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3 Bodybuilding Mistakes Slowing Down Your Muscle Gains


Written by: Anthony Alayon
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I absolutely love bodybuilding.  I have learned so many life lessons from bodybuilding.  One of the things I rarely mention is how it can teach you to be disciplined.  The fact that you have to follow such a strict diet and workout plan, really tests you.

Especially when you are low on carbs and body fat, you get to learn a lot about yourself.  It’s been awhile since I’ve competed in a bodybuilding show but I wanted to look back on everything and think of some of the things I’d do differently if I had to do it all over again.

What mistakes did I make that I wish I would have done differently?  So what I decided to do is make a list of the top 3 mistakes I feel I’ve made and list them here.  I know that MANY bodybuilders have also committed these evil crimes lol.  So let’s check them out now.

Mistake #1: Consuming Acidic Foods

I am guilty as charged.  Back in my teens and early 20’s, I wanted to be super ripped.  Now that I’m a little older, I still want to be ripped but the focus is more on my health.  Every day it seems like someone I know is being diagnosed with some sort of illness or disease.  Once I noticed a lot of people getting sick, I began to do some research.

I realized that a majority of people in the Western World don’t consume enough fruits and veggies.  When we don’t get enough fruits and veggies, there is a good chance our bodies can become acidic.

This means our bodies are breaking down.

Without getting too scientific, I wanted to give a quick list of foods that are either acidic  or alkaline.  Acidic foods can cause you to not produce as much muscle mass as you’d like while alkalized foods give the body lots of nutrients and helps build muscle faster.

List of Alkalized Foods

Foods such as pears, peaches, apples, bananas, grapes, beans, sweet potatoes, sun flower seeds, tomatoes, wheatgrass, zucchini, collard greens, coconut, cilantro, chives, celery, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and many more.

List of Acidic Foods

Mainly fried foods such as french fries, chicken wings, hot dogs, potato chips, grains, dairy products, processed meats and soda.

So make sure to incorporate alkalizing foods in your daily diet for optimal health and ultimately more muscle building gains.

You can always use a simple 10 second trick to boost your testosterone.

Mistake #2: Not Doing Mobility Workouts

Back when I was hard core into bodybuilding, I never really focused on stretching or any dynamic movements.  It was all your typical bodybuilding exercises such as biceps curls, bench press etc.

I remember when I first started training with a coach here in the Tampa Bay area that focused on kettlebell exercises, I found myself struggling to keep up.  My body wasn’t used to these types of movements and I was getting sore in areas I didn’t know could be sore.

I really liked how the kettlebell workouts challenged me.  Then I started doing some TRX workouts and realized how much of a total body workout you could get in very little time which is a huge bonus.

I am so used to working out 45-60 minutes per session.  When I was only doing 15 minute workouts sessions, I felt like my entire body was burning in a good way.  These workouts are all great for mobility and fat burning.  You can always use this resource for over 100 ways to naturally boost your testosterone levels.

Mistake #3: Focusing Too Much on Workouts Instead of THIS…

I would always work out 6 days a week and only take 1 day a week off.  However, I would also work 25 hours a week while in school.  I would solely focus and base my results on how much I worked out.

However, I never took the time to rest like I should.  I would sleep 6 hours a night.  When I was in my late teens, it was easy.  You have a lot more energy but looking back on what I used to do, I would have definitely slowed down a bit.

Resting is one of the most important things you can do.  During rest and sleep is when our bodies recover.  It’s when we can REBUILD the muscle we broke down at the gym and help the muscle come back stronger with new fibers.  So that is one thing I would have done differently when I was bodybuilding.

Closing Words

So now that you’ve read my top 3 mistakes that most bodybuilders make, I encourage you to try and eat more alkalized foods, do more mobility movements in less time and get plenty of rest for optimal muscle recovery.  I can only speak from my experience.  It’s my hope that I can help someone with this information I just shared.  Please feel free to share this with your friends and family on facebook if you found the information useful.

