by Mike Westerdal
You can do anything that anyone else has done. You can have anything that anyone else has. You can be anything that some else already is.
Why? Because they have already done it and therefore you know it can be done.
The only question left is how hard you are willing to work to get the same results?
Understand, I am not saying to be just like someone else here. You are a unique individual. No one else is like you and one of the worst things you can do is hide your individuality. I am saying that if there is something you want to have or be, a good way to get there is to make a study out of how other successful people did it.
Make a habit out of studying successful people and start doing what they did or what they advise.
Sure, there are some limitations.
You will probably not be able to play pro baseball or basketball if you are in your 50’s.
You probably won’t be elected President of the United States if you failed to graduate high school.
That does not, however, mean you cannot set lofty goals for yourself.
The habit of study comes after accepting responsibility and thinking about what it is you want to achieve.
In order to achieve great fitness and muscle building results, you must bridge the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be.
What this means is, you have to find a way to get from where you currently are to where you want to go.
It’s the same principle as using a road map. You use a map to get from Point A to Point B without driving blindly about trying to find your destination.
Learning to bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to go can be done more easily if you model, or copy, someone who has already achieved the things you want to achieve.
For example, say your best friend recently gained 20 pounds of muscle and looks great. Why not ask him how he did it and then, provided he gained the weight in a reasonable manner, copy what he did?
The first step in the process is that you must ask yourself, “Where am I currently?”
What needs to change? Am I too thin? What do I weigh? What do I think I should weigh? Is this reasonable?
What are my alternatives? If I don’t change now, can I spend another week, month, or year like I am right now?
How does my weight make me feel? Is my weight related to my feelings about myself? If so, what are those feelings? Are they justified?
Take a peek into the future. Where do you see yourself in 6 months or a year if you keep heading the in same direction you are now. Will your life be negatively affected?
What is it about my workout routine that is not producing results? What is it in my diet that is not working?
Self honesty is crucial here. Recognize that there must holes somewhere in your program. If there weren’t you’d be getting the results you want. Something is not working. It’s important evaluate yourself and see if you can’t identify where you’re falling short.
After you evaluate where you are, you know must then identify where you want to go.
Ask yourself questions like:
What do I want to weigh?
How do I want my clothes to fit?
How much energy would I like to have?
How strong do I want to be?
If I change for the better right now and start implementing a proper fitness program, what will I feel and look like in 6 months or a year? What size tshirts will I wear or what brand new clothes will I look better in?
How will you determine your success? It’s important to understand In crystal clear terms, what it is you want to achieve.
When you find that answer, you’ve found your destination. The clearer that destination is in your mind the easier it will be to plan your road.
To achieve fitness and muscle building success, you must bridge the gap that lies between where you are and where it is you want go.
Once you determine where it is you want to go, you need to make certain choices and certain decisions about how you will get there.
The quickest way to get there is to follow someone else who has already achieved what you want. Model your road after someone who has already figured out what works and what doesn’t.
You can have anything you want in life if you follow the path laid out by others who have achieved what you want. If you want to learn about the stock market, read a book by Warren Buffet. If you want to learn a new language, pick up a Spanish book.
I am going to help you with muscle building success. Not because I know everything there is to know about gaining muscle, but because I made the same choice you’re making now and have seen the end result of that choice and having carried it to it’s full fruition. The experience of others can save you a lot of time.
In developing the habit of studying it’s important to note that it’s not what you know that matters, it’s what you do that produces results.
Muscle gain is 80% behavior. It all comes down to the choices we make. In order to gain muscle weight you must first change your behavior. The purpose of studying is to educate you to what changes you need to make.
Analyze your own behavior. Compare it to others who have achieved your goals before you and decide what changes you need to make.
Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. Now if you can answer yes to the question below click here to continue reading.
by Mike Westerdal
Many women shy away from the idea of building muscle because they are afraid they’ll ‘bulk-up’ and look like one of the female competitive bodybuilders that used to come out of the former U.S.S.R. Fortunately, that’s just a myth. Women who lift weights to build muscle do not instantly turn into masculine-looking hulks bulging with muscle.
