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3 MYTHS in the World of Weight Lifting


 (originally answered by author/writer Dennis B. Weis and edited by Strength Coach Chris Wilson)


very power athletic guy , execute exercise on parallel bars, in sport hall

Q: I have a bodybuilder friend that wants to get into Mixed Martial Arts Competitions. He’s 6’1″ And about 230-240lbs. He’s a pretty strong dude and thinks that he should be able to hang with any of the heavyweights out there. He can Bench Press 400 plus. I and the boys think that he should be a real hard puncher due to his benching strength. From a weight lifting point of view what should he do to get ready? Thanks!

A: Well, let me tell ya there is a lot more to Fighting than being able to bench press a lot of weight. In fact, you tell your friend that Bench pressing has virtually nothing to do with Punching!

And on top of that, you tell your friend that punching is a very small part of mixed martial arts. Maybe you and your friend should go check out a good Jujitsu school and quit bothering me with these asinine questions! Or better yet, just keep lifting weights and stay out of the ring. Guys like Ken Shamrock and Mirco Filipovic mangle guys like your friend for fun! I sure hope this helps ya!

Perfect Training Program? 

Q: I have read much of muscle pumping techniques you write about in your books and reports. I have been bodybuilding for 15 years now and before that I did six years of powerlifting.  I’ll cut to the chase and say that after 21 years of training I still do not know the best system to use.  I remember reading where you said that you have had over 40 years of experience in bodybuilding.  What is the perfect routine you have found? 

Bodybuilder training in the gym -bench pressA: After 40 years of pumping the dog crap out of my muscles I have learned that my body does not respond to the same workout every training session. It is understood that changing different exercises, tempo’s, combinations of exercises and the seemingly illogical use (or lack thereof) of sets and reps serve to stimulate muscle growth.

Realize that even the contest entering and winning pro bodybuilders don’t even know what the “perfect training program” is.  These individuals, regardless of what they eat or how they train, will develop outstanding physiques and win the top bodybuilding contests.  Suffice it to say that the training and eating methods of these champions cannot possibly be followed by the average bodybuilder with the same results.

Bodybuilding is a very individual discipline and one should not be misled by the methods of these chemically assisted “genetic superiors.”  The fact is the body evolves through many physiological changes during a lifetime.  As a result you will discover that with any training program, “They all work, some better than others, but not all the time.”

Muscle Mass & 80% Nutrition? 

Q: A lot of the top bodybuilders over the years have said in their seminars and articles that putting on muscle mass is at least 80% nutrition. That would only put a 20 percent value on all the hard training. How can this be?

Frozen Turkey Dinner - covered with plastic, condensation insideA: Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia, was probably the first pro bodybuilder quoted as saying that. Think about it this way.  If nutrition was really 80% of the equation for putting on muscle mass, then why not just forget about training altogether and just chug down a ton of creatine drinks every day?

I have no doubt that there are some naive rookie bodybuilders out there who are actually going to take my advice and do it.

Actually, when Larry said 80%, he just picked that figure out of thin air to emphasize upon the mindset of bodybuilders just how important the nutrition factor is when combined with training.  He and others are in no way devaluing the importance of hard training.

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Super Circuit Leg Workout – Advanced Training (NOT RECOMMENDED for Beginners)

By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach

Here is a Super Circuit Leg Workout that a six-time Mrs. Olympia revealed to the viewers on her ESPN Body Shaping TV show, many years ago. Any guesses?

Her name is Cory Everson and she had some of the best legs you ever saw.


Anyway, I know what you’re thinking so let me explain.

Normally I wouldn’t dig out something from the past from a 1980’s ESPN TV show but it was so tortuous, so cruel and so insane, I just had to!

Once you see it, you will understand why I had to share this crazy leg workout with you.  It will rid you of your miserable flabby legs (just kidding) once and for all and be one of the most demanding leg routines you’ve done in recent history or ever.

Now all you have to do is stay away from the Big Mac’s, French Fries and Sodas. On to the workout…

The following eight progressive-resistance exercises are performed in the order they are listed. This is a non-stop circuit for 20 full range of motion reps each.  Rest for two minutes only after a circuit is completed.  Try to take only 10-20 seconds between exercises to keep yourself from resting too much.  Like I said, this is NOT for beginners.

Do three circuits total and good luck walking normally the rest of the day.

