Hellcentrics Training – Shoulders and Traps

/ Posted 03.19.2012

I am now in my fifth week of Hellcentrics training. If you read my last blog, you’ll know that Hellcentrics training is the advanced version of HRT (Hell Raiser Training). Basically, I do two working sets for each exercise. For each set, I will do 8 normal repetitions followed by four forced negatives (where my training partner applies pressure for a 4 second count during the eccentric portion of the rep). The Hellcentric training adds a new twist to the HRT program. Before each forced negative, I perform a partial rep in which my partner also applies both positive and negative pressure. So, to sum it up, I perform 8 regular repetitions followed by a partial rep followed by a forced negative rep.

For my shoulder workout, I do one basic exercise (a compound pressing movement), one exercise for the medial (side) delts and one exercise for the rear delts. I also do traps on shoulder day and I threw in one extra exercise for the side delts (cable upright rows).

For my compound pressing exercise, I choose Seated Dumbbell Press. After two warm-up sets with the 45 and 65 pound dumbbells, I was ready for my working sets. For the first set, I used the 85 pound dumbbells for an easy 8 reps followed by 4 partial/forced negative reps. I used this weight for my second set too but I only got through 3 partial/forced negative reps before I hit failure. On the Seated Dumbbell Press, my partial rep is from the lockout position to about 1/4 of the way down.

The side delts were next. My partner Maks and I did Seated Side Lateral Raises. Already being warmed up from the Dumbbell Presses, I went immediately into my first set. I used the 35 pound dumbbells and did 8 good reps followed by 4 partial/forced negative reps. On this exercise, I did the partial rep from the beginning to about a quarter of the way up with my partner applying both positive and negative pressure. From this point, my partner helps me lift my arms to the parallel position and then pushes on my arms down for the forced negative rep. I did 4 partial/forced negative reps on the first set and only 3 partial/forced negative reps on the second set.

To hit the side delts even harder, Maks and I went to the Cable Upright Rows next. I started with the full stack (95 pounds) and did 8 full reps followed by four forced negative reps with Maks pushing on the weight stack and me resisting for a four second count. This weight felt pretty heavy so I dropped it a little for the second set to 87.5 pounds. I was able to feel the side delts a little more on this set for another 8 full reps and four forced negatives.

For the rear delts, I did the Lying Side Lateral Raises on a decline bench. I used the 30 pound dumbbell and did a good slow 8 reps followed by a partial rep from the bottom to a quarter of the way up. After the partial rep, Maks helped lift my arm to the top and applied pressure for a 4 second forced negative rep. I did two sets just like this. The reason this training system was developed was to allow for a better pump in the muscles. After only set of Lying Side Lateral Raises, I had a great pump in the rear delts.

We finished the shoulder workout off with Dumbbell Shrugs. Because it would be too hard to do a forced negative on this exercise, we just did a very slow 4-5 second negative after completing the normal 8 reps. I used the 110 pound dumbbells for the first set for 8 reps and 4 slow negatives and then went up to the 120 pound dumbbells for the second set.

Although it’s still early in the year, my countdown has already begun for the Natural Mr. Universe contest in Chicago on September 1st. I am using a new Diet Coach this year, Cliff Wilson from Chicago (www.teamwilsonbb.com), and we are getting ready right now. I officially started my diet on March 13th, which is over 24 weeks until show time. This will give me plenty of time to get leaner and lose all my bodyfat and then fill out again in time for the competition. The big mistake I made last year was staying lean all year and then flattening out as the contest got closer. That won’t happen this year!

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Training Back and Biceps with Hellcentrics

/ Posted 03.07.2012

If you read the September, 2011 issue of Ironman Magazine last year, you will remember me talking about a new training system called HRT (Hell Raiser Training) that I used when I was dieting for my Ironman Magazine cover shoot. HRT involved 8 regular repetitions followed by 4 forced negatives (for a slow 4 second count) on each exercise. Although the resistance had to be reduced to get through all 12 repetitions, the result was a great pump in the muscles and an increase in the sarcoplasmic portion of the muscle cell, leading to greater muscle size.

