Testimonial From Dan Schwab
I just completed the Critical Bench Program 2.0. In the 11 week program, I put 40 pounds on my bench press to reach my goal of over 400 pounds. At 5 feet 7 inches and 198 pounds, I was able to get a 405 pound bench press. I also set a personal record by pressing 315 pounds for 10 reps.
I am 45 years old and compete in amateur mixed martial arts as a member of the Independent Fight Team. I also used the Critical Bench Program 2.0 to increase my upper body strength for cage fighting. The program is really easy follow. Mike Westerdal’s Critical Bench Program 2.0 is very informative and I have had excellent results.
My next goal is 450 pound bench press and 315 pounds for 15 reps. I am positive Critical Bench will get me there. I highly recommend it for anyone. I have my girlfriend and her son using the program as well. They both have had a 20-30 pound gain on their bench.
By Chris Wilson, CPT author Anabolic AfterGrowth
Anabolic Hormones like Testosterone, Growth Hormone, IGF-1, Insulin and Cortisol are the keys to unlocking your body’s muscle growth. All of these have crucial roles on how your muscles respond to your training. Without these key ingredients, our time in the gym would be 100% worthless!
So you’re probably wondering what the heck they do…keep reading.
Anabolic (or Anabolism) simply means GROWTH. Making a bunch of smaller things into bigger things while using up a ton of energy in the process. For some, it has a negative connotation only because it’s often found in the same sentence as steroids.
But the fact is, your body naturally releases all kinds of goodies that help you grow and develop from a young boy into a fully grown man-BEAST.
You don’t need outside help…the answer is already in you. You just need to UNLOCK the right doors inside your body to release these muscle building monsters.
I will tell you exactly HOW to do that in a few minutes but first let me breakdown all of these extraordinary hormones.
Testosterone is what makes men, men. Without testosterone coursing through our veins, we would never grow facial hair, have energy or be TEN TIMES stronger than women. It is the KING of all male hormones and it is the bus driving all of the other muscle building hormones (more on that later).
Growth Hormone has also gotten a bad rap in recent years because of its illegal use in professional sports. However, on the contrary, our body’s pituitary gland continues to release this essential hormone into our blood stream well after puberty.
This occurs primarily at two times throughout the day: Post workout for about 30 minutes or so (but only when you train intensely with multi-joint exercises) but even more importantly while we’re getting our Zzzzzz’s. This is precisely why getting enough quality sleep on top of kicking your own ass at the gym is critical to your muscle and strength building potential.
Insulin-like growth factor 1 or (IGF-1) is another key ingredient to your body’s natural ability to GROW those muscles. It acts as a mediator or facilitator if you will. The science here can get real tricky to understand so think of IGF-1 as a catalyst. Without it, our growth hormone wouldn’t be able to do its job effectively.
Insulin is yet another super powerful hormone that is totally misunderstood. You may be thinking diabetes but it actually is even more anabolic than GH. Unfortunately insulin doesn’t really care whether it’s storing fat or building muscle. It’s just doing its job and regulating a safe level of blood glucose.
Extra blood glucose will either get stored in your adipose tissue (fat) or it will go to your muscles and/or liver to be used as energy and help those muscle gains. Insulin is required in the synthesis of protein making it vital to your muscle building potential. It also helps to limit the breakdown of muscle making it an anti-catabolic hormone.
Thirdly, it acts as a transport system for your BCAAs. Amino acids make up protein and are the building blocks of muscle and they are delivered directly into muscle cells by our good friend insulin BUT…here is where insulin is NOT your friend:
Insulin is totally unpredictable and helps to store unwanted body fat. Just like it helps breakdown fat tissue (lipolysis), it also contributes to our fat gain. It is super tricky to keep in check and this is why it gets a lot of bad press.