  1. Alternate Front Leg Lunges – 20 reps
  2. Cory’s Dynamic Leg Lunge – 20 reps (explained below)
  3. Bodyweight Only Single Leg Calf Raise – 20 reps
  4. Barbell Frog Squats – 20 reps (explained below)
  5. Machine Leg Extensions – 20 reps
  6. Machine Leg Curls – 20 reps
  7. Barbell Back Squats – 20 reps
  8. Step-Ups – 20 reps

Step-ups are performed on a sturdy exercise bench or wooden box.  The vertical measurement of these items should be in corresponding ration to your physical height.  If you are:

Under 5-foot (Use a box 12-inches in height)

5’1”-5’3”        (Use a box 14-inches in height)

5’4”-5’9”        (Use a box 16-inches in height)

5’10”-6’          (Use a box 18-inches in height)

Over 6-foot    (Use a box 20-inches in height)

The amount of progressive resistance used on each exercise will vary depending on individual differences.  Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of this program.  It is very demanding.  This is an excellent program for men and women alike who are interested in shape-training the total leg, without acquiring additional muscle bulk and power.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.

Here’s How to do Cory’s Dynamic Leg Lunge and a Brief Tutorial on Frog Squats


Cory does an unusual version of the front leg lunge in which she reverses the procedure by stepping backward with the rear leg first.  In other words, to lead with the left leg she first steps backward with the right, keeping it as straight as possible while still allowing the front left thigh to become parallel to the floor.

Give it a try and see what you think.  If you’re confused or having difficulty with it, default to a standard alternating reverse lunge.

Just to be perfectly clear, Frog Squats are super challenging and not intended for guys and gals with knee issues.

First, you must drop DEEP into squat position.  I’m talking ATG style.

Once you’re down as low as you can go, only raise up your butt while staying down in the bottom of the squat.  This is like holding the bottom of a super deep squat for time but with movement of the hips which slightly extends the knee but not that much because your thighs only come up to parallel with the floor.  There are many videos on YouTube showing this exercise so do a quick search if you must.

Enjoy and don’t blame me for rubbery legs the next few days…I warned you!

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Calves, Calories & 3 Tips to be ALPHA

By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach

Below you will find three Q&As shedding some light on effective calf training, calorie consumption for hardgainers and 3 quick tips helping guys to reach the Alpha Zone.


25-15-10 Calf Blast

Q) People laugh whenever I roll up my pant legs. Ah, let me explain. Like everybody else in bodybuilding, I have been neglecting my calves or they just won’t grow so I skip them and they are really undersized so I am thinking that I really need to give them the attention they deserve. I don’t want to spend a ton of time on them so can you come up with a short and sweet calf routine for me?

A) So you want a short and sweet calf routine! Okay, how about this.  It is called the 25-15-10 extended set technique.

While doing the standing calf machine, do 25 full range of motion reps (from the bottom stretch to the top peak contraction) doing each one in a slow and deliberate manner, stretching at the bottom and squeezing and contracting at the top.

Upon completion of the 25th rep and without any rest what-so-ever begin doing 15 Super-Fast Speed Reps in the high one-quarter to one-third range of the movement.

These partial reps will appear almost bouncy in nature.  Once you have completed the 15 reps and again without rest finish off with a final 10 full range of motion reps in super-slow fashion.

This completes one cycle.  Do 3 cycles.  On the 25 and 15 rep phase of the cycle stretch the calves at the bottom of every 5th rep for approximately 10-15 seconds.  The 3 cycles of this calf blast should be performed 3 nonconsecutive training days per week.


Blender Magic for HARD-gainers

Q) I need to pound down some extra calories each day and up to now I have been buying those convenient ready-to-drink shakes at the gym but they can get really expensive especially when I need 2-3 or more of them a day. I don’t have a clue about making my own protein/gain weight shakes home so I’d like to know what you recommend.

A) The GORILLA BIG BULK WEIGHT GAIN DRINK FORMULA will give you some extra calories and compared to the ready-to-drink shakes it isn’t that expensive.

2 cups non-fat milk
2 tbsp. peanut butter
2 raw eggs
2 scoops of quality ice cream (as natural as possible)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. 100% egg protein
8 tbsp. powdered milk
1 banana

Mix ingredients in a blender at high speed for 20 seconds and drink entire amount twice daily or more in addition to regular meals.


Alpha Zone Training Tip from Vince Gironda

Q) Vince is better known as the Iron Guru and celebrity trainer of the stars. Anyway, a person wrote to him years ago in a Muscle Mag issue and said that he could normally do a 10 rep maximum in the barbell squat with 250 pounds but in a recent workout he did 18 reps.

