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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 15:51 EDT

Break Through to a Better You

August 2, 2008

By Stoppani, Jim Finkel, Jon

IF YOU’RE BEING HELD PRISONER BY A NASTY TRAINING RUT, HERE ARE 97 WAYS TO BUST OUT – AND STAY OUT-FOR GOOD WHEN IT COMES TO HELPINC YOU BREAK through your training plateaus, we knew a sprinkling of tips wouldn’t cover it. After some discussion, we figured even a “healthy dose” of workout strategies just wasn’t enough. A ton? A boatload? Nope – we decided only an avalanche of tips would be sufficient in providing you with the information you need to be your very best. How many tips are in an avalanche, you ask? Well, turns out that after poring over every conceivable way to help you improve your workouts, 97 tips constitutes an avalanche. Now get reading and break through your training rut today!

GENERAL

1 Keep a training log

Only by utilizing a bodybuilding diary can you objectively and accurately assess your progress, isolate trouble spots and devise actual solutions to your problems. Be sure to list every workout – exercises, sets, reps and weight. Include other cogent facts such as personal bests in weight lifted or reps completed, as well as how you felt that day.

2 Keep track of your bodyweight

Check your bodyweight once a week on the same scale and at the same time – ideally, in the morning before you eat – on the same day. During a massbuilding program, a realistic weight gain is 1-2 pounds per week. Any more than that and the increase may be in the form of fat. By recording your bodyweight consistently, you’ll get an accurate read on whether you’re hitting your goals.

3 Don’t add too much bodyfat

On the other hand, if the inch you’re pinching around your waist is not-so-subtly expanding to 2 or 3, you’re overeating. While muscle can grow only so fast, bodyfat can increase rapidly. Keep bodyfat gains to a minimum by eating only slightly more calories than you need to maintain your bodyweight.

4 Know your routine before you walk Into the gym

Always plan your workout in advance so you’re mentally prepared for the training session. Knowing which muscle group (or groups) you’ll hit, the exercises you’ll use, and the set and rep ranges you’ll employ will put you on the fast track to muscle growth.

WORKOUT STRATEGIES

5 Focus on quality, not quantity, In ab training

You often hear about fit guys performing 1,000 crunches in a session, but you don’t hear professional bodybuilders say that. Why? One thousand crunches is a cardio workout. It’ll burn a lot of calories (fairly inefficiently), but it won’t leave behind a ripped sixer. A well-delineated six-pack comes from the intensity of individual ab movements. If you can perform more than zo reps in any set, you ain’t workin’ hard enough. Time to add some resistance.

6 Press for size

For maximum hypertrophy, use the seated barbell shoulder press or Smith machine version. Keep reps in the 6-8 range and do your heavy pressing movements first in your delt workout when you’re freshest and strongest.

7 Work with a training partner

A reliable gym partner provides the necessary motivation to diet and train hard enough to make substantive progress. A knowledgeable, sensitive partner can help make your workouts more effective and rewarding while accelerating your progress. The relationship should be symbiotic, with each of you highlighting the other’s strengths and working on one another’s weaknesses.

8 Powerlift for size

Make squats, deadlifts and bench presses the core of your mass- building program. Add other compound movements such as shoulder presses, incline presses, barbell curls and lying triceps extensions and you have a potent routine.

9 Change your program often

Nothing works forever. If you stick with the same routine month after month, your body will adapt to and anticipate that workout, no matter how intense it may be. The end result: Your body will stop growing. Avoid this by modifying your training program every 4-8 weeks.

10 Vary your exercise order

Many bodybuilders start every workout for a particular bodypart with the same exercise. This, however, teaches your muscles to adapt instead of grow. Change your exercise order every second or third session, adding and substituting exercises liberally so your muscles don’t know what to expect. That’s what makes them grow.

11 Warm up appropriately

Start each workout with five minutes of stationary biking or similar cardio option. For each bodypart, perform two light sets of 10-20 reps of an appropriate exercise before starting your working sets.

12 Keep forearm, ab and calf work at the end

Always do your forearm, ab and calf routines at the end of your workouts. Because you rely on these muscles for most exercises – forearms for grip, abs for core strength and calves for a solid stance – they’ll compromise your strength if they’re fatigued. Always train them after major bodyparts.

