BIGGER AND BETTER
BIGGER AND BETTER
It’s time to come clean. For the most part, training articles are designed to be page fillers. I can sum up every training article in three sentences:
Pick weight up. Put weight down. Repeat.
That’s about it folks – which is what makes me crazy when I hear about exercise experts, or worse “strength coaches” who devise “secret programs” that promote MIND BLOWING MUSCLE GROWTH! Most workout routines have absolutely no science behind them. They can’t – building muscle isn’t an exact science.
Most of the time, the articles that appear in print are just a bunch of “made up” stuff. And do you know who strength coaches are? They’re usually whomever the magazines declare an authority. Quite often they’re just muscular guys who lend their names to the by-line and the articles are actually written by a fat, bald ghost writer.
True, there are some legitimate strength coaches who know what they’re talking about, but the only reason they obtain acclaim is because they happen to be naturally strong dudes – which has nothing to do with teaching you or anyone else how to get strong. Still, they have credence because they walk the walk. (Who wants to listen to guy who can’t bench more than you do?) But just because they’re strong doesn’t mean they know the secret. Do you want to know their secret? They have good genes.
Many of the higher echelon coaches work with professional athletes and use the accomplishments of the pros as testament to their methods. Well guess what? Not everyone is a professional level athlete. And for every success story, there are hundreds of others who fall by the wayside – but those aren’t mentioned, of course.
The bottom line is, if you took 1,000 men and pushed them to the limit, there will be a select few who survive and excel. That doesn’t mean it was due to the coaches’ methods. It just means they were the best of the bunch. I’m always amused when someone says; “I did so and so’s workout and I was sore for days!” Big deal. Do 100 set of squats and you’ll be sore for weeks. Anyone can concoct an infinite variety of set and rep schemes (the basis of most muscle magazine articles), but in the end, it all comes down to how much work you subject your muscles to. That work can come in many ways. As a matter of fact, it can come any way.
There are a handful of top notch bodybuilding authors, (such as Dennis Weis) who write detailed, in-depth routines that are wonderful. There’s a place for that. Everyone is different and everyone likes to follow a different style of training. Instead of specific routines however, I’ve always tried to write quirky training features that are fun and unusual – something you may not have thought of yourself. If such an article gets you to go to the gym and try it, then I’ve succeeded.
The following chapters are examples of some of my favorite workouts for each bodypart. Some employ tactics which are original discoveries. (Such as “A Different Ab Exercise” and “Quick Calves”) while others are arrangements of more traditional
exercises which incorporate methods I’ve learned from world class bodybuilders with whom I’ve associated throughout the years.
NOTE: You may want to read each workout prior to training a specific bodypart. In this way, the techniques are fresh in your mind. For more “expose’” material centering on the falsehoods surrounding bodybuilding, jump forward to the next section – The Truth About Nutrition.
A DIFFERENT ABDOMINAL EXERCISE…..REALLY
Oh no. Not another ab article. You must be kidding. That’s the stuff you find in those wimpy fitness mags which have titles like “Trim Down and Tone Up By Summertime!” They’re everywhere – every month. You would think that nobody had ever heard of a sit up before. That’s what it comes down to, you know.
Every ab exercise is just a variation of the sit up or leg raise. How else can they move? The abdominals are “stabilizing” muscles with a limited range. They “assist” in pulling the trunk forward and “assist” in raising the legs upward. That’s the problem. The movement involved in sit ups, or crunches, as well as leg raises are so indirect. The psoas muscles of the upper quadricep are the primary movers in a leg raise. Sit ups are better, but they are usually employed with so much momentum that the rectus abdominals are hardly working. The lower back tends to fatigue (due to the constant stretching) before the abs get a good workout when doing high rep sit ups. I won’t even address those ridiculous “abercisers” that attempt to circumvent the neck strain by providing a head rest that winds up pulling your head into a more severely unnatural position.
It’s no wonder that most bodybuilders hate doing ab work. It’s so unsatisfying. For one thing, there’s no pump. The abs are also a very shallow muscle group (which negates the theory that they can get too big. Big bellies are not due to overly muscular abdominals). Much like the calve muscle, they consist of tiny slow twitch, red muscle fibers. You know, the kind that “burn” so badly when stressed. Also, like the calves, abdominal development is mostly determined by genetics and are the least receptive to exercise. That’s a lousy combination, isn’t it? No fun to work and the slowest to grow. Aaah, let’s do chest again.
Hold on. Keep in mind that the abs are the “showpiece” of your body. You can be muscular beyond belief but if your abs are soft, to most people you’re just a big fat guy. But someone with an average physique and killin’ abs can look spectacular!
A good example would be Frank Zane circa 1979. Frank was all of 180 pounds! Without that granite-like muscularity, coupled with diamond sharp abs, Frank would look like any of thousands of guys who work out. Instead, he was Mr. Olympia three times in a row and deservedly so. If you don’t think so, I’d like to take a look at your abs!
Since abdominal development (or lack thereof) is genetically determined and sit up and leg raise movements are ineffective, what can be done? Glad you asked. What I’d like to describe to you is a very unusual movement. In fact, there isn’t very much
“movement” involved at all. That’s the key.
The abdominals are stressed most severely when attempting to “stabilize” since that’s their function. This means that they respond to contraction, not movement. To some, this may seem too passive. You know, the guys who might say; “I do 500 sit ups with a 45 pound plate behind my head!” Well, if you think you’ve got strong abs, get down on the floor and check this out!
Abs are stubborn. Fat loves to hang around the waistline. (Why can’t excess fat develop around the biceps instead? I can deal with that.) Perform this routine on days when you aren’t working any other bodypart. Ab work should not be an
“afterthought.” Hit them hard as you would legs or chest. After a couple of weeks, you may start seeing definition in your abdominal region you never thought possible. Once you’ve achieved more muscularity and less fat, it will be easier to maintain. You’ll feel better and improve your overall look 1000%. And the babes won’t complain either.
A different abdominal exercise
While in a seated position, bend your knees and bring the feet in so they are about 10-12 inches from your body. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Hunch your torso forward, tuck your chin into your chest, and hold your hands on the outsides of your knees. Now lean back while maintaining a hunched position until your arms are completely extended (still holding on to the outsides of your knees). At this point, let go of your knees and extend the arms forward. Are you feeling the strain in your abs yet? If you are like most people, there will be a tendency to start falling backward. This is due to the fact that only the abs are involved in maintaining your balance and the usual “helpers” like the hip flexors are excluded from the equation. It’s now time to generate some serious punishment.
Slowly raise the arms so that they are pointing directly overhead (keeping the body hunched forward). Can’t be done you say? And I thought you were strong! If this is too intense, extend the feet outward until you can maintain balance. As you get stronger you can bring the feet in closer. Hold the outstretched arms above for 10 seconds. This is considered one rep.
Slowly bring them down and just as slowly, allow the torso to come up to the original position. Rest for 10 seconds. Once again, slowly lean back and repeat the movement. Ten “reps” performed correctly will be one hell of a vicious set. The number of sets performed are up to you. It would be fair to say that after 10 minutes of this type of training, your abs will be screaming for mercy. How badly do you want it?