However, despite years of strong evidence to the contrary, the myth persists and countless women refuse to lift a weight out of fear of bulking up. It’s time to set the record straight once and for all.
Whether you’re a man or woman, young or old, resistance training is one of the greatest gifts we can give not just our bodies, but our minds and spirits as well. Let me explain why. First, muscles only get bigger and stronger when they encounter some sort of resistance. Without resistance, muscles may get ‘toned’ but they will never increase in size or strength. The muscle growth occurs as a result of the muscle cells’ reaction to the stress placed upon them by the resistance—free weights, dumbbells, machines or even body weight.
When the muscle cells encounter resistance they send signals to the central nervous system, which then releases a flood of hormones into the bloodstream. This sets off a chain reaction that serves to better prepare the muscle cells for the next time they face the same resistance. In this case ‘better prepared’ means the muscles are bigger and/or stronger. That’s why the next time you use the same resistance it is a little bit easier than it was the time before. To push the muscle to continue to get bigger and/or stronger, you need to challenge it even more by either increasing the resistance (weight) or reducing the rest time between sets.
This is where the myth that says that women who build muscle will wind up looking like female linebackers. Fortunately, that’s just not true. Unless a woman has a particular goal of joining the NFL, building muscle can produce a number of life-enhancing benefits without bulking her up. Basically, strength training to build muscle for women offers the same benefits as it does for men. These benefits include changing the appearance of the body,
reducing body fat, lowering the risk of injury and boosting overall health.
Though healthy eating habits combined with an aerobic exercise regimen will slim down a woman’s body, there’s no better way for a woman to transform her physique than by building muscle through strength training. Besides being a quick and effective way for a woman to tone and sculpt her body, strength training offers many other benefits, making it an essential element to overall health and fitness.
Among women, a regular resistance training routine—combined with a proper, healthy diet—will increase muscle mass. But let’s make it clear that this does not mean that a woman’s body will bulk up.
The fact is that when a woman increases the amount of lean muscle mass she has, her body requires more energy to maintain the muscle. Fat burns fewer calories than muscle mass—even when the muscles are at rest. So by increasing muscle mass a woman can boost the number of calories she burns throughout the day and lose weight while shedding unwanted extra body fat. In addition, because of the fact that muscle takes up less space than fat, her body will be more toned.
There are a number of other important benefits that result from women building muscle. Besides burning more calories throughout the day, a regular, consistent resistance training program gives you more energy throughout the day. Exercise—weight training in particular—also stimulates the release of endorphins, which elevate the mood and increase self-esteem and self-confidence. Improved health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health problems are other important benefits for women. Lastly, the process of building muscle increases joint flexibility, balance and coordination, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
It’s clear that there are many benefits that arise when women start building muscle. The only real potential downside arises from improper training techniques and bad form. A woman who has never lifted weights might want to consider consulting a professional to learn the proper way to train and assist her in developing a diet and exercise routine that’s right for her. If you’re still concerned about building up read this follow up article entitled, “5 Muscle Toning Myths You Must Stop Believing“
Lifting weights is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve the health and longevity of your body. Besides increasing muscle mass and building strength, a regular weightlifting routine can strengthen the body’s immune system, elevate mood, improve flexibility and result in better overall health. Once in a while though, we all tend to overdo it when lifting weights, resulting in joint pain and inflammation that cannot only be painful but even debilitating.
Joint pain and inflammation most often occur in the shoulders and the knees but can crop up in the elbows, forearms, wrists, ankles or even hips. The level of pain can range from a mild irritation to severe pain that inhibits or prevents movement. Joint pain and inflammation can be caused by an injury or chronic conditions such as arthritis, bursitis or tendonitis. First, let’s take a look at chronic conditions that can cause joint pain and inflammation in weightlifters.
• Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of this troublesome ailment. For bodybuilders, osteoarthritis is the more common of the two. This one is generally brought on by wear and tear of the joints and is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joints. It occurs when cartilage in the joints becomes rough, causing friction and then pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term disease that is far less common in bodybuilders.
• Bursitis: This condition occurs when the bursa (fluid-filled sacs) between tendons and skin or tendons and bone become inflamed. Bursitis can become acute or chronic. The bursa assist in movement by reducing friction between moving parts. Bursitis is typically caused by overuse or trauma, but can also be the result of an infection.
It most often causes trouble in the shoulders, knees, hips or elbows, but other areas such as the foot are susceptible too. It is characterized by joint pain and tenderness when you press around the joint, stiffness and achiness when you move the affected joint and swelling, warmth or redness around the affected joint.
• Tendonitis: When tendons become inflamed and movement becomes painful as a result, tendonitis can occur. Sometimes the tendons become inflamed for a variety of reasons, and the action of pulling the muscle becomes irritating. While there are hundreds of tendons throughout our body, there are only a handful that tend to get tendonitis—these are ones that have an area of poor blood supply, making them susceptible to damage and poor healing response.
This area of a tendon that is prone to injury is referred to as a “watershed zone,” due to weak blood supply that inhibits the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Consequently, these areas, when injured, become readily inflamed and take a long time to heal. Tendonitis tends to be an overuse injury.
Besides the conditions mentioned above, joint pain and inflammation can also be caused by an injury. For weightlifters, the rotator cuff in the shoulder region is among the most injury-prone joints in the body. The rotator cuff is actually a collection of four muscles and their tendons—all of which wrap around the shoulder, providing support and stability. Joint pain and inflammation in the rotator cuff region can be both painful and debilitating due to the fact that the shoulder plays such a key role in weightlifting.
Injuries to the rotator cuff can occur as the result of trying to lift too much weight or using poor technique. Repetitive arm movements can increase the likelihood of rotator cuff injury. Common movements that lead to rotator cuff injuries include dips, the shoulder press, lateral raises and the bench press. Adding some rotator cuff exercises to your weekly routine should help.
Regardless of the cause and whether it’s the result of an isolated injury or a chronic condition, recovery from joint pain and inflammation generally requires time and rest. Ice packs and ibuprofen can help reduce the pain and swelling but they won’t speed up the healing process. As difficult as it may be, the best treatment for joint pain and inflammation is rest because otherwise, you run the risk of exacerbating the injury and making it worse.
Now if you’re like me when the doctor says, “Don’t workout anymore and take a rest for a few months until it feels better“, you’re thinking to yourself…..Ya right! I’m not some regular guy that works out once in a while, this is a major part of my life and I can’t stay on the sideline that long and lose all my progress.
Besides rest and avoiding activities that cause the pain, here are some other things you can try that have worked for me in the past.
1. Try this cream called, “Rub On Relief“: It has 8 homeopathic ingredients including belladonna, menthol, ingatia, msm, rhus tox, phosporous, naja, and lachesis mutus. It’s natural and not only covers the pain but helps heal it. It doesn’t smell and it doesn’t burn or freeze your skin. There are no side effects and you can read all about the ingredients here. This is way better than the sports creams you find at CVS and blows Tiger Balm out of the water if you’ve ever used that.
2. If you have the funds you can get a massage, get chiropractic adjustments and go visit a physical therapist to perform rehab exercises. These things work, but the downside is that they are expensive and eat up a lot of your time.
If you’re looking for a home-made way to, “take care of this yourself” without spending a ton of money you should check out my friend Jedd Johnson’s, “Fix Your Elbow Pain” eBooks. Jedd is a professional grip strength competitor. He bends nails, and rips decks of cards and that sort of thing. The point is, he has had his fair share of elbow and forearm pain due to a variety of reasons and has put together a package full of useful stretches, exercises and massage techniques you can use to get rid of the pain and not only cover the symptoms but cure the root issue.
Throughout the manual each exercise comes with illustrations and guidance for volume and frequency of training. It’s a done for you solution.