13 Train complementary bodyparts together

To aid recovery, pair complementary bodyparts such as back and biceps – both pulling muscles. With this plan your bi’s have longer to recover than if you trained your back and biceps on different days. Another complementary pairing is chest and triceps – both pushing muscles.

14 Train opposing bodyparts together

Yes, this is the opposite of No. 13, but if you’ve been training complementary bodyparts for a while, try pairing opposing bodyparts. This is an equally valid gym philosophy. Train chest and biceps together, and back and tri’s. You’ll be stronger during arms training.

15 Use training cycles to add muscle mass

Maximum strength gains are made possible by dividing your workout year into distinct training cycles. Comrponly referred to as periodization, thi: system is based on the fact that con inual heavy- duty training doesn’t lead to optimal progress. The body instead responds to gradual increases and decreases in intensity, so switch between light weights/high reps and heavy weights/low reps.

16 Work on your weaknesses

Many bodybuilders make the mistake of focusing on what they perceive is their strengths while ignoring their weaknesses. The best athletes concentrate on bringing up their weak areas to achieve symmetry and balanve. If a smaller bodypart is weak, emphasize it by training it first after two days of rest.

17 Don’t neglect minor bodyparts

With all the emphasis on legs, chest and back, many trainees ignore the smaller muscle groups that complete the picture of perfect symmetry. Be sure to train traps, calves and forearms in your weekly split.

18 Work stabilizer muscles

A good many bodybuilders develop shoulder, low-back or knee problems because they build their strength and major muscle groups beyond the point at which stabilizer muscles can work effectively. Keep your stabilizers in mind as you train. To avoid in ury, add movements such as rotator cuff exercises, back extensions and core moves.

19 Use proper form

To develop precise technique, do every rep with good form. Beginners, strive to keep the rep target inside your strength capabilities. Find the right groove for each exercise. Don’t train to failure when you’re just starting out.

20 Cultivate the mind-muscle connection

Research confirms that tuning in to the mind-muscle connection can optimize your results in the gym. Visualize your target muscle growing as you complete every rep. Remember, it’s not the amount of weight on the bar that’s important; it’s the effect ofthat weight on the muscle that leads to increases in the size and power you’re after.

IN THE GYM

21 Start basic

Most workouts for your major bodyparts should start with basic, multijoint exercises that allow you to lift more weight, such as the bench press for chest, overhead press for delts, barbell row for back and squat for legs. This will allow you to lift heavier on these exercises while you’re fresh and better stimulate muscle growth.

22 Strap it

Research shows that wrist straps help bodybuilders complete more sets on pulling exercises, such as most back moves. To get your back to grow, you need to complete as many reps as possible with a given weight. Worried about your grip strength? Train your grip after the back workout.

23 Use a belt

A weight belt is a must when you go heavy on exercises such as squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and barbell rows.

24 Be in tune

Listening to your favorite music while you train can make a world of difference in your strength, research confirms. Use a portable MP3 player and make sure your playlist is stocked with plenty of music that gets you pumped up for your workout.

25 Stretch after training

Research data show that stretching before workouts not only doesn’t reduce your chance of injury but can also decrease your strength. We recommend stretching after the workout as a cool-down when your muscles are more flexible.

26 Rest less between sets

Taking a shorter rest period between sets can increase the metabolic effect of weight training. It also increases the intensity, forcing your muscles to work before they’re fully recovered from the previous set. Research also shows that resting less can further boost growth hormone (GH) levels.

27 Rest more between sets

An opposing but equally effective strategy is to rest longer between sets. Take five minutes between sets of squats to allow for full recovery so you can perform more reps. Learn to use the length of your rest period – whether you go longer or shorter – to intensify your workouts and enhance gains.

