Nick Nilsson of FitStep.com recently interviewed me about my Lean Hybrid Muscle RELOADED program and I wanted to share my answers with your below.
Nick: Do I need to have specialized equipment to do this program?
Westy: You don’t need any special equipment. Just barbell, dumbbells, bands and bodyweight. There is a specialization day where you can use some machines if you’d like.
Nick: Will I have a hard time doing this in a busy gym?
Westy: I think most programs would be hard to in a really busy gym. There’s nothing too crazy though. For the circuits you just need to grab a dumbbell or barbell and find a corner. You’ll need access to a treadmill in the winter to do some sprints. Other than that as long as you can superset between biceps and triceps once in a while a busier gym shouldn’t be a problem.
Nick: Will this program work for women as well?
Westy: A common myth is that men and women need to train differently. I am no scientist but I can tell you from experience that women do very well training with Hybrid Muscle Variables. In fact, the results that women get at my gym are often better than the men.
This is simply because this is the first time they have been exposed to strength training. So, all types of cool things start happening like their posture improves and this means that the boobs stand up a little higher.
Since we include so many squats in the programs there is a significant tightening and firming up of the glutes. We may design a program specifically for women in the future but the foundation will still be exactly the same.
Nick: I’m 60+ years old. Is this program safe for me?
Westy: It’s the best thing you can do to feel young and vibrant. We have at least five guys that train at Elliott’ gym Strength Camp doing the exact same program with us. If you need to make any modifications for health reasons feel free, but you’ll find yourself feeling better, moving more freely and feeling younger.
Nick: Will this program improve my athletic performance while it burns fat and build muscle?
Westy: That’s exactly what it’s for. Will it improve your fast ball for baseball? Probably not. However it will make you a better overall athlete. If your sport doesn’t have very specific skill sets LHM Reloaded would be a good choice for overall athletic enhancement. There’s power training, strength training, explosiveness training, hypertrophy training as well some speed training. Oh and there’s conditioning and hybrid cardio which carry over to field better in most contact sports such as MMA, football, wrestling and rugby.
Nick: Does this program tell me exactly what to eat? Do I need to eat weird foods?
Westy: As long as you don’t mind eating raw herring and anchovies 7 times a day you’re golden. Just kidding, there’s a lot of variety and there are exchang lists to swap out anything you don’t like. I really can’t think of anything too strange on the meal plans.
Nick: Do I need to take a bunch of fancy supplements to make this work?
You’re probably waiting to hear us say there’s a super duper top secret supplement stack in the program that is going to make your lean and ripped. Well if that’s what you wanted to hear, sorry to disappoint you.
Look at our ancestors and, in particular, the warrior cultures like the Spartans, the Roman Gladiators, or the Vikings. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors did not take supplements yet they built powerful, muscular physiques. How did they do it? First, their daily lives centered on intense physical activities—what we would today refer to as hybrid muscle training. And second, they ate natural, whole foods that provided all the nutrition they needed. Honestly, that is really the best way to give your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs. For the modern guy though, that can be easier said than done.
That’s where supplements do come into the picture but not until you’ve got a solid foundation built or underway!
The word supplement means “to add to”. Once you’re 90% of the way to your goal, supplements can help give you an edge, but by themselves they’re not going to help you much without everything else being in place. Yes we give a few basic recommendations but supplements are not mandatory.
Nick: How much time do the workouts take and how many days a week do I train?
Westy: Workouts take about an hour total sometimes much less which includes your cadio. It varies based on the week. Anywhere from 3-5 days per week.
Nick: Can I make this program work if I can only train 2 or 3 days a week?
Westy: Well all get busy so if you’re traveling a lot or just got a lot going on you can do the Maintenance phase during those times. 3-days should really be your minimum. I supposed you could still do the program, you’d just want to randomly pick two full body workouts per week to do.
Nick: How soon will I start seeing results?
Westy: Seeing or feeling? You’ll be really sore the first couple weeks. You probably haven’t trained this way before. You can usually notice something within 2-weeks. When you put yourself through tough workouts like this ‘something” is going to happen I can promise you that.
Nick: Are the exercises hard to learn?
