• Shoulders: The Secret to Looking BIG

    If you want to look big, you have to have commanding shoulders.

    hulkanatomyBig, round deltoids, with a wide separation in between, are the keys to that superhero, larger-than-life look you crave. But this super soldier physique isn’t easy to obtain. Luckily, we know the secrets to turning shoulders into boulders.

    To keep it simple, we're going to focus on the deltoid - specifically the anterior (front), posterior (rear), and medial (middle) deltoids - and those movements that will trigger a huge response from these heads. Try these tips to blow up all three.

    Posterior Deltoids (aka Rear Delts) One of the most underworked muscles in the shoulder is the posterior deltoid. Granted, seated reverse flys do a great job at working the rear delts, but we often do them too early in our routine to get the most out of them. When performed in the first two-thirds of a shoulder workout, your rear delts are outworked by your triceps, traps, and possibly even your mid delts (due to poor form and/or lack of exhaustion in the front half of your delts). Adding flys towards the end of your routine will give you that extra bit of focus; because by then, that’s all you should be able to move!


    Keep your chest up, traps disengaged, arms straight and at shoulder-height, and shoulders down and back. Reach out instead of moving the handles backward during the movement to keep stress off your middle trapezius – drop the weight if you have to, you want high reps.

    Anterior Deltoids (aka Front Delts) Along with the posterior deltoids, the front delts also contribute to a thick, monster-like look - but from the side. They are the most prominent of the three heads and tend to be the most worked throughout a typical shoulder routine. But if you are hitting a plateau with your front delts, try this:


    Start with front dumbbell raises, roughly 10-12 reps at a moderate weight. Keep in mind strict form: arms straight, no bouncing, lift up slowly with the front deltoid, follow the same rhythm with the negative part of the movement. Superset this with a hammer strength military press at moderate-heavy weight, hitting failure around 8-10 reps. This superset promotes huge size and strength gains with deep striations (with the proper cut down phase).

    Medial Deltoids (aka Mid Delts) The medial deltoid is what gives you cannonball-capped shoulders, but it’s commonly worked incorrectly - leaving you exhausted before any real progress is made. Lateral cable raises are phenomenal for hitting the middle head (if you know how to do them).


    A common mistake in technique often results in hitting less mid delt and more trapezius - lifting upward, not out, causing stress under the traps. Try grabbing the pole with the arm you aren’t working to perform a lean-away from the pulley while you do this movement. Keep the cable in front of you to focus the stress on the front of your body.

    This, plus reaching out not up, will help you hit the middle deltoid and give you that wide, boulder effect. Switch up the rep count but keep it high. General rule of thumb: the smaller the muscle the better it responds to high repetition activity. This is why calves, abs, rear delts, and mid delts do so well under higher reps.

    The shoulder to waist ratio is vital for a commanding physique. It’s absolutely necessary to have bombing shoulders in order to set your “V” taper over the top into superhero status. Happy Building.

  • Big Lou On Making Leg Day Count

    Leg day is dreaded by many and skipped by some. But for those that go the distance, they are not sorry. Proper leg development keeps your physique in balance, your body in healthy working order, and your athletic performance enhanced. Housing some of the largest muscles in the body, it's important to train legs properly for a multitude of reasons - from purely physical to knee health to fat-burning. Here are some quick tips, featuring the multi-talented Will Ferrel, on how to make your next leg day as effective as possible.... and quite possibly less painful the next day!


    Inflexible muscles are a precursor to injury. Why?... because the nature of muscle growth is to add stress, and adding stress to a mechanism that is not prepared can cause damage. I like to do 5-10 minutes of cardio - treadmill or bike - before I lift in order to get my body warmed up. Then, I like to stretch the individual body part after I complete a set with a quick, informal stretch against a wall or machine. Stretching not only helps keep you warmed up throughout your workout but also helps remove lactic acid buildup in your muscles which contributes to soreness the next day.


    A lot of builders would rather load on more weight than complete an exercise within its full range of motion. Many choose to stop short when squatting, for instance, because they are carrying too much weight or maybe even because their muscles are feeling tight. Choose a full range of motion over weight. You will develop better technique, better-looking muscles, and stronger ligaments and tendons.


    The typical quad-to-hamstring strength ratio is 2-to-1. This means your quads are naturally going to harness more power. However, letting this ratio get out of control, means another part of your body is going to pick up the slack. Sadly, the first in line are the knees. Often the next casualty is the lower back. Make sure your hamstrings are getting enough of a workout on leg day. Don't exhaust yourself with quads so much that they're an afterthought. If you can't seem to make it work, do hamstrings on another day.


