Fitness for Busy Folk

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Will Doing TRX Get Me Bigger Muscles?

What is TRX?

The TRX is a suspension trainer – a portable device consisting of different straps and handles, that lets you perform a wide array of body-weight exercises wherever you are. It can be easily stored and carried, and all you need to use it is a doorway, or a sturdy frame, such as a power rack or jungle gym.

How to Get Big Muscles

Getting bigger muscles isn’t rocket science – to break it down to the basics, there are three stages in the muscle building process. Firstly, you need to perform resistance training. This can be done using free-weights, machines, resistance bands, or your own bodyweight, using devices like the TRX. This training produces tiny tears in the muscle tissue, causing it to break down. If you’re thinking that this break down of muscle tissue sounds detrimental, then you’re half right. Clearly, if a muscle is breaking down, it’s not getting bigger. However, stages two and three are where this breakdown turns into muscle growth.

The second stage in the process is eating. By supplying your body with plenty of good quality nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates and fats, you are giving your body the ammunition it needs to build muscle.

The final stage is rest. When you rest, your body can use energy from the food you’ve eaten to repair the muscle fibers. In the reparation process, the fibers grow back bigger and stronger, leading to an increase in muscle size.

So, can TRX Training Build Muscle?

The simplest answer to this is yes, it most certainly can. Any training which is challenging on your muscles and nervous system will break down the muscle fibers and lead to muscle growth, provided you eat enough food, and get enough rest. However, there are some muscle-building limitations with TRX training.

Limitations

In order to build muscle, you need to constantly challenge yourself by adding more weight, increasing the number of repetitions you do, changing your exercise tempo, or reducing rest periods – this is a concept known as progressive overload.

Over time, as you get bigger, stronger, and increase your work capacity, it takes more to really challenge your muscles and break them down. For example, when you first start training with the TRX, you may find that doing a set of 10 pushups with your feet in the straps is extremely difficult, and more than enough to stimulate muscle growth. Over time though, you’ll find this easier, and within a couple of months, you’ll probably be able to do sets of 25 pushups, or maybe even more, without it being a challenge.

Progressive overload can become difficult at this stage – you can’t really add weight like you would with a free-weight or machine exercise, and you can only do so many reps without your workout becoming too long, so the only way to create progressive overload is to find ways to make the exercise harder, such as slowing down your tempo, using one arm instead of two, or decreasing your rest times. This is doable, but isn’t as easy to do as if you’re training with more traditional weights.

Conclusion

In summary, it definitely is possible to build muscle with TRX training, but you need to be inventive with how you train, and find new ways to make exercises more challenging. Stick to exercises that work a lot of muscle groups together, such as split squats, pushups and inverted rows. As a beginner, the TRX is a great way to add muscle, but as you get more advanced, you may find that while it is still very useful, you need to add in a few other training methods too.

One training method you can use is TacFit Rope. TacFit Rope is a system of suspension training developed by Scott Sonnon which provides you with 4 levels of progression – from beginner to advanced. As you move along the training levels, your body gets stronger and bigger.

Click here to learn more about TacFit Rope.

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4 Reasons to Purchase a Fitness eBook

For years, I trained using my own brain. I came up with my own ideas, and experimented in my garage gym. But. after a while, I began to run out of ideas. That was when I mustered enough courage to take out my debit card, and purchase my first fitness eBook.

The experience was scary, believe me. One thought came to my mind: “What if I’m making a mistake? What if I already know everything that is contained in this fitness eBook?”

And, then as I scrolled down further on the product page, it said, “100% Money Back Guarantee.” Then I thought…why would they write that? Why would anyone need to give their money back if the product was already good?

I came back to the product page a couple of times before I actually purchase the product. And when I actually did purchase it…I was happy! Sure, there was a lot of stuff in there that I already knew, but there was also a lot that I didn’t know.

I began implementing the exercises and techniques I learned through my first eBook and began to blog about them. But, of course, I can not share all of these techniques and exercises on this website (because then I would get sued).

So, here are 4 reasons you need to purchase a Fitness eBook:

1# – To Adopt new Training Methods

Each of us have a different training style. We’re married to this training style. My training style has always been high-intensity circuits. Everything works, but not all the time. There comes a time when our bodies get used to our own training methods, and it’s time to adopt someone else training methods.

#2: Do Something you Hate to Make you Stronger

If you’re someone who comes up with their own workouts, then you have certain exercises you just love doing. But when you download a fitness program thats developed by another coach, you get to see different exercises and different combinations of exercises. You are forced to do something you hate, and that makes you stronger.

For example, I hate pullups and dips. Many of Craig Ballantne’s recent muscle building workouts relies on performing lots of pullups and dips. I swallowed hard, and just did them, and now..I LOVE pullups. (I still hate dips, but I have to do them).

#3: Understand what Works

Most of us stick to the same movements because they work, not because they don’t work. If things didn’t work, then it would be easy to click and download a new program to try something that does work.

However, in order to REALLY understand what works, you must experiment. You must test your workout against another workout. It’s like a scientific experiment. You constantly try and find what works better for you.

Think of it this way: lets say you’re improving by 17% each week. What if you could add in a training technique that would boost progress up to 25% each week? This could equate to anything:

  • Increasing your pullup numbers
  • Losing pounds on the scale
  • Increasing your bench press numbers

If there is a better way to achieve results, shouldn’t you take an opportunity to seek out this better training method?

#4: Just don’t have time

I have a lot more responsibilities now. I have never been more serious about building a future.

Sitting there coming up with a new workout program simply is no longer at the top of my priority list. This is why I just download a new program each month, and do it. That’s it. Makes life a LOT easier!

Where do I go to download a new training regimen? I go to Craig Ballanytne’s vault of fitness programs. He has over a 100 unique workouts for specific goals. All you need to do is figure out your goal for that month, choose a workout that helps you with that goal, and click on the download button!

Click here to check out the mega vault of fitness programs.

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5 Ways to Recover from Fitness Workout Overload

Yesterday I wrote about how it’s important to purchase fitness eBooks from time to time. This post was for people who were bored with their current program, or for those that were so comfortable with their workouts that they needed to venture out and really try something new.

However, what if you already purchase a lot of eBooks? What if you’re the kind of person that LITERALLY changes their training programs each week? What if you feel like you have so much information at your fingertips, you don’t know what to do with?

