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When you first begin lifting weights, your focus should be on progressively overloading the muscles using the basic compound lifts. There is really no need to get all “fancy” with exercises, advanced techniques or repetition ranges. Basically, as you get stronger, just keep adding more weight to the bar.

The longer you’ve been training, however, there will come a point when just adding more weight isn’t going to cut it. You may hit a plateau and notice that the strength and muscle gains come much more slowly than they did in the beginning. This is when you know it’s time to get a little more strategic and begin incorporating the use of more advanced lifting techniques into your training to take it to the next level.

If you are looking to add some intensity to your workouts, here are five techniques to try:

Rest-pause reps

On your last working set, perform as many reps as you can just short of failure. Rest for 10 to 20 seconds, then perform as many more reps as you can get. Rest another 10 to 20 seconds, and continue doing more reps until you reach failure.

Drop sets

This is a tried-and-true method that has been used by bodybuilders for years. You simply perform a certain number of reps just short of failure, then drop the weight by 10% to 30% and continue repping out until you reach failure. This is best done on your last set or two of an exercise, for no more than one or two exercises in a single workout.

Density training

Density training is a technique used to increase the amount of work done in a certain amount of time. For example, choose two to three exercises for opposing muscle groups, using a weight that is equivalent to your 10-rep max. You will alternate exercises, performing 5 to 6 reps of each, for as many sets as you can get in a set amount of time – anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. The goal for each workout is to keep track of your total number of reps and try to improve upon that each workout.

Partial reps

On your last set or two of an exercise, after you’ve come close to failure, continue doing a few more reps in only one half of the range of motion. Partial reps are great for bodyweight exercises, such as pull-ups and push-ups, but can also be used with dumbbell and barbell exercises.

Cluster sets

Cluster training is a way to get in more reps with a heavy weight in a single set by incorporating the use of 10- to 20-second pauses. For example, for a hypertrophy focus, choose a weight that is your 8-rep max. Perform 4 reps, then rack the bar and rest for 10 to 20 seconds. Perform 4 more reps. Re-rack and rest for 10 to 20 seconds, and then perform another 4 reps. That is one set. Rest 3 to 5 minutes between sets. The best exercises to use for cluster sets are barbell movements, such as squats, overhead presses and deadlifts.


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Physiological Responses To Two Different Models Of Periodization

Physiological Responses To Two Different Models Of Daily Undulating Periodization In Trained Powerlifters

Structured or periodized resistance training programs are effective methods to increase maximal strength and overall muscle performance measures. With DUP being at the forefront of recent periodization research, it is imperative to expand upon the traditional model and strive to continue to move closer to the optimal periodized training protocol for maximal strength.

Studies (referenced below) demonstrated that in certain exercises and muscle groups the modified DUP model (HPS) may augment strength gains when compared to the traditional DUP model (HSP).

The DUP model induced significantly greater strength gains in the bench press following 6 weeks of training and a 2.55% greater increase in 1RM squat strength, which may hold great practical significance for competitive powerlifters.

Findings also indicated that greater total exercise volume and repetitions were performed in the bench press and squat exercises with HPS vs. HSP.

Additionally, subjects in this study performed the powerlifts with a high frequency and demonstrated significant gains from pre- to posttraining regardless of training group. These results show that DUP training is effective to increase maximal strength in a short period of time among well-trained powerlifters.

Zourdos, Michael Christopher, “Physiological Responses To Two Different Models Of Daily Undulating Periodization In Trained Powerlifters” (2012). Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 5305.

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Your Blueprint For Building Bigger Shoulders

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It’s been said that “shoulders make the man.” Update that to include “or woman” and you’ve got yourself an idea to get behind. To that end, here’s a 10-week program that’ll blow up your delts and blow your mind!

If there’s one muscle group that screams power, it’s the shoulders. You can’t hide them in a T-shirt, hoodie, or even a jacket. Who’d want to? Shoulders were once a primal symbol of masculinity and virility reserved for men. Now, they’re on everyone’s wish list, because the bigger and wider your shoulders are, the smaller your waist seems. And who wouldn’t want that?

Make Delts Your Training Priority

The best way to improve a specific muscle group is to give it priority in your training for a limited period. In this workout—as in other “blueprint” workouts I’ve created—I’ve set 10 weeks as the amount of time you’ll need to see some noticeable gains in your shoulders.

During these 10 weeks, you’ll work shoulders twice a week and every other muscle group once. By devoting more time and energy to your shoulders than you normally would, you force them to adapt by growing larger and stronger. But you can force them for only so long. Continue this approach too long and you’ll over-train the muscles and cease to see results—which is why we limited the length of this plan.

Here’s how you’ll arrange your training week for the 10 weeks of shoulder specialization:

Shoulder Prioritization Split

  • Day 1: Shoulders (heavy)
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Back and Biceps
  • Day 4: Chest and Triceps
  • Day 5: Rest
  • Day 6: Shoulders (pumping, machines, and cables)
  • Day 7: Rest

This weekly schedule is designed to give you your best chances at making the fastest shoulder gains possible in 10 weeks. As with previous specialization routines I’ve created, the two weekly workouts included in this plan are quite different from each other. The first is heavier, with reps in the 8-12 range, and more free weights. The second takes the reps higher, uses more machines, and employs more intensity techniques such as dropsets and supersets.

