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how to build muscle

Wave Loading: The Ultimate Muscle Building Party

explosive deadlift

Eric Bach here with a guest post by my dude Joseph Brigley. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting the breeze with Joe on everything from advanced training protocols to fantasy football…both sure signs he’ll fit right in at Bach Performance! 

Joe is currently pursuing a graduate degree in exercise science while running the Salubrity, his website for living a high-performance lifestyle.

In this post, Joe hits on two of my favorite things: the occasional libation and wave loading, Wave loading is an advanced training protocol to maximize nervous system activation. It helpsyou build strength and muscle.  Over to you, Joe.

I love lifting heavy weights. The cold steel. The grip of fear before a new PR. The wicked burn and pain before an endorphin rush leaves you feeling accomplished.
 
There’s much to learn about training, and the more years I lift, the more variations I learn to help clients build strength, muscle, and athleticism.
There’s more than 3×8. Or 3×10 and 3×12.
If you’ve been training awhile, your muscles need a jolt, an influx of activation and stress to continue growing.
 
When you keep doing the same exercises and rep schemes, your nervous system becomes extremely efficient. This means without over-stressing your current abilities, your nervous system needs less recruitment to perform the same lift.
 
No change. No overload, and no challenge.   Essentially there’s no thrill. So why should you adapt?
 
To make progress, you need overload.
 
 How?
 

By charging the upstaged potential of your nervous system we’ll prime your body for more strength, and more muscle.

Wave Loading
By coupling max contractions with explosive ones, you’re able to improve power and force development.
 

Now you’re stoking some excitement and the engines purring “Whoa, whoa, whoa, where did all of this come from?”

This is the equivalent of a new, smoking’ hot girl coming to your buddies’ party. You’ve never seen her before.  She’s gorgeous. Instead of checking out the same girls over and over again, she walks in and heads turn. There’s a new energy and a new life to the party.

How Wave Loading Works
 
Wave loading is the life of the party. Similar to the game of beer pong, or the Football game on in the background maximizing the parties’ energy, wave loading excites your nervous system.
 

Each wave moves in either ascending or descending fashion to expose your body to heavier weights, shock your system, or potentiation your training.

This excitation activates high threshold motor units (html’s), the fast-twitch muscle fibers needed for strength, explosiveness, and muscle building.

 

I’ll jump into the details soon, but for now, understand this:

When more high-threshold motor units are firing, you’ll recruit more muscles and they’ll contract harder. Because more muscle fibers are potentiated during the wave, you’ll improve your ability to build strength, muscle, and athleticism.

You with me?
 
Good, stay there. I’ll explain it all soon. 
 
The Two Types of Waves
 
There are two types of waves: descending waves, and ascending waves.
 

Descending waves follow a descending pattern, meaning they begin with a higher number of reps and decrease throughout the wave, while increasing weight.

This brings together neural strength and movement rehearsal, improving your nervous systems firing and grooving the exercise movement.
As a result, your nervous system is primed.  More motor units are recruited, enabling you to progressively lift heavier weight. 
 

Ascending waves, as you guessed, move from fewer repetitions to higher repetitions. In this case, the low-rep sets manage fatigue while simultaneously raving your nervous system to lift a higher weight for more reps. This allows you to train with a higher volume with a relatively heavier weight.

Descending (size) wave: 1 x 12, 1 x 9, 1 x 6} Wave #1. Rest 30-60 seconds between sets, then  3-5 minutes for strength, 1-2 minutes for hypertrophy between waves. Increase weight, and move to the next wave.

1 x 12, 1 x 9, 1 x 6} Wave #2

A total of 6 sets that drops 3 repetitions per set (in a wave).
 
Or, 1×3, 1×2, 1×1.
 
Ascending (strength) wave: 1 x 2, 1 x 3, 1 x 5} Wave #1 Rest 30-60 seconds between sets, then  3-5 minutes for strength, 1-2 minutes for hypertrophy between waves. Increase weight, and move to the next wave.

