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Iron Man Magazine http://www.ironmanmagazine.com Bodybuilding - We Know Training Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:46:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Mike Gritti: Armed for Battle http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/mike-gritti/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/mike-gritti/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 09:46:10 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26668 ... continue reading]]>

by Dan Albert
Photography by Michael Neveux

Mike Gritti loves to do battle—not just on a bodybuilding stage but in hand-to-hand combat arenas. From wrestling to mixed martial arts to his latest endeavor, arm wrestling, he puts his freaky guns to work, taking dead aim at his adversaries. In arm wrestling he’s had some state wins and is working his way up the ranks. In bodybuilding he took seventh in a 26-man class at the ’14 NPC USA.

What’s the story on this promising flexer, who’s been navigating the bodybuilding ranks for more than a decade—and what’s up with those crazy arms? We’ll get the nitty gritty from the man himself, beginning with the basics.

IM: Let’s start with your stats—age, height and ripped bodyweight?

MG: I’m 32 years old, 5 6” and around 200 pounds stage weight.

IM: Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?

MG: I grew up in Oak Grove, Minnesota; it’s a suburb just north of Minneapolis. I currently live in Lino Lakes, which is not too far away from there.

IM: What do you do for a living? 

MG: I’ve been in the personal-training field for almost 10 years. In
April 2014, I started my own personal-training and nutritional-counseling business called True-Grit Fitness.

“I was a wrestler from the age of seven and competed in college. I also did some MMA fighting.”


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IM: What’s your sports background? 

MG: I was a wrestler from the age of seven and competed in college. I also did some MMA training and fighting during college and afterward. In 2011, I started competing in arm wrestling and entered several tournaments.

IM: How did you get into bodybuilding and weight training?

MG: As a boy, I watched tough guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone and Jean-Claude Van Damme on TV and wanted to be just like them someday. We did plenty of bodyweight exercises for wrestling, but I picked up my first weight at 10 years old—it was a 12-pound dumbbell—and haven’t stopped since. The only exercise I knew how to do correctly was concentration curls. I would keep it in the living room, and every time I saw it, I’d sit on the edge of the couch and do as many reps as I could.

Like many others, my first set of weights were Weider plastic-covered cement weights, at 12 years old. I was always fascinated seeing the bodybuilders in magazines. I did my first show as a teenager, the 2001 Minnesota Gopher State, and won my class. I took a six-year intermission from the stage to concentrate on wrestling and MMA. In 2007, I came back to win the overall at the Upper Midwest show, followed by the Gopher State. I’ve been competing ever since.


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Safe Grilling Secrets Revealed http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/safe-grilling-secrets-revealed/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/safe-grilling-secrets-revealed/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:29:53 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26208 ... continue reading]]> 7308-prime4Previously, studies have suggested an association between consumption of grilled meats and a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a.k.a. PAHs, are substances that can form when meats are cooked at very high temperatures, like on a backyard grill. I.M.P.L.V.O. Ferreira, from the Universidade do Porto in Spain, and colleagues grilled samples of pork marinated for four hours in Pilsner beer, nonalcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale to well-done on a charcoal grill. Black beer had the strongest scavenging activity, reducing the levels of eight major PAHs by more than half, as compared with pork that had not been marinated. The researchers concluded that “[black beer] marinade was the most efficient on reduction of [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon] formation, providing a proper mitigation strategy.”

Viegas, O., et al. (2014). Effect of beer marinades on formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in charcoal-grilled pork. J Agric Food Chem. 62(12): 2638–2643.

—Dr. Bob Goldman


Editor’s note: For the latest information and research on health and aging, subscribe to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine e-zine free at WorldHealth.net.


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Food Facts http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/food-facts-66/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/food-facts-66/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:07:26 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26325 ... continue reading]]> 7307-eat4Cottage cheese is an excellent high-protein alternative to eggs at breakfast. According to the April ’14 Bottom Line Health, a half cup of 1 percent milk-fat cottage cheese contains about 14 grams of protein, more than twice as much as an egg.

Coffee has been getting lots of props lately, and here’s more: It may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, according to the May ’14 Prevention. “Harvard University researchers looked at 28 studies with more than a million combined participants and found that people who downed six eight-ounce cups of java daily had a 33 percent lower risk of diabetes.” Maybe it’s because lots of coffee energizes you so you get off your keister.

Hops can help you sleep. According to another item in the May ’14 Prevention, “Hops is the herb that puts the bitter in beer, [but] it’s been used medicinally for centuries…to treat nervous disorders, insomnia and stomach cramps.” Downing a six-pack before bed is not a good idea, however, especially if you want six-pack abs. Try taking a supplement—300 to 600 milligrams about 45 minutes before bed.

—Becky Holman


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Fiber Fact and Fiction http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/fiber-fact-fiction/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/fiber-fact-fiction/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:34:03 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26372 ... continue reading]]> 7307-fiberfactfictionI hesitated to write this article—I really did. I almost bailed again when I couldn’t think of a snazzy title. How do you make fiber sound interesting? Words like flatulence, bloating, diarrhea and irritable bowel disease didn’t seem to fit the demographic—I save those for my kids. Still, the questions roll in, and the topic comes up every day. It seems that clients are always talking about poop; how did my career end up here?

Fiber has always been a misunderstood substance, but modern food-manufacturing processes—especially in the low-carb industry—have brought a lot of dysfunction and pain into lives, needlessly. Then there are the backwoods “Duck Dynasty’”–like shamans as well as locker-room scientists convincing people to ingest all manner of things. It’s time  to chop up fiber into an outline of myths and mistakes.

Myth 1: We need to get fiber at every meal. Fiber is helpful and I would say necessary—for bowel function. Get too little, and you can be constipated or even suffer bouts of diarrhea—two sides of the same coin. Low-fiber diets are associated with inflammatory bowel disease and cancer and even linked to heart disease because they usually indicate that someone is eating a lot of sugar and fat.

Think of fiber as the scrub brush or broom of your gastrointestinal system. Too much, though, and binding agents such as starch can’t do their job, making diarrhea probable. Conversely, too little fiber can create impaction, turning a dietary mistake into a grave medical issue.

Over time too much abuse of your large intestine will create tissue-level inflammation, and that’s a nightmare you want to avoid. Colitis, ulcerative colitis and milder forms of inflammatory-bowel disease are painful and more dysfunctional than you would want me to describe. I suggest eating a good serving of vegetables in a couple of meals and a serving or two of fruit per day and taking a fiber supplement, if needed. Experimentation and note taking are important.

Myth 2: If you have a sensitive gastrointestinal system, eat a macrobiotic diet. It seems that everyone I meet who has suffered gastrointestinal distress thinks eating a so-called better diet with truckloads of vegetables is the answer. Nothing could be worse. Raw roughage and complex, hard-to-digest grains will create more inflammation and cause worsening symptoms. Instead, you should limit raw vegetables and avoid the most complex. You may need to decrease the size and frequency of salads and eat only small amounts of steamed vegetables at a time. Starch is a friend to someone who has inflammatory-bowel issues, but fiber is still necessary. It just has to lean toward a more soluble type and maybe a supplement.

Myth 3: To lose weight, you should eat only fibrous carbs. I think you’re getting the hang of this and can bust this myth on your own now. Too much fiber is too much fiber. People who get caught in this trap miss the chance to include more satisfying, more anabolic and more metabolic complex-starch sources. Yes, your body needs starch, even when you’re dieting. Cutting out carbs completely will reduce metabolism faster and increase muscle catabolism more than any other diet method. The fact that many of these people end up with serious bowel inflammation is just rubbing salt into the wound after they’ve already been deceived by misinformation.

Myth 4: For better regularity, eat more vegetables. Say it with me now: Eating too many vegetables is harmful. People often avoid fruit because of the carbs, but the fiber found in most fruit is extremely helpful with stool formation. If you eat a serving of dry fruit every day—trust me, it’s worth saving carbs for—you’ll have such clean dumpage that you won’t even need to wipe. (I recommend wiping just in case.)