If you’re healthy now, that’s great. The best thing you can do about these issues is try to prevent them in the first place. Jedd’s Fixing Elbow Pain package includes an ebook all about prevention measures you can use including warm ups that get blood flowing to the entire body, teaching you about warning signs so you don’t push too hard, and some quick things you can do after your workouts to speed up recovery.
Here are 2 more quick tips for you. First and foremost, use proper form when lifting weights, using slow, controlled movements. Rapid, jerky movements significantly increase the chances that you’ll injure yourself, resulting in joint pain or inflammation.
In addition, make sure you’re getting enough healthy fats in your diet. Bodybuilders that go on prolonged, extremely low-fat diets have a high risk of joint injury. This is because fats provide some of the cushion in our joints—take away all of the fat and you eliminate important lubrication and cushion. Follow these steps and you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll suffer from joint point and inflammation.
If you have any other tips or advice for those of suffering from joint pain and inflammation please share below. Thanks.
Your body is not the only one that needs training. The human brain requires a lot of attention – your memory, space orientation, hand-to-eye coordination, reaction speed, all of these can be stimulated and improved. Old age tends to limit our memory, hence the need to find ways to exercise the most important organ of the body as well. Here are a few helpful methods of putting your brain to work and keeping it healthy for a long time.
Go To The Gym – It’s Good For The Brain!
Start by working our regularly. If you are on this website, you are probably interested in being or becoming a better bodybuilder. Hence you already know what working out regularly means and how important it is for the entire body and your eel state of health. But it also plays a crucial part in maintaining your brain happy. Your cognitive functions will be significantly improved every time you will work out. Have you noticed you tend to have a clearer thinking at the end of your workouts? Working out will also diminish the risk of dementia and other similar mental disorders.
Play A Game That Trains Your Brain
You can pick a specialized game that has been developed t help players improve their brain functions. Your smartphone can handle a lot of apps that can do the same things as well, and your computer can host many similar brain games. So all you need to do is do some research and find out which of them you like most. Many people like to combine having fun with exercising their brain – bingo and casino games are a couple of examples. If you too are into gambling, check out the game offers the Cosmic Casino online currently has in store. With a welcome bonus worth up to 5,555 and a wide selection of slots, poker and other table games, roulette and many more, wearing the GameScale label and certified by TST Labs, the casino is definitely worth a try. The games of Casino Hold’em Poker, Poker Three or Caribbean Poker will help you develop your logic, strategic thinking and stimulate your memory, while the Aero Slots, Aqua Slots, or Bow Wow Slots games will help improve your hand-to-eye coordination and also relax you.
Train Your Brain Through Laugher
According to recent studies, people become better at solving creativity exercises after being exposed to comedy. Laughter makes us feel more active, alert, and interested in a topic – but too much of it can also lower our performances.
Bodybuilders need their rest days just like plants need water to grow. One big mistake that a lot of people who work out intensely tend to make is to ignore the hours spent outside the gym, when they are not working out.
Why Do You Need The Rest?
Top performance can only be achieved with the help of good rest. By avoiding overtraining and training hard, but smart you will gain the size and strength you are looking for. It has been scientifically proven that the growth hormone or GH on short reaches its highest peaks during sleep. In other words, physiologic improvement can occur only when the body rests after a hard workout session. Nutrition also plays a quintessential role into the process; eating the right foods right after these trainings is crucial. But of course there are plenty of bodybuilders who do not know that improper rest time will lead to faulty body regeneration. This will lead to poor workout results – hence the need to staying away from the gym when you need to. Here are a few clever ways of keeping yourself busy and active during your rest days.