Here’s an EASY way to understand this complex science:
If testosterone is the bus (which drives all of this) and the kids on board are growth hormone (GH), the driver is IGF-1 helping to transport all of this super important material to our muscles and tissues which would be considered the school. Insulin then would be the chaperones on the bus monitoring the kids and aiding any way they can to keep everything in check but sometimes the kids drive them nuts and all hell breaks loose.
Hey, it’s not a perfect analogy but it works just the same.
All of these hormones are necessary on the path to gaining size and strength. But what about roadblocks, detours and road construction that threatens our muscle building journey?
Enter Catabolic Hormones.
They are essential to our body’s development but super scary at the same time. These are your fight or flight hormones but since this could get really intricate, we will highlight just the main culprit, cortisol.
Let’s compare Anabolism to Catabolism.
Anabolic is the process of making smaller things into bigger things allowing us to gain muscle mass and catabolic is the breakdown of bigger things into smaller things using some of our own muscle tissue as the energy source.
The frightening part is that while our body is using its own muscle for energy, it is also halting the muscle growing process. It would make no sense for the two to happen at once making cortisol a two-fold threat to our mass gains.
Listen, no guy wants to think about his muscles breaking down but it’s going to happen, so just deal with it bro and know how to manage this unavoidable metabolic mechanism.
In order for our bodies to change, adapt and grow, they need to get ripped apart and that is a very stressful time for your body. Cortisol is at the center of this process. It is also known as the “stress hormone” and once your body is pushed to its limits with training, you’re going to have some degree of cortisol released.
Your body doesn’t understand the difference between engaging in intense weight lifting versus running from a lion to save your life.
All your body wants to do is SURVIVE. Either way, you’re stressing yourself out.
The key to not letting cortisol wreak havoc on your muscles and helping your fat multiply is to concentrate on what you CAN control.
3 KEYS to Limiting Cortisol Activity & Gaining ROCKLIKE Mass
#1 Nutrition: Eat especially well on training days and immediately following your workouts, take in quality carbohydrates and proteins. This has shown to dramatically reduce the surge of cortisol which reaches its peak activity following a strenuous resistance workout. Replenishing glucose to the blood stream is priority number one along with a healthy supply of amino acids. Try to always do this within one hour of intense training.
#2 Sleep: Getting adequate sleep every night and napping when you can is paramount to muscle growth. It sounds simple, right? Why is it that babies require so much sleep? It’s because their bodies are growing at such a rapid pace and SLEEP is the answer. You grow while at rest, not while training, period. Your body is stress-free while sleeping and your brain signals those essential muscle building hormones to be released and to do their jobs. So go to sleep at a good time and rest as often as you can. Save that hard earned muscle for when you need it in the gym.
#3 Training: Train really hard 3x per week doing the BIG 3 lifts. Focus on compound exercises that work the greatest number of muscles at once (ex. Deadlifts, Squats and Bench Press). This strategy assists in the fat burning process and has the most profound impact on your central nervous system which helps to deliver the power in your lifts. It also forces your bones and connective tissues to get stronger to support your increase in mass. Don’t waste your time with endless isolation lifting and overtraining the smaller muscles resulting in strength imbalances and eventual injury.
Listen, I’m not gonna tell you to go on some crazy diet or go to bed every night at 8 pm. It’s up to you to make good decisions with the food you’re putting into your body and knowing that donuts, soda and chips aren’t gonna get you where you want to be.
If you want to have the most impact on those man-making hormones, you HAVE TO dedicate yourself to the 3 keys I listed. Make them a priority in your life and the muscles will follow, I guarantee it.
If You Enjoyed This Article, You’ll Love The One Below…
By Chris Wilson, CPT author Anabolic AfterGrowth
Growing up I always wanted to be BIGGER like my older brothers. I mean, they were monsters compared to my little 9 year old butt. They had a 5 year head start on muscle building and puberty helped too!
Like most juveniles, I began lifting with those old school rusty free weights in our garage. I had NO IDEA what I was doing but I was getting stronger all the same.