Westy: Like anything a new exercise will take practice. But if you can pick up Nick’s new invention exercises these shouldn’t be a problem for you. Besides there are videos demonstrating everything you are asked to do. If you’d like to learn more about the new Lean Hybrid Muscle RELOADED just click here.
by Mike WesterdalNick Nilsson is an experienced weight lifter with a degree in physical education and psychology. He’s also a personal trainer and an author, having written three different books on the topic of weight training. I recently had the opportunity to review his work Mad Scientist Muscle: Build monster mass with science-based training.
Wow, Nick has really taken the time to put together a complete program. This isn’t some hastily-thrown together work by someone who is out to make a quick buck. Nope. This is a well-done work put together by someone who really knows his stuff. Let’s take a look.
The Mad Scientist program is based on two principles:
1) Planned overtraining and rebound; and
2) Training to change your physiology to better support muscle growth.
The first principle has actually been around for a quite awhile, but you may know it under another name—Accumulation and Intensification.
The second principle addresses the body’s physiology. There are some things you can’t really change—like your basic genetic and hormonal makeup—but some things you can. There are also things that while you can’t change them, you certainly can influence them for your benefit. This principle helps you to identify and influence all the factors in your training that can actually change your base physiology to make it more favorable to muscle growth.
The Mad Scientist approach includes three elements: the program; exercise and nutrition. The program itself is the entire training system and the four two-month cycles that comprise it. The first cycle focuses on time/volume training, the second cycle focuses on cluster training, the third cycle is focused on rest-pause training and the fourth cycle is for advanced trainers only and is known as the “Frankenstein” cycle.
The exercise component is of course the training techniques for building muscle and lastly, the nutrition component lays out the nutritional roadmap for ‘eating for mass.’
The first section of the book provides information about the different approaches to exercises that Nick uses in the Mad Scientist program. Basically what he does in this part of the book is to explain in detail 13 different approaches to exercise that make up the Mad Scientist approach.
For example, he opens with a discussion about how you can use controlled overtraining to your advantage by pushing yourself just to point of approaching overtraining and then switching to an intensification period where you back off. As you go through these sections it becomes apparent that Nick has spent a lot of time researching the techniques and strategies he’s presenting. What you get with each section is a description of the philosophy, the training techniques it embodies, the how and why of the approach and benefits you can expect from using it.
The next section of the book is all about nutrition. He starts this section off with his three basic rules for eating for mass:
1) eat plenty of calories;
2) eat plenty of protein; and
3) eat good quality food and drink a lot of water.
The nutrition part of the book is broken down into nine different sections: meal plans; caloric intake; frequently asked questions about protein; meal timing; low carb eating option; supplements; pre- and post-workout nutrition; Nick’s ‘Lazy Cook’ muscle-building recipes; and eating clean.
In the next section of the book Nick provides the details about each cycle of the program. During each week, you spend four days training with the remaining days being open for rest or for cardio. For these sections charts lay out the body parts, the exercises, the proper number of sets and reps as well as some notes from Nick for each one. The format is basically the same until you get to the “Frankenstein” section, where—if you can handle it—you begin really intense workouts six days a week. This entire part of the books is a couple hundred pages long, so believe me you won’t be getting bored any time soon.
For the very last section of the book, Nick closes with a very handy ‘carb counter’ for all kinds of different foods, snacks, beverages and even alcoholic beverages. It’s really very handy. It includes most common foods and beverages you’re likely to run across and provides information about serving size, the amount of carbohydrates and the amount of dietary fiber in each.
I can say that I really like the ideas and concepts Nick presents in Mad Scientist Muscle. It’s apparent that he’s a smart guy who not only knows what he’s talking about, but he’s also able to present the information in an engaging, easy-to-follow format that allows anyone who has got the willingness, guts and discipline to follow through with his suggestions, to achieve amazing results.
If you think Nick is a genetic freak check out some pics from his site where you can see that he has come a long way having gained more than 75 lbs of muscle. It’s a funny story actually, you should check it out over at http://www.madscientistmuscles.com
by Mike Westerdal
We all know what overtraining is and how it should be avoided at all costs, right? Overtraining can result in the loss of strength and muscle mass accompanied by increased risk of injury. Even more, it often includes emotional symptoms similar to depression and can really just wreak havoc on the body’s immune system. This is all pretty serious stuff and no laughing matter—breaking out of an overtraining period can be really tough sometimes.