On that note, some people need more fat in their diet to ensure regularity. Flaxseed oil is a favorite for its omega-3 properties, but a small serving or two per day can be magical for ease of movement—practically a little turd tornado.

Myth 5: It’s normal to have gas, bloating and pain. How many people have you heard say that gas and pain is just part of eating healthy? “Gotta be that protein!” Jokes become flippant, but no one realizes that the inflammatory process being caused could have long-term consequences. When polysaccharides can’t be digested in the upper G.I. tract, the bacteria of the lower G.I. consume and ferment them, and the by-product is methane gas. That isn’t just annoying, it’s inflammatory.

Is it necessary to eat things we can’t digest? No. It’s your choice, but you have to know the options. Consider soy, legumes, harsh vegetable fiber and, of course, lactose as the primary offenders, and cut them out. Follow a basic diet, and then start adding one thing at a time. You will find that there are some items you can eat in small quantities, but they have a finite amount of digestibility for you. Some foods you will be better off avoiding completely.

Myth 6: That food bloats me immediately! Rarely do people have upper–G.I. issues to the point that they feel bloated with a normal-sized meal. Still, when you eat a meal, your intestinal tract—all 20-some feet of it—moves. Food in; food out. A meal eaten now causes the G.I. tract to push all the food and waste to collect in the colon. The methane gas production and pain felt is happening at the other end, not in your stomach.

A normal full transit time is 18 to 24 hours, sometimes longer. When you feel bloated after a meal, it’s the meal you consumed 18 to 24 hours before that is the problem. Track food and comments with time stamps so you can play CSI: Rectal Division in your effort to eliminate suspect food sources.

The exception is when something causes a strong allergic reaction or something you eat is a harsh irritant—your body will try to expel it that much faster, but it’s not gas and bloating you need to worry about. You’ll be sprinting to the bathroom, and, one hopes, getting your butt tucked before you spray-coat the wall with the five-alarm habanero salsa you ate or the 36 greasy wings you swallowed whole at the bar.

Myth 7: The food industry has your best interests at heart. I hate to go all Ralph Nader on you, but companies jump on trends to make a buck. Incentive drives every decision at every level, and the primary need is success—theirs, not yours. From cheap protein and soy additives in protein bars and shakes to nasty filler fiber in low-carb breads, the diet industry is destroying gut health one roll of toilet paper at a time. Take every processed food out of your diet, and then add one back in at a time for a couple of days to isolate the ones that create intestinal trauma. There are no quick fixes—don’t fall for marketing hype.

Myth 8 : Psyllium is good for you. I mentioned that sometimes a fiber supplement is necessary, but many cause more problems than they resolve. Harsh fibers like psyllium (Metamucil is the common trade name) may be the most absorbent, but they’re also the most gas forming. I often recommend a scoop of sugar-free Citrucel—methylcellulose—because it’s more subtle, and if you need a little more fiber, add a half teaspoon or more of psyllium. One serving per day with breakfast can create much better regularity.

Fun aside, bowel health is a serious matter, and suffering doesn’t have to be a part of good health, weight loss or physique management. Never settle for cliché, cookie-cutter diet plans that leave you doubled over. Never trust anyone who advocates a processed low-carb food. And, finally, learn a couple of good fart jokes—you’ll be the life of every party.


Editor’s note: Joe Klemczewski, Ph.D., is a former World Cup bodybuilding champion who helps bodybuilders, figure competitors and weekend warriors achieve their best condition through his unique online “Perfect Peaking” program. To contact him, write to dr.joe@thedietdoc
.com.  IM

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Matters Large and Small http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/matters-large-and-small/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/matters-large-and-small/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:21:29 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26356 ... continue reading]]> 7307-mind6Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes in the body sports, and this year we celebrate yet another first.

Amanda Loy, a 22-year-old nursing student from Scottsdale, Arizona, believes she is the first female little person ever to compete in figure.

She was born with hypochondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. At 4’ and 72 pounds she took fourth (out of 10) at her first show, the ’14 Natural Western USA, and then tossed her bikini cross country into the tough New York Metropolitan Championships for another fourth-place landing.

Now, there’s a girl with spunk. I’ve got a feeling it’s not the last bow Amanda will be taking on an NPC stage.


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Stronger Wrists and Forearms http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/stronger-wrists-and-forearms/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/stronger-wrists-and-forearms/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:15:46 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26343 ... continue reading]]> 7307-mind1Having strong wrists and forearms is extremely valuable in many sports. Wrestling heads the list, of course, but also baseball, lacrosse, tennis, football, bowling, volleyball and strongman events as well as the shot put, hammer throw, discus, javelin, pole vault and many more. Strong wrists and forearms are assets in the weight room as well, for they help you handle heavier weights on a great many exercises, from power cleaning and snatching to benching and inclining. If your wrists and forearms are weak, the power generated by your chest, shoulders and arms will not be transferred adequately into the bar.

Most people believe that they need an extra-strong grip in order to move heavy weights on the two Olympic lifts, the clean and the snatch, and on the deadlift, but that isn’t true. By using a hook grip, you can lock onto a bar as tightly as you can when using straps. Even so, keeping your wrists and forearms strong will help prevent them from being injured, which is a good thing, as the list of exercises that can be done drops drastically with that kind of injury. A hurt wrist usually means dropping all free-weight exercises and switching to machines.

The good thing about working the wrists and forearms is that it doesn’t require much in the way of equipment. A barbell and dumbbells will get the job done. These exercises can be worked separately, at night or on the days that you don’t train.

I’ll start with an apparatus that you can make rather easily and is very the best exercise for improving strength in your wrists and forearms—the wrist roller. All you need is a length of round wood, about a foot and a half. A thick broomstick will work or a fat dowel. Drill a hole in the center, insert the end of a piece of clothesline through it, and tie a knot to secure the rope. The clothesline must be long enough that when you extend your arms straight forward, it will touch the floor. Attach a five- or 10-pound plate or a dumbbell to the end of the clothesline, and you’re good to go,

Using an overhand shoulder-width grip, hold the piece of wood directly out in front of you. Lock your elbows. The weight should be touching the floor. Now roll the weight upward until it touches the wood, then slowly roll it back down to the floor. Repeat without any hesitation. Do not allow your arms to drop, and do not jerk the weight around. Both the up and down movements must be done in a smooth, controlled manner.

The first time people try these, they typically can manage two ups and two downs. That’s okay. As with any other exercise it doesn’t matter where you start; it’s where you end up that counts.

The most that I’ve seen done is six ups and downs. You can do these often, and they’re only productive when you push them hard. Working the wrists and forearms is much like working the calves. You have to abuse them to make them stronger. I recommend doing wrist rolls three times a week, at night or on nontraining days. You’ll never consider them a fun exercise, but if you work them hard enough, they’ll get the job done.

There are several other exercises that are specific for the wrists and forearms and work very well. Hammer curls and reverse curls are two of the best and favored by bodybuilders because they add size to the forearms. Hammer curls are performed with your thumbs up, so you must do them with dumbbells. Reverse curls, on the other hand, can be done with dumbbells, a straight bar, or an EZ-curl bar. I prefer a bar because you can use more weight.

Wrist curls are another favorite of strongmen and bodybuilders and have been since Milo lifted that calf. There are two ways to do them—palms up and palms down. You can do them one arm at a time with a dumbbell or together with a straight or EZ-curl bar.

I’ll start with the straight bar. Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with your palms up. Place your forearms on top of your quads with your wrists extended over your knees. Grip the bar tightly and bend your wrists as far down as you can while keeping your forearms snug to your thighs. From there curl the bar upward as high as you can. Keep doing this motion until your wrists and forearms are screaming for you to stop.