You’ll have a full day of rest preceding the heavy day, and it’s followed by a leg workout, so your shoulders will have time to recover. The second workout of the week is far more demanding in terms of both execution and recovery, so it’s sandwiched between two full rest days.

Here are the two shoulder workouts for each week. Notice that each day starts with a warm-up to get your body—and your mind—ready for what’s to come.

Shoulder Workout 1: Heavy
Smith Machine Overhead Shoulder Press

2 sets, 20 reps (warm-up)
Seated Dumbbell Press

2 sets, 15 reps (warm-up)
5 sets, 12, 10, 10, 8, 8 reps (Use increasing weight)
Side Lateral Raise

For each set, perform 8 reps while seated, then immediately stand and do 8 more. Add weight as you work through the sets.
5 sets, 8 reps (with increasing weight)
Cable Seated Lateral Raise

For each set, perform 8 reps to failure, reduce weight, and do 8 more.
4 sets, 8 reps (per arm)
Smith Machine Overhead Shoulder Press

3 sets, 8 reps
Reverse Machine Flyes

5 sets, 10-12 reps (with increasing weight)
Shoulder Workout 2: Pumping
Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise

2 sets, 20 reps (warm-up)
4 sets, 20 reps
Face Pull

4 sets, 15 reps
Power Partials

4 sets, 10-12 reps (use increasing weight, do not rest between sets)
4 sets, 10-12 reps (use decreasing weight, do not rest between sets)
Upright Cable Row

4 sets, 12-15 reps (use wide grip, use same weight for all sets)
4 sets
Machine Lateral Raise

10 reps (normal speed)
10 reps (as fast as possible)
Smith Machine Overhead Shoulder Press

10-12 reps

4 Tips To Get The Most Out Of This Program

1. Don’t Add Any Direct Front-Delt Work

You may have noticed that there’s no direct anterior-deltoid work included in this program. The front delts get worked hard on any type of pressing movement for the chest, including overhead shoulder presses, so they don’t need any specific exercises.


In fact, the most common type of imbalanced shoulder development is when someone has heavily developed front delts, mediocre side delts, and practically nonexistent rear delts. I have yet to see anyone who regularly weight trains and has weak front delts, unless they have weak shoulders in general.

Rest assured that I have included more than enough pressing movements in this program to take care of your front delts. Put your energy and effort into the other two delt heads to get those big boulder shoulders you’re after.

2. Take Care Of Your Cuffs

I didn’t include specific exercises in this workout for strengthening your rotator cuffs, either, but I strongly urge you to work them twice a week. External rotation and cable internal rotation exercises are just a couple moves that can help you keep them strong. These exercises can be tedious and lack the thrill of lifting heavy and getting a sick pump, but they take only a few minutes and are a valuable insurance policy against an injury that could sideline you for months.

Take Care of Your Cuffs

Just try doing back squats with a torn rotator cuff, and you’ll see just how important this part of your shoulder is. Keeping the cuff muscle complex strong and injury-free will improve your shoulders, along with almost every part of your upper body.

3. Don’t Skip The Rear Delts!

You may feel tempted to add front-delt work into this program—and maybe bypass your rear delts altogether. Who cares about rear delts, right? It’s those side delts that give you that roundness and width! Well, that might be true if you were a two-dimensional paper cutout, but we exist in 3-D. If you want impressive shoulders that are round and full from every angle, you need to work all three heads of the deltoid muscles.

Don't Skip the Rear Delts!

Lagging posterior delts are a glaring weakness whenever you are standing sideways, and will take away from the overall impact of your shoulders. Work them just as they are outlined in the routines, and work them hard!

4. Focus On Form And Feel For Lateral Raises

Some movements are meant for heavy weights, for pushing or pulling a load from point A to point B. In the realm of deltoid exercises, overhead presses fit that description. You’re not trying to isolate anything. If your form is decent, you’re good to go. Presses are tough to screw up.

Lateral raises, on the other hand, are not power movements and not suited to heavy weights. Think of them more as finesse movements, designed to isolate a particular aspect of a muscle. But lateral raises are pointless if you use momentum and other supporting muscles to raise the weights. If you do those kinds of cheats, you won’t be able to feel your medial deltoids firing and contracting, which is where the growth comes from.

Focus On Form and Feel for Lateral Raises

Instead of cheating the weights up, lift them explosively, hold them for a split-second pause at the top, and control them as you slowly lower them down. You can’t practice this ideal form if you’re trying to lift too much, so go light and pay close attention to your movement pattern. And don’t worry, no one is ever going to ask you how much you use on lateral raises. Do laterals right, though, and people will ask, “Wow, what do you do for your shoulders?”


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7 Insider Tips To Build Your Ultimate Forearms!


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By Bill Geiger, MA
Originally posted on Muscletech.com

It would take a miracle, it seems, to turn your musclebuilding workout into one that also blasts the ring of blubber that encircles your midsection. That’s because it’s nearly impossible to chase two goals at the gym simultaneously: You won’t maximize size if you’re trying to lose weight, and you’ll be less successful getting ripped if you’re also trying to build muscle size. That’s why, for many folks, the answer is a hard and heavy workout followed by a necessary cardio session afterward to burn the fat. All of which makes for one very long workout.