In that case…you’re probably suffering from fitness workout overload!

What is Fitness Workout Overload?

Fitness workout overload is when you collect so much fitness information but do nothing with it. It’s like that “hoarder” show on TV. People just keep collecting junk in their house, and it ends up becoming a terrible habit.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK to collect fitness information. I collect fitness information. But overload occurs when you keep collecting the information without doing anything with it.

5 Ways to Recover from Fitness Workout Overload

If you feel as though you are suffering from fitness workout overload, then here are 5 steps you can take to recover and finally start seeing results again:

  1. Simplify your Regimen – What we often end up doing is combining programs. We’ll purchase 3-4 routines, and take a little bit out of each one, and try to combine it. Or, we’ll just try to do two workouts side to side, at ONCE. Stop doing that. The fitness professional that created the program, developed it after a lot of testing. They know it works the way it is. So just do the workout as is. Don’t complicate things.
  2. Organize your Hard Drive – If you already have a lot of eBooks on your hard drive, then it’s time to organize your hard drive. Lets say you have 10 ebooks. Take a look at them and determine which goal each one focuses on. If, for example, your first goal is fat loss, then do the program that helps you burn fat. Only after you have completed that training program should you move onto another routine.
  3. Track Results – A lot of people feel as though their training program does not work, when in fact it does work. If your goal was to lose 5 lbs in a month, but you lose 3 pounds…hey, you STILL lost 3 pounds. So, the program actually did work. But you will never know if you actually lost weight if you do not track results. Get yourself a note pad and start writing things down.
  4. Purchase your Weakness – We also tend to purchase eBooks about things we already enjoy doing. Now, reverse it. I want you to think about purchasing eBooks that pertain to your weaknesses. For example, if you hate thinking about your nutrition, then I want you to purchase a nutrition eBook, and follow the rules in that eBook.

Your Search is Over

If there is one thing that you can learn from this post, it’s this: just do it. Take a fitness program, and finish it from beginning to end. Determine your results, learn the lessons, then move onto a different training regimen.

Yesterday, I sent you a link that gave you access to hundreds of training programs. What I want you to do is choose one program, do it, then move onto a different program for next month.

Simple

Speaking of simple, today I want to send you a link for something called Simple Nutrition. If nutrition is your weakness, then this is an incredibly nutrition manual you should follow. As the title suggests, it simplifies nutrition. Click here to learn more!

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Top 9 Bodyweight Exercises for Mass Gain

Bodyweight exercise are extremely convenient if you do not have access to equipment or can not afford a gym membership. Many people equate bodyweight exercises to being a fat loss tool, but they can also help you gain muscle mass.

The key to gaining lean muscle mass with bodyweight movements is to choose movements that recruit the most muscle possible. Make sure that the movements you choose are challenging.

Lets go over 9 of the best bodyweight muscle building movements:

#1 – Pike Handstand Pushups (Shoulders)

Starting position:

Place your feet on a raised surface and your upper body as shown in the first image. Let your arms be extended to the max. Your body should form an inverted “v” shape.

Procedure:

Lower yourself using your arms until your head touches the floor. Push yourself back up to the starting position.

#2 – Bar Dips (Chest)

Starting position:

Hang on the bar with your arms fully extended. Keep your legs bent and crossed together.

Procedure:

Slowly lower yourself until your elbows are at about 90 degrees. Focus on your chest muscles as you do this. Now push yourself back up to the top position, but don’t lock your elbows.

#3 – Close Grip Chinups (Biceps)

Starting position:

Grip the bar using an under-hand grip (palms facing you), with your hands about 6-8 inches apart.

Procedure:

Pull your body up (using bicep muscles only) until your upper chest touches the bar. Then slowly lower your body until your arms and shoulders are fully extended. Repeat. Don’t swing your body for momentum.

 

#4 – Reverse Triceps Bench Dips

Starting position:

Have two firm chairs/benches parallel to each other and about 4 feet apart. Grasp the edge of one bench with your hands, fingers facing forward and your arms straight. Place the heels of your feet on the other bench.

Procedure:

Slowly lower your body by bending your arms (while rotating your elbows outward). Lower yourself down until your upper arms are at right angles with your forearms. Then push yourself back up using nothing but your tricep muscles. Squeeze your triceps hard at the top of each rep.

#5 – Compound Towel Pull-Ups (Lats)

Starting position:

First hang two strong towels over the bar as shown. Keep them approximately 30 cm (1ft) from each other. The towels should be hanging down at a length of about 5 inches.

Procedure:

Hold each towel firmly in your hands and lift your body using your biceps and your last only. Then slowly lower yourself down and repeat. As you get stronger, lower the towel more so as to make the exercise harder and more stimulating.

#6 – Hyper Extensions (Lower Back)

Starting position:

If you don’t have a place to secure your legs, find someone to hold down them down as you perform this exercise. Position yourself on an elevated bench such that your entire upper body is hanging down towards the floor. Cross your arms in front of you.

Procedure:

Raise your upper body until your waist and hips are fully extended. Then lower your body by bending until your lower back is fully flexed. Repeat.

#7 – Hanging Knee Raise (Abdominals)

Starting position:

Hang from chin-up bar as shown.

Procedure:

Kick your knees up towards your chin while rounding your back slightly during each movement. At the top of each rep, hold and squeeze your abs, then lower your legs in a controlled fashion. Do not use momentum to swing your legs up.

 

#8 – Lying Russian Twists (Obliques)

Starting position:

Sit on the floor with your knees bending at 90 degrees. Secure your feet by getting someone to hold them, or putting them under a solid surface. Lean back slightly. Hold your hands straight out in front of you.

Procedure:

Rotate your torso (not just your arms) to the right until your right arm is parallel to the floor. Hold for about 2 seconds and then perform the same movement for the left side. Repeat in a fairly rapid manner for the required number of reps.

NOTE: Your hips should stay in place when your upper body (torso) is moving.

#9 – Hindu Squats (Legs)

Start position:

Begin in a standing position, with your legs shoulder width apart and your feet pointed forward. Have your hands pulled to the sides of your chest.

Procedure:

Squat down with your legs, keeping your back straight. As you get to the bottom you should come up on to the balls of your feet, and your arms down behind you.

Now push yourself back up rapidly through balls of feet to the starting position while swinging your arms forward. Once you are at the top again, pull your hands back to the sides of your chest and repeat the cycle.