But what about ‘controlled’ overtraining? What if we could take ourselves right to the ‘edge’ of overtraining and then introduce something new to prevent us from actually reaching the point of overtraining?
Well I can tell you that such an animal exists and it’s called Accumulation and Intensification. Essentially, this is another way of saying “controlled overtraining.” The basic idea is that you gradually build up your training volume while decreasing rest periods until you hit overtraining. This high level of training (right before overtraining) is where FAST results can be achieved. When you hit this level, you then switch up to low-volume, longer rest-period training, which can dramatically increase strength as your body recovers from the higher-volume training. It’s a killer framework that has been proven effective by top-level coaches and trainers for years. Let’s take a closer look.
The approach has been around for a very long time and has been used by some well-known bodybuilding names including Charlies Poliquin and Charlie Francis. It was also very popular among the world famous bodybuilding coaches in the former Eastern Bloc nations. There has also been quite a lot of research done on this approach so there’s some sound science behind it.
The entire approach is really pretty simple—for several weeks you pump up your workload by increasing your training volume while decreasing your rest period between sets almost until you get to the point of overtraining. This is what’s known as the ‘accumulation’ phase—you’re increasing the demand on your body every day.
Once you get to the point of overtraining, it’s time to back off by reducing the training volume and increasing the rest periods between sets. While you’re doing this, you also start using heavier weights. This is the ‘intensification’ part of the approach. The purpose of the intensification component is to move you towards ‘under training.’ This under training phase allows your body to fully recover from the accumulation and intensification phases before you kick it back up again and start all over. During the under training phase, you really cut back on your training.
There are a variety of different exercise approaches you can use during the accumulation phase. The important thing to remember is that this is a period during which you’re focusing on doing higher volume and fewer reps with weights lighter than what you would otherwise be using.
You also need to keep your rest periods shorter during the accumulation phase than you would in an ordinary training phase. As you move through the accumulation phase, you can push your body towards overtraining by increasing the number of reps and reducing the rest periods between sets. You can increase the weight too but only do so when you’ve increased the number of reps you’re doing by about 20%–and then only increase your weight by no more than five percent.
During the next phase, the workouts are going to get a lot more ‘intense,’ which is of course where the name ‘intensification’ comes from. The goal of this phase is to take a lower-volume, higher-intensity approach to training. You’ll want to do fewer sets, using more weight to really build up your size and strength. In comparison to the accumulation phase, your rest periods will be longer.
The de-loading or under training phase of accumulation and intensification is where your body finally gets the break it’s been craving. This part is absolutely essential because your body needs the time to rest and recover. Depending on each individual, the under-training phase will last two to three weeks. For most guys, two weeks of de-loading is sufficient but it will vary from one person to the next. It’s important to note that this phase isn’t a ‘vacation’ and it’s not a free license to go to the gym and hang around chatting with your buddies. You still need to work out, but at a significantly lower intensity than either of the two previous phases.
This is a basic overview of the accumulation and intensification approach to training. If you’re looking for something different that will yield excellent results, you might want to give this one a try. In fact fellow trainer Nick Nilsson is the author of a muscle mass building program called Mad Scientist Muscle which lays out a nice workout schedule for you based on this training principle.
You can incorporate accumulation and intensification in your workout by checking out Nick’s program at: http://www.madscientistmuscles.com
Nick Nilsson is a professional fitness expert, personal trainer and prolific author best known for his cutting edge, don’t just think outside the box but invent a new box and think outside of that, training routines. In fact, that really seems to be his niche—researching and developing training programs that go directly against conventional muscle-building norms. Nick’s latest work focuses exclusively on the chest.
Like his other “best exercises you’ve never heard of” works, Best Chest Exercises is all about changing things up to “shock” your body into growth. It’s important to do that too because our bodies quickly adapt to our training routines. Muscle growth is the body’s response to the “stress” of lifting weights. As the body gets used to doing the same exercises, the stress that causes the muscles to grow, lessens. That’s why any bodybuilder that doesn’t regularly mix up his training regimen will hit a plateau and stop seeing gains. And that’s a an area where Nick has really learned to excel—introducing radically different approaches designed to “send your results through the roof,” as Nick puts it.
For those of us who like to dive right in, Nick gets right to the exercises. And he doesn’t just give you a few, but more than 50 different ones to choose from. What I especially like is that there really is something for everyone, regardless of your skill level or how strong you are.
