Tuesday, January 21, 2020

100 Muscle Building Tips, Second 50 - Steve Holman (2002)

The First 50 are here:

51) Grow With Glutamine

And they're off like a herd of turtles! 

52) Make Your A.M. More Anabolic

Whey protein first thing upon waking. Yes, Breakfast of Champions. Personally, I prefer 
"God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" - 

53) Tear Down the Pyramid to Blast Past Sticking Points

Now we're talkin'! Many bodybuilders pyramid their weights on exercises - and with each weight increase they get fewer reps. for example, let's say that after a few warmup sets on the bench press you did 250 x 9, 275 x 6 and 300 x 3. Chances are you held back on the first set because you knew the heavier weights were coming. If you didn't hold back, you also didn't hit your muscles with the heaviest weights possible on the last set because of fatigue - if you blasted hard on the first two sets, that last set of 300 x 3 wasn't your max. 

You could've gotten more reps with 300 if you'd done it first. You may want to try a reverse pyramid for a while to see if you don't get new gains. Take your heaviest weight first - after a warmup, of course - and do all your sets with it: for example, 300 x 7, 300 x 6, 300 x 4. 

You can also do a reverse pyramid, lowering the weight on each successive set so your reps stay in the 7 to 9 range. 

54) Decatabolize Aerobic Exercise

Many experts suggest doing aerobics the first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to enhance fat burning. If you're using that as a fat-loss strategy, you may be concerned about burning muscle as well during your fasted cardio sessions. A whey protein drink or better yet a few amino Aw Come On! 

55) Blow Out the Air to Etch in the Details

A lot of bodybuilders don't breathe properly when doing a set, which can interfere with rhythm, performance and muscle gains. You should breathe in on the negative stroke, then exhale at the hardest point on the positive stroke as you drive through each rep. It's why karate men kiai when they punch - to focus their power. 

Proper breathing is especially important during ab work. You need to have all the air out of your lungs when you reach the contracted position because your abs can only contract completely when your diaphragm is empty. For example, if you still have air in your lungs at the top of a crunch, hold that position and blow out the rest of it as you contract your abs. You'll feel it - as if your abs are being etched with a blowtorch. 

56) Go the Distance for Awesome Abs

Standard on-the-floor crunches are only half an ab exercise. Thins about it. If your upper torso could move past the plane of the floor so your lower back was arched, you'd reach a full-stretch position for the rectus abdominus. That important stretch position, which helps you activate more fibers for better development, is impossible to reach when you do crunches on a flat surface, so you limit full range strength and muscle development. 

To get the arch on crunches try doing them on a bench press bench, with your feet resting on a bar that's across the uprights, your knees bent and your upper back hanging off the end of the bench. Now crunch up.  

You can also do cable crunches, kneeling, facing away from the pulley, holding the cable handle behind your head and with your partner providing low back support so you can arch. 

Or you can do cable crunches sitting on a preacher bench. Set the arm support part of the bench low so you can use it for lower back support, allowing your upper torso to arch back slightly on each rep.

Of course, the best alternative is the Ab Bench. 


It makes full range ab work comfortable - and it's easy to add resistance thanks to the plate holder and cable apparatus. 

57) Drag Your Way to Bigger Bi's 

If you're having trouble peaking your biceps, give one of Vince Gironda's favorite high-bi movements a try - drag curls. Take a grip on a barbell that's slightly wider than shoulder width. Stand erect as if you were going to do a regular curl, but curl the bar up your torso so it touches, or almost touches, your body the entire way. Stop at the base of your neck, then lower slowly, keeping the bar close to your body. If you want more brachialis involvement - and forearm extensor work too - do drag curls with a reverse grip. 

58) Get in the Groove with Heavier Warmups 

Many bodybuilders do warmup sets for a specific exercise with 50 to 60 percent of their work-set weight. The problem is, when you almost double the poundage for the first work set, it's a gigantic shock to the nervous system, and you may get poor performance. It's much better to do one warmup set with about 50 percent and then up the weight to about 80 percent for 4 or 5 reps. That way your nervous system is better primed, and the jump to 100 percent won't shock it into balking early. 

59) Use Mints for More Might

Participants in a new study(!) did more pushups to exhaustion, ran faster and showed more grip strength when they had peppermint strips under their noses than another group the didn't use the strips. [Pardon me?] Moving on here . . . 

60) Try Ribose On for More Size

And here . . . 