1 x 2, 1 x 3, 1 x 5} Wave #2

1 x 2, 1 x 3, 1 x 5} Wave #3

A total of 9 sets, that raise by 1 – 2 repetitions per set (in a wave).

 
You can mix and match the repetitions pretty much however you like to fit your training goal. Just monitor rep speed and form to ensure the nervous system is recovering between waves.
 
The Forgotten Benefit of Waves
Waves keep you focused and your mind sharp. By using relatively heavier weights for more reps, you rehearse the exercise and become more efficient at moving the weight. This helps improve neuromuscular patterns and increases.
 
Basically, you improve your ability to recruit high threshold motor units to maximize training.
 

Wave Loading Makes the Routine More Intense

Like, a lot more intense.
 

Just like a night of over consuming at your bro’s party,  an extra “excitation” in your training requires a greater focus on recover.

Since you’ll be pushing your body to new limits,  bringing your nervous system more activation  you’ll need to monitor rest, and take your sleep and nutrition seriously. 
 
You’ll be recruiting more HTMU’s, and improving your bodies’ ability to work together.
 
Additionally, you’ll probably be trying something new, rather than just settling for that same ole’ workout.  Wave loading for your big lifts could be just the stimulation your starving muscles have been craving.  
 
 
Resources
 
  1. Hot Topic Post Activation Potentiation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nsca.com/Education/Articles/Hot-Topic-Post-Activation-Potentiation-(PAP)/
 
Words By: Joseph Brigley, Quarterback at The Salubrity, balances his days finessing exercise plans and his nights earning a Masters degree.
JoeB
When everyone wants to “have it all” he creates that rhythm for the overachievers in life underachieving in health and exercise and gets the mirror to smile with self – satisfaction. Stay connected with Joe on his website www.thesalubrity.com and Facebook.

The Best Glute Exercise You’ve Never Heard of

10 tips to an explosive deadlift

Well, Summer is full fledged which makes me think of a few things.

First, it’s almost Football season. I can’t wait.
Well, unless my team blows a 17 point lead in the Conference Championship game, turning my celebratory beer into hops and barley watered down by tears.

Anyways, I’m over it.

Not really, but to my second point:

All your hard-work in the gym is on display during the summer.
Bikini’s shrink every year, and more women are asking for exercises to build a booty they can be proud of all summer long.

Guys too.
No, you’re not on “display” as much as women (unless you’re repping the Borat man thong), but you’re wearing tighter clothing to show off your body too.

Photo Credit: http://m.memegen.com/hu2ul0.jpg, best glute exercise
Photo Credit: http://m.memegen.com/hu2ul0.jpg

In the spirit of barbecues, pool parties, and all the fun that comes with summer I have the best glute exercise you’ve never used sculpt your backside.

Your glutes will grow dense muscle and you’ll build athleticism by maximizing hip extension power, for explosive activities like jumping and sprinting (beach volleyball anyone). Plus, you’ll have more “pop” during your lockouts and big lower body lifts, meaning you’re cleans, squats, and deadlifts will get a healthy boost.

Athletic gains, a better booty, and boosting your big lifts?

Duh, count me in.

The Hackey Pull
Before getting into the “deets” of this exercise proper I have to give credit to Loren Landow for teaching me this exercise. (P.S. If you don’t follow Loren, do it now.)

Okay, the hackey pull.
99% of the time the hackey pull is programmed to improve hip extension during Olympic lifting variations.
Without going into full detail, hip extension is the most important driver of sports specific transfer of the clean. Hip extension is the explosive pattern in sprints, and jumps which we try to maximize with Olympic lifts.

Beyond performance benefits the hackey pull can be altered to build better glutes. By tweaking the loading, set duration, and training volume, the hackey pull becomes a fantastic exercise to build bigger glutes.

How to Hackey Pull:

Begin with an RDL position and the bar below knee-level.

Accelerate the bar as it passes the knees, extending the hips forward and “popping” the bar off the thighs.
During each rep, squeeze your glutes (read: butt cheeks) as hard as possible when popping the bar off the hips to maximize glute recruitment.