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Build a Strong Lower Back With This Move

By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach

Develop Your LOWER BACK with Cable Pull Thrusts

Q: I do all my training at our local gym here in town. It has all the usual stale equipment like the cable cross over machine, hyper extension bench, leg curl machines and what not. I want to develop a strong lower back but to be honest with you I am burned out on doing deadlifts and hyper extensions all the time. Do you have any novel idea’s for developing the lower back?

lower-back-400A: Yeah as a matter of fact I do have a novel idea for the development of the lower back and it involves the use of the cable cross over unit believe it or not. The exercise I am going to describe is called “Cable Pull Thrusts” and has been popularized over the years by Louie Simmons and the powerlifters at the Westside Barbell Club in Columbus, Ohio as an assist movement for garnering more strength in the lower back.  The exercise goes like this. 

Begin by attaching a triceps rope to one of the (base floor pulley) cable stations on the cable-cross over unit. Next, select a weight stack poundage that you will be using for a pre-determined number of reps.  Now turn around with your back toward the pulley cable.

Assume a shoulder width foot stance and bend your upper torso forward from vertical (taking care to keep the lower back flat or slightly arched) so that you can reach down between your legs (kind of like the posture if you were going to hike a football) and firmly grasp each end of the triceps rope (palms of the hands should face each other and the arms slightly bent).

Make sure that the cable is taut (you will have to adjust your distance from the floor pulley) as this will allow you to support the weight stack throughout the full range of the exercise motion.

Now it’s just a matter of pulling on the rope and bringing your upper torso to an upright position.  If you do this correctly your hands will be positioned near your groin (it will mimic the lockout of a sumo deadlift where the arms are inside the thighs).

Reverse the movement just described and allow the triceps rope to travel between your legs past your heels as far as possible. Repeat for the desired reps.

Some Points to Remember:

  1. Keep a very slight bend at the elbow joints meaning that you never lock-out or straighten the arms.
  1. You can do this exercise with the knees locked (emphasizes the lower back involvement) or with a “soft” knee bend (initiates gluteal involvement). Even though you are after more back development you may want to switch from a locked to soft knee position from workout to workout for variety sake.

Bonus Tip

Regular Sets, Plus Fast Doubles

Q: I am always looking for a way to get a Super Pump in all the muscle groups whenever I happen to train them. Do you have an idea’s along this line?

A: Here is a great method to try that works for most exercises:

Sometimes you can do what is called Regular Sets, Plus Fast Doubles. This is done on the last rep of a set.

For Example:


Barbell Curls – when you complete the last repetition of a set, put the barbell down.  Rest about 3-10 seconds and then do two more repetitions, rest for another 3-10 secs and do two more additional reps, rest again for 3-10 secs and complete a final two reps.

This is usually performed within the confines of the last rep of the last couple of sets of a select exercise. It makes for a terrific burnout technique as well as you can imagine.

If there is a secret when doing the ‘Fast Doubles’, it is in the 3-10 second rest-pauses.  It is these rest-pauses which allow a 50-56% recovery of the involved localized muscle (in this case the biceps).


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Slam Training: Total Body MASS Building Workout under 30 Minutes


By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach

slam-articleLife today is hectic. I’m sure you would agree.

If we could squeeze a few more hours into our day, we would and still feel like we didn’t get everything accomplished. To make things even more challenging on top of our job(s) and family, we also need time to move and sweat.

Lifting weights and exercise is an important part of my lifestyle and if you’re reading this, yours too!

For one reason or another, I am finding myself cramped for gym time that makes my previous full-length workouts impossible.  Those old college days offering hours of freedom to exercise are gone for most of us.

I have a solution for you. Below you will find a hardcore total body workout that can be done in less than a half hour that still delivers the muscle mass you’re after.

When a lack of the customary training time in the gym becomes evident, it should never become an excuse for procrastinating or missing workouts completely.  Don’t become one of the statistics.

Do what I call Slam Training (brief and brutal workouts which take no more than 20-30 minutes).

Here is a slam training routine for behemoth muscle bulk and power that will maintain your existing level of development, until you can once again return to your previous optimum workouts (and even if you can’t).

benching-articleWithin the structure of this workout, I suggest that you use four basic exercises – Barbell bench press, Barbell bent over rows, Barbell back squats and 45º (machine) Leg presses.