Recommended Activities During Your Rest Days
Take on some non-physical activities that can relax you or that you find enjoyable enough to do to keep yourself busy and outside the gym. Consider computer or video gaming – many teens and young adults embrace video games and turn them into genuine hobbies; they are fun, intriguing, captivating, and they can keep you busy for hours. You can also think about doing some casino gambling – whether offline or online; go online and you have every chance of coming across a virtual gambling venue that will allow you to play for fun. If some extra money wouldn’t hurt you either, why not play for real cash or even join a casino affiliates website and see if such a program would fit you? AffPower for example is a powerful group of renowned professionals in the gaming industry; they have gathered over a decade and a half of experience and their goal is to create lasting affiliate partnerships with everyone interested. They will provide you with the tools, professional training and right approaches to make sure you are doing your best to promote their verticals. Offering some of the best CPA deals out there and featuring a brand new GameScale casino software, they are definitely worth at least an virtual visit – they are prone to keep you busy and making nice money during your rest days!
Ben Tatar represented Critical Bench.com at the 2012 Arnold Sports Festival. Below I ask him a few questions about the trip and share some of his pics.
CB: What was different or better about this year’s Arnold?
BT: The night life was better this year. At night I hung out with celebrities, NFL players, the Bengals Cheerleaders (including my good friend from the Bengals, Alyson Jordan) and there was a million different things to do all at once. There were also new things to attend like the Lexen Xtreme Powerlifting Competition. Crowd control was better this year and my relationships with the people I know have grown.
CB: What was the big event from the Arnold that people couldn’t stop talking about at the after parties?
BT: It seemed like everyone who went to Party with the Pro’s competed in some event and did very well. Most people had their own success stories to share and celebrate! It’s always good seeing people from all over the world at the Arnold. The world is pretty big, and it’s a good place for people to unite.
CB: List some of the celebrity stars who were at this year’s Arnold.
BT: Some of the big name celebrity superstars that were at this year’s Arnold were Carmen Electra, Randy Couture, Chuck Norris, Mario Lopez (from Saved by the Bell,) Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Angle, Rob Gronkowski, Matt Hughes, Rob Terry, Buster Douglas (who beat Mike Tyson), Roy Jones Jr., Larry Fitzgerald, Brian Shaw, Frankie Edgar, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Ronnie Coleman, Sean Sherk, The Incredible Hulk, Mark Henry, and Alyson Jordan. There were more, I just listed 20 that came to mind. It’s been cool getting to work and party with the stars.
CB: Lots of celebrities. Any new faces that were a big hit with the crowds?
BT: Lexi Kaufman–Lexi Kaufman is a magazine cover model. She was also a very well liked booth girl and is constantly making headlines as a professional competitor. At the Arnold she won 1st in Bikini class A.
Amanda Adams–Amanda Adams is constantly making magazine headlines and she is a booth girl star at every expo from FIBU in Germany to the Olympia in Vegas. Amanda is always a delight and she comes to every event with her A-Game.
Tiffany Tillinger— Tiffany won Brian Cannone’s Fitness Atlantic competition, and she now she is also a BSN Allstar! I have known Tiffany for many years, and it has been great watching her rise to the top! Special shout out to her husband Sean Larson who I previously interviewed.
Heather Morris–Heather works every event from conventions to the Super Bowl. She is on many different TV shows (ranging from Bikini Destinations to various TV shows on Spike.) She can be found in many different magazines and on different magazine covers.
Shiloe Steinmetz–I have seen Shiloe at all the big events over the last few years. Shiloe has 25 titles under his belt ranging from various regional titles all the way to two-time Team Universe Heavyweight National Champion. Also, I want to give a shout out to the girls who worked with him, April Lynn and Holly Schrader who work for different big companies every year and who worked with Shiloe this year.
Jenna Renne Webb–Jenna is constantly making magazine covers. She has become so popular that every company wants her to work for them. Jenna is one of the most loved Diva’s in modern day fitness. It was great seeing her again.
Miss USA, Marie Lynn–Marie Lynn has just won Miss Connecticut USA. It was good seeing her.
Sean Sherk–I interviewed Sean Sherk when he became the FIRST ever UFC Light weight champion! Sean was with Carmen Electra at the Arnold, and he will go down as one of the greatest wrestling champions in UFC history. Check out our interview.
