Lee Priest Workout 19
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.
If you’re serious about making solid gains as a bodybuilder, you should be very careful of who you take advice from. Bodybuilding and fitness is literally a multi-billion dollar industry with new websites popping up every single day. Many of the so-called “experts” out there are hiding behind a keyboard and really don’t have a clue of what they’re talking about. In some instances they are only motivated by pushing expensive pills, powders and “miracle programs” on you that you don’t really need. If you’re not careful, you may end up falling for some fatal bodybuilding pitfalls that can literally destroy your gains and prevent you from ever achieving the impressive, muscular physique that you desire. In this article I’m going to expose 4 very common bodybuilding myths in order to keep you on the right path to the mind-blowing muscle and strength gains that you deserve. Be sure to read to the end of the article so you can check out a little used technique that can result in explosive growth.
Myth #1: In order to build muscle, you must achieve a “pump” during your workout. The greater the pump you achieve, the more muscle you will build.
For those of you who are just starting out, a “pump” is the feeling that you get as blood becomes trapped inside the muscle tissue when you train with weights. The muscles will swell up and leave your body feeling bigger, tighter, stronger and more powerful. While a pump does feel awesome, it has very little, if anything to do with properly stimulating your muscles to grow. A pump is simply the result of increased bloodflow to the muscle tissue and is certainly not indicative of a successful workout. A successful workout should only be gauged by the concept of progression. If you were able to lift more weight or perform more reps than you did in the previous week, then you did your job.
Myth #2: Building muscle will cause you to become slower and less flexible.
This one goes back to the old days when people described bodybuilders as being “muscle bound” and “bulky”. Contrary to what you may think, building a significant amount of lean muscle mass can actually help you become faster rather than slow you down. Muscles are responsible for every movement that your body makes, from running to jumping to throwing. The bottom line is that the stronger a muscle is, the more force it can apply. Having stronger, more muscular legs means increased foot speed, just as having stronger and more muscular shoulders means the ability to throw farther. Strong muscles are able muscles, not the other way around.
Myth #3: You must always use perfect, textbook form on all exercises.
While using good form in the gym is always important, obsessing over perfect form is an entirely different matter. If you are always attempting to perform every exercise using flawless, textbook form, you can decrease the total amount of muscle stimulation you might achieve. Remember, we are not robots! It’s very important that you always move naturally when you exercise. Every once in a while it’s OK to add a slight sway in your back when you perform “cheating” bicep curls, or use a tiny bit of body momentum when doing barbell rows. Loosen yourself up a bit and move the way your body was meant to be moved. Obsessing over perfect form can actually work against you rather than for you.
Myth #4: If you want your muscles to grow you must “feel the burn!”
This is another huge misconception in the gym. The “burning” sensation that results from intense weight training is simply the result of lactic acid (a metabolic waste product) that is secreted inside the muscle tissue as you exercise. Increased levels of lactic acid have nothing to do with muscle growth and may actually slow down your gains rather than speed them up. You can limit lactic acid production by training in a lower rep range of 5-7, rather than the traditional range of 10 and above.
In the video below, Ed Brown, Jr demonstrates “Cheat Curls” for building bigger arms. Ed was Lee Priest’s training partner in 2007 and of course, Lee knows a thing or two about building arms. Lee once curled 300 pounds when he was training at World Gym in the 90’s. When you throw that much weight up, your arms have no choice but to respond with new growth. Remember, it’s always better to take advice from those who are actually doing it and not just writing about it.
P.S. Thanks to Metroflex Gym in Austin! Check out their website at http://metroflexaustin.com/
In late October 2012, I had my second meeting with Lou Ferrigno.
I picked him up at the Marriott hotel in downtown Austin, Texas around 4pm on a warm afternoon.
As I sat in the truck outside the hotel, I looked in my passenger rear view mirror to watch for the legend. I remember watching Lou in the 70’s TV show, The Incredible Hulk and how it made a huge impression on me. I received my share of bullying as a kid but when I watched The Hulk, I became The Hulk. In fact, that became my nickname after I began lifting weights as a teenager. As muscles began sprouting, my classmates referred to me as “Hulk”.
My first meeting with Lou took place months earlier in June. We ended that meeting with the idea that we would meet again when Lou came down to attend a Gun Show in the Austin area. He’s a reserve deputy with the San Luis Obispo’s Sheriff’s Department in California and he and his friend, Brad share a love of guns.
All of a sudden there was Lou standing outside the truck. The afternoon hustle and bustle of a Friday afternoon was in full swing. He quickly opened the door, slid in, extended his hand, looked me in the eye and said “Hello!” with a big smile. This time I acted less star struck. It was a comfortable feeling. Vascularity was evident in his arms, he was lean and energetic and wore a dark grey shirt and black dress pants.
HE LIKED THE TRUCK
After we exchanged pleasantries, he commented on how much he liked the truck, asking what kind it was and what year (2012 Chevy Silverado 1500, Extended Cab). As we made our way through the streets of downtown Austin, I couldn’t help but think to myself:
“This guy was my hero in the TV show “The Hulk”. This man was featured in the movie “Pumping Iron” with Arnold. We’re in the truck together just the 2 of us.”