28 Take a different angle

Changing up the angles you use while training will help you hit different muscle fibers in each major group. For example, do dumbbell presses at zero, 20, 30 and 45 degrees. This applies to your grip as well as the bench angle. For example, try barbell curls with a variety of hand-grip widths from as wide to as narrow as you can go. These small adjustments can make a big impact on your muscle gains. WEIDER TRAINING PRINCIPLES

29 Utilize forced reps

Forced reps are a way to extend a set and maintain intensity beyond failure. When you reach initial failure in a set, have your training partner give you just the right amount of assistance to help you through 2-3 more reps. By prolonging the set past the normal point or failure, you optimize the stress placed on the muscle fibers and therefore overload the targeted muscles. Attempt forced reps during only your last set of a particular exercise. Research confirms that forced reps lead to greater GH levels and enhance fat loss.

30 Overload the muscle to stimulate growth

The key to hypertrophy is forcing the muscle to respond to an increased workload. Using the overload principle continually forces muscles to respond and adapt to a task they aren’t accustomed to, so they must adjust by getting strong enough to handle the load.

31 Pre-exhaust the muscle when working large bodyparts

When training thighs, for example, do three sets of leg extensions to fatigue the quads before moving on to leg presses, and use a lighter weight than usual here. These lighter presses help fatigue the quads to the max without putting your joints, tendons and ligaments under too much pressure.

32 Try split routines to maximize efficiency

With split routines you’ll likely hit a few bodyparts on one day, a few others on another day and still others on a third day. This allows you to train on successive days, as some bodyparts rest while you train others.

Cable exercises provide constant tension on the muscles

33 Experiment with the rest-pause method

As with forced reps, you can use this strength-building principle at the end of a set to extend it beyond failure. With machine presses, for instance, rest 10-15 seconds at the end of a set to regain strength, do more reps before another io-15-second rest interval, then perform even more reps as a coup de grace.

34 Use partial reps to up the intensity ante

When forced reps aren’t practical for boosting intensity, give partial reps a try. After reaching failure on an exercise, continue to lift the weight as high as possible – whether that means doing three-quarter reps, half reps or quarter reps – to thoroughly fry the muscle.

35 Use negative reps

Another way to extend a set beyond failure is to resist the weight as it moves through the negative (eccentric) part of the rep. Lower the weight as slowly as possible to maximize the stress on the muscle fibers that control the negative.

36 Use drop sets to maintain intensity

Drop sets are practical for anyone training alone and applicable to exercises that make forced reps inefficient or all but impossible. During seated dumbbell curls, for instance, drop the weights at the point of failure and pick up dumbbells that are 20%- 30% lighter to squeeze out more reps. Maintaining intensity past the point of failure is the name of the game.

Use cable movements for constant tension

When you use dumbbells, a feeling of extreme muscular tension doesn’t occur until nearly halfway through the upward swing on, say, a lateral raise. With cables, however, severe muscular tension is constant throughout the movement. Add cable exercises to all upper- body workouts to apply continuous tension to these muscle groups.

38 Learn how to cheat

Use the cheating principle only when you reach failure at the end of a set. When you’re unable to complete a full rep with perfeet form on, say, barbell curls, bend slightly forward and then backward as you begin the curl, enlisting upper-body momentum to power the rep. This prolongs the set and increases muscular stress. Perform cheating reps on only the last set of an exercise, and then for only 2-3 reps.

39 Superset

There are few better ways to boost training intensity and reduce gym time than with the superset – doing two exercises backto-back without rest. You can train one muscle group or two different bodyparts this way. The lack of rest between sets will boost training intensity and GH levels for better growth, and you’ll be out of the gym in less time.

40 Giant sets for a giant pump

A giant set is a series of 4-6 exercises for one bodypart done in quick succession. With chest, for example, you could do a giant set of incline presses, pullovers, flyes and dips with or Iy as much rest between sets as it tak:s to get to the next exercise. This flu shes blood to the muscles being worked and greatly increases training intensity and effect.

RECUPERATION FACTORS

41 Schedule rest days

If your workouts constiute 100% effort – an absolute must for making steady progress – then you need to schedule days off from strength training to ensure adequate recuperation. Spend too much time in the gym and you won’t grow! Unless you’re preparing for a contest, make a four- or five-days-a-week training regimen your limit.

42 Avoid overtraining

Don’t be stubborn about ignoring the signs of overtraining or your workouts will become counterproductive. Telltale symptoms of overtraining include loss of appetite, joint aches, nausea, a negative attitude, trouble sleeping, irritability, fatigue and even a general listless feeling. The cure is to take a vacation from the gym for 1-2 weeks, let your body regroup and then come back like a lion.

