prefix='og: fb: article:'> March 2015 - 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


There's nothing quite like the feel of pushing big weight on the bench press. It's probably the most often used measuring stick of strength in the gym, No one really ever asks you, Hey, what do you donkey press

But getting to those plate-clanging, bar-bending weight loads is no easy task, which is why we're offering you our three best tips for boosting your bench in a hurry

Performing heavy negatives once or twice a month does wonders for building strength. Bodybuilders that don't have a "negatives day" in their routine are really missing out on huge gains. As a quick refresher, negatives are reps that concentrate on the eccentric, or lowering phase of an exercise. Our muscles can handle 30-40% more weight on the negative portion of a rep, so taking advantage of that taps into plenty of underexploited fibers in your pecs and trains your body and mind to deal with heavier weight

To perform negatives on the bench, add 30-40% more weight than you'd normally use for 10 reps (after a few warm-up sets, of course). So if you're pressing 250 pounds for 10 reps, add an extra 75 pounds (30%) onto the bar. Unrack the weight and resist the negative all the way down for a full five seconds or more. Once the bar touches your chest, have your training partner help you bring the bar back up to the starting position and repeat this for 3-5 total agonizing reps. Use this method sparingly - 1-3 sets, once or twice per month - to avoid overtraining or injury. Besides, after training like this, you'll likely be too sore to want to do it again soon

Training upper back
A missing piece of the puzzle when trying to increase your numbers on the bench is working your upper back. Without a strong upper back, it is difficult or impossible to stabilize heavy weight on either side of the repetition. Training your lats and rear delts with regularity and enthusiasm will take your bench higher, faster

Stick to mass-building exercises like barbell rows, T-bar rows, pull-ups, dumbbell rows and pulldowns in the 8-12 rep range on back day. And make sure not to neglect your rear delt raises on back or shoulder day. Don't let your rear delts fool you - just because they're a small muscle group doesn't mean you can't train them heavy. Aim for the same rep ranges (8-12) as your back - just be careful to maintain strict form on all exercises and avoid using any elasticity or momentum to complete reps

Grip strength
You might be thinking, "What the heck does my grip have to do with my bench press." The answer is "More than you might think." And that doesn't just apply to this exercise - grip strength translates to more poundage on nearly every exercise. For the bench press, however, it pays its biggest dividends by providing greater wrist stabilization. With shaky wrists and flimsy forearms, you have less control of the bar, which is particularly troublesome if you're into pressing big boy weight. Plus, keeping your wrists locked helps you maintain proper form. Training your grip then is a huge factor in maximizing your bench

The prescription? Grab a hold of a 45-pound plate in each hand at the fingertips and perform as many finger curls (lifting the edge of the plate towards your palm) as you can. Rest for 30 seconds and keep going until your forearms need a fire extinguisher to put out the flames

Take these three tips and go start tossing some iron around - we guarantee the results will come swift


Gaining muscle seems like an unreachable goal at first, this is because most people follow routines from weightlifters that create unrealistic programs for the average person, Muscle magazines are filled with routines from genetically modified musclemen who are looking to make money from the hopes 
and dreams of the ‘less muscular fortunate’

Subscribing to muscle magazines might give a person interesting reading material, but it will not give them a realistic opportunity to gain muscle, Beginners need to know the basics before they can ever begin to successfully gain muscle, All the routines in the world will not help a beginner who doesn’t have a full understanding of the most important and basic elements of weight training 

This 10 step list will give the average person a solid foundation from which to refer to during their training

Develop a Technique
Learn the proper way to do each exercise whether it is pushups or weight training, Developing a solid technique will maximize the workout and strengthen the muscles
Strength training is a method that should not be overlooked because it allows a person to start with minimal weight and add more weight as they progress, This builds more muscle which in turn builds more strength

Machines vs. Free Weights
Those weightlifting machines that are for sale on the television are ridiculous and a waste of money. Resistance training is vital for building muscle, Resistance training 

Stretch bands
Free weights

Using body weight such as push ups
This type of training increases strength and power because the muscles are working against the resistance; this not only builds muscle but also develops stronger bones, Using free weights forces the arms to balance the weight, whereas machines are fixed into place and add no real benefit other than the actual weight itself

Full Body Workout
Before taking part in isolation exercises, consider a full body workout, Most isolation workouts are only effective until a solid foundation has been built, which means that a good portion of muscle mass has already formed. A full body workout builds muscle throughout the body and includes exercises such as