The range of exercises he presents includes a nice mix of bodyweight, free weight, dumbbell and cable movements. Most of them can be done in just about any ordinary gym. For a few of them though, you may have invest a little money picking up a few things here and there, but really not much. In fact, looking through the necessary equipment, elastic training bands are about the only thing I see that might not be in some gyms. But they’re not very expensive and for the results you’ll get, well worth the small investment.
One of the things I really like about Nick’s style is that unlike some fitness authors, he makes it a point to really demonstrate the proper way to do all of the exercises in the book. Some guys are content to give you some vague instructions about what you ought to be doing and what happens is that since you don’t know the proper form, you wind up injured and out of commission. Not only does Nick demonstrate the movements in words and pictures, but he also includes links to videos that really help you capture the nuances of how to properly perform the movements.
Since there are too many different exercises to go through in an article, I’ll talk about just a few of them so you can get an idea of how Nick’s training approach really is radically different than the norm.
Let’s start with Ab Sling Flies, which is a bodyweight isolation movement. This exercise is a great example of Nick’s propensity to use equipment NOT for the purpose it was designed for. In fact, he says it’s his specialty. To do this exercise you’ll need an ordinary pair of ab slings, which you’ll find at nearly any gym. Nick shows us how to use the slings, a power rack and a weight bench to do an incredibly effective fly movement that’s like a pec deck but so much better.
A bit later, he introduces the Swiss Ball into the mix, providing demonstrations of how to do some really chest pumping movements using the ball with cables, bodyweight, dumbbells and even a barbell with plates. And although some of the exercises sound and look pretty complicated to perform, Nick uses clearly written instructions, illustrative pictures and video demonstrations you make sure that you’re using the proper form.
He does this though not just here, but throughout the entire book. In some areas—like the incline barbell bench press for example—he even takes the time to briefly discuss common issues or simple mistakes that we all make, showing how to avoid or overcome them to really maximize your gains.
He wraps up the book with a few longer articles that offer up some truly fantastic tips and tricks to really bring about some incredible gains. To wrap it up, I’ll say that is The Best Chest Exercises You’ve Never Heard of really is a great read that can really help you achieve the gains you want to see.
Another really cool thing about the eBook is that you can use it as plugin with whatever program you’re currently on. Let’s say you’re doing the Critical Bench program but you want to substitute something for incline dumbbell flyes. Just grab a killer exercise from Nick’s book and you don’t have redo your entire program. Just use his cool exercise ideas to modify what’s already working pretty for you. Change is good my friend, so mix up your exercises!
Have you tried any of Nick’s Chest exercises? If so leave a comment below and share your experience.
Nick Nilsson Interviews Mike Westerdal About Lean Hybrid Muscle Building
NN: Hey Mike, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I heard your boss over at Critical Bench sent you on an extended vacation for stirring up all this controversy lately.
MW: Ya my boss is a real jerk. No, I’m just kidding, I’m my own boss. Most people don’t even know that’s my site. I’m kind of coming out from behind the curtain so to speak to share some workouts I’ve been experimenting with lately.
NN: What exactly do you mean by Hybrid?
MW: It’s pretty cool because it has a double meaning in this case. The general definition of “hybrid” is combining two or more different things. In this case we want to take the best of several training philosophies in order to accomplish multiple goals at one time.
We also have what’s been called the “Hybrid Muscle” which is really what Lean Hybrid Muscle Building is all about.
NN: Okay Mike I’ll take the bait, what the heck is a “Hybrid Muscle”?
MW: When talking about “super hybrid muscle,” we’re referring to a muscle that has essentially been reconfigured, adding mitochondrial density, which results in a bigger stronger muscle with more endurance capacity. This is accomplished by combining cardio and strength training into a single activity.
I learned a lot about hybrid super muscle through the book The Purposeful Primitive, written by Marty Gallagher. It’s one of my all time favorite books.
By combining cardio and resistance activities it causes the composition of muscles to transform from predominately type II or type IIb into Type III. By doing this, we are able to push “beyond our genetic limits”.
Having more mitochondria in the muscle cells means that more nutrients can be processed, giving the muscles the ability to work considerably harder for longer periods. They’re also able to grow larger and are able to resist getting tired for longer periods.
NN: Type III muscle? Did you make that up or are you claiming to have invented a new muscle fiber?