Now switch so that your palms are down, and do the same up-and-down motion. Do three sets, to limit, and either add weight or increase your reps each time you do them. Don’t increase it by much, however. Five more pounds and/or a couple of reps is enough.

After you’ve been doing the palms-up version for a few weeks, try this: Instead of maintaining a tight grip on the bar, let your fingers open, and roll the bar down them until you can just barely hold on. Then curl your fingers back together, and complete the curling motion. This subtle, extra move forces your wrists and forearms to work even harder, which in return results in more strength.

If you choose to use dumbbells for wrist curls, set your elbow on one knee and your palm on the other to form a bridge. Hold the dumbbell across the back of your bracing hand and commence to do the exercise. Then switch over and do the palms-down version of the movement. By doing these with dumbbells, you will quickly discover which wrist is the weakest. Add a couple of extra reps or even another set for the weaker wrist, and in a few months it will be up to par.

Another productive exercise for your wrists and forearms involves locking a weight to the end of a short bar. An adjustable dumbbell bar is okay for starters, but as you get stronger, a longer bar works better. Hold the bar by the side of your leg with the weight hanging straight down. Elevate the bar upward with your wrist and forearm until it’s pointing up, and then slowly lower it to the starting position. Repeat until you’re no longer able to raise the weight vertically.

A variation of that exercise is to let your arm move freely and bring the weight upward in a few different angles. That works the muscles of your forearm and wrist a bit more than when your arm stays snug to your side. Try both versions, and see which makes you work harder. Harder is always a good thing.

Do these for three sets per arm, and slowly but steadily add reps and/or resistance.

A popular wrist and forearm exercise in the York Gym was the weaver stick. It was also a test of strength. The weaver stick is a six-foot length of broomstick, with a short piece of clothesline and a weight attached at the other end. Just as in the previous exercise, you lock your arm next to your leg, and bring the stick up to a horizontal position.

Vern Weaver, Val Vasilef, Ernie Pickett, Bob Bednarski, Bill March and John Grimek were all exceptionally strong, but no one could match Steve Stanko. Whatever a challenger did, Steve always did five or 10 pounds more.

Hand grippers used to be very popular with those wanting greater gripping strength, and they still work—as does the old tried-and-true method of squeezing a rubber ball. I found that a ball of trainer’s tape works as well. The nice thing about squeezing a rubber something is that you can do it just about anywhere—while driving, or waiting in the dentist’s office, or watching TV or even while reading.

So there are plenty of exercises for you to choose from if you want to improve your wrist and forearm strength. Pick out one or two, and work them hard. Keep in mind that some laborers work their forearms for eight hours a day, and the results are very obvious.


Editor’s note: Bill Starr was a strength and conditioning coach at Johns Hopkins University from 1989 to 2000. He’s the author of The Strongest Shall Survive—Strength Training for Football, which is available for $20 plus shipping from Home Gym Warehouse. Call (800) 447-0008, or visit www

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January 2015 Table of Contents http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/january-2015-table-of-contents/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/january-2015-table-of-contents/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:46:38 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26053 ... continue reading]]> [CLICK HERE to download a PDF of this Issue Instantly. Learn More]

This month we chat with physique star Matt Christianer, who’s got some new ways to help you grow—both in muscularity and popularity (he’s got a huge Internet following). Then Roger Lockridge outlines the perfect greatest-HIT workout for arms. Looking for sleeve-busing bi’s and tri’s? This is your power-packed plan. Plus, Mr. America Doug Brignole identifies the single best mass moves for quads, hams, calves and glutes. The January IRON MAN hits newsstands the first week of December.



Steve Holman outlines quick workouts with antagonist-muscle supersets. Prepare for a powerful pump!


Mike Gritti fires his guns and tells how he built them—and more. Here’s the real nitty gritty on this arm-wrestling flexer.


The X men explain how to contract, then elongate to pack on muscle weight. It’s a tactic to set the “stage” for growth.


Joe Klemczewski, Ph.D., a.k.a. the Diet Doc, outlines a strategy for creating full, crisp shreddedness—with a sharp training edge.


Greg Zulak tells how and why the champs train the way they do—and how you can do it to grow massive too.


How Ryno Cordier dropped 26 pounds of fat in two years and got his body into muscular, competition shape. Talk about motivation!


One all-out work set per exercise helps you load your guns for growth. Roger Lockridge takes you on a sleeve-stretching odyssey.


Be your own guru, says Ron Harris. With experience you learn what your body needs to get inside-out peeled.


Mr. America Doug Brignole has the ultimate exercise for training quads, hams and calves.


How the Buffalo Bills’ Chris Hogan builds a body to excel in the NFL.


Superhero supermodel Alicia Marie is also a dancer, designer and the author of The Booty Bible. You’ll be floored by this exotic beauty’s body and, yes, booty.



Deviation for mass creation; slow, then go; and dumbbell wall presses for upper-chest-building success.


Ron Noreman, the Nutrition Alchemist, discusses the rise of the guru. Plus, amino acid basics.


Coach Charles Poliquin analyzes the right training frequency for muscle growth.


Bill Starr’s advice: Build variety into your shoulder work.


IFBB pro Ben White’s take on lashing your legs for more size.


Mr. Natural Olympia John Hansen talks injury prevention.


Vince Del Monte on how to do myotatic reflex reps.


L.T. discusses the birth of the New Age Experts and highlights NPC action from Ohio to the Golden Gate. Plus, it’s IM Naturally time!


Slow down to speed up gains—and a dried fruit to drop the pooch.


Serious Training with Christel Oerum at Gold’s Gym. Also, Iconic Images.


Ruth Silverman recaps the fall shows—the 2015 season is off and running.


Hot cover gal, Mentzer mayhem and great size-building stuff.

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Destroy Plateaus With Isometronics http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/destroy-plateaus-with-isometronics/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/destroy-plateaus-with-isometronics/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:09:54 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26261 ... continue reading]]> 7308-twigIn the past few columns I’ve been sharing with you some of the best but little-known advanced techniques that can net you enormous rewards in growth and strength. They’re not techniques that you’ll see very much of in the neighborhood gym, unless you luck into watching someone who’s working with an intelligent bodybuilding or strength coach.

In my one-on-one coaching program, we use these techniques to give our clients incredible results. They are able to realize serious gains in the shortest time span, much faster than they expected, and with no plateaus. The reason for those results is variation.

As with the constant-tension timed sets and functional hypertrophy clusters described in previous installments, the key to blasting plateaus is to present new stimuli to your body on a regular basis. Once you’re past the beginner stages of bodybuilding, those stimuli can’t come from the standard three or four techniques that you have been using. They simply lack the needed intensity. For that reason we use as many as three dozen different advanced techniques with our clients, changing them as needed.

This month I want to introduce you to an advanced technique that’s been a game-changer for many of the most well-known and respected bodybuilders in the in dustry. It’s called isometronics, but you may have also heard it referred to as static-contraction training or auxotonic training.

What is Isometronics?

Isometronic training combines the principles of isometric and isotonic exercises to reap the benefits of both. It provides a very high-intensity workout, but the rewards are huge. In isometronic training, you use heavy loads (often heavier than you’ve been lifting) in a power rack—but in a very specific way.

Isometronics is used with movements that require either pressing or curling. For instance, you can do it with barbell squats, bench presses, barbell curls, incline presses and so on.

To perform an isometronic movement, you place two pins in the rack, anywhere from four to six inches apart, limiting your range of motion to the top one-third. Then you prefatigue the muscle by doing several of the partial reps—usually six if you normally do eight—and then finish with an isometronic lift: Stop at the top of the movement, and press as hard as possible, as though you were trying to push through the pins, for six to 10 seconds. After lowering the weight and resting for a very short period, try to do one more regular rep. For many guys that last partial rep is a no-go. After you rest again, do two more sets.

 Why is Isometronic Training So Effective?

