prefix='og: fb: article:'> 2014 - Strong Muscle

Poundstone Power: Eat Clean, Get Jacked

Nutrition tips from the strongest man with a six-pack Derek Poundstone

Bent-Over Barbell Row vs. Old Fashioned T-Bar Row

Both moves work the back, but which move is better at targeting the lower lats

7 Tips From a World Class Squatter

Inflate your wheels with these strategies from a man who specializes in squatting bar-bending loads

6 Tips for a Ripped Six-Pack

Stop neglecting your abs training. These six strategies will help you retool your training to get the midsection you want

4 Moves to Bring Your Biceps to New Heights

Add some elevation to your cannons with these targeted bicep exercises

Johnnie Jackson's Back Workout

No one has had greater success as both a bodybuilder and a powerlifter than Johnnie Jackson. First, the bodybuilding. While piecing together a remarkably consistent pro league career, including three victories, he’s only improved with age. Since turning 40 in 2011, he’s cracked the top four of 11 contests, including this year’s Arnold Classic

Jackson started powerlifting after bodybuilding but soon he was triumphing at both. Three weeks before he won the 2001 NPC Nationals, he set the deadlift world record in the 220-pound class at 814. He’s totaled 2,127 pounds in competition, including a 540 bench press and 826 squat. And in 2009, he defeated Ben White to win the inaugural World’s Strongest Bodybuilder. Maybe the 5'5" Jackson’s most impressive lift, captured on video, is side laterals for 10 reps with 100-pound dumbbells—more than most guys can press —and when weighing only 230. Jackson rivals Franco Columbu as the strongest “light” bodybuilder of all time

8 Unexpected Muscle-Building Foods

These surprising food choices can help you build muscle and stay fit

We all know that what you eat can either make or break your fitness goals. By providing your body with the raw nutrients it needs, you can ensure that your muscles are getting fed correctly in order to grow. Every bodybuilder knows the usual  “bodybuilding foods” like the back of their hand—chicken breast, salmon, eggs… and the list goes on. However, there is an array of unconventional food options that fit-minded individuals can benefit from. Here is a list of 8 unexpected exercise foods that can help you build muscle and stay fit


Pronounced keen-wah, this food has the highest amount of protein than any other grain. With a nutty flavor and chewy texture, quinoa makes the perfect health-conscious substitute for rice


This creature of the sea is loaded with iron, a hemoglobin-building mineral, which is needed to disperse oxygen throughout the body.  A lack of iron can cause a dramatic decrease in energy levels, making it a task to drag yourself to the gym.  Even worse, the lack of oxygen can cause working muscles to excrete lactic acid, making you tire more quickly

(Apples (With Skin

A recent study found that a natural compound found in apple skins known as ursolic acid increased muscle mass in healthy mice. The study also found that the compound reduced obesity, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Apples as a whole are an excellent source of fiber. The soluble fiber found in the “meat” of the apple reduces cholesterol and the insoluble fiber found in the skin speeds the passage of food through your stomach


In need of an energy boost? Pick up a box of raisins to get a healthy dose of carbs and potassium, one of the most underrated minerals for fitness buffs. Potassium helps prevent muscle cramping and dehydration, a serious concern for someone pushing their limit. It helps naturally maintain fluid balance so you can work harder in the gym

Chia Seeds

These tiny members of the mint family have recently become the talk of the town because of their newly discovered array of health benefits. They are the richest plant source of omega-3s, containing a unique type called stearidonic acid, which converts into EPA to aid muscle recovery and inflammation. Chia seeds are also made up of 20% protein and are thought to aid in weight loss


Skip the medicine cabinet and opt for this natural remedy when your muscles are aching from an intense workout. This potent anti-inflammatory root can decrease swelling and prevent joint stiffness. It has also been shown to aid with weight loss, as it enables you to feel fuller, longer


This bite-sized fruit is packed with exercise-friendly nutrients. The polyphenols in cherries help decrease damage to your cells caused by free radicals during intense exercise. They also contain an array of B-vitamins, which help convert nutrients into energy.  Other benefits include combating post-workout soreness, easing the pain and inflammation of swollen joints, and helping you stay asleep longer