Sound simple? It is.

Here’s a video:

There are two huge benefits to the hackey pull:
1) The isometric contraction teaches you to engage the glutes during explosive movements and “feel” them working. This mind-muscle connection is vital for muscle growth. Instead of g0ing through the motions, feel your glutes doin’ work!

2) The hackey pull reinforces the big driver of performance from the clean: hip extension.
Basically, the hips must extend during your lifts or you minimize the or the athletic carryover (i.e. increased speed and power) of triple extension exercises like cleans. Therefore, the hackey pull will improve your performance on other big, multi-joint lifts. 

Why you Should Do It:

Strong, fully recruited glutes are important. More specifically, using the hackey pull has a few major benefits most glorious glute exercises don’t offer:

1) You’ll blend the gap between speed and strength, truly improving your on-field and gym performance. The hackey pull uses heavy weights with maximum explosive intent from a standing position. Unless you have a seriously heavy kettlebell, you won’t use anywhere near the loading of the hackey pull.

2) Powerful hip extension from the standing position. Seriously, I love hip thrusts and bridges, but any time I can get my clients standing tall instead of laying or sitting or I’ll do it.

3) You’ll improve the your lockout and finishing strength in deadlifts. Don’t believe me?
What drives the lockout at the top of your pull or finishes the squat?
Explosive hip extension.
While the loading will differ, the hackey pull teaches you to rapidly recruit the glutes into action as the bar passes your knees.

4) You get to hump the bar. Seriously, that’s a great cue to maximize hip extension in the hackey pull, while showing your appreciation to your hard working barbell.

Hehe.

How to Program the Hackey Pull:

Your success with the hackey pull depends on whether the programming and execution matches your training goals. Basically, that means if you train a muscle to be explosive and powerful, that’s what you’ll get.

Conversely, if you force muscles to work in a fatigued state they’ll break-down, and force changes in the tissue to adapt.
By manipulating the weight and volume of the hackey pull you will focus on athletic performance, muscle growth, or a little bit of both.

Hackey Pull for Athletic Performance:

To maximize the hackey pull for athletic performance program as you would any major movement.
I’ve found the best training max for the hackey pull to be on par with the clean. If you don’t use the clean in training, 50% of deadlift max is a great place to start.

A sample work-load could replace a clean or Olympic lifting variation in your training:

Deadlift Max: 400lbs
Hackey Pull Training Max: 200lbs

Hackey Pull:
135lbs x5
165lbs x4
175 x3
185 x2
195 x2

[Related] How to Hang Clean for Total Body Power

Build Muscle:
To maximize the hackey pull for glute hypertrophy I decrease the weight and increase training volume. Also, the explosive nature of the hackey pull improves muscle recruitment in the glutes because you’re attacking each rep with maximum intent. That means attack each rep like it’s a max, and you’ll build your glutes faster.

A sample workload could be:

Deadlift Max: 400lbs
Hackey Pull Training Max: 200lbs

Hackey Pull:
135lbs x10
155lbs x8
165 x8
165 x6
165 x6

Note: There is one big draw-back to the Hackey pull as a muscle builder. While the explosive action and increased muscle recruitment is a bonus that most people are missing, there isn’t much eccentric stress.

To optimize glute development start workouts with the hackey pull, then finish them off with a hip thrust for higher reps and slower tempo, as demonstrated by Bret Contreras.

With this combo, you’ll have the 1-2 punch of increased motor unit and muscular recruitment, which prompts greater growth and a show and go booty.

Closing Thoughts:

Strong glutes are important.

Explosive hip extension is important.

By adding the hackey pull above you’ll get a blend of both worlds: Glutes that are stronger, more explosive, and overall, hotter. There’s no excuse to have a small, weak, useless keister. Get your butt in gear!

Tweet: Give this exercise a shot to optimally build your glutes @Eric_Bach #glutes #fitness #bodybuildingTweet: Give this exercise a shot to optimally build your glutes http://bit.ly/1RwjHNa @Eric_Bach #glutes #fitness #bodybuilding

1.Henneman, E, Somjen G, Carpenter DO. J Neurophysiol. 28:560-580, 1965.

