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Bodybuilding

For Great Big Biceps, Lift Great Big Weights

You want the secret to full bulging biceps eh? Well I bet you’ve already found that during an arm workout it’s usually pretty easy to get a great pump in the biceps. Just curl a light to moderate weight with strict form for high reps and your arms will swell up huge in a matter of minutes. In that moment your arms feel enormous and beautiful and you fantasize of them staying that large forever. Sadly, the pump is only a temporary pleasure and an hour after the workout your arms have shrunk back to their normal size. High volume workouts are great for increasing the sarcoplasmic fluid around your muscles, which is an integral part of reaching maximum muscle hypertrophy, but it seems that biceps in particular are unable to retain the extra sarcoplasm fluid for long. Thus, the best way to ensure more permanent bulging biceps is by increasing the myofibrillar muscle fibers themselves. And the way to do that is by lifting some dang heavy weights.

Chuck Sipes Proved Strength and Size Go Together

Chuck Sipes bicepsChuck Sipes was a bodybuilder during the 60s and was known for his impressive feats of strength. He was also known for his gigantic biceps. Sipes believed his great physique was a result of his power training styled workouts.

Sipes believed that continuous application of power over a long period of time, the prolonged holding of a contracted position, was critical to maximum hypertrophy and was the key element that set him apart from other bodybuilders. He explained that pausing after each rep dramatically lowers the effectiveness of an exercise. Constant tension on the muscle must be maintained during every second of an exercise, especially for the biceps.

Secondly, he believed lifting really heavy was the best way to force the biceps to grow. Myofibrillar growth is best stimulated by the intensity of lifting seriously heavy weights under prolonged tension. This extra myofibrillar muscle growth will give the arms a nice full, dense look.

I won’t get into Chuck’s exact arm routine right now, but the moral of the story is lift heavy. I mean HEAVY! While remembering to maintain constant tension. This is the secret to full bulging biceps.

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Bodybuilding

German Volume Training for Maximum Hypertrophy

Are you ready to pack on some serious muscle? I mean serious maximum muscle hypertrophy? Then prepare yourself for some pain that will guarantee you gain. It’s called German Volume Training (GVT), and it’s brutal.

german volume training

The idea is stupidly simple. For each workout you do two main compound exercises. For each of those exercises you do 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight. Top off the workout with two supplemental exercises of 3 sets each and call it a day. Easy right?

Okay, not at easy as it sounds, but GVT is extremely effective. You will be incredibly sore for days afterward so be prepared not to walk for several days after your leg workout. You’ll be hobbling all about while your body recovers and forces itself to grow.

The program works by blasting the motor units with high volumes of extensive, repeated stress. This forces the body to adapt by hypertrophying the targeted muscle fibers. Many people see significant size gains of 8-15 pounds of lean mass in just 6-8 weeks!

History

The idea largely came from Germain weight lifters in the 70s who used this type of approach in the off season to pack on lean muscle. It was so effective that many of the athletes who used this training were able move up a full weight class within 12 weeks.

The routine shared here was refined, developed, and introduced by Charles Poliquin in the 90s. It immediately became one of the most popular routines ever produced.

Choosing the Weight

For each exercise, select a weight that would take you to failure at 20 reps. This weight will probably be about 60% of your one rep max. Use this weight for all 10 sets.

The first few sets will seem very easy, but soon the sets will get more difficult and you may struggle to complete all 10 reps. Don’t increase the weight until you can do all 10 reps of all 10 sets.

You may find that you get stronger again 8th or 9th set, this is because of a neurological response called post-tetanic facilitation. You can already see your amazing body trying to adjust to this stress with this short-term neural adaptation.

Tempo

Poliquin suggests making each set last between 40-70 seconds for maximum hypertrophy results. You can do this by lifting the weight smoothly with control over about 2 seconds and then lowering the weight much more slowly over about 4 seconds. I would recommend maintaining constant tension on the muscle throughout the entire set by never fully locking out or relaxing at the top or bottom of a movement. Remember to use perfect form at all times, don’t get sloppy now!

Process & Rest Intervals

Each daily routine will consist of two main compound exercises (A1 and A2) followed by two more supplemental exercises (B1 and B2). You can superset each group of exercises while resting 90 seconds between each set in group A and resting 60 seconds between exercises in group B. Time the rest intervals with a stopwatch and don’t fudge the time too much, you want to be able to properly track your progress. Here’s a quick example of what this looks like:

  1. A1 – Set 1
  2. Rest 90 seconds
  3. A2 – Set 1
  4. Rest 90 seconds
  5. A1 – Set 2
  6. Rest 90 seconds
  7. A2 – Set 2
  8. Rest 90 seconds
  9. .etc

Continue this pattern until you’ve complete all 10 sets for both A1 and A2 exercises. Repeat this pattern for the B1 and B2 exercises, but only resting 60 seconds between sets.