Alyson Jordan–The Bengals got voted as the hottest Cheerleaders in the NFL (Over the Dallas Cow-girls) and of all the Bengal Cheerleaders, she was selected to be on the Bengals calendar cover. We have have become great friends, and she was the judge of the cheer leading competition. She is always traveling and doing media and charity extravaganzas. We partied every night.
Brad “the Wolverine” Dunn–Brad “the Wolverine” Dunn is one of the best strongman competitors in the world. He is a member of Natural Freak and is respected in the United States, Europe and all over the world.
Mary Schmitt–Mary and I go way back. I helped her get started in the industry years back when she did booth work with Muscle Werks. She is now a sponsored athlete who is doing interviews with Absolute Fuel. She has really made it big and her fan base is now huge!
Chanel Jones–Chanel Jones interviews hardcore athletes. She also works with Bad Ass Nutrition with Carmen Electra.
Rob Terry–When it comes to modern day professional Wrestling Entertainment, Rob Terry is a genetic freak.
Santana Anderson–Santana Anderson is constantly winning professional bodybuilding competitions all over Canada. He worked the Arnold with Fusion nutrition with rising star Jaclyn Wilson.
The Arnold had lots of rising stars and famous celebrities. It also had lots of greats in the industry whom I’ve known for a long time. People like Mindi Smith who has won Critical Bench Diva search competitions and then went on to do well in Miss Olympia competitions. There’s Courtney Hodges who was a Maxim model and now does lots of charity events. She has been a successful spokesperson for Met-RX throughout the years. Another example is Jeremy Hoornstra who dominates the bench press every single year and is a draw every single year. It has been good knowing so many people, who have not only succeeded at their passions but also have depth as people.
CB: Who got the “freak” award?
BT: There was powerlifter Ed Russ who is 5’11 and over 400lbs. This man has squatted well over 1000 pounds and he was the thickest freak there by far.
Another was Brian Shaw. He is 6’9 and 460lbs. He also won the 2011 World’s Strongest Man competition. Shaw was the biggest person there of over 100,000 athletes height and weight wise. He was also the 2011 World’s strongest man champion. To put it in perspective, Shaw is bigger than the Big Show from the WWE. Shaw is 25 pounds heavier than the Big Show, two inches shorter, much leaner and over twice as strong! Shaw is the world’s largest athlete.
Then there were other freaks walking around with their whole faces tattooed, anything is possible at the Arnold!
CB: What was the expo area like this year?
BT: Well, every aisle you walk down is a surprise. You never know what talent or friend you will see next. Everyday there’s different people, and there are always extravaganza’s going on from the Animal Cage (where people get to lift with the best in the world) to the main Expo stage (where different competitions from strongman to ping pong are going on throughout the day). There are just millions of different things going on, and I’m just happy to be connected to it all! It was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to next time and I hope everyone works hard for the 2013 Arnold–The Arnold’s 25th Anniversary
Lets keep this simple. If you’d like to win one of ten free copies I’m giving out of my new Bench Press Explosion eBook that contains 18 of the best bench press routines I have ever come across here’s your big chance!
The problem as I see it is addressing how powerbuilders can simultaneously achieve big numbers in their bench press weight and still develop sculptured, striated pecs in a minimal amount of time. That is the challenge I strive to address with this book.
Here’s what you need to do for a chance to win.
Look over these two interview posts below (will open in new windows) where I talk about my powerbuilding approach to bench pressing for BOTH strength and size.
Now leave a comment below on this page using 250 words or less explaining why you want to increase your bench press to get bigger and stronger and how my new eBook Bench Press Explosion would help you reach your goals of gaining this strength and size.
This contest will be open until the end of the day on Monday, March 12th. Everyone has the same fair chance to win and all entries will be read. Just do me a favor and don’t use lack of finances as a reason you want to win. Even if you don’t win I’m going to make this super affordable so everyone can get their hands on it next week when it’s released.
Good luck. Enter you comment below to win. Contest ends at the end of the day on March 12th.
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.
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.