you can’t push yourself, you’ll never reach your maximum potential. You can see the intensity in the video clip below. This is bodybuilding at it’s purest. It doesn’t come from a blog post, a magazine with fake photoshoots or some keyboard warrior on a forum or on social media. It happens in the gym.
This is the reality of bodybuilding.
Ivan Meraz is a personal trainer and competition coach in the Austin, Texas area. He is a national level competitor and has been bodybuilding for 13 years. Originally from Mexico, he moved to Texas as a boy. He was a skater as a young boy and a soccer player. He can be reached at Ivan.email@example.com or via his website at www.hardbodiesworldgym.com
Ed Brown, Jr is a master impersonator.
P.S. Check out the limited time opportunity for Lee Priests fans to unite and let their voice be heard! Bring Lee back to the IFBB and 212 class. Details at http://teespring.com/leepriest212
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