Isometronic training gets massive results in terms of both hypertrophy and strength gains because it prompts so many different responses from your muscles, your hormones and your central nervous system.

First, your muscles can exert 10 to 15 percent more force during an isometric contraction—pressing the bar at the end of the movement—than they can during the concentric movement. Exerting that force, though, adds tremendous intensity to the set. Because of the prefatigue reps followed by the isometric rep, you can achieve maximum intramuscular tension, far more than you can with a regular movement.

That intensity has a number of positive benefits. First, you recruit more of the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which stimulates myofibrillar growth. In most protocols it’s difficult to work past the point where you’ve fatigued the slow-twitch fibers so that you can stimulate the fast-twitch fibers; however, because you prefatigue the muscle and then exert a tremendous amount of force before asking the muscle to do one more rep, your central nervous system sends in every gun it has. Myofibrillar hypertrophy means growth in both size and strength.

That CNS stimulation sets off an important cycle. It prompts more efficient neuromuscular communication, which just means that your muscle fibers get messages from your brain much more quickly. Every time you do the workout, that communication gets better and better—along with the responding muscle fiber recruitment. You’re able to increase reps and/or load every three or four workouts, as opposed to every three or four weeks.

Another very important response to this training is hormonal. Because isometronic training is so incredibly demanding, it stimulates your body to release more insulinlike growth factor 1 than it would with your normal workouts. IGF-1 stimulates the satellite cells in your muscle fibers, which are basically the concrete your body uses to repair and build new muscle.

How to Do It

The above example shows how a set looks when you’re doing isometronic training, but there are a few other guidelines, and they’re important ones. Isometronic work is extremely taxing to the central nervous system. If you try it, you’ll probably find yourself shaking like crazy after doing three sets of an exercise—because your central nervous system is completely shocked. That’s a good thing, for all the reasons discussed, but it can be overdone very quickly.

Isometronic training is not for beginning bodybuilders, and it’s not a protocol for training five or six days a week.

For a few of our advanced one-on-one clients, we suggest using isometronic training at every other workout. By that I mean every other biceps workout or every other chest workout and so on, not every other full-body workout or even every other upper-body or lower-body workout. The last thing you want to do is fry your central nervous system by using isometronics on every bodypart in a workout. In any event, the supporting muscles wouldn’t be up to it.

Because of the huge demand on your central nervous system, you also need to cycle this type of workout very carefully. How often you should cycle it out will depend on your fitness level, your workout and your CNS.

What to Do Next

If you have a personal coach or a very experienced mentor who’s familiar with isometronics, then by all means talk to him or her about incorporating it into your regimen. Because you can very quickly overdo it and wipe out your CNS, however, I strongly urge you to work with someone who has the information when it comes to isometronics.

If you don’t have that resource, I encourage you to check out our personal one-on-one coaching program at www.VinceDelMonteFitness.com. It’s very affordable, and you’ll have careful training and guidance in all of the advanced training techniques that I’ve discussed her over the past few months. Keep lifting and living large.

Editor’s note: Vince Del Monte packed on an amazing 40 pounds of muscle in 24 weeks. He’s known as “the Skinny Guy Savior” and offers a number of courses to help you go from twig to big, including No Nonsense Muscle Building. For more information or to sign up for his free-tips newsletter, visit www


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Serious Size and Strength Supplements http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/serious-size-and-strength-supplements-3/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/serious-size-and-strength-supplements-3/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 08:04:28 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26319 ... continue reading]]> 7307-eat2CLEAR MUSCLE

Clear MuscleTM is a new, revolutionary muscle-building formula powered by BetaTORTM that dramatically amplifies protein synthesis while fighting catabolism, putting the body in a perfect state to build muscle.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted on very well-trained bodybuilders at the University of Tampa, the muscle-building results of Clear Muscle were more impressive than any other studied performance-enhancing supplement in sports nutrition history—including protein, creatine and BCAAs.

The subjects built an average of 16 pounds of muscle during the 12-week study and increased total one-rep max on the bench press, squat and deadlift. They also improved peak power performance as measured on Wingate and vertical-jump tests.

Clear Muscle is available in a clear liquid pill, only from MuscleTech. The compound’s free-acid nature gives it a viscous, clear, waterlike transparency. The BetaTOR digests faster, appears in the bloodstream quickly and rapidly absorbs into the muscle.

Clear Muscle provides ultra-concentrated anabolic power—you would have to eat 200 grams of whey protein to reap the anabolic signaling power of the one-gram dose of BetaTOR found in this new product. It increases anabolism by 70 percent while decreasing catabolism by 58 percent.

The formula works by amplifying protein synthesis through the mTOR pathway while simultaneously fighting catabolism by inhibiting the UPP pathway. That puts the body into the perfect state to build muscle as never before.

For more information visit MuscleTech.com. There’s also a Clear Muscle 12-week training program available for download at www.MuscleTech.com/trainhard.

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Another Rewarding Olympia Weekend http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/another-rewarding-olympia-weekend/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/another-rewarding-olympia-weekend/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 10:00:39 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26565 ... continue reading]]> 7312-pub[IM Insiders can download a PDF of this Issue Instantly. Learn More]

Joe Weider as something that would give Larry Scott another shot at competing has evolved into a nonstop weekend immersion in everything related to bodybuilding. From the original men’s contest it has added women’s bodybuilding, fitness, figure and bikini plus the men’s 212-and-under event and men’s and women’s physique. In addition, a hugely successful expo has grown up around it.

The show has brought many memorable moments over the years. I saw my first Mr. Olympia at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1966, when Larry Scott won and retired, and also the 1969 event, when Sergio beat Arnold. Fast-forward to 2014, and I witnessed the fourth triumph of Phil Heath.

The weekend is like a reunion for me, and the people make it special. I saw many whom I’ve known for 40-plus years, like Arnold and Franco, and for 30-plus years, like Lee Labrada, Samir Bannout, Lee Haney and Mike Katz, to name but a few. Other familiar industry people I enjoyed seeing ranged from Betty Weider, whom I’ve also known for many years, to the producer of the event, Robin Chang, who did his usual seamless job in creating and coordinating the weekend.


Read the rest of the entry at John’s Blog

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Postworkout Protein and Optimal Timing http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/postworkout-protein-and-optimal-timing/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/postworkout-protein-and-optimal-timing/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 08:22:38 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26314 ... continue reading]]> 7307-eat1Much has been made in recent years of the importance of nutrient timing, a.k.a. making sure that you get adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates after you train. Research shows that there’s a two-hour metabolic window of opportunity after a workout, in which the effects of the exercise interact with elevated enzymes to produce a heightened absorption of nutrients.

Getting just protein then is enough to trigger muscle protein synthesis, and the active portions of protein for that are essential amino acids. It takes as little as six to 10 grams of essential amino acids to produce a maximum rate of protein synthesis. That translates to 20 grams of protein in your postworkout feeding.

As I’ve discussed in previous installments of this column, researchers found the 20-gram dose to be ideal after providing various amounts of protein (up to 40 grams) to subjects postworkout and then measuring the extent of muscle protein synthesis. The one exception is for those over age 40, who have a certain amount of anabolic resistance and so need more protein.

Most studies that have tracked muscle protein synthesis after resistance training have gone no longer than six hours, but it’s known to be accelerated for 24 hours if trainees get the optimal amounts of nutrients. So can we forget about the two-hour “anabolic window” after a workout? The answer is no—for reasons that I’ll get into below. The more important question at this point is, If muscle protein synthesis is elevated for 24 hours after training, what’s the ideal protein-meal schedule to take advantage of that?

A new study reveals precisely how much protein to get and how often to get it in during the 12 hours after a workout.1 Twenty-four healthy young men, all of whom had at least two years of training experience, were assigned to three groups, with all subjects getting 80 grams of whey protein over a 12-hour period after a workout consisting of four sets of leg extensions. Here’s the breakdown of the groups and what they took in:


1) The pulse group got eight servings of 10 grams of whey protein, one every 1.5 hours after the workout.