Would you be interested in a faster, better way? Let’s look at some approaches to adjust your training in order to make your gym time far superior at blasting fat. We’ll also provide a sample chest, triceps and abs workout, but you can apply the same principles to other body parts, too.

1. Adjust Your Mindset

As mentioned, you’ll be only quasi-successful if you try and pursue two opposing goals simultaneously. Losing fat and getting ripped requires a reduction in calories, while putting on muscle means a caloric surplus in your diet. While you’ll lose some strength (and size) as you get leaner, you’ll still look bigger when your goal is to get ripped. You’ll want, then to minimize any muscle loss that might accompany your efforts.

So don’t freak out when you can no longer bench your max and then decide to flip your workout back to one geared for mass. Instead, maintain the right mental outlook during this training phase (recommended for about two months) that your ultimate goal is to look more muscular by being more ripped.

2. Rely on Free-Weight Exercises That Are Multi-Joint in Nature

Multi-joint movements that engage a greater number of muscle groups are superior to single-joint exercises no matter your goal in the gym. Multi-joint exercises like bench presses, squats, deadlifts and rows, which engage two or more sets of joints and the muscles that attach to them, allow you to lift far heavier loads by comparison. This raises your metabolism both during and after your workout, a big factor in burning calories.

These types of movements have also been shown to more effectively trigger the release of favorable anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, which help burn fat and help you withstand a caloric deficit. With free weights, you’re required to use more stabilizer muscles to control the weights, again favorably burning more calories.

Sure, single-joint exercises have a place in your training, but they’re best placed toward the end of your training session.

3. Go Heavy, at Least Early in Your Workout

You might think that in order to do more work, you should back off on your loads and go for higher reps. The fault in this approach is that you take your foot off the musclebuilding accelerator. When you use heavier weights, the fibers are getting a signal to build or retain muscle mass. Using lighter weight for higher reps, conversely, doesn’t stimulate hypertrophy nearly as well. Maintaining muscle still requires a moderately heavy training stimulus, at least for the first half of your workout.

Remember, using heavier loads (about six reps to failure) has been shown to help raise metabolism higher and for longer periods than using lighter loads. The mechanism, called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), raises your metabolism for up to 24 hours post-workout. EPOC, by the way, is what makes high-intensity interval cardio training so much more effective than steady state training. You can achieve a similar effect with your weight workouts, too.

4. Increase Your Workout Density

If you’re like me, you do a set and then set your derriere atop a bench for a minute or two before completing another. While there’s nothing wrong with that style of training, that’s a lot of downtime in your workout. What if you instead were doing some kind of activity during that interval, especially one that didn’t have an adverse effect on the muscle group you were training? That’s where density training comes in. You add in work during your between-sets time without extending the length of your training session. Nobody wants to do long workouts when on a calorie-restricted diet.

On exercises during the middle and latter part of your training, introduce additional work segments in lieu of downtime. This increases the density of your workout, a style of training very fit men and women do to avoid lengthy workouts. Density training pairs your main weighted exercise with a bodyweight movement that’s timed, say for 30 to 45 seconds. It’s important that the second exercise does not use the same working muscles as the first, so it doesn’t interfere with normal clearing of the by-products of exercise metabolism that affect your recuperative abilities. So if you’re doing lower body, do density training with push-ups. Likewise, when training upper body, you can do bodyweight lunges or squats, for example.

After completing both segments, rest for only 30 seconds before repeating the superset for the requisite number of sets. This type of training will challenge your stamina and conditioning, but remember that just like muscle tissue, you can work on improving that over time, too.

5. Start Adding Intensity-Boosting Principles

Another way to increase workout density is to extend the sets you’re already doing past the point of initial muscle failure. You can do that with techniques like supersets and drop sets, and even rest-pause sets. All three are included in the sample chest, triceps and abs workout below.

Instead of dropping the weight when you hit failure, you continue to work with set-extension techniques, pushing your muscles harder and longer, thus keeping your heart rate elevated. Here’s a brief explanation of the techniques:

When you combine two exercises for a target muscle, like chest presses and flyes, without resting between sets, you’re doing a superset. (You can also do supersets for antagonist, or opposing muscle groups, like biceps and triceps.) You rest only when you finish the last movement in the pairing.
A drop set is when you take a set to failure and immediately reduce the poundage by about 25% and continue on with the set. You can do one or more drops as part of the set.
When using rest-pause, you choose a load equal to about your eight-rep max (8RM) and do five reps, then rack the weight and rest just 15 to 20 seconds. You quickly resume again in this pattern until you can no longer achieve five reps. The idea is to do about double the number of reps with a heavy weight that you could normally lift for a single set. Avoid movements like seated overhead dumbbell presses or squats that take a lot of time and effort to get in and out of the start position.

6. Finish Your Weights with a Burn

You typically aim for a deep muscle pump on your last exercise, which affects metabolic stress, a mechanism linked to hypertrophy. Higher-rep sets work especially well here, but you can amplify the efforts by engaging in techniques like FST-7 or cluster sets, keeping rest times limited.

