T Nation

What I've Picked Up Along The Way

The important parts are CAPITALIZED, so feel free to skip to those parts

I just thought I would give some advice/tips based on what i’ve learned from others/persona experience throughout my training.

(This is for bodybuilding… AKA building big muscles, not lifting the most weight possible/ego gratification. It’s for looking good naked, as opposed to being super-duper strong)

I would appreciate it if those who continually cause T-Nation threads to fall into chaos and senseless, childish arguments will simply read, and refrain from voicing their thoughts.

all others, feel free to comment and give your perspective/what you have learned from your training. THIS IS DISCUSSION, NOT DEBATE

TRAINING SAFELY, AND FOR MAXIMUM GROWTH:

Training safely and avoiding injury is the most important thing (besides overall physical health), it should be your number one priority, as injury will slow your progress…maybe even causing you to have to give up certain lifts, or even training in general. Injuries can be costly and can stay with you for the rest of your life.

I believe that powerlifting/lifting for strength, are very foolish ideas. I believe that methods like 5/3/1 will result in more injuries than growth, and should be avoided… i know that will turn off many here, but this is the bodybuilding forum. T-Nation has a powerlifting forum… so if you disagree, consider relocating to here:

That being said, i’ve adjusted my training over the years to be based completely around lifts/methodology that are both joint-friendly, and lifts that stimulate the muscle in the way that directly involves the muscle’s function.

IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES:

-SAFETY
-CONTROL
-CONTRACTION (if you don’t feel the muscle working, it’s not working optimally)
-STRETCH (essential for growth)
-FEEL (the muscle do the work)
-VARIETY (sets/reps/stances/tempo… not necessarily exercises or routine rotation)

STAPLES OF MY TRAINING:

CHEST: DB FLOOR PRESS (CHEST MUSCLES ARE STERNAL/MINOR/MAJOR… NO INNER/OUTER/CLEAVAGE/WHATEVER)

Execution: have elbows flared out to sides (not tucked, as this activates triceps), and press and lower in a controlled, continuous fashion. DO NOT lock out your elbows, and DO NOT allow your arms to rest on the floor. Continuous motion is key here.

I know you may be thinking, “how can this be a good chest builder? you don’t have full range of motion!”. This is true, however when your arms go beyond the degree of motion that the floor press allows, your shoulder muscles not only become activated, but your shoulder joint is stressed and placed in a precarious position. Also, full range of motion is not essential.

Using dummbells is of course, superior to using barbells. The barbell floor press puts a lot more focus on the triceps in my experience, which is not what we are wanting, as we are training chest. The dummbell floor press also allows you to perform a type of "guilltione-type press (which is an OUTSTANDING movement for developing the chest)…this is done by moving your elbows further up towards your head (the inverse of tucking them)… you obviously do not want the degree to be too exaggerated. Sadly, this movement in the traditional way is VERY dangerous, and must be done with VERY light weight as a result. With DB’s on the floor, this is not the case.

Additionally, you can elevate your trunk slightly to give the movement a very slight decline angle, as DECLINE PRESSING TARGETS YOUR CHEST IN THE MOST COMPLETE WAY (EVEN THE STERNAL). If you absolutely MUST do incline… which Idk why you would, do incline DB on a VERY SLIGHT incline (1-2 45lb plate under a flat bench). (Incline pressing is basically all shoulders…)

give it a shot, and let me know what you think. People with torn rotators will benefit the most from incorporating this movement.

I also do WEIGHTED DIPS (slow and controlled, elbows flared), last set is a drop set to failure)

BACK:

Reading John Meadow’s articles and studying his training principles has absolutely changed the way i train my back. I used to begin every session with Deadlifts, which was silly and not conducive to bodybuilding. That being said:

STAPLES: (routine generally follows this order)

  1. Row variation
  2. mid/lower trap activation
  3. Shrug Variation
  4. Deadlift variation (from floor or rack pull from various heights)
  5. Pulldown variation
  6. Banded hyper

1 ARM BB ROW

EXECUTION - Be sure to elevate the foot of the lat you are training (by standing on a plate). Pull your elbow back (no bicep involvement) as far/hard as you can in a controlled motion, hold contraction, and lower/stretch completely and repeat. Meadows Handle is very helpful here, not to much on the meadows row ironically (as you have to lean away from the bar)

(Meadows row is also excellent, my second favorite row variation, FOOT PLACEMENT IS KEY, and be sure to LEAN AWAY FROM THE WEIGHT)

MID/LOWER TRAP ACTIVATION (this takes a lot of focus, but once you hit it, you will know… high reps, low weight, I use this to activate the muscle, not build it) at 41 seconds in

example with barbell (I like this very much, but it requires far more in terms of set up than the rope example and squat racks are not always available)

