Saturday, April 23, 2016

Changing Your Grip to Build Bigger Biceps

Switch your grip and give this biceps workout a try for more muscular arms. 

The barbell curl is king when it comes to building biceps mass, as it adequately hits the biceps muscle group. But you can get even more from this old standard by changing your grip width to alter the angle of stress placed upon the biceps muscles.

    * Regular Grip: For most bodybuilders, this refers to a shoulder-width grip. In this position, the arms are fairly vertical and the biomechanics for the curl are optimal. This grip allows a fairly even contribution from both biceps heads and the brachialis to curl the weight.

    * Wide Grip: Any grip beyond shoulder-width is considered wide for the barbell curl, but about 6 inches wider than shoulder-width is average. A wide grip places more emphasis on the short head of the biceps brachii.

    * Narrow Grip: Any grip less than shoulder-width is considered narrow. Most bodybuilders find that the closest they can comfortably get is about 2 inches or so in from shoulder width, or just beyond hip width. A narrow grip shifts more emphasis onto the long head of the biceps.

    * Varied Grip: Although a shoulder-width grip hits all the biceps muscles hard, it's important to modify your grip from narrow to wide (and in between) to stress the biceps muscles from as many different angles as possible, resulting in the fullest, most complete development. 

You can throw grip changes into your biceps workout in several ways.     

    1) Increase grip width by 2 inches each training session, beginning with a grip width just under shoulder-width and ending with a grip width just beyond 6 inches outside shoulder width.

    2) Do the same as above within a single training session, changing your grip width for each set.

    3) Incorporate your own variations of these suggestions to continually modify your grip width, which will keep your muscles stimulated for gains.


    Use the following workout to hit the biceps from every angle.

Barbell Curl (warm-up with comfortable grip) 2/10
Barbell Curl (shoulder-width grip)                     1/6-10
Barbell Curl (6" beyond shoulder-width grip) 1/8-12
Barbell Curl (2" inside shoulder-width grip) 1/8-12
Barbell Curl (4" beyond shoulder-width grip) 1/6-10
Barbell Curl (shoulder-width grip)                     1/6-10
Barbell Curl (2" beyond shoulder-width grip) 1/6-10
Incline Dumbbell Curl                                         2/6-10
Preacher Curl                                                         2/8-12

By Timothy Fritz M&F

Saturday, April 16, 2016

ARMageddon !!! The Key to Arm Growth

To build stronger biceps and triceps, it helps to build your knowledge about your arm muscles and how they work. 

Your upper arm is divided into three main muscle groups.

  •     Firstly, we have the biceps, which runs along the front of the arm, from your elbow to your shoulder joint. The main function of the biceps is to bend the elbow.

  •     Secondly, we have the triceps which run from the elbow to the shoulder. Their main role is to straighten the elbow. The triceps are a larger muscle group than the biceps, which means they have more potential to grow.

  •     The third group is the brachialis, an upper arm muscle that runs under the biceps. It’s really only visible when looking at the arms from the side, but will make your arms appear much larger from a side view. Building this muscle will create a fuller and bigger bicep.

Most people focus on biceps training, where most of the workout is centred on supine (underhand – palms forward) grip exercises which will mainly work the bicep muscles, and less on the triceps and brachialis.

If you want big arms or even sculpted and well-designed arms then you need to work your triceps and brachialis just as hard. To get great arms you need to work the triceps, biceps and the brachialis. Let’s look the most important principles you need to follow in order to build bigger, stronger arms.

Twice a Week

Train your arms a maximum of twice per week. The muscles in your arms are more prone to overtraining than other muscles of the body, mainly because they’re worked hard during pulling and pushing movements, such as the bench press and lat pull down.

So many people think that training their arms 3-4 times a week is the best way to get them to grow. Do this, and you’re setting yourself up for major disappointment. Stick to 1-2 arm workouts per week. This gives your arms the recovery time they need to grow bigger and stronger. If you work them properly and hard enough you won’t need to work them more than twice a week.

