By Mike Westerdal
Many different types of athletes—weightlifters, powerlifters and combat sport enthusiasts alike—benefit from explosiveness, flexibility and strength. When it comes to developing these qualities, nothing is better than complex movements that recruit multiple muscle groups. Among compound movements, three are considered to be kings: the squat; the deadlift and the bench press. While there is no arguing that these are great movements, it’s always good to incorporate something new into your training routine.
With the Summer Olympics right around the corner, this is a good time to take a look at the Olympic Lifts and how they can help you develop explosiveness, flexibility and strength like never before.
First, Olympic Lifting is defined as an athletic event in which participants attempt a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates.
Second, there are two basic Olympic Lifts: the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. Olympic Lifts differ from other compound lifts that are primarily focused on demonstrations of brute strength in that they also test human ballistic limits (explosive strength) and are executed faster and with more mobility and a greater range of motion.
Why would anyone who isn’t a competitive lifter want to perform Olympic Lifts? The answer to that question is simple—Olympic Lifts can develop explosive power, flexibility and strength better and faster than nearly any other compound movement. While these qualities are beneficial for nearly any type of athlete, they’re essential for guys who enjoy combat sports such as mixed martial arts fighting.
And while it’s true that Olympic Lifts are a phenomenal movement, I think some common misconceptions about them prevent a lot of guys from trying them out and finding out for themselves just how great they are. A false perception that Olympic Lifts are inherently dangerous is probably the most common obstacle to their more widespread practice. However, statistics and studies show that this just isn’t true—Olympic Lifters do not suffer from more injuries than any other type of lifter.
The primary reason you don’t see more guys doing the Olympic Lift is that they require lots of effort and demand perfect form. And to be quite honest, most guys just don’t have the kind of dedication and discipline it takes to perfect the movements. That’s a shame though because they’re not all that difficult to master and there are some excellent resources for learning how to perform them properly.
Of the two movements, the Snatch is the one that should be mastered first. The basic idea is to lift a plate-loaded barbell from the floor, to mid-chest height and then high overhead with the arms straight above the shoulders.
While it’s performed as a single, continuous movement, for training purposes it is broken down into multiple phases: approach; beginning; acceleration; dip-under; catch; and squat.
The Clean and Jerk movement essentially builds on the snatch movement but takes it a few steps further. The grip on the Clean and Jerk is closer together than the Snatch. According to Olympic Lift expert Eric Wong, the Clean and Jerk is best performed in the following manner: six phases for the Clean (setup; first pull; dip; quadruple extension; pull under and stand); and four phases for the Jerk (setup; dip; drive and split).
If you really want to learn to master these movements I highly recommend Eric’s program, Olympic Lifting Mastery: The fastest method to becoming explosive, flexible and strong. It’s a great resource.
Some of the key benefits of Olympic Lifts include: greater speed; improved stability; integrated mobility; force development; enhanced force absorption and full body strength development. And while most of these qualities are going to be of interest to guys involved in combat sports, if you’re looking to improve your mass-building capacity, you ought to consider incorporating the Olympic Lift into your routine on a regular basis.
I say this because remember, Olympic Lifts are compound movements that recruit multiple muscle groups when they performed. And because they require so much effort and call for explosiveness and power, performing Olympic Lifts causes the endocrine system to flood the body with powerful muscle-building hormones. This means that the next time you lift specifically to build mass, your muscle fibers are primed and ready to bulk up.
If you’re an athlete, you need to be explosive… unless of course you’re a marathon runner, in which case you can just slowly jog away from this article right now because this doesn’t apply to you.
But if you’re involved in any other sport that is worth watching, like MMA, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc, then explosive power is what makes those exciting plays happen.
You know, when someone lands a big knockout punch or takedown, a running back breaks through the middle of the line, or Blake Griffin soars through the air and throws down a big dunk.
Well there’s no better way than adding in the Olympic lifts.
In fact, science has proven it.
In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 1993 called “A Review of Power Output Studies of Olympic and Powerlifting: Methodology, Performance Prediction, and Evaluation Tests”, author John Garhammer performed a biomechanical analysis of the Snatch, Clean and Jerk, Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press to determine how much power was being generated during each exercise.
Before we get into the results of the study, you must understand how power is calculated.
Power is calculated by the following equation (it’s math lesson time – yay!):
Power = Force x Velocity
While velocity is simply how fast you move the weight, Force = Mass x Acceleration, how much weight you move multiplied by how much you accelerate the weight.
That’s why with respect to power output, lifting heavier doesn’t always mean lifting more powerfully, because whenever you add weight, you will be slowing down the lift.
Now let’s take a look at the results of Garhammer’s study…
Garhammer analyzed video of elite lifters and calculated their power outputs through some really intense mathematical analysis.
If you’re a science geek who wants to see the details, click here to download the entire study.
Basically, what Garhammer found was that during the Clean exercise, a 100 kg lifter generated 4191 watts of power, while during the Deadlift, 1274 watts of power were generated!
The reason why over 3x more power is generated by the Clean is because the lift is performed so much faster and over a much bigger range of motion – it takes about 1 second to get the barbell from the floor to the front rack position during a heavy Clean, while it can take anywhere from 4-6 seconds to get the barbell from the floor to the thighs in a Deadlift.
Plus, because you cannot perform the Olympic lifts slowly, you’re forced to be explosive!
Just check out this video of Chinese lifter Liao Hui, lifting 198 kg (435 lbs) in the Clean and Jerk… at a bodyweight of only 69 kg (151 lbs)!
So if you’re looking to improve your explosive power for your sport, jump higher, or just learn these highly technical exercises because you’ll get a kick out of seeing the looks on people’s faces as you do these in the gym while they’re sitting on the leg extension, check out my friend Eric Wong’s (trains UFC fighters) Olympic Lifting Mastery Course to learn more about the Olympic lifts and becoming a more explosive athlete or powerful lifter.
Who Else Wants To Quickly Master The Most
Explosive Exercises On The Planet?
Interview with strength athlete and interview All-Star Ben Tatar
By Dean Bennett for CriticalBench.com
Critical Bench goes one on one with strength athlete and one of the best iron game interviewers of the past decade, Ben Tatar.
CB: Ben, it’s great to be interviewing you today. Let’s learn about the strength athlete who lives the dream, interviews the stars, and lives on the edge: the famous Ben Tatar Monster.
BT: Thanks Dean. It’s great to be doing this interview with you and Critical Bench today.
CB: It’s awesome to be interviewing you. First question, Ben, how did you get started in going to events like the Olympia, and Arnold? How did you get started on this epic journey?
BT: Ever since I was a teenager, I was writing for Critical Bench and other magazines. I was also interviewing the best powerlifters, bodybuilders, models, and athletes in the world. Everyone who I interviewed wanted to meet me. Then everyone invited me to go to events like the Arnold and Olympia. The rest is history.
CB: That is awesome! List for us a great moment during your journey, a crazy moment, funny moment, and a moment that changed you the most?
BT: Greatest moment was when my family raised millions of dollars for autism as we rollerbladed from Florida to Maine, over 2000 miles. This also increased global awareness and was all over every TV station including Good Morning America. It was such an adventure and a great cause. We do stuff like this frequently. In fact at last years New Years party we raised so much money, that the first teaching hospital, headquartered in Mirebalais, Haiti was built . We have raised millions of dollars for Autism, muscle diseases, and all kinds of things. We are frequently doing these types of things to make the world a better place.
A crazy moment is just the fact that I know all the strongest monsters in the world, and that I’m friends with every single one of them.
Funniest moment, I’m always laughing as I have seen stuff in life that is more outrageous than all the scenes of the movie The Hangover!! A moment that changed me the most, was probably when I interviewed the living legend Dave Draper as a young kid for Iron Man Magazine. Once I did that, I had confidence and I would later go on to do social networking and weight lifting business with names like Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Carmen Electra, Ray Lewis and many more.
CB: All big things! How are celebrities different from normal people? Which celebrity was coolest and which was the biggest jerk?
BT: It depends. You can’t generalize. People are people,and some people just really excel in a special interest. What we do is not who we are, it’s just what we do. If I was the best in the world at something or the worst, I’m still Ben Tatar. It’s just about taking a passion and seeing where one can go with it! The people who are the best in the world just take a skill that they have as far as they can and some get known for it. They fear like others, but they have courage to face their fears and make their dreams realities.
As for the celebrities that I didn’t like, well I told John Saunders that I was going to throw him in the pool at an ESPN pool party at Barry Melrose’s house. (laughs). The Ultimate Warrior is another one who was difficult, he gave me my shortest interview of all time. Jenny McCarthy was one of the craziest but in an inappropriately cool way. People like Tito Ortiz and The Rock are different in real life than what you see on TV, because they aren’t living through their persona and they are motivators instead of playing controversial entertaining personas. As for a really cool one, I always liked Barry Melrose. We could talk about anything for hours. 9 out of 10 of them have been great in real life.
People ask me these questions all the time. It’s easier for me to discuss topics in private, so my email is moc.liamgnull@retsnomratat
CB: Are the celebrities usually hard to talk to or easy?
BT: Very easy because they get to go in depth about their successful journeys that they are proud of.
CB: Everyone loves the Tatar Monster. Everyone from hardcore athletes, pro athletes, to models. Do you find it hard to get along with the toughest fighters and the toughest monsters in the world?
BT: As for the tough guys in general, it’s funny because people fear the tough guys, but the toughest people are often the nicest people in the world. It’s a lot easier for the toughest monsters to be nice guys than it is for the Average Joe’s to be nice guys because the toughest guys usually get respected. People usually don’t pick on the toughest monsters, so it’s easier for them to be nice.
Also, the toughest guys have a stereotype of being mean bastards, so they will be extra nice to people as their kindness then has added value. With average guys on the other hand, if they are too nice, then some of them are afraid of being perceived as sissy-like and they might try to act tough in order to overcompensate. Plus, tough guys often have a true confidence about themselves and don’t need to prove themselves. Now, I understand that when you know the toughest monsters in a much more personal way, there is a great chance that they have a lot of badass stories, but when you are working with them in a setting where they are being paid to be nice, and in my case (giving them publicity,) it makes it very easy for them to be super pleasant to be around. In addition we have a lot in common which makes conversations natural.