43 Listen to your body

Often, bodybuilders go to the gym with a routine already in mind. They’re so focused on performing that workout that they don’t listen to feedback from their bodies. But strength and muscle gains are made in a cyclical fashion rather than a linear one. Some days you may not be as strong as on other days. Learn to accept that instead of trying to force your body to achieve what’s not possible. You can’t improve on your previous workout every time you train.

44 Don’t train unless you’re fully recovered

Too many bodybuilders go to the gym to work out simply because they’re supposed to do it that day. While it’s important to have a schedule, you should adhere to it intelligently. If you’re still tight and sore from the previous week’s training or you feel halfhearted, don’t force yourself to endure a workout if you think another day’s rest might improve your performance.

Healthy meals lead to healthy muscles

45 Get a good night’s sleep

Bodybuilders need more rest than the average Joe. Exercise and weight training place great demands on the body, and sleep helps the body recover better than any other activity. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep a night, and strive to get an extra half- hour or so on days you train.

46 Take an afternoon nap

When possible, aid your recovery by taking a nap in the afternoon. While it may be impractical for many people because of work or school obligations, take the opportunity when it presents itself to get a little sleep during the day. Even 20 minutes can have an amazing restorative and recuperative effect on the body.

47 Incorporate relaxation techniques

Relaxation leads to recovery. It Kelps reduce levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol, which competes with testosterone, so relaxing can indirectly help you boost your T levels. Relaxation techniques can be as simple as spending an evening watching TV, listening to calming music or getting a massage. Yoga, stretching, acupuncture, acupressure and hydrotherapy can also be effective.

48 Take a week off

The body needs an occasional respite from the gym. Taking a a one- week break every 3-4 months a lows you to mentally and physically recover from the rigors of balls-out training. Plus, your muscles grow during recovery, not during workouts, and a one-week period of active rest can be beneficial to achieving your goals.

GENERAL NUTRITION

49 Maintain consistency

Bodybuilding workouts are best done an average of 4-5 times per week. Bodybuilding nutrition is best done an average of seven days a week, every week. While you’ll make adjustments from day to day depending on your goals, you must be consistent with your diet.

50 Eat for size

Many bodybuilders are hardgainers, and they learned to overcome this genetic predisposition by eating for size. Eating a few extra quality calories at every meal adds up over the course of the day. The bodybuilder who eats just past satisfaction is the one who will consume the extra calories necessary for growth.

51 Eat several meals a day

One of the most challenging aspects of being a bodybuilder is eating the requisite meals. Trainees often have huge appetites because of their caloric expenditure, and they’re able to consume large quantities in one sitting. To most effectively get what you need from your calories, however, a better strategy is to divide your intake over six – if not 7-8 – meals each day.

52 Eat balanced meals

If you think bodybuilding nutrition is all about protein, think again. It’s really about providing your body with the optimal balance of foods at every meal. Eat a balance of protein, slow- digesting carbs, healthy fats and vegetables.

53 Keep nutrient Intake steady throughout the day

Part of the reason behind eating several meals a day is to provide your body with a steady stream of nutrients. It’s important to not only eat six meals a day but to eat healthy fats, quality protein and complex carbs at every meal to continually supply your body with what it needs to grow.

54 Consume adequate protein

Bodybuilders know they must eat quality protein – nothing is more crucial to muscle-building. Without protein, you simply can’t provide your body with the most rudimentary tool for growth. Make sure to consume at least e gram of protein per pound of body weight every day.

55 Eat slowdigesting carbs Gym rats often avoid carbohydrates for fear they’ll add too much bodyfat. Most amateur bodybuilders eat plenty of carbs, but they choose simple or starchy carbs at the expense of the more beneficial slow-digesting carbohydrates. Emphasize foods such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, fruit, brown rice, whole-grain breads and pastas, and quinoa in your diet. These foods, along with protein, most encourage muscle growth.

56 Eat fast-digesting carbs

Okay, we know this contradicts the previous rule, but there is a time for fast carbs: immediately after workouts when they’ll boost insulin and help drive muscle recovery and growth. Go with 40-100 grams of fast-digesting carbs from sources such as sports drinks, white bread, fat-free candy like jellybeans or sorbet.