Train Hard

To get your arms to grow, you need to overload them by periodically training them to failure and beyond. Don’t just go through the motions. Prepare yourself for some high intensity sets and really squeeze out every last rep.

Train Fast

If you’re primary goal is to add muscle mass to your arms, your entire arm routine should take you no more than 30 minutes. Building muscle is not like running a marathon. Many people do too much arm work in search of big arms. Short and intense is the best training way to add mass quickly. When training your arms, more is not always better.

Correct Technique

Lift and lower the weight slowly in a controlled, focused manner. If the weights you’re using are too heavy, you’re only training your ego. This will never build big arms. To develop your arms fully, start every repetition with your arms fully extended. This makes the exercise harder, and targets all the fibres in the muscle.

If you’re using too much weight (like most people do) you’ll end up doing partial repetitions, and swinging your body all over the place but most importantly you’ll put yourself in real danger of getting injured. Reduce your weights and do the exercise properly. I stick to 1 general rule when it comes to weight training: perfect your form, then look at increasing the weight you’re lifting.


Well defined arms don’t come from curls or presses alone. Exercise only provides the stimulus for growth. To provide your muscles with the fuel they need to get bigger and stronger, you need to make sure you eat enough calories every day. If your arms are growing, and your weight is moving up on the scales, you know you’re on the right track.

Something else you can do to ensure rapid muscle growth in your arms (and your entire body) is to consume protein and/or carbohydrate immediately prior to, and straight after exercise. I personally stick to a basic whey protein concentrate (TPW Caramel Macchiato concentrate 80 is my favourite) for most of the day and before a workout, for after a workout I tend to use TPW's All in One Protein powder as it contains protein isolate which is absorbed quickly which is crucial for post workout. Nutrients consumed at certain times, most notably before and after your workout, can better contribute to muscle repair and recovery compared to the same nutrients consumed during other times of the day.

Feed your body with the right nutrients after exercise, and your muscles will be able to repair and recover quicker, which means bigger, stronger arms for you.

By: BradBerkleyMOT

Thursday, April 7, 2016


What happens when ... You have sex before working out? And other common training and nutrition questions

In the world of health and fitness, old wives' tales and gym lore are oft repeated, chapter and verse, as hardcore fact. Opinions are bandied about as truth, and legend is taken as history. Health clubs are home to more speculation than the pork bellies market. And that's just the way it's always been. Until now.

We've recruited bona fide experts in the fields of exercise science and nutrition to help us answer 17 questions that have historically been ripe for speculation, guesswork and hearsay. So now, instead of listening to the advice of your training partner's friend's roommate's sister, you can be the one giving it. But one word of caution: You may find your standing among old wives seriously downgraded. So, what really happens when . . .

1) You don't wear a belt during heavy lifting? 

According to nutrition and exercise guru Chris Aceto, there are two sides to this coin. "If you don't use a belt when lifting heavy, you could possibly injure yourself because belts support the abdominal and lower back muscles -- the stabilizers of the trunk region," he says. "Paradoxically, when people start out training with a belt, they don't build those stabilizer muscles, so the risk of injury increases as the strength of other muscles increases." In other words, use a belt only to help prevent possible injury on your heavier sets, not to take the place of supporting muscles.

2) You eat too much or too little protein?

We all know that protein builds and maintains muscle (at least all m&f readers do it). So we do our best to get the right amount of protein to reach our personal fitness goals. But what happens on those days your meal schedule gets derailed?

Aceto explains: "If you eat too much protein, the excess is sent to the liver, changed to a sugar and used as fuel, stored as glycogen or stored as bodyfat. Many people don't realize that protein can be stored as fat. Conversely, if you eat too little protein, you fall into a negative nitrogen balance, meaning there aren't enough amino acids to make your muscles grow." All the more reason to keep a log of your daily nutrient intake. Try to stick to 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.

3) You get less than eight hours of sleep?