NOTE: The key difference between regular bodyweight squats and hindu squats is the motion of your hands and feet. Hindu squats are generally of greater physical benefit than the regular squats.

These 9 movements are great for muscle building. However, by themselves, they achieve nothing. You must use specific techniques to organize your workouts in order to get the most muscle building benefit from these movements. Click here to discover 6 incredible muscle building techniques.

 

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Killer Chest Exercises for a Killer Chest Workout

Looking for some incredible killer chest exercises to help you construct some killer chest workouts? Well, I’ve got 8 incredible chest exercises to help you out! These 8 movements have been invented by Muscle Building Guru Nick Nillson. I’ll let him explain each of these 8 exercises:

8 Killer Chest Exercises for a Killer Chest Workout:

1 – Concentration Flyes

The Concentration Flye is one of the best free weight exercises you can do for focusing on the peak contraction of the pectoral muscles. It actually has an advantage over the pec deck and cable cross-over machines in that it doesn’t put anywhere near the same stress on the shoulder joints.

This is a good one!

  • To perform this exercise, you just need one dumbell – it should be fairly light the first time you do the exercise so you can get the best feel for it.
  • Bend your knees and lean forward. Pick up the dumbell off the ground with your right hand. Your arm should be hanging directly down, elbow slightly bent.
  • Now, keeping your elbow locked in that slightly bent position, raise the dumbell up as though trying to touch it just past your left shoulder.
  • As you come up, your right pec will have to squeeze harder and harder!
  • Hold the dumbell at the top, peak contraction position for a few seconds, squeezing hard. Lower the dumbell slowly and repeat.

This is a great home-gym exercise for those who just have free weights, in addition to the safety advantage it carries over the two chest machines I mentioned above.

2 – Rolled-Up Towel for Bench Press

This is a quick tip that can help you get more out of every barbell bench press you do! In order to maximize chest involvement, you need to get your shoulders back – that can be tough to remember to do when you’re on a flat bench.

So roll up a towel and lay it on the bench lengthwise, where your upper back is going to lay down.

When you lay down, the rolled-up towel will be right between your shoulders blades. Your shoulders will be forced back on their own accord. It’s a great massage for your spinal cord too!

Try this with light weight first, as there is some balance required. But it’s a simple solution to teach you how to get your shoulders back when doing a bench press, which is critical to really activating the pecs in the exercise.

3 – Lock-Out Partial Bench Press

There aren’t too many trainers I know who don’t want a bigger bench press. Let’s be honest…it’s an ego lift but it’s nice to see people’s eyes bug out when you tell them how much you can bench press (because you know they always ask!).

But what do you do if you get stuck at a certain weight with the bench press and you can’t seem to budge it upwards a single pound?

The key here is not to work harder but instead work smarter.

In my experience with bench press (and my biomechanics STINK for bench press – I’ve never had a strong bench and have always had to work hard at it to get anywhere. And even then, it fades fast when I don’t keep at it constantly!), it’s often not the strength of the muscles holding a person back but the strength of the connective tissue in the shoulders and arms.

When you strengthen the connective tissue, your numbers start going up almost on their own!

Strengthening connective tissues requires two things…HEAVY weight and HIGH REPS (to get circulation into the connective tissue for recovery). You need to do something to pile th weight on much more so than you can do with full range presses.

So we first go to partial range presses where you can use the MOST weight possible. In the case of the bench, that’s the lockout (only the top 2 inches).

We’ll target the HEAVY weight aspect first by loading as much weight on the bar as we can get for 3 to 5 reps (no more).

So get yourself set up in the power rack. DO NOT DO THIS EXERCISE WITHOUT A RACK. I’m telling you this for your health and safety. Don’t even think about doing heavy partials without a rack. Spotters just won’t cut it. Personally, I do all my regular bench pressing in a rack, too.

You’ll be setting the bar on the safety rails of the rack NOT unracking like you would a normal bench press. Put a flat bench in the rack and lay back on it. Look to see where the rails would be set if you just want to hit the top 2 inches of the bench press.

Move the rails then set a bar on them. Lie on the bench and test it out. With just the empty bar, you should have about 3 inches or so of clearance (when you load the bar with weight, not only will the bar bend but you will sink into the bench AND your bodyparts are going to get compacted a bit (in a good way!). This means it’s important that you have a little room to play in terms of safety rail height.

Now start loading some weight onto the bar. Put as much on as you would normally do for sets of 6 reps and do a few warm-up reps just to see what it feels like. Then load on what would normally be your 1 rep max and do a few more warm-up reps. Even though it’s your full-range max, it’ll still be easy in the top lockout range.

Here’s what the movement looks like… (if you’re curious, that’s 6 plates on either side, which is 585 lb – this is a bit less than double what my full range 1 RM was at the time. This is to give you an idea of how much weight you can potentially work up to with this exercise. I’ve gone as high as 7 plates on either side in the past when I was focusing more specifically on bench). It’s a great way to scare the crap out of people at the gym, too, when you start throwing that much weight on the bar! :) Not that I would ever want to do that, of course…

When you’re doing maximal heavy reps like this, set the weight back down on the safety rails in between each rep to regroup and reset yourself. Basically, you’re just locking out the bench press on each rep!

With this exercise, breathing and locking your body in tight is very important. Before you lift the bar off the rails, take a deep breath, inflating your lungs as much as possible. Squeeze your shoulder blades behind your back and tighten EVERYTHING. Now you can push. As you push, you can either hold your breath briefly or exhale sharply through pursed lips – do what feels best to you.


So this how the exercise is done.

One of the tricks I like to use to get maximum push is to envision NOT that I’m pushing the bar up but that I’m actually pushing myself DOWN through the bench! Sounds crazy but I’ve found it really works to give you some extra mental push.

Next comes the fun part…seeing how much YOU can do! Add some more weight (I usually recommend adding a 45 lb plate to either side at this point) and go again. If you find you can get more than 5 reps with it, increase the weight on the next set (rest 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in between sets for recovery – you won’t be breathing hard but your energy stores get depleted fast with the heavy of a weight).

If you don’t get much more than 5 reps, increase the weight by 25’s on either side, not 45’s.

When you hit a weight you can only get for 3 to 5 reps, stay there. That’s your first work set. We’ll do 3 work sets at that weight (so you’ll do 2 more sets), again resting 2 minutes or so between reps. When you do partials next time, you’ll have a better idea of what you can do and get to your work weights sooner so you can feasibly bump those up.