SHRUGS (NEVER MIXED GRIP, same with deadlifts/rack pulls)Ã???Ã???Ã??Ã?¢?? Everyone knows what these are of course, but 90% of lifters do them Ã???Ã???Ã??Ã?¢??wrongÃ???Ã???Ã??Ã?¢?? IMO. With either a barbell or DB’s, 3 second hold, 3 second stretch, 10-20 reps WEIGHT IS SECONDARY (as it is with any lift). IF YOU CAN’T FEEL IT, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. (seated or standing)

DEADLIFT VARIATION

After the mid/lower and Upper trap fibers have been activated, it’s time to trash them. Go heavy and hard here but KEEP YOUR SPINE NEUTRAL, and NO ONE REP MAXES. My top set is never less than 3 reps

PULLDOWN VARIATION (always done chest out, facing away from the stack for better stretch) 2-3 second concentric, contraction, and eccentric EACH

This is my favorite attachment. I love it so much, that I bought my own… Mine is wider though, about 34 inches

I also like close grip supinated pull downs

HYPERS (always done with band 1 second hold at top, BEHIND NECK to failure) do NOT go beyond neutral with your spine

SHOULDERS (high reps, drop sets, many sets)

PRINCIPLES �??�??�?�¢?? (DEEPLY influenced by John Meadows)

-REAR DELTS FIRST (high reps/sets to failure, hold contraction) rear delts should NEVER be an afterthought… they should be your primary focus

-reverse pec deck
-bent over partials
-bent over wide-grip high rows (basically a bent over row to your clavicles, be sure to hold contraction… this one KILLS)

LATERAL DELTS SECOND (high reps)

-partial laterals (no surprise here)
-lateral raise machine (slow negatives/forced reps)
-this movement (hits rear delts, traps… a very solid lift)

PRESSING LAST

-cage press (gives me the best contraction, it’s also the only press I can do after my rear/lateral delts are pumped beyond belief) IMO the BEST/SAFEST press there is. Lock out your delts, not your elbows… try it, and u will figure out what i mean.

ARMS (follow John meadow’s principles entirely, the man is a genius) strong contraction, Slow controlled reps/supersets etc… TRAIN YOUR MUSCLES NOT YOUR JOINTS

MY STAPLES

-Tricep rope extension with FISTS FACING EACH OTHER (hits the triceps in a unique way, excellent contraction) light lockout

-Close Grip Floor Press, slightly wider than shoulder width grip (my gym has a smith machine that goes down to the perfect height, I use a false grip push and up and towards my feet with the bar, otherwise just do with a free bar up and down. ELBOWS TUCKED-ish NO LOCKOUT)

-Skullcrushers on ground: yep, you read that right… impossible to cheat, and you can’t put your shoulders in a precarious position. GREAT isolation (ALWAYS DO AFTER TRICEPS ARE PUMPED, NEVER BEFORE) Slow and controlled, no lockout

-Hammer curls (performed in John Meadow’s fashion)

-DB curls (palms facing out)

LEGS (John meadow’s principles)

(how I train)
-HAM CURLS FIRST (I prefer lying, with partials at the end of the final work set A la John Meadows. Vary stances, tempo, reps etc)

-SQUAT SECOND (varying depths, stances, and rates of descent, sometimes ALL IN THE SAME SET) 5-widowmaker reps (never lower than 5) NO LOCKOUT (I do some ets to failure after adjusting the power rack accordingly for safety)

-LEG PRESS (I cant feel these, so I dont do them)

-SLDL Ã???Ã???Ã??Ã?¢?? I do these with 45lb plates even though 25lb plates will give better stretch. IDK why, but I feel them better. (before I perform these, I contract my glutes and hamstrings VERY hard for a good 10-20 seconds between my warm up and work sets… this helps to feel the muscle VERY well)

that sums this up. Next installment is lifting equipment.

LIFTING EQUIPMENT

I buy all my lifting equipment from Elitefts.com

Lifting gear not only protects your joints, but some pieces add a whole new dimension to your training (E.G. chains, bands etc.). Since variety is essential in training, I would recommend picking up some of the tools… like chains (I love them)

The ESSENTIALS

-Elbow sleeves
-Knee sleeves
-wrist straps
-Lifting belt
-Wrist wraps

I consider these essential as I have suffered from a nasty wrist injury that could have been prevented. I couldnt press heavy for 3 months, if I had spent a few dollars to buy wraps… it would have never happened. Sleeves also greatly help with tendonitis if you have it, and help to prevent it if you dont

I consider avoiding buying these to be a sort of self neglect…

The NON-ESSENTIALS (that I have anyways)

-Chains (EXCELLENT for deadlifts, squats, one arm BB Rows, Meadows Rows, Dips (attach to my dip belt), Close grip floor press, rapid deloading etc.)
-Bands (needed for banded hypers, banded pushups etc. also good for reverse band deadlifts and benching, but I dont do those)
-Dip belt

nice and easy, next installment is recovery/prehab

PRE-HAB AND RECOVERY

IMO, these two go hand in hand.