We headed over to another hotel to pick up Lou’s friend, Brad and then we drove South On IH 35 towards Wimberley, Texas to meet up with Joe Vitale. Joe has a Steve Reeves bodybuilding collection like you’ve never seen. Joe has been collecting items from Steve’s estate piece by piece for years. Some of the collection includes:
- Steve’s Universal Gym that he worked out on in his garage until the day he died
- Steve’s 1977 Jaguar XJS V-12. Rock Hudson walked into the Beverly Hills, California dealership and wanted to buy the car. The salesman said to Rock, “You can’t have it, it’s reserved for Steve Reeves.” Rock says, “I know Steve Reeves, he’s in Europe filming and he won’t mind if I buy it.” “No”, says the salesman and kept the car for Steve.
- Steve’s trophies – including Sandows
- Steve’s dining room table that he ate at as a boy
- “The Wall”. The section of garage wall that Steve marked his standard workout on as a teenager, growing up in Oakland
- Clothing, Saddles, Watches
- The Hyperextension machine that Steve trained Bo Derek on
- Steve’s bicycle
- Steve’s books
- Steve’s Directors Chair with “Steve Reeves” branded on the back. He took this chair everywhere with him when filming
- Steve’s dumbbells that he worked out with on movie sets
- And much more
If you’re a bodybuilding fan, you could spend hours in Joe’s gym looking and admiring all of this stuff.
And Lou is. He’s a fan and was immensely inspired by Steve Reeves. This is the reason for the trip. To check out the Steve Reeves collection and have dinner.
As we drive down the highway, we talk about a million things – Steve Reeves, George Reeves (played Superman and was another hero of Lou’s), bodybuilding. I asked Lou if it was true that Joe Gold kicked him out for yelling and his answer was an emphatic “No”. I wasn’t going to argue that I had heard from a source firsthand that it was true. Whatever. Let sleeping dogs lie.
At one point, Lou asked me to “speed up”. It still kind of makes me laugh because I’m not sure why. The highway was busy with rush hour Friday traffic. We weren’t late or anything. Maybe he was getting hungry. Maybe I was talking too much 🙂 We turned off to exit the highway and drove the last several miles through the hill country to Wimberley. It began to grow dark as the farm and ranch lights began to come on.
We arrived, met Joe who hugged Lou and immediately went over to check out the Jaguar. Lou was in awe – which was cool to see. Lou has seen a lot in his life so to see him in awe was inspiring. After spending 10 minutes or so with the car, we made our way into the gym. There Lou encountered the Universal and some of the other pieces mentioned above.
Lou spent a lot of time looking at “The Wall”.
After spending time in Joe’s gym admiring all of the Steve Reeve’s collectibles, we headed into the house to see more – the table, clothing, trophies. Finally we went up to Joe’s office to see even more – pictures of Steve, more trophies, statues. Lou was blown away. Joe’s office is dripping in luxury from collectible books, guitars, pictures and paintings. Lou sat at Joe’s desk and took it all in. You could tell he felt at home. Lou asked surprisingly in-depth questions, such as, “What is your greatest fear?’ Joe spent so much time thinking about his answer that Lou nudged Joe by saying, “You know what it is.” After Joe told him about fear of failure, he confessed he doesn’t know how to swim. He fears going down in a plane over water.
We could have spent more time here but we felt our stomachs grumbling so off we went to dinner. We ate in the “Vitale Cigar Room” at Bruce Colleys restaurant in Wimberley. Bruce is a former pro football player and has 13 kids with his wife, Holly. Thirteen! Bruce is a giant of a man too, so it was fun to see Lou and Bruce meet for the first time.
Bruce talked about how Lou had inspired him early on in life and came to tears at one point. Lou was flabbergasted that Bruce and Hollie had 13 kids and at how well behaved they were as they helped to serve the meal.
I sat next to Lou at the dinner table. We had appetizers, Steak, baked potato, salad and wine. Lou kept it clean and didn’t overindulge. I had the Vitale steak which is a 20 oz monster fit for the biggest bodybuilder or famous fitness celeb.
After a 3 hour dinner, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Austin. It was late around 10pm. I drove Lou and Brad back to their hotels. We talked about Arnold, Sergio, Steve Reeves, the fun that we had just had and plans to hang out again. Next on our list could be the Joe Weider Museum in Austin on the University of Texas campus. Lou asked me about my family, my wife, kids, about what I do for a living. He showed genuine interest in all of it. During the drive back, I mentioned that my former boss, Frank Capallupo was a Mr AAU MR America Masters winner and had placed 2nd to Boyer Coe as a teenager. He trained at the Duncan YMCA in Chicago (same as Sergio). Lou showed great interest in all of this. I couldn’t help myself, I dialed Frank’s phone number and handed the phone to Lou.
Frank got the shock of his life, when all of a sudden Lou said “Hello, this is Lou Ferrigno”. They talked for about 5 minutes. Frank and I used to watch “Pumping Iron” over and over again in the 90’s when we were both competing. We couldn’t get enough of all of the quotable lines and memorable scenes.
Once at the hotel, I got out hugged Lou, shook his hand and watched as he walked quickly to the hotel. I smiled all the way home – it was a night filled with great stories, great times and great food.
P.S. I have a ton of stories like this with various people in the bodybuilding and fitness industry. Be sure to enter your email for future articles like this so you don’t miss out!
P.P.S. I hope I didn’t talk him to death!
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.
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