CB: Very true. You’re smart Ben. I liked your tough guy analogy. From an interview give us a very crazy moment!
BT: When I was interviewing Frank Shamrock, I asked “What was the craziest thing that you have ever experienced in a fight?”
Frank Shamrock said ” Well, one time I was so dehydrated in a fight that my mouth was so dry and since my mouth was so dry, I had trouble breathing for 8 minutes. So I clinched in the stand up wrestling position and I actually licked the sweat off my opponents shoulders! And after I licked the sweat off my opponents shoulder, I recovered. Then I was able to kick his ass!”
After that, there were hundreds and thousands of comments going on over every message board. Especially, the Sherdog message board. This was when the UFC and Frank Shamrock were both in their primes,and it was a big deal. They even made comic t-shirts based on Frank’s response to the question.
CB: That’s funny. You have been all over the world, do you have a favorite place?
BT: Wow, that’s a good question. Every place and person I’m with is so unique. I have been blessed to have been able to go to so many different places. When I go to SF, my family there presents me with an experience that can’t be matched. When I go to a big charity event in Boston, I feel the same way. When I’m jet skiing in the Caribbean at full speed or when I’m at home boating, wake boarding, and cliff jumping all summer, it’s the same. If I’m going to Vegas to party, or Florida to do the Tough Mudder or just relaxing at the beach, it’s all good. It’s not just one specific thing, but I’m blessed to have had so many different experiences in life.
CB: How are you going to remember your journey?
BT: As Mike Witmer once said, “when you’re on your death bed, you want to look back at your journey as a ride…. You then will want to look back and say, ‘Whoaaa what a ride.’” I will remember my journey as an amazing RIDE! It has been a real Tatar Nation Euphoria Planet Tatar Pandemonium Paradise! I was a warrior during the hard times and I cherished the happy times. Every night when I go to bed or when I have a minute to myself, I look back and I smile!
There is a book called “Moonwalking with Einstein” which argues the premise that we are the sum of our memories. I thank God that I got to live as me and all of my memories are with me forever.
CB: Ben, you have done great! What is your advice for others who would like to be successful?
BT: Do what you love and enjoy every minute of it. I always live by the motto that the journey is the destination as we are never “there.” Even when we become great, new stuff comes up, so it’s about finding meaning in what we do. Enjoy it forever, and greatness will always be natural.
In the end, everyone who amounts to anything faces peaks and valleys, adversity, and glory! It’s the people who are deep enough to find unconditional meaning in this crazy world are the ones who live life happy.
CB: What’s harder when you bench pressed over 600lbs with bands, bench press locked out 755lbs and bench pressed for 455lbs off the floor, or interviewing superstars?
BT: Probably when I bench pressed 455lbs off of the floor because it could have killed me. However, I loved doing both. I found it harder to run the Tough Mudder (long distance,) because I did the whole thing without properly training for it. My buddy Mike Westerdal finished it with SECOND degree burns all over his fingers (CRAZINESS,) and I kept going and finished it! Although, it kicked my ass, I kicked its ass right back! I ended up finishing it after experiencing a calf muscle pop and a strain in my hamstring, LOL! It was super painful, yet a lot of fun! Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!
CB: Ben, how did you get so strong?
BT: To simplify, it is making what is weak stronger,(we are only as strong as our weakest link, so everything must be strong!) Another factor is knowing when to peak, (a program like Critical Bench helps one with that,) and having the mental fortitude to blast through heavy weights. The answer to being really good at anything is to apply passion and ATTITUDE into everything you do and surround yourself with the best. Your greatness will take off.
CB: Do you ever get nervous before doing an interview?
BT: The Tatar Monster doesn’t think in that context. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to do things that I love. I make things happen and one thing always leads to the next. All I know is that I’m going to enjoy it all. I know that some of my most uncensored stuff with others during interviews was the best stuff. I remember when huge bodybuilder Quincy Taylor was raging during an interview, and I just smiled because I knew it would make the story interesting. It turned out to be his favorite interview ever and one of the most real and hardcore interviews that I have ever done.
CB: What makes Ben Tatar different from everyone else?
BT: Well, everyone is different, but I will list 11 things about me that are unusual:
1) I have jumped and hit my head into 9 foot ceilings, ripped water bottles with my hands, cracked eggs while only touching the opposite ends of the eggs (which was thought of as impossible to many,) and I have a few other crazy world records that you can email me about.
2) I bench pressed 415lbs while having a vertical over 40 inches high. The average NBA player was listed at 29 inches.
3) Not only am I super-super explosive and strong, but I was able to run the Tough Mudder (half marathon with 28 intense crazy obstacles.) People with fast twitch fibers aren’t suppose to do super long races like that. I think I was the only one who did tough mudder and completed it without even really properly training for it. That is what some people told me.
4) I know thousands of the world’s toughest men, celebrities, and models. (This is rare.)
5) I help lots of people with charity events, and I do my best to inspire people who need help.
6) In life, I make every moment count. I always try to make history. I look at everyday as my first, and everyday as my last at the same time. Whether I’m relaxing or doing something big, I’m into it 150%.
7) I’m a self entertainment machine. Most people need to be doing something outside of themselves to be entertained, even though I’m often living it up, I’m also just entertained just by my mind.
8) I’m very ALIVE. I have like 5 million exciting different mindset zones that I can enter at any given time.
9) I’m always celebrating life. There is always something to celebrate in my world.
10) I have been published thousands of times.
11) I have tons of life experiences since I have traveled throughout my whole life and always lived fully.
Oh, wow, there are so many more and I could keep going, but I will stop here(laughs). I think people should write things about themselves, and they will see that there is so much to be happy about.
CB: You are multi faceted. List three things that makes Ben Tatar a great writer and interviewer?
BT: Well, there’s a few things:
For writing–I’m a walking encyclopedia with an amazing memory. I also can analyze things from any angle, and I stay true to everything I say.
For interviewing–Some people tell me that I know them better than they know themselves. Therefore, I usually have an intuitive ability to know what to ask people. I also market everyone in their most authentic and best possible light.
Most of all, I did every article and interview with a passion and a zeal that the best of the best just love.
CB: Right on! Ben, do you like writing articles more or interviewing and why?
BT: I love both, but interviewing frees me to do the things that I like such as boating, traveling, training, putting on charity events, enjoying life, and living to the fullest. Doing interviews allows me to live a life that I love, and it allows me to showcase the dream life that others are living.
CB: I know you were asked this years ago, but today what is most important to you, looks, strength, toughness or health?
BT: I think the answers change during different times in one’s life. To be honest, I am pretty satisfied in every department. Obviously, you need health in order to have the other three, so I would pick that. I would say spiritual toughness might come before health depending on the extent because there are sick people in the world without good health who are happier than wealthy people. Such self actualized, enlightened people have an unconditional appreciation for life, and can even find infinite worth and beauty in things that most people don’t notice.
Toughness might be more important than strength, because one has to be tough before one can be strong. For example, if one has the toughness to overcome a near death experience or a very tough unfortunate (or fortunate) adversity of any kind, that can give one a toughness for life that can make one strong enough to achieve anything! For looks, that is in the eye of the beholder and I think if a person is healthy, and takes great care of themselves, attractive appearance will naturally radiate.
CB: What makes Ben Tatar happy?
BT: I’m high on life. I’m happy beyond reason. If you’re happy for a reason, you’re not happy when that reason isn’t happening for you. Unconditional happiness doesn’t come from a reason, unconditional happiness is THE reason! To add to that, I just make history everywhere I go, and share great memories with everyone I meet. Each life high just builds off of each other until I get super high on all levels, and like my planet t-shirt shows, I have the world in my hands!
Like I once said, “You know when someone works their whole life and wins a gold medal or when a team wins a championship and everyone just goes nuts? You know how that sensation lasts for maybe a few days? Well, I feel that sensation and it lasts forever. That is what it is like living as Ben Tatar. It’s like winning a championship and feeling that ultimate amped up euphoric bliss sensation 24/7 and sharing it with life.”
CB: Those Planet Tatar shirts are cool. Do you have bad days?
BT: Planet Tatar shirts, hats, capes, posters, action figures, and the whole nine yards! (laughs.) As for bad days, we all have shortcomings. However, most of the time they make life interesting and teach you what you must need to learn to evolve. In many cases the best have probably failed the most, and that is why they are the best. Like the saying goes “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but rising every time we fall!”
PART 2— The Olympia/Arnold/and more about Ben.
CB: Now let’s enter part 2 of this interview as we go one on one with Ben Tatar about the 2011 Olympia and a bit about the Arnold. Ben, you can’t compare Las Vegas to Columbus, but you can compare the Olympia to the Arnold. How are they different? How are they similar?
BT: The Arnold is the Olympia on steroids. The Arnold is so much bigger than Columbus, that Columbus gets swallowed into the Arnold. During Arnold weekend the city of Columbus is no longer Columbus, it is “the city of Iron”! When you walk down the streets of Columbus, it’s like the Olympics as you see thousands of athletes from other Countries and weight lifting monsters on every street corner. During Arnold weekend Columbus turns into a whole new planet, it becomes MONSTERVILLE-LAND!
CB: So, Columbus gets swallowed into the Arnold, as the Olympia gets swallowed into Vegas.
CB: So, how do the crowds differ between the two events?
BT: The crowds at the Arnold are much larger. It’s funny because if you go to the Arnold or UFC Fan Expo, the crowds are huge, but at the Olympia you can mostly just talk to everyone. For example, during Arnold weekend it took an hour for the general fan (who didn’t have a media credential pass,) to get a quick picture with former UFC champion and Strike Force champion Josh Barnett. At the Olympia, there was no line to see Josh Barnett and I could have an hour long conversation with him. The Olympia is much more personal than the Arnold (since it isn’t as busy,) but the Arnold has more weight lifting monsters and more of everything else.
