Monday, May 31, 2010

Different People, Different Goals

This site is for the everyday lifter; people need to appreciate the fact that we're not all the same -- and that's what makes us great.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Arms, Notes, & MoRe

The gym is a place to work hard -- the friendly chitter-chatter aside, people need to bring back that Dorian Yates'esque Blood & Guts feel back into hardcore training. If you can transcend your surrounding - the whack music the gym attendant on duty finds hip, the guy that walks around singing a rap song outloud w/o any consideration for others, or the snickering couples that you'd think have better things to talk about than you, but truthfully probably don't - then you're off to a good start.
Hardcore training requires the athlete to be in a zone. A place where he/she can push himself to the limit - this entails growning, grunting, self-talk, and total mental concentration.

Friday was arms day for John and me and we pursued our objectives dutifully. We started our routine with Seated Isolated, Single-Arm Curls:
Warm Up Set -- 20lbs -- 8reps
Set #1 -- 30lbs -- 8 Reps
Set #2 -- 40lbs -- 8 Reps
Set #3 -- 55lbs -- 6 Reps
Set #4 -- 60lbs -- 6 Reps
Set #5 -- 70lbs -- 5-6 Reps
Set #6 -- 80lbs -- 3 Reps
Set #7 -- 90lbs -- 2 Reps
When working biceps, many people tend to focus on the heavy lifts designed for building overall mass in the arms; however, the seasoned gymrat will also incorporate movements that will both isolate and tone. The seated single-and-bar isolated curls are also key for creating a desirable peak to the biceps, most noticeable during Double Bicep poses.

Castillo, Selby: Formula for Success?
My classmate and friend Josh Castillo is wanting to do a show, but from just one look at him, you'd think he was a seaoned pro. Whenever you have a weight-trainer that is able to walk around in near-competition shape during what's loosely called the Off Season, you know you have the genetic potential to do damage on the bodybuilding circuit.

The problem, however, is where do you go if you have the physique but you lack the inside-information (e.g. what show to enter, what Federation, what class [Open or Novice?], what shows permit novice cross-over, etc)? But even worse of all -- when you reach that near-perfect level but you want to add mass somewhere, how do you go about doing that without comprising your overall package? Also... what are your options for drying out -- do you carb-deplete, do you sodium-deplete, how many grams of fat should you have, should you suck on that lemon-wedge when you get thirsty? So many little factors that magazines and workout buddies are just oblivious to - and even if they had an inkling - would you put your whole contest prep on the line??? Hell no! *Ahem* I mean -- "HELL NAH!"

I know Blake Selby through my partner-in-crime Brian G. Raymond (co-administrator of the Facebook group), and I can honestly say that I was equally impressed with his training and nutritional philosophies as I was with his physique. I also recently was able to check out some photos from a competitor he trained, that placed 2nd (not bad) :)

our STRENGTH half may seem entirely focused on natural bodybuilding, with nutrition and supplementation to that end; however, it's a 50:50 split, with Strength (emcompassing Powerlifting, Armwrestling, and organized competitions) receiving equal interest - be confident in that!
In the coming weeks I'll be touching base with Mike and scouring the gym for the hardest lifters I can find. In addition, calls will go out to local gyms and throughout our Myspace, Friendster, Badoo, and YouTube accounts to bring as many guys and gals as possible into the fold.

Contact Us:

Effective Leg-Training
Legs rank as one of the least popular bodyparts to train in the gym - anywhere! Some people have bonafide excuses (kinda like that skim 1% of forged doctor notes to get out of phys-ed back in the day), but others are quite frankly nothing more than lazy bums that want to hit chest & bi's, back and tri's, shoulders, and mayyyybe abs and cardio (that's a big maybe). But you'll hardly ever be in a situation where you'll find two, three, or more people fighting over rights to the squat rack or leg press station, and that's VERY unfortunate - because the gym is littered top-heavy athletes balancing their way around the floor like gorillas on toothpick stilts they call "wheels" -- more like training wheels!
In fact, for those of us that normally train wheels - and look forward to the day, it's true test of wills for us not to smirk - or bust out laughing when we see people performing "Partial" Squats -- what's that? "Oh, I've got 315 on the bar - LIGHTWEIGHT BABY!"
Yeah, lightweigh is right you Ronnie Coleman-wannabe-pansy, what are you doing - and how is that in any way stimulating your quads?" But naturally, you can't go around saying that. On the other hand, sometimes tough love is what's needed. My friend Carson (before actually being my friend, really took me to task when he saw me doing Leg Presses w/ 20 plates. For starters - I don't fit in the station, and secondly I wasn't getting anywhere near full range of motion.
Ever since that day when Carson demostrated a strict squat, I've not gone back to the Leg Press station and I've grown stronger in my squats and more developed in my legs. If, however, you want to train Leg Press (a great movement bar none), then bring your knees all the way to your chest, because until you've done that, you really haven't performed so much as one solid rep.
Legs are our LARGEST, MOST POWERFUL muscle group, yet they are continue to be the most neglected!