Essential concepts

FOAM ROLL:

This may be painful and time consuming, but it is essential for recovery and avoiding injuries.

STRETCHING:

like foam rolling, can be painful, but is essential for recovery and avoiding injuries.

IMPLEMENTATION:

I personally foam roll and stretch a body part (for a good 20-30 minutes) the night before I train it, and directly after training it (never directly before, because it is a tiring practice). Be sure to stretch your hamstrings and glutes… and for Heaven’s sake… stretch your inner thighs and groin area!

I use DC style stretching for my chest and lats after I am done training them, and I will stretch my rear delts after I have pumped them up…

Stretching and foam rolling will allow you to avoid injury and recover quicker, permitting more frequent training.

SLEEP (get lots of this)

RECOVERY SUPPLEMENTS (peri-workout nutrition)

not just the latest fad in supplements… these products allow your muscles to recover and repair quickly, allowing for more frequent training. Biotest’s anaconda, and supplements like them are ESSENTIAL for optimal growth and recovery IMO. This is DEFINITELY WORTH LOOKING INTO.

Next installment is diet (this should be good considering the ?think you are big but just fat? thread)

DIET

simply put… you are what you eat, so AVOID EATING SHIT

come on everyone… you are not children, this should not be difficult. If you are committed enough to research new training methods and drag your ass to the gym numerous times a week, why shortchange yourself with suboptimal nutrition? It is important to avoid temptation as well… especially for those who are very weak minded.

PRINCIPLES:

QUANTITY
CHOICES
CARB-TIMING

QUANTITY: I got fat by eating WAY TOO MUCH. I always thought that I could never get fat as long as the food I ate was healthy (LOL). Now that I am lean (with Shelby’s help) my muscles are growing FAR FASTER THAN EVER BEFORE (as a result of increased insulin sensitivity).

In addition to making you fat and lowering your insulin sensitivity (very important to avoid doing), eating too much is also very taxing on your primary organs and digestive system as a whole.

That being said, BUY A SCALE AND MEASURING TOOLS. These are critical IMO, because without them, you likely have NO CLUE how much you are eating. Weigh your protein, and measure your carbs and fats, and know the difference between cooked measure, and raw measure (E.G. cooked chicken breast is generally 6.5-7.5g of protein per oz, 1 cup of COOKED white rice is about 40g of carbs, whereas ¼ cup of RAW white rice is 30-35g carbs).

Having these tools will keep you from overeating. Feed your body not your mind/taste buds… Feed your body what it needs, and how much it needs… do not overfeed yourself.

I eat roughly every three hours on non-training days

You may say, ?well im bulking!?.. a foolish and outdated practice. Bulking is an old practice performed by bodybuilders who were aided by AAS, GH, PEPTIDES, AND INSULIN! WHY WOULD IT WORK FOR YOU?

That being said, there is a distinct difference between a MODERATE and CALCULATED caloric surplus for the purpose of gaining mass, where you adjust your macros based on your progress/body composition (the right way to do it), and an ?all out bulk?, where you just eat whatever, and get fat and sloppy, but use the ?permabulk? reasoning to justify your lack of restraint. It is what it is

CHOICES:

Food choices are highly influenced by the Mountain Dog diet… E.G., if you are going to eat the fat of a protein source, make sure it’s grassfed/free range/organic etc… If you dont want to fork out the extra cash (which I dont), eat chicken breasts and beef liver… basically exclusively and cut the fat off

I only eat chicken breasts and beef liver… I cut off every last bit of fat that I can, and cook it on a george foreman grill so i dont have to use cooking oil or spray (I barely cook the beef liver because I love it very rare). I then add my own fats to meet my macro requirements for the meal, like coconut oil or grassfed butter.

If it were not for John Meadows, I would have never found out about coconut oil and grassfed butter. They are my only fat sources. Peanut butter is too hard to stop eating, as are things like walnuts… avocados go bad quickly and are expensive, extra virgin olive oil is expensive and not good for cooking… etc…

coconut oil is the most cost-effective fat, and it’s VERY healthy for you. I would suggest doing lots of research on both it, and grassfed butter. I really enjoyed red palm oil, but it’s too expensive for my pocket book

I also love brewer’s/nutritional yeast.

avoid alcohol and sugar (obviously)… again, if you are wanting to get anything out of something, give it your all.

TIMING

John Meadows advises TIMING CARBS AROUND WORKOUTS to ?give them purpose?, and I could not agree more. Carbs are your body’s preferred energy source, and they directly effect blood sugar/insulin response etc… so why would you eat them at any other time?