CB: More fake boobs (or cosmetic work) at the Arnold or the Olympia?
BT: I would say that the Arnold has more cosmetic work (since there are more girls,) but population density wise, Vegas by far since they are more selective with who they bring in.
CB: Are the models better looking at the Arnold or the Olympia?
BT: I will say that the models are more elite at the Olympia. This is because the Olympia is smaller so they only have room for the most elite. The Arnold is very large, so they can expand the talent pool. Vegas also has easy access to the Vegas and California girls since it is close.
CB; Describe the two freakiest freaks you saw at the Expo –one male, one female.
BT: Freaky is defined based on what one is or isn’t used to. To me they are all normal, since I communicate with them every day. I’m surrounded by trophy women and monsters and much more! If I had to pick the most impressive freak, I would pick Stan Efferding Rhino. Think about it, he weighs 275lbs and he totaled 2,226 which is the most in the world right now. He is the most impressive in my eyes because he is not only a professional bodybuilder, but he has the world records in raw powerlifting.
I also want to give a shout out to Big Ed Russ who is freaky huge. I just recently interviewed him for Powerlifting USA Magazine.
CB: You are a master of persuasion and read people well. Some of us involved in strength sports only dream of attending a major industry event. Others are lucky to attend the Arnold or the Olympia, but for you, attending ALL of the major industry events is just part of the plan. You go to a lot of events. In your opinion, are bodybuilders getting bigger? Do you think they’re approaching the limits of human possibility?
BT: I don’t think we are getting close to the limits. Like they say, nothing is impossible. Even the word impossible says “I’m possible.” Much of what can’t be done now, will be done in the future. Take today’s NFL, Big Ben Roethlisberger from the Pittsburgh Steelers is bigger than most of the NFL lineman were in the 70s.
Or my favorite example, nobody had really bench pressed 800lbs clean at the start of 2000, then by 2010 we saw our first 1,076lbs bench press by Ryan Kennelly. I think we can always create ourselves into something larger. However, I think that bodybuilding was more popular a few years back. Today the expos have a stronger focus on pro athletes, sports performance, and UFC fighters.
CB: Ben, you have access to everything and everyone, but for the average Expo attendee, how accessible are the athletes? The Arnold gets gridlocked by early afternoon. How is crowd control at the Olympia?
BT: The Olympia isn’t bad. If you want to see a crowd, go to Gillette Stadium or any sold out NFL game, now THAT is a crowd! I think when I did Tough Mudder, the bathroom line was longer than any of the Olympia lines were.
CB: I go to Packer games all the time at Lambeau Field. That is a crowd! Now, moving onto the 2011 Olympia in particular, at the 2011 Olympia Phil Heath was crowned the new Mr. Olympia. How did people react?
BT: Most people weren’t surprised. The crowd was respectful of the decision. Jay and Phil are so close and such good friends it was really like Jays’ brother winning and not a competitor. The Kevin English-Flex Lewis judging was much more controversial and had much greater crowd reaction.
CB: The Olympia Expo is made up of many different events. What seemed to be the crowd favorite?
BT: Well, the biggest attraction during Olympia weekend was the Floyd Mayweather fight. For the expo itself, fans enjoyed everything from the Animal Cage (bench your body weight for reps,) to watching the best lift in the cage, to kids martial art competitions, and even little challenges to see how many pull ups they could do.
CB: There was a pull up contest and you did the most at the Expo of everyone there. You set the record with 40 and then stopped. Which is amazing. How did it feel to set the record?
BT: It wasn’t that big of a deal. I have done 53 pull ups in training. I wasn’t surprised.
CB: Tell us about any new talent you saw in bodybuilding, powerlifting and strongman? Any names to watch for?
BT: For up and coming–Mike Caruso for strongman, Ben White for bodybuilding (who won strongest bench presser in bodybuilding in past years,) and your good friend Brandon Braner who is bench pressing nearly 900lbs and well over 600lbs RAW.
With that said, Stan Efferding Rhino was the strongest man at the Olympia, period. He’s only 275lbs and he is out lifting all the 308s and super heavy weights in raw powerlifting.
CB: I agree, those are great lifters. What was it like seeing celebrities like Carmen Electra, Ray Lewis, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, Trish Stratus, Bones Jones, Shogun, Chuck Liddell, HHH and many more stars at such events?
BT: In a basic sense they are charismatic and crazy.. They are like most people, but more eccentric and nuts. They have to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be the celebrities that they are today. I like all types of people.
CB: What about the huge powerlifters, bodybuilders, fighters, and models? What are they like?
BT: Although, many of them look larger than life, most of them have had the passion to overcome adversity and succeed. They’ve had what it takes to achieve goals most thought to be unattainable and made the world believe. Most of these people are passionate about what they do, and they carry that passion with them everywhere. These people also live the life they love, and do well, or they wouldn’t be at the Olympia. So, if you also share that passion, it’s very easy to bond with them.
CB: Did the death of IFBB pro Art Atwood or the great 700+ raw benching machine Nick Winters affect the mood of the Expo?
BT: Every year at these events, people want to see names like Art Atwood and Nick Winters. Art was a guy who was 350 lbs. and had an 8 pack of abs. Nick Winters was a guy who would bench press in the ANIMAL CAGE and every year he was stronger than everyone else. These monsters made people believe in themselves as they had talent that was clearly ahead of our time. These monsters were also very nice to people away from the gym. Whenever we lift, their presence sparks our hearts and souls and whenever we set a personal best or help another lifter, we see their smiles. Everyday Art Atwood and Nick Winters are with us.
CB: What surprised you the most about the Olympia Expo?
BT: That is what I love about these adventures, there is always a surprise every 10 feet! (laughs) I was surprised to see my old friend Shay Lynn there. I haven’t seen her since the 2009 Arnold! She’s doing awesome.
I was also very happy that I got to see my friend Tito Ortiz who I had just interviewed. Tito Ortiz had higher UFC payperview buy rate ratings than the Rock and Hogan did for the WrestleMania’s. Tito not only gave the UFC the ratings to make it famous, but he also has been main eventing since 1997! I got to see Tito and his lover Jenna Jameson.
CB: That’s awesome that you got to interview one of the best in the world like Tito Ortiz. What was it like interviewing him?
BT: He was awesome! He talked to me on the phone for well over an hour. Just read our interview! Tito is also super nice in person.
CB: Of everyone out there, who would you wait in line for the longest to see?
BT: I have a media credential pass to the really big events, so I have access to special spots and don’t have to wait in lines. Special thanks to Mike Westerdal for hiring me to do the coverage.
CB: Agreed. Las Vegas is like a big carnival. How did the addition of bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen and fitness models add to the carnival atmosphere there?
BT: The Arnold is more like a 24/7 freak Carnival show since the Arnold is bigger than Columbus. The Olympia isn’t bigger than Vegas, so Vegas stays Vegas unless you stay at the Orleans hotel. (That is where most of the competitors stay.) Most people in Vegas are scattered. To me the Olympia and Vegas are like two separate vacations in one. I’m always in CA or AZ before Vegas and or after, so it’s non-stop good times.
CB: Great attitude. Las Vegas is known for its huge buffets. Any stories from the big guys?
BT: We know that Mike Wolfe has eaten a 6 lb. burrito and a 10 lb. BBQ platter. I think he has the record! I don’t know of any lifter that has topped that! I think in Vegas, it’s different than local Ponderosas in small towns because the restaurants hold lots of people. If a powerlifter eats 6 plates of food at Ponderosa that can clear the buffet out. You and I know, that most buffets run out of food when the powerlifters come in! (laughs)
CB: Which big guys in powerlifting would make for great sumo wrestlers?
BT: I don’t know, maybe the SHW powerlifters should have a sumo contest like they did in the world’s strongest man competitions back in the 80s? For SHW’s, I think Mike Wolfe would be really good. He has a big gut and a very low center of gravity. Wolfe is getting all the records! (laughs) He has the longest interview I have done (100+ questions), he eats the most, and I think he would have the potential to succeed as a sumo wrestler.
CB: (Laughs) I agree! When you met the Sumo Wrestlers what were they like? I I understand there was an altercation between you and the sumo wrestlers. What was THAT all about?
BT: Well, anywhere you go, there are lots of people out there who have an INSECURITY. I asked a sumo wrestler with an insecurity the wrong question. I asked one of the 5’9 330lbs sumo wrestlers with skinny arms and a big gut why he wasn’t as big as the 600lbs sumo wrestlers that we see on TV. I was curious to know if weighing 600lbs opposed to 350lbs was an advantage and to analyze the variables. He seemed to get really sensitive over the fact that I told him that he wasn’t that big. You know, one of my friends said to me “These guys don’t look like sumo wrestlers, they look like dorks in diapers.” Whenever you talk to lots of people, there will be people out there who react off of an insecurity and that just happened to be one of those situations.
People in the iron industry can be nuts, as I remember at my first Arnold I got high on energy supplements, got in conflicts with some people. Even back when I was 13 years old, I had a massive powerlifter wanting to kill me for asking him the “big” questions. I guess I always had BRASS BALLS.
CB: (Laughs) you do have brass balls. Speaking of the sumo wrestler, would you publish or submit an interview like that?
BT: I always keep it professional. Take a 400 lb. powerlifter for example. I always give them the option on whether we discuss what it is like being the biggest powerlifter in the game, or we can discuss who they are as a man behind the monster. Most of the time, they want to focus on their funny personalities and all of their funny stories. Then after I market who these monsters are as people with their great stories, they tell me that it was the best and most professional interview that they have ever had. Whenever I interview people, I market everyone in their best way, and develop great friendships that last forever..
CB: Can you tell us about some parties in Vegas?
BT: I have been to lots of different types of parties in Vegas from pool parties, my own hotel room Planet Tatar crazy parties, bars, clubs, after parties, VIP parties, and you name it. I would say that my favorite parties were my own parties. It’s always better to create your own fun than it is to depend on some other source for fun. I can have fun doing just about anything.