You’ll get a bigger bang for your buck by choosing a machine multi-joint exercise. Machines are especially useful when you’re highly fatigued and won’t have to focus on balancing the weight, whereas multi-joint movements are better for engaging a greater amount of muscle mass while providing a more significant boost to that post-workout metabolism driver EPOC.

With FST-7, choose a weight you can do for 10 to 12 reps. You’ll complete 7 sets – each to failure – but you’ll take only a 30-second rest between sets. If your reps fall off, simply reduce the weight. With cluster sets, you do a movement for time, say three minutes. You do as many reps as you can with your 12RM, rest for 15 seconds and continue on for the allotted time.

7. Do HIIT Training for Cardio

To increase the gap between the calories you consume over those you burn, cardio may be required. But the days of long sessions of boring cardio are over.

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, replaced steady-state training years ago because it burns more calories in less time and also has a much bigger impact on EPOC. After a warm-up, alternate all-out sessions on the treadmill or elliptical (outdoors you can do sprints or stairs), say, for 30 seconds, with very slow recovery intervals (30 seconds or longer, depending on your level of conditioning). Excluding the warm-up and cool-down, HIIT sessions can range from 15 to 25 minutes.

In just a few weeks you’ll make noticeable improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength – yes, strength, as the protocol requires intermittent anaerobic activity. Just remember, this isn’t endurance activity, so focus on the short, all-out bursts with ample recovery between segments.

Sample Chest, Triceps, Abs Workout

Here’s a fairly advanced sample chest, triceps and abs workout that incorporates many of the training tools described above. Make sure you incorporate a training split that allows ample rest days. A two-on/one-off split is ideal. On off days, do HIIT cardio training, about twice a week. If you want to include more cardio sessions following the weights, make those steady state.

Beginners and intermediates should dial back the volume and intensity, especially when first starting a workout like this. Remember, this workout focuses on increasing your metabolism, helping you look more ripped, but you’ll see cardiorespiratory and health benefits as well.

Workout Guidelines

Doesn’t include warm-up sets. Do as many as you need, but never take warm-up sets to muscle failure.
Choose a weight so that you reach muscle failure by the target rep listed.
On the first exercise only, rest 90 to 120 seconds between your heaviest sets. On all other sets, limit rest to 30 to 45 seconds. You may have to adjust all loads downward based on accumulating fatigue and shorter recovery.
Modify this sample workout based on your level of ability.


Exercise Load Set/Reps
1. Barbell Bench Press 8RM Using rest-pause, do as many segments of 5 reps as possible, resting only 20 seconds in-between, until muscle failure. Rest 120 seconds and repeat 2 more times.
2. Incline Dumbbell Press* 8RM 1 set to failure
3. Push-ups*   AMRAP, resting 45 seconds after each superset and repeating 2 more times
4. Seated Decline Machine Press* 12RM 1 set to failure, reducing the load by about 25% and continuing the set again to failure
5. Bodyweight Lunges*   30 seconds work, then rest 45 seconds and repeat 2 more times
6. Seated Triceps Dip Machine 8RM 3 sets to failure, reducing the load by about 25% and going to a second point of failure on each set. Rest 60 seconds and repeat 2 more times.
7. Leaning Overhead Cable Extensions with Rope* 10RM 3 sets to failure
8. Pressdowns with Rope* 12RM 3 sets to failure
9. Hanging Leg Raises   1 set of AMRAP in 4 minutes with 15-second rest intervals; switch to knee raises if this is too difficult
10. Machine Crunches 12RM Using rest-pause, do as many segments of 5 reps as possible, resting only 20 seconds in-between, until muscle failure. Rest 120 seconds and repeat 2 more times.

* Superset

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How Excercise Factors into Weight Loss

Think you can take enough calories out of your diet to hit a weight loss target? There might be a more effective approach. Consider the findings of a study published in The Journal of Nutrition that compares 12 weeks of calorie restriction to the same period of calorie restriction with moderate exercise. 

Researchers put 82 men and women with an average age of 39 on a diet that restricted calories to a range of 500 to 800 per day. Some also entered a program that involved 2.5 hours of walking each week.

Compared to measurements taken before the program began, calorie restriction helped subjects lose an average of 15.4 pounds including 10.5 pounds of fat mass. Subjects who added walking to their dieting efforts lost an average of 19.4 pounds including 14.1 pounds of fat mass.

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One Month to a Bigger, Badder Chest


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Hyperplasia To Build Muscles

When muscles grow, they do so through one of two mechanisms: either by making existing muscle fibers bigger, or through the addition of new muscle fibers.

​Recent research was primarily centered on the second method, which is known as hyperplasia.

While the first method of growth is more or less uniformly known and accepted by scientists, the second method has been more controversial. There are two proposed mechanisms through which individuals achieve hyperplasia, or add new muscle fibers. The first mechanism is when existing muscle fibers split. The second is when your body activates specialized cells known as satellite cells.

The satellite cells then divide and combine to form new muscle fibers. Both of these methods require extreme mechanical stress and damage to induce hyperplasia.