I recently interviewed Tom Fuller, the creator of the HRT Training System, for an upcoming issue of Ironman Magazine. Tom has since updated the training system from last year. An advanced version of HRT Training, called Hellcentrics, improves on the old system by adding a partial rep before each forced negative rep. The added partial rep (which also receives the forced negative from your training partner) helps to increase the myofibular as well as sacroplasmic portion of the muscle cell. In other words, it not only brings more fluid into the muscle, it actually increases the thickness of the muscle fibers themselves.

To give you an example of how I am utilizing the Hellcentrics training into my workouts, I will illustrate a back and biceps workout conducted at the beautiful Powerhouse Gym in downtown Tampa last week. I am currently in my fourth week of Hellcentrics training after 6 weeks of Power Training that started off the New Year. I want to make some very substantial gains in muscle mass during this off season before I being dieting again for my next contest in the fall.

To start off the workout, my training partner Maks and I did 2 sets of Close-Grip Pulldowns with a light to moderate weight. This was done just to warm up the muscles and joints before the real workout started. I used 120 pounds for 15 reps and then 160 pounds for 12 reps on this exercise.

Our first back exercise using Hellcentrics was Wide-Grip Chins. I did 8 regular repetitions to start off and then the fun began. Holding the top position, I had Maks pull down on my bent legs until I was about 1/4-1/2 way down and then he helped me a little to get back to the top. This was the partial rep portion of the Hellcentrics. When I was at the top, Maks pulled down on my legs to provide a forced negative rep for 4 seconds during the eccentric portion of the exercise. When I was at the bottom, Maks helped me get back to the top again so I could do another partial rep followed by another forced negative. I did a total of 4 partial/forced negative reps after my regular 8 repetitions.

When doing Hellcentrics or HRT, you only need to do 2 working sets for each exercise. I usually do 2-3 exercises for each muscle group, depending on the size of the muscle. Smaller muscles like biceps and calves only get two exercises but bigger muscle groups like back can get 3 or 4, just so I cover the whole area of the muscle.

After the Wide Grip Chins, I went to an exercise for the thickness of the lats. Using free weight exercises with a barbell or dumbbells is hard to use with the Hellcentrics training. It’s easier to use this training technique with machines or cables. Instead of doing One-Arm DB Rows, I did rows on the Seated Hammer Strength machine. I did these one arm at a time and my partner was able to able the negative pressure during the partial/forced negative repetitions.

I started off the One-Arm Hammer Strength Rows with 3 forty five pound plates on each side. This was a good weight because I was able to do 8 full reps followed by a partial rep and then a forced negative. I noticed that I am getting stronger each week with the negative repetitions. It’s important with this training program to really resist each rep to increase that sarcoplasmic portion of the muscle cell. I did two sets on the One-Arm Hammer Strength Rows.

Next up, I did two more sets on T-Bar Rows. This is a free weight exercise that uses the lower back to help stabilize the weight so it’s not an easy exercise to do using negative reps. I did my first set with four 45 pound plates at the end of the bar. I was able to do the Hellcentrics with this by doing a strong partial rep followed by a forced negative. Four plates is not that heavy for T-Bar Rows but I had to use a moderate weight because of the partial and forced negatives.

Before I trained my lower back, I added a couple of sets to work the upper back muscles. I have very wide lats but I need to add more thickness to the inner back. I did an exercise using a rope attachment and set the pulley at about eye level. I pulled the rope toward my upper chest, keeping the elbows out wide to train the inner back muscles. I only used about 35 pounds but I did do the forced negatives on this exercise also for two sets.