CB: Who got huge since the last time you saw them? Who got small? Who got fat?!? C’mon Ben, dish it!
BT: The thing is,if anyone got small or fat they wouldn’t be invited to return back to the Olympia. The Olympia isn’t as big as the Arnold, so only the best really compete or work the Olympia. I have seen some people return to the Arnold out of shape, but they usually get replaced shortly after.
CB: Athletes come from all kinds of backgrounds. Pick an athlete who overcame a great adversity.
BT: It’s tough to pick one person because some people overcome physical adversities and some people’s adversities are personal matters that we can’t see. Anyone who has ever gotten close to anyone or amounted to anything has experienced great adversity. The great thing about adversity is that it teaches us to be grateful for everyday, and to be thankful for life itself. Conquering adversity also creates glory. God has made us tougher than the adversities that we face. Adversity is like a blessing in disguise as adversity builds toughness, creativity, spirituality, wisdom, and the inner strength to achieve accomplishments that are necessary to evolve human kind.
I will give a shout out to Nick Scott (wheel chair bodybuilding icon from bodybuilding.com.) He has done fantastic.
CB: What adversities have you had to overcome? Were you always successful?
BT: I think when I was younger I faced challenges much as I do now, the difference is now I enjoy the challenges that I face. Today my challenges that I overcome are based off of my talents. For example, a few years ago I graduated college. Today I might be, interviewing a celebrity, traveling, putting together a charity event, and doing big things that give me a good feeling.
However, when I was younger the challenges weren’t fun like they are now. For instance, when I was really young, I caught meningitis from my friend and I was very close to being dead. I’m lucky to be alive (as most people who have it don’t make it,) so it showed to me that I was always STRONG before I even was old enough to know that I was strong. You know adversity to me now is a reminder of my glory, but when I was really young and faced adversity it was HELL on earth. The thing is even during my most difficult times, behind everything I did, I had FIRE, PASSION and HEART!!
All it took for me to be successful was to take to my my FIRE, PASSION, LOVE, PAIN, HEART, and SOUL, and combine it into a POWER, a power of one, a power of intuition, a power of STRENGTH, the POWER OF THE TATAR MONSTER to do anything I wanted and to see the best of everything and to become part of the best of everything until it all became the best of me and one of me!!!! As a result THE TATAR’S MONSTERS, Planet Tatar was born!!! Now everyday is about CHALLENGE, ACCOMPLISHMENT, VICTORY, MAKING HISTORY and CELEBRATION.
For anyone going through anything, if life sucks, that is okay! That “life sucks” drive, is the same drive of your dream life and then some! That fire has NO LIMITS and is INFINITE!! Just like the world is!! Find a positive passion and…Just REDIRECT that BEAST, and let it UNLEASH!!
CB: Ben Tatar for president! So, are you glad that you faced adversity?
BT: Absolutely! If you can kick adversity’s ass, you will have the strength to make your dreams come true. Adversity has given me the strength to attain the body, mind, heart, spirit, soul and strength to live the life I love. It has made me everything I ever wanted to be and THEN SOME. It also motivated my family to raise millions of dollars for different charity events and it motivated me to inspire other people, which naturally creates a matrix of good karma everywhere.
For any of you out there who are facing adversity, just love your friends, make every moment count, live your passion and be the best you can be. With adversity, there will always be the silver lining in the cloud, the key is to tough it out until you get there! Once you embrace adversity into greatness, you are strong for life! Adversity is what makes the ride and glory of success worth it. Adversity is the key to seeing greatness in the simple things, while having the toughness to also own greatness during the toughest challenges. Therefore, whether you feel like you’re on top or in a tough spot, inspire! The thing with adversity is, as long as you inspire people despite your current state of being, in the end you will be a hero!
CB: Wow, Ben, that was intense and powerful! What was your hardest moment so far in your iron journey?
BT: My hardest moment was when my mentor and close friend Mike Witmer passed away. That’s the tough part about being in the industry and knowing thousands of people, you have to experience such incidents. I talked to Mike everyday for many years. I’m grateful to always have him in my spirit and to have known him. Life is wonderful. It lets us really get to know such great people. Read my tribute to Mike Witmer here.
CB: Do you have a favorite moment in your iron journey?
BT: For long term favorite moment–After you live a dream, memories are often even greater than the dreams. I sometimes look back at everything and I’m just like WOW! It’s funny, sometimes my favorite moments aren’t when I’m on the vacations themselves, but on the plane flights when I’m just living in so many great memories. I call my excitement TATARAIDE and my eternal happiness BENFINITY. It’s often easy to be in this state during down time since I have so much to be grateful for.
CB: Do you have any regrets?
BT: Why regret our mistakes when our mistakes guide us to a better life? I used to frequently say “only regret the act of regret itself.” You could always do things differently, but like they say “Love adversity. It is like a river and will cut a new path whenever it meets an obstacle.” Therefore, in the end I think any mistake we make is like a friend that guides us into living the life that is most true to us! Sometimes, it’s hard to understand this when we are facing tough times, but if we take the “old man perspective and play life backwards,” it’s easy to see that things do work for us in the best way. Especially if we maintain a deep outlook and rise every time we fall.
CB: Agreed. Okay, less serious for a minute. If you could be any kind of animal what would you be?
BT: An Eagle.
However, to quote what my friend Reinie once called me, I’m happy being the superhuman, animalistic Ben Tatar Monster Machine!
CB: (Laughs) Back to the Olympia again. Ben, tell us about the amazing bench pressing that went on there?
BT: It was quite the freak scene for the mainstream person. I mean, for the mainstream person you saw lots of 5’2 275 lb. ladies with tattoos and piercings deadlifting 500lbs or ladies their own size deadlifting more than most adult men who train. It’s not stuff the ordinary person sees day to day. You also see a lot of 6’3 350 lb. bald headed monsters with tattoos on their heads about to smash over 800 lbs on the bench press or lean guys lifting more than huge bodybuilders lift. For the freaks, it’s inspiring for all of the larger than life bench pressers to all be in the same room. You don’t see the best of the best under the same roof very much.
CB: What was the weakness of the bench press competition?
BT: The weakness of the competition was that it wasn’t WPO like. There wasn’t a stage, smoke, lights, card girls, music, energy, and the competition feel where you feel you are in a different world. It’s not as spectator friendly. Powerlifting is working on bringing this type of energy back. We need Seanzilla on the mic!
CB: Also, talking to you years ago back in 2002, you predicted a 1000+ bench would happen when nobody else did. You psychic! Can you tell us about your thoughts back then?
BT: For my thoughts, well, I knew Ryan Kennelly was doing lockout work with 1000+ pounds, and the shirts were constantly evolving. The shirts were also very popular, so it was only a matter of time before it would happen in an extreme sport like bench pressing, where there are no limits, or finish lines.
CB: If you could improve ONE thing about the Olympia, what would it be?
BT: I usually don’t think about how the Olympia can improve, just how I can improve. If an event isn’t that good, I create a cooler event behind the scenes. Also, what one place or event lacks, another place or event has. That’s why I go to many different places and do many different things.
CB: Do you gamble? If so, did you win?
BT: I used to gamble a lot more when I was younger, so it’s not like a new thrill for me. I used to go to casinos and bodyguard a genius who behaved like Beavis and Butthead with the intellect of the Rainman. Those were the days. Too many stories, so email me at moc.liamgnull@retsnoMrataT for them. I’m too busy seeing people to be gambling. A lot of people get a euphoric feeling from gambling like Michael Jordan and it becomes an addiction. For me, I can be in Euphoric Bliss whenever I want.
CB: You have been in this industry for a long time. Some people stay in for a few years, but you have lasted for over a decade. What is it like to see the industry change?
BT: One thing that I’m proud of is not only was I able to write articles and interviews
for magazines at such a young age, but I have also been able to have consistent success throughout my whole entire life. I stayed consistent and I plan on helping people in this industry for the rest of my life. The industry never gets boring because I don’t ever get boring. I have adapted to every paradigm and change in the best way possible. I have gotten along with so many great people in it, and the Tatar Monster will see you all soon!
CB: The one and only Ben Tatar everyone! It has been great talking and learning about the awesome talented Ben Tatar today!
Over the past 20 years or so fats have gotten a pretty bad rap in the media. Fats have been blamed for the extraordinarily high rates of obesity and heart disease in the United States. And despite the proliferation of low- or non-fat foods over the past two decades, instead of getting better, the problem is getting worse. A huge part of the problem stems from the fact that most people have a very distorted view of fats and the roles they play in our bodies.
Unsaturated fats are extremely important to building lean muscle mass, increasing strength and maintaining overall good health. In fact, studies show that people who adhere to very low fat diets develop less muscle mass than guys who incorporate a moderate amount of healthy fats into their diets. Researchers have also noted that people who follow an extremely low-fat diet frequently develop dry skin, suffer from increased hair loss, stiff joints and low energy levels.
Among the unsaturated fats, Omega-3s, which are known as ‘essential fatty acids’ or EFAs, are one of the most beneficial. Omega-3s are rich in antioxidants and muscle-building nutrients and come from a variety of sources, most notably from fish.
And since it’s not always convenient to eat fish ever day of the week, fish oil capsules—rich in Omega-3s—are available as a nutritional supplement. If fish oil is not currently part of your daily nutritional regimen then you should definitely start taking it. Consider this—a Danish study found that a regular regimen rich in Omegas can: enhance stamina by as much as up to 60%; improve muscular development; help speed-up the recovery process; improve cardiovascular function; and improve the body’s fat-burning capacity.
Omega-3s help stimulate the function of hormones involved in fat burning in the body while suppressing the function of those involved in fat production. In addition, Omega -3s can lower triglycerides and reduce fats in organs, tissues, and under the skin by burning them as fuel. In other words, Omega-3s help turn your hormonal system into a fat-burning, muscle-building machine.
Now here’s the thing about Omega-3s—because they’re essential fatty acids, it means that the body cannot manufacture them. Although they are necessary for proper functioning, the only way for the body to obtain EFAs is either through food or through nutritional supplements. As noted earlier, fish—in particular, salmon, tuna and halibut—is an excellent source of Omega-3s. Other sources of Omega-3s include algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils.
