Monday, November 28, 2016

Winter Mass Blast - Eric Broser (2016)

Part One
from this issue

For more from Eric Broser, see here: 

Part One
by Eric Broser

One of the reasons I left my native New York for Southern California was to avoid those dreaded winters. I am not a big fan of the cold, snow, ice or nasty wind that freezes your bones no matter how bundled up you are. The truth is, I hate having to bundle up at all. My extremely limited wardrobe of T-shirts, shorts, tanks, and sandals is just fine for me -- and I'd be happy never to have to don a ski cap, gloves, a scarf, or a bulky winter jacket again. These days, the only wind-chill factor I want to worry about occurs when the air-conditioning kicks on at the same moment I stick my head in the fridge to grab some food. 

When it comes to physique transformation, winter provides the perfect environment for manifesting maximum mass. With cooler temperatures comes the time to start packing away more calories, push heavier iron, and force the bathroom scale to withstand greater and greater loads. That said, there is no good reason to let yourself get overly sloppy, since muscle can be added without pushing your belly out farther than your chest. Just take an intelligent approach to your training and diet.  

FD/FS: The Muscle-Making Program

FD/FS, short for fiber-damage/fiber saturation, is one of four specialized training protocols I have developed as a trainer and a coach. I fond this program particularly useful for heightening hypertrophy during periods of calorie surplus, such as the winter or off-season. While I cannot explain the entire concept here, suffice to say it's a very intense and grueling training method. 

At the core of the program is using techniques that are best for causing muscle trauma (fiber damage), such as heavy weights for low reps, and emphasizing eccentric contractions and stretching under tension. This is followed by very high-repetition, constant tension work to display as great a muscle pump as possible. 

When a muscle is damaged, it sets in motion a cascade of physiological events that lead to a very profound anabolic response. In fact, without creating damage, there is little reason for your body to build bigger muscles. Once you have caused the necessary fiber trauma, it is vitally important to let your body repair it. By flooding the muscles with blood (fiber saturation) via high-rep training, you can bathe them with nutrients, oxygen. hormones, amino acids, antioxidants, and more. This will facilitate the recovery process before you even leave the gym. But instead of just talking about it, let's get to it!  

Workout Parameters

TEMPO refers to the speed at which one completes the various contractions within each repetition. In the layout charts it is expressed in seconds, with X meaning "as explosively as possible." The first number is seconds for the eccentric (negative) contraction; the second number is seconds at the midpoint; the third number is seconds for the concentric (positive) contraction.

For example. 2/0/X would be seen as 2 second lowering, immediate turnaround, raising as explosively as possible. You will see some tempo markings that have four digits. For example, 2/1/1/1 would signify 2 second lowering, 1 second pause at the bottom extended position, 1 second raising, and 1 second squeeze at contraction. Much easier done than imagined. Are you sitting? Try it. One arm incline curl, bodyweight. Fist at the shoulder, 2 second lower, 1 second in the stretch position at the bottom, 1 second raise, and 1 second contraction. There. 

Because of the extremely intense and grueling nature of FD/FX training, it is easy for botht the muscles and the central nervous system to become overworked, which will serve to slow down progress. After three weeks on this program, take one week to train with lighter weights (deload) in the range of 12-15 reps to allow for active recovery. 

Eating for Mass

 - Eat smaller and more frequent meals, so calories are high at the end of the day but without the bloat that occurs from overly large single feedings. 

 - Increase high-quality carbohydrates to encourage an anabolic response; however, make your largest carb-containing meals breakfast and at the post workout feeding. 

 - Limit "cheat" or "junk" meals to 1-2 times per week. If possible, have these off-plan meals post-workout, when the body is physiologically set up to push calories toward muscle dells and not fat cells. 

 - Eat a variety of high-quality proteins, carbs, and health fats to take advantage of the nutrient and amino acid profiles in each.

 - Prepare a protein shake in ice to keep by your bed when you sleep, for when you wake up.

The Part One Program


Bench Press
2 sets of 3 reps. 2/0/X

Incline Bench Press
3 x 4-6 reps. 6/1/X (Note the tempo)