Unfortunately, our ability to detect changes in muscle fibers in humans is quite difficult because we can’t count the number of fibers from pre- to post-training in an entire muscle group. Unlike an animal model where it is possible to count every single muscle fiber, you have to make assumptions from a small muscle sample in humans. However, indirect methods in humans still point toward hyperplasia.One of the best studies on this topic to date was performed by Dr. Tesch and Dr. Larsson back in 1982.3 These scientists found that many of the muscle fibers in highly trained bodybuilders were the exact same size as recreationally trained physical-education students. The fact that the bodybuilders had much larger muscle mass indicated that many of their muscle fibers had been newly created.

So should you duct-tape some weight plates to your arms for the next month? I wouldn’t.


Until recently, no human studies had been performed to investigate muscle growth with intermittent stretching protocols. However, two new studies have shown that intense stretching—even without lifting weights—increased strength by greater than 20 percent in only 3-8 weeks.5,6 Because individuals weren’t actually lifting weights, an increase in strength strongly suggests—and other research supports—that the muscle must be enlarging, either by increasing fiber size or quantity.

Our lab recently tried to tie together all the existing research into a training protocol that bodybuilders could use right away. Our study, led by Jacob Rauch and Jeremy Silva, focused on individuals performing seated calf presses on the leg press.


The athletes began with a weight they could lift 12-15 times until failure. However, instead of resting between sets, they let the weight from the leg press stretch their calves for 30 seconds. They repeated this process three times, dropping the weight after each stretch.

After 5 weeks we found that the stretching group doubled the muscle gains of the non-stretching group! Here’s what we now believe to be the case:

  • The key to stretch-induced growth is to create both a large amount of mechanical tension and muscle damage.
  • The stretch placed upon a muscle fiber seems to be greatest after an individual has achieved significant cell swelling, or pump.

After this swelling has been increased, we believe that intermittent stretching would have its greatest chance to work.


As you can imagine, stretching is a part of a normal lift. Specifically, exercises which place a muscle in its extreme range of motion—such as incline dumbbell curls for the biceps—increase mechanical strain, and thus, hypertrophy.7

However, based on the evidence above, it seems clear to us that some amount of weighted intermittent stretching is even more effective at increasing muscle growth, even in muscle groups as stubborn as the calves.


But a quick warning: I guarantee that this will be one of the most challenging techniques you have ever implemented, and the pump will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced!

For this reason, it’s crucial that you only perform this technique with exercises where you can stretch the muscle without putting yourself at risk of injury. For example, don’t use dips to stretch your pecs, because your shoulders would be placed in a dangerous position. Instead, try something like lying dumbbell flyes, where you hold the weight in the stretched portion of the lift.

For a one-month specialization program, I suggest performing a variation on the routine below twice a week. Use a weight you can lift for 12-15 repetitions. When you reach failure, let the weight stretch your muscles. At this point, perform a dropset where you strip the weight down by 15 percent and go to failure again. Repeat this process 2-3 more times, and you’ll be—and feel—done.

Here’s how you could use it for specific body parts, and a full month-long specialization routine for the calves.


  • Biceps: Between sets of standing or incline seated dumbbell curls, let the weight pull you into controlled hyperextension at the shoulder, maximizing stretch and tension on the biceps.
  • Chest: Between sets of chest flyes, allow the weight to stretch your chest while maintaining a slight bend in the elbows.
  • Traps: Following a set a shrugs, allow the weight to keep you in a depressed position without letting the weight rest against your sides.
  • Hamstrings: Between sets of Romanian deadlifts, emphasize the bottom position. Extend your hips back as far as you can with your weight on your heels for maximum tension on the hamstrings. Keep the weight as close to your body as possible.
  • Quads: Between any quad exercise, perform the classic quad stretch. Sit on the backs of your heels and place your hands behind you. Depending on your level of flexibility, you can walk your hands back for increased stretch.
  • Back: After completing a set of pull-ups, fully extend your arms and hang. Keep your feet off the ground for maximal tension.
  • Triceps: Between sets of triceps rope extensions, let the rope pull you back into a stretched position.


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Featuring MuscleTech Ambassador @nourkaaki

Partials, Isometrics and High Reps for One of the Most Blistering Chest Pumps You’ll Ever Create!

 If you’re like me, you want to finish every body part workout with a monster pump, and chest day is no exception. But rather than looking for a magical exercise, let’s instead focus on the magic you create on a basic single-joint chest exercise, the Pec Deck fly.

Nothing special about the exercise really, but today you’re going to arrange each of four sets with a slightly different focus to create one of the most hellacious pumps you’ve ever experienced!


A Little Background First

 The Pec Deck fly is a single-joint movement, so it leaves the triceps out of the movement, which allows you to really focus on isolating the pecs. As a machine exercise, it also locks your arms in a slightly bent position, which too many trainers fumble on its free-weight and cable cousins by bending and extending at the elbows.

Hint: Set the seat height so your shoulders, elbows and hands are in the same horizontal plane, and keep your elbows up during the entire motion so all three remain in correct biomechanical position.

With your hands out wide, the Pec Deck blasts the outer pectoral region. When you draw your hands together, the inner pecs are more thoroughly worked. The inner portion is where we’ll focus on this four-set finishing move done at the end of your chest routine.