2) The intermediate group got four servings of 20 grams, one every three hours.

3) The bolus group got two servings of 40 grams, one every six hours.


Muscle biopsies were taken from the subjects at rest and at one, four, six, seven and 12 hours after exercise. The total protein intake of 80 grams amounted to 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight, and they also got four grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight. The protein was tagged with an amino acid tracer to determine the extent of protein synthesis.

The results showed that taking in 20 grams of whey protein every three hours following a workout leads to the greatest rate of production. Feeding yourself more often than that would not improve the outcome because of what’s known as a “muscle full” effect. Basically, muscle becomes immune to amino acids if they are provided continuously for more than two hours. Protein synthesis stops despite all the amino acids still in the blood. Intakes of more than 20 grams are rapidly oxidized in the liver, so you waste anything beyond that. Getting 20 grams every three hours is just enough to stimulate protein production but not enough to cause the muscle-full effect.

The two bolus feedings, 40 grams of whey every six hours, produced the greatest amount of amino acid transport activity, in addition to blunting muscle breakdown, but that lasts only through the first four hours after the workout. By the six-hour mark it was no longer apparent, and the aminos from the extra 20 grams of protein were oxidized in the liver.

One notable caveat about this study is that the subjects were not very big and were also lean. Whether the results would apply to larger and/or obese men is not known. Also, it used a fast-acting protein source, whey, rather than actual food meals. Consequently, the results are more pertinent to having a whey-protein supplement than eating a meal that contains carbohydrate and fat as well as protein, which would slow its digestion significantly in comparison to whey only. What’s more, amino acids are known to stay elevated in the blood for an average of five hours after a high-protein meal, which suggests that meal timing of food meals to optimize muscle protein synthesis would be different from that of whey protein alone.


Free Radicals and Muscle Gains

Free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species, or ROS, are by-products of oxygen metabolism that are known to be involved in various diseases as well as exercise metabolism. Past studies have linked elevated free radicals produced during exercise with increased muscle soreness and a blunting of recovery. To combat that, various antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, are often suggested as a means of promoting better recovery from exercise.

On the other hand, the body is known to upgrade its in-house antioxidant system with continued training, and the various enzymes and proteins act as a built-in fail-safe mechanism against the increased ROS.

Some studies suggest that the body’s defense system is easily overwhelmed by intense and extensive exercise. By adding various dietary antioxidants, you can bolster your antioxidant reserve.

All that said, more recent studies, especially those done with endurance exercise, show that free radicals may offer some important advantages. For one thing, a higher rate of free-radical production promotes the development of mitochondria, the portion of the cell where fat is oxidized, and energy, in the form of ATP, is produced.

According to some studies, taking antioxidants close to a workout interferes with the ROS-induced beneficial changes and may blunt the beneficial effects of exercise on insulin sensitivity. Not all studies have found those negative points, so the issue of whether antioxidant supplements interfere with the exercise-induced ROS benefits is still open for discussion.

The picture is even less clear regarding the effects of ROS on muscle growth. One particular ROS, known as peroxynitrate, results when the free radical superoxide comes into contact with nitric oxide. Peroxynitrate is considered a particularly potent ROS, yet recent studies show that it’s involved in the calcium signaling process within muscle that plays an integral role in growth, which suggests that trying to control it may interfere with muscle gains.

One recent rat-base study showed that giving vitamin C to rats that had been exposed to a form of resistance exercise resulted in a blockage of the rats’ muscle gains.2 The catch here is that rats, unlike humans, can synthesize vitamin C in their bodies from glucose. So giving exercising rats a large dose of vitamin C is an unnatural act that may have produced a stress effect sufficient to interfere with the animals’ exercise response.

The studies that have been published thus far about antioxidant supplementation and muscle growth show no interference whatsoever, which should be good news for those who take antioxidants. On the other hand, as noted with peroxynitrate, ROS do seem to play a role in the cellular signaling process that is involved in muscle growth. So the end of this story hasn’t yet been written. —Jerry Brainum


Editor’s note: Have you been ripped off by supplement makers whose products don’t work as advertised? Want to know the truth about them? Check out Natural Anabolics, available at JerryBrainum.com.


1Areta, J.L., et al. (2013). Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. J Physiol. 9:2319-2331.

2 Makanae, Y., et al. (2013). Vitamin C administration attenuates overload-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy in rats. Acta Physiol. 208(1):57-65


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Build Size and Power With Deadlifts http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/build-size-and-power-with-deadlifts/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/build-size-and-power-with-deadlifts/#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2014 08:26:08 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26362 ... continue reading]]> 7307-mhpQ: You are known as a pretty good deadlifter. Are there any points on technique you can give that will help me increase my pull?

A: Pretty good? Thanks for the backhanded compliment! The truth is that I work damn hard on my deadlift, and in return it works for me—helping me add muscle over my entire body. It’s a terrific exercise, one of the most anabolic of all. By using so much muscle in one movement, it increases your body’s secretions of growth hormone and testosterone, but the key is to perform it carefully.

If you use poor technique, you’ll get injured, which will kill whatever progress you hoped to gain by using a too-heavy weight in the first place. It won’t just kill your deadlift—a screwed-up back will prevent you from doing heavy squats, shoulder presses, rows, among other exercises.

Here’s a quick overview of proper form: For starters, I prefer to do the conventional deadlift—with feet at about hip width—as opposed to the sumo style, with feet spread wide. It’s a more mainstream setup and most often used by lifters.

Standing with your feet a hip width apart, grab the bar outside your knees. Your hips should be slightly higher than your knees, placing tension on your hamstrings. Keeping your back flat and spine straight, stand up with the bar. Be sure to use all your muscles in unison so your body works as a unit to start the lift.

Once you pass your knees, push your hips forward, allowing for a violent hip extension and getting maximum glute recruitment. Move to the full standing position so your body is erect. It’s not necessary, however, to lean back at the top.

Lower the bar under control, reset yourself with the weights resting on the ground, and repeat for the desired number of reps. Do not bounce the bar off the floor between reps.

Editor’s note: Ben White won his first IFBB professional bodybuilding contest, the Tampa Pro, in 2010. He is also a champion powerlifter and frequently competes in the World’s Strongest Bodybuilder contest at the Olympia. His best competition bench press is 711 pounds. He is an MHP athlete, www.MHPStrong.com.  IM


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What muscles does the deadlift train? http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/what-muscles-does-the-deadlift-train/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/what-muscles-does-the-deadlift-train/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:51:51 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26244 ... continue reading]]> 7308-train4Q: What muscles does the deadlift train?

A: There are four main forms of the deadlift. Done properly, they are among the most effective bodybuilding movements.

The conventional deadlift is the bent-legged form, performed with the hands wider apart than the legs.

The sumo deadlift requires a wider stance and the hands inside the legs.

The parallel-grip deadlift requires a trap bar or a shrug bar and is an excellent alternative to the barbell squat for bodybuilders whose leverages aren’t well suited to squatting. The parallel-grip deadlift has been a godsend for many bodybuilders.

The last variation is the stiff-legged deadlift. I don’t recommend the full-range version, but I do recommend the partial stiff-legged deadlift—from just below knee height. The Romanian deadlift is a form of the partial stiff-legged deadlift.

For most bodybuilders the conventional deadlift is the most technically demanding of the variations, and the partial deadlift is the least.

If the deadlift involves substantial knee flexion, the quadriceps are heavily involved, but if it doesn’t, the quads aren’t involved to any great extent.

Aside from possible quads involvement, the other muscles that participate in deadlifts include the spinal erectors, buttocks, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, upper back (including the traps) and forearms. The bent-legged forms of the deadlift train more than half of the muscle mass of the body.