57 Eat healthy fats

As a bodybuilder, you need healthy fats for optimal hormone production and immune function and for a sense of well-being. Include moderate portions of healthy fats with most of your meals. Excellent sources include canola and olive oils, nuts and seeds, avocados and fatty fish such as salmon.

58 Get a variety of protein sources

Individual variance prevents prescribing the absolute best bodybuilding nutrition regimen. Some lifters swear by red meat, saying they feel stronger when they eat it, perhaps because of the iron and creatine it contans. Others prefer fish or chicken, saying they have trouble digesting red meat. Your best bet is to utilize a variety of protein sources such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy to reap the benefits of each.

59 Avoid low-fat diets

One of the worst trends in bodybuilding nutrition was the low- fat diet. Good fats offer many benefits to the body; even saturated fats provide a sense of satiety and fulfillment, not to mention they boost testosterone levels. Without fats, you aren’t giving your body what it craves and what it needs to build muscle. Emphasize good fats, but don’t completely exclude bad fats.

62 Avoid trans fats

There’s one type of fat you do want to avoid at any cost: trails fats. These manmade fats can be listed on labels as hydrogenated oil or p irtially hardened vegetable oil. Trans fats not only harm your health but can impair muscle recovery and increase riuscle breakdown.

61 Eat plenty of fiber

As a rule, bodybuilding foods don’t contain as much fiber as bodybuilders need. The best solution is to eat whole foods that are high in fiber such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. Using a fiber supplement is also an option. While these products lack the nutrients of whole food, they do provide the fiber your bod y needs.

62 Drink enough water

Water is the great purifier, and bodybuilders especially need purification. It’s also essential for keeping muscles full, and a drop in body water that’s just 2% of your bodyweight can significantly decrease your strength. In effect, the larger you are and the more food you consume, the more water you need on a daily basis. A zoo-pound bodybuilder should drink at least a gallon of water per day in addition to other beverages.

63 Break the fast

If you’re of those guys who can’t stomach the thought of food until a couple of hours after waking up, you’d better adapt. The nightlong fast causes your body to break down your muscle fibers for fuel, so you need to eat protein and carbs ASAP upon waking. Your best bet is a fast-digesting protein like whey and a piece of fruit.

64 Prepare for your workout

Before every training session, fuel up with about 20 grams of whey protein and some slow-digesting carbs. Both will provide long- lasting energy throughout your workout without blunting fat- burning.

65 Eat immediately after workouts

As soon as your workout is over, it’s time to refuel with about 40 grams of whey protein and 40-80 grams of fast-digesting carbs. These work together to enhance recovery and push muscle growth forward.

66 Eat for condition

Calories are essential for growth, but certain calories will more likely spur hypertrophy while others encourage fat gain. Avoid excess sugar and starchy carbs, as these will undermine your condition. By monitoring your diet, you can maintain conditioning and add muscle.

67 Avoid feeling hungry

When you’re hungry, you’re in a potentially catabolic state in which your body uses muscle tissue for energy. Once your blood sugar dips below a certain level, your body begins to search for another source of energy, and it turns to muscle much more readily than bodyfat. Take that sense of hunger as a warning that your muscles are under siege, and fight it off with a well-balanced bodybuilding meal.

68 Allow yourself a cheat day

Bodybuilders often feel that cheating on their diets sabotages their goals. The solution? Schedule a little cheating, such as allowing yourself a hamburger on the weekend. Likewise, a small piece of cheesecake after dinner won’t destroy your physique. In fact, it may help it in the long run: By cheating in moderation, you maintain your sanity and give yourself a much-deserved reward.

69 Don’t obsess about calories

Some trainees weigh every mouthful of food, calculating every fraction of a gram and every calorie. The problem with that strategy is that it’s still only an approximation. A better way is to learn to use internal and external cues such as hunger, your appearance in the mirror, bodyfat tests and scales. These will give you more valuable information than merely weighing your food.

70 Keep track of calories

On tne other hand, calories always count, and you can’t add bodyweight (good or bad) unless you take in more calories than you burn. You should get in about 18-22 calories per pound of body weight per day to put on quality mass, but don’t let it consume your life. Learn to estimate instead of obsess.