61) Torch All Heads of Your Tris for More Arm Size

According to MRI studies, dumbbell overhead extensions put maximum heat on all three triceps heads when you use two dumbbells simultaneously. The same movement done with a bar instead of dumbbells ignites only the lateral and medial heads, leaving the long head lagging behind. 

The reason the double dumbbell version may be more effective is that your palms are facing each other. More proof that varying your grip can have a substantial effect on target muscle stimulation. 

62) Do Some Homework 

Whether it's a set of selectorized dumbbells and an adjustable bench, or a more sophisticated setup like an Olympic set, power rack and machines, a home gym can help you build more size and strength. If you don't feel like heading into a sea of sweaty bodies at the commercial facility - or you just feel like training in your underwear - go home and do a basic full-body session. Fruit of the looms optional. 

Improvisation can be a great motivator, so you may just have one of your best workouts ever - unless you pinch a vital bodypart between two dumbbells. 

Another tactic is to work your smaller bodyparts, such as arms and delts, at home every week and save the big stuff for the commercial gym. A change of scenery can give you more motivation and greater gains.  

63) Think - and take - Zinc for More Size and Strength


64) Cycle Your Creatine


65) Do Romanian Deadlifts for Righteous Hamstrings

Most trainees let the bar move out over their feet when they do stiff-legged deadlifts, but that can put the lower back in a precarious position and also produce less pull on the hamstrings. To make the exercise safter and a better hamstring helper, do the Romanian version. 

As you bend over, keep the bar close to your legs, hold your back flat and try to jut your butt rearward so your legs angle back as you lower the bar. When the bar reaches mid-shin level, you should feel a distinct stretch in your hamstrings. Remember, your back should be flat, no rounding. At that point immediately reverse the movement and pull back to the standing position, keeping the bar close to your legs all the way. After a few heavy sets of these you may smell bacon, but it'll just be your hams sizzling with new growth.

66) Use CLA for a Bigger Mass Payday


67) Step Away from the Machine 

Studies have shown(!) that the eccentric, or negative, part of a repetition is the most important for stimulating growth. Unfortunately, when you use machines that have a weight stack, the negative stroke is lighter than if you were using free weights. That's because friction lightens the load. Even worse, the friction makes the positive harder than if you were using free weights, so you get a harder positive and an easier negative. That's not good if the negative is the most important part. 

The bodypart that suffers most often from negative neglect is calves, because most people use a calf machine or leg press that has a weight stack. Your calves are already good at minimizing loads and cheating weights up, thanks to all the walking you do, so to make them grow, you have to maximize the stress you put on them in the gym, especially the negative. 

Try doing one-leg calf raises with a dumbbell as your first calf exercise - and try to use a true 2 seconds up/2 seconds down cadence without bouncing. Giving your calves a heavier negative and a controlled stroke may just be the growth jolt they need for a new size surge. 

68) Get Milk - Or At Least a Calcium-Rich MRP

You bet! 

69) Take Your Recover E Seriously


70) Get More Pec Punch from Presses

A lot of trainees feel bench presses and incline presses more in their front delts and triceps than in their chest muscles. The reason is that they don't set up properly for what they're trying to achieve. As you grip the bar, pull your shoulders back by pinching your scapulae together and push your chest out. Do your presses with that scapulae retraction for better pec contraction. 

Try it on flyes and crossovers as well to remove some front delt stress. 

71) Stretch for Strength 

You've already seen how including stretch position exercises, like stiff-legged deadlifts for hamstrings, in your workout can increase anabolic hormones for new growth (see tip number 3). Also, stretching after you finish working a bodypart can increase strength.  

You may not like freehand stretching (I hate it), so here's an alternative: When you finish the last set of your last exercise for a bodypart, do one extra set of a stretch-position exercise for that bodypart, but don't do it in standard piston-like fashion. Instead, hold the stretch position of each rep for five seconds. That extra stretch/pause set allows you to stretch at the end of each bodypart workout, build more strength and get the bonus of augmenting the pump. 

72) Lead With Your Elbows to Detail Your Delts

When most bodybuilders do laterals, they concentrate solely on getting the dumbbells up to shoulder level. Thinking about getting the dumbbells up is fine, but you also want to focus on leading with your elbows, keeping the slightly higher than your hands. That will force more work from your medial delt heads to give you that wide as an aircraft look.

73) Change Flat Hamstrings by Jacking Up Your Torso

If the leg curls machine you use has a hump in it so you have to bend at the waist when you lie on it, support your torso on your elbows - or at least raise your torso high enough so that your torso and thighs are on the same plane as you contract your hamstrings. That position provides better hamstring contraction. If you lie with a bend at your waist, your hamstrings are somewhat stretched at the top of the leg curl stroke - and you miss the completely contracted position. 