Four Hardgainer Cardio Solutions

IMG_0584

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Conditioning is the most overlooked aspect of building athletic muscle, especially for skinny dudes. After all, you need to do is eat, hoist huge weights, and eat some more and you’ll easily build muscle.

Or is it?

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to escape from hardgainer hell and improve your conditioning while simultaneously building high-performance muscle.

Building slabs of high-performance muscle isn’t just lifting and crushing your diet—you need specific conditioning for hardgainers for optimal muscular development, workout efficiency, and overall health.

What’s the point in being strong and jacked without the ability to use or sustain your athleticism?

conditioning for hardgainers

Yea, gaining mass is hard work, and along with the hard work comes a fear of over-conditioning and as a result, stalling muscle growth. Don’t fall for the belief that conditioning will zap your training to the detriment of your health and athletic performance.

When it’s all said and done the real badasses are strong and well-conditioned machines, not just muscular.

Don’t be like most scraggly hardgainers who avoid conditioning like it’s an Ebola-laced napkin. Your gains won’t hemorrhage out of all your orfices, far from it.

I’ve been around the block and spent my time as a hard-gainer. I’ve done moderate steady state cardio, kept volume super-low, and even skipped conditioning completely.

As a result, I’ve grown a smidge bigger, but I always lose athleticism, and gain a ton of fat.

Drop the “conditioning keeps me small” sob story—it’s time to maximize your training with well-planned and precisely executed conditioning. With these four conditioning methods you’ll build renewed athleticism and get jacked with minimal fat gain in your escape from hardgainer hell.

1) Low Volume Sprints

 Option One: Sprints Before Lifting: 

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. This comes with a risk vs reward trade-off as sprinting done before training should be enough to spark the nervous system yet low enough in volume and intensity to not fatigue the body and hinder lifting ability.

Moreover, sprinting is a technical movement that needs practice. The most most nuerally demanding and explosive exercises need maximum focus and energy and thus, must done first in a workout.

That’s why jumps get scheduled before Olympic lifts or heavy strength work. The neural demands of sprints need full focus and energy for maximum performance at the beginning of your workout.

Perform low volume, short distance sprints before training rather than long-duration sprints when you’re already gassed and fatigued. Two days per week perform five sets of 10-20 yards with walk-back recovery and adding one sprint per week is ideal.

This way, you’ll condition the body to high velocity, high impact movement without excess stress and training volume to interfere with your gains. 

hardgainer conditioning

Option Two: Sprints at the end of your workout:

I’m a huge fan of sprints, agility drills, and movement skills, but there’s a catch:

Performing any coordinative skill under excess fatigue runs the risk of engraining a poor movement pattern and subsequent injury.

In other words, sprinting while exhausted from your hardgainer training is a great pop yo’ hammies, especially if you haven’t sprinted in ages.

While sprints are obviously a great exercise, and not inherently “bad” or dangerous, they’re a skill that requires mechanics and practice before piling on tons of volume, a process to which most gym rats aren’t willing to dedicate time.

That said, sprints as a conditioning tool do them with sub-maximal speeds and on a hill or incline. Using an incline and submaximal speeds prevents over striding and most hamstring related injuries.

If you go with this option sprint two days per week on a treadmill or hill. Don’t worry about the specifics; work your ass off for 10 minutes with 5-10 second sprints and 30-60 second rests. Increase your speed before the jacking up the incline to technique.

            Do your Sprints:

As a performance coach first I prefer sprints before any lifting because of the neural demands mentioned above. Being strong is important, but being athletic is more about movement than just being strong in the gym.

Without a base of movement it doesn’t matter how strong you are, inefficiencies in movement will hold back your high performance training.

Sprints fire up fast-twitch fibers and potentiate your nervous system for greater muscular recruitment and strength to keep your strong and shredded as you escape hardgainer hell.

