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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Great re-post from Jason Ferrugia-Best Muscle Building Exercises

This post is great, and is from my good friend Jason Ferrugia.
You can read more from him at his site:

Top 10 Weight Training Exercises for Building Muscle

norb Top 10 Weight Training Exercises for Building MuscleTo build muscle you need to use the best weight training exercises out there otherwise you’re just wasting your time.
Since I’ve already written about the best bodyweight exercises I figured it was time for the top weight training exercise list.
DO NOT piss around with isolation exercises like flyes and concentration curls.
Those do absolutely no good for anyone.
Unless you’re injured, rehabbing or someone’s great grandmother they’re useless.
Most machines fall into the same category.
Compound, multi-joint free weight exercises that allow you to use the greatest amount of weight will build size and strength faster than anything else because they incorporate the largest amounts of muscle mass.
Below is a list of the top ten weight training exercises (in no particular order) that absolutely must be a part of your workout.

1) Snatch

This exercise will build up your traps and strengthen your shoulders. In fact, doing snatches regularly will keep your shoulders quite healthy since they train external rotation more effectively than just about anything else. Snatches are also outstanding for firing up your CNS as the first exercise in your workout. And if you want a big vertical jump this is the exercise to get you there.

2) High Pull

No other body part looks cooler or commands respect like big traps do. High pulls build big traps. They also pack muscle on your entire upper back and strengthen your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. The nice thing about the high pull is that it’s basically a clean without the complexity or wrist and elbow stress of the catch phase.

3) Overhead Press

These can be done with a regular bar, a fat bar, a log, The Renegade Bar(use the coupon code JasonF for a 5% discount), dumbbells or kettlebells. But they must be done; both to build big strong shoulders and to keep them healthy. Too much horizontal pressing and not enough overhead work will lead to beat up shoulders. Trust me, you don’t want that.

4) Squat

Wanna pack size on your legs? Then get your ass under a bar and squat. Back squats, front squats, safety bar squats… they’re all good options. If you have lower back issues look into belt squats. Just do some type of squatting.

5) Deadlift

Bend over and pick up heavy shit. It’s the most basic fundamental principle of weight training. Which would then make the deadlift the premier weight training exercise. If you have a trap bar and fully comprehend the concept of submaximal training that’s the preferred deadlift variation. If not pull a straight bar, set on rubber mats, from the lowest position you can maintain a neutral spine from. Of the floor if you can get that low without rounding.

6) 1 Arm Dumbbell Row

Do this with enough weight and you’ll build big lats. End of story. A chest supported dumbbell row is a great variation, especially for those with lower back injuries.

7) Flat or 15-30 Degree Incline Press

Like the military press, these can be done with dumbbells or a barbell. A Swiss bar, football bar or The Renegade Bar would be the preferred option in place of a straight bar. Those will be much safer and keep your shoulders healthier. If you choose to press on an incline don’t go any higher than thirty degrees as that takes the tension off the chest and starts to irritate the shoulders.

8) Farmers Walk

Carrying something heavy is a required part of any muscle building workout. Farmers walks are the best grip exercise you can do. They also pack size on the traps and entire posterior chain. Stability in the ankle and knee is greatly improved from this exercise as well. And if you ever want to take a picture of yourself while training this one makes you look coolest.

9) Kettlebell Swing

Most people just started hearing about swings in the last decade. But Arthur Saxon was doing them back in 1906. They were even part of lifting competitions back then. That makes them okay in my book. Swings are not only great for conditioning but also for improving posterior chain strength and explosiveness while helping to actively lengthen tight hamstrings.

10) Sled Dragging/ Pushing

So it’s not a traditional barbell or dumbbell exercise.  The fact is you’re using weights when you use a sled. Not only that but sled work can build leg size and strength like a mofo, while simultaneously improving your conditioning. I consider it an essential part of any training program.
If the weight training exercises you’re using are not a variation of the exercises on this list then chances are pretty good they suck.
Therefore you probably shouldn’t do them.
Stick with what’s awesome.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Managing your traiing variables-Part 1

 Greg is very busy typing new stuff, fortunately, it's all gold. Here is another re-post from