Look forward to training legs -- it's the kind of grueling mind/body pump you can't get anywhere else (except for a tough Back workout). The legs are comprised of glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves --- make it habit to address the other HALF of your body once in a while too. presents VIDEO!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Video Update

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Competitors Need A Reality Check

Interesting day of hardcore training -- and even more to write about! So as you may have heard, in our gym we have a few snobs that grace us with their presence. Today while doing deadlifts, observed by Brian, I was performing my max rep w/ 495lbs. I had the first rep pretty solid, when the Iron Duo passed by - they were literally a foot or less in front of me - as I held 495lbs in the air. Can you get over the arrogance of some people -- it's like me (a nobody in their eyes) has to stand there holding this monster weight while they walk by. They couldn't have waited -- far be it that they give me some fuckin space, I'm afterall not a competitor and not as cut as they are!

But I think my friend Brian put it best, "that was really stupid." Yes it was. What if I hadn't been able to perform a second rep or hold the weight in mid-air? What if I had had to set it down, what if my wrists gave up and I just dropped the bar? Who would have taken the brunt of the injuries -- who really knows? This is where what we call Gym Etiquette comes in.

Be weary of competitors and those aspiring to becomes ones. These people - the good ones at least; you know... the ones that actually win shows - they're usually pretty decent, but then you have these scrubs that think contest-prep is code (or license) to be complete jerks to the mainstream gym population. They choose to compete and they should act accordingly.

Their sacrifice and hard work is part of their journey to attain the fruits of victory. Lay people are doing their own thing and in many instances may be completely oblivious to comings and goings of competitive athletes. The way to bring more people into this sub-culture that is bodybuilding and fitness, the athletes must be the ambassadors of the sport and there's no better place to start than IN THE GYM!

I have nothing against natural competitors -- even the ones that look to defy the natural limitations of the human body and are breaking out with acne (must be the glutamine...), but when someone is doing deadlifts, kindly give pause, let the person finish his/her set, and THEN walk by -- especially when you're walking by within twelve inches. Get with the program Corky.

In other news, big kudos to Mike for some great shots/lifts, kudos to Jake for getting through the workout I put him through, big kudos to Brian for doing his cardio, and thanks to everyone for reading along on the blog!

You're the Answer

Steroids might make you feel invincible -- as the old wives tale go on and on about, but bodybuilding in general creates in each ahtlete a core value system that enables him/her to come to depend on no one -- but themselves. In the gym you're going to meet an assortment of characters, plastic people, snobs, premadonnas, genuine people, cranky jerks, basically the run of the mill. If you're lucky, you'll have a spotter that you can talk to, if you're really lucky you might have a work-out partner. But in the end, you're all by yourself - just like when you're born - just like when you breathe your last breath in this life.

You don't need anyone -- that's false wishy washy nonsense that your other half is out there somewhere looking for you. Do I believe in love? Sure. Everyone would like to have a wife, some kids, a house, but you don't need it like you need protein, carbs, good fats, oxygen, and a place to lift. Yeah, you need to push that iron more than walk down the aisle, but kids still are the best! Have 'em if you're financially and emotionally sound -- otherwise you'll have 'em and we (as a society) will pick up the bill and hopefully show them the ropes before they go out and become wards of the state.

At the expense of sounding like an Animal or Universal Nutrition ad, it's all very true, you're all alone in this life, except for a select few minor exceptions. So what am I saying in this whole, life sucks conundrum?

Your day should begin and end with YOU and bodybuilding affords the athlete the mental acuity to pull that off. When you lift, try to hone in on the words of the Blonde Bomber, Tom Platz, in Arnold: The Reconstruction, but go further than that. Imagine yourself all alone in the gym, have the muscle you're working on your mind, go to a place where no one can hurt you, where you are showing off the absolute best physique, a place where you're popular and loved, take the same passion you would for fantasizing about one last slow-dance with your high school sweetheart - the song playing, that look in her eyes, her soft touch, the optimism you clinged onto that true love really did exist and that it really did stand the test of time - every guy out there knows exactly what I mean -- take that love (or nostalgia for what never may have been to begin with) and give it to yourself -- make yourself your one true love -- and get yourself in the end :) lol

Narcissism -- it's what's for dinner -- and for lunch, breakfast, and midnight snack. Everyone, including yours truly, can go for a long walk on a short pier. It's all about YOU and THEN everyone else. :)

[The only exception to this rule: your kids and your parents (in all candor, they should probably come before you) - and THEN, literally, everyone else comes a distant second].