Tweet: Build muscle and stay lean with this training tip : http://ctt.ec/41bCa+Tweet: Build muscle and stay lean with this training tip : http://ctt.ec/41bCa+

 2) Conditioning Complexes

Before going any further there is a clear distinction between complex pairs and conditioning complexes.

Complex pairs use a heavy strength movement and an explosive lighter movement in sequence to improve explosive performance. Complex pairs are an advanced training method for elite sports performance, which I covered in depth here on elitefts.

When it comes to conditioning I’m referring to barbell complexes: A series of major movement patterns performed in-series without rest. Better yet, complexes only take 5-10 minutes at the end of your workout to keep you lean while you get big and jacked.

Regardless of strength levels I’d recommend starting with an empty barbell. Speed and full range of motion are more important than weight. Besides, adding too much weight will hinder your recovery and conflict with the rest of your intelligent programming. Move as fast as possible through each exercise (with good form, ahem) and without putting the bar down. Your heart will be pulsating through your t-shirt, your lunges will scream, but damn you will be glad you did these.

“Rookie”

  • deadlift 4×12 rest 0
  • hang clean 4×12 rest 0
  • Military press 4×12 rest 0
  • front squat 4×12 rest 60-90 sec
hardgainer conditioning
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredpolin/4560294699/

“The Olympian” 

Hang Snatch 3×10 Rest 0

Push Press 3×10 Rest 0

Hang Clean 3×10 Rest 0

Front Squat 3×10 Rest 0

Front Squat Reverse Lunge 3×10 Rest 0

High Pull 3×10 rest 60-90 sec

**Note: If you don’t know how to properly perform these exercises avoid this sequence. Never perform exercises without proper training, but even more with overhead lifts such as the Olympic lifts.

“The Widow Maker”

Overhead Press 2×10 Rest 0

back squat 2×10 Rest 0

reverse lunge 2×10 Rest 0

hang clean 2×10 Rest 0

front squat 2×10 Rest 0

  • bent over row 2×10 Rest 0
  • Romanian deadlift 2×10 Rest 0
  • Front Squat lunge 2×10 Rest 0
  • biceps curl 2×10 Rest 0
  • front squat hold calf raise 2×10 Rest 90-120 sec

Complexes are an ideal conditioning tool for hard-gainers once per week because they’re of short duration and high-density. As a result, the conditioning affects span beyond the immediate workout because of exercise post-oxygen consumption (EPOC). In other words, your heart rate stays jacked up for greater cardiovascular benefit to keep you leaner while your building muscle.

Tweet: Build muscle and stay lean with this training tip : http://ctt.ec/41bCa+Tweet: Build muscle and stay lean with this training tip : http://ctt.ec/41bCa+

 

3)Jumping Rope

Hardcore exercises like sled pushes and sprints get all the glory, but one old school tool doesn’t’ get the attention it lightly deserves: the jump rope.

Jumping rope is low impact and not-overly catabolic—two huge factors in recover for hardgainers. Beyond that, jumping rope is safer than most conditioning drills for two reasons.

First, jumping rope is a self-limiting exercise: to jump rope without failing you must stay in an aligned, joint stacked position while moving, forcing your trunk to stay engaged and resilient under the load of movement. If you miss mess up, welt your calves or triceps, or catch a toe, the exercise ends. All of this makes it extremely unlikely to over-do it; and, even better, nearly impossible to incur injury.

Second, jumping rope is a low-impact movement, despite a high number of foot strikes. Here’s why this is important for us formerly skinny guys: the lower impact does not create a hyper-catabolic environment that will erode your precious hypertrophy like other repetitive impact exercises. In other words, you will get shredded without about dropping lean body mass.

For hardgainer conditioning Double-Unders and the Runnin’ Man are my two go-to conditioning drills with each being performed twice per week with at least 48 hours between workouts.
So, if I did double-unders as my focus on Monday I would wait until Wednesday or Thursday until my next jump-rope conditioning session.