It seems the best sequential order of doing the exercises is to begin with the Bench press, next do the Squat, follow it with the Rowing and finish up with the Leg press.  Performed in this manner, you are able to partially rest the upper torso while working the legs and then let the legs grab some needed rest as you do the upper body exercise(s).

You don’t have time for long rests between sets and exercises; neither can you afford as high reps as you might like.  So work with five or six reps each set with no rest or as little as possible.

Begin the series or exercises by doing 5-6 reps in the barbell bench press with about one-half of your usual exercise poundage; without a pause, do 5-6 reps in the barbell back squat with approximately two-thirds of the usual exercise poundage.


Be sure to squat down only as far as knee and lower back integrity and flexibility will allow.   Move on to the barbell bent over rows, again for 5-6 reps with one-half of the usual exercise poundage.  Still with no rest, blast out 5-6 reps in the 45º Leg presses (on a machine) with two-thirds of you regular exercise poundage.  This completes the first series!

There are five more series to go and so you may take a breather, but it must be only long enough to change weights for each proceeding series.

Series two: Increase poundage ten to twenty percent on each exercise, doing another 5-6 reps of each.

Series three: The weight jump factor follows that of the above series (2).

Series four:  On this series, increase the poundage so that the absolute most weight can be used in each of the four exercises for 5-6 maximum repetitions.

Series five:  Decrease the poundage used in the above series by ten percent and do 5-6 continuous reps.

Series six:  Again reduce the poundage used in series five and do as many “burn-out” repetitions as you possibly can, to complete failure.

Going through a single series of the four exercises, and preparing the weight jumps when either moving up or down will take about two and a half minutes.  On your limit sets (series four), it may take a bit longer, but you can still finish the six series in 20 minutes.

Always rest the total body one or two days between workouts!!!

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Elevate Testosterone by 20% with THIS Morning Movement


By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN

Athletes from high school to the pros have a few things in common besides speed and muscle.

For one, they are focused on doing whatever it takes to maintain and improve their performance and this requires the proper mindset.  While some may go too far to get an edge on their competition, others seek out ways to naturally boost their level of play and increase their mental toughness.

Secondly, these same talented, hardworking individuals do something else every day that destroys their ability to excel and it’s NOT what you think.

In an age when cell phones and tablets dominate our lives along with an excessive amount of sitting, it’s safe to say that our posture is suffering big time.  This constant looking down to text throughout the day or craning over a keyboard for hours at a time puts the body into awful alignment causing forward head posture otherwise known as “texting neck.”

Chris and JP-article-size

What’s scarier is even the most elite athletes can suffer from this ugly and physically limiting posture.

Surely you’ve heard the phrase, the mind is the body and the body is the mind.

All this means is that our mental and physical connection is so powerful that one can greatly influence the other.

Here’s an example to illustrate this point:

Let’s say you’re running for distance and your body begins to fatigue as you lose your form and you tell yourself, “there’s no way I can finish this.”

Chances are, you won’t.  You just told yourself you couldn’t.

But if you’re mental state is strong you will maintain a more rigid upright posture and use positive, confident words like, “this may suck right now but I’m tougher than this and I’m going to make it!”

What really changed in these two scenarios?  Simply the language you used when talking to yourself which instantly changed the way you carried yourself in that moment.

Regardless of what you’re doing in life, if you act strong and think strong, you will most likely ‘feel’ strong.

You may already be familiar with this kind of thing but what makes this response to improved posture even cooler is that there is real science proving this positive chemical reaction in the body.

A study by graduate students at Harvard and Columbia University concluded that displaying a ‘power-pose’ absolutely had effects on how the body functions. [1]

Basically Form = Function.

It Was Found that High-power Posers Experienced Elevations in Their Testosterone Levels With Decreases in Cortisol Levels

This also increased their feelings of power and tolerance for risk while low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.

In other words, if you’re slouching with your head down and arms closed off, chances are your feelings of self-confidence and power are at rock bottom.  You don’t feel like a winner and therefore you won’t be a winner.


It’s very easy to look to nature or even the corporate world for more examples of this ‘power-pose.’

Think of images of a gorilla or elephant as they sit and walk confidently and proud across the land.  They hold their head high and look out at the world showing their dominance.