74) Try Magnesium for a Bigger, Stronger You 


75) Get More Tension for On-Target Pec Training

When Arnold did flyes, he'd get a monster stretch in his pecs, but he also discovered that he lost a lot of pec innervation, or feel, at the top of the stroke because his pecs relaxed. His solution was to stop the upward movement of the dumbbells when they were about 1-1/2 feet apart so he kept tension on his pecs throughout the exercise. Try that on at least one or two sets of flyes for more pec tension and subsequent pec dimension. 

76) Create More Cleavage

Hold the stretch position for a few seconds per rep when doing flyes. That makes sense because the unusual stretch puts a unique stress on the pec muscles at the sternum insertions. I notice the same thing when I do partial in the stretch position on cable flyes. But don't be an idiot and overstretch. 

77) Try a Triple Header for Delectable Delts

This was a favorite of Sergio Oliva, and it will swell up your delts fast. Camp out at one end of a cable crossover machine, with the cable handle hooked in the low position. Start with your right arm and do 12-15 reps of one arm bentover cable laterals for the rear head. As soon as you finish - no rest - do 12-15 reps of one arm laterals for the side head. Then face away from the cable and do 12-15 reps of one arm cable front raises. Now switch to the other arm. Sergio used to do five sets of this madness, but we mere mortals can probably only stand two or three rounds. Even with two rounds, your delts will feel like basketballs. 

78) Lie Down and Cross Over to More Pec Development 

When doing cable crossovers, many bodybuilders cave in their chest cavity, which brings in too much front delt. You need to keep your chest high and forced out during crossovers to get the most pectoral involvement (see tip 70). If you have trouble holding that position, or you simply need a good variation, hook the handles to the low attachments, pull a decline bench between them and do decline cable flyes. It's almost the same movement as cable crossovers, only the bench will keep you from cheating and make it much easier for you to maintain the chest high position. This exercise was a Vince Gironda favorite for shaping great pecs. 

79) Extend the Biceps Burning to Get Arm Fibers Churning

Do your dumbbell curls simultaneously. When you hit failure, hold both dumbbells at your thighs, take a few deep breaths and then do a curl with only your right arm. When you complete the rep and the dumbbell is back at your right thigh, curl the dumbbell in your left arm. That rest/pause technique should help you get a few more reps and stimulate some new upper arm size. 

80) Start With Undergrip Rows for an Oversize Back

Most bodybuilders begin their lat workouts with chins or pulldowns performed with an overgrip; however, many experts believe that undergrip rows have more potential for building wider lats than chins or pulldowns because you can achieve a more complete contraction. Try starting your lat routine with undergrip rows using a barbell, dumbbells or a low cable and see if you don't get lats so wide you can almost glide. 

81) Annihilate Your Lats With a Tri-Set Blast

Greg Zulak said he saw Boyer Coe kissing Santa, no, do tri-sets of wide grip chins, seated cable rows, and cross bench dumbbell pullovers and get a tremendous pump in all areas of the muscle - from his armpit down to his obliques. Special thanks to Boyer for this inadvertent POF [positions of flexion] plug: Chins for the midrange position, seated cable rows for the contracted position, and pullovers for the stretch position. Try it. It leaves no fiber untorched. 

82) Jot It Down to Jog Your Gains

Keeping a training journal, with your sets, reps and weights for every exercise, seems like a no-brainer, but how many bodybuilders do you see at the gym just winging it? Lots. In fact, too many, which may be one reason so many guys look the same year after year. Seeing your weights and reps on paper before a set motivates you to better your last workout. It also tells you if you're getting stronger - if you're not, you may need a change or some time off or both. Bottom line: A training journal is essential if you want to make the fastest gains possible. 

83) Take a Trip Down Basics Lane to Race Toward New Muscle Gain

Workouts can get complicated. You add an isolation exercise here, you start doing supersets there, and then you say, What the Hell, and you try to incorporate every technique in this article into your routine. Hey, chill out. A better strategy may be to try streamlining your workout. 

Do one compound exercise for each bodypart for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps. Rest one to two minutes between sets, depending on the exercise, and try to increase your strength on each movement. After four to six weeks on your back to basics routine, incorporate stretch position exercises or some isolation moves for a few bodyparts. Maybe even include a drop set here and there. They'll have a new effect on your muscles, give you some revived motivation and no doubt pack some new mass on your frame.