Incline Dumbbell Flye
3 x 7-9. 3/4/X

Seated Chest Press Machine
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

Cable Crossover 
2 x 26-30. 2/0/1

Barbell Curl 
3 x 4-6. 6/1/X

Incline Dumbbell Curl
3 x 7-9. 3/3/X

Machine Preacher Curl
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

Cable Crunch
3 x 16-20. 2/0/1


3 x 3 reps. 2/0/X

Leg Press
3 x 4-6. 5/1/X

Sissy Squat (bodyweight)
3 x Max Reps. 3/4/1

Leg Extension
3 x 31-35. 1/0/1

Lying Leg Curl
3 x 4-6. 6/0/X

Stiff-Legged Deadlift
3 x 7-9. 3/3/1

Seated Leg Curl
3 x 31-35. 1/0/1

Standing Calf Raise
3 x 10-12. 2/1/1/


Partial Deadlift (knee height)
3 x 3 reps. 2/1/X

Wide Grip Pullup
3 x 4-6. 6/1/X

Close Grip Seated Cable Row
3 x 7-8. 2/4/1

Underhand Grip Barbell Row
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

Stiff Arm Pulldown
2 6-30. 2/0/1

Close Grip Upright Row
3 x 4-6. 4/1/1/

Machine Shrug
3 x 7-9. 1/4/1

Reverse Pec Deck
2 x 21-25. 1/0/1

Leg Raise
3 x 16-20. 2/0/1


Seated Barbell Press
3 x 3 reps. 2/0/X

Seated Dumbbell Press
2 x 4-6. 5/1/X

One Arm Behind the Back Cable Lateral Raise
3 x 7-9. 2/4/1

Seated Lateral Raise
3 x 26-30. 1/0/1

Close Grip Bench Press
2 x 3 reps. 2/0/X

Lying Triceps Extension
2 x 4-6. 5/0/1

Two Arm One DB Overhead Extension
2 x 21-25. 1/0/1

2 x 31-35. 1/0/1

Seated Calf Raise
3 x 13-15. 2/1/1

Part Two
by Eric Broser

Part Two from this issue.

In Winter Mass Blast Part Two, we give you a muscle makeover with targeted bodypart troubleshooting. 

Over my  25-year span as a competitive bodybuilder and physique transformation coach, one of the questions most often presented to me has been. "Can you change the shape of a muscle?"

This is a rather complex query, and depending on which "expert" one asks, you are bound to hear a myriad of differing answers. Some will say you cannot do a darn thing abut the actual shape the muscle will eventually display. Others claim that by simply using certain "magical" exercises one can somehow rewrite the biological script each of us possesses. 

I fall somewhere in between those points of view. While I do not believe we have the ability to alter the predetermined genetic of our individual muscles, I do feel that only by utilizing certain specific (and varying) movements, angles, grips, and planes of motion can a bodybuilder manifest the full potential (and development) of each muscle. While it is important to realize that we cannot completely isolate one area of a muscle no matter what exercise we use, one can affect varying groups of motor unit pools within a muscle, leading to accelerated growth in a particular "head" or section.

Thus, the take-home message is to understand that you have more control over how your musculature develops than you may think. So before you shrug your shoulders and blame genetics for your disproportionate physique or inadequate muscle shape, make sure you have explored everything possible training-wise to address your issues. In other words, the genetic blueprint for excellence might actually be there, but you have yet to actualize the potential of each individual muscle group.

With that said, let's now discuss a few of the more common physique flaws and how you can go about remedying them in the gym with some precision iron pumping.

Shallow Upper Chest

Most young trainees toiling away in gyms around the globe unfortunately focus most of their time and effort on the basic bench press for chest. While this movement is certainly an excellent pec-builder, over-reliance on this exercise often results in bottom -heavy chest development that may actually appear saggy over time. After working with and studying the development of hundreds of bodybuilders, it seems apparent that the upper chest is more resistant to growth.

About two-thirds of chest training should focus on movements that ignite greater stimulation of clavicular-pec fibers in order to achieve a balanced look from top to bottom. While I have never seen an upper chest too dominant for the lower, I witness the opposite scenario almost daily.

Now, I am pretty sure that almost all of our readers have done their fair share of incline presses and incline flyes while hitting their pecs in the gym. However, if these tried-and-true basics are just not getting the job done, then it is time to think (or is it train?) outside the box. Here is on of my personal favorite ways to torch the upper chest:

1) 60 Degree Incline Dumbbell Press
 3 x 7-9 reps. Tempo: 4/1/1

2) Smith Machine Neck Press
3 x 10-12. 3/1/1
Grab a flat bench and position it within a Smith machine. Line up your body so that the bar is directly over your clavicle bones. Your grip will be just outside shoulder width, and your upper arms should be completely perpendicular to your torso, so that your elbows will be flared out wide. Lower the bar slowly, under full control, until you feel a deep stretch along the entire upper chest. Depending on your shoulder flexibility, you may not be able to lower the bar all the way down, and might need to stop an inch or two short of your clavicles. Once you feel the stretch, hold it for a count of one, then push the bar back to the top using pure pec power.

Note: Studies have shown the Reverse Grip Bench Press to be superior to Incline Presses for stimulating clavicular-pec fibers.   