71 Casein between meals

For hardgainers, it’s often difficult to consume enough calories every day to promote adequate gains. What you eat can have a major impact on your hunger levels and ability to eat big. Consuming 20- 40 grams of casein protein in shake form between meals can help you get in adequate protein and calories without filling ycu up and limiting what you eat at your next meal. Research shows that a sein doesn’t boost levels of hunger-blunting hormones the way whey protein does.

72 Plan and prepare meals ahead of time

Time can be the great enemy of bod ybuilding nutrition. Eating six meals a day is time-consuming, and preparing that many meals is even more so. Learn to prepare several meals at once. Find foods that are palatable and take prepared meals along with you. That way you aren’t at the mercy of fast food or a schedule that doesn’t allow for a break.

73 Eat like a bodybuilder in restaurants

When you eat out, you don’t have to mtomatically go off your bodybuilding diet. Order simple meals to your specifications. Focus on meat dishes such as chicken breast or lean red meats without sauces. Order vegetables and salads as sides instead of fatty or starchy alternatives.

74 Learn to read labels

Just because a particular food is bodybuilding-friendly doesn’t mean it measures up once it has been packaged. Take peanut butter, for example. Lowfat varieties often contain the same number of calories as regular versions. For every fat calorie that’s removed, a sugar calorie is added – a bad tradeoff for bodybuilders. Learn to read labels so you know exactly what you’re getting.

75 Learn to substitute

Ideal bodybuilding foods won’t always be available, and some lifters get stressed when they’re forced to eat foods off their diets or nothing at all. Interestingly, the stress itself is probably more harmful to your physique than the food. Make the best of the situation and eat to satisfy your hunger. You can always be more rigorous with your diet later on. Check out fast-food alternatives in “Four-Alarm Foods” on page 102.

76 Slow down at night

Before bed, you need to protect your muscles from the attack that occurs during the night. Since your body turns to your muscles for fuel while you sleep, you need to give it an alternate protein source. Taking 20-40 grams of casein protein or eating some cottage cheese will provide the long-lasting protein your body needs to protect your muscle overnight.

SUPPLEMENTATION

77 Take glutamine four times a day

Many bodybuilders take glutamine, but not all of them take it as often as they should. M&F considers glutamine to be a very effective supplement. Its effects are subtle at first, aiding in digestion and strengthening your immune system, then leading to quicker recovery from the stress of training. Take 5-10 grams of this amino acid with breakfast, before and after workouts, and before bed.

78 Take creatine preand postworkout

Creatine can be taken any time of day, but the most effective times are before and after you train, along with protein and carbs. Research confirms that those who take creatine at these times experience gains in muscle and strength significantly higher than those who take creatine at other times of day.

79 Take a multivitamin every day

The limitations of a bodybuilding diet often don’t provide athletes with all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need, especially if they give short shrift to vegetables and fruits. Since bodybuilders have greater nutrient needs than the average person, taking a multivitamin every day can ensure that you get all the nutrients you need for optimal gains.

80 Supplement vitamins C and E

Of all vitamins, C and E are the two most important to supplement. Both are antioxidants that fight free radicals and assist in your recovery from training. Take 1-2 grams of vitamin C and 400-800 IU of vitamin E every day.

81 Use ZMA

ZMA is a combination, of zinc and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin Bf that has been shown to increase testosterone and insulinlike growth factor-i, as well as boost strength and power. Take ZMA shortly before bedtime, preferably on an empty stomach for best results.

82 Something’s fishy

Taking 1-3 grams of fish oil twice a day with meals is one of the smartest things a bodybuilder can do. Fish oil not only is beneficial to your heart health but it enhances joint recovery, boosts fat loss and aids muscle growth as well. 83 Branch out

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are comprised of three aminos – leucine, isoleucine and valine – that are most critical for muscle recovery and growth. That’s because they boost muscle protein synthesis and even blunt levels of the catabolic hormone cortisol. Go with 5-10 grams of BCAAs in the morning, and before and after workouts.