4 – Zone Training for Dumbbell Bench Press

You may or may not be familiar with a very cool training concept called “Zone Training”. The concept was originated by Brian Johnston of IART and it’s VERY effective for completely overloading the entire range of motion of an exercise.

At it’s simplest, you basically break the range of motion of an exercise into two or three segments (i.e. zones) and work on those segments SEPARATELY, focusing on the first segment, then the second, then the third.

It’s a KILLER technique and, believe me, it will put TREMENDOUS overload on your muscles.

Basically, the problem with regular reps over a full range of motion is that your leverage changes of the range of motion. When doing a full-range bench press, you can only use as much as weight as you can get past the very WEAKEST point in the range of motion.

So THAT is the only point of the exercise that’s getting fully loaded. When you’re at the top, you could really use a LOT more weight because the leverage is better. That’s what cam-based machines try and do – change the leverage of the exercise match the strength curve of the exercise (the strength curve is a chart of that change in leverage, if you’re not familiar with the term).

It’s also what partial training accomplishes. By focusing only on a specific range of motion, you can target your weights to that specific range of motion. It’s how I can do 600 lbs on the top few inches of the bench press but have to use a whole lot less when doing full range reps.

What Brian has done with Zone Training is allow you to focus on those specific range of motion in the exercise but WITHOUT changing weights. He uses fatigue principles to change the resistance.

What THAT means in English is that you’ll do partial reps in the weakest range first then in the middle range then, when you’re most fatigued, you’ll do partials reps in your STRONGEST range.

It may sound a bit confusing but once you see it in picture and video, you’ll be able to get the meaning pretty quick. It’s a great concept and VERY effective.

So the first Zone that you start with is the WEAKEST segment of the range of motion of an exercise. With the bench press, that’s the bottom third of the range, from the chest to just a few inches above.

Use a moderate weight the first time you do this type of training. It’s tough stuff and you’ll burn out faster than you think.

You will be doing a total of 24 REPS of this Zone Training exercise – 8 reps in each segment of the range of motion.

So get the dumbells into position like you were doing a normal bench press. I prefer to do dumbell bench on the Swiss ball – it allows you to wrap your back around the ball and drop your hips to help open up the rib cage.
Get into the bottom position of the dumbell press then press the dumbells up to JUST BELOW the sticking point.

Then bring them back down to the bottom again. Use a controlled movement – no bouncing. It’s deliberate but short press with a hold of a second at the top and the bottom to help take any momentum out and keep tension on the target muscles.

Do your 8 reps in this bottom range of motion.

In NORMAL Zone Training, you actually move immediately to the next Zone (the middle) with no rest.

I actually set the weight down and rest 20 seconds THEN go to the middle section. This is another way to perform Zone Training – this brief rest allows you to use somewhat heavier weights because you’re able to clear out some of the waste products (Lactic Acid, etc.) that accumlate during the set.

So here’s the middle section – start with the dumbell just above the sticking point then press them a few inches up, then lower back down. Do your 8 reps in this middle range of motion.

Again, with NORMAL Zone Training, you then go right into the TOP range of motion. I take another 20 second rest before going into that top range of motion.

Do your 8 reps in the top range of motion.

By the time you’re done with all 24 reps, you will have maximally worked EVERY segmenet of the range of motion of the exercise. And believe me, your chest will be TRASHED!

You can apply this technique to pretty much any exercise (it’s BRUTAL with squats and deadlifts, let me tell ya!).

With some exercises, like curls, you’re actually better off doing 2 segments instead of three – basically doing the range below the sticking then the range above the sticking point for 12 reps each, to get that magic 24 reps.

I’ll be adding some more Zone Training exercises to the site in the near future so you’ll be able to see more of these in action soon.

5 – Reverse Band Barbell Bench Press

The Reverse Band Press is extremely useful for muscle-building purposes. When you perform the Reverse Band Press, you won’t get the same elastic tension on the way up (that you work against for explosive pressing). What you will get is a lot of help at the bottom of the bench, which gradually decreases as you press the bar up. When you get near the top, you’re doing the majority, if not all, of the work yourself.

This is the exact perfect strength curve of the bench press and it will allow you to use a
heavier overall weight when pressing. Since you’re at maximal tension the entire way up, you’ll be doing a much more efficient pressing workout.

To set this up, you’ll need to do your bench pressing in a rack. Set the flat bench in the rack and set your safety rails and racking pins at the appropriate heights as you do if you were doing a regular bench press. Use the thicker bands for this as they’ll match the strength curve of the exercise better. Hitch the bands to the upper crossbeams of the rack. You can choose from two places to hitch them up – the first is the side upper crossbeams. The second is the front or rear top crossbeam of the rack. Be sure to use the same hitch on both sides so that the lengths of the bands are even on the bar.

The main benefit of hitching to the side upper rails are that the bands get a straight up and down line of pull on the bar, maximizing the help they’ll be able to give during the exercise. The downside is that you MUST hitch the bands exactly evenly on the side rails – if you don’t, the bands will pull the bar in a rotational pattern and you will find one shoulder getting a lot of torque.

If you have a felt marker, you can measure and draw exactly even lines on your rack or, if you’re in a public gym, use something else to measure (e.g. a weight plate or your hand) so that you get the same distance on both sides. Do a test rep with light weight to make sure the bands are even before beginning the real workout.

When you hitch the bands to the front or rear crossbeam, it’s much easier to get an even pull on the bar as you can just hitch the bands right next to the uprights on the rack (as far wide as you can hitch them). That way, you’ll know that they’re even. The downside is that you don’t get a direct upwards pull from the bands but an angled pull. When pressing, this will mean the amount of help the bands give you is reduced.

Once the bands are hitched to the upper crossbeam (whichever method), loop the other ends onto the barbell (after you’ve added the weight – you can go heavier than you normally would for the same reps when using the bands, e.g. add about 50 to 70 pounds to the bar – you’ll need to play with the amount of weight you use).

You can loop the bands on the bar on the outside of the weight plates or on the inside. If you go inside, put the bands on the bar before you load the weight plates. Be very sure the bands don’t line up with where you’re racking the bar – if you rack the bar on top of the bands, you may damage the bands.

