This is the first of several ‘anatomy of a workout’ articles I will be presenting. It is based on techniques I’ve discussed previously here on Rx Muscle. I want to explain the ‘WHY’ of the program design because the structure and techniques are utilized for a specific purpose. The techniques incorporated are Straight Sets, Staggered Sets, and Supersets.
The workout: Please note that you can substitute different exercises depending on what you want to prioritize (ex. You may do Low Pulley Rows/Incline Chest Press for the Straight sets, or Reverse Grip Pulldown/ Incline Chest Press, etc.)...
Normally I prefer to work one body part per workout; however, I like to throw in some variety every now and then in order to continue to challenge myself. One of my favorite variations is to superset opposing muscle groups, particularly chest and back. Here is a typical chest/back routine that I like to do as I get closer to hitting the stage, or if I feel that I need to throw in a little variety...
If you are going hard in the gym, you will inevitably suffer from delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS. While you might not recognize the clinical name, you may recognize how this condition can affect your life. Consider the following examples:
· Do you struggle to sit or stand from a seated position, following a leg workout?
· Do you find it challenging to reach for a bowl in the upper cabinet after training arms?
· Is your toddler suddenly 30 pounds heavier after a tough back workout?
The IFBB and NPC contest seasons are spooling up for the 2014 season. Many of you are ready to hit the stage hard and are in full contest prep. I understand this completely and am fully aware of where your head is at the moment. What I want to caution you about, before it’s too late, is the post-contest letdown and consequential common contest rebound. Many people think that holidays are the culprit responsible for weight gain. The holiday season can be a part of the typical end of the competition season but keep your eyes open mid-season as well. We can suffer from rebound at any time of the year if we don’t keep our eating habits in check and adjust our training styles immediately post contest.
As you have probably been aware, the Men's Physique division is exploding. In the past if you were competing, chances are you were a competitive bodybuilder. Nowadays there are many more NPC competitors around, largely due to the addition of the Men's Physique category which allows for a more natural looking, seemingly more attainable body.
One of the best things to keep in mind in training for physique is to aim for that V-Taper look. A tiny waist and wide shoulders give this almost cartoonish illusion. Getting that waist to shrink is going to take some work in the kitchen, but I have designed a few workouts for building on other key areas.
For me, my goal is to bring up my upper chest, lats, and create the biggest shoulders possible. I'll share one workout with you guys now.
Every now and then I believe that you need to change up your workouts in order to prevent plateauing. Normally I stick to a rep range of 8-12 reps per set, but for this shoulder workout I lowered the weight so that I could do 20 reps for each set.
All exercises were done with five sets of 20 reps.
Side laterals (dumbbell) – This can be done seated or standing, but I prefer to stand. Start with a pair of dumbbells at your side. You will then raise your arms straight out to your side and hold for a count. Once I get to the top of the movement, I like to turn the dumbbells so that my elbows are facing up and my palms are to the rear. Return to the starting motion and repeat...
Elastic Resistance is an extremely versatile and effective training modality. My first introduction to elastic tubing was over 20 years ago and they’ve come a long way since then!
Resistance tubing is commonly used as a convenient means to pump up prior to competition as well as an excellent way to work the rotator cuff muscles via external and internal rotation exercises. However I have also found that they can be used as a legitimate modality to enhance one’s physique as well!
For many, the off-season is a time to relax a little on your diet and training, allow yourself foods you would not normally have during a prep, having them in unmeasured amounts and then stepping on the scales once a week just to make sure you are “getting bigger”. However, like with any sport, the progression of science, monetary rewards and the depth of competition has lead to top level bodybuilders and physique athletes leaving fewer and fewer stones unturned as they do everything possible to gain an edge on the competition. This has resulted in much more attention being paid to the progress that can be made during the off-season and coaches are no longer employed by elite athletes solely for those 12-16 weeks prior to a show, but also for the knowledge they can employ during the athlete’s off-season...
As most of us are in the off-season right now and taking in a few extra calories, I thought I would post a good superset routine to help keep that waistline in check. It’s time to grow but don’t get sluggish or slow. Remember to stay ready at all times!
Here is a Back, Shoulder and Ab workout to get you motivated to keep pushing when most are resting. Go ahead and enjoy a few cookies, just make sure you keep healthy meals coming too. This way overeating the bad stuff will be tougher since you’ll already be full.
Yoga may be a four-letter, foreign word for some Physique and Bodybuilding athletes but it shouldn't be. You may be ripped to the bone, have the best physique, but if you lack flexibility and mind control your training, and eventually your quality of life, will be compromised.
A little yoga can improve your workouts and maybe even extend your Physique or Bodybuilding career and you don’t have to ditch your current training to take advantage of it...