When performed correctly, deadlifts are highly valuable bodybuilding exercises, but if you don’t do them correctly, they’re among the most dangerous exercises. In other words, deadlift correctly, or don’t deadlift at all.

Most bodybuilders who don’t deadlift correctly don’t know correct deadlifting technique, but the bodies of some bodybuilders just aren’t capable of adopting correct technique.

To be able to deadlift competently with any of the variations, you need to work at deadlifting technique and the essential supportive work.

There are three major components of good deadlifting ability:

1) The flexibility to be able to adopt the correct body position

2) The back strength to be able to maintain the correct back position

3) Correct exercise technique

You need to have sufficient flexibility in the major musculature of your lower body, so work on it. Without sufficient flexibility, your deadlifting technique will be compromised, with a reduction in safety and effectiveness.

You need sufficient strength throughout your back—lower, middle and upper—to be able to hold your lower back in the required slightly hollowed position during the deadlift. That’s critical for safety. Your back must not round while deadlifting. Four back exercises—the deadlift itself, back extensions, rows and shrugs—will help build the required back strength provided you work them with correct form and progressive resistance.

It may take several months before you can implement correct deadlifting technique, even with minimal weight. Don’t be frustrated. As your flexibility and back strength improve, along with your ability to use them, so will your deadlifting ability. Until you can adopt the correct technique, keep the resistance very light.

As your deadlifting weight grows, so should your strength on the back extensions, rows and shrugs to help you maintain the correct back positioning.

Here’s a critical note for all forms of the deadlift: The greater the extent of the forward lean, the greater the risk to the back because of the increased chance of losing the slightly concave lower spine that’s essential for safe deadlifting. To try to minimize the risk from deadlifting, keep your maximum forward lean to 45 degrees from an imaginary vertical line. There has to be forward lean in order to involve the back musculature heavily, but you must avoid excessive forward lean.

—Stuart McRobert


Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new BRAWN series, Book 1: How to Build Up to 50 Pounds of Muscle the Natural Way, available from Home Gym Warehouse, (800) 447-0008 or www.Home-Gym.com.

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Asian-Italian Chicken Veggie Salad http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/asian-italian-chicken-veggie-salad/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/asian-italian-chicken-veggie-salad/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 08:09:16 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26329 ... continue reading]]> 7307-eat5People often fear that eating clean and lean will be a flavorless and unexciting endeavor. Not so. When I started making my Asian-Italian chicken veggie salad, I knew I was on to something good. It has become a favorite in our household. One serving contains 271 calories, 26 grams of protein, two grams of fat and 20 grams of carb.

You will need one skinless, boneless chicken breast half; 1 1/2 cups of coleslaw mix; four small bell peppers (your choice of color); four big white mushrooms; 10  to 12 snow peas; grated Parmesan cheese and nonfat cooking spray.

Chop the mushrooms, the peppers and then the chicken breast into small bite-sized pieces. Lightly spray a pan with the nonfat cooking spray. Add the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Mix in the chopped bell peppers and snow peas, and let the vegetables cook, tossing lightly for five minutes. When the veggies start to look softer, add the chopped chicken breast and sauté lightly for another five minutes or until the chicken is done.

Line your serving bowl with the coleslaw mix. Pour the veggies and chicken over the slaw mix and dust the top of the entire serving with grated Parmesan cheese. Grab your chopsticks and—bam!

The natural flavors of the peppers and mushrooms cooked into the chicken mixed with the crunch of the snow peas is fantastic. This meal is filled with flavor, nutrition and a whole lotta yum!

—Ninette Terhart


Editor’s note: Ninette Terhart is a multi-award winning bodybuilder and fitness-and-wellness coach based in Los Angeles.


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Massive Muscle Gains Without Joint Pain http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/massive-muscle-gains-without-joint-pain/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/massive-muscle-gains-without-joint-pain/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 08:45:13 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26394 ... continue reading]]> 7307-prime4Q: I am loving the 4X Mass program. When I am done with it, should I, at my young age of 50, just keep doing it and increase weight when possible, or should I try your new Super-Size Crash Course? I’m thinking there’s some serious weight involved—LOL. My joints probably won’t stand for it.

A: The Super-Size Crash Course is not about lifting ultra-heavy weight. Bodybuilding protégé 18-year-old Jordon Williamson did use some heavy pyramid training in his 12-week plan that netted him 18 pounds of muscle, but I outlines variations for older trainees in the SSCC.

For example, you can use Downward-Progression 4X: You start with your 15 rep max but do only 12 reps; add weight to each subsequent set so the rep sequence goes 12, 10, eight, six. Resting just 45 seconds between sets will prevent excessive joint-smashing poundages. I usually add only five to 10 pounds per set, depending on the exercise.

You’re a middle-age bodybuilder, so if you want to follow Jordon’s mass-building plan as listed in that e-book, simply use DP 4X instead of the heavy pyramid training he used on certain exercises.

As I said, however, Jordon’s workouts were far from all-heavy training. In fact, they was mostly 4X, modified preexhaustion and TORQ—tension-overload repetition quantity, in which you use the same weight for three sets of 30, 20 and 15 reps. You go to failure on each set and rest 45 seconds between them. The higher reps ensure a massive pump and encourage new vascularity and capillarization as well as growth hormone release.

Now, to answer your question about a total standard 4X program, yes, try to increase weight whenever possible. But you also want to mix it up for some more frequent change to gain. For example, every so often try 3X sequences with only 25 seconds of rest between them (use the same poundage as you use for 4X).

Also, work in some DP 4X or some of the other mass tactics outlined in The Super-Size Crash Course, such as Progressive-Speed 4X.

Standard 4X is fine most of the time, but you need variation for more mass creation.

—Steve Holman


Editor’s note: For more on moderate-weight growth-threshold 4X mass training, see The 4X Mass Workout 2.0 and The Ultimate Super-Size Crash Course, available at X-Work
outs.com. For e-books on X Reps, fat-loss nutrition and bodypart specialization, visit the X-Shop at X-Rep.com.

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Multiple Exercise Sessions and Growth Hormone http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/multiple-exercise-sessions-and-growth-hormone-2/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/multiple-exercise-sessions-and-growth-hormone-2/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 08:45:51 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26310 ... continue reading]]> 7307-anabolicWhile you still see many articles about how to boost anabolic hormones, such as testosterone and growth hormone, during exercise, recent research has called into question the actual benefits of exercise-induced hormone boosts. According to the studies, such boosts do not have any significant effect on muscle protein synthesis—and without an increase in protein production, there are no gains in muscular size and strength.

On the surface such statements appear ludicrous. After all, one look at the muscular development of athletes who use anabolic drugs would suggest that they do contribute to muscle gains. So, what’s going on?

The reason for the huge muscle mass that accrues from high-dose anabolic drug regimens is that the drugs are used at regular intervals, and more important, they keep the blood levels of the various anabolic hormones elevated for extended times. In contrast, the short-term rise of testosterone or GH after a workout isn’t sufficient to make much of a dent in the muscle-building process. Or so say the researchers.

On the other hand, it’s also known that without a sufficient amount of testosterone, no muscle can be built. That was proven years ago, when young men, whose testosterone was at its highest levels, were given a drug that blocked testosterone activity. The men lifted weights but weren’t able to gain any muscle at all.

What about cortisol? High-intensity exercise is known to boost cortisol, which is the primary catabolic, or muscle-breakdown, hormone in the body. So, how does it enter the exercise-hormone picture? Both testosterone and GH, as well as insulin, are antagonistic to the catabolic effects of cortisol in muscle. In short, when testosterone and GH are elevated, the catabolic effects of cortisol are nullified.

Surely, then, the elevations of testosterone and GH induced by exercise must provide some anabolic effect? Well, no. The problem there is that as you gain more training experience, your body produces less cortisol during training. So cortisol release becomes less of an issue.

Based on all of the above, should you just forget about attempting to boost anabolic hormones during exercise? Not quite. While the temporary rise in testosterone may not do much, GH is another story. Several published studies have shown that GH alone isn’t very anabolic, which may come as a surprise to the many bodybuilders who gobble scores of amino acid supplements in an effort to boost GH output. Even so, while the anabolic effects of GH in relation to building muscle are questionable, it has other effects that are of definite benefit to bodybuilders and other athletes.

For one, GH potently stimulates the synthesis of collagen, a primary protein in connective tissue. Anyone who trains hard and heavy knows that it takes a toll mainly on connective tissue, such as joints and tendons, and GH speeds the repair of damaged connective tissue. In fact, that’s the main reason that elite athletes use GH (besides there being no efficient drug test to detect it). By strengthening connective tissue, GH is thought to prevent athletic injuries—but it also does something else that bodybuilders would find valuable.

In the hours following intense exercise, GH levels gradually rise, and when that happens, the body releases and oxidizes, or burns, fat stores. GH stimulates the process by boosting the activity of hormone sensitive lipase, an enzyme that releases fat from fat cells into the blood. It also makes fat cells more sensitive to the effects of catecholamines, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, which also assist fat release and oxidation.

In the mitochondria portion of cells, where fat is oxidized, GH favors the use of more fat in the process. Allowing the body to use more fat also has the side benefit of sparing limited stores of glycogen, the body carbohydrate that is the primary fuel for anaerobic exercise such as weight training.

Studies have shown that if you do high-intensity aerobic exercise just prior to engaging in a weight workout, you completely eliminate any release of GH that would otherwise occur during the weight workout. You also burn up glycogen stores, thus leading to possible decreased training intensity—one reason that it makes no sense to do an extended aerobic session prior to lifting weights.

That said, if you wait a few hours between sessions, the opposite is true: You get a greatly augmented release of GH. Many bodybuilders who are preparing for a contest do two aerobic sessions a day. During the second session they are likely burning much more fat than they did during the first session, as long as the second exercise bout is at least four hours after the first workout. Taking amino acids prior to aerobic exercise has no effects on GH, although some studies show that taking arginine, an amino acid often touted for its ability to boost GH, before training actually blunts exercise-induced GH release, contrary to popular belief. In addition, aerobic exercise produces more of a rise in GH than weight workouts, likely because of the greater use of fat as an energy source during aerobics.

Recently, researchers decided to evaluate what would happen if they provided varied nutrient mixtures to men engaged in aerobics sessions twice a day.1 The study featured six recreational trainers who regularly engaged in aerobic exercise. The average age of the subjects was 21, which makes a difference, since younger men release GH more easily during exercise than men over age 40.

The men first ran for 90 minutes at an exercise intensity of 70 percent of maximum oxygen intake, which is a moderate pace. They rested four hours and did the same run again; however, during the four-hour recovery period they took in one of the following drinks:


1) 0.8 grams of sucrose—a sugar—per kilogram of bodyweight along with 0.3 grams per kilogram of whey protein isolate

2) 0.8 grams of sucrose per kilogram of bodyweight

3) 1.1 grams of sucrose per kilogram of bodyweight


The second carb drink matched the protein-and-carb combination for carb content, while the third drink matched the drink for energy content.

The results showed that GH rose during both bouts of aerobics. During the second session it rose the same after both carb drinks but was augmented when the protein was added to the carbs. Interestingly, the protein-and-carb combo also produced less cortisol release after the second exercise bout compared to both carb-alone drinks. Still, despite the higher GH release from the protein-and-carb combo, the extent of fat burning didn’t differ, likely because of the presence of the carbs. High carbs blunt fat burning during exercise, even with an augmented GH release; however, the burning of fat will accelerate after the workout in a higher GH environment.

So, how do you use this information in a practical sense? If you train more than once a day, it’s a good idea to have one or two protein-and-carb drinks between the workouts. Indeed, although it’s a new idea to science, many bodybuilders have been doing it for years. When Arnold Schwarzenegger trained twice daily for a contest, he made sure that he got in at least one or two protein-and-carb meals between the workouts. He did that to ensure that he would have the energy to train intensely.

Weight workouts deplete muscle glycogen, and the effect is magnified if you also do an aerobic session. Taking in a protein-and-carb combination between workouts not only supplies the essential amino acids required for triggering muscle protein synthesis but also replenishes exhausted glycogen reserves. It all translates into added muscle and increased training energy.

Editor’s note: Jerry Brainum has been an exercise and nutrition researcher and journalist for more than 25 years. He’s worked with pro bodybuilders as well as many Olympic and professional athletes. To get his new e-book, Natural Anabolics—Nutrients, Compounds and Supplements That Can Accelerate Muscle Growth Without Drugs, visit www.JerryBrainum.com.   IM



1 Betts, J., et al. (2013). Growth hormone responses to consecutive exercise bouts with ingestion of carbohydrate plus protein. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 23(3):259-70.


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The Peaking Axis Pt 2 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/the-peaking-axis-pt-2/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/the-peaking-axis-pt-2/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 08:33:37 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26734 ... continue reading]]>

In Part 1 of this discussion I explained the carb-water dynamic. You may want to review that and the illustrations as we mix in the variables of mineral manipulation—or lack thereof. Carbohydrate and water are at least 95 percent of the game in peaking. Go all in, bet the farm, but whatever you do, get your carb and water intake right.

No matter how many times I say that, competitors want to focus on sodium and potassium. The lore of their roles and the lure of the belief that there’s a magic formula are tough to overcome. They are important elements—just not in the way you may have heard.

Water means muscle fullness. The water will only spill over if you are so overcarbed that excess glucose attracts water outside of muscle cells.

I have written about this topic for more than 15 years, and it has inspired a movement. Many in the newest generation don’t know about so-called conventional practices, which would have them sodium load, then deplete and then drop water to near zero the last day or two—or deplete carbs early in the week only to chase a mythical supercompensation. That said, there are still many who don’t realize that conventional peaking methods are deficient and deadly.

First, let’s review the reason that carbs and water are your biggest assets. Water means muscle fullness. The water will only spill over if you are so overcarbed that excess glucose attracts water outside of muscle cells. Too much carb will cause spillover even if your water intake is low, but you’ll be soft, smooth and—to your surprise—you’ll still be small because there isn’t enough water in the tissue to create fullness.

You want enough water to follow glucose into the muscle cells, but it’s  a delicate dance. You can end up flat and tight, flat but smooth, full and tight or full but smooth. Flat and tight is okay, flat but smooth is the worst of all worlds, full and tight is the benchmark, and full but smooth won’t win the day.

If you can get carbs and water even close—flat but tight—understanding minerals can be your best peaking strategy for fine-tuning. The goal, as I said, is full and tight, but starting conservatively enables you to build toward a perfect peak. If you spill over a day or two prior to your event, you likely won’t recover in time, and you’ll end up soft onstage—game over. On to minerals.

Sodium and potassium make up most of the mineral content used to control the flow of water in and out of cells, but I find it more important to view mineral balance on a broader level than just isolating those two. Magnesium, calcium and even less-considered minerals have a role in fluid dynamics.

Dehydrate so your blood pressure is lower while you leach out the necessary sodium from your heart musculature, and, well, you may want to see if your life insurance policy has a stupidity clause.


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Burning Fat and Keeping Muscle http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/burning-fat-and-keeping-muscle/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/burning-fat-and-keeping-muscle/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 08:47:19 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26237 ... continue reading]]> Q: Right now my main goal is to burn bodyfat while keeping as much of the muscle I built over the winter intact. I do my cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. A trainer at my gym told me not to eat for about two hours after I’m done to keep burning more bodyfat. After one week of doing that, I feel as if my muscles look smaller and flatter and that I’m losing all that I worked so hard to gain. Do I just need to be patient?