Getting Started

 Each set is constructed differently from the others, which allows you to blast the inner pec fibers in slightly different ways. Each set will also make use of a partial-rep technique that increases the pain threshold – and the pump.

Picking the right load is essential. Choose one in which you can just reach 12 reps, sometimes called your 12RM. You shouldn’t be able to do one more rep with good form.


 SET 1

 Do a normal, full-range set to 12, which should be to failure. This also allows you to test whether you’re using the right load. Use a smooth, controlled motion. Adjust the weight on your next set if it was too light or too heavy. Don’t forget your hands should nearly touch in the peak contracted position.

 SET 2

 Sticking with the same weight, this time you’ll hold the peak contracted position for a full second. (Not a half second – a full one!) Being able to stop and hold the peak contraction for a count requires using a controlled but strong motion. Work through a full range of motion again, doing as many reps as you can, which will be about 10. If you can’t do 10, reduce the load by 1 to 2 pins.

Form Pointer: Keep a big chest throughout with your shoulders back. Allow your pecs to swell on the negative rep as your shoulder blades pinch together. And remember not to drop your elbows!


 SET 3

 Now we’ll start alternating full-range reps with partials. For every full-range rep you do, do another that’s about a quarter. Instead of allowing the weight to pull your hands all the way back, go to a point where they’re just 18 inches apart – no wider! Doing a full and partial rep equals one rep. Do as many as you can, shooting for at least 10. (That equates to 10 full and 10 quarter reps.) If you can’t make it to 10, reduce the weight by 1 to 2 pins.

 SET 4


Your last set starts like the first one: 10 regular, full-range reps. But that’s where the fun begins! After reaching 10, do as many quarter reps as possible . . . 10, 15, 20, 25, I’ve even reached 30! Take your inner pecs to total failure: Get help from your partner, use a faster rep speed, add a little momentum, do a drop set, just keep going. Once you’re done, your chest is quite literally done!

Fast Fact: High-rep sets cause a deep muscle burn via accumulation of metabolic ions, including lactate. The technical name of this hypertrophic mechanism is called metabolic stress, which is linked to increases in anabolic hormones like IGF-1, testosterone and growth hormone. Of note, there are two other mechanisms of hypertrophy: mechanical stress (which disturbs the structural integrity of muscle cells 

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Excelling in Primal Movements

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Featuring MuscleTech Ambassador Noureddine El Kaaki (Lebanon)

More often than not, we try our hands at some of the most complex and unnecessary exercises, thinking they are going to propel us to our goals faster.  However, sometimes, mastering what I call the “Primal Movements” is actually more essential. When a workout program is based on these movement patterns, increased strength, conditioning, and overall enhanced athleticism is the result!

Primal Movements have often been called the exercise kin to the Paleo Diet. In essence, performing exercises that focus on functionality and incorporating numerous body parts all at once – similar to the basic functional strength movements humans have been doing naturally for thousands of years. You won’t find isolation exercises in this program (though feel free to add them in on your own). Instead, it’s a program based around pushing, pulling, squatting, carrying, lunging and hip-hinging.

This is my workout program that stresses Primal Movements and, if done consistently, can help you build unstoppable real-world strength, power and conditioning!



Push: 3 sets

  1. Bench Press, 8 reps
  2. Standing Cable Chest Press, 10 reps
  3. Push-Ups, 1 x to failure

Squat: 3 sets

  1. Back Squats, 8 reps
  2. Bulgarian Split Squat, 10 reps per leg
  3. 1 ½ rep Kettlebell Goblet Squats, 10 reps


  1. Overhead Barbell Carry, 4 x 25 yds (as heavy as possible)

*Use a weight that allows you to go heavy but still be able to maintain posture and position



Pull: 3 sets

  1. Pull-Ups, max reps
  2. Dumbbell 1-Arm Bent Over-Row, 8 reps (per arm)
  3. Barbell Upright Row, 12 reps

Lunge: 3 sets

  1. Barbell Reverse Lunge, 10 reps
  2. Transverse Dumbbell Lunge, 12 reps

Hinge: 3 sets

  1. Romanian Deadlifts, 10 reps
  2. Kettlebell Russian Swings, 10 reps

*Use a weight that allows you to go heavy but still able to maintain posture and position


Metabolic Circuit: (30 sec work/30 sec rest)

  1. Push-Ups (feet elevated on bench)
  2. Barbell Front Squat
  3. Barbell Row
  4. Forward Walking Lunge
  5. Sumo Deadlift
  6. Zercher Carry
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Squat for It – A Guide to Glute Training

By: Katie Miller, MuscleTech Ambassador

I was never blessed with shapely, round glutes, I squatted for them. You can buy yourself a chest but if you want firm, round glutes you are going to have to work for them.

During my contest prep for my first bikini competition, I was under the impression that shoulder-width squats on the Smith machine, using the leg press, and doing lunges were going to give me the glutes that I wanted. WRONG! With the help of my degree in exercise physiology and my experience as a personal trainer I decided to come up with my own system.

The term “glutes” refers to the gluteal muscles, which are comprised of the gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus and gluteus medius. Abductors also play a large role in glute toning. In order to get the results you want, you must do a different exercise for each muscle. On top of isolating each muscle, you must have excellent mind-muscle connection.