If you loop the bands on the outside of the weight plates, put the bands on THEN put the collars on the outside of the bands. This will keep the bands from shifting on the bar as well.

You’re ready to press! Lie under the bar, grip it as you normally would, then lower it to your chest. You’ll notice that it feels lighter at the bottom and you’ll be able to accelerate the bar off your chest better. But as you come up, it gets harder and harder and you have to squeeze harder and harder to keep the bar moving.

Lock it out and squeeze the chest hard, then go again!
The Reverse Band Press will help your body get used to pressing heavier weights and will really help you increase your power in the lockout phase of the bench press.

6 – High-Rep Incline Bench Partials

So if you’ve read any of my stuff for any length of time, you know I’m a big fan of partial movements. When it comes to building overall strength and connective tissue strength, partials just can’t be beat.

The top range especially (where you’re generally stronger) really allows you to overload the target exercise and pile on some serious weight.

This exercise partial movement for today is the Incline Barbell Press.

Now, I’ll tell you right up front, by incline bench press STINKS in a big way. I’ve never done more than 225 lbs on it (even when I could flat bench 350!). My shoulders are terrible and I get no leverage out of the
bottom.

So I throw away the bottom and stick to the top…

Set up an adjustable incline bench in your power rack and set the safety rails up at a point where they’re just below your lockout on the incline barbell press.

Naturally, this will be different for everybody and will depend on your height, grip, arm length, and angle of incline. So experiment with just the bar first, before you load it.
Once you get the safety rails set at a comfortable height a few inches below lockout with just the bar, then lower them one more notch. The reasons you want to go one more below that level are twofold.

1. You’ll be doing high reps and you don’t want to bang the bar on the rails every time you bring it down. By starting a bit lower on the first rep, it allows you to be more free when you’re actually doing the pressing.

2. The moment you lift a loaded bar off the rails on the incline (loaded with more than you normal 1 RM), your body is going to get compacted down. This compaction means your rails need to be set a little lower to accomodate it. You’ll see what I mean on the first loaded set.

So load the bar with your normal 1 RM on a full range for the first set. This is just to get a feel for the exercise. I’m using 315 lbs on the bar in the demo here and like I said, my incline bench stinks.

Take your grip, tighten up your body, then press the bar off the rails to the lockout position.
Lower the bar a little then pop it right back up. This is a short, fast pumping movement.

We’re looking to get as many reps as possible here. You don’t have to worry much about form because the range of motion is so short. Just be sure your chest is puffed out and your core is rock solid.

Also, be sure you’re using leg power to press your body back into the bench. If you lose tension in your legs, the weight will slide your body down the bench.

I DO NOT recommend doing this partial training outside of a rack, on a regular incline bench. Too dangerous if you lose track of the bar. Stick to racks only here.

Be sure to watch the video on this one to get a feel for the tempo and the very short range of motion on the exercise.

Hammer out as many reps as you possibly can then set the bar down on the rails.

This exercise is a great way to increase connective tissue strength in the shoulder girdle and upper chest. It’s also fun to be finally be able to throw around heavy weights on the incline bench :)

7 – Low-Pulley Pushup Walkins

This exercise is actually a combination exercise…bodyweight training and cable resistance at the same time!

To do a “regular” Low Pulley Push-Up, basically, you do a push-up while holding onto the low-pulley handles – the weight then tries to pull your hands out from under you while you’re doing a push-up. It’s a killer combination because you not only have to push yourself up, you have to use your pecs to actively fight the weights pulling your hands out to the sides!

THIS version takes it a step further by adding in “hand walking” and a flye movement. It’s very challenging and will give your chest a great workout because of the two types of resistance being combined into one exercise.

So first, start by setting handles onto the low pulleys of the cross-over machine (you can do this exercise with bands, too). Use a fairly light weight the first time you do it.

Kneel down then grab the left handle in your left hand.
Now crawl over and grab the right handle.
Bring the handles in to about the close grip push-up position – you’ll be on your fists.
Come down into the bottom push-up position.
Now rest on your stomach/chest and let arms go out wide to the sides.
Now pull them back IN and set them on the floor to start the next push-up.
Come up to the top.
Now the fun part…walk your hands (one at a time) in towards the center.
Do this until they’re right up close.
Then walk them back out to the push-up position.
Lower yourself down and repeat!
This is a multi-part movement that not only combines a classic bodyweight exercise but adds a new element of resistance to really light things up!

8 – Inwards Resisted Band Bench Press

One of the things missing from the barbell bench press is real inwards-pulling tension on
the pectoral muscles. When you push the bar up, you do get SOME inwards-pulling tension but because the hands are fixed onto the bar, they can’t come across the chest, which is what the main function of the pec is.

So the barbell bench is an exercise that really isn’t all that efficient at hitting the pecs and a lot of people really have a hard time feeling their chest working when they bench.

This exercise is going to help fix that.

You’re going to use training bands to apply outwards-pulling tension on your arms, forcing your pecs to contract to pull inwards against the band tension, doing exactly what the pecs are supposed to be doing.

This dramatically ramps up the tension on the pecs and turns the exercise into a much more efficient chest-builder.

To do this one, you’ll need a set of training bands. 

In the demo, I’m using some light/medium tension bands – dark blue and that was plenty. You could even rig something up with cheapo bungee cords from the hardware store (just be very careful they don’t break and snap you in the face!).

So here’s a shot of how you’re going to set up the bands…just basically fold it in half then set it on the end of the bar.
If you’re doing these in the power rack, you’ll have to set the safety rails lower so that the bands don’t contact the rails. Use a weight you KNOW you can handle and stay away from failure. Better to do this version in the “free” bench with a spotter, to be honest.

Lean over and loop the ends of one band around your wrist (you won’t be holding the band in your hands – it’ll be looped around your wrist).
Then reach over and put your hand through the other band loops.
Set your hands on the bar as you normally would then unrack the bar. It’s going to take a bit of experimenting to get the setup right but it’s worth it! If you’re using longer bands, you may need to figure out a way to wrap the ends around the barbell a few more times to shorten them up. The key concept here is the inwards pulling tension on your forearms to get greater pec activation.
Lower the bar down then press back up.
As you press up, THAT is when you’ll notice the band tension more. The pecs are getting double-duty, keeping the hands from sliding out due to band tension pulling directly outwards and pressing the bar up.

