Sunday, January 19, 2020

100 Mass Building Tips, First 50 - Steve Holman (2002)

A twist of the wrist here, a turn of the foot there. If you've been bodybuilding long enough, you know that the slightest training variation - or diet manipulation - can make a world of difference in the mass building department. Sometimes merely switching the order of your exercises can revive your anabolic drive and make new muscle and strength appear like magic. 

The following tips are designed to do just that - help you get more mass with every trip to the gym. Some of them you will already know, but it never hurts to take a refresher course. Others may click on the light bulb in your brain and the anabolic machinery in your muscles, rocketing you to the land of the bigger, broader and better built. 

1) Get a Grip on More Bench Press Power

Did you know that a stronger grip can give you more bench press strength? Squeezing the bar as you bench helps you get more neurons to synchronize and fire, bringing more muscle fibers into the action. The harder you can squeeze, the more neuromuscular action you'll get. do wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, gripper work and reverse curls. Then try to crush the bar as you drive it off your chest when you're benching. 

2) Make Your Growth Hormone Surge Set After Set

There's a direct correlation between higher blood lactic acid levels and GH release from the pituitary gland. That means the more muscle burn you induce, the more growth hormone you can stimulate. To get that burn, superset two exercises for the same bodypart, such as bench presses and flyes or crossovers. Sure, it burns more than trying to pee with an STD, but if you avoid the pain, you miss the gain. Learn to love the burn, and enjoy the benefits. 

3) Stretch to Grow Awesome

Most bodybuilders include in their routines a stretch-position exercise for each bodypart, such as stiff-legged deadlifts for hamstrings, incline curls for biceps, and flyes for pecs. If you don't, be sure to do some specific stretches for each bodypart after you train it, as elongating the muscle can increase its IGF-1 receptors. Hey, if you do same-muscle supersets AND use stretch position exercises, you get a double whammy. 

4) Go Longer, Get Harder

Most bodybuilders' sets stop after about 15 seconds. That can limit gains due to selective fiber involvement. To get at other fibers - more specifically, endurance-oriented fibers of both the red and white variety - try increasing your time under tension with supersets, drop sets, and stage sets. To perform stage sets, do the hardest two-thirds of the exercise's stroke to failure and then continue with the easiest one-third to failure. For example, you rep out on the bottom two-thirds of a squat, then continue by repping out in the top one-third. 

With same-muscle supersets and drop sets, if your average rep lasts about three seconds your tension time increases to 48 seconds or beyond. Extending the tension time on a few sets per bodypart burns like hell, but it's muscle-building TNT. 

5) Plan to Switch

You have to switch exercises if you want to get the most growth bang for effort buck. For example, stop doing barbell bench presses for a month - longer, if you can stand it. do decline dumbbell presses or dips instead. That will allow your rotator cuff muscles to heal and train your pushing muscles along a different plane. When you go back to the bench, you may be somewhat weaker at first, but you'll soon blast past old plateaus thanks to healed muscles, tendons and ligaments.    

6) Extend on a Decline to Distend Your Triceps

Most bodybuilders do their triceps extensions on a flat bench, but doing them on a decline hits more of the triceps muscle. Flat bench extensions primarily train the long head, with minor involvement of the medial and lateral heads. When you use a decline bench, however, all the heads light up equally, giving you a more efficient triceps exercise.

7) Hit the Brachialis for High Biceps

If you're looking for more biceps peak, one way to crank up the height is to train your brachialis muscles. That's the muscle that snakes under your biceps and continues to your forearm. By building it, you add to the foundation of the biceps, pushing it to new heights. The best exercises? Incline hammer grip curls and narrow-grip straight bar curls work the brachialis most efficiently. 

8) Sweep Out Your Quad Routine 

Do you need more flare on the outsides of your thighs? Then do your leg extensions with your feet angled slightly inward. Angling in the feet forces more involvement from the vastus lateralis muscles, your outer quads. By the way, pointing your toes outward forces more work onto the inner teardrop muscle, the vastus medialis. 

9) Look to the Past for Future Gains

The old-timers had some good ideas. Okay, they had some bad ones, too, but in the gym many of their exercises were incredibly efficient at building muscle. In fact, a Steve Reeves favorite, the old style hack squat - holding the bar behind your glutes as you squat with your heels elevated - is one of the best quad exercises around.      

Nice Hack-belt Setup! 
Not to mention what appear to be argyle socks.  