Bench Press
Overhead Press

Legs are Important
Squats and deadlifts are an important and fundamental exercise for building muscle throughout the body, not just in the legs, While doing squats, the entire body tenses and flexes, thus working other muscles, Also, deadlifts strengthen muscles in the back, which can help eliminate back pain and improve other aspects of a person’s life

Compound vs. Isolation
As mentioned already, isolation exercises are one method to continue building muscle after mass has already been built. Until then, focus on compound exercises that work more than one muscle at a time, This includes

Pull-ups and Chin-ups
Barbell Rows
Bench Press

Working one muscle continuously will only hinder growth and possibly cause injury, All the bicep curls in the world will not develop a rock-hard muscle unless the surrounding muscles have also been worked

Muscle must be allowed to recover in order to grow; without rest, muscles will weaken and fail, Overtraining is the biggest mistake for a beginner and is avoided by allowing a day of rest between workouts, Remember these four rules
- Keep a bottle of water on-hand during the workout, Take sips often and drink plenty of water during each meal
- Allow a minute of rest between each exercise. Also, choose three or four days of the week to work out and rest on the off days

- Try for eight hours of sleep per night. Natural HGH, or human growth hormone, is released during sleep and aids in the muscle building process
- Be sure to get enough calories in a day to make up for calories burned during training. If calorie intake is low, then both fat and muscle are burned during the workout

Proper Diet
Increase the amount of whole foods in the diet and throw the boxed food in the garbage, Eating more whole foods aids in lowering body fat, which helps the muscles show better, Here is a small list of important foods that are beneficial while training

Proteins: Chicken, tuna, salmon, eggs
Vegetables: Avocado, carrots, broccoli, spinach
Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, blueberries
Carbohydrates: Brown rice, whole grain pasta
Fats: Flax seeds, olive oil, fish oil, nuts

Increase Protein Intake
Protein builds muscle, and it is important to have one gram of protein per pound of body weight, Here is a list of foods that contain necessary protein for bodybuilding

Red Meat: Steaks, ground round
Poultry: Chicken, turkey
Fish: Tuna, salmon
Eggs: Whites contain more protein; the yolk contains the vitamins
Dairy: Milk, cottage cheese

While writing a grocery list, keep in mind that some fruits also contain proteins and fats, such as avocados. Avocados are relatively inexpensive and contain seven grams of protein, and they are also packed with fats that the body needs, This is an important fact for people who live a vegetarian lifestyle and still want to build muscle

Gain Weight
It is hard to look muscular if a person is underweight. A man who weighs 140lb/63kg will still look skinny compared to a man who does the same exercises but weighs 160lb/72kg,That 20lb difference is a lot when it comes to looking big and muscular, Here are a few tips on how to gain weight

Eat more calories. Use a food scale to track daily caloric intake
Do not skip breakfast. Start eating early and eat every three hours
If a man weighs 160lb/72kg, then he needs to eat at least his bodyweight in pounds times 20kcal a day to gain weight

Stay Motivated
Train properly, get stronger, gain weight and stay motivated. Stay on target and do not lose sight of the goal, The only way to see results is by following a reliable and realistic method, A bigger physique doesn’t happen overnight, but those muscles will begin to show with a little hard work and a lot of dedication and passion


Fuel up with this heart-healthy whole grain

Mix 1¼ cups oats, ½ cup skim milk and ½ cup low-fat plain yogurt; let stand 15 minutes. Mix ½ cup orange juice, ¼ cup honey, ¾ cup almonds, 2½ cups fresh fruit, and 1 cup shredded apples. Stir mixture into oats

Mix 1 cup oats, ½ cup nut butter and ground flax, ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup coconut flakes, and ¼ cup cacao nibs. Form balls. Chill

Whisk ½ cup old-fashioned oats, 3 egg whites, ½ shredded apple, and ¼ tsp cinnamon. Spoon mixture onto pan. Flip when pancakes bubble

Blend raw or toasted oats and mix with panko flakes or ground almonds/walnuts to create a nutritious breading for steak, chicken, or fish

Cook 1 cup black beans and 1 cup white beans. Mash and mix with 1½ cups oats, 1 cup roasted bell pepper, ¾ cup water, and dashes of black pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Form patties. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes



Big arms are like fast cars: everyone wants to have them, but not many are willing to pay the cost to get them. If you’ve been in the iron game for a while, you probably understand that a large portion of the arm anatomy comes from the posterior aspect of the arm known collectively as the triceps. As the name implies, the triceps consist of three heads: the long head, medial head and lateral head. While the origins of the heads are all slightly different, they all insert into one common triceps tendon. A well-designed program has you performing exercises that hit all three heads. The problem is, all of those exercises utilize the same triceps tendon, which has a tendency to become inflamed from overuse.