Mind, muscle connection, in my experience, involves reducing the weight and really dialing in and concentrating on the muscle you are engaging with each exercise. Another common misconception I had during my first contest prep was that you must lift as heavy as you can in order to see results. WRONG! My glutes improved significantly when I started lowering the weight, increasing my repetitions and really thinking about my glutes improving during each exercise.

I like to dedicate one whole day to glute training; it is one of the most judged body parts as a bikini competitor. I usually start with a heavier leg day on Mondays which consists of more compound leg exercises. Thursdays, when my legs have recovered, I do more isolated exercises for my glutes. (This is a fun training day and you can get very creative with it!)

Here is an example of what my leg day and glute day looks like:


Leg Day (Heavy)

1.    Shoulder-width squats on squat rack – 90 degree

2.    Stiff-legged deadlifts

3.    One-legged hamstring curl, superset with walking lunges

4.    Linear hack squat, superset with weighted hip thrusts on bosu ball

5.    Leg press (I like to use the squat press)

6.    Leg extension (light weight until burnout)

Glute Day (Lighter Weight)

1.    Box jumps to warm up

2.    Wide-stance (sumo) squats on the Smith machine with toes pointed out

3.    Narrow-stance squats

4.    One legged squats on smith machine

5.    Glute kickbacks using cables

6.    Glute kickbacks using the prone hamstring curl machine backwards

7.    Glute stomp using the assisted pull-up machine

8.    Abductor machine until burnout (done very heavy and leaning forward)

*On top of resistance training I ONLY use the Stairmaster for cardiovascular exercise, and I squeeze my glutes with
each step. Remember mind-muscle connection for best results – SQUAT FOR IT!
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Boost The Mind-Muscle Connection By Making One Small Change

The mind-muscle connection: Everybody talks about it, and every lifter knows it can help them lift stronger, grow bigger, and build their body the way they want it, but it’s not always easy to find!
If you’re someone who struggles to “feel” the right muscles working during key movements, listen up. The secret to unlocking the potential of one muscle group could be hiding its antagonist—the muscle which directly opposes it. Antagonist supersets have been around for years—heck, even Arnold trained chest and back on the same day—and they are as popular as ever among today’s fitness elite.

MuscleTech athlete and IFBB pro Santi Aragon recently shared his secret to building a bigger, stronger chest—working in unexpected back and bicep exercises to promote greater gains and keep his physique balanced. 

“As of late,” says Aragon, “I’ve been doing antagonist splits for certain muscle groups, like doing biceps after my chest workout, to move blood around and to stimulate an additional muscle group.”

“By flexing your triceps at the bottom of the curl, it ensures you’re fully extending the biceps,” he explains.

And after a few reps with that full stretch working, you’d better believe you’ll feel your biceps working more.

Here are a few suggestions to mix up your split routine and take advantage of antagonist training. Use these supersets to create a better mind-muscle connection—and build a bigger, stronger, more balanced physique!

Heavy Chest with Light Row: Whether you use push-ups or bench press, supersetting polar-opposite big muscles like chest and back guarantees increased blood flow to each muscle group and improves overall upper-body strength and hypertrophy. Powerlifters are known to superset low-rep bench work with high-rep band pull-aparts, for example. This will help you get your shoulders in a better position, control your shoulder blades during the bench, and activate everything you need to be a bigger bencher.

Dumbbell Press with Chin-ups: Looking for a one-stop upper-body solution? You couldn’t do much better than this. The combination of hanging and upper-back work from the chin-ups can improve your overhead mobility, while also providing a solid, active base to press from. Both exercises will play off of each other, enabling you to do more quality work—and earn both functional strength, and a serious upper-body pump.

And after a few reps with that full stretch working, you’d better believe you’ll feel your biceps working more.

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Once vs Twice A Week Weight Training

There are numerous approaches you can take to gaining muscle size and strength. If you’re just getting started in the weight room, a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness offers interesting insight into workout program planning. 

Thirty untrained men in the early 20s took part in a 10-week program that hit each muscle group once or twice a week. All subjects performed the same volume of training regardless of which group they were assigned to.

At the end of the program, the muscle thickness of elbow flexors increased an average of 1.73 mm in the once weekly group and 2.31 mm for subjects in the twice weekly group. Subjects in the twice weekly group also experienced greater increases in strength.



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Using BCAAs Limits Lean Tissue Loss During Weight Loss

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​Athletes and active adults always look into maintaining fitness while losing weight and this is best achieved by caloric restriction in combination with exercise. During this process, a risk for lean tissue loss, which can limit performance happens. Many studies addressed this issue to determine the effectiveness of a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement, in conjunction with heavy resistance training and a carbohydrate caloric-restricted “cut diet” on body composition and muscle fitness.

Studies have shows that the use of supplements containing BCAAs while following 8 or more weeks of resistance training program resulted in a greater decrease in percent body fat, an increase in lean mass, and 10-RM strength gains on the bench press and squat vs. ingestion of a whey supplement or a sports drink. In addition, the ingestion of a whey protein supplement resulted in greater lean mass gains than ingestion of a sports drink.