10) Always Curl for Fab Lower Abs

When you do hanging or incline kneeups, don't just move your legs up and down or you'll train mostly your hip flexors. To get the most abdominal involvement, be sure you curl your hips toward your torso at the top of each rep - and do your leg raises slowly, without momentum. If you can't do the incline of hanging version correctly, start on the floor, arms flat next to you. Without creating momentum, slowly pull your feet off the ground and start bending your legs as you pull. As your knees come toward your chest, curl your hips up off the floor, continuing until you reach the top, knees-into-chest position. After a few weeks move to an incline situp board. Soon you'll be doing hanging kneeups correctly and feeling the burn in your abs. 

11) Use Proper Exercise Order for Phenomenal Abdominals

The rule for ab training is to work lower abs first with hanging or incline kneeups (hip curl!). Follow that with crunch-type exercises, which focus more on the upper abs. The reason? Lower ab exercises, like kneeups, strongly affect the upper abs as well. If you do the crunch-type movements first, you will exhaust your upper abs and you won't be able to do your lower abs justice with kneeups because your upper abs will fatigue too fast. 

12) Fling Open the Anabolic Window

Immediately after your workout have a shake made with whey protein and simple carbs. Go for about 60 grams of carbs and 40 grams of whey. Right after you train, your muscles are ready to absorb nutrients like brand new sponges. It's the most important mass-building meal of the day, so don't miss it. Get a fast-absorbing protein in your gut, and shoot up your insulin to intensify the drive. 

13) Get That High-Pro Grow

It's fundamental, but it bears repeating. You gotta eat six meals a day, and each one should contain 20 to 40 grams of protein. Use meal replacements in a thermos, carry a bag of nuts, stop at the 7-Eleven for some yogurt or cottage cheese, scrape the bugs off your windshield, eat your own high protein feces - whatever it takes. If you don't want to slip into catabolic mode and burn the muscle you work so hard to build, feed your muscles six times a day. Seven on Sunday. 

14) Add Muscle in Your Sleep

Did you know that sleep can be extremely catabolic? And you thought nighttime was grow time. Well, it can be if you drink a micellar-casein and whey protein drink before bedm, which can help prevent the stress hormone cortisol from ravaging your muscles while you snooze. The casein is slow absorbing, so it will help trickle amino acids into your bloodstream whilst you saw those logs. The amino trickle signals your body that there's no need for muscle wasting. Keep in mind that whey is okay, but will be in and out of your system in a matter of hours. For best results make your nightcap with micellar casein and whey for that trickle-feed effect. 

15) Carb Up to Build Up

Carbs feed your body glycogen, which is stored in your muscles and liver as an energy source. That means when your glycogen stores are full, you feel strong, have better workouts and get better McPumps. Glycogen also forces your muscles to hold more water, which translates to bigger, fully bodyparts. Eat some carbs at every meal with your protein if you're trying to build muscle. If you're dieting, you may want to get most of your carbs in the meals you have before and after your workouts. 

16) Vary, Vary Heavy Sets

Do 8-12 reps if you want to grow. That's the blanket recommendation bodybuilders get most of the time, and that rep range does hit the majority of the anaerobic fast twitch fibers. Even so, you shouldn't neglect higher reps - more than 12 - or lower reps - 5 to 7 - if you want to max out your growth. The other rep ranges affect the anaerobic fibers differently and may even hit different fibers. Remember, a different anaerobic stress usually equals more growth, so use a variety of rep ranges in your training - or at least use supersets, drop sets and stage sets to get the high-rep effect. 

17) Loosen Your Belt

Lifting belts have become a crutch for many bodybuilders. Some even wear a belt when they bench press. Bad idea. Your midsection can become dependent on a tight belt, making your support muscles weak and unstable. Only use a lifting belt on your heaviest sets and only on exercises that stress your lower back. Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for an injury from just picking up a bag of groceries. 

18) Eat More Meat to Keep Packing on Beef

Meal replacements are great, but you need real food too if you want to grow as fast as possible - specifically meat. That includes chicken and fish, but don't forget about red meat. It's loaded with quality protein and testosterone-building nutrients. And grass-fed beef is low in saturated fat and high in the essential fatty acids, which add to the testosterone-building effect. Eat beef at least twice a week. 

19) Go High and Low to Get Calves to Grow

Some trainees say that the calves get plenty or reps during the day, when you're mobile, so you gotta pound them with heavy weights and low reps if you want them to grow. Others say that most of the calf fibers are endurance oriented, so you need high reps to stress them. Both are plausible arguments, and both are correct to a degree. One thing's for sure: The calves have a helluva lot of fibers, of all different types. So to hit as many as possible, do heavier weights for lower reps - 9 to 12 - at one workout, and then at your next calf session do lighter weights for higher reps - 20 to 30. Throw in a few supersets and drop sets too. You'll see new growth soon - if you can stand the searing pain.