Sleep deprivation has reached epidemic levels in the United States. While eight hours of work, eight hours of play and eight hours of sleep used to represent the magic triangle of balance in a person's day, our current version is an isosceles, with the sleep side getting ever shorter. What does this mean to you, the dedicated trainer?

"Sleep need is an individual thing," notes m&f Science Editor Jim Stoppani, PhD. "But research supports the fact that most people require between seven and nine hours. You should strive for at least seven; otherwise you risk perturbations in your hormone levels, like growth hormone, which seven hours tend to gain more bodyfat." 

4) You don't stretch on a regular basis?

Between work, the fiancée, Sunday afternoon with the kids and your Internet addiction, you've got maybe an hour a day, four days a week, to hit the gym -- and you're not about to waste one minute of it stretching. So what's the worst that could happen?

"You'll lose flexibility and range of motion in each muscle," reports Aceto. "Consequently, you won't be able to overload the muscle through its entire range, and you'll limit your growth potential." Stretching is best done after working out to maximize flexibility and range of motion. It's never a good idea to stretch cold muscles, because it could lead to muscle pulls and tears.

5) You eat a meal (or meals) after 9:00 p.m.?

"Diet experts" often advise not to eat after 9:00 p.m. But what if you do?

"If your goal is to build muscle, you should consume a slow-digesting protein like meat or a casein product within an hour before sleeping to provide amino acids throughout the night," Stoppani advises. "Without them, muscle breakdown occurs while you sleep. As far as carbs go, some controversy exists. Many bodybuilders get good results by not eating carbs within four hours of bedtime. Others say it doesn't matter, as carbs won't make you fat if you don't take in excessive calories throughout the day."

A good rule of thumb: Try to grab a protein-rich (30 grams or so), low- to moderate-complex-carbohydrate meal about an hour before bedtime. Your muscles will thank you in the morning.

6) You try to train while you're sick?

"Studies show that exercise will generally cause an acute suppression of the immune system," states William J. Kraemer, PhD, CSCS, director of research and a professor in the department of kinesiology at The University of Connecticut, Storrs. "But with things like upper respiratory tract infections [colds], it's not going to do much damage and can even be beneficial if the exercise isn't too intense."

But what about the feverish? "If you're experiencing any flulike symptoms, you don't want to take the chance of compromising yourself and making things worse," Kraemer warns. Plus, it's not polite to sneeze on your gym partner while he's benching.

7) You train a bodypart two days in a row?

This idea is all but taboo in gym circles; the common belief is that it will surely lead to overtraining.

"We've trained people on consecutive days and have had success with it," Kraemer points out. "But the key is, the rest period following needs to compensate for the intensity of the workouts. This means between workouts, don't do any other type of activity -- just go home, eat and relax. It's also important that you vary the load on the muscles and the angle of the exercises. For example, if you were to train chest on consecutive days, you'd want to do flat benches on day one and inclines on the following day, or vice versa."

While this shouldn't be the basis of a long-term approach to your training, you could certainly incorporate it as a short-term way to shock your muscles into new growth. And make sure you consume sufficient carbs, protein and total calories.

8) You have sex before working out?

"Women weaken legs!" This infamous caveat bleated by crusty boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill to Rocky Balboa as he trained for his title shot made many a lonely lady out of athletes' wives and girlfriends. Did Mickey know what he was talking about, or did he have a few marbles knocked loose during his fighting days?

"It depends on who it's with," jokes Aceto. On a more serious note, he adds: "The idea that having sex drains you of your strength is an old wives' tale. I think it's probably a positive thing because it can help you to relax, men-tally and through the release of chemicals. When you're relaxed, you tend to perform better." Just don't make it a marathon session.

9) You lift too soon after eating?

Remember how your mom always told you to wait an hour after eating before going in the pool?

Some people believe the same warning applies to resistance training. But what really happens if you lift on a full stomach?