A: No, you do not have to be patient! While I understand this trainer’s thought process and the physiological mechanisms he is referring to, in the real world the result of such a practice is almost always a severe loss of muscle. Your solution is rather simple and will allow you to experience the best of both worlds—rapid loss in bodyfat and effective maintenance of your lean tissue.

Continue to perform your cardio on an empty stomach in the morning. (Note: I highly recommend taking five to 10 grams of both BCAAs and glutamine prior to beginning). Then, once you’re done, have a meal that contains only protein and essential fatty acids—no starchy carbohydrates or fruits. For example, a spinach-and-egg white omelette cooked in a tablespoon of olive oil. That will keep your insulin levels very low, which will allow for a prolonged fat-burning effect from your cardio while at the same time providing necessary amino acids and fats for muscle maintenance and sustained energy. About two hours later have another meal that contains low-glycemic-index carbs-—along with a complete protein, of course—and you should quickly begin to see the results you’re after.

—Eric Broser


Editor’s note: Eric Broser’s new DVD, “Power/Rep Range/Shock Max-Mass Training System,” is available at Home-Gym.com. His e-books, Power/Rep Range/Shock Workout and The FD/FS Mass-Shock Workout, which include complete printable workout templates
and Q&A sections, are available at X-Workouts.com.


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Paleo, Primal and Traditional Diets Pt 4 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/paleo-primal-and-traditional-diets4/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/paleo-primal-and-traditional-diets4/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 08:22:47 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26150 ... continue reading]]> 7308-eat8Here we are—Part 4 of this three-part series (yes I did say that). I just have too much information to convey in my allotted space, so here we go.

To recap, Parts 1 and 2 focused on the Paleo and Primal diets (preagricultural—hunter and gatherer nutrition), and Part 3 began the discussion of the traditional diet (preindustrial—when food was not made in factories).

The traditional diet was broken down into four pillars. The first two were discussed in Part 3: 1) meat, poultry, dairy and eggs should be grass-fed, pasture raised and organic; 2) organ meats from similarly raised animals should be eaten.

Pillar 3: Fermentation and sprouting. whole grains and beans are essentially seeds that are, by design, indigestible. An optimal scenario for the continuance of a plant species would be for an animal to consume them and excrete them undigested and intact with their own personal supply of manure in a place where the plant did not grow before. I have such a way with words, don’t I?

Whole grains and beans contain lechtins which can damage the digestive system and cause inflammation, bloating and allergic reactions. They also contain phytates, which can bind nutrients, especially minerals, and make them unable to be absorbed. That affects not only the nutrients in the offending foods but other foods and supplements around the same time. If that were not bad enough, beans contain trypsin inhibitors, which interfere with protein digestion by reducing the activity of protein-digesting enzymes. Lastly, dairy proteins and sugars—that is, lactose—cause gastrointestinal distress and subtle or severe allergic reactions in a great percentage of the population.

The Paleo paradigm suggests that grains and beans are unfit for human physiology as they have to be cooked, ground or otherwise processed to be digestible to any degree. The traditional diet’s answer is fermenting and sprouting, which break down, at least in part, the lechtins, phytates and trypsin inhibitors in food. Yogurt and cheese are fermented dairy and far more digestible than milk.

If you’ve eaten real sourdough bread, you’ve had fermented grains. If you’ve tried Ezekiel Bread, you’ve had sprouted grains. Luckily, sprouted brown rice, a.k.a GABA rice; sprouted quinoa; sprouted oatmeal and other sprouted grains are available. They exponentially increase the digestibility, nutrient content and absorption of these foods. I use them on most of my clients who are eating off-season carb allotments.

Interestingly, white rice has no lechtins, phytates or protease inhibitors—just starch. So an interesting diet variation is Paleo all day long with white rice postworkout for glycogen replenishment.

Finally, fermented vegetables are nature’s probiotics and are invaluable for efficient digestion. Try kimchi, real probiotic pickles and sauerkraut. Healthy digestion will improve your utilization of foods, which will enhance all your bodybuilding and fat-burning endeavors.

Pillar 4: Fresh and raw. At least once a day eat a large salad made with organic vegetables. Go for as many colors in the food spectrum as you can—at least when you aren’t on a contest diet. There’s nothing wrong with cooked veggies; just go big and go raw once a day. Your body will thank you. Nuts are best eaten raw and possibly sprouted, if you really want to split hairs.

“Fresh” speaks for itself—eat in-season produce and, when you can get it, locally grown. I’m not a tree-hugging greenie, but the superiority of these items is undeniable.

Tying together all the concepts from the four parts of this series, here are my 10 commandments of Paleo and traditional nutrition, which will certainly enhance your health and physique. My clients, who are serious about winning, use some, if not all, of these rules:

1) To the extent that you can, eat grass-fed, pasture-raised organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy. The difference is in the quality and ratio of the fats, some of which are quite anabolic. Don’t dismiss organ meats or meat on the bone.

2) Limit, if not eliminate, processed carbs and sugars. White rice is allowed in a postworkout meal if it works well for you.

3) Beans are a “Third World protein,” so if you eat them, do it for the carbs. Make sure they are properly soaked and cooked.

4) Your off-season diet can include grass-fed, full-fat diary—preferably not homogenized or pasteurized. This is where real CLA and other growth factors come from.

5) As a species we were never meant to have a superheavy carb load. Figure out how much carb and protein you need, and use healthful fat as the variable for gaining weight and size. You will be healthier, with more solid gains, to show for it.

6) Whole grains, if you eat them, should be sprouted or fermented. The way your body uses them and their affect on blood sugar is strikingly different from what happens with normal “healthy whole grains.”

7) Eat plenty of vegetables and some fruit (unless you’re on a contest diet). Some of it should be raw, preferably organic and seasonal. Give fermented vegetables a shot.

8) A healthful offseason diet for an athlete may very well be 30 percent protein, 35 percent carbs and 35 percent fat—if the fats are chosen wisely. Remember, unhealthful fat comes from factories, not nature.

9) Paleo-approved concentrated carbs, such as sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, plantains and yucca, are higher in nutrients and have fewer antinutrients than most whole grains.

10) If you can hunt it, pick it or dig it, you are probably on the right track. You should also give much more scrutiny to the quality of foods with bar-codes.

—Ron Noreman


Editor’s note: Ron Noreman (RonNoreman.com) is a partner in Kamler, Lewis & Noreman LLP (KLNcpas.com), a certified public accounting firm that specializes in tax representation and management of professional athletes, nutritional-supplement companies and weight-training-equipment manufacturers. He has been a competitive bodybuilder for 35 years and has won numerous titles, is the founder of Alchemy Nutrition and offers contest-prep coaching and holistic-nutrition consultations. He has also formulated antioxidant supplements for prominent vitamin companies and served as a design consultant for Nebula and other equipment manufacturers.


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Think Zinc http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/think-zinc/ http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/think-zinc/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 08:06:28 +0000 http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/?p=26145 ... continue reading]]> Zinc has played a big role in easing the symptoms of a cold, but there’s so much more to this mineral than you may know. It also plays a large role in metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which enables your body to use protein to help heal wounds.

The body uses zinc in the generation of cells, which is crucial to the regrowth of skin that is damaged from injuries, aging or environmental causes.

In addition, zinc is good at helping the body with collagen production, reducing free radicals, preventing the growth of bacteria, reducing inflammation, protecting against the sun and also promoting the healing of skin. Because your body has no natural way to store zinc, it’s important to make sure you’re getting your daily dose.

The good news is that zinc is naturally present in some foods and available as a supplement. Here’s a list of foods highest in zinc: oysters, toasted wheat germ, crab, lamb, peanuts, dark chocolate and pork loin.

The recommended daily dose for women 19 years and up is eight milligrams, and for men 14 years and up it’s 11 milligrams.

—Ninette Terhart


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