By High School, my football buddies and I spent quite a bit of time benching but we had absolutely no programming or lifting cycles to track our strength gains. We had zero direction in the gym and without question, our form and technique was pathetic.
But, we continued to show up and bench (and curl) A LOT until we could barely move. I guess that was how we measured our success.
While going to college I began learning HOW to be a diehard lifter with some level of skill. Like most 18 year old guys, I wanted huge muscles, to be a monster in the gym and to impress the ladies at the same time. I was super dedicated and some would say a little overboard with my training habits but I loved the way I felt with my swollen muscles after 2 hours+ of crushing it in the gym just about every night (when I wasn’t tending bar or goofing off playing video games).
The ladies seemed to like it too, so of course that influenced my desire to get to the gym and bench my brains out!
I laugh now because I was neglecting some of the key lifts that would have truly sky-rocketed my results but I was seeing decent gains on the bench and getting bigger arms, so nobody was going to steal away my thunder and drive to gaining muscle mass.
But of course, things change.
After college, I worked for World Gym in Connecticut and was exposed to all kinds of bodybuilders and powerlifters and finally started to realize the error of my ways. I was so focused on gaining a stronger chest and larger biceps (like most 20 year olds), that I totally missed the boat on the TWO mega-mass builders, Squats & Deadlifts.
I knew from High School football that squats were important to gain leg strength and become more physical but they hurt and weren’t really fun…at all. So doing them routinely was not a priority.
But working alongside some monsters who could throw around the iron gave me a whole new perspective. Every chance I got, I picked their brains while drinking my post workout protein shake. They would tell me how doing more compound lifts helped them gain crazy strength on all their lifts and they watched their muscle mass soar.
Plus, it seemed to give their body a “DENSE” quality that I just wasn’t seeing after years of hardcore training.
Needless to say, it also saved them serious time in the gym bouncing around doing isolation lift after isolation lift and barely making any noticeable progress.
I felt like a dope but it was a good lesson indeed and just the wake-up call I needed.
Legendary Muscle MASS Forged From the 3 Big Lifts
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the ultimate example of how powerlifting generated the Greatest Bodybuilder to ever grace the stage. Prior to all that fame and attention in the 1970s, Arnold was working on one thing…Getting Stronger. Guess what, it worked like magic.
In the Mid-60’s, the Austrian Oak was routinely competing in powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting contests. His personal bests are quite impressive considering he is known primarily for his physique. Squat – 545 lbs., Bench Press – 440 lbs., Deadlift – 710 lbs.
It was this focus on the fundamental lifts that created “The King” of the Bodybuilding Universe. Even his best friend, Franco Columbu (pictured far right), followed this approach to bodybuilding and was a champion powerlifter and even competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition.
Implementing the ‘BIG 3’ Power Lifts & Making Gains
After a few years working for World Gym, I got an awesome job at a private training studio in a wealthy area of southwestern Connecticut and really began to apply all of this new insight into muscle development. It was here that I really saw my strength shoot up as I worked alongside gifted lifters who were much smarter and experienced than me.
We got to train young athletes in high school and college who required the BIG 3 lifts to excel in their sport along with middle aged men and young mothers who desired to get stronger and drop serious body fat. I of course applied this same approach to my own weight lifting program with amazing results.
My young, muscular body was noticeably BUZZING with the muscle building hormones that literally made me Feel Stronger on a DAILY basis.
BOOM! Within weeks of this new approach my Bench Press totals shot through the roof as I started squatting more and more weight.
I was told that focusing on leg strength would instantly improve upper body strength and I discovered that to be 100% true!
The increase in strength was undeniable and undoubtedly due to spending a majority of my time on Squats, Bench Press and Deadlifts. No combination of barbell lifts demands this magnitude of working muscles.
- Squats require all the muscles of the legs to fire along with the entire abdominal wall not to mention the upper body muscles that keep the barbell in place.