This is a nice way to force the pecs to do more work when pressing and if you’ve got
bands, definitely give this one a try!

Want some more chest exercises that will help you build a bigger and stronger chest? Well, Nick Nillson has 53! Click here to learn more.

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Do You Make these Mistakes when Trying to Gain Muscle?

 

 

Are You Making these 4 Muscle Building Mistakes?

1 – Too Much Volume

When you first stepped into the gym, you began with a specific number of sets and reps. You got great results initially, but after a few weeks, you stopped seeing those results. So you began to add more sets and reps.

The results came back, so you thought, “every time I stop seeing results, I’ll just add more sets and reps.”

You continued in this manner: every 3-4 weeks, you added more sets and reps. However, you hit such a terrible plateau in your results that no matter how many more sets and reps you performed, you were unable to gain any more muscle.

What gives?

2 – Too Little Volume

On the other hand, you may have made the mistake of using too little volume. When you first went into the gym, you decided to focus on lifting heavy weights, with low reps. This approach got you results really fast.

But, after a few weeks, you stopped seeing results. You add more weight to your exercises, and immediately the results come back again. So you decide that from now on, you’re going to keep adding more weights every time you see a lack of results.

But one day, your results stop completely. You keep adding more weight to a point where you are lifting dangerously heavy weights – weights you can not handle – and are still unable to put on muscle mass.

What gives?

3 – Do Not Eat Enough

Because you are afraid to put on fat, you closely monitor your caloric intake. Every single time you try to put on muscle, you increase your caloric intake, but the moment you see a bit of fat gain, you cut calories to prevent the problem.

You do this because you realize that fat gain is a problem. If you gain too much fat, then you need to start cutting calories later on, and risk losing your hard earned muscle mass. You feel like you’re in a constant battle between gaining muscle and losing fat.

There HAS to be a better solution!

4 – Too Much Cardio

To battle fat gain, you end up performing lots of cardio. However, excessive cardio actually breaks down muscle mass. So, eating like an animal, then working out hard, then doing cardio – all these things are making you look worse, not better.

You need a smarter approach. The smarter approach to building lean muscle mass while minimizing fat gain is known as Controlled Overtraining.

What is Controlled Overtraining?

In order to understand Controlled Overtraining, tracked down the guy who developed this muscle building method: Nick Nilsson:

They call Nick Nilsson the “Mad Scientist” of Muscle. Maybe that’s why he just came out with a great new product called, Mad Scientist Muscle. I took a glance at this muscle building program myself and was thoroughly impressed by all the different training techniques Nick had come up with.

As you can see, he’s a big guy. But can he help YOU get big? Well, here’s some feedback from someone who’s used his muscle building program:

Nick,
Just thought I’d let you know that I finished the first 4 weeks and tested my 1 rep max for bench yesterday. I’m not sure exactly where I was when I started but I’d say between 200 & 215. When I did it yesterday, I maxed out at 245 which is quite an improvement over what I was thinking. I was hoping for 250 by xmas and it’s still September!

As for putting on the weight, I’m +4-5 pounds depending on the day but still working on putting on some more weight.

Thanks again for your help,
Steve

 

That’is incredible! He’s only 4 weeks into the program and still packed on 4 lbs of lean muscle mass! Everyone knows that a pound a week of muscle mass is difficult to gain. So what did Nick teach Steve that produced such amazing results?

In order to discover the answer to this question, I tracked Nick down for an interview regarding his Mad Scientist Muscle program, which uses Controlled Overtraining as it’s cornerstone:


Parth Shah: Can you tell my readers about Mad Scientist Muscle?

Nick Nilsson: Absolutely!  This program is a collection of the best training techniques and program design that I’ve learned, used and come up with over my past 20+ years of training.  It’s based on a system of “controlled overtraining” where you purposefully increase your training load and move yourself towards  short-term overtraining. When you get to this point, you then back off and let your body recover and build.  THAT is where the big-time results are.

The training techniques and exercises you’ll use in these phases really work to achieve these goals quickly and effectively.  You’ll be working WITH your body’s natural reaction to training rather than against it or in spite of it as many programs, do.  This will help you avoid plateaus.


Parth: Looks like you have a lot of unique and difficult training techniques. Is Mad Scientist Muscle recommended for beginners?

Nick Nilsson: This program is definitely not for completely beginners but it’s PERFECT for right after you’ve finished the beginner stage of about 3 to 4 months of regular training.  This time period is when your body has adapted to training and if you don’t know how to change thing up, you’ll stagnate. This program teaches you how to really work with your body and achieve even better results.

Parth: Why do you need so many unique techniques? Isn’t gaining muscle as simple as lifting heavier weights?

 

Nick Nilsson: Your body is smart!  Just lifting heavier weights will work but only for a certain period of time until your body adapts.  Then you need to make adjustments or you hit a plateau.  This program gives you a structure for making those adjustments so you don’t have to worry about when to do it or what to do. The unique techniques serve this purpose by hitting muscles with a variety of different demands.  Your body has to learn to adapt to each one, which helps avoid plateaus.

Parth: I’m interested in using some of your techniques with bodyweight movements only. Which is your favorite muscle building move?


Nick Nilsson: One of my favorite bodyweight exercises is the bodyweight tricep extension. With this one, you just need a bar or railing a few feet off the ground. Stand in front of it, about 3 feet back and set your hands on top.  Now, bending only at the elbows, lower your head under the bar, just like you were trying to stretch out your triceps.  Now push yourself back up.  This is a GREAT exercise for the triceps.

Parth: What’s your take on cardio during a muscle gain cycle?

Nick Nilsson: I usually recommend pretty minimal cardio, if any.   There are people who can do cardio and still gain good muscle mass but for some, doing cardio will slow down or stop the process because of the extra recovery energy required.

Parth: You seem to be training out of a home gym. As you know, most my readers have home gyms. What kind of equipment does one need to complete your program?

Nick Nilsson: Just basic items like barbells, dumbells and a bench!  If you’ve got a power rack, that’ll be even better, especially for some of the partial range training.  But bottom line, it’s the basic free weight training that works.

Parth: Let’s talk about nutrition. What are some fundamental mistakes you see advanced trainees making with their diets?

Nick Nilsson: The biggest mistake people tend to make is overthinking.  Nutrition just doesn’t have to be that complicated.  The best rule of thumb you can follow is to eat foods that are closest to their natural state – if your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, then don’t eat it.