Maks and I finished training back by doing Hyper-Extensions on the angled bench. I didn’t do forced negatives on this exercise but I did do 1 1/2 reps to focus more on the lower back muscles and less on the hamstrings and glutes. I did half a rep from the fully contracted position to half way down, then I went back up to fully contracted followed by a full rep. I did 15 1 1/2 reps for two sets for the lower back.

Biceps were up next. We started with Seated Dumbbell Curls. I only used the 40 pound dumbbells for 8 full reps and 4 forced negatives. I did the Hellcentrics on this exercise by doing a forced partial rep from the top position to almost half way down before coming back up. My biceps got super pumped from two sets of this exercise.

We finished biceps with Barbell Preacher Curls. Using an 80 pound barbell, I did 8 reps, a partial forced rep (from top to a quarter way down) and then a full forced negative. Two sets of Barbell Preachers and we were finished.

I hit a few poses after we were finished training. I’m at about 207 pounds (at night) right now and my bodyfat is still 11 %. I probably need to get just a little leaner than where I am right now for the ideal off season bodyweight but I’m still pretty lean. My arms are up an inch from my contest last year and my legs are up about 2 inches so I’m making good progress. I’m training VERY hard each and every workout because I want to make significant progress for this year. I don’t have any time to waste because it will be time to start dieting before you know it. I’ll keep updating my progress right here on Ironman Magazine.com!

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Muscle at the Movies Oscar Party

/ Posted 03.07.2012

Just like many bodybuilders, I love the movies. I have been a big movie buff for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Chicago so I was reading movie reviews by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, even before they started reviewing movies on TV. When I was in high school, I had my own movie review column in the school newspaper (“Hansen Picks the Flicks”). I continued the tradition when I went to college, reviewing movies for the college newspaper.

When Aaron Singerman from RX Muscle.com moved to Tampa, Florida from Houston, Texas, I soon discovered that we shared a love for the movies. Aaron goes to the movies all the time, just like I do. We came up with the idea of reviewing movies on RX Muscle.com. The show became a big hit on the website and many viewers responded favorably to our movie reviews. Since Aaron and I are both bodybuilders, we decided to call the show Muscle at the Movies. Instead of two high-brow critics reviewing movies that no one can relate to, Aaron and I bring an “everyman” approach to movie reviews and give a thumbs up or thumbs down (maybe that should be “biceps up or biceps down”) to movies that most people go to see.

On Sunday, February 26th, we both attended the Oscar Party, held at the beautiful Tampa Theater in downtown Tampa, Florida. I went to this event last year and had a great time. The Tampa Theater is one of those old, grand theaters that, sadly, are very few in number in this country. It has a balcony and is decorated with beautiful columns and incredible architecture.

I go to see movies at the Tampa Theater as often as I can. This is a non-profit venture and it’s kept alive by ticket sales and donations. The Tampa Theater usually plays art house movies that you can’t find playing at the typical multiplex as well as holding concerts and other special events.

At the big Oscar Party, the Tampa Theater literally rolls out the red carpet and treats their guests to a fun evening. All ticket holders are given a limo ride around the block before being dropped off in front of the Theater. As you exit the limo, you are greeted with cheering fans held back by the velvet rope. A Joan Rivers look a like (“Roan Jivers”) interviews the “stars” walking the red carpet. Inside, attendees get to watch the Academy Awards on the big screen instead of falling asleep at home in front of the TV.

Aaron and I were interviewed by Roan Jivers before the big night began. After our interview, we took a limo ride around the Theater before being dropped off on the red carpet. After a shot of vodka to salute the evening, I was feeling good when I entered a contest to pick all the Oscar winners. I won this contest last year so I thought I would give it another shot. I found out the following week that I won the Pick the Oscars contest again! (My secret? Read Entertainment Weekly).

Aaron and I were joined by one of my clients (and future Figure competitor) Tallia Keene and her lovely daughter. Tallia took the limo ride with us as well as walking the red carpet and signing autographs.

To see the video of all the action on the Muscle at the Movies Oscar Party, check out his link:

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