Recently we talked about the importance of "program management". The concept is somewhat broad, but the first step is to understand the different variables that affect a training program. My plan is to start with the more well known concepts (i.e. volume and intensity), but also branch out into some of the lesser considered variables as well.
I think the most important variable to consider in a training program is volume.
Volume can be equated to the total work done in a given amount of time. Therefore, each session has a given amount of volume, but so does each week, and training block.
Many people assume that the heavier the weight they're lifting, the more they must be doing. This isn't necessarily true. It's easiest to view volume in "total tonnage." While you may have set a PR on a given day, it doesn't mean that overall you did more work.
For example:
Squat Session 1: 135 x 5, 185 x 3, 225 x 1, 275 x 1, 315 x 1 = 2,045lbs
Squat Session 2: 135 x 5, 135 x 5, 135 x 5, 135 x 5, 135 x 5 = 3,375lbs
Both sessions included 5 sets. Session one included 4 sets over 135lbs, but only 6 total reps at those weights. While session 2 included no weight over 135lbs, 25 total repetitions were completed, and over 1,300 more lbs were moved.
That is an imperfect definition of volume, but I think it gives you a solid idea of what variable we are managing.
So how do we manage volume? Here are a few important bullets:
·         It can be managed many different ways, but it must vary. You cannot do a ton of volume all the time, just as you cannot set a PR every single week (forever). Make sure you include periods of Very high, high, medium, low and, very low volume. Depending on how you organize your training, these amounts of volume will come and go at different times. For the general person I have found the most success when volume is varied each week. For athletes, with well defined off seasons, a more block style can be beneficial.
·         We will talk about intensity in the next installment, but volume and intensity should share an inverse relationship. The acuteness of this relationship may depend upon a person's preparedness or goals, but it will be present in some capacity. If the intensity is very high, the volume must be low.
How will high or low volume affect a person?
High volume will largely produce a muscle fatigue effect. The outputs being given aren't necessarily that high, but the total amount of work will leave the muscles tired. The results of this are often increased soreness, and increased hypertrophy. The residual effect of high volume training can lead to significant strength gains when volume is managed correctly over the course of the training cycle.
Lower volumes are important to work in as well. First off, transitioning from higher volumes to lower volumes will give the body a chance to recover and regenerate. Therefore, it makes sense that these periods be included in any program. Furthermore,  they can be used wisely to peak for competition. Low volume, should be used in the context of weekly volume when a person has multiple training sessions during the week involving near maximal attempts.
Hope this gives you more insight on managing volume in your program. Stay tuned for part 2!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Training success takes sacrifice

Another great re-post from

If you’re serious about reaching and surpassing your goals, it should be your number one priority. If it’s not a priority then you’re not as dedicated as you might think. With that said it will take commitment, and more importantly sacrifice, to take you to the highest level of success. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or an average gym you must have the attitude to do whatever it takes to get you where you want to go. Here are three tips to put you in that direction:

1. Invest in the proper training environment

When choosing a training environment your thought process shouldn’t be the mileage it takes from your house or office. The distance should be the last thing on your mind. Think about it this way, if you’re investing in the supplement industry and expect that by simply taking some powder will magically take your training to the next level, you’re wasting your money. What you should be doing is investing in a training environment that has experienced athletes, coaches, and the proper equipment. It shouldn’t matter if that gym is down the street or 60 miles in another state. This investment will be worth its weight in gold. At Total Performance Sports we have a day called “training day”, which is one Saturday out of the month. This training session is dedicated to one movement, for example, recently it was the bench press. The great thing about our training day is that anyone can participate. We have coaches that can help if you’re a competitive power lifter, professional athlete, or your average gym rat. The total cost for our training day is $20, how much would you pay for a supplement that guaranteed you would set a personal record on the first day of taking it?

2. Leave your ego at the door

Investing your time and money is only part of the equation. You also need to leave your ego at the door. The only way to do extraordinary things is to surround yourself with individuals who are extraordinary. How will you separate yourself from others? You need to swallow your pride, and this might require taking 1 step backwards to take multiple steps forward. You need to be able to accept criticism on technique, program design, and your mentality towards training. Place yourself in an environment with successful coaches and athletes and absorb anything and everything you can.

3. Program Management

The last piece to this puzzle is often neglected and that’s program management. You can surround yourself with the most experienced coaches and follow all of the proven methods but what your lifestyle may not allow you to positively respond to this type of training. Management is how you handle day-to-day stressors. This includes getting proper sleep, eating healthy, managing relationship situations, and/ or handling work-related stress levels. All of these factors need to play a role in how you manage your program on a daily basis. This is where sacrifice will come in to play. If you just completed a tough squat training session and then that night go out to the bars and get smashed until 3 a.m., this will stress your system even more. Now your body has to recover from both the training session and the inexcusable boozing extravaganza. This will limit what you can do for your next training session. Furthermore, if this is a common occurrence over-time all of the fatigue will accumulate and will have a negative impact.

If you adhere to these three guidelines you will set yourself up for future success. Please remember it’s a total package and you need all three to reach the highest level possible for yourself. If you make this a priority then this will be a formula for success.

by Jamie Smith  of TPS 2012