Parth: Thanks. Any final piece of advice you’d like to share with my readers?

Nick Nilsson: Train hard and push your limits!  You never really know what your limits are until you test them.

If you’re been training for at least 6 months, then you need to check Nick’s Mad Scientist Muscle program. Those plateau’s are tough to break through, but with Nick’s training techniques, you’ll keep gaining muscle until you’ve achieved your goals.

Build Muscle with Bodyweight Exercise and Light Weights!

Nick Nillsson is the kind of guy that can find a way to build muscle using pretty much any sort of equipment! He came out with a system known as Time Volume Training, that helps you build lots of muscle with using just bodyweight movements. You can also use this exercise technique if you have light dumbbells. Click here to read the article about time volume training.

If you’re been training for at least 6 months, then you need to check Nick’s Mad Scientist Muscle program. Those plateau’s are tough to break through, but with Nick’s training techniques, you’ll keep gaining muscle until you’ve achieved your goals.

Yes! I want to Build Lean Muscle Mass at Warp Speed. Click here to grab a copy of Mad Scientist Muscle today!

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True Blood Stephen Moyer Nutrition Tips

You may know Stephen Moyer from the HIT show True Blood. If you have seen the show, you will realize just how many times the characters on that show take off their clothing – it’s pretty much every episode.

This is why Stephen Moyer needs to stay in shape in order to keep his job. A self-proclaimed lazy guy, Stephen makes sure he sticks to a solid diet to make up for the fact that he simply does not like to workout as much as his co-star Ryan Kwanten.

Stephen Moyer’s Nutrition Tips

1 – Eat seven times per day. Frequent eating keeps the metabolic rate roaring. Make sure each meal is 2-300 calories and involves at least 20 grams of protein per meal. Protein is extremely important to keep your metabolic rate churning.

2 – Do not be an emotional eater. If you feel depressed, find something else to do (such as workout). Next time you want to reach for a cookie to make you feel better, go hit a heavy bag. (In fact, boxing is an important part of Moyer’s workout regimen).

3 – Snack on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and greek yogurt. This is how you eat seven times per day. Stay away from ready-made shakes you find in convenience stores, as these are fully loaded with sugar.

4 – Have a few convenient, easy to cook meals. This is especially important if you’re a guy who can’t cook that well for himself. Your meal shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to prepare, and the ingredients should be readily available.

Once you have these basic nutritional tips down, you need to get on a solid training program. I do not know of any solid programs that make you look like a vampire, but I DO know of one that turns you into a modern day gladiator. The name of the program is Gladiator Body Workout, developed by Eddie Lomax. Click here to read an interview I did with Coach Lomax a few years back.

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How to Achieve Jason Momoa’s Conan Physique

A few weeks back, I posted an article that explained two ways to pack on muscle mass fast with bodyweight movements. One of those methods was High Volume Training. High Volume Training is the exact same type of training that Jason Momoa used to pack on pounds of muscle mass for his role of Conan the Barbarian.

Momoa is an American model and actor, best known for his role on the HBO show “Game of Thrones.” He is also known for his roles on Baywatch: Hawaii and Stargate: Atlantis.

Before Conan, Jason never lifted a weight in his life. He had to pack on 25lbs of muscle in 6 weeks. Now, Momoa is no Arnold Schwarzanegger, but he has managed to pack on quite a bit of muscle to achieve the look of an ancient rogue warrior.

According to Jason Momoa, “Conan is like a big cat – a lion or a panther..He’s not out there squatting boulders and deadlifting tree trunks. He’s nimble and quick, always ready to pounce into action.”

Jason’s coach Eric Laciste, made him perform 110 repetitions per exercise and made sure that each workout did not last more than 30 minutes. According to Jason Momoa, “You put on a lot of weight very quickly – and you also burn a lot of fat.”

Through his intense training, Momoa was able to drop his bodyfat into the single digits and moved his body weight up to 240lbs. On top of that, he wasn’t a hulking, slow bodybuilder. According to Rachel Nichols, Momoa’s co-star, “He’s limber and moves sleekly – a true athlete.”

How can YOU Achieve the Jason Momoa Physique?

Momoa’s routine is very interesting. It is one of the most high-volume routines I’ve come across. The instructions are VERY simple:

1 – Choose 3 out of 5 of the following movements – Squats, Shoulder Press, Incline Bench Press, Cable Cross, Pullups

2 – Follow this rep/set sequeence:

  • Perform 7 sets of 7 repetitions with 7 seconds rest between each set. Rest 30 seconds (49 repetitions)
  • Perform 6 sets of 6 repetitions with 6 seconds rest between each set. Rest 30 seconds ( 36 repetitions, 85 repetitions total)
  • Perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions with 5 seconds rest between each set. Rest 30 seconds (25 repetitions, 110 repetitions total)

Bodyweight/Kettlebell Version of Jason Momoa’s Workout Program

If you are someone who does not have a lot of equipment at home, then you can follow a simpler version of Jason’s program.

For the bodyweight version, choose 3 of the 5 movements: Squat Jumps, Shoulder Press Pushups, Decline Pushups, Single-Leg Hip Extension, Pullups

For the kettlebell version, choose 3 of the 5 movements: Goblet Squats, KB Shoulder Press, KB Chest Press, KB 2-Hand Swing, Pullups

Note: Pullups are the single thread in all three versions of the program. You can also mix and match the workouts to better suite the kind of equipment you have access to and your personal preference.

In addition to this training regimen, Momoa engaged in a lot of sword practice and martial arts training. That would make up for his cardio. So, if your desire is JUST to pack on muscle, then the above training regimen is perfectly fine.

However, if you wish to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, then you want to look into adding in cardio into your regiment. But, not that Momoa was not performing any slow cardio. If he did slow cardio, then he would end up becoming slow.

Slow cardio also takes longer to help you burn fat. What you need is some high-intensity finishers to perform at the END of your muscle building workouts to help you burn fat fast.

These finishers are perfect because they take the place of long, boring cardio. You actually burn MORE fat in a shorter period of time by performing a finisher at the end of your workout, when your body is already tired.

If you’re interested in using finishers to help you drop fat fast while you pack on lean muscle mass, then I recommend Craig Ballantyne’s TT Metabolic Finishers. His finishers are some of the most difficult that I have ever tried.  Click here to learn more!