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Forgotten Chest Exercises

There's little doubt that Chest Day ranks high on every gymrat's list of favorite bodyparts to train, but what's become of decline-bench, decline-presses, and decline-flyes? We've all heard the science promoting the incline portion of lifitng as promoting overall mass in the pec - and - everyone is already all-too-familiar with the flat bench and the variants associated with it. But what about the bottom of the pec?

The key to this exercise shouldn't be high poundages - especially since after incline and flat bench, most of you hardcore gymrats are probably finding yourselves with one foot in the grave anyways. I think that finess should the name of the game for addressing this portion of the pectorals.

I'm advocating three sets of 135lbs on decline bench press, with two warm-up sets of decline flyes at 8-reps with 20lbs. and 25lbs, followed by a working-set to failure with 20lbs., (minimum of 10 reps;  full contraction at the top of the movement and full control during the negative - not merely full range of motion).

Additionally, performing decline flyes on an ab bench isn't as limiting as you might think. You can add 45lb. plates to arch the bench to different degrees, as well. Always remember that bodybuilding principles while very scientific - are also couched in common sense. Hitting the pectorals - or any muscle for that matter - from a series of different angles - can only benefit your overall development!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gorilla Suit

A few years ago, I read Gorilla Suit, a powerful book by Fmr. Mr. Universe Bob Paris, that really inspired me. Bob is a guy that overcame great adversity in his quest to becoming one of the best competitors of the 1980's. Bob, like 1982 Mr. Olympia Chris Dickerson, made headlines when he came out as being gay, but to the hardcore bodybuilding nuts this isn't why Paris is such a big name in our sport. Credited as having the physique that current Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler aspired to achieve upon weight-training, Paris redefined a sport that was on the verge of losing sight of its most notable features: sound dieting and aesthetics. He discusses how miserable he was taking gear and how he wanted show off the natural gains he'd made, from his flowing lines, impressive vascularity, and overall balance. He spoke of his gratitude to all the people that helped him along the years from when he left home all the way to fame.

However, the very title of his book speaks volumes about why many of us take to the weights in the first place. My road to the gym began in 2005 when my girlfriend dumped me and started dating a kid whose campaign I had run in student politics - while I worked my ass off to get him votes, they were socializing behind the scenes. It was really rough there for several months, I was crying all the time, drinking, smoking, and really just losing it. My journey started with walking, then running, then finally I bought a membership at Gainesville Gym (one of the last dungeon-like bodybuilding gyms in Florida) and that was it. Within a few weeks I was in shape, within a few months I kicked a 12yr cigarette addiction, within a few years I was 10x more self-confident, and right now -- I seriously don't give a fuck if I get dumped, do the dumping, if I'm loved or rejected - I don't care 'how hot a girl is', if I like her, I'm talking to her. If I want something, I'm going to try and get it.

Muscle, as Bob Paris' work spells out, is like a suit of armor that an athelete wears through the battle we call life. My armor has a good amount of fat on it, lol, but hopefully you catch my drift. If not, you're probably not all there anyways. JK

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make A Friend & Lift Some More...

Natural bodybuilding and powerlifting are two sports that require a great deal of commitment and discipline. They are often overlooked by the tiny slither of mainstream society that comprises an almost cult-like following of the [chemically-enhanced] bodybuilding community promoted by such federations as the IFBB and NABBA (WABBA - worldwide).

Few people can relate to the pro's, be they aesthetically pleasing with razor-sharp abs like Dexter Jackson or Ahmad Haidar or mass monsters like the German giant Markus Ruhl, who competes at 280lbs with 4% bodyfat and dry to the bone. But even natural stars like Skip Lacour and John Hansen seem slightly out-of-reach.