The action of the triceps is to extend (straighten) the elbow. Compound movements such as bench presses (barbell or dumbbell), shoulder presses and dips all target the triceps. Isolation exercises such as rope or straight-bar pressdowns, triceps kickbacks and overhead triceps presses (with dumbbells/barbell/EZ-bar) also target the triceps. While isolation and compound exercises are fairly common knowledge among experienced lifters, it’s often forgotten that the triceps also statically contract in exercises such as pullovers, straight-arm lat pulldowns and bent-over lateral raises/reverse flyes. This can sometimes lead to trouble — you might think you’re giving the muscles a rest day after your triceps workout the day before, but if you’re incorporating pullovers or straight-arm lat pulldowns as part of your back workout, you’re not really resting the triceps at all. This could result in overtraining and injuries to the triceps and/or the triceps tendon.

Due to the different insertion points of the triceps, specific exercises target certain areas more effectively. For example, an overhead triceps exercise such as a skullcrusher will target the long head of the triceps more effectively because that head is put in a prestretch position due to its anatomical origin. These particular exercises, while providing fantastic results, must be integrated into your training program intelligently due to the amount of excess tension that the prestretch position places on the long head of the triceps as well as the triceps tendon.

Strain on the triceps tendon from repetitive pushing movements or from overloading it beyond what it can tolerate may cause triceps tendonitis, which is when damaged triceps tendon tissue experiences swelling and pain in the posterior aspect of the elbow or slightly above or below the posterior aspect of the elbow. In severe cases of triceps tendonitis, you may notice swelling in the back of the elbow or experience weakness when attempting to straighten the elbow against resistance. You may also feel pain and tightness when performing a stretch to the triceps or point tenderness when firm pressure is applied near the posterior aspect of the elbow. In less severe cases, you may only experience a minor ache or stiffness when performing activities requiring a forceful or repetitive contraction of the triceps.

Once you have developed triceps tendonitis, it’s essential to provide a period of rest for healing to take place and for the swelling to subside. (Even if you can’t see the swelling, the tissue may still be swollen internally.) Ice, flexibility exercises and, occasionally, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes recommended by your health-care practitioner. A certified athletic trainer or physical therapist may also help in providing you with an appropriate rehabilitation plan that will get you back to your normal activities. See “7 Tips For Pain-Free Elbows” for some tried-and-true injury-prevention tips to help keep your elbows healthy


 Perform a general cardiovascular warm-up for five to 10 minutes and a movement-specific warm-up for two to three sets before beginning your heavier work sets

 Don’t begin your triceps workout with an overhead movement, as this places excess stress on the triceps tendon. Instead, start with either compound triceps exercises such as dips, or isolation exercises such as rope triceps pressdowns

 Allow at least one day of rest between working the triceps. Remember that exercises such as shoulder presses, chest presses, pullovers, straight-arm pulldowns and reverse flyes also recruit your triceps. If you perform these exercises the day before or after triceps training, you’re not really providing adequate rest

 Perform no more than one to two overhead triceps exercises for a maximum of eight sets per workout so as not to provide excessive strain on the triceps tendon

 Check your ego at the gym door. Don’t lift more weight than you can safely handle, and don’t reach failure on every rep of every set of every exercise

 Stretch your triceps with static stretches upon completing any workout in which you utilized the triceps

 If you feel elbow tightness or discomfort, ice the elbow for 15 minutes as a preventative measure



We are in the midst of a modern-day weightlifting Renaissance in the United States. Due to the huge popularity of CrossFit, it’s now common to see someone in a commercial gym hitting some snatches or cleans. Even 10 years ago, if you mentioned “snatch” in a commercial gym you’d probably be slapped by the front desk lady and escorted out by management

For someone who had to order his first pair of weightlifting shoes a size and a half too big because of the lack of availability, this surge in popularity is very exciting. It also brings about a new problem: there’s now a whole army of new weightlifters who have no clue what they’re doing! For something as technical as weightlifting, it’s not as easy as watching a YouTube video and heading to the gym armed with your newfound Internet knowledge
So to help you out, I put together a list of a few tips for the beginning weightlifter