Researchers have known about the essential functions of Omega-3s and other EFAs since the 1930s, but it’s only been over the last 30 years or so that awareness of their true potential has begun to develop. For example, in the 1970s researchers noted the extraordinarily low rates of cardiovascular disease among the Inuit people of Greenland.
The researchers noted that even though the Inuit people consumed large amounts of fat from meat, they displayed virtually no cardiovascular disease. Experts later determined that the high level of Omega-3 essential fatty acids consumed by the Inuit reduced triglycerides, heart rate, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.
In the 1990s, researchers began to note that in addition to the health benefits noted above, Omega-3s are extremely beneficial in driving muscle growth and stimulating fat loss. Studies have shown that Omega-3s from fish oil help keep muscles from breaking down as quickly as they normally do. When muscles are built faster than they break down, it makes them larger and harder to break down.
Omega-3s have also been shown to boost insulin metabolism, which optimizes muscle fiber growth. Researchers also noted that bodybuilders who include Omega-3 fish oil as part of their daily supplement regimen, benefit directly from fish oil by experiencing fewer cramps and less pain. This is thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3s, which is an additional health benefit.
Given the solid body of research supporting the numerous health and muscle-building benefits it offers, there is no reason that Omega-3 fatty acid from fish oil should not be a daily staple for everybody—especially bodybuilders and guys looking to build muscle and burn fat. Click the image below for a ground breaking follow up article!
February 20, 2012 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Articles, Recent Posts, Reviews, Sports Training & Performance, Sports Training Reviews, Strength Training, Strength Training Reviews, Training, Workout Reviews
Total Xplosive Training is a training technique developed Chris Barnard, a strength and conditioning coach out of Florida. He is pursuing his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Miami.
He also heads up Strength Camp, an athlete training facility in St. Petersburg Florida. Through his years as a trainer Chris has helped athletes from all sorts of different sports achieve their highest levels of performance. Total Xplosive Training (TXT) chronicles his body of knowledge and experience transforming ‘weaklings’ into ‘athletic beasts.’ Chris says that he designed TXT to complement a training routine, not as a stand-alone program.
As the name implies, TXT is all about explosive training. The TXT program was designed to amplify your current skills and enable you to perform faster, harder and with greater efficiency. Any sport involving running, jumping, throwing, striking, hitting or whatever the case may be, can benefit from enhanced explosiveness. One nice aspect of the TXT approach is that it doesn’t require any fancy equipment or gym memberships.
Chris leads off with a brief overview of explosive training, why it’s important and its basic mechanical elements. For example, much like in any other lift, explosiveness is comprised of two phases—eccentric and concentric. There is a key difference though in that the eccentric (preload) phase is followed by the concentric phase (contraction phase), which is done as fast and forceful as possible, improving overall muscular power. In the following section Chris talks a little more in-depth about basic muscle physiology. In particular, he focuses on Type II muscle fibers (fast twitch), which are the ones primarily recruited during explosive training.
Modified neural adaptation is the underlying foundation of the TXT approach. Neural adaptation is a technique by which we strive to activate areas of our muscles that have never been used before. TXT is a bit different in that it really keeps the muscles guessing by switching focus just a muscle starts to adapt to a particular motion. According to Chris, this enables the muscle fibers to maintain the activation of the previous units, therefore increasing explosive strength. There are some other elements of TXT that Chris discusses in this section, such as the “rate coding mechanism.” No need to worry about it getting too technical though—his explanations are straightforward and to the point.
In the following section he starts getting into the actual TXT program, explaining how it is broken up into three, four-week phases. The phases include: Base; Developmental and Peak. Each of the phases builds on the previous one, allowing you to progressively improve your performance while maintaining your previous results. This approach is basically a combination of Russian Conjugated Periodization and Western Linear Periodization. The idea behind this concept is that your body progressively builds strength, speed and size, without ever hitting those nasty plateaus.
In the following section we learn about the three phases of the TXT program. The Base Phase is where you develop a strong foundation in major movements involved in most sports. In the Development Phase the focus shifts somewhat towards increasing strength while developing explosive power and coordination. The Peak Phase is where you push your body to its limits and shatter your personal records. By the time you get through this phase you’ll be at your game best, ready for any competition.
As it should, Chris’ TXT program strongly emphasizes rest and recovery throughout each of the phases and beyond. He provides a brief but effective explanation about how the body releases growth hormone while we are sleeping to stimulate muscle growth. To facilitate recovery, Chris recommends stretching and foam rolling on training days. The nutrition section that follows is well-done and tells you everything you need to know about the proper fuels your body needs to build muscle and explosive power. Individual sections covered include protein, carbs, fruits and veggies, as well growth-driving nutrients such as creatine and glutamine. He includes planning tools and a number of sample meal plans to help set you on the proper path.
The last section of the book is entitled “Methodics,” which is where Chris really gets to the heart of the TXT program, discussing the intricate roles of each method and why it is necessary for explosive training. The methodics of the program are basically a series of focused drills that are designed to build speed, agility, quickness and explosiveness. He wraps up the book by including a complete set of workout plans for each phase of the TXT program. Each exercise includes a link to a video that demonstrates proper technique, which reduces the likelihood that you’ll injure yourself.
Overall, I can say that Chris has developed a solid program that if followed as outlined in the book, will produce the desired results. If you are looking to change up your routine and dramatically increase your explosive power, you should try Total Xplosive Training for sure.
If you are looking to enhancing your physical posture, having a good muscle size should be on top of your list. Yes, there are several ways in order to achieve this. As a matter of fact, several guys may simply want to get big and bulky but they may just not know how to do that. If you are one of those guys, then this article will be a great help for you in order for you to achieve that body that you are dreaming of, one that you can be truly proud of.
There are different types of workouts. For one, you can do a push and pull workout. This is a great method to structure all your workouts to have that good muscle size. Split your workout to push and pull activities. The first one, the push workouts, often includes activities that have something to do with shoulder press, bench press, dips, and squats. These workouts usually impact your shoulders, chest, triceps and quads.
On the other hand, pull workouts often involve pulling activities such as pull ups, deadlifts, bicep curls and hamstring curls. These activities often work your hamstring, back and biceps. In order to take advantage of the most out of this type of training, it is recommended to do 2 of the push workouts and 2 for the pull workouts every week. It is also advisable to use different ranges of stability in each session in order to stimulate as much fibers as possible.
Another type of workout is one that involves that movement on the lower body ore than the movement of the upper body. By doing so, multiple muscle groups are being trained in each of the sessions, which should be done at least two times a week. With this method, it is highly recommended to lift heavy weights at the start of the week and then shifting to lighter weights for the succeeding sessions.
Another option that you can take is to focus on one or maybe two parts of your body during a certain workout. With this, you can train your triceps and chest on a certain day, your biceps and back on another day. This will allow you to focus your attention and efforts on just one part of your body in each session, pummeling them into the ground.
Whatever option you may take, the ultimate purpose is to focus on your physique, as well as your health. With these activities maintained, you can expect a good physical condition which will allow you to do the things that you want to do. People who love to stay at home and enjoy activities at home, such as enjoying online gambling sites, may also start doing these activities at home. Visit here for the sites that most people enjoy on their free time. By allowing discipline to guide you, you will achieve the body that you dream of.
My friend Dave Ruel aka “the Muscle Cook” and author of the Anabolic Cooking was in town visiting a couple weeks ago and he taught me how to cook the perfect the steak.
One terrific source of protein that tops the list for many people in terms of what they want to be including in their diet plan is steak. Steak is rich in protein, high in iron, and if you choose a leaner cut of steak, will also contain a low amount of saturated fat. If you can purchase grass fed beef, you’ll also get some healthy fats from this protein source, making it especially healthy.
That said, some of you have approached me with a number of questions regarding cooking your steak as part of your healthy meal plans, so let’s give you the facts you need to know.
Question 1: When I cook steaks, I often mess them up in one way or another. But one question I have is will there be a difference in seasoning the steak prior to starting to cook it or can I season it after I cook it and get the same effect?
Muscle Cook: For best results, I’d recommend seasoning the steak before cooking it. This way the seasonings can absorb into the meat better and blend with the natural meat juices during the cooking process.
Waiting until after to season it won’t give you nearly the same flavor and you might find it rather bland tasting or too powerful if you use too much spice.
Question 2: How long should I marinate a steak for before cooking it?
Muscle Cook: Ideally you should marinate your steak the night before you want to cook it and let it sit in the fridge overnight, but if you can marinate it for 3-4 hours before cooking, that will also be effective and help to bring out the flavors that you’re looking for.
Question 3: When cooking steaks with vegetables, is there a right way or a wrong way to cook them? Should I cook them separately from the steak? Or should I cook the steak first?
Muscle Cook: Your safest and best bet here is to cook the vegetables until they are almost finished first, then remove them from the pan/heat. Then prepare your steak and about 2-3 minutes before it’s finished, add the vegetables back in.
This will still allow the flavor from the steak to blend with the vegetables and vice versa as they’ll be in the hot pan together, but give you more control over the speed of cooking to ensure that you cook each until your desired state of doneness.
Steak is definitely a great addition to your healthy meal plan so if you have any questions that you’d like to ask about the cooking process, make sure that you post them below.
If you walk into many of the modern fancy gyms—even the ones with free weights—you’ll likely notice that benches, equipment and machines to train the chest outnumber equipment to train the back by at least four-to-one. Part of the reason for this is that many guys today are obsessed with working their chests but pay little attention to everything else, especially the back.
And yet, these same guys complain and wonder why they don’t have the bodies they want. The answer of course is simple—if you want to have a powerful, muscular body, you have to work for it, and that means training all body parts with equal commitment, especially the back.