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Weight Lifting Workouts for Men to Achieve the Fitness Model Look

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As a guy, you have a number of great weight lifting workouts available to you. What you need to figure out is how you want to look.

If you’re a guy who wants to workout to attract the opposite gender, then the fitness model look is the kind of look women love. It includes a lean, mean physique complete with a six pack and all.

How is the Fitness Model Workout different then the Typical Bodybuilding program?

A bodybuilding workout is only focused on building lean muscle mass. Most bodybuilders try to pack on as much muscle as possible, regardless of how much fat they gain, and then attempt to drop the fat later with extreme diet and cardio techniques.

A fitness model can not afford to get fat between shoots. This is why their approach to training and diet is so much different then that of a bodybuilders. They need to look good year-round. So how do they achieve that year-round lean look?

Here are some key features of a fitness model workout:

Supersets – Bodybuilders use supersets, but only during their pre-contest phases, when they are trying to drop fat. Why? Because supersets burn fat AND build lean muscle mass. Supersets are a vital part of all fitness model workouts.

Super Short Workout – Another important factor in a fitness model’s workout program is the fact that all the workouts are super short. A bodybuilder might stay in the gym for over 2 hours. However a fitness model’s workout will not last more than 45 minutes.

High Intensity Training – The intensity of a fitness model’s workout is much higher compared to that of a bodybuilder. A bodybuilder will typically lift heavy weights, then sit around and rest for 2-3 minutes before starting the next set.

Circuits – Along with supersets, a fitness model will also use a lot of circuit training. Circuits help keep the intensity of the workout high, and also help keep the time of the training session short. These two elements help elevate a fitness model’s metabolic rate, meaning that they burn calories even then they’re out of the gym!

Order of Exercises – The order of exercises is VERY strategic. A fitness model will almost always hit larger muscle groups first, working from the ground up. In other words, he or she will focus on legs first, move onto upper body, then finish off with legs.

Your Sample Workout

Now, using these basic guidelines, we can construct our own fitness model workout:

3 rounds of:

  • DB Squat x 12 repetitions
  • DB Chest Press x 12 repetitiosn
  • DB Row x 12 repetitions
  • Hanging Leg Raise x 12 repetitions
  • Rest 1 minute

3 rounds of:

  • Dumbbell Reverse Lunge x 10 reps each side
  • Spiderman Climb x 10 reps each side
  • Mountain Climbers x 10 reps each side
  • Rest 1 minute

2 rounds of:

  • 1-Hand Dumbbell Swings x 15 reps each side
  • Burpees x 15 repetitions
  • Rest 1 minute

This workout will take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your fitness level. Make sure that you do not lift TOO heavy. Use a challenging weight, but focus on completely all the repetitions and making it through the workout.

The first time you move through the workout, use a lighter weight then you would normally use. In addition, you may want to rest 2 minutes after each circuit. This way you ease into the new form of training.

Of course, this workout will stop working after 3-4 weeks. That is why you should always change your training routine to something more challenging. My recommendation is to use Craig Ballantyne’s brand new 24/7 Fat Loss program. This is the perfect program to help you achieve a lean, fitness model physique. Click here to learn more about this routine.

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Home Gym Body Weight Program for Legs PLUS Nutrition Tips

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I’m sore from this mornings intense leg workout. A body weight program for legs is different from a typical weight training session that involves lots of squats and deadlift in that the workout is higher in reps.

I did bodyweight squats, reverse lunges, stability ball leg curls, and step-ups. At the end of the session, my legs were SCREAMING! Who ever said that you can not get a great workout without weights definitely did not give body weight programs an honest chance.

This is how the workout was set up:

  • Perform each exercise for 1 minute straight, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Perform 3 total circuits:
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Reverse Lunges
  • Stability Ball Leg Curls
  • Step-Ups

Along with a solid training regimen, you should also strive to improve your nutrition.

The Importance of Nutrition

Nutrition is boring, we get it. But it doesn’t have to be. What makes nutrition boring is all the rules that are applied to it. Forget the rules, and keep things simple. Here are 7 simple rules you can apply to your nutrition plan in order help you lose weight and put on lean muscle:

1 – Only eat starchy carbs for breakfast and after a workout. So you can eat your bread at breakfast since your are waking up from a “fast.” Also, after a workout, you can eat starchy carbs, since your body will use the carbs to recover. If you eat carbs at any other time, you run the risk of your body storing the calories as fat.

2 – Don’t overeat, and don’t under eat. Don’t worry about eat 6 meals per day. Some people are unable to follow this schedule because they end up over eating. In addition, a 1 meal per day is hard for many people because they end up under eating. Forget about counting meals. Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied. Learn to listen to your body.

3 – Have protein with each meal. You do not need to count your protein intake, despite what the muscle magazines tell you to do. Start off by getting at least 20 grams of protein per meal that you consume. Gradually increase your protein intake, and watch your body get stronger, leaner, and bigger!

4 – There is no need to count calories. Steadily get rid of all the processed foods in your diet and replace them with unprocessed foods. Unprocessed, natural foods are more nutrient dense, which means that you will need to eat LESS food to feel full. So you will naturally consume less food, achieving the calorie deficit you will need to burn fat.

5 – Have a cheat day. Take every Sunday, or Saturday, and just eat what you want. This will allow your body some time to relax, and will help you satisfy any cravings that you may have. Remember. the more strict your diet is, the faster your results will be. However, your results will also slow down once your body gets used to your eating schedule. Use a cheat day to switch things up and keep your metabolism roaring.

6 – When you go the grocery store, stick to the perimeter of the store. This is where you have your lean meats and fresh produce. Try to stay as far away from the center aisles, as these aisles are full of processed foods. The only things that you should be purchasing that are in a package are green tea and oatmeal.

7 – Increase your intake of healthy fats. Healthy fats coming from avocados and nuts help reduce inflammation and minimize fat storing hormones. Olive oil is full of monunsaturated fat, which is one of the healthy fat you should try to consume more of. I usually cook my omelette with olive oil. Another healthy fat you should try to consume more of is polyunsaturated omega 3’s found in fish.

If you’re looking for a solid diet and training protocol to help you lose fat and build lean muscle mass, then I recommend Chad Waterbury’s Body of Fire. Chad Waterbury’s nutrition program is simple to follow and covers all bases. It is something that you can stick to for the rest of your life. Click here for more information.

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