MW: I wish I could take credit for that, but no. After reading Marty’s book I started my research and learned that a lot of guys have been preaching this stuff for a while. It’s nothing new. It’s just something a lot of people haven’t heard about.
Early adaptors of this theory included Dr. Len Schwartz who in 1995 coined the phrase “Long Strength”. Dr. Schwartz describes Long strength as “the ability to exert significant strength for an extended period of time.”
John Parrillo-the second proponent of long strength-began having his bodybuilders doing really high intensity cardio. He claimed that doing this actually altered the muscle composition. He called this form a resistance training the “100 rep extended set,” saying that it helped the body to construct more mitochondria-the muscles’ “cellular blast furnaces.” He also says that this increases muscular growth by developing the circulatory pathways that provide nourishment to the muscles.
Ori Hofmekler is the third early adopter of the long strength concept. Ori developed a weight training system that he called, “Controlled Fatigue Training.” According to Ori, this type of training was specifically designed to develop these super hybrid muscles-ones that were capable of generating and sustaining strength for extended periods.
NN: How would one go about building this super hybrid muscle fiber?
MW: For starters, you can look to the ancient warrior cultures-the Spartans, the Vikings and the Gladiators-and learn from them. Remember that all of the training they did was in preparation for the battles ahead. In other words, they were training for functionality rather than aesthetics, meaning that their training routines would have incorporated activities that simultaneously developed both strength and endurance.
Today, to build Hybrid Super Muscle we can start by engaging in aerobic activities that have a strong element of resistance.
NN: That reminds me, you wrote a report called, The Warrior Physique. What’s that about and where can the readers grab a copy?
MW: That was a fun one to write. Having a Swedish background I’ve always been interested in the Viking culture.
It’s no secret that our ancestors were physically, in much better shape than overall, we are today. For ordinary people, their day-to-day lives were much more physically demanding than ours. Back in the day if you wanted to eat you had to go hunting or catch some fish. Everything was functional. In today’s world most of us are subject to the triple seated threat as I like to call it-sitting at our computers, sitting in the car or sitting on the couch.
In this report we’ll explore how some of this planet’s all-time greatest elite warriors of the past developed some legendary physiques.
NN: So, does this all mean you have a problem with cardio machines?
MW: Not really. If you want to add some resistance to your cardio machines just put the treadmill on an incline. There are numerous ways to make cardio machines “hybrid”.
There’s nothing wrong with regular cardio on exercise equipment. I just think training the hybrid way can be a big time saver. I mean who has time to do a 45-minute workout with the weights just to go pedal on the bike for an additional 45 minutes.
I live in Florida so I’m fortunate that I can go for a walk outdoors any time I want. Sunlight and fresh air can do some wonders for your hormone levels.
Cardio machines have their place. Hybrid cardio just provides a faster more entertaining alternative for some people.
NN: How did you wind up partnering up with Pro Strongman Elliott Hulse in creating this system?
Elliott’s an awesome guy. We’ve become really good friends. I like that we have similar values and he’s someone I can count on.
A while ago I tweaked my back doing some powerlifting and I knew Elliott owned a sports training gym in St. Pete, FL. I paid him a visit and he helped me rehab my back.
We just had a lot in common. We actually played football against each other in college without knowing it and we both compete in strength sports.
The thing we really had in common is that w had both put on some un-needed body fat during our quest for strength. (Okay a lot.)
We both wanted to lose fat extremely fast, but didn’t want to sacrifice one ounce of muscle or strength. We knew this was going to be a challenge and something that most people would say is impossible.
Elliott is a beast. I think it’s good that I’m there to tone him down sometimes. He’s the outspoken motivational coach and I’m more laid back and shy at times.
NN: I’ve seen videos from Elliott’s underground gym. If someone is going to do the Lean Hybrid Muscle program, do they need all that fancy strongman equipment?
MW: Nope. That’s a common misconception. We’re fortunate to have access to a lot of cool training tools but I don’t expect someone living in a NYC apartment to store a 600 pound tire…lol.
If the weekly workout includes any specialty equipment there are always exercises that you can substitute or swap out.
NN: What about a gym membership…is this a gym workout or a home workout?
MW: It can be either. There’s a big trend, where people are trying to save time and money by working out at home. Some people simply prefer training outdoors.