How about the CEO of a company?  He walks around the hallway tall and poised never closed off and hiding his body away.  He wants his body language to scream success and determination to everyone he sees.

Holding a power-pose will boost muscle building testosterone levels, lower your stress causing and fat storing cortisol levels and increase your feelings of power and risk.  All of those traits sound vital to achieving peak physical and mental performance as I’m sure you would agree.

This is why if you’re an athlete looking to perform at a high level, you always maintain a strong posture showing your opponent or onlookers that you’re ready and up to the challenge.  This is not just for show, there are real hormonal implications involved.

So how do you ‘carry’ yourself?

In other words, when you walk into a room, into the gym or on the field, do you stand tall and confident with your head held high, shoulders back and chest forward?  Or do you look down at the ground with your neck bent forward, back rounded and arms crossed?

The difference here is a gorilla neck versus a turtle neck.

Maybe you never gave it much thought before but now that you know how critical this ‘power-pose’ is, it’s time to act.

The study actually found that by holding a strong, powerful posture for just 2-minutes that it had tremendous impact on the subject’s physiological, psychological and behavioral state.

Here’s How to do the Movement and Quickly Get Yourself into a Position of Power


NOTE: You can do this movement from a standing or seated position. Example below based on seated.

  • From a seated position, first tilt the pelvis forward creating a slight arch in the lower back which immediately helps to raise the chest.
  • Then pull the shoulders down and back with your arms at your side.
  • Next, lift the head and slightly tuck the chin making yourself as tall as possible.
  • From this position you should now feel your back, glute and abdominal muscles working to hold you in this strong alignment.
  • Begin by just holding this position for 5-10 seconds at a time and progress to holding it up to 2-minutes.

This can be done repetitively throughout the day helping to not only elevate testosterone and decrease cortisol but to also boost confidence, improve breathing and increase energy levels.

Do You Have Forward Head Posture?

Take This “Text Neck” Quick Self-Test To Find Out



Powerlifting Monster JP Carroll Interview

Interview with Powerlifting Monster JP Carroll
Interviewed by Critical Bench Reporter Ben Tatar

JP CARROLL is instantly making headlines in the World of Powerlifting. He has squatted 1,025 lbs. RAW and he is also on the hunt for a 600 plus RAW bench press.

He is also one of the most massive competitive powerlifters in the world. Let’s step into the journey and into the life of one of the biggest giants and one of the greatest warriors in the weight lifting game, JP the Viking Carroll!!


1) Critical Bench: JP, how did you get started in powerlifting?

JP: I have been an athlete all my life, played hockey in HS and semi-pro football after HS.  When I quit playing semi-pro I still continued to work out and I sort of just fell into the sport.  I competed in my first powerlifting meet in March of 2013.

2) Critical Bench: What training method do you follow?

JP: I follow the Lilliebridge training method

Editors note: To learn more about the Lilliebridge training method please visit:

3) Critical Bench: What are your thoughts in regards to training with team Lilliebridge?

JP: Hands down the best raw power lifting team in the world. A great group of guys and girls with a mission of becoming the strongest in our weight divisions. All held together by the best powerlifting coach in the world Ernie Sr.

4) Critical Bench: Where do you train?

JP: Barbell Central the strongest raw gym in the US.

5) Critical Bench: Tell us the members of team Lilliebridge and what they mean to you.

JP: That’s a lengthy list but our intimate circle would be Ernie Sr, Ernie Jr, Eric Lilliebridge, Tom Kallas, Tom Finn Jr., Jon Jursich,  Mike Lucia, Jason Colley, Sergio Luna, Dan Bell, Matt Clausen, Tony Chirico, Javier Garcia and there is a whole list of girls and other guys I’m sure who are going to get mad when I didn’t mention them …oops sorry guys.

6) Critical Bench: What does Team Lilliebridge look for in other members?

JP: That’s all in the head of the mastermind coach Ernie Lilliebridge Sr.

7) Critical Bench:  Everyone, check out Team Lillie and see if you have what it takes to be part of the team and take your strength to places you never knew it could go! Moving on…JP, you train in the gym on leg day for 6 hours. What are you doing for all that time? 6 hours? Wow!