Double Unders:

Exactly like it sounds—whip the jump rope two times in a row with one singular jump. Work up to sets of 10 and use a lighter rope, like the Cross Rope Burn set. Rests 30-60 seconds and continue on for 10-15 minutes or until your lungs and calves explode, your choice.

Runnin’ Man:

No, you don’t need the Running Man outfit Arnold wore in the movie, but that will increase your anabolism 400%. Fact. Seriously, I’m kidding. But, seriously.

Run in place while skipping the rope. Not only will this improve your coordination, it’s a deceptively tough conditioning workout. Go for time and work up to 10-15 minutes of continuous “running.” The impact is far less than your traditional steady state cardio or plodding along on the treadmill.

 

As it stands, the jump rope is the ultimate low impact tool for accelerated fat loss, conditioning, and improved athleticism for hard gainers.

Tweet: Build muscle and stay lean with this training tip : http://ctt.ec/41bCa+

4) Sled Work

I’m a huge proponent of sled-work as a conditioning tool. Hardgainers are terrified of conditioning exercises overloading their recoverability and zapping their hypertrophy.

Besides building muscle, sled work gets better: 

Sleds have no eccentric stress—the stress incurred on the “negative” of resistance training exercises that causes the most muscle damage. For this reason, the volume accumulated with sleds won’t hinder recover to the same extent as other training methods.

Once the force applied to the sled exceeds that needed to overcome friction all muscular actions are concentric, resulting in increased total training volume and thus, increased protein synthesis for muscle building. For this reason, sled work is great to improve conditioning and muscle building without stressing the body past its recoverability.

In other words, sleds are a top tool to help you minimize fat gain and improve conditioning—especially if you’re a hustlin’ hardgainer with muscle building ambitions.

Hardgainer Cardio Solutions

It’s important to prioritize weight training as it’s the driving force for muscle building. Regardless, well planned conditioning is imperative to improve work capacity, improve athleticism, and keep you lean while you’re bulking. Conditioning one to three times per week, but absolutely no more.

Sample Conditioning Routine

Monday: Upper Body Training
Tuesday: Lower Body Training+ Sprint work

Wednesday: Off or Jump Rope

Thursday: Upper Body Training

Friday: Total Body Training + Sled Work
Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off 

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Wrap Up:

The hard to swallow fact is you still need some conditioning even if you’re looking to gain mass. Hypertrophy training is no reason to get fat and out of-shape—it’s a cop out for laziness and poor planning even for the locked in hard-gainer.

Train with these four conditioning methods you’ll build renewed athleticism and get seriously jacked with minimal fat gain in your escape from hardgainer hell.

 

P.S. Find This Article Helpful?

Then please, share it with your friends, family, and colleagues using the social media tab on top of the page and I’ll give Rocky another treat.

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[A variation of this article was published on T-Nation]

Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

“Hey, bones!”

Yea, you.

In the skinny jeans and skin-tight compression shirt.

If you’re a skinny hard gainer struggling to gain a mere pound on the scale and build some muscle before beach season you best listen up to someone who’s been there.

I high school I once peeled my 103lb carcass off of the football field after being plastered on my back. The sad part isn’t that I got lit up—it’s that the other player could have ran anywhere. The field was wide open.

I just provided less resistance than the open field and a few blades of grass.

Embarrassing. Enraging really. 

It’s time to stop being the object of ridicule despite busting your ass in the gym and seeing zero results.

The journey to appreciable muscle is an arduous one, but if you’re willing to re-evaluate your training, eat more than a small army, and persevere through the tough training then you’ll build muscle.

Trust me—I spent years spinning my wheels with pointless exercises, training methods, and routines. While I’ll never be huge, I’m consistently 185lbs at 5’8″ and fairly lean–a worthy goal for any hard-gainer. Now, I’m here to help you avoid the same fate and align your training with your muscle building goals.

training tips for skinny guys
Photo Credit: Ryan Dial

Genetics be damned, these five training laws coupled with a firm nutrition plan (coming Tuesday) will help any hard gainer finally build high-performance muscle.