This can’t be emphasized enough. When first starting on your weightlifting journey, you need to find a coach or mentor who knows his stuff. Preferably, you would have a coach who could watch every lift you do, but this is pretty impractical for someone with a job, kids or other responsibilities. So if this is not a possibility, find someone to teach you the basics. Building a solid technical base is very important for continued weightlifting success. Also, make sure the coach knows what they are doing! It doesn’t have to be someone who produces champions year in and year out, but do some vetting and find someone with knowledge


Just like in any athletic endeavor, you need to become technically proficient before trying to increase your intensity. This is where having a coach or mentor guiding you is a great advantage. Make sure your basic positions and movement patterns are solid and set before adding kilos to the bar. Although it may sound contrary, the other side of this equation is where people progress too slowly. I have seen lots of dudes at the gym with nice looking snatches…with 30 kilos on the bar. You need to progress at your own pace, but you still need to progress


Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a 200-kilo clean. It takes time and consistent practice to have success in weightlifting. Don’t get impatient and push the natural progression of your lifting. Accept that this is a long journey, and buckle up for the ride


I know it sounds corny, but you need to have fun while training. Not every aspect of your training is going to be fun—there are a lot of things in the weight room that are not necessarily fun but are necessary. So rather than enjoying every second of your training…embrace the journey and always keep your end goals in mind. In the end, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing you are not going to stick with it



It’s no surprise that nearly all lifters have favorite foods they feel help to increase strength and size. While some might be skewed by personal taste or bro-science, clinical studies clearly show that certain foods do indeed support testosterone production. Testosterone is a hormone primarily produced in the testes and in small amounts in ovaries in women; it’s most often associated with virility, libido, strength and muscle mass, and is strongly linked to decreases in body fat. Testosterone levels can be wildly influenced by external stimuli, not the least of which is the food you eat. Add these foods to your weekly menu in order to support your testosterone production


Oysters contain zinc, a mineral that has a positive influence on hormonal production and beneficial implications for strength athletes and those involved in training. A 2011 study published in Biological Trace Element Research reported that when trained athletes were given a zinc supplement for four weeks (30 grams a day) prior to exhaustive exercise, it resulted in higher postworkout testosterone levels than a placebo. The authors further stated that zinc increases the conversion rate of androstenedione to testosterone, and that the combination of training and supplementation enhanced testosterone production. Other foods rich in zinc include chicken liver and pumpkin seeds


When choosing healthy oils for regular use, olive oil is a strong option with proven testosterone-boosting powers. Research shows that olive oil helps your Leydig cells to absorb more cholesterol (from healthy fats), which then converts into free testosterone. A recent study found that men placed on a diet that included daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil experienced increases in testosterone levels of nearly 20 percent after just three weeks. Athletes can certainly optimize their testosterone production by making olive oil their main form of fat


Cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli are all cruciferous vegetables and all contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol. A study found that diets high in indole-3-carbinol increase the excretion of an estrogen hormone known as estradiol in men by up to 50 percent. This allows optimum testosterone production throughout the body. Crucifers are also high in fiber and low in calories, which can regulate weight control


The skins of red grapes contain resveratrol, a proven aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone and other androgens into estrogen. Consuming grapes and other sources of resveratrol (such as red wine) supports testosterone levels. Researchers in Korea recently reported that high-dose resveratrol was able to enhance testosterone and sperm production after 28 days. In particular, resveratrol significantly enhanced blood testosterone levels by 51.6% percent. The researchers speculated that resveratrol may act as an estrogen receptor agonist and contribute to enhanced sperm counts and motility


Many strength athletes can benefit from saturated fats, such as those found in steak, whole eggs and avocado. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition randomly assigned 43 men to either a high-fat/low-fiber diet or a low-fat/high-fiber diet. After 10 weeks, the HFLF diet yielded 13 percent higher levels of total serum testosterone compared to the LFHF group. Another study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine studied eight strength athletes and 10 active non-athletes. After comparing the subjects’ dietary analyses and blood tests, only the strength-training athletes had significant correlations between fat intake and testosterone levels. So if you train with weights (particularly heavy weights) and eat a diet higher in fat, you’ll enjoy an increase in testosterone levels compared to those on a normal “active” lifestyle and a higher-fat diet


Researchers from the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland, gave pomegranate juice to 22 men to study its effect on their salivary testosterone levels. After two weeks, their testosterone levels increased by an average of 24 percent. Positive effects on blood pressure, mood, anxiety and emotions were also expressed in a large group of workers from different disciplines