Pronounced kee-fer, this fermented milk beverage is similar to yogurt in that it is derived from cultures of bacteria and yeast. However, unlike yogurt, kefir has 3 times the amount of probiotics, which help boost your immune system. It’s also packed with protein from whey and casein, both of which are needed to build muscle tissue

Big Ramy: Hammer It Out for Massive Biceps

Hammer curls helped rookie pro "Big Ramy" stun the bodybuilding world

Like King Kong rampaging in Manhattan, another foreign behemoth arrived in the Big Apple and caused a sensation this past year. Behold bodybuilding’s newest phenomenon, Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay. Near the end of 2011, this 5'9" Egyptian weighed an ordinary 200 pounds and was just a “random dude in the gym.” Incredibly, he rapidly packed on enough muscle to dominate the Amateur Mr. Olympia the following year. Then, last May, the 28-year-old won his professional bodybuilding debut, the New York Pro, tipping the scales at a mind- jarring 288

There was nearly 50% more of him than there had been just 18 months earlier! Seemingly as wide as he was tall, Elssbiay’s size even dwarfed other giants in the New York lineup. Big Ramy lives just above the Kuwait gym where he trains and works, so the tools of his trade are always just a staircase away. More often than not, on arm day the tool he chooses to pound the outer biceps and brachialis is the hammer curl


Hammer curls can be performed with dumbbells, a parallel-grip bar, or a rope on a cable

Keep your thumbs up and pinkies down throughout each rep

Curl dumbbells straight up and down to each shoulder; this will mimic a hammering motion in each hand

Elssbiay’s Biceps Routine

EXERCISE                  SETS                  REPS

Hammer Curl                  4                        10-12

Preacher Curl                 4                        10-12

Rope Hammer Curl         4                        10-12


“I believe in strict form for arms. Cheating would help me use heavier weights, but it would rob me of the control I need to target the muscles”


2012 Amateur Mr. Olympia winner 

2013 New York Pro winner 

Gym Fix: Work Your Chest and Triceps With the Floor Plan

Try the best accessory chest exercise you're not already doing

Are you rocking the same chest workout every time you walk in the gym? We bet you are. If you’re like the 98% of guys out there, you’re starting off with flat benching, moving on to the incline bench, then finishing things off with some dumbbell benches and flyes

What happens when you stick to that template week after week and year after year? Absolutely nothing. You’ll grow and get stronger for a while, but as soon as your body adapts to what you’re doing every workout, your progress grinds to a halt and you’re left wondering what you can do to get yourself back on track and making gains again

Enter the floor press. This versatile movement is a great way to work the middle section of your bench press stroke. It’s also tremendously effective for working both your chest and your triceps without placing excessive strain on your shoulders

Perform barbell floor presses in a power rack with adjustable J-hooks. If your gym doesn’t have a power rack, stick with the dumbbell version


Lie on your back on the floor in a power rack. Unrack the bar as you would when bench pressing and lower the weight until your elbows hit the ground. Pause for a second, then press the bar back to the start position


Lie on the floor with a pair of dumbbells. Press the dumbbells until they’re over your chest, lower, pause, then explosively repeat

Tips for Protecting Lean Muscle Mass

Sustain the lean muscle you've worked so hard to achieve through training and diet

According to multiple studies, weight training combined with three 30-minute cardio sessions per week yields cardiovascular benefits without muscle loss. Those benefits include improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels, better heart function, reduced risk of osteoporosis, and the development of greater muscle mass. You can sustain your lean muscle by following these four helpful tips

Interval Training

In order to sustain muscle gains, make interval training a regular part of your aerobic exercise regimen. Ride a stationary bicycle or train on an elliptical or rowing machine for 30 minutes, punctuating the workout with one-minute high intensity sprints, rows or cycling every 5 minutes

Save Cardio for Days Off

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, studies indicate that isolating your weight training sessions is more effective for muscle building than a combination of weight-training and cardio on the same day. If you must combine cardio- and strength training on the same day, lift first, when physical strength and energy supplies are at their peak, and then do your cardio

Get Your Calorie Fill

At a minimum, you should be eating three moderate to large-size meals of approximately 500 - 700 calories each a day, with three snacks throughout the day consisting of 200-400 calories each