Personally I do some workouts at home and some at the gym. You can do this program at the gym, at home or a combination of the two.
NN: Mike, your results were pretty amazing. Do you guarantee this is going to work for everyone that tries it? In 8-weeks you dropped 12% body fat and stayed the same weight. The pics look like night and day. And dude, what’s up with the swimmers cap and speedo, we didn’t need to see that!
MW: Haha. First of all, that thing in the background is a Bod Pod and it took my bodyfat measurement. They made me wear the hat and the speedos….trust me I’m not a fan of that picture either and it definitely motivated me to make a change!
Do I guarantee results? No, I don’t. I have no control over whether or not you’ll do the workouts. Whether or not you’ll get the sleep you need and supply your body with the fuel it needs to transform.
Plus everyone is different. I’m not going to say this is the only way to train. I just know that it worked wonders for me. It worked for Elliott. And it worked for dozens of his clients at his gym. Will it work for you? Probably. If you get even half the results, would you be happy?
NN: How is Lean Hybrid Muscle Training different than Cross Fit, some of the videos look similar?
MW: Cross Fit is a great training style. I respect the discipline and think they have some great workouts. From what I’ve read about Cross Fit it focuses on stamina, flexibility, speed, agility, balance, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, coordination, and accuracy.
The rest intervals are very short and the workouts are fast and often. What I like about Cross Fit is that it incorporates resistance cardio which I’m all for.
However I had a goal of not just dropping weight and fat, but also wanted to build muscle mass and build my strength.
Sure, Lean Hybrid Muscle Building and Cross Fit may use some of the same exercises but they are done with different rest periods, volume and intensity. Just like a bodybuilder and a powerlifter may both perform the bench press, but how they perform that lift is very different from each other.
Lean Hybrid Muscle Building is cross-disciplinary like Cross Fit but it has a much greater emphasis on gaining strength and muscle mass than Cross Fit does.
In summary Cross Fit is an excellent training program that can produce great results, but I think it’s better suited for goals of conditioning, toning or developing agility, speed and endurance. If that’s your goal, go with Cross Fit.
On the other hand, if you want to get lean while building strong powerful muscles than Lean Hybrid Muscle Building is a clear winner in my book.
NN: If you had access to any equipment, what would your 3 favorite hybrid exercises be?
1. Well I love kettlebell circuits.
Similar to EDT by Charles Staley I try to make it through this circuit five times. Next time I do the workout, I want to beat my previous time. This is great for conditioning. For this is resistance cardio at its finest. It’s a nice break from my heavier strength building days to avoid overtraining.
KB Snatches: 5 reps per arm
KB Clean & Press: 5 reps per arm
KB Lunges: 5 reps per leg
KB Squats: 10 reps
KB One Armed Rows: 10 reps per arm
KB Two Handed Swings: 20 reps
Remember you have to make it through this 5x’s so don’t start off with a really heavy kettlebell.
2. Tire Flips
If there ever was an exercise that trains the entire body, from your ass to your elbow, it’s tire flipping. Getting your hands on one is easier than you think. Tire companies have to pay to get rid of them so they’ll be glad to give them to you. Storing them is another issue though.
3. Sledge Hammer Slams
Nick I know you’re into using heavier weight when you train your abs. Well this is a killer. This exercise helps build explosive torso strength and power. To do this exercise you’ll need a sledgehammer and a large tire (not on the rim), bales of hay or something similar to hit. Don’t use something with enough bounce to cause the sledgehammer to come back up and hit you in the face. Work your abs and get a cardio session in at the same time.
NN: What about Hybrid exercises for the gym?
1. Do the same kettlebell circuit above but use dumbbells instead.
2. Dumbbell Farmers Walk. No rocket science here. Just pick up a heavy pair of dumbbells and go! Great for the traps, grip, stability and core.
3. Dumbbell Overhead Walks. Grab a pair of dumbbells, hold them over your head with your arms almost locked out and start walking. Think this isn’t challenging enough? Try doing lunges holding the dumbbells over your head.
The cool thing about these exercise is they can be used either as hybrid cardio at the end of a regular workout instead of the treadmill, or they can be the workout if you increase the weight and adjust the rep ranges and rest intervals. The possibilities are endless.
NN: Did your wife really call you fat?