Properly training the back is well worth the investment. A thick, powerful, well-defined back is a real head-turner. Sadly, a lot of today’s training routines stick with a few perennial favorite back exercises—the pull-up, bent over rows, lat pull-downs and a few others. But now, thanks to a man named Nick Nilsson, you have the opportunity to drive your back training to an entirely new level and in the process, build a back that will turn heads and make jaws drop. His program is called ‘The best back exercises you’ve never heard of.’
Nick has a degree in physical education and psychology, is a personal trainer and a prolific fitness author. He’s also an innovator. Never satisfied with the status quo, Nick says that he has been inventing new training techniques and exercises for more than 17 years. Right from the start I’ll tell you that you won’t run out of exercise options and you’ll never get bored with Nick—this volume has 561 pages, packed with nothing but innovative exercises and routines for building a big, muscular, powerful back. Let’s take a closer look and see what it’s all about.
Even though the book is huge, it only includes two sections—Exercise Indexes and Back Training Tips. One look at the index page and it’s clear that Nick is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He doesn’t waste time with drawn-out introductions, but just dives right into the exercises. They are however, nicely categorized, covering the upper back, middle back, lower back, traps and neck.
The Best Back Exercises book is very well organized. For each section, the exercises are listed alphabetically and include a brief description. To learn more about a particular movement, you just click the bright red “Go!” button to the left. This takes you to the specific page that discusses the movement in detail. The exercise descriptions are well-done, providing just the right level of detail. First, he tells you on which muscles the movement focuses, and then follows up with some personal thoughts about what stands out about the exercise.
Each exercise description includes multiple photos that clearly detail the start, mid-way and end positions. Each photo is accompanied by a clear description on what you should be doing at that particular point in the movement. If you want to see a video of the movement, just click on the camera icon to go to streaming video page where you can see the exercise performed in detail.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or professional bodybuilder, you will find plenty of exercises that are right for you. Nick presents a sort of ‘cafeteria-style’ plan that allows you to pick and choose the movements that meet your needs. And of course, you can adjust the weights to suit your training goals—whether it’s getting toned, building strength or gaining mass.
A section in the back of the book provides back training tips as well as an overview of the equipment that Nick likes to use to train his back. With Nick’s approach, you need not worry about investing in fancy, expensive equipment. Sandbags are the only non-standard piece of equipment that I ran across in the book. Just about everything else will be standard fare at any reasonably-equipped free weight gym.
In going through Nick’s book and reviewing the exercises I’m happy to say that he has compiled an outstanding group of highly unique—yet highly functional—back exercises. You may have run across a few of the techniques presented in this book but I can just about guarantee that unless you’re a follower of his, Nick’s routines are going to be brand new to you.
I’m also glad to report that the logic behind these movements is solid. Follow his instructions, perform the movements properly, and I have no doubt that with time and consistency, you’ll be amazed with your new muscular, powerful back. Go check out 145 of Nick’s Best Back Exercises by clicking here.
It seems to be human nature to look outside ourselves for the answers we need. This is especially true when we want to make changes in our lives. To ourselves, we say we need the guru because we are confused and he or she can help us to understand what needs to be done to get where we want to be. The word “guru” means teacher, but in the sense of one who has followers.
The dawn of the Internet age resulted in a proliferation of self-appointed gurus in just about any subject you can imagine–money, love, sex, fitness and more. While there’s nothing wrong with looking to gurus for occasional guidance, it becomes problematic when we become overly dependent on them, constantly turning to him or her for guidance and direction.
In today’s instant gratification society, when we don’t immediately see the results we expect, we quickly determine that there is something wrong the guru or his approach. And because it’s the guru’s fault not ours, we simply move on to the next guru and start all over again, resulting in a never-ending cycle of guru-seeking followed by disappointment with the lack of results.
This is especially true when it comes to fitness. You see it all the time in gyms–guys bouncing from one trainer to the next because the trainer “doesn’t know what he’s doing.” The real problem here is that most of us never uncover the real source of the problem–us. We don’t want to admit that we are too lazy, too undisciplined or too unmotivated to achieve our goals. This is also the reason that countless Americans spend tens of millions of dollars each year buying the latest fitness books and programs being promoted by the ‘gurus.’
If this sounds like you, then read on because I’m going to let you in on a little secret–
YOU DON’T NEED A GURU TO ACHIEVE YOUR FITNESS GOALS.
Here’s why: Unless you’re willing to do what it takes to get what you want, you’ll never achieve your goals. You can spend your whole life jumping from guru to guru but unless you follow the directions exactly as you’re supposed to do, you’ll never get lean, muscular, strong or toned.
Once you have the knowledge you require, it’s up to you to take action. You should already know that no one can do that for you. And if you’re not willing to take the actions required to achieve success, your fitness goals will be nothing but empty wishes that never come true. Even though in theory that concept seems very simple, the truth is that for most of us, it is extremely difficult to execute. It’s far easier to blame someone else for our lack of results than to look in the mirror and admit our faults.
Over the years I have reviewed hundreds of different fitness programs. With the exception of a few ridiculous ‘fad’ programs, nearly every one of them presented a good program that if followed as directed, would pretty much lead to
the desired outcomes. With all these great fitness gurus running around you’d think that we’d al be as fit as Spartan Warriors, but sadly, that’s not the case. Americans are getting fatter and more out of shape than ever before and there’s no end in sight.
If you are one of those guys who is continually looking to the next fitness guru to get in shape, follow the steps below and you can put an end to the cycle once and for all:
- Stop buying new fitness programs. Go back and re-read whatever you’ve bought in the past. It’s still good.
- Write down the key learning points of the guru’s program.
- Write down your goals.
- Review those notes and write down every possible action you can take to start seeing results and achieve your goals. Whatever actions come to mind, write them down.
- Start taking those actions every single day.
- Write down the actions you take each day and review them each night before you go to bed and write down your daily progress.
- When you wake up the next morning write down the actions you are going to take that day to continue following the program and make progress towards your goals. Take those actions.
- Repeat steps six and seven every single day.
I know that may seem overly simplistic but that really is all you need to know. The truth of the matter is that you are the only guru you’ll ever need. You just need to be prepared to take the actions necessary to achieve your goals. If you can’t do that, you’re situation will never change and you’ll always be frustrated. So here’s your chance to take action–so do it!
by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
Alyson Jordan has been cheer leading for the Cincinnati Bengals. She is also a 3rd grade teacher and she was the Cover Champion for the Bengals 2011-2012 cheer leading swim suit Calendar. In this exclusive interview we take an in depth look at the epic journey of being an NFL cheerleader, as we go one on one with cheer leading superstar, Alyson Jordan!
CB: It’s Ben Tatar here and today I am here with Alyson Jordan from the Cincinnati Bengals. Alyson, it’s great to have you here today. Tell us about yourself.
AJ: I’m a Cincinnati native. I am 25 years old. I have a bachelor’s degree in communication from The University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from the College of Mount Saint Joseph. I teach third grade. This is my fourth season cheering with the Cincinnati Bengals.
CB: Alyson, how did you become a cheer leader for the Cincinnati Bengals? How did you feel when you became a Ben-Gals Cheerleader? Were you excited?
AJ: To try out for Ben-Gals you have to be 21 by the first game. I was almost 21 and scared to death to try out with such beautiful, talented, young women. I made it through the preliminary rounds and then to finals. I was nervous but gave it my all and received a call from the director telling me I made the team. I was shocked! My life changed after that.
CB: Alyson, you are living the dream of millions of young girls. Tell us about the tryouts. What do girls have to do skill wise?
AJ: Tryouts are in May and we have to perform a dance, walk in a bikini, so the judges can see your figure, and do turns, leaps, and a kick line.
CB: Can girls with tattoos make NFL teams?
AJ: Yes they just have to cover them with makeup
CB: Now that you have made it to the top, has the experience of being a Bengals cheerleader been what you had expected?
AJ: Everything and more. I always knew I would enjoy cheering and dancing in front of a large crowd. I never expected that Bengal’s fans would know my name, and think I was a local celebrity.
CB: What has it been like being a local celebrity?
AJ: It’s awesome! I love it when people know how long I’ve been cheering and know my story.
CB: What are the five most important qualities a women must have to be an NFL cheerleader?
AJ: Professionalism, glamor, confidence, poise, and she must be friendly.
CB: How are the other NFL cheerleaders that you work with? Are you all like a big family?
AJ: It’s hard to believe that 32 women can get along, but we truly are one big, happy, family. I think we bring each other up when one of us is down. We are constantly cheering each other on and praising one another for all of our achievements.
CB: Thus far in your journey as an NFL cheerleader list us a great moment, funny moment, memorable moment, and a moment that has changed you.
AJ: Great Moment–Dancing on stage with Rascal Flatts.
Funny Moment–Goofing off in the locker room before the games.
Memorable Moment–Getting the cover of the 2011-2012 Cincinnati Ben-Gals swimsuit calendar. It was a huge surprise from my coaches and the best night of my life!
Changing Moment–Getting to do all of these events with children and families. I feel very blessed when I leave those events.
CB: As a cheerleader you get to travel all over the Country, what have been some of your favorite places you’ve gotten to visit?
AJ: First of all, we only cheer home games and rarely travel. I did get to attend a taping of Dancing with the Stars in Los Angeles. Which was awesome!
CB: What’s it like working with the NFL players? Did you get to meet players like T.O., Chad Johnson and Carson Palmer? What was that like? How were the NFL players in general?
AJ: We don’t usually see players much, just at events. I’m really impressed by how many charity events you see AJ Green and Andy Dalton working. I think they are doing great things for Cincinnati, in and off the field.
CB: Alyson, what are your favorite parts about being an NFL cheerleader?
AJ: Cheering the loud games, getting to work with people at events, meeting new friends, being a representative of Cincinnati, and making memories with these women that I’ll never forget.
CB: What do you enjoy doing away from Cheer leading?
AJ: I love inspiring my students, I like to eat at Cincinnati restaurants, I enjoy traveling, riding roller coasters, musical theater, and attending cheerleading/dance competitions.
CB: What are your future goals?
AJ: I want to publish a children’s book, travel the world, get married and start a family.
CB: How have your friends responded to you being an NFL cheerleader?