Make sure you are practicing proper recovery nutrition. According to the ADA, it is recommended that we refuel with 0.5 g carbohydrates per lb of body-weight immediately following heavy or prolonged training. For most strength athletes, .5 to .80 grams of protein per pound of body weight needs to be consumed to build and repair muscle tissue. For most anyone, protein should supply 10 to 35 percent of overall energy intake

How to Do the Jefferson Deadlift

Here's what you need to know

The Jefferson deadlift covers a lot of areas for just one exercise, some of which are missing in people's movement habits

There's no one ideal way to the lift so experiment and find the best leverage for your body

Simply straddle the bar, grab it under your shoulders, and stand up. Try it with the left leg forward, the right leg forward, different grips, and see what works best for you

The Jefferson deadlift – also known simply as the Jefferson lift – is a classic strongman movement that for whatever reason has gone the way of the 8 track cassette and hair metal. That's a low-down dirty shame because the Jefferson deadlift is great for strength, power, core stability, and hip durability. It should be a staple in any serious strength athlete's routine

The movement is a great way to encourage people to get their knees open so they can take a wider stance in their squats while building some rotational range of motion. It also coaxes them outside of a pure saggital plane movement pattern that can become dominant if not addressed

Dave Dellanave holds the world record in the Jefferson deadlift and it's one of the main lifts he prescribes to trainees. Here's Dave setting the world record for a 605-pound Jefferson lift at a bodyweight of 202 pounds

The Jefferson deadlift is really useful because it hits a lot of training areas, some of which are sorely missing in most lifters' movement habits. "You get asymmetry, rotation, hip hinging, and heavy loading all in one movement," says Dave. "The asymmetrical position seems to be especially helpful for people who struggle with pain or movement issues in more traditional or symmetrical deadlifts

"The lift also tends to be self-correcting in that there's no one ideal way to do it, so people are free to find the best leverage that works for their body, provided they're not doing something egregiously dangerous and outside their limits. Interestingly, I've seen a not-insignificant number of people for whom doing only one side of the Jefferson works out better"

The biomechanics of the lift are straightforward. Your center of gravity is vertical over the load and your feet straddle the bar to provide a large base of support through which to generate force

In a conventional deadlift, you have the majority of the weight behind the bar, thus the base of support is relatively small compared to the Jefferson. The sumo stance has a wider base, but again the majority of weight is behind the bar at set up, which means leaning and increasing shear forces on the low back

If you use a Jefferson stance, though, you can increase the vertical position of the spine and thus allow more compressive forces and fewer shear forces, making it an easier exercise for guys with jacked-up low backs

If you want to increase the amount of weight you lift, having your center of gravity vertical over the load along with a larger base of support equates to better leverage, and that translates to bigger lifts. I tried it out yesterday, cold and still in my work uniform, just to see what would happen with heavier loading

I started with 225 and then did 315, each for 3 reps, using a double-overhand grip. I did one rep at 405, but my grip failed when I got to about mid-thigh. I switched to a mixed-grip and 405 felt pretty easy, considering my lifetime max for a conventional pull is 455. As far as my effort, I'd say I hit about a 7 out of 10

I'm sure I could do some serious weight, given that there was no strain on my low back and it felt relatively strong. Maybe 500 pounds isn't far off

How to Do It
The cool thing about a Jefferson deadlift is everyone will have a slightly different way of approaching it. The basics are as follows

Straddle the bar
Grab the bar
Stand up with the bar

More specifically

Make sure your spine remains relatively linear so you aren't rounding or seriously deviating away from a neutral position

When you start pulling, make sure your knees don't collapse towards the midline in a valgus party you sure don't want to be invited to

Don't lock out your knees before your hips get through the movement; otherwise you'll be doing a really awkward good morning with nothing but your hips

Take a grip that's vertical under your shoulders and not wider

Above all, play with it. Try the Jefferson deadlift with the left leg forward, the right leg forward, different grips, and see what works best for you

Work with higher reps, lower reps, heavy weight, lighter weight, and everything in between to achieve the full benefits. The Jefferson deadlift allows for many small alterations that will introduce significant variety to your workouts