20) Check Out Hot Babes Often

Men are visual animals, so it only makes sense that sexy visualizations will raise testosterone. Studies verify that fact. [How does one get into one of these]. 

21) Root for the Winning Team

Studies [again with the "studies"] show that testosterone levels increase significantly when the team you're rooting for wins. Of course, if your team loses, your testosterone plummets. Always pull for the winning team. 

22) Heat It Up 

Studies [cut it out!] have shown that muscle contraction is quicker and more forceful at elevated temperatures. In other words, a good warmup helps you contract more fibers. The nervous system also benefits, as the nerve receptors and the speed of the never impulses are temperature sensitive and improve when your body temperature is higher. To warm up correctly, start your workout with a general warmup, such as a few minutes of calisthenics or stationary biking. Then move to a few specific stretches for the bodypart you're about to train. Just light stretching not too much here. After that do a light set with about 50% of your work weight on your first exercise, rest, then do a second set with about 80% of your work weight. Now you're ready for your first heavy work set. Some heavy exercises, like squats and bench presses, may require three progressively heavier warmup sets. 

23) Eat More Fat 

You read that right. Be sure you're getting enough fat in your diet, specifically the good essential fatty acids, or EFAs. Those are the building blocks of testosterone, and as the last steroid guru Dan Duchaine said, the omega fats are the most anabolic legal supplement available. Okay then. Yeah, right. 

24) Load the Right Amino Ammo

More supplement stuff here. Moving on . . . 

25) Chase the Pump 

Make sure you get a pump at each workout. True, a lot of experts say the pump doesn't matter, but remember that as the pump increases, so do the capillary beds in the muscle. That makes the muscle more efficient at pulling in growth promoting nutrients and also increases its size. That's right, more capillaries equal bigger, more efficient muscles. A pump can also help stretch the fascia, or muscle encasements, which allows for more growth. Constricting fascia can restrict fiber espansion. If you don't have a pump at the end of a bodypart routine, do a triple-drop set on your favorite isolation exercise - one you can really feel - for that bodypart. Go for the burn and the pump will follow. If you still don't get a pump, see a coroner. Just to make sure. 

26) Fight Free Radicals 

Supplements. I got nothing against anyone choosing to take anything. I just don't deal with that here.

27) Build Boulder Shoulders

Most bodybuilders do lateral raises in their attempt to get rounder delts. Unfortunately, they usually use too much weight, bend their arms too much and lean back, which to work more front head than side. An alternative is dumbbell upright rows. Using dumbbells for upright rows is kinder to the rotator cuff muscles than a barbell, and if you keep your form strict - with a slight forward lean, hands just outside your pecs at the top - you'll precisely target the medial delt heads. Performing drop sets, or down the rack training works especially well on these. 

28) Get Upper Pec Respect

Incline dumbbell presses supposedly work the upper chest; however, according to Vince Gironda, most bodybuilders target the front delts when they do the exercise with their palms facing forward. Try your inclines with the dumbbells parallel, palms facing in, and check your upper pecs for soreness the next day. Careful, though, if you overdo it, you may not be able to brush your teeth without screaming. 

29) Cross Over to a Spectacular Chest

Most bodybuilders use crossovers in their chest routines to maximally contract their pecs - but most of the time that max contraction doesn't happen. Why? The pec's function is to bring the upper arm across the torso. With two arm cable crossovers, your upper arms never get colse to moving across your torso; they stop about halfway to full contraction. Try doing alternate crossovers, bringing one arm across your torso, then the other. If you don't like alternating, try working one arm at a time, or at least cross arms at your wrists during two arm crossovers to get closer to the pecs' fully contracted position.

30) Build a Support Group 

The rotator cuff muscles surround the shoulder joint and provide stability and a full range of motion for the ball and socket joint. They're easily damaged, however, and if they're weak they can hamper all of your pressing movements. In fact, a number of trainees have added pounds of weight to their bench press by doing a couple of light sets of rotator cuff exercises. 

31) Snooze or Lose 

You gotta get enough sleep, or your body won't have the energy reserves and hormones - like testosterone - it needs to build muscle. One McStudy! showed that lack of sufficient sleep can reduce plasma testosterone levels in young men by a whopping 40 percent. Get at least eight hours of restful sleep every night - more if you can swing it. And that includes weekends (Most of them, anyway. Don't be a complete antisocial musclehead).   