Continue Reading Here on T-Nation for the Full article. Using these tips, I escaped the Hardgainer Mindset and body.

It’s time you do the same.

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Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

The 3-2-1 Back Cure: Countdown Dumbbell Rows

I’m off to get hitched and take off to Puerto Vallarta….giggity. 

I’m marrying my girlfriend/fiancé of six years Lauren this upcoming week then hoppin’ a jet plane down to the beach to sip Mai Tai’s, snorkel, and not get kidnapped by drug cartels. In all seriousness, I’m looking forward to tons of time on the beach, tequila, seeing family/friends, and spending time with my best friend and wife. It’s seems crazy to type that, but if you get the right one, don’t mess it up :). countdown dumbbell rows

Photocredit: Houseoftravel.net

 

Anyways, I’ve had tons of guest posts lately on T-Nation, Bodybuilding.com, and now, JMAX Fitness with the 3-2-1 Back Cure. Thank you to all of you for your support by reading, sharing, and commenting on the articles, they’re all written to help you get strong, shredded, and more athletic with high quality information.

Stay up to date on the Bach Performance Facebook Page as I have posts and knowledge bombs scheduled while I’m away.

Dumbbell Rows are a Commonly Butchered Exercise

Nowadays when you enter a gym you see a painful blend of instability “functional” exercises, overzealous loading and rep schemes, and chants of “one more bro” within the first five minutes. Similarly, it’s impossible to scan your newsfeed for longer than three minutes without a post about a gym P.R. or a brand spankin’ new way to perform an exercise.

And you know what?
Today I’m sharing my own favorite way to perform an awesome exercise: countdown dumbbell rows. (Except mine is awesome)

Few Exercises Build Muscle like Rows

Rows are a great exercise and there are many variations: Dumbbell rows, barbell rows, Kroc rows, chest supported rows, TRX rows, cross-eyed single arm barbell rows while playing Clash of Clans rows, inverted rows, and Pendlay rows, to name a few.

Problem is many of these rows are performed haphazardly with an over-emphasis on weight over proper form and execution. I’ve been there too– shotty-form to heave weight for a certain number of sets and reps takes precedent. Unfortunately, this limits results and wastes time in the gym.

This is a shame as One-arm dumbbell rows performed with optimal technique and volume are among the best “bang for your buck” exercises for building strength, muscle, and athleticism. Dumbbell rows involve an anti-rotation, anti-flexion position and scapular retraction and depression under significant training load, a fantastic combination for total body training and performance when done correctly. The tool of the trade is only as good as it’s implementation, and it’s time to use the row correctly. It’s time to reap the muscle, strength, postural control benefits of the dumbbell row.

There’s a balance between weight, volume, and execution, as usual, the best balance lies in the middle of these factors. To address my ego need to move big weights and my knowledge of optimal form I found a middle ground with the countdown method. You’ll improve your rep quality, get plenty of volume to build muscle, and use potentially heavier weights for greater overload with countdown dumbbell rows.

It’s a solid read (Or so I heard).  You should check it out.

Click Me Baby One More Time.

Maximizing Muscle Growth

I was 14 years old, dazed and staring at the spinning blue sky.

I was de-cleated during my first high school Football practice when it hit me—I needed to get bigger, and stronger. At 5’3″ 103lbs I was weaker than a blade of grass; it was easier to run through me than the open field.

Oye, F-that.

maximizing muscle growth

From that moment on I dedicated myself in the weight room, gathering every little nugget of knowledge I could find on building strength, muscle, and athleticism. I became obsessed with maximizing muscle growth and building an athletic body, a passion that extends to helping others today.

Problem is, tons contradictory information makes it tough to know what’s right—bodypart split this, 5,000 snatch superset with reverse 360 box jumps that.

A balanced approach is needed; one that’s reinforced by science and solidified by practice and results rather than misinformation, snake-oil sales techniques, and empty promises.