Bodybuilding is a blue collar sport and much like Punk Rock, grown men and women just want to train hard, eat right, grow stronger, and look better - they're not looking for stars to worship like a bunch of teenie bopper groupies buying magazines every month and wetting themselves as they tremble w/ nerves posing next to the great bodybuilder that's posing with them for $25 at a bodybuilding show. has always been about showcasing local, undiscovered talent for inspiration and education of the greater bodybuilding community. People need heroes that can also be their friends and spot them on a lift or bullshit with them between sets. In order for us to surpass our limits, we need to be able to count on people to help us and we need to be approachable and respond to constructive criticism with appreciation, as opposed to readily dismissing it with contempt.

Every gym has guys and gals that compete -- but many of these people are usually unapproachable and require tons of ass-kissing from adoring fans before they acknowledge you (much less lend a tip or offer you some help). And ironically, some of these big-time competitors talk-the-talk but come contest time they fail to to win the show, sometimes not even taking their class.

So what's the point? Douchebags and snobs aside ... there's a large number of people that share your goals but are otherwise strangers to one another. Bodybuilding will inherently always be a sport of one; however, there's no reason one cannot be sociable w/ the person that goes out of their way to spot you - or maybe to give you a pointer that might you spare you the injury they had to suffer.
You Don't Know It All!

The gym experience - to a lot of people - is akin to an elevator ride. People don't generally speak during the ride; most people usually don't make eye contact, either. We should all strive to take the elevator mentality out of the gym and work together to reach our goals, as collectively as this notion can be put into practice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sound Pectoral Development

I. Popularity

If you asked most guys in the gym which routine was there favorite -- the most likely reply you'd here would be 'chest & bi's.' And the reaons for the popularity of this breakdown are two-fold. Bodybuilding is a one-man sport, that at times may include trainers and nutritionists, but at most it's all about either a single athlete's trek -- or a small group of like-minded athletes known to one another as 'workout buddies [this is different than mere spotters, which serve a key but temporary purpose and can be complete strangers to the athlete in question].

Bodybuilding is a highly competitive sport -- there is no walking off the court, there is no off-season - at least not for the most driven, disciplined gymrats in the game. Everything you eat (whether it's protein-rich or dripping in hydogenated fats) will be analyzed by the gymrate. You may see him eating a half dozen donuts and chugging down a quart of full fat chocolate milk... but I guarantee you for the rest of that day and many more to come, he will beat himself up emotionally for it. With every bite he knows he's doing something wrong and while his tastebuds may be in bliss, emotionally he's in hell.

Competition is the name of the beast -- especially in a dog-eat-dog capitalist society, where everyone is wanting overnight success and instant gratification. Guys (for the most part) like girls and when we're dealing with testosterone, we're dealing with lust of the highest and most volatile degree. There is an undeniable lust in every bodybuilder for women to desire him and an almost insatiable hunger for women and all things associated.

And what are the things women like most about built guys? Women are drawn to Chest and Arms -- the bigger, the more cut, and the more aesthetic (they may not say this, but they're thinking it) -- the better! So shocker... men want to have what women want to see, hold onto, and show off to their friends. It may look mildly ridiculous -- score yourself ripped, vascular guns with rockhard pecs and get a flannel button down shirts (ala 90's bodybuilding style), only button the bottom buttons, and walk around the mall or a grocery store (or anywhere women usually go) and everytime you smile at a woman, the reaction you'll receive will make you feel like a walking god.

II. Strategy

Hitting the pecs, like most other muscles, involves strategy. You want to have exercises that address your strength and hopefully enhance your abilities, but you don't want to get trapped in the numbers game, either. You also want to have movements that will both define the muscle group, as well as add contours, striations, and lines that will surely get you the recognition on off days that will keep you from growing depressed at not being able to be in the gym working set after set with your buddies.

The key exercise for mass and strength would be (from the most important to basic)
1. Incline Bench Presss
2. Flat Bench Press
3. Incline Dumbbell Press
4. Flat Dumbbell Press
5. Decline Bench Press

Interestingly, the most important chest exercise for mass and strength in your chest region is working the top portion of the muscle, addressed by incline movements. In terms of difficuluty, the incline is King for overall power and presentation. The most commonly used litmus test for gym-abilities by the overweight, out-of-shape mainstream is the flat bench. Chest training, while largely motivated by our want of female attention, is also a key make-or-break point of conversation between Alpha-Males -- and let's face it.. even the scholarly, fine wine drinkin, golf playing, father's son, Church going and flag saluting goody two shoes wants to be an ALPHA MALE whether in his outward appearance only - or - altogether.