32) Use Double Contractions for Bigger Muscular Reactions 

Exercises that have resistance in the contracted position, such as concentration curls and leg extensions, have a lot of potential for fiber stimulation because of the constant tension. Most bodybuilders don't take advantage of the peak contraction, however. To make sure you do, try 1-1/4 reps. On leg extensions, for example, drive the weight to the top, lower a quarter of the way down, drive back to the top again, then lower all the way down. If you don't like lowering a full quarter rep, at do a short double pump in the contracted position. That hitch at the top will provide new stress and trigger more quad growth.

33) Reduce the Range to Reduce the Pain - And Injury Potential

If you're injured, you can't train to get big, so avoiding injury is a key mass-building strategy. One way to avoid rotator cuff and shoulder capsule damage is to nor relax and fully lock out your arms at the top of pulldowns and the bottom of chinups. Locking out can pull your upper arm bone away from the shoulder socket and - BAM!  - you've got a nagging shoulder injury for the rest of your days. Always stop just short of lockout on these exercises and keep tension in your arms and shoulders.

34) Stretch With a Quick Hit to Get Possible Fiber Splits

On stretch position movements - such as stiff-legged deadlifts, incline curls, overhead triceps extensions and donkey calf raises - don't pause in the stretch position. By reversing the movement with a quick twitch in the stretch position, you can involve more muscle fibers by activating the myostatic reflex. Animal studies(!) also suggest (suggest) that stretch overload can trigger hyperplasia, or fiber splitting - and the more fibers you have, the bigger your muscles can get. 

35) row, Row, ROW TO GROW

If you use cable rows to hit your lats, try using a rope or separate stirrup handles and turn your hands to an undergrip position at the top of each rep. You'll put your biceps in a more biomechanically favorable position, which will allow you to pull your arms back past your torso and maximally contract your lats. 

36) Power Up With the Postactivation Sensation

Building a more efficient nervous system will definitely make you stronger. After all, nerves make the muscles contract. One way to improve your neuromuscular efficiency is to do a modified superset of a compound exercise and an isolation movement with full-range resistance. For example, do a set of bench presses, rest for one minute, then do a set of cable crossovers. Rest again, then go back to the bench presses. Your second set of benches should be better than your first - or at least equal, with no strength deficit. Why? The isolation exercise stimulates more neurons to fire due to full-range contraction, and that means you push more weight on the big exercises for bigger, better, bulkier, burlier, bountifully ample muscles. Other combos to try are presses and lateral raises, squats and leg extensions, and rows and bent arm bentover laterals. 

37) Use Iso-Tension for New Muscle Dimension

Another way to build neuromuscular efficiency is isometric-stop training. To use pulldowns as an example, once you hit failure, have your partner help you lock into the bottom, contracted position. Release about one-third of the way up, stop the bar and try to reverse the movement - pulling down on the bar - for three seconds. Slowly release up to the halfway point and stop and pull again for three seconds. Release to near the top, stop and try to reverse the movement again for three seconds. Isometric stops extend the time under tension for the target muscle and also train the nervous system to contract more muscle fibers.

38) Try Static Contraction for Dynamic Gain Action

With this technique you hold a heavy weight motionless in the strongest position of any exercise to failure, which should occur at around 15 seconds with the right weight. At each workout you try to hold the same weight for as long as you can. When you can hold it for 30 seconds, you increase the weight to bring down you hold-time to 15 seconds again. You can use some incredible weights doing a static hold near the top, lockout position of a bench press and squat. Most advocates of this technique say that's the optimum position in which to get the most fibers to fire - and you'll get strong fast thanks to incredibubble leaps in neuro-muscular efficiency. You can also use the technique on contracted position exercises, such as leg extensions, leg curls and pulldowns. For them, you hold the weight with the muscles completely contracted - at the top of the leg extension with knees locked, for example. Once again, your strength should skyrocket, especially if you combine static-contraction training with full-range exercise. 

39) Shock Your Muscles to Electrify Muscle Growth 

Some bodybuilders believe that muscle soreness indicates that the muscle has been stress enough to grow. Soreness is damage, however, so it will only trigger growth if that damage is allowed to completely heal. Negative (eccentric) exercise is primarily responsible for the microtrauma that causes soreness. For example, walking down a flight of stairs will produce much more soreness in your legs than walking up stairs - even though walking down is easier. Negative-only exercise, when used sparingly, can trigger new growth.