84) Breathe Deep, Grow Massive

You've no doubt read about it, but have you honestly given it a try - supersetting high rep squats and pullovers, that is? Some claim gains of 20 to 30 pounds in six weeks. 

One reason the combo works so well is something called hypoxia, or oxygen debt. That can increase red blood cells to make the metabolism more efficient - as in sending growth nutrients and anabolic compounds to the muscles. Then there's the extended tension time on the big quad and glute muscles during squats, a real growth getter. 

To flip on the anabolic switch, do 20 reps on your squats, taking a few DEEP breaths between reps - on every rep. When you reach 20, no doubt in excruciating pain - crawl over to a bench and do pullovers, breathing deeply on each rep (you won't be able to help it after the squats, believe me). Oh, and don't worry, your lungs won't explode - but your overall growth will.

85) Load the Big O to Recover and Grow

Vince Gironda was a big believer in oxygen loading, and he devoted a section to it in his book The Wild Physique. It's a simple concept: Consciously take deep breaths between sets. Fill your lungs, exhale forcefully, then do it again. Keep it up until it's time for your next set. You'll quickly replenish any oxygen debt you created with the previous set and feel much stronger when you start your next one. (By the way, if you follow Arnold's lead, and stretch and contract the target muscle between sets you can still do some deep breathing at the same time). 


 - If you are training with a good tempo, don't just allow the body to recover by sitting down and panting. Load up with oxygen. Hyperventilate. Place your hands on your thighs (knees bent) and lift your chest high as you slowly take each breath through pursed lips. After taking 5 or 10 breaths in this manner, you should be ready to begin your next set. I call this "oxygen loading."

Your muscles definitely benefit from this oxygen-loading principle. By pouring oxygen into the blood (through the lungs), you are paying back the debt created by the last set of exercises. This produces a terrific muscle pump. It also aids in maintaining exercise rhythm, which is important for maximum workout efficiency. 

 - Vince Gironda, The Wild Physique  

86) Try One-Sided Workouts 

Studies(!) suggest(!) that you're stronger when you perform one-arm and one-leg movements than when you use both limbs at the same time. You get a better nerve response from the working muscle. That means you should do a unilateral exercise for each bodypart, or at least your weak bodyparts, to stimulate more muscle growth. 

Some examples are one-legs extensions, one-arm dumbbell rows, one-arm preacher curls, one-leg calf raises and one-arm triceps kickbacks.

87) Home in on Pec Contractions, No Machines Necessary

If you train in a bare bones gym with only barbells and dumbbells, it can be hard to work your chest in the contracted position. You maximally contract your pecs when your arms are out in front of your torso with your elbows straight and your hands together, and most bodybuilders finish off their pecs in that position with cable crossovers. 

If you don't have a crossover machine or pec deck, the next best thing is to end your chest routine with hands together pushups and squeeze hard at the top of each rep. You can do them regular style or with your feet elevated on a bench to get more upper chest involvment. 

if you're really fatigues and can't muster enough reps, you can lean forward with your hands close together on a bench press bar and do angled close-grip pushouts. Don't forget to squeeze those pecs at the top.

88) Polish Your Diamonds

To get coveted diamond shaped calves, you have to hit the inside of the gastrocnemius muscle. To hit the inside fibers so the muscle juts out like the side of a finely cut stone, you have to do calf raises by pushing more with the bit-toe sides of your feet. Lots of bodybuilders have trouble doing that; they tend to roll their feet out as they come up and end in the contracted position with more pressure on the little toe sides. 

If you're a victim of the outside roll on calf raises, try widening your stance - with your feet wider than shoulder width - and keep your toes pointing straight ahead. That should force you to come up on the big toe sides of your feet every time. 

89) Eat Excess Calories to Pack on Extra Mass

Most bodybuilders know to eat often - five to six times a day - and to get protein at all of those meals. What they don't realize is that if they're only taking in enough calories for maintenance, they won't build much muscle. You need an excess of energy, a.k.a calories, so your body can afford to build muscle. That's right, afford. Excess muscle is a luxury, and your body will do everything possible to prevent it - unless it has more of what it needs to survive. 

A good rule of thumb is to take your bodyweight and multiply it by 20 to get the daily calorie level you need to gain muscle. Extreme hardgainers may need to add 1,000 calories to that number. 

90) Rock Your Way to Bigger, Stronger Forearms

Many bodybuilders don't train their forearms with direct exercise because they either feel they get enough indirect work with all the gripping and hanging they do on chins, curls, rows and so on, or they don't have time. As you read in Tip 1, forearm strength can help your bench press power. It can also enhance curling strength, which in turn will help you build bigger biceps. 