He went on to say that he was able to only do it for one workout and then he was back to the same old 250 pounds for 10 reps.

He was curious as to why his squats were so exceptional for one workout only.  Gironda answered and said it had something to do with going into an Alpha Zone, where the mental and physical powers merged to optimize normal strength levels once in a lifetime. 

Can You Explain in More Detail Exactly What Gironda was Talking About?

A) The Alpha Zone theory that Vince mentioned represents to me a number of conclusive factors.

First, the muscles involved in the squatting process must be fully recovered from say a previous workout.  Without maximum rest and recovery, you’re never going to get everything your muscles have to offer.

Second, the motor nerve pathways to the muscles are heightened or very well established through a tremendous mind-muscle link. You are not merely the muscle; you have become the muscle. We’ve talked about this relationship in part articles.  The Mind-Muscle or Mind-Body connection must be so strong that the two actually become one.

And third, there is a very strong psychological motivation to perform (perhaps you are functioning in an environment where friends you want to impress are around that normally aren’t) and as a result you are either “enjoying the pain” or have “turned it off” as you go far beyond your previous best maximum repetition set ever.

It’s the culmination of these three factors that gives a lifter or powerbuilder that supreme effect when hoisting the heavy iron. Suffice it to say, I don’t have a firm understanding of Alpha Zone training yet and I doubt many others do either.  Vince was way ahead of his time and we are still learning from him years after his death.

Click Here for Your FREE Vince Gironda Workout

Mind Power Doctrine: How Mentally Prepared are YOU for your Workout?

By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach


Does this scenario sound familiar to you?

“Man I’ve been doing really heavy bench presses lately… like 300 pounds. I walked into the gym on Monday and did it, no sweat.  Then on Friday, my next bench day, lo and behold I didn’t get the 300 pounds that I easily got on Monday. I guess I was still tired from my last bench routine??

Then I came back in the gym again on Monday and I blew away my benches again.  I pretty much have been gearing my whole workout towards that 300-pound bench press. 

If I hit the 300-pound bench, my workout seems to go much better compared to those days when I miss it.  It even affects my attitude when I leave the gym.

My attitude pretty much “SUCKS!” when I miss.  Do you have any suggestions?”


Your muscle doesn’t have a brain.  Your head controls the muscle.  The muscle doesn’t control the brain.

So you’ve got to say, ‘O.K., I’m going to work my bench and my poundage is going to go up.’


You MUST change your mental attitude about your training. You can’t take anything negative that you are doing in the sport of bodybuilding, weightlifting or anything else and turn it into positive results, it just won’t work.

Everything you do in the gym (and on the field) has to be done on a positive note. You must condition your subconscious mind to think that you are getting stronger and training with more intensity and your body will have to respond accordingly.

Here is something you might try next time you go to the gym.  I call it Mental Imagery-Rehearsal.

Mental imagery-rehearsal is conducted approximately 10-15 seconds prior to each set of an exercise.  While standing or sitting, however you feel most comfortable, close your eyes and take in and exhale short breaths of air as you mentally prepare (with selective focus) for the moment at hand.

You must go to that place in your consciousness where there is no pain, no negative influences, no fear, a state of mind where only positive forces dwell.

Your mind must be time-locked (cohesive) with the muscles in order to do battle with the heavy iron.

Begin by picturing in your mind’s eye the bench, the bar, the plates.  Imagine this so intensely that you can smell the sweat, feel the knurling on the bar, hear the plates rattle, and so forth.

Since you are going to be performing the flat bench press, for example, recreate all of the exercise mastery techniques that are necessary for the successful completion of each gut-wrenching rep of the set.

mindpower2-articleThe more organized and detailed you can make this ritual of mentally focusing in one-set intervals, the better chance you will have for training to the outer limits of muscular size and strength.

Here’s another way to explain it.  Think of how organized and detailed the ritual of mental imagery-rehearsal would be if it related to making love to a beautiful woman.  The details are never slippery or vague.  They’re always clear and vivid.

As the magnitude of mental imagery-rehearsal for the upcoming set becomes more and more vivid, you will begin to feel torrents of unleashed fury and your heart will beat in a manner that reflects your ability to dominate and prevail in the moment.

Open your eyes.  You are now 100% mentally focused and psyched.  Go for it!  It’s time to lift the HEAVY IRON!

Tip:  During your workout, play your own favorite high-energy music to trigger strong energy responses. Who cares if it’s the same song that triggers your best effort.  Use it until you find others to add to the mix.

CLICK HERE for 5 Ways to Become Tough as Nails