Ever gone to shake someone's hand and their grip is weak or G*d forbid there palms are sweaty or they seem scared of you? That's kind of the vibe you're sending when asked what your bench is and you give a low poundage. Alpha Males are meatheads, "jocks", respond a low weight and in Arnold's worse German-English accent... you'll hear him in your head saying..."What are you some kind of a girly man?" LOL

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Force Factor


A new product is on the scene, flooding popular websites with a strong ad-campaign that's got many gymrats talking. But what's all the hype all about? I'd seen the ads so many times that I honestly didn't even recall the name of the product, not until my friend Jake Hawkins brought it to my attention. The supplement in question is Force Factor - yet another NO boosting, overpriced, mass-marketed arginine hybrid.

At the moment, I'm holding a little green bottle of Nature's Bounty L-Arginine (500mg/ 50 caps) that I got from Meijer last night. I paid $5.79 for this bottle and thanks to a special promotion, I received a second bottle for free. What's shocking is that the main agent (over 93%!!!) in Force Factor is: ARGININE.

But Christian, their dose is much higher! Good point. This is because Nature's Bounty caters to regular adults and Force Factor caters to bodybuilders; however, we're still talking about $5.79 L-Arginine. So if you want a triple or quadruple dose, the mathematician in me says the price should double or triple, not jump soar TWELVE TIMES.

You figure, Nature's Bounty is selling their product at $5.79 and it's understood that they're making a profit -- we live in a capitalist society afterall -- no one's advocating we get supplements for free (though that'd be kinda nifty, lol). So what the f*ck are we paying $69.99 for in Force Factor? Well let's see their nutrition label for more...

"Advanced 3X Nitric Oxide Booster"     3,000mg"
Arginine AKG ---->
Arginine KIC ---->
Arginine Monohydrate -->

"Advanced Nutrient Delivery System 200mg"

Not impressed w/ anything here except Citruline and the amount is trace.
AKG does deliver better uptake, superior delivery;
KIC discussed only in conjunction with AKG -- poorly documented on its own.
Arginine Monohydrate - this seems like either a made-up term or the scientific name (not used in any arena contemporarily) for straight up L-Arginine.

So maybe Nature's Bounty isn't exotic enough for you or maybe you want to save even more money and still get a quality NO Booster that even includes Arginine AKG. Is that possible? In America? Do I have to shoplift? NO WAY, lol!

Body Fortress' NO Pump gives you your 3,000mg bodybuilder-serving of Arginine, it includes, Arginine AKG, it's a great company, and it costs you $9.94 at Meijer or Walmart. It also comes in a nice bottle and well-marketed box. I mean what the fuck does the bottle or box-design matter anyways? You'd think not at all, but people nowadays can be swayed by the silliest things.

Boxes and bottles aside, even the most learned gymrat can be thrown under the bus with some of the over-the-top marketing campaigns that we see online, but whatever you may have been told and whatever you may assume.... weighttraining/bodybuilding/powerlifting are blue collar sports. Whether you drove to the gym in an Audi or a Yugo, once inside it's all about the weight you move, the bonds formed through training, and everything else doesn't amount to jack shit. Oh yeah, and we don't like getting ripped off either lol

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Annoying Romance, PDA @ the Gym!

You know... I can put up with just about anything during my workouts; I've been at dingy gyms (Gainesville Gym), I've been at high-end gyms (Gainesville Health & Fitness, Bally's at the Waterways), I've been at overpriced gyms (L.A. Fitness - North Miami Beach), and I've even been at gyms where the owner(s) is a real jerk (Lansing's New Life Fitness)... but one factor in the gym I just can't over: annoying couple.

I've actually stood back and just watched... when the guy leaves, I've seen male friends of mine merely greet the female half of the Iron Couple.. and within second the male-half rushes to the scene, as if to mark his territory ... the insecurity is blatant. And the scenario is equally disturbing when the female withdraws to touch-up her makeup and maybe to ... I don't know... work out?

Worse yet, some of these couples will kiss each other between sets... I mean is that really necessary? I have always believed that couples that engage in Pda's (public displays of affection) are probably very incompatible and miserable w/ each other -- but I digress.

There should be a gym for couples.. better yet... an island. LOL

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Finer Points

Everyone hits back, chest, shoulders, arms, and legs -- at least I hope they do! But there's bodyparts that sadly don't get the love in the gym, these include: forearms, abdominals, obliques, traps, hamstrings, and calves. For today, let's talk about the stubborn ole traps & calves, with an honorable mention for the old foremarms.

First and foremost... let's discuss building massive traps that will enhance the wide-effect most gymrats are hoping to achieve. There's no illusion when it comes to big traps -- your neck will virtually begin to disappear amidst a sea of muscle.