In my first article of Bodybuilding.com I discuss the keys for maximizing muscle growth with the Mechanisms of Hypertrophy by Brad Schoenfeld and how to apply it to your training. You’ll avoid the “fallacies” and inefficient workout programs in many Bodybuilding magazines to maximize the three most important Mechanicsms of Hypertrophy: Mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscular damage.

MECHANICAL TENSION for Muscle Growth

Mechanical tension is achieved by using a substantial load and performing exercises through a full range of motion for a certain amount of time. The time you spend under tension creates mechanical tension in the muscles; ergo, the more significant the time, the more significant the mechanical tension. But, tension alone won’t signal maximum muscle growth. Tension, in addition to a full range of motion, induces a substantial hypertrophic response. In other words, maximal muscular development comes from a foundation of strength. Greater strength begets greater mechanical tension across all exercises.

METABOLIC STRESS for Muscle Growth

Engorged muscles play an important role in hypertrophy. If you’ve ever experienced a sleeve-splitting pump after the end of an arms workout, you’ve experienced metabolic stress. When you work out hard to achieve a pump, you build up lactate, hydrogen ions, creatine, and other metabolites, but you also prevent blood from escaping. This metabolic stress in the muscle signals adaptation.

MUSCULAR DAMAGE for Muscle Growth

It’s not uncommon to hobble out of bed the day after demolishing a workout that, in turn, demolishes your muscles. This soreness might feel like the end of the world, but it’s also indicative of muscular damage. Luckily, soreness isn’t for naught; that damage to muscle tissue creates a temporary inflammatory response and releases the necessary signals for muscle growth.

Even better, you’ll get an awesome workout plan to get you rolling for the next eight weeks that would previously only be available for my Bach Performance online clients.

If you’re looking to maximize muscle growth then this article is right up your alley—it will get you to your goals faster than you thought possible (granted, your nutrition is up to par).
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Continue Reading for Maximal Muscle Growth:

 

Resources:

  1. Baechle, Thomas, and Roger Earle. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning. 3rd. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics , 2008. 406-407. Print.
  2. Krieger, J. (2010). Single vs. multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: A meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(4), 1150-1159.

Schoenfeld, Brad. “The Mechanisms of Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24.10 (2010): 2857. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

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Build Your Strength Base

If you’ve been a consistent reader you know being weak is something I refuse to experience ever again. At 14 years old and a whopping 5’3″ 103lbs I was playing freshman football. Apparently, 14 was the age when my friends “decided to grow” and I was content being a blonde-haired, baby-faced munchkin.

I was sprinting down field on a kick-off and getting in position to make a tackle. I thought, “Why is this dude sprinting directly at me with the entire field open?” As it turns out I happened to be the path of least resistance.

Boom. 

I got trucked.

I’ve never been a big guy, I stand 5’9″ 180lbs, but never, ever, did I feel as helpless and weak as that moment. Although much of it was a matter of maturation, running through me was easier than running to open space.

I was vulnerable, I was weak, and I provided less resistance than a blade of grass.

I left that practice asking myself “Why are you weak? How can you get better?” From that moment on I refused to ever be weak again.

Strength is emphasized with all my clients whether they’re an athlete or trying to get shredded abs for summer. Luckily, improved strength improves more than your confidence, it improves all other training qualities.

Seriously, it doesn’t matter-Fat Loss is accelerated, muscle-building is stimulated, sports performance improves, and longevity increases by emphasizing a strength base.

Like anything else there is a risk:reward that must be taken into account. My opinions aren’t extreme on either end– strength building is a tool to achieve a goal. I prefer to address strength on a case by case basis where I consider the risk and reward of each exercise for each individual before starting the program.

Building strength isn’t for the faint of heart, it requires hard work, careful planning, and sound execution. Strength get’s tossed to the forefront of nearly every training program and although care must be used, it’s a great tool for improved health and performance. With that said I put together my arguments and why you need to make developing pure-strength a key focus in your routine.

Arnold Schwarzenegger liked it, so that means it must be pretty good, or we’re becoming BFF’s. Check it out.

Click me, I don’t bite!

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