Do some direct forearm work! You say you don't have time? Do forearm rockers at the end of your biceps workout and you'll only add about two or three minutes to the session. 

To do them, stand holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging down and the dumbbells next to your thighs, pointing forward. Contract your forearm flexors, curling the dumbbells toward forward toward your body as high as possible. Then reverse the movement, taking them up away from your body as high as possible to contract your forearm extensors. Do that till you can't hold the dumbbells any longer. Pick a weight that has you screaming after about 45 seconds. After a few weeks do a drop set to trigger new adaptation. 

91) Carb Up as You Work Out


92)  Avoid Pain Relievers That Include Ibuprofin and Acetaminophen


93) Crank Up the Tunes

Or not. 

94) Relax, Musclehead

If you want to increase your testosterone levels outside the gym, you might try calming down. Overly aggressive A-Type behavior can lower testosterone. Impatience and being extremely competitive have a significant impact on lowering testosterone as men age, and really, by that point you should be able to see what a halfwit pain in the ass you're being. 

95) If You Use Pro-Steriods Make Sure . . . 


96) Train in Heat

Dog. No, wait. Keep your gym temperature warm, not cold. Vince Gironda was notorious for keeping his gym sweltering during the summer because he believed it helped promote muscle gains and he was, once again, right. A warm gym also makes injuries less likely. 

97) Hit Your Long Heads to Specialize on More Tri Size

The long heads provide a lot of triceps size and sweep, so if you need help in those areas, directly target them for bigger arms. The long head becomes directly involved when the arm rotates out at the shoulder joint. That's one reason your triceps can get sore when you do pullovers. 

One of the best supersets for triceps, with an emphasis on the long head, is to do kickbacks to failure followed by scapular rotations (straight arm kickbacks). When you hit failure on regular kickbacks, extend the dumbbells to arms' length, lock your elbows and drive them into the kickback's finish position. 

Do about 6-8 reps with the same weight you used on the kickbacks. You can use a little heave to get the weight moving, if necessary, but try to squeeze the bejeezus out of your tris at the top of each rep, and get ready for an unreal triceps pump.

98) Hit the Singles Scene

Most bodybuilders avoid doing singles, but sometimes one-rep maxes can do good things for muscle growth and strength, if you use them cautiously, infrequently and for only an exercise or two at a time. According to Bill Starr:

 - singles help beginning and intermediate bodybuilders get past the numbers barriers. 

 - they teach you to use good form - if you lose the groove, you're likely to fail. 

 - heavy singles can help you determine what your weak spots are on a lift. 

 - a heavy single works the body completely differently from a multiple rep set; it opens up different synapses in the nervous system, stresses the muscles, ligaments and tendons differently and changes your mindset.

Starr suggest working up to singles by rotating your routines for the designated exercises, as follows: 

Week 1 - fives
Week 2 - fives followed by heavy triples
Week 3 - Eights
Week 4 - Singles

He also stresses that you should not cheat.

More from Starr on this, here:

If you find yourself getting attracted to singles training, this is great:

99) Lose Some Bodyfat

This may seem like a contradiction to Tip 89, which says to eat more calories, but you can get leaner without calorie reduction - by increasing your low-intensity activity. Walking more is excellent for excess calorie burn. It'll help you gradually get leaner without burning muscle, and once you start seeing changes you'll get new inspiration for awesome intensity in the gym.   

100) Love It or Leave It

You gotta be persistent and patient in the bodybuilding game. Muscles don't and won't just sprout all over your body overnight. It takes time, lots of it. That means you have to enjoy the ride if you're going to stick with weight training for the long haul. 

If you prefer short workouts or you simply don't have time for more elaborate routines, try high intensity training - only a few all-out sets per bodypart. Your training will have to be more precise, but that can be part of the fun. Drop sets can help you get more work done in less time, for example, and negatives can lay waste to a muscle with one slow, heavy, controlled set. 

If you prefer to train at more moderate intensity levels and you can afford the time, use a few more sets and try to feel the muscle working as you race the pump - just don't overstress your recovery ability with too many sets to failure. Use strict form and try to stop most of your sets a rep or two short of failure if you're using more volume. Coax muscle growth rather than trying to force it. 

Always remember to savor the journey; or you may eventually get a flat tire on the road to more mass, quit training altogether and end up back in the land of puny physiques. 








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