"For most people, nothing," Stoppani remarks. "Some people have to eat earlier, as their stomachs may be more sensitive; when you work out, blood flow is diverted away from the GI system and to the muscle, and digestion and absorption of nutrients slows. But it's more of an individual thing." Regardless of your preworkout eating habits, you need to consume some sort of protein and carbohydrate within an hour after your workout.

10) You slack off and miss a workout?

So now the job, the fianc´e and the rest of your busy life has squeezed that chest/back workout right out of your schedule. Or worse yet, all of your bodyparts took a backseat this week. Is it time to start repenting?

"Missed workouts provide you with an opportunity to rest," assures Kraemer. "A lot of guys become obsessed with getting to the gym anyway, so it can be a positive thing. The body is not going to untrain that quickly." Just how much time are we talking here? "In high-level athletes it can take two weeks," he says. "Recreational athletes won't see the effects for up to six weeks. Moreover, we've found that the longer an athlete has been training, the longer a rest period he or she should take to re-energize."

11) You get too busy and skip a meal?

Sooner or later, it happens to everyone: You're running late and you're fresh out of meal replacement bars. Major dilemma?

"If you skip a meal here or there, it's not going to suddenly put you into a catabolic state," Aceto notes. "We do have amino-acid pools that we store for just these instances. We also have glycogen reserves. But if you're trying to put on mass, you obviously don't want to make a habit of it."

12) You drink a glass of raw eggs?

Credit Rocky with propagating yet another sports-related myth. Who can forget watching the Italian Stallion in the ultimate act of athletic dedication, downing a glass full of freshly cracked eggs? And who didn't try, at least once, to emulate his gut-churning heroics? But to what end -- increased strength, energy and stamina, or food poisoning?

Although it's uncommon, you could suffer bacterial contamination. "You need to be careful with raw foods because they could contain food-borne pathogens," explains Kraemer. In fact, cooked eggs are better digested and utilized than raw. Sorry, Rock. Mickey should have told you.

13) You don't consume whey protein and simple carbs post-workout?

m&f has repeatedly heralded the importance of grabbing a quick-absorbing protein and simple-carb meal after working out. But why is this so important, and what happens if you miss it?

"We've found, as have other labs, that the initial 30 minutes to an hour after a workout is the optimal time for protein synthesis to occur," Kraemer states. The mantra "the sooner the better" clearly applies in this instance, he adds. "We actually try to get to that post-workout meal within 10 minutes after training. But sometimes people have a tough time getting a meal down that soon after working out, in which case a half-hour or even an hour is fine."

If you can't find whey or casein after your workout, go for any kind of protein. It may not be digested as efficiently, but as the sailors say, "Any port in a storm."

14) You sit in a sauna and try to "sweat off" pounds? 

It's hard to envision an image more synonymous with weight loss than that of a towel-clad health enthusiast sweating it out in a sauna. But what's really going on in there? Is some mystical metabolic process transpiring that will ultimately render the user thinner?

"No, you just lose water due to sweating for cooling the body," reports Stoppani. Don't sauna before a workout, as the majority of the water comes from the blood, so you may compromise blood flow and the pump to your muscles. A recent study did find, however, that sweating can be beneficial for your health."

15) You take a month . . . or a year . . . off from training?

A lot of the more serious (read: obsessed) trainees out there can't stomach the thought of missing one workout, let alone a month's -- or a year's -- worth. What's the worst that could happen, other than gym-withdrawal side effects?

"After a month, you'll definitely lose some muscle mass and strength, but probably not as much as you might think," Stoppani points out. "A recent study found that lifters lost little muscle and strength and gained minimal fat after six weeks off."

And what if you decide to call it quits for good -- will your muscle turn into fat? "The myth that muscle cells turn into fat derives from the fact that most guys who were bodybuilders at one time continue to eat as if they still were -- as if they still have the same metabolic requirements as someone with big muscles," Stoppani remarks. "But with smaller muscles comes a slower metabolism, and less training means less opportunity to burn calories. Hence fat begins to accumulate."