JP: We have a lot of people on the team , we also squat and dead on same day so between people getting wrapped changing bar weights etc. it can be time consuming . It pays off on meet days we are very used to the long hours in those conditions.


8) Critical Bench: I bet. On top of that, you have 3 kids. How do you make time for powerlifting while being a father?

JP: I only go to the gym 1 day during the week so I can have time for them. I am also lucky to train at a gym where I can bring the kids with so on Saturdays and Sundays all the kids hang out together.

9) Critical Bench: You’re 6’1 and 400lbs. That’s super massive and larger than life. How does your family feel about you being one of the most massive and dedicated powerlifters out there?

JP: With a son on his high school football team he loves it! He’s always bragging on his old man…. My daughter loves it! She wants to follow in my footsteps, so watch out woman’s pl world!!! And my wife holds down the fort while I go play Mr big time powerlifter. Also pays the bills even the food bill, lol. I couldn’t do it with out her!!

10) Critical Bench: JP, what are your 10 tips for a bigger squat and a bigger bench? Give us your 10 tips for each.

JP: I am sooo not the guy for Tips. I am strong but technically sloppy. I am working on cleaning that up though.

11) Critical Bench: OKAY, then tell us what do you think is the biggest mistake that you see other lifters make?

JP: Testing their maxes way too often, also chasing a number (which I’ve been guilty of) and not letting the strength develop over time.

12) Critical Bench: What does your power eating plan consist of to be one of the thickest powerlifters in the world today?

JP: Honestly nutrition is my downfall. I’d say my diet is set up 50/50.  Half of my meals are the good stuff pizza , burgers, ice cream. The other half would be chicken, beef, rice black beans veggies etc.

13) Critical Bench: So far during your powerlifting journey list us a powerful moment, crazy moment, favorite moment and a moment that changed you the most.

JP: My most powerful moment was going head to head with Eric Lilliebridge and squatting 1025 raw.  A crazy moment  would be basically any time I watch Tom Finn Jr. bench press, the guy will bench 600 at 220!  A favorite moment honestly would be the day Ernie Sr. asked if wanted to become part of team Lilliebridge. A moment that changed me? When coach pulled 763… I believe with a fully detached pec. He is the epitome of tough!

14)  Critical Bench: Those moments are all super extreme! Do you have any funny gym stories you would like to share with us today?

JP: We have a lot of funny stories outside the gym, but when the weight hits that bar we are all business.


15) Critical Bench: Are you going to remember your powerlifting journey?

JP: Just getting started so that’s hard to answer.

16) Critical Bench: Uh oh! This monster is just getting started! We have a super freak beast for a long time to come it seems! So, JP what do people usually say to you being one of the most massive powerlifters? How do guys respond? What about girls? What about kids?

JP: I pretty much stand out like a sore thumb, I feel like I get the freak show whispers and finger points. But most people are pretty cool. Chicks? Well I could use some more of those, can’t we all?! lol!

17) Critical Bench: JP, you will have to teach them how to use their flexibility to shorten the stroke so they can unleash their wild inner beasts like you do! What are your future goals?

JP: Love to get 1,003 squat in the record books and bench 600 raw.  Fighting for both of those as we speak.

18) Critical Bench: What is your message for the powerlifting world?

JP: HARD WORK PAYS OFF. I’m in no way, shape or form genetically gifted. Well, my calves are but that’s it.  You put in the work and your numbers WILL go up.

19) Critical Bench: What would you like to see change in power lifting?

JP: More women. We have ladies on our team that are AMAZING!! I’d love to see more woman out there chalked up kicking ass!


20) Critical Bench: What are your comments to someone who wants to get stronger but is intimidated by your size or strength?

JP: Get in the chalk box.  You gotta mess up a few times and learn some lessons from the iron to get better.

In closing is there anything you would like to say or anyone who you would like to thank?

JP: Ernie Jr. for always being there as a partner and friend . Ernie Sr. for EVERYTHING HE DOES. Jason Colley for keeping me healthy and honestly everyone on the whole team contributes at least something that has made me better and for that I thank everyone.