Be sure to control the quantity of carbs (I recommend starting with NO MORE THAN 1g/lb of bodyweight, as well as the type (avoid breads other than ezekiel, and avoid dairy as it is very insulinogenic, fructose in excess is also very bad for you, so I dont eat fruit…)

I recommend having food carbs pre-workout, and a peri-workout carb source during your workout along with a hydrosylate protein source, and NO carbs afterward. Read up on DAT’s ?carbless post workout? if you want to know why. John Meadows also refers to no carbs post workout as the ?rapid fat loss method?, or something to that measure. There are few things that will up your insulin sensitivity faster than timing your carbs in this fashion.

Again, ?BULKING UP? is foolish (especially if you are not using performance enhancing drugs), outdated, and can really slow down your progress in addition to causing health issues like high BP and a sluggish digestive system.

Your diet WILL make or break your training success. It is just as important to avoid overeating as it is to avoid undereating.

Next installment is performance enhancing drugs

PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS

GENERAL

if you are considering using them:

-Study
-Be Mature about their use (do NOT abuse them). Know that they are illegal, and getting involved with them is against the law
-Have perspective (you will NOT be an IFBB pro)
-Use support suplements (a no brainer that becomes critical when using these drugs. U should be consuming these regardless of whether or not you are enhanced). Fish oil, primrose oil, coq10, multivitamin, vitamin C, b complex, magnesium, zinc, plenty of healthy saturated fats (coconut oil, grassfed butter).
-Get blood work and closely monitor your blood pressure

that’s all im going to say. This is the bodybuilding board, not the steroid board, so im doing my best to avoid breaking the rules

that’s all for now folks, if you want to know anything else, just post a question.

and feel free to comment

Got any insight into Calf training?

[quote]optheta wrote:
Got any insight into Calf training?[/quote]

John Meadows recommended standing calf raises, sets of ten until you cannot get ten reps. Strong contraction and stretch

supersetted with “toe ups” from a standing position, to trainn your tibialis/further fill your lower leg up with blood. Roughly 50 sets per set (or until you feel numb)

so you go back and forth between the two, until you fail on the 10 reps of standing calf raises

2x a week

also methods like 10 reps, 10 seconds at peak contraction, 10 seconds at stretch, repeat 2x (this is one set)

Based on my research, calves should be trained very heavy (in a controlled fashion that targets the muscle and avoids injury simultaneously), and not with dozens and dozens of reps in each set. The calves have a lot of endurance, and are generally unaccustomed to heavy weight. They are accustomed to light, marathon type work (given how they function in day to day life)

Is this still how John Meadows does arms? http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/mountain_dog_arms

Thanks for your input. Looking to read more.

Concerning food quantity, in general how would you manipulate it to lose or gain and more specifically is the carb cycling plan I laid out in my log seem reasonable?

This is a great. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

I think the most important part when pressing for delts is, as you wrote, locking out the delts, not triceps. Took me a long time to get it but it was more than worth it.

[quote]Mr. Walkway wrote:
PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS
[/quote]

I thought it all came down to taking more pharma, brah? ha jk

The carb-less pwo part struck a note with me. I personally tend to eat way too much cals after training, resulting in being much fatter than needed. Pigging out after training (I deserve it 'coz I trained so hard thing) became somewhat of a bad habit during gain phases. The funny thing is that when I just take a protein shake (with no carbs) after training and then a smaller clean meal some time later, I feel actually much better than eating much more.

you ever try loaded stretches a la DC training? I’ve tried them but they just don’t feel right

Good stuff man. Thanks for sharing. Now that I’m cutting I’m switching to pre instead of post workout carbs you talked about in another thread from dat.

[quote]optheta wrote:
Is this still how John Meadows does arms? http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/mountain_dog_arms
[/quote]

yes, the exercise selection is of course important, but pay close attention to:

reps
tempo
supersets
frequency
making a light weight feel heavy
squeezing the weight in your hand as hard as possible

I really like his priciples of "driving as much blood into the muscle as possible, and not doing skull crushers until the triceps are pumped, in order to protect the elbows.

I strongly recommend subscribing to his site

33 cents a day and you get access to TONS of reading material, including VERY solid workouts

[quote]JoabSonOfZeruiah wrote:
Concerning food quantity, in general how would you manipulate it to lose or gain and more specifically is the carb cycling plan I laid out in my log seem reasonable?[/quote]

feel free to post a link to your log here so i can look it over

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
you ever try loaded stretches a la DC training? I’ve tried them but they just don’t feel right[/quote]

i load the chest stretch with DB (i dont load it as heavy as they suggest though)

I also hang from a pull up bar with a wider grip to stretch my chest once it is pumped full of blood (not many people do this… not sure why, it’s excellent)

Excellent posts. Thanks for taking the time and effort, some really good techniques/habits for most to adopt here.

Thanks, great post and good read.