Try ending a bodypart routine with one set of pure negative exercise. On your final set of concentration curls, for example, take a weight that's about 20 percent more than you used on the previous set. Lift the weight with your free arm to the top of the stroke, then slowly lower the dumbbell to a count of six. The weight should be heavy enough to allow you to get about 6 to 8 pure negative reps. Be prepared for a drinking problem the next day - your biceps will be so sore you may miss your mouth when trying to get a glass to it. 

40) Add Explosive Sets for Dynamite Growth

A lot of bodybuilders do a backoff set after their heavy work. They pyramid up to a set of four or five reps, then decrease the weight for a last set of 8 to 10. You can make your backoff set a unique strength builder by lightening the weight even more and doing explosive reps. Use a weight that's about 20 percent of that final 8-rep set weight and do speed reps. Don't throw the weight, but move it as fast as possible under control - about one second up and one second down [Mr. Holman usually recommends a 2-3 second positive and a 2-3 second negative]. Do 2 sets of 6 reps. That can help build neuromuscular efficiency and activate different muscle fibers from what you get with slower, heavy training. 

41) Get High and Mighty Pecs with High Flyes 

Try raising the bench to about 75 degrees for incline flyes. Most people think that a high incline like that will work the front delts more instead of the upper pecs. That's not true for most trainees. When you do an incline flye, notice that your lower back naturally arches, which places your torso at about a 45 degree angle if the bench is set at 75 degrees. That's perfect for upper chest work. On the other hand, if you have the bench set lower, say, at 45 to 50 degrees, you turn the incline flye into more of a flat bench flye as you naturally arch your back - which positions your upper torso parallel to the floor. 

42) Pull Down Every Which Way for a Bigger, Broader Back 

The pulldown is certainly a great lat exercise, but many bodybuilders get stuck in a wide-grip mode. When I was training at Gold's Gym in Venice a few years ago, I saw a huge bodybuilder with an unbelievable wingspan. He was working his back that day, so I observed. What I saw was that he changed his style on every set. For the first set he did wide-grip pulldowns to the front; the the second he did behind the neck pulldowns; the third set was shoulder width pulldowns to the front; and he finished with undergrip pulldowns to the front. Set variation is very important if you want to max out the growth of as many fibers as possible.  

43) Bust a Move Between Sets 

Use active rest between sets - stretch, contract and massage the target muscle instead of just sitting or standing there. 

44) Don't Be a Rearing Jackass on Donkey Raises

In other words, if you want bigger calves, don't let your torso rise up to increase the angle at your waist to more than 90 degrees. Make sure the bench or machine platform you're resting your elbows on is the correct height to get that appropriate angle. 

45) Work In for Out; Out for In

For example, to work outer biceps for peak, use an in, or close EZ-Curl grip. To work inner biceps for size and full development, work out, or witht a wide grip. To work outer quads for sweep, use an in, or close, foot stance - but still point your toes out. For inner quads work out, or with a wide stance. And contrary to popular opinion, I think wide grip pulldowns and chins build the inner back and close grip pulldowns and chins build a wide back. 

46) Take Three Steps Forward, Then a Half Step Back

After six to eight weeks of hard training, back off on the intensity for a week or two or take a week off from the gym. That will allow your nervous system to heal and your recovery ability to regroup so you can ratchet up the intensity again without overtraining. In other words, you can take three more growth steps forward instead of having your feet stuck in no-grow quicksand. 

47) Beware of the Force 

Forced reps, especially the slo-mo variety, can overstress your nervous system, give you the overall shakes and cause cortisol to erupt into your system like Old Faithful. Cortisol is a stress hormone that's linked to everything from memory loss to cancer, and it also causes your body to cannibalize its own muscle tissue. Use forced reps sparingly. 

48) Avoid Killer Cardio

High intensity aerobic work, or interval training, is in (and out and in etc.) of vogue because it helps ramp up your metabolism so you burn more fat. The trouble is, when you train with weights at high intensity three tofive days a week, you run the risk of overtraining if you8 add high intensity cardio on your off days, with your lower body being especially at risk.

If you need to burn fat, it's best to rely on medium intensity aerobic exercise, like walking, to increase your calorie burn. Let your weight workouts create metabolic momentum. If you want to do high intensity cardio, make it part of your leg workout, using it as a warmup or even as a substitute for one of your leg workouts. 

49) Trigger a Spike for a Muscle Size Hike 


50) Add L-Carnitine to Elevate Your Mass


Okay then. The final 50 Tips will be in a separate post.
Minus the supplement stuff.




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