    Everyone's had a leg day that leads to devastating soreness. And most of us have had to work hard, REALLY HARD, to lose the chicken legs we were born with. But don't let this history stop you the next leg day. Sometimes the fear of pain can put a mental stop on progress. You hold back on that last set because last time you tried to challenge your body, it punished you. Don't listen. Instead, work on techniques to minimize muscle soreness and injury so you can feel confident that your body can take the abuse next time you're at the gym. Don't hold back, work to failure on that last set.  Eventually, your body will give in, and the win will be sweet.

    REST rest

    Your body needs rest to regroup, recharge, and repair. I'm not just talking about your body - your mind too. Resting your muscles as well as your willpower and your resolve is key to progress of any kind. Not only does rest help muscles grow, it keeps your immune system strong, and it keeps your mind sharp. Make sure you're giving each muscles group, as well as your self in general, enough time to bounce back from daily stress.

  • The Road to Six-Pack Abs

     So you want six-pack abs. Are you willing to work for them? Here are some tips to get you started on your way to that washboard look.

    FOCUS ON LOWER ABS lowerabs

    So many of the exercises we do rely on the strength and balance of our core. So, if you're already engaged in a consistent workout program, you are probably working out your abs. However, it's likely that you're only working out the upper six-pack area and neglecting your lower abs. It's your lower abs that are providing stabilization and flexibility to the movement in your pelvis. They are vital to providing balance to your entire mid-section. Try ab exercises that focus on reverse movements to train the lower part of your abs - by default, you will also be working out the area above anyway.


    Abs are a coveted muscle. And for some, it's an easy one to workout. So, too often, we go crazy - bragging about the hundred crunches completed after a beast of a workout. Stop. Your abs can get overworked just as any other muscle. The average reps hover around 25. Anything more than 50 and you're just wasting time.


    This tip goes for all your exercises. But for some reason, abs are not treated like other muscles. So, we're going to repeat this here. If you aren't focusing on the slow negative movement (the movement that returns you to original position), then you're throwing away the most fruitful part of your workout. A proper negative movement will lengthen the muscle, condition it for the next rep, and increase muscle strength.


    This one is strictly for builders looking to compete or those looking to achieve a traditional builder body. In order to get that superhero V shape, you'll want to widen the shoulders, expand the lats, and tighten the waist. Side bends and oblique-targeted exercises will not help you achieve this. With too much oblique-focused workouts, you'll get a strong torso - great for boxers or martial artists - that fails to taper off and show off your lats.

    LEAN OUT Builder Dave Goodin rockin the abs

    Too many people ask the wrong questions when looking to get six-pack abs. If you do only one thing to develop those abs - eat well. You probably already know that diet is responsible for the majority of your success when it comes to your overall fitness. But when it comes to chiseling out specific muscles, it's even more important. You WILL NOT get definition without eating lean.

    That muscle definition you crave comes from reducing body fat and water around the muscle. This means you must eat lean meats and reduce the sodium in your diet. To add insult to injury, the belly is one of the first places we all store fat. So guess what, it's one of the last places to lose it.

  • Squat Tips

    Watch an Olympic lifter and powerlifter perform squats. You will get an idea on two different bar positions, either high on your back or in-between your shoulder blades, and you'll also observe how far you should go down.

    1. Stretch and warm-up properly before, during and after your leg workout. While stretching prepare your mind by visualizing your squatting with mental pictures.

    2. Focus your eyes on a spot on the floor five feet in front of you; keep them on that spot through the whole squat.

    3. Use proper footwear when performing squats. Tie your shoes and don't wear flip flops, not cool.

    4. Some people believe you should not wrap your knees. Why? Well, because they say it could hinder you from developing your ligaments and tendons. Not true. Also, wearing a belt while lifting will support your lower back and abdominal area. Well, this is true but optional.

    Personally, I use knee wraps when I get to 315, but do not put on a belt until I get to 405 on the squat. So remember, belts and knee wraps are class tools and should be used only for support.

    5. Don't forget to add five pounds every other week to your sets of squats. Even if you can do more, increase your weight only five pounds weekly.

    6. Don't stop at the bottom: Tighten your hip muscles, give a slight bounce, drive your hips up, and stand.

    A few tips to keep in mind:

    • Avoid training atleast 1-2 days before the squat session

    • Do this workout only in the presence of a trusted spotter. Its too intense for you to do this alone with safety.

    • Focus on counting 5's at a time instead of trying to focus on 30 reps at a stretch. 5 reps at a time seem a lot more doable when compared to 30+ reps at one shot

    • Take deep breaths in between reps as you start to fatigue. To try and knock out 30 or 15 reps without any rest will be almost impossible for most to do. Thus as fatigue starts to catch up take a few seconds between reps to pause, breathe deeply and begin when you are ready to.

    • Finish off with some light intensity training by doing some leg curls, and calf raises

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