Supplementation

It will be vital to eat like a champion during this routine. It’s a ultra high volume workout so you may find you need to dramatically increase your calorie intake to keep up. One suggestion Poliquin gives for maximum muscle-mass gains is to consume a liquid branched chain amino acid (BCAA) shake during the workout. He recommends .44 grams per pound of body weight.

The Phase 1 Routine

The following is a sample routine suggested by Charles Poliquin. You will repeat this Phase 1 routine 6 times, after that you will move to a more intensive 3 week program.

Day 1 – Chest and Back

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Decline Dumbbell Press with Semi-Supinated Grip (palms facing each other) 10 sets 10 reps
A2 Chin Ups (palms facing you) 10 sets 10 reps
B1 Incline Dumbbell Flyes 3 sets 10-12 reps
B2 One-Arm Dumbbell Rows 3 sets 10-12 reps

Day 2 – Legs and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Back Squats 10 sets 10 reps
A2 Lying Leg Curls Feet Outward 10 sets 10 reps
B1 Low-Cable Pull-Ins 3 sets 15-20 reps
B2 Seated Calf Raises 3 sets 15-20 reps

Day 3 – Rest Day

Day 4 – Arms and Shoulders

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Parallel Bar Dips 10 sets 10 reps
A2 Incline Hammer Curls 10 sets 10 reps
B1 Bent-Over Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 sets 10-12 reps
B2 Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 sets 10-12 reps

Day 5 – Rest Day

The Phase 2 Routine

After completing the Phase 1 routine 6 times, you can switch to another routine of your choice for three weeks. Any workout split that suits your recovery pattern will do. Poliquin recommends hitting each body part over a five day cycle, averaging 4-6 sets per body part at 6-8 reps.

The Phase 3 Routine

After the three weeks of recovery routine, you can begin the next phase of GVT. This time you’ll again be doing 10 sets method, but this time of only 6 reps. This time choose a weight that you would typically fail at 12 reps, and use it for all 10 sets.

Day 1 – Chest and Back

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Incline Dumbbell Press 10 sets 6 reps
A2 Wide Grip Pull Ups (palms facing away from you) 10 sets 6 reps
B1 Flat Dumbbell Flyes 3 sets 6 reps
B2 Bent Over Rows with EZ Bar 3 sets 6 reps

Day 2 – Legs and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Bent-Knee Deadlifts 10 sets 6 reps
A2 Seated Leg Curls Feet Inward 10 sets 6 reps
B1 Twisting Crunches 3 sets 12-15 reps
B2 Standing Calf Raises 3 sets 12-15 reps

Day 3 – Rest Day

Day 4 – Arms and Shoulders

Exercise Sets Reps
A1 Close Bench Presses with Chains 10 sets 6 reps
A2 Scott Close Grip EZ Bar Curls 10 sets 6 reps
B1 One Arm Seated External Rotation 3 sets 3-12 reps
B2 Incline Prone Lateral Raises 3 sets 10-12 reps

Day 5 – Rest Day

Now Build Your Own Routine

German Volume Training is intense, but you’re sure to see results in no time. After you’ve given this sample routine a complete try, take some time to recover a bit and then create your GVT routine based on the principles you’ve seen here. Substitute some exercises with equivalent variations and find some ways to incorporate other body parts more directly such as shoulders and forearms. The method is brutal, but it will make you a beast!

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Bodybuilding Video

Free Online Documentary – World’s Strongest Man

This video features a fascinating look into the strong man competitions and the various competitors fighting for the title of strongest man in the world.

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Bodybuilding Video

Jim Cordova Explains the Importance of the Negative in Weight Training

The gym is one of the few places where focusing on the negative can make you twice as successful. To understand what I mean, you first need to know what lies behind every repetition that you perform.

Every repetition consists of three phases. The concentric phase which is lifting the weight to transition or peak contraction phase, which is the midpoint, and eccentric phase which is lowering the weight. In other words, each repetition consists of a positive, midpoint, and negative.