16) You lift on an empty stomach?

Once again, life gets in the way of lifting, and you miss your preworkout meal. What can you expect from your hungry body during the workout? "As far as fatigue goes, it depends on your reps and total sets," says Stoppani. "The higher your reps, the more muscle-glycogen you'll depend on to complete those reps. Without some form of dietary carbohydrate, you may fatigue earlier."

He continues: "As far as hormonal responses go, lifting without taking in carbs before the workout will lead to higher cortisol levels during and after the workout. Cortisol inhibits testosterone's anabolic effects and leads to muscle breakdown.

"Not having any protein before the workout is a double whammy as even higher cortisol levels lead to further muscle depletion. Eating protein helps to inhibit some of this breakdown, so having nothing to eat before a workout is bad for muscle gains."

In other words, carry a bar, a drink, something. Just don't hit the gym with a growling gut.

17) You work out when you're still sore?

Another old wives' tale is to stay out of the gym if your muscles still ache from your last workout. "A recent study found that when muscles were trained when still sore, no added damage occurred to those fibers," states Stoppani. "One study found that when a workout was repeated just two days later and muscles were still sore, subjects had lower cortisol levels than normal. Since low cortisol means more testosterone is available, it may actually be beneficial from time to time to train the same bodypart two days in a row -- but only rarely."

Story by: By Shawn Perine

Sunday, April 3, 2016


6 pro-caliber dieting secrets to help you cut up and lean out.

Are there really any secrets left in the world? With the advent of the Internet and the explosion of information across the globe, "secrets" are now few and far between. That's especially true when it comes to dieting tips. That's not to say all the tricks for getting lean are widely known. In a few cases, far from it - there are a handful of techniques bodybuilding pros regularly employ that don't get much play elsewhere. But they work, and here, I'm going to share six of them with you. 


When you eat less, you burn less - that's how the metabolism mechanism works. When you diet, your body does everything it can to fight you, as it responds to a cut in caloric intake by burning fewer calories. Called the starvation response, it's how humans naturally make do with far fewer calories and carbohydrates. The body downgrades its calorie-burning potential by dropping its levels of metabolic-boosting hormones, including leptin, thyroid hormones and, to a lesser degree, growth hormone.

One way to sidestep this adaptation is to include a day of jacking up another hormone - insulin - by eating plenty of fast-digesting carbohydrates. Quick carbs such as those in fat-free muffins, Pop-Tarts and Cream of Rice cereal mixed with jam or bagels trick your system into believing your strict diet is over, thus bumping those calorie-burning hormones back to steadier normal levels. When you return to a caloric deficit by eating less, you do so with a better metabolism, one in which hormones that support fat burning are no longer suppressed.


Everybody hits a roadblock from time to time when they are unable to drop excess bodyfat - even pro bodybuilders, who do it for a living. Often, the problem relates to a sluggish metabolism, which can be fixed by secret #1. Sometimes, however, the issue is simply the need for a fresh stimulus. Following the same training plan day in and day out doesn't work forever because, in order to make continual progress, the stimulus must change.

Well, the same holds true in getting cut. You have to give your body a reason to drop additional bodyfat; that calls for decreasing calories and carbs to extremely low levels. I typically tell my clients to lower carb intake on two separate days of the week - say Tuesday and Friday - down to as few as 50-70 grams (g). The shock radically reduces glycogen stores, which are directly related to burning fat. When glycogen levels (the amount of stored carbohydrates located in muscles) fall, fat burn rises precipitously.


It would be nice to cut calories and cruise into a bodybuilding show or simply a lean physique without ever having to readjust your diet. In the real world, the process is never that easy. Many factors come into play that can make getting ripped to the bone quite a pain in the you-know-what. When the extreme low-calorie days discussed in secret #2 no longer work, I may tell a bodybuilder to slash carbs to 30 g for four days, Monday through Thursday, while subsequently supplementing with 20-25 g a day of medium-chain triglycerides and 3-5 g of carnitine. Those two supplements help promote a metabolism shift in which greater amounts of fat are burned.