AJ: My friends and family are my biggest support system. They come to every game and cheer me on!
CB: How do you want to be remembered?
AJ: I want my students to remember me as the best teacher they’ve ever had, who was also a spirited cheerleader.
CB: Being a cheerleader, do you have a message for the Bengals players to motivate them?
AJ: We want a Super Bowl ring!!! Work harder!!
CB: The Bengals have just made it to the 2012 NFL playoffs! How exciting! Do you have any message for the Bengals players in their Super Bowl quest?
AJ: Good luck!! Play hard!!! Give it everything and win!! We want to go to the super bowl!
CB: Were you a cheerleader when you were younger?
AJ: Yes. I started cheering when I was 5. I did gymnastics and danced until high school. I cheered varsity in high school. Then I cheered for The University of Cincinnati in 2004 and 2005. I have cheered with the Ben-Gals for 2007-2011 seasons.
CB: What makes Alyson happy?
AJ: desserts, vacations, my cat- Glitzy, sunshine, purses, shoes, glitter and big hair.
CB: What is your workout routine like? Tell us a little bit about your cardio, training and diet.
AJ: I actually don’t like working out. I dance a lot. I try to eat healthy. I eat more protein than carbs and lots of fruits and vegetables. I have a weakness for coffee and wine.
CB: Who inspires you?
AJ: My parents. My mother is beautiful and so smart. She has an amazing eye for fashion and decorating. My father too. He is funny and never meets a stranger.
CB: It’s great that you come from an amazing family. You have been working with the Bengals for four years. Have most of the seasons with the Bengals been much the same or are they different? Does this season seem much different than your rookie season?
AJ: I enjoyed being a rookie because you could make mistakes and it would be like “rookie mistake.” No, this year has been more fun than most because the football team has changed and there’s more hope for Bengals fans that someday we will go to the (need I say it) SUPERBOWL!!!
CB: You are motivated and have lots of spirit, I love it! What is your favorite part of being a Bengals cheerleader? Any parts you dislike?
AJ: I love everything about it. I love doing my makeup and hair for games. But I do get annoyed at how many times we have to “glam” on game days.
CB: What goes through your mind when you step onto the field before a big game?
AJ: I look out of the tunnel at every game before we go on the field, and think to myself “take it all in Alyson…” I try to get a photographic memory in my head for the future. I also thank God every time I’m out there for how lucky I am.
CB: What types of places would you like to travel to in the future?
AJ: My goal this year is to go to the Bahamas. I would like to go to France. I know some of the French language. I have been to Disney World 13 times and I need to go back and see the updates!!
CB: As a Bengals Cheerleader, what have been some of your favorite trips you been on, appearances you have made and charities you have done?
AJ: Some of my favorite local charities are The Freestore Foodbank, Kicks for Kids, The Marvin Lewis Foundation, and Ronald McDonald House. I love working with children and going to these events. Also the Ben-Gals works with younger girls for our Jr. Ben-Gal squad. I like teaching young girls and boys how to dance and cheer!
CB: Being known as a Bengals Cheerleader and calendar cover champion, what is it like getting hit on all the time?
AJ: (Laughs)I don’t get hit on! I’m a boring school teacher.
CB: How is the atmosphere of cheering in the NFL different than the high school/ college level? I notice that when I go to NFL games, the music they play is often very loud and the fans are intense!
AJ: Yes. The music is loud, fans are screaming, fans of the opposing team are screaming, and the players are so much bigger! I’m always nervous I’m going to get tackled.
CB: (Laughs) You’re right, everything is much bigger and more intense! Okay, I’m gonna say a quick concept. Just tell me whatever comes to mind. Ready?
AJ: I’m ready…
My favorite bands are…not bands but singers- Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Madonna, Rascal Flatts, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross.
My ideal vacation is…on a beach.
A great personality trait of mine is…I don’t take things too seriously. My grandma told me before she passed away “don’t stress about anything, because everything will work itself out.”
For fun I love to go…get a manicure or pedicure.
I am always…drinking coffee.
My favorite health foods are…walnuts in chocolate fudge.
My favorite junk food is…cupcakes.
Compliments I have received that I like are…I like it when people tell me I’m smart.
My turn ons are and my turn offs are…Turn ons–successful men who aren’t arrogant and have their lives together. Turn-offs–guys that are out at bars every night.
The worst advice ever told to me was…It’s not really advice, but I don’t like negative feedback. Coming from a teacher’s perspective, I feel people work harder when praise is given.
The best and worst parts of being a model celebrity are…Best–having people that actually care about your life. Worst–bad pictures that come up.
I have learned…to take every opportunity and not be scared to give it your all. Family and friends come first, because in the end that’s all that matters.
I miss…not knowing Santa was my mom.
Would you like to be a WWE Diva…Sure thing!
One thing I plan to have in the future is…Three weddings! All three of my best friends are getting married.
I want to Cheer for as long…I want to cheer as long as I’m able to!!
CB: Well, Alyson it has been great talking to you. You’re a very smart person who has gotten to inspire millions of people. I wish you the best with everything ahead. In closing is there anything else that you would like to say?
AJ: Thank you, Ben for the great interview. I guess thanks to everyone out there who has given me a chance!
A Fat Loss 1-2 Punch that TRIPLES Fat Loss
Guest Post By John Romaniello creator of Fat Loss Forever
Yesterday, I told you about Intermittent Fasting, which is quickly becoming one of the hottest and most successful nutritional practices around. Today, I want to focus on one of the (many) reasons why: hormones.
We briefly touched on the hormonal benefits of fasting in yesterday’s article, including an increase in one of the most powerful hormones around: Growth Hormone, or GH. Also known as “the fitness hormone,” GH has a myriad benefits, ranging from increased sleep quality to enhanced metabolism.
While a full description of this amazing hormone is beyond this writing, it’s enough to say that the more GH your produce, the faster you can lose fat and gain muscle.
And so today, I want to share with you the top three instances when you naturally produce more Growth Hormone, and show you a way that you can combine all three to get the best possible outcome–a synergistic BURST of GH production, all leading towards incinerating fat.
Let’s take a look.
Three Instances of Naturally Increased Growth Hormone
1) When you sleep
2) When you are in a fasted state
3) When you train with weights.
That’s correct — you product the MOST growth hormone when you sleep, when you eat, and when you train. So, how do we use this knowledge to increase fat loss?
Well, let’s look at it. We know you’re producing tons of growth hormone when you’re fasting–which means you’re NOT producing it when you’re eating. We also know you’re producing it when you sleep.
So, if you’re producing GH when you sleep…why do you STOP producing it when you wake up? EASY–because, when most people wake up, the first thing they do is EAT…which we just said stops growth hormone production.
Which means that by doing something as simple as skipping breakfast you can extend the natural secretion of growth hormone that occurs during your sleep cycle; in addition, staying in a fasted state will actually help you product MORE growth hormone.
With just that simple change, you’ve double your fat burning production of GH. And…forgive me for sounding like an infomercial host, but this is the perfect time to use this line…
“But wait, there’s more!”
Because, it actually does get even better.
You see, we also know that you produce a ton of growth hormone during and after your weight training session; now if only we could figure out a way to combine that knowledge with the previous points to increase GH further…
Oh, wait: that’s exactly what we did!
You see, imagine what would happen if you put your GH producing weight training session at the end of your GH-producing fasting session…which was used to extend the effect of your natural GH-producing sleep?
Exactly: you would create a perfect storm production, sending growth hormone production into overdrive, allowing your body to burn fat at an accelerated rate, while you’re already in a calorie deficit.
Here’s the abbreviated cheat sheet:
1) Get a good night’s sleep
2) Push your breakfast back until after your workout
3) Train with weights any time between 12 and 2pm.
Follow those three simple steps, then have a healthy mea—do those things, and you’re on your way to losing fat, and keeping it off forever.
Can you imagine that? By simply skipping breakfast and having a workout, you can burn triple growth hormone secretion and burn up to three times as much fat.
For most guys, shedding unwanted body fat is a persistently difficult task. And while there is no shortage of fat loss diets and programs, few of them seem to work as promised. However, few fitness professionals know and understand the dynamics of fat loss better than John Romaniello, the well-known fitness author, expert and founder of Roman Fitness Systems. Based in New York City, John has worked with clients of all kinds and is regarded as one of the premier body transformation specialists in the fitness industry.
For his latest effort–Fat Loss Forever–John has teamed up with Dan Go, an internationally-renowned fitness boot camp instructor and real-world fat loss expert.
The basic premise of FLF is that many of the supposed experts are either using the wrong approach to fat loss or they are touting a strategy that only works for those who are overly or morbidly obese. For example, the metabolism of the very obese man functions very differently from the one in the guy who just needs to shed a few pounds of excess fat. So what works to shed fat in the very large guy will not be effective in ‘not-so-fat’ guy. The fact that they have built-in, self-sabotaging ‘guilt triggers’ is another reason that John and Dan say many other fat loss programs miss the mark. FLF is a breakthrough program that overcomes those inherent and takes an entirely different approach to fat loss. Let’s take a look at the program and see what it’s all about.
First, let me start by saying that Fat Loss Forever is not just another ‘fat loss’ book. In fact, it’s not a book at all but a complete program that includes a nutrition manual, training manual, diet calendar, food guide and grocery list, supplementation guide and a complete set of workouts, all of which total 10 volumes. Of these, the Nutrition Guide is really the heart of the program because it really all starts there. If you don’t have the proper nutritional foundation, you’ll never achieve your fitness goals, whether it’s shedding fat, gaining lean mass, or both.
Strategic Fasting Boosts Anabolic Hormones!
FLF is presented as a 12-week program that John and Dan say is intended to do two things: 1) help you burn fat faster than ever before; and 2) help you maintain your results throughout your entire lifetime. That second point is important because studies show that the overwhelming majority of people who lose weight or fat end up putting it back on over time. This is because most diet or fat loss programs are only geared towards short term results. They don’t really care what happens to you in the long-run.