In "Intensity Techniques Part One" I gave some background as to why one might want to use the various intensity techniques that I covered. I recommend reading that article first:
In part two, I want to continue discussing some additional intensity techniques. Before proceeding, I want to clarify that I’m not suggesting that one train with these techniques as a sole method of training. I strongly believe in using more standard training techniques such as straight sets with heavier weights (among other more traditional workout structures such as Circuits, Antagonistic Supersets, etc.). Rather, these techniques are an excellent alternative that will allow you to maintain a high ‘intensity of effort’ while giving your joints a break from constant heavy loading. I have found they give me a serious pump as well!
When I first began lifting weights I would typically work biceps with back and triceps with chest. As I spent more time weight training and learning about my body, I found that I could get more growth out of my arms by dedicating a day solely to them. On occasion I do still use a traditional chest/triceps or back/biceps split, because I believe that you need to constantly challenge your muscles with different methods in order to continue to see improvement. However, when I am able to stick to my normal gym schedule, I prefer to give them their own day...
Whether you are a competitive physique athlete or simply a recreational gym user attempting to improve your physique, having the perfect midsection is frequently placed high on the list of priorities with respect to training goals. However, it is amazing how often you walk into a gym and see someone going through a heavy leg or arm routine and then finishing their workout with an abdominal routine that looks more like something taken straight from an early 90’s aerobics video!
The abdominals are like any other muscle group in the sense that if you want them to grow and to “pop” then they must be given sufficient stimulus to do so. You wouldn’t attempt to make your arms bigger by completing as many momentum-based reps of barbell curls as you can in 60 seconds, so why do the same for your abs? Sure, the cardio aspect may help burn some body fat, but there are better ways to do so and that is not the goal of the abdominal training itself...
There’s no doubt that progressive overload is the hallmark of resistance training. There comes a point however, where one can’t keep adding more and more weight as strength does not have an endless ceiling.
Additionally, if you listen to many older bodybuilders, including three-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane, you often hear a common theme. That is upon reflection, they probably would have been better served in the long run had they not pounded their joints with so much constant heavy training in their younger years.
Frank specifically said that while that early heavy training did give him mass, that he would do things differently if given the chance to do it all over again. This is because of the ongoing price he has had to pay for past injuries!
When it comes to trying to build muscle as quickly and efficiently as possible, there are many things you can spend your money on. In fact, you've probably already tried a number of these things.
Most athletes will not hesitate to spend a great deal of money on the latest supplements, training programs, coaches and mentors. They may also spend a considerable amount on their gym memberships or exercise equipment. Unfortunately, they overlook one of the most useful products when it comes to fitness, training and building a world-class physique...
The typical question that is asked about any male’s activity in the gym is “How much do you bench?” Although I do believe that you have to “lift big to get big,” I do not believe that how much you can bench is a direct reflection on how well your chest is developed.
The key, in my opinion, to building a fully developed chest is to hit it with exercises that target all areas of the chest. The following takes you through one of my typical chest routines...
Chronic overtraining is a condition that no physique athlete ever wants to experience. Once chronically over-trained, it can take months or even longer to fully recover and in the process of becoming chronically over-trained long-term resting hormone levels will become negatively impacted leading to losses in muscle mass as well as encouraging fat gain...
When you start building a house, what is the most important part? The foundation. How about when you build your physique? What’s the most important part? Again, the answer doesn’t change – it’s the foundation, a.k.a. your legs. Without an adequate base, most athletes will be hard pressed to get the strength and power needed throughout the rest of their body as many exercises and routines require powerful legs. There tends to be a common theme here; if your foundation is weak, your upper body won’t be able to reach its potential either.
They say that bodybuilding competitions are won from the back, and I
think that the same can be said about the Men's Physique Division. It
is very important to have developed back muscles due to the fact that
they play a part in both your front and back poses. Here is a routine
that can help you build a wide muscular back so that you can create a
Question. What is your favorite body part to train ______________?
Chest? Biceps? Legs? Shoulders?
I bet you dollars to doughnuts that very few of your answered “back.” Why, is that? Well, there are several reasons. First, the back isn’t a glamorous muscle like the chest or biceps. Second, building a great back, from top to bottom, takes hard work and effort. And, third, taking ‘selfies’ to show off your back is pretty darn hard. Seriously, you almost need to be contortionist to take a solid back picture.
In the ongoing journey towards achieving aesthetics, we must evaluate what constitutes that ideal image or “look”. To take a deeper dive into the topic, we can start by looking at the various divisions in the NPC and the IFBB to discover any common or recurring themes in what those organizations deem to be an aesthetic look. Setting aside the obvious tans and shredded abs, the large rounded shoulders to small waist ratio stands out as the basis for creating that pleasing look. How to achieve it? Well, it varies from person to person but here’s what I do: