One Giant Set to Giant Arms

One giant Set To Giant Arms

One Giant Set to Giant Arms

Informed bodybuilders have always known the importance of the eccentric, or negative portion of a rep. This is where a lot of the micro damage occurs within the muscle tissue. Damage that will be repaired and replaced with thicker muscle fibers which translates into larger muscles. It’s much easier to let gravity take over and just speed through the negative but your cheating yourself out of much of your intended muscle building results.

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing

Recent studies have confirmed the importance of eccentric training with a surprising result. You would think the slower the descent, the more muscle damage there would be but that’s not the case. If the eccentric portion is too slow, less muscle damage will occur. Studies have discovered that if the descent is too slow the muscle has a chance to compensate and protect itself from further damage. The key is an eccentric phase lasting no more than three seconds.

This giant set is designed to take full advantage of the benefits of eccentric training. This set will focus on the elbow flexors close, to the elbow itself. Namely, the brachialis and the brachioradialis. These two important muscles are often overlooked in favor of the larger bicep brothers which are located higher up on the arm. But, neglecting these two hard to pronounce muscles is a big mistake. They add thickness to the arm and if not properly developed, they can hold back your overall bicep growth. Continue reading

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The One & a Half Rep Intensity Technique

 Intensity technique Increase Your Intensity 150% with the One & a Half Technique

Once you’re past the beginner stage of your resistance training life you’re bound to hit some plateaus. This is a good place to add some intensity techniques like super sets, giant sets or drop sets. Well this technique is not as well known but it’s still worth having in your training arsenal. It’s known as “One & a Halves” or “Rep & a Half” and it’s another method of ramping up the stress of any given set.

Give One Hundred Percent and then Fifty More

The concept of this intensity technique is to double the amount of reps to any given exercise. You perform a full rep followed by a half rep. You could work the half rep into the easiest half of the movement, therefore stressing the muscle twice as hard in the range where it normally doesn’t get enough stress. Conversely, you could complete the half rep during the toughest half of the move, but you’ll need to use a lot less weight if you use that option.

You could use this method with almost any exercise but these are some prime examples: Continue reading

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How to Retain Muscle After Surgery

I laid back on the bench and I went through the same set up ritual I’d done thousands of times before. My three warm up sets were complete and this was my first working set. I was preparing for a bench press contest, my first in almost ten years. My right shoulder was always sore but I learned to live with the pain. I really had no business benching heavy again but my thick head was in denial. I grabbed a random guy in my vicinity to spot me. I had 275 lbs loaded on the bar and this was going to be an easy double on my way up to 300. I took control of the bar after the liftoff and I started my slow descent. Just as the bar touched my chest I felt it. It was an obvious “POP” in my right shoulder. In my mind, it was a pop heard throughout the gym. I was frozen with fear and luckily my spotter realized something went wrong and lifted the bar up to the racks. I sat up on the bench, grabbed my shoulder and stared at the floor. My arm went numb and I knew something very bad just happened. Thoughts of Surgery flashed through my mind. A future of pain, pain meds, Physical therapy and dare I say itďż˝ ďż˝atrophy.ďż˝ I instantly sunk into a deep depression.

The Diagnosis

An MRI showed that my supraspinatus tendon was hanging on by a thread. I had a small tear in my labrum, as well as some bone spurs. The tears occurred in an instant but the spurs had formed during years of grinding. The bottom line: I needed surgery.

One week after surgery I started physical therapy and I was back at the gym. I was following the program that my physical therapist set up to increase my range of motion and strength. Working your rotator cuff muscles is tedious, time consuming and boring but it will save you a boatload of problems down the road.

My surgeon gave me a thick nylon belt that wrapped around my waist with a smaller loop Press1that wrapped my lower bicep. The belt secured my right elbow to my side so my right shoulder was immobile.Press1

I couldn’t train in any way that involved my right shoulder but I certainly wasn’t going to use that as an excuse to give up on my training altogether. There was no way I was going to sit and watch so many years of effort just fade away. I could still train my legs, abs, lower back and the entire left side of my upper body.

Some people may believe that if they trained just one side of their body they would develop a strangely uneven appearance, but the body is an amazing organism. Our bodies strive to be symmetrical and this occurs through a phenomenon called Cross Education.

Cross Education

While the definite mechanisms of cross education are still unclear, the fact of its existence has been known since the 1800’s. Several theories involve motor pathways and neural circuits and delve deeper into science than I need to know. Various studies have proven that unilateral strength training has a positive effect on the untrained side and that’s evidence enough for me. Not only may the untrained side retain strength but some studies have even shown the untrained side could increase in strength. Furthermore, an immobile limb will lose less range of motion if the opposite side is trained during a long recovery. Sadly, studies have never shown hypertrophy in the untrained limb but retainment of muscle mass is definitely possible and all you could ask for after an injury or surgery.

My Training Program

I couldn’t run but I continued my HIIT cardio training using an elliptical machine or a stationary bike.

I continued working my left side with machines, cables and dumbbells. One item in my gym bag of tricks that assisted me through this was my GlobeGripz. Working just my left side was awkward and using my GlobeGripz added comfort on all my pressing movements. I was also concerned that if my left side� developed tendinitis, my training would be really screwed. So the Globegripz would save me some wear and tear. I also used them in both hands, further into my recovery, to find the angles that didn’t aggravate my shoulder.
I was able to work my back with single arm pull downs and cable rows and I used an assisted pull-up machine to perform one arm pull-ups.

Single arm dumbbell presses made up the brunt of my chest training. It’s not easy to get a single heavy dumbbell in place and I had to really drive my left foot into the floor to keep my balance on the bench.

I worked my left shoulder with dumbbell laterals and presses and I even threw in single how-toarm dumbbell snatches for some dynamic work.

I could still work my forearms with wrist curls and reverse wrist curls and I could continue all my grip strength training.

I now found extra time to train my calves with seated calve raises and donkey calve raises.

I performed squats in a Smith machine using my left hand to secure the bar. My gym has a Smith style machine where the bar can flow back and forth as well as up and down. I like this machine because it’s closer to performing actual free standing squats. I didn’t want to put a heavy bar across my shoulders so I would do sets of high rep breathing squats, sometimes as high as 100 reps.Squat

Let me admit to you that this type of restricted training is not fun. I had to really dig deep to motivate myself to get to the gym and get it done. My biggest motivation was the thought of what would happen to my body if I didn’t train. I should also state that my surgeon recommended no resistance training, that involved my right shoulder, until nine weeks after surgery but I’ve never been a good patient.

After four weeks I started working my right bicep with very light dumbbell curls and my right triceps with very light cable press downs. Again, I made use of my GlobeGripz to find the exact angles to relieve any pain.

After five weeks I stopped wearing the belt that secured my right arm and I was determined to regain my strength.

After six weeks I figured out I could use the Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral curl machine. The pads that support my elbows are elevated so there was no pressure on my shoulder. I could finally work my right bicep with some real weight. Hammer Strength also makes a similar machine for the triceps and that worked equally as well. Psychologically, I felt motivated to train again.

Eight weeks out I added lying triceps extensions with 15 lb dumbbells and at nine weeks I started doing planks in a fully locked out push-up position.

Ten weeks out I began performing chest presses with 15 lb dumbbells. My right side felt weak and would dictate when my set was done. A tendon heels at 5% each week and I decided to grab a pair of bells that were five pounds heavier with each coming week.

Twelve weeks after surgery I was back working all the muscles in my right shoulder. I managed to hold onto most of my muscle mass and I was feeling stronger every day. The past 3 months really tested me mentally and physically, but I felt like I succeeded and I was confident that I’d regain all my strength in a couple more months.

All Is Not Lost

Shoulder injuries are as common in any gym as sleeveless shirts. If you’ve been training for years chances are you’ve suffered some type of injury or as my mother would say “god forbid” that an injury is headed your way. Just know that there are ways to work around almost any injury if you have the willpower and the drive to persevere.

I discovered, the hard way, that retaining muscle after surgery is possible but keep in mind the old saying: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ So check your ego at the gym door and remember that training smarter is better than training harder.

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How Does A SWAT Team Really Train?

Police training functional shooting

How Does A SWAT Team Really Train?

How Does A SWAT Team Really Train?

It was late July and the lead story on all the local news stations was the record setting heat and humidity predicted for the day. There was a health advisory warning against any outdoor activity. We started the day out on the range with an hour of PT (physical training) and then jumped right into some shooting drills in full gear. I drank a gallon of liquids before lunch. Our team paramedic was on hand in case anyone needed to be hooked up with some IV Fluids. We had to train… it was our SWAT training day. Continue reading

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Strong Grip of the Law

grip strength strong grip

Strong Grip of the Law

The Strong Grip Of The Law              

by Jim Vaglica

Years ago, when I was a young rookie cop, I made a lot of arrests. One night I decided it was time to lock up this bad guy, so I moved in and grabbed his wrist. Immediately he began backing up and struggling. He pulled and shook his arm violently in an effort to break free. Eventually I lost my grip and I found myself in a foot chase. He was a young wiry guy in sneakers and he was fast enough to lose me in the darkness behind a building.

I’ll never forget that feeling of defeat. I had lost a struggle and a foot chase in the same incident. Someone had beaten me at my own game. This guy should have been under arrest but now he’s parts unknown. I’ll have to track him down and attempt to arrest him again. This was the first time I actually had hold of someone and they had got away from me. Had I been able to maintain my grip on his wrist he would have been in his rightful place: behind bars, and I would have not felt the agony of defeat. I was determined that would not happen to me again.  Continue reading

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How To Do Dips By The Iron Guru

Vince Gironda dips

Vince Gironda the Iron Guru

Dips By the Iron Guru            by Jim Vaglica

Most of you are too young to remember Vince Gironda.  He was known as the Iron Guru and he opened Vince’s Gym in North Hollywood in 1948. Vince trained some of the biggest names in bodybuilding including Arnold, Lou Ferrigno and Larry Scott. When movie stars, like Clint Eastwood and Robert Blake, needed to get into shape quickly they also came to the famous Vince’s Gym.

The Iron Guru had his own unique and controversial philosophies of training. If someone was training in a manner Vince didn’t believe in, it was not uncommon for Vince to throw them out of his gym. For instance, the Guru believed that the standard back squat caused the hips to widen and the buttocks to protrude. He was also no fan of the standard bench press, believing that it over stressed the front delts. Dips were his primary exercise for building the chest. But these dips were done in a very specific Gironda Style. I had to dig up my old copy of Vince’s book ‘The Wild Physique’ to research exactly how Vince described his dips. Continue reading

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