When carbs radically plunge and stay low, ketone formation increases. Ketones are byproducts of fat breakdown and can help make you leaner by causing a small uptick in the metabolic rate. Ketones are also highly effective at preventing muscle loss when carbs remain radically lower; ketones are burned preferentially to muscle tissue. If there are large quantities of ketones floating around in the blood, the body will burn those rather than melt away muscle tissue.

Carnitine is a cousin to amino acids and supports fat loss by funneling fatty acids into the machinery in muscle cells where they are burned, giving your body energy while leaning you out. Carnitine also aids in the metabolism of ketones, helping you access the energy within them, while offering additional metabolic support by making ketones more efficient at preventing muscle breakdown. Both actions contribute to greater fat loss.


When you cut carbs, be it for two or four days, or remain on a low-carb diet for an extended period of time, you may notice that your muscles take on a flat appearance. Unless you're about to step onstage, there's really nothing too wrong with flat muscles, generally - flatter muscles are actually an indication that muscle glycogen stores aren't jacked, and lower glycogen stores encourage fat burning. Flattening out, though, has the potential to interfere with maintaining your muscle during a prolonged diet. Many things can influence whether you will hold or lose muscle mass while getting leaner, one of which is the water level within your muscles. Glycogen has the effect of pulling water into your muscles, which encourages muscle retention; in other words, water allows you to hold onto mass.

When glycogen levels drop during a diet, the water levels inside your muscles also drop, jeopardizing that all-important muscle retention. How can you keep water inside your muscles while keeping a tight check on carbs? By adding salt to your diet. Sodium helps keep water in the body. Most believe it traps water under the skin, which is true, but it also drives a special internal pump that allows the glucose from carbohydrates, amino acids and creatine to make their way into muscles. All three drag water with them, influencing fluid receptors in muscles that encourage muscle retention. Holding onto muscle, which unlike fat stores is a calorie-burning powerhouse, helps keep your metabolic rate elevated.

It may seem counterintuitive, but salt can help get you ripped. When cutting carbs, take in 20 milligrams of sodium per pound of bodyweight per day. That's 4,000 milligrams for a 200-pound bodybuilder.


The usual monkey wrench in the dieting equation - burning less when you eat less - may be avoided if you offer your system strong metabolic support to keep it revving when overall calories are reduced. I like to use ephedrine-free dieting supplements as a way to keep the metabolism elevated all the way through a diet. Well-formulated fat-burning products increase levels of norepinephrine (NE), a hormone that triggers the breakdown of bodyfat.

NE levels generally rise when training, but the problem for some people is that NE levels start to decline as a diet continues. It's a part of the adaptation response, in which your body gets stubborn and tries to fight you in your quest to rip up. Adding NE support can keep you from entering a starvation state; the more you can do to avoid a metabolic adaptation and slowdown, the more likely you'll achieve a tight level of conditioning. Other known NE inducers include caffeine, niacin and supplements derived from capsicum or ginger.


I'm not the biggest fan of cardio. Why? The body adapts to cardio rather quickly, which means it responds to continual cardio work by burning far fewer calories than you would normally expect. It's an adaptation response, akin to what happens when we diet or use the same weight-training program for an extended period of time. However, going to the extreme with cardio for a couple days can exert a big jolt on your metabolism.

For example, let's say a bodybuilder is cardio training for 30 minutes five days a week. If he were at a sticking point, trying to burn off the final few pounds to reveal dazzling muscularity, I'd tell him to do three 30-minute sessions on both a Saturday and Sunday. Nothing crazy, but at a level of intensity on par with an easy walk is sufficient to influence the body to tap deep into stubborn fat stores it might normally wish to hold onto. I don't recommend this for every weekend - maybe every other weekend during the six weeks preceding a competition or other event you are trying to get ripped for.

By Chris Aceto, flexonline