Barbell Front Raise

The anterior delts may be small, but sometimes they require your undivided attention

The devil is in the details, and this holds as true for the deltoids as for any other muscle group. Overhead pressing should make up the foundation of your shoulder work, but achieving a well-rounded set of delts requires addressing all three heads (anterior, middle, posterior). When you’re sporting a tank top, the detail and striations in the anterior deltoids (or lack thereof ) are just as visible as the width and thickness of the middle regions. So give the front side of your shoulders some love once or twice a week by completely isolating them. This incline barbell front raise is a great way to start doing just that

The Delt Zone

Follow these instructions for total isolation of your front deltoids


Lie facedown on an incline bench set to 45 degrees, holding a light barbell.
Place your hands shoulderwidth apart and use an overhand grip.
Start with the bar in front of your chest, arms extended toward the floor.


Raise the bar until it’s parallel to the floor. Hold for a beat, then slowly lower it


WHERE IT HITS: Anterior (front) deltoids

WHEN TO DO IT: Late in your shoulder workout, after compound movements like overhead presses and upright rows

HOW TO DO IT: 2–4 sets, 8–12 reps

Tips for Winter Training Survival

Make training during the winter easier with these 6 tips and pointers

Training isn’t easy during the winter. There are many factors (the ones that go beyond adding holiday pounds from family dinners) that can stymie a lifter’s progress. Here are some tips and pointers that can help you survive the tribulations of winter training

Tip 1: If you’re gonna bulk, make it intense
That sounds like it goes without saying. But you have to remember that the best way to encourage blood flow, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and a super pump is to limit rest interval and focus on complete muscle exhaustion. That’s going to come from high lactate training methods that don’t involve much rest time. Training methods like ladder set training, 8x8 training, and German Volume training are just what the doctor ordered for low rest, high lactate methods

As a bonus, the lactate production can help with elevating your testosterone, and also be responsible for burning plenty of fat. The take home point is to work lots, and rest a little

Tip 2: Running outside? Change your cardio to long runs

The last thing you want to do is head out into the cold and go sprinting or pushing the prowler with an insufficient warmup. When temperatures drop, it takes that much longer for working muscles to heat up, and for the joints to release fluid for lubrication. It’s best to play it safe and take things slow and steady. Go old school and structure your workouts with cardio runs on off days, and treadmill incline walks following your workouts themselves

Tip 3: Train the squat MORE than once per week

Not only will this help with additional weekly calorie burn, but it’ll also make you both bigger, and stronger. Period. You can train the squat pattern twice weekly by doing 2 full leg workouts per week, or you can make more of a strength focus by squatting heavy for less volume each day. Lately, I’ve personally been employing a daily max squat to my routine

Tip 4: Beware of Seasonal Affective Disorder

It sounds crazy, but weather can affect our mood and our motivation to do things like be active, train, and play sports. It may be common to see someone feel lethargic on a cold or rainy day, but sometimes this can be taken to the next level. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, some people are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. If you notice a trend from season to season that’s more than noteworthy, it may be something that goes beyond shaking it off and toughing it out. Talk to your doctor to determine if you need treatment or medication

Tip 5: Carb up and Drink up

Logic would tell us that it would take longer than normal to warm up the body during cold weather. That means warm up routines would be more elaborate, and the body will be using up its glycogen stores earlier in your workout – even if you’re in the gym and not outdoors, the cold state the body will likely be in when you’re on your way to the gym is something that can really cause the muscles to cool off. With that said, we need to make sure our glycogen stores are completely topped up before hitting the iron or track. Have plenty of carbs before a tough workout

Cold weather can also have an effect on our thirst; it may not be as evident that we need to drink and are dehydrated, because, though we may be sweating, the temperature isn’t sweltering. Be cognizant of this and make it a point to keep yourself hydrated during your session. As a general rule, try having 250ml of water (1 cup) every 15 minutes of your workout

Tip 6: Take up an Indoor Sport

Join a men’s league for basketball or volleyball, or get into a squash club. The added activity, calorie burn and cardio training will help to keep you conditioned and athletic during the winter season. Plus it’ll serve as a great interim to your weight training workouts, which could begin to feel redundant when there are few other options for exercise. Plus, you get to sharpen up your game