MW: Not really, kind of. I started getting some looks when I would head to the fridge late at night. It didn’t take a genius to get the point. Especially since I had placed my Bod Pod pic on the door to the freezer.
NN: Okay I have to ask this. People have been emailing me saying it’s impossible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time. It all comes down to calories in versus calories out. You’re either gaining or losing but you can’t do both. Care to elaborate?
MW: Ummm I’d like to buy a lifeline. Call a friend? Seriously though that’s exactly what I did. I called my friend Eric Talmant who’s a diagnostic nutritionist, metabolic typing advisor and powerlifter.
I knew I had personally experienced adding muscle while dropping fat when I was playing football in college. I couldn’t really explain how, but I thought Eric might be able to answer the question for me.
I asked him, “Is it physically possible to build muscle and burn fat at the same time?” I was pumped when he explained in his interview that it was.
He said that you can keep your body in an anabolic state by creating the perfect internal and external environment through attitude, atmosphere, training, sleep, stress levels, and nutrition. Calories are just one piece of the puzzle and not the entire picture.
NN: How come you don’t just do a bulking season where you pack on muscle and than do a typical cutting cycle to burn off the fat and reveal the new muscle?
MW: Instant gratification maybe. I wanted everything at once. I wanted to recreate what I was able to do in college. I’ve tried bulking and cutting. I wound up getting strong and fat when bulking up only to get lean and weak when dieting.
NN: Okay Mike, this worked for you, but what if you’re just a freak. I mean who benches 315 for 15 reps and still tries to burn fat at the same time? Do you have any other “average Joe” success stories?
MW: I’ll take that as a compliment. I’m not a freak, I’m just extremely stubborn, persistent and determined. Things don’t come easy for me, but when I make up my mind that I want to accomplish something I can usually do it.
I’m also pretty open minded and don’t accept that something isn’t possible just because someone said so.
As for some other clients maybe the video below will motivate some people.
Review of Nick Nilsson’s new eBook,
“The Best Arm Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of“
So what’s the first thing you think of when you think of “arm training” – if you’re like a lot of trainers, you immediately think barbell curls and pushdowns. Or dumbell curls and dips, etc. The “standard” exercises, right?
Well, it’s time to think outside the box! Or as Nick Nilsson (the author of “The Best Arm Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of”) puts it…time to make a NEW box and think outside of THAT one!
The Best Arm Exercises” is a very interesting book…68 unique exercises for the bicep, triceps and forearms ONLY. This is thing has NO fluff – it’s just packed with training information.
So Why a book on JUST Arms?
That’s the first question I asked Nick when he first sent this book along to me for a review. After all, the trend right now is more towards functional and “total body” styles of training. Direct and/or isolated arm work seems to take a back seat to that type of approach these days.
Basically, is this just for fun or just fluff training?
So here’s his reasoning as to why direct arm training should be done…as he was telling me this stuff, it really made a lot of sense.
1. Direct Arm Training Can be Useful as Assistance Work for the “Big” Exercises
Let’s say your bench press has been stuck in a plateau because you have trouble fully locking the bar out at the top. That top range of motion is a primarily triceps. By directly working the triceps with effective “assistance” exercises, you can immediately see results that carry over to your big movements.
Obviously, any pressing movement is going to have a substantial tricep component. What about biceps? Bicep strength plays an important role in rowing and pulling exercises, like chin-ups, bent-over rows…even deadlifts.
Remember…your body is only as strong as it’s weakest link.
If you’re doing a bench press and your triceps are relatively weaker than your chest, it’s going to LIMIT the amount of weight you can push. By directly strengthening your weak links, you can improve your total strength in the big lifts.
Same for an exercise like chin-ups. Your back may be strong, but if your bicep (or even forearm!) strength limits your training, you’ll never maximize your performance in that exercise.
A targeted application of direct arm training can really make a big difference in your lifting.
And, of course, you need to use EFFECTIVE exercises for this purpose, otherwise you’re wasting your time.
“The Best Arm Exercises” has some EXTREMELY targeted stuff that certainly fits the bill as big exercise “assistance” exercises.
2. Training Variety
Obviously, a book full of 68 new exercises is going to give you a LOT of variety to choose from. Your body thrives on variety and change…you still DO need to maintain a level of consistency to achieve a training effect, but something as simple as a new exercise or a new way of doing something can really spark results.