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Partials, isometrics and high reps combine for one of the most blistering chest pumps you’ll ever create!
You may have taken up lifting to get bigger and stronger, and as a beginner it’s nice to experience a double dose of each. Seeing week-over-week improvements is incredibly motivating to keep you coming back and training harder.
But soon enough those strength and size gains begin to stall. You can keep doing more of the same – with, not surprisingly, diminishing results – or you can start to tailor your workout to more specific goals. If you’re looking to build serious strength, you’ll realize that your approach in the gym starts to differ from those who are looking to maximize muscle size.
Strength training and bodybuilding use the same tools in the gym, but they have very distinct approaches. Whether you’re looking to train like a powerlifter, a bodybuilder undergoing a strength phase, or you just want to focus on building your strength on individual lifts, it’s important to know the critical parameters that set a strength-focused approach apart.
If you’re a bodybuilder, there’s one big advantage of including strength phases: Once you switch back to a musclebuilding-focused routine, your baseline of strength will be higher than what it is now. Instead of being able to complete 8 reps with 225 lbs. on the bench press, for example, you can now do 10, or conversely complete 8 with 245 lbs. In that sense, strength leads to size.
Here are some key pointers on building strength.

1. Recognize strength training isn’t the same as training for muscle size.

Sure, they both use many of the same exercises and types of equipment, but that’s where each discipline starts to veer from the other. Exercise combinations and the variables involved – including choice of exercises, number of sets, load and rest taken between sets – differ for each. Learn and respect those differences to maximize your gains. Pursuing two distinct goals simultaneously ensures you’ll come up short with each.

2. Focus on a few key multi-joint moves.

The basic powerlifting moves are the bench press, squat and deadlift. Strengthen these and you strengthen just about every body part because each of those movements engages so many different muscle groups. You could also include a shoulder press and bent-over row with your strength-focused moves for a bit more variety.

What’s more, you always want to do these highly demanding multi-joint movements early in your workout when your strength levels are high. Because the exercises require multiple muscle groups to work in coordination, you can handle serious loads. That better triggers your natural release of testosterone and growth hormone, both of which help you maintain and build strength and mass.

If you’ve done traditional bodybuilding-style training in the past, you probably think of working each body part individually. For now, you’re going to have to adjust that perspective. With a strength-focused workout, the goal is to increase the amount of weight you lift on the one main lift of the day (squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, row). Secondary exercises are included to strengthen any weak links among the muscles involved in the main lift rather than working the target musculature from various angles.

Finally, don’t try to use a strength approach on single-joint exercises, like cable crossovers or leg extensions, which put a huge amount of stress on a single joint. With relatively heavy loads, you want to spread the stress across multiple joints, a safer and smarter approach. So when training arms, for example, opt for weighted chin-ups (a multi-joint movement) on biceps day, or close-grip benches or weighted dips for triceps.

3. Increase the weight and reduce the number of reps.

Exercise scientists have weighed in on the load/reps relationship, but all you basically need to do is watch how a powerlifter trains. To build strength, you train with heavier weights for fewer reps. That means on your first (main) exercise, after warm-ups, choose a weight you can do for 1 to 6 reps.

Such a low rep target corresponds to about 85% to 95% of your 1-rep max (1RM). Compare that to a bodybuilder training to optimize muscle size: his intensity is typically 70% to 85% of his 1RM, equivalent to a rep range of 6 to 12.

The total number of reps (counting all sets) you do for the main exercise, not counting warm-ups, should fall within the 10 to 20 range. Your total sets, therefore, could be arranged like this:

▪️2–3 sets of 6

▪️3–4 sets of 5

Once you get to a weight that’s above 90% of your 1RM, which is a weight you can do for no more than 4 reps, drop the total reps for the exercise to 10 in such a manner:

▪️2 sets of 4

▪️3 sets of 3

▪️4 sets of 2

Using your 1RM weight – the max load you can lift on a given exercise – isn’t the best way to build strength but is rather a measure of strength. Use those other combinations in a strength phase. When it comes to testing your limits, that’s when you’ll do 1RMs.
4. Add assistance exercises that help strengthen the main lift.

As previously noted, assistance or secondary exercises in a strength-focused workout are ideally chosen to target weak points – to build them up, so your main lift improves. However, using the same very heavy approach can overwhelm your nervous system. When following a high-intensity approach (the load relative to your 1RM) in a strength workout, you can’t also use high volume. With those assistance exercises, you’ll do fewer exercises, fewer sets and fewer total reps than you might when training for size.
Weak areas might be at the bottom of your range of motion, part way up or even at the top in the near-lockout position. Strength coaches have developed techniques that help you attack a sticking point utilizing such methods as chains or bands, partial reps, pauses at the bottom of the lift and isometrics – all of which can be done in a power rack for safety. The mechanics of doing each properly is beyond the scope of this article but are proven winners to increase strength!
For assistance exercises, pick two to four movements. Limit yourself to 15 to 25 total reps for each exercise (all sets counted), using loads that are 70% to 80% of your 1RM, which corresponds to a weight you can do for 8 to 10 reps. Sets and reps sequencing may, therefore, look like this:

▪️2 sets of 8, 9 or 10 reps

▪️3 sets of 8 reps


Further Reading >>>

Romanian Deadlift vs Standard Deadlift [Comprehensive Guide]

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