The Nutrition Guide opens with a brief introduction and discussion about the basic problem with most diet approaches, which is that they focus on the symptoms, not the systems. Focusing on the symptoms is like treating a
headache (the symptom) by taking aspirin, when in reality the cause (system) of the headache is the fact that you’re hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. In other words, treat the system (the hammer hitting you in the head) and you eliminate the symptom (headache).
A concept known as Intermittent Fasting is the core component and underlying foundation of the FLF approach to nutrition and fat loss. Intermittent Fasting is defined as strategically alternating periods of not eating (fasting) with times where you are allowed to eat (feeding period). FLF includes varying levels of fasting, depending on where you are in the program. While Intermittent Fasting may sound unpleasant, it really does produce remarkable results. It does so because it stimulates the production of powerful fat-burning hormones—including muscle building Growth Hormone—while simultaneously suppressing the fat-producing hormones.
The rest of the Fat Loss Forever Nutrition Guide outlines the various approaches to Intermittent Fasting that you can utilize to achieve your fat loss and muscle-building goals. The book also includes a section that helps you determine the appropriate levels of macronutrients (protein, carbs and fats) that you should be consuming every day. It also includes a brief section on pre- and post-workout supplementation and some tips about organization and water intake.
The Food Guide and Grocery List and Diet Calendar provide all the support you need to carry out the nutritional component of the FLF program. The Training Manual presents four different training modalities: 5-4-3 Dynamic, Growth Hormone Surge, Density-Based and Complexes. Each of these focuses on a targeted approach towards burning fat, increasing strength and gaining muscle. The Training Guide provides the overall direction of each modality, with each being supported by a specific workout guide.
I’m happy to say that John and Dan have put together an excellent program that presents a solid foundation for effective fat loss. The guys use a straightforward approach that’s easy to follow and not difficult to read. For anyone who has been frustrated in his efforts to shed unwanted fat, you ought to consider the FLF approach—it’s built on solid science that can deliver the desire results!
Howdy partners. I did this sweet interview with former swat commander and executive bodyguard Mike Gillette who is the creator of an extremely kick-ass program called the Savage Strength Training System. Are you prepared to be entercated? That’s right you get entertained and educated at the same time…..boom! I said it. Enjoy.
Me: In your experience are strength and size of a muscle correlated?
MG: Research suggests that a larger cross-section of muscle tissue will yield greater contractile potential than a smaller cross-section of muscle tissue. But if this was all there was to the strength equation, then bodybuilders would also dominate the realm of strength sports. But they don’t. The chief strength variable that almost everyone overlooks is the Central Nervous System. Often-times a smaller but more neurologically-efficient athlete can outlift a larger one.
Me: Why do you feel it’s more important to train for strength than it is for looks?
MG: Because I need a body that PERFORMS. After having had so many big, impressively-muscled guys come up to me and say “What you do is amazing…” , it becomes apparent that deep down, what everyone really respects is CAPABILITY. Meaning what you can DO rather than just how you LOOK. I am 49 years old and I am still out on the road. And whether it’s for bodyguard work or a presentation of mind-body feats, my body has to be able to do WHAT I want it to WHEN I want it to.
Me: What would you say to someone that is intimidated by the Savage Strength program and claims to be too old, or has a bad back or just isn’t ready for something like this yet?
MG: I would say “Just try it out…” While it’s true that there are some very tough exercises taught in the program, I specifically included some easier ones too. And that’s because (as long as you pay attention to the detailed instruction) this program can be for ANYBODY. You just have to work within your present level of capabilities. You have to be smart about it. The program is self-calibrating. No matter how strong you are, you can adjust the intensity level by manipulating various training parameters which are explained in detail in the program manual.
Me: What are the advantages of becoming stronger and more functional?
MG: Simple… in a physical context you can do what you want You learn how to become the master of your body and not the other way around. Get strong and gain the strength to live the life you want… the life you’ve always wanted.
Me: Briefly differentiate between muscular endurance vs. muscular strength.
MG: Endurance refers to output capacity sustained over a period of time. The longer the time-frame, the lower the intensity level. Strength refers to MAXIMUM output capacity. In my world, endurance is a quality I associate with “wellness” or “health”, strength is a quality I associate with “taking action” or “saving lives”. Strength give you on-demand usefulness to the world around you.
Me: Mike, as former SWAT Commander was there ever a time that your strength training proved to be an asset?
MG: Too many to possibly count. For every meth-lab door kicked, every street thug I ever fought with, every suicidal person I wrestled a weapon away from and for every frightened child who took my hand and needed to know that everything was going to be okay… each one of those people needed to feel all my strength… for different reasons. And for all of them, it was my DUTY to become as strong as I could be.
Me: On page 28 of the Savage Strength manifesto you said that when you were in your early 40s, your body felt like it was training all the time, even when you weren’t. What did you mean by that?
MG: Primarily it was the time I had left law enforcement and I was working in the private sector running some very large training projects. Lots of deadlines and lots of travel. My training had unfortunately become routine. So routine in fact, I was sometimes losing track as to whether or not I was even doing it. I had lost some of the imperative to train, I had lost that edge. This was also around the time that certain overuse-related injuries had started to crop up.
Me: Do mentally tough people get stronger than those who aren’t?
MG: They absolutely do. Strength training is hard work. And strength training performed at the ragged edge of your own capabilities is even harder. It is the ability to develop mental toughness that separates the STRONG from the merely “fit”. You have to be able to break barriers to achieve something meaningful. And if you aggressively seek opportunities to REALLY break through to whatever your own “next level” is, you will likely get a glimpse of your best self.
Me: Tell us something most people don’t know about Mike Gillette.
MG: Between the scary resume, the bending and the breaking and the mind-power feats I do, some people have a hard time approaching me. It’s interesting that kids have no problem coming up and asking me for pictures or an autograph or just to talk. But a lot of adults seem uncomfortable making that same overture. So, while I understand that a lot of what I do strikes most people as “unusual”, it’s not unusual to me. This is simply who I am and what I do. And it is vitally important to me to share what I do and the things I have been so fortunate to learn… all these unconventional techniques, methods and teachings with others.
Me: In closing, why does the world need more strong men?
MG: Strong men, by their very presence, make their little corner of the world “better”. What I mean by that is they make things safer, more stable, more sensible, more… BETTER. Discipline of BODY, Discipline of MIND, Self-Control… the world is always a better place when more men possess these qualities.
Me: Thanks for your time.
MG: My pleasure. Check out the article below to get 4-keys to savage strength.
January 17, 2012 by Mike Westerdal
Filed under Bench Press, Bodybuilding and Muscle Building, Muscle Building, Powerlifting, Recent Posts, Reviews, Strength Training, Strength Training Reviews, Training
Ask most anyone that lifts weights what the three most critical lifts are and I can almost guarantee that he will say the bench press, the deadlift and the squat. Of the three, the squat is arguably the most important compound exercise you can perform because it not only works all of the major leg muscles but it strengthens the core and supports muscle growth throughout the body too.
Each of these three exercises is a compound movement that simultaneously recruits multiple muscle groups, making them all critical to explosive gains in strength and mass.
important, all three movements push the body’s endocrine system into overdrive, triggering the release of powerful hormones such as testosterone that drive strength gains and muscle growth.
A guy named Andy Bolton understands this concept better than just about anybody. He’s spent more than 20 years figuring out what works and what doesn’t and has gotten really good at it. Andy is a 7-time WPC World Powerlifting Champion, a 2-time WPO Champion and the first man ever to pull a 1000 lbs Deadlift in competition. In fact, he’s squatted an unbelievable 1214 pounds, benched an incredible 755 pounds and deadlifted more than 1,000 pounds, not once–but twice!
His “Explode” books (one for squats, one for the bench press and one for the deadlift) outline Andy’s techniques for making these critical moves the foundation of a training routine that will blast out more size and strength gains than you ever thought possible.
Although each book covers a different topic, the overall layout of each is very similar. In all three the first couple chapters offer some interesting and useful background information. First, in each book Andy starts out by discussing the spotlighted movement, providing a historical overview of his strength gains in each movement over the years–it’s pretty impressive.
In the Squat and Bench Press books he then moves into a discussion of raw movements, which means that you’re not using any equipment other than a lifting belt, knee wraps or wrist wraps. In the next chapter he moves on to talking about doing the movements equipped. In both cases, this chapter is primarily geared towards competitive powerlifters.
In the Deadlift book, he talks about what to wear and then points out the differences between a “Sumo Deadlift” and a “Conventional Deadlift.” This is excellent information because it enables you to determine which of the two is best suited to you. Some trainers favor one style over the other and try and force their beliefs on everyone, which can lead to injuries.
After these discussions, in all three volumes Andy launches into the heart of the matter, starting with proper set-up. Here he talks about how setting up is the most fundamental element of a solid movement. Obviously, if you aren’t on-target with this critical step from the start, you won’t get the results you want and more important, you set yourself up for failure and even serious injury. In all cases, Andy includes clear descriptions and a photo to demonstrate proper set-up.
In the subsequent chapters, he walks you through all of the various phases that make up the movements. I like the fact that his descriptions are clear, providing enough information so you can perfect the movement, but not so much that it’s distracting. Pictures help you to make sure you’re performing the movements properly. Throughout all three books he offers tips and suggestions to help you get the most out of each exercise.
Afterwards, he shifts to a discussion that to me, is one of the most important chapters in the book and a personal favorite of mine. Here, Andy talks about the importance of having the proper mindset. While yes, proper form and executive are both absolutely critical, if you don’t have the mindset of a champion, you’ll never see the results you want to see. It’s not a very lengthy chapter but Andy does provide his most important tips and suggestions for mentally positioning yourself to explode your squat.
One look at his incredibly impressive record of triumphs and it becomes very apparent that Andy Bolton knows what he’s talking about. Here’s your opportunity to learn from one of the best. So if you are really looking to experience explosive gains in size and strength like never before, check out Explode Your Squat, Explode Your Benchpress or Explode Your Deadlift (or all three) for yourself and see just how far you can go–you might be surprised!