- The Bench Press targets the chest, triceps and shoulders but also engages your biggest muscles, the lats, as well as the legs creating a strong platform to bench from.
- The Deadlift is considered the most primal of all the lifts. Nothing hits all the muscles in the posterior chain better than this pulling movement.
I was routinely doing reps with 315 lbs. in the squat rack which made my bench press jump from 275 lbs. for reps to well over 300 lbs. and my body fat % was as low as it had ever been.
Without even focusing on cardio activity, my body was INCINERATING FAT at an all-time high level.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to WHAT you’re doing in the gym. Reps, sets, rest and tempo are also important aspects of your workouts but WHAT you’re doing determines your fate…good or bad. Sure, it’s fun to do some isolation training with higher reps and get all pumped up but that should be your REWARD for crushing the BIG 3 lifts.
Get really good at squatting, deadlifting and benching in the 80-90% range of your 1RM and watch your SIZE & STRENGTH explode like never before!
Click The Link Below to UNLEASH Your Anabolic Hormones…
By Chris Wilson, CPT author Anabolic AfterGrowth
I was under the illusion that I was still strong.
I had fallen victim to the training I was implementing for a majority of my dedicated clients. Focusing my time and energy on balance, conditioning and core strength led me down a path to weakness.
I’m not saying that having a strong, flat six pack is a bad goal or that standing on one leg while doing side raises is not beneficial. It just should not have been the ONLY thing I was doing.
I had abandoned all the compound lifts that made me semi-beastly in my early to mid-twenties. I wasn’t benching big weight, squats were done for reps (and sometimes using stability balls) and traditional deadlifts weren’t even on the menu.
Yeah, I know…simply pathetic for a veteran personal trainer and gym manager.
This certainly led to me suffering an injury to my manhood (aka scrotum) that kept me from lifting heavy for a long time. Let me explain.
After speaking with my friend and Criticalbench.com founder, Mike Westerdal, I had decided to begin preparing for a powerlifting competition. During this time Mike was benching 600s and lifting small cars as a warm up so needless to say, I was quickly motivated to be strong again. After a few years of not training intensely, I was trying out some sumo deadlifting.
At first, I was electrified since I hadn’t pushed super hard in a while and pulling the 300+ lbs. off the floor felt awesome. And then it happened…just after I wrapped up for the day. I felt some searing pain in my groin and after getting checked out, I found out from the Urologist that I had a vericocele.
A vericocele is basically a varicose vein in your balls. I had severely irritated it with all of the pressure from lifting heavy, something I had not done in several years. And I’m quite sure my sub-standard form and technique (super rusty) was to blame on top of an overall weakness in my body.
Not doing the traditional compound lifts had cost me BIG TIME.
Instead of pursuing a competition, I was back to light weight and functional exercise. UGHHH-get me a barf bag. I was so irritated at myself!!!
Luckily, over a period of years, I was able to recover enough to get back to training with the compound lifts I so badly missed. I got all of my lifts back in the 300 lb. rep range and felt a flood of confidence along with some well-earned muscle gains.
I thought I was lifting smart for a period of years but all I was doing was maintaining muscle tone and deceiving myself.
Then I began working for Critical Bench in early 2013 and was now frequently around some muscle building monsters. These relationships only helped strengthen my direction and now the deadlift is by far my favorite exercise in the gym.
The weight I strained my gonads with was now, “LIGHT WEIGHT BABY!” I now spend most of my time benching, pulling plates and squatting anything and everything from barbells to DBs and even kettlebells!
Never sabotage your efforts in the gym with “fancy” exercises that don’t build real power in your body. If you make STRENGTH your goal, you can’t lose. The incredible side effect of intense training is a physique others will admire and bullet-proof muscles that are designed to perform, not just look good.
Would You Like to Add 2 Inches to Your Biceps & 25 Pounds to Your Bench Press While Gaining 14 Pounds of Lean Muscle?
If so, click the link below now…