3) Dumbbell Pullover
3 x 13-15. 3/1/1/

4) Low Cable Crossover
3 x 16-20. 2/1/1/1 (1 second pause and hold at extension and contraction).

Biceps Peak

When five-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath strikes a front double biceps pose, it is not just their gargantuan size that overwhelms the senses, but also how they literally rise into mountainous knots of gnarly, carved, and impossibly peaked muscle! And while I am sure Phil uses a wide variety of exercises to work his biceps, the mind-boggling shape they display has more to do with genetic predisposition than anything else.

However, even if you have not been gifted like Heath, there is a way that everyone can improve upon his or her biceps peak. The key lies in bringing about greater development in a little talked about muscle that lies underneath the biceps called the brachialis. In a highly developed bodybuilder, the brachialis appears as a thick knot of muscle that pops out of the side of the upper arms when they are flexed and viewed from the rear. The cool thing about the brachialis is that as it grows larger, it will actually push the biceps up higher, which will lend the appearance of a greater peak.

The problem with effectively stimulating the brachialis is that with most standard curling movements, the biceps acts as the main flexor of the upper arm. Yes, the brachialis does get a little work, but it is mainly just along for the ride. Thus, what you need to do is choose specific curling exercises that put the biceps in a mechanically weak position, so that the brachialis can take over the fight. The more work you can force the brachialis to to take on, the more it will be forced to adapt and grow.

Here is a great one from my arsenal of brachialis bombers:

1) Spider Curl
2 x 7-9 reps. 4/1/1

2) Overhead Cable Curl
2 x 10-12. 3/1/1/2 (2 second contracted hold)
Begin by placing a flat bench in front of a weight stack on one side of a cable crossover machine. Make sure that the bench is at least a foot or so away from the stack, as the goal is to make your arms appear more like mountains, not to put a mountain-sized bump on your head!

Attach a short straight bar to the upper pulley, lie down, and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Have someone hand you the bar, as trying to grab it yourself is a bit awkward (but it can be done). Start with your arms perfectly straight and then begin curling the bar both down and back, so that at the full contraction point the bar is actually behind your head. As you curl, you will need to draw your elbows back slightly and tip your forehead forward just a bit in order to achieve this exaggerated range of motion. At the bottom, hold the squeeze for a count.

Some other fantastic biceps-peaking movements include reverse curls, hammer curls, and 90-degree preacher curls (spider curls). 

3) Seated Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl
2 x 13-15. 3/0/1/1

4) Low Cable Reverse Curl
2 x 16-20. 2/0/1/1.

Missing Mid-Back

Many serious lifters walk around with wide and thick upper back development. However, what truly sets apart the good from the excellent is outstanding back detail. A good example of this is Flex Lewis, winner of several titles. Not only do his lats spread like wings on a jet plane, with crazy mass from top to bottom, and left to right, but he also displays separation in the middle back that literally looks three-dimensional.

To really target the muscles of the mid-back, i.e., the middle/lower traps and rhomboids, one must make sure to choose the correct exercises for the job. While all lat-building exercises will stimulate the mid-back to some degree, the most effective are those in which a wide grip is taken on the bar. This includes wide grip pulldowns, pullups, barbell rows, and seated cable rows. However, if you have been consistently utilizing these types of movements and find that your mid-back is still lagging, I urge you to try out this little gym gem:

1) Wide Grip Bentover Barbell Row
3 x 7-9 reps. 3/0/1

2) Standing High Cable Rope Face-Pull
3 x 10-12. 2/1/1/2

3) Smith Machine Upright Row/Shrug (behind the back)
3 x 13-15. 2/1/1/1
Stand in front of a loaded barbell and take a shoulder width grip on the bar behind you. Lift the weight upward by performing a half-shrug, half-upright row, with the goal of getting the bar to about the height of your lower back. To get the bar into this position, you might have to lean forward just a bit and slightly arch your back as you lift the weight, which will help you to clear your rear end. Keep your lower back muscles tight to avoid injury, and make sure to get a good squeeze at the top. This exercise can be performed on a Smith machine as well, which I personally find superior to the free bar for this exercise.

4) Bentover Dumbbell Lateral (palms facing rear)
3 x 16-20. 2/0/1/1

Another unique exercise you may want to add from time to time for this purpose is the mid-back incline dumbbell shrug.

Part Three
by Eric Broser

Part Three from this issue.

Part One of this series provided Flex readers with one of my more effective hypertrophy-stimulating protocols known as Fiber-Damage/Fiber-Saturation (FD/FS), so that everyone could kick-start the winter by adding a new layer of muscle. Part Two discussed how to target some common weak points with unique exercises that can help fill in the holes, allowing you to create a more proportionate and symmetrical physique -- to be revealed when temperatures again begin to rise. 