84 Boost it

Using a nitric oxide (NO) booster containing arginine will help increase muscle mass and strength because NO helps regulate muscle growth and dilates blood vessels. Greater blood-vessel dilation promotes blood flow, which allows more blood – along with more oxygen, nutrients and anabolic hormones – to be delivered to the muscles. This gives you more energy and bigger pumps to carry you through your intense workouts as well as better recovery and growth afterward. Choose an NO booster that provides at least 3-5 grams of arginine, and take it as soon as you wake up in the morning and then again 30-45 minutes before workouts on an empty stomach.

85 Get caffeinated

Before workouts, a 200-400-mg dose of caffeine will boost your training intensity as well as your muscle strength. Caffeine has been shown in numerous studies to increase endurance and strength during workouts and to blunt muscle pain, which can help you train with more intensity.

SPECIFIC TRAINING TIPS

86 Incline to build your chest

Performing bench presses at a 30-degree incline is the No. 1 pecbuilder. Bench to build your chest, not to press more weight. Often, the bench press turns into an ego exercise because lifters care more about how much weight they can lift. Instead, concentrate on the feeling in your chest. Feel the stretch in your pecs as you lower the weight, and press it up using your chest strength, not your shoulders.

87 Perform flye movernents with moderate weights

As with other chest exercises, lifters tend to use the heaviest weight possible on flyes. Yet this often recruits your shoulders into the movement. Choose a weight that allows you to feel a deep stretch across your pecs. Try dropping 10 pounds and slowing each rep, but don’t increase the quantity.

88 Squat with proper form

Too many bodybuilders think the purpose of squatting is to put as much weight as possible across their backs. Instead, try to stimulate as much muscle growth as possible in your quads, hamstrings and glutes by using a weight that allows you to squat with proper form. Keep your back tight, holding its natural curvature throughout the movement. Descend, stretching your glutes and hamstrings, and press back up through your heels. Now that’s a squat.

89 Have a spotter when squatting

Due to the heavy load and the mechanics of the exercise, you should always have a spotter – preferably two – when performing to- the-max squats. This can help you power through an extra rep.

90 Incorporate both seated and standing calf raises

Many bodybuilders bomb their calves with five or more sets of either standing or seated calf raises, but a better strategy is to include 2-3 sets of each. Seated calf raises target the soleus while standing calf raises target the gastrocnemius. For complete calf development, you need to target both.

91 Make deadlifts a part of your training

Too often deadlifts are considered strictly a powerlifter’s exercise. This myth needs to be put to rest. When performed correctly, deadlifts are an excellent bodybuilding exercise. This compound move builds the entire body better than any other single exercise (even squats!). If you use strict form, deadlifts can help build your upper and lower back, abs, glutes and legs. They also increase your overall strength, making you stronger for other movements.

92 Go heavy on barbell rows

This is an out-and-out mass-builder for the back, but you must be able to handle as much weight as possible while still maintaining strict form. Rely on the overload principle to shock the muscles into growth and add density to your entire back.

93 Add a supinating movement for biceps

When you supinate (turn your wrist out) at the top of the movement in a dumbbell curl, you take your biceps through its full range of motion, helping to develop the muscle more fully.

94 Warm up thoroughly for delt training

A proper warm-up routine is necessary for all bodyparts, but this is especially true for the injury-prone shoulder joints. Always warm up with a light series of lateral, front and bent-over raises. One set of each with 20 reps increases blood flow to and flexibility in the target zone, decreasing your risk of injury.

95 Use proper form with lateral raises

For many, the goal with lateral raises seems to be to swing the weights up. Instead, your objective should be to feel a contraction in your middle delts at the top of the movement. The weight should be moderate enough that you can also control the rep cadence as you lower the weights.

96 Use dumbbell shrugs to build your traps

Dumbbells offer several distinct advantages over barbells to bring up the traps. The principal benefits are a fuller range of motion and a “squeeze” that will help improve all aspects of the trapezius musculature.

FINALLY…

97 Keep learning

This is no sales hype: Continue to read M&F. Every month, it’s packed full of practical and cutting-edge training and dietary strategies you can use immediately to build muscle.

BY JIM STOPPANI, PHD, AND JON FINKEL

Copyright American Media, Inc. Aug 2008

(c) 2008 Joe Weider’s Muscle & Fitness. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.