Nick actually acknowledges this as well – in his own training, he tells me that it’s about 75% “normal” stuff…squats, deadlifts, bench press, that kind of thing. The other 25% is a rotation of the unique exercises you see presented in his books and on his sites.
You really do HAVE to keep some consistency in order to see results – perform random exercises without regard to adaptation just won’t get you anyway. When I asked Nick about this specific point as it relates to his book, he said…
“Here’s the approach you have to take with this type of resource – take your time with it and pick out a few exercises you want to try. Use them the next time you train arms and see how they work for you. Generally speaking, if an exercise is going to work for you, you’ll feel it pretty quickly. Stick with the ones you get the biggest effect from then gradually work in OTHER exercises on a rotational basis like a continuous audition process at a soap opera.
As good as these exercises are, I’m quite sure there will be ones that don’t work equally as well for everybody. You have to experiment and find out what works best for YOU. Then work it HARD!”
Let’s say you’ve been training the “Big 3″ lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) a LOT and for a LONG time. There comes a time when you need to back off and “deload”, reducing your training volume for recovery purposes. If you keep hammering away at heavy exercises, your body breaks down…muscle, connective tissue and nervous system. That’s when injuries happen.
And this is the perfect time to work in some unique exercises like the ones Nick has in his book – you can use this time to build strength in your weaker muscle groups and really target your weak points.
4. Compound Exercises For The Arms
One of the nice things Nick has done with this book is include plenty of compound exercises for the arms…not hard to find for the triceps in the scope of normal exercises (think of dips, close grip bench press, etc.) but generally a bit tougher to find for biceps…it’s usually all curls.
Several of the exercises are variations of pull-ups or rows that make adjustments in setup and/or execution in order to change the focus from back to biceps. They’re VERY simple to execute and WOW do they really have potential.
The real standout exercise in that department is the Nilsson Curl, which can be best described as a chin-up with your forearms braced against a bar set about a foot lower than the one you’re gripping on.
As Nick explains it, this bracing keeps you from being able to pull your body straight up, which normally engages the lats. By blocking your forearms like this, it forces you to pull yourself up and around in an arc with the elbow as the pivot. This is almost ALL biceps (80 to 90%) with assistance being provided by the lats instead of the other way around.
You can actually SEE this exercise in action as one of the sample exercises on Nick’s site for the book. It’s a very cool exercise and it’s a great twist on a classic exercise to really shift the focus to the biceps and work them with a compound exercise.
Yes, arm training IS fun and SHOULD be fun! The real “meat and potatoes” work is done under the squat bar and at the deadlift, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying training those “mirror” muscles from time to time, too.
A few Things That Could Be Improved About the Book…
When you get this book, you’re obviously getting a book about exercises. But One thing that would be a nice addition would be some targeted sample workouts for working those exercises into a program.
These exercises are so unique, that it might be hard some trainers to figure exactly how to best use these in a program.
I asked Nick about this and he said he’s actually got several unannounced bonus gifts for people when they pick up the book that will address this exact thing. He wanted to keep it as a surprise, as a way of saying “thanks” but if it’s the lack of programs really shouldn’t be something that should hold you back from getting this book.
The other thing that I can see is that there aren’t that many forearm exercises in the book (5 for the forearms as compared to 33 for the biceps and 30 for the triceps). Nick told me he’s going to be addressing this in updates to the book as he definitely knows the forearm stuff needs to be built on.
Here’s the thing…
When you get the book, you’ll also get free updates for life, so those forearm exercises are going to be something you’ll be getting soon enough…as if the other 63 exercises aren’t plenty to keep going for a long time anyway!
The last thing I should mention is that if you’re limited on equipment, there will be a few exercises that you won’t be able to perform…there are a few that require cable machines (though creative use of training bands/elastics would be a good substitute) and a few that require a power rack.
But even with fairly BASIC equipment like a bench and some free weights, you’ll be able to perform the VAST majority of these exercises just fine. Several of them require no equipment at all or things that can very easily be improvised.
Now, if you’ve seen the exercises that Nick has created before, you’ll know exactly what this book is all about…very cool, very effective exercises that will have everybody in your gym coming up and asking you what the heck you’re doing.
These exercises are very well thought out and have a lot of potential both for improving your arms AND for helping improve your “big” exercises through assistance training.
Plus, the exercises are just plain fun!