This third and final installment will introduce a training system I developed early in 2016, known as FTX2, which stimulates gains in muscle via different pathways, as I believe in tapping into every possible mechanism w have for igniting hypertrophy. In addition, I will talk a bit about more about how cardio, diet, and supplements can be utilized to maximize growth while keeping the body fat levels at an acceptable level.

With that having been said, I'll cut to the chase and provide you with the main points behind the program and why it is so effective at building new lean tissue. 

 - While hypertrophy does occur in slow-twitch muscle fibers, the bulk of muscle mass will come via building the fast-twitch fibers, which is what FTX2 focuses on. 

 - The first exercise will generally be an isolation-type movement and will be performed at a relatively rapid tempo for 21 to 25 repetitions. The purpose is to exhaust the slow-twitch fibers first, which forces greater fast-twitch activation for the remainder of the workout. 

 - The second movement for each bodypart routine will generally be compound in nature, with free weights usually being the best choice. The rep range will be around 3 to 5 and will done while using a rather slow eccentric contraction (lowering), a one-second pause at the midpoint of the rep, and a positive contraction that's as explosive as possible. The goal here is to fire off the highest threshold muscle fibers, as well as heighten CNS activation, which will continue to increase your ability to stimulate even more fast-twitch fibers. 

 - The final two exercises can be isolation or compound and should be a mix of free weights and cables or machines. I encourage you to switch up your angles of push or pull, width of grips or foot stances, and choices of equipment. We will be looking to keep the muscle under tension for at least 40 seconds, which will be done via a rep range of 10 to 12, with each rep taking 4 to 5 seconds to complete. Several studies have shown that 40 to 60 seconds of tension is the sweet spot for stimulating hypertrophy.  

Sample FTX2 Workout

Monday - Chest/Biceps/Abs

1) Cable Crossover.
3 x 21-25 reps. 2/0/1

2) Flat Dumbbell Press.
3 x 3-5. 5/1/X

3) Incline Barbell Press.
2-3 x 10-12. 3/0/1

4) Incline Dumbbell Flye.
2-3 x 10-12. 2/2/1

5) Low-Cable Rope Hammer Curl.
2 x 21-25. 2/0/1

6) Barbell Curl.
2 x 3-5. 5/1/X

7) Dumbbell Curl.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

8) Concentration Curl.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

9) Hanging Bent-Knee Raise.
2 x 21-25 or max reps. 2/0/1

10) Cable Crunch.
2 x 10-12. 3/0/1

Tuesday - Quads/Hams/Calves

1) Leg Extension.
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

2) Hack Squat.
3 x 3-5. 4/1/X

3) Leg Press.
2-3 x 13-15. 3/1/1

4) Smith Machine Split Squat.
2-3 x 13-15 each leg. 2/1/1

5) Seated Leg Curl.
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

6) Lying Leg Curl.
3 x 3-5. 5/1/X

7) Stiff-Legged Deadlift.
2-3 x 13-15. 3/1/1

8) Seated Calf Raise.
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

9) Calf Press.
2-3 x 6-8. 3/1/1

Thursday - Lats/Traps/Rear Delts/Abs

1) Dumbbell Pullover or Pullover Machine.
3 x 26-30. 2/0/1

2) Wide Grip Chin.
3 x 3-5. 4/1/X

3) T-Bar Row.
2-3 x 10-12. 3/0/1

4) Underhand-Grip Low Cable Row.
2-3 x 10-12. 2/1/1

5) Shrug.
3 x 21-25. 2/0/1

6) Upright Row.
2-3 x 3-5. 3/1/X

7) Bentover Lateral Raise.
3 x 10-12. 2/1/1

8) Lying Straight-Leg Raise.
2 x 21-25. 2/0/1

9) Seated Weighted Crunch Machine.
2 x 13-15. 3/0/1

Friday - Front and Lateral Delts/Tris/Calves

1) Side Lateral Raise.
3 x 21-25. 2/0/1

2) Seated Overhead Press.
2 x 3-5. 4/1/X

3) Front Raise.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

4) One-Arm Cable Lateral.
3 x 10-12. 3/0/1

5) Reverse-Grip Pushdown.
2 x 21-25. 2/0/1

6) Dip.
2 x 3-5. 4/0/X

7) Incline Overhead Extension.
2 x 10-12. 3/0/1

8) Dumbbell Kickback.
2 x 10-12. 2/1/1

9) Seated Calf Raise.
2 x 26-30. 1/0/1

10) Standing Calf Raise.
2-3 x 10-12. 2/1/1

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