The positive portion is easy to identify as it’s what you’re most familiar with. It’s the primary action of the exercise that you perform. For example, during pulling movements the positive portion of the rep occurs when you pull the weight toward your body. The negative occurs when the weight moves away from and back to the starting point. During pushing movements, the positive portion of the rep occurs when you push the weight away from your body and the negative occurs when the weight moves towards you.

Most people tend to focus only on the positive portion and pay little mind to the negative. You want to do the complete opposite. Generally, the negative portion of every repetition should move slower than the positive. At the very least you should move at the same pace as the positive. Never should you move faster by allowing the weight to fall back to the starting position. Doing such is asking for an injury simply because you’re allowing the muscle to relax and then suddenly contracting it to catch the weight.

Whenever you perform an exercise you’re going to want to focus on the negative especially since it is just as beneficial as the positive. Arguably, even more so. You may have noticed that when you perform a slow controlled negative repetition it tends to burn more and is very intense. That should tell you something. It’s very effective in terms of stimulating muscle growth and development. In fact, the negative portion of a repetition has been shown to have a greater impact on the hormones that lead to muscle growth and development, even more so than the positive. The negative has been shown to produce more micro trauma in the muscle. In other words, it breaks the muscle down more. The whole objective of resistance training is to break down the muscles so that they grow back stronger and more developed.

Lastly, by focusing on the negative you become twice as efficient during your workout since you’re essentially doing twice the work. Focusing on the positive is only half the repetition. So focus on the negative and I guarantee it will have a positive impact on your results.

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Bodybuilding Video

Shoulder Training with Jim Cordova and Strengthening the Rotator Cuff

Jim Cordova is a world-ranked drug-free bodybuilder that demonstrates excellent intuitive wisdom in his workouts. In this video he details his secrets to massive delts and powerful healthy shoulders.

He sticks to the basic exercises when training shoulders and mixes a variety of factors, such as rep range, frequency, volume, and exercise order, just to subject the muscles to new forms of tension.

He starts most shoulder workouts with presses, though occasionally starts out with the side delts first. When performing presses, he sticks to the standard upright angle. High incline presses really hammer the delts as it’s a very natural movement. Generally, he does not lockout when performing presses but rather keeps the weight moving maintaining constant tension on the sweet spot of the muscle. This blasts the muscle and brings it to failure much earlier. He does this for many sets to failure. Keeping the weight moving subjects the muscle to even more stimulation than locking out or squeezing does and will cause you to fail much quicker.

Cordova might train his shoulders only once every two weeks during a power building phase. At other times when focused more on development and a good pump he will not go so heavy and workout shoulders twice a week.

A excellent overlooked exercise is the single armed upright row with a dumbbell. It’s an outstanding exercise for a great pump in the side delts. It’s also easier on the rotator cuff as there is less of a chance of shoulder impingement and is much more natural.

Jim Cordova claims that working the rotator cuffs has helped not only his shoulder training, but the training of every other part of his upper body as well. When using a lot of power and force in the major shoulder exercises, the major muscles tend to really assist in the functions that the rotator cuff would ordinarily perform. This in turn causes the rotator cuffs to weaken and atrophy. This puts you at jeopardy of tearing a rotator cuff muscle even during the most mundane tasks of daily life. To prevent this Cordova does 4 or 5 exercises for the rotator cuff muscles. He claims this has worked very well and that his shoulders feel much stronger then they did prior to rotator cuff training. Those tiny muscles need to be worked thoroughly just as the larger muscles do. Strengthening these tiny muscles will make you stronger in the all the core lifts which will allow you greater progress.

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Bodybuilding Video

Dorian Yates Blood and Guts Training Routine

Six time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates shows us a real mass building training routine. This is high-intensity  training at its best. Typically, for each exercise there are two warm up sets to get the blood flowing and prevent injury, followed by one all out set at max intensity.

Nutritionally, Dorian recommends 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Generally, you will need about twice the amount of carbohydrates as proteins to ensure that the body uses the carbs for energy and the protein for tissue repair. If you don’t have enough carbs, proteins will then be used for energy. This is not only a more inefficient form of energy, but it robs the proteins of doing their muscle building work. If, however, you start gaining too much body fat, back down on your carb intake.

Complex carbohydrates are always best, except after a workout. Following a workout, simple carbohydrates are best for quickly restoring your energy stores and promoting an insulin spike. Don’t forget you still need to consume fats as well. A good ratio for fats is approximately 30% of your daily protein intake.

Episode 1 – Chest and Biceps

Episode 2 – Back

Episode 3 – Dorians Tips

Episode 4 – Delts and Triceps

Episode 5 – Legs