Hypertrophy Max Review Phase 5

Phase Five of Hypertrophy Max is called Max Intensity.  Previous phases have been geared more towards hypertrophy in terms of the rep ranges and weights (% of one-rep max) you were using.  But the training you’ll be doing in this phase is designed for neurological adaptation (strength and speed).   One of the techniques you’ll use is wave loading, a technique that has been proven to optimizing strength gains.

HypertrophyMaxReview5

You’ll be training heavy this month with the goal of increasing strength.  This will in turn help you build size: generally speaking, the strongest guys will also be the biggest guys.  Be sure you have a capable spotter and don’t sacrifice form in order to lift more weight.  You’ll notice that the coaches (Ben and Vince) emphasize controlling the weight.

Just CLICK HERE if you are interested in ordering Hypertrophy Max or learning more.

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Model Mind Trainer Review (Kerri Baker)

KerriBTransformation

Kerri B (before/after)

Kerri Baker is one of those inspiration people I’ve had the privilege to meet as a fitness blogger.  She dropped over 100 lb. and achieved her dream of competing in a bikini model contest.  The Model Mind Trainer is a program she has developed to help others achieve their weight loss and fitness goals.  I’ll start this review by summarizing what you get when you order this program.

The Quick Start Guide:  Be sure to start with this.  Kerri starts with her own story/testimony of her transformation and also gives some important tips for making the most of this program.

ModelMindProgramReviewModel Mind Trainer 8-Week Program:  This e-book is kind of the “heart” of the whole program.  Kerri explains how she learned to “reprogram” the way she thinks in order to ultimately change her body.  She also emphasizes five components of life (which she calls “legs”) and how you can change or maximize them.  One such “leg,” for example, is overcoming bad habits and addictions.

Model Mind Workbook:  This goes along with the 8-week program.  You start by signing a contract with yourself to finish the course.  From there you will write answers to questions based on the trainer program book.

Bonuses:

Bikini 365:  This is a recipe book that with several ideas for cooking healthy meals.

Food Prep Guide:  Kerri teaches you how to plan ahead and stock your refrigerator/kitchen with the right kinds of foods.

Grocery Guide:  As the name implies, this e-book has practical instruction which will help you avoid sabotaging your weight loss goals when you go shopping for food/ingredients.

REVIEW:

There are a couple of things that intrigue me about this program.  First and foremost, I appreciate the fat that Kerri Baker has walked the proverbial walk as far as weight loss transformation goes.  Her life journey has given her really good insights that many readers (especially women) can relate to.

I also like the overall concept of changing the mind in order to change the body.  Arnold Schwarzenegger frequently talked about the role of the mind in his training.  You probably aren’t interested in being a bodybuilder, but the principle is the same nonetheless–people who accomplish great things with their bodies have developed a completely different mindset than those who have not.  I think the mental aspect of fitness is severely underestimated and the main reason why so many trainees fail to reach their long-term goals.   I think Kerri is on to something here, and the proof is in what she learned through her own struggles and accomplishments.

I think this program would be best suited for any of the following:

*Trainees who have struggled with “yo-yo” dieting–losing weight only to gain it back.

*People who are looking to make a lifestyle change as it relates to diet.

*Those who struggle with sabotaging their weight loss goals.

These are just a few types of people that I think will benefit from this book, but you get the idea.  Please CLICK HERE if you are interested in ordering the Model Mind program.

You can also check out my recommended programs if you thing something else may more closely match your needs/goals.

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Skinnylicious Cookbook Review

I’ll repeat something I’ve said many times on this blog:  you can’t out-train a bad diet.  Sometimes people will join a gym and put great effort into their training without my thought as to how should they should plan their meals.  Exercise alone will produce some (limited) results, but you have to get your diet right in order to lose fat.  There’s no way around it.

With this in mind, there’s a new product you may want to consider.  Flavia Del Monte (creator of the Curvalicious program) has created a brand new cookbook called Skinnylicious.  This book has 150 recipes to help you learn to cook healthy meals that will help you reach your fitness goals.   Just CLICK HERE if you’d like to check it out.

Skinnyliciouscookbook

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Visual Impact Frequency Training Review

Visual Impact Frequency Training Review

I’ve had the opportunity to look over Rusty Moore’s latest workout program.  I’ll get VisualImpactFrequencyTrainingReviewstart by explaining some of the basis premises of this workout:

We know that frequency (how often you train a muscle) is one of the training variables we can adjust in order to meet our goals.   Conventional wisdom is that a muscle must get trained then have 48 to 72 hours of recovery.  Most bodybuilders try to take advantage of this by doing body part splits: training a muscle with a lot of volume, then allowing it to rest for the next day or two while you train other body parts.

No one is questioning the effectiveness of traditional split training.  But it clearly isn’t the only way to get stronger–it may not even be the best way, depending on your goals.  Many athletes, for example, train at least once a day.  Let’s use boxers as an example:  they don’t hit the bag for an hour then wait 2-3 days to do it again. Athletes sometimes practice/train several times a day, yet they end up improving in their sport.

Moore argues that we can learn from those who don’t follow the typical bodybuilding pattern of working out.  He believes, in fact, that training like an athlete (with higher frequency) is a much more efficient way of getting stronger and leaner.  He also believes a higher frequency style program will produce a harder, more dense kind of muscle.

Moore spent a great deal of time studying the methods of Eastern European athletes in developing his program.  He looked at the philosophies of legends like Pavel Tsatsouline and Vladimir Zatsiorsky.   Zatsiorsky believed in lifting with maximum velocity in order to create the maximum amount of force possible.  Tsatsouline emphasized lifting the weight with slower, controlled speeds in order to maximize the tension on the muscle.   Rusty’s program combines both of these philosophies, since each of them have merit.

How is this program set up?  I’ll try to summarize it without giving too much away:

You’ll be training 5-6 days a week, training every muscle group daily.  That may sound like a lot, but it can be done when other variables (like training volume) are properly adjusted.

You’ll only be doing one exercise per body part per workout.  Since you will be training daily there is no need for multiple sets.

You’ll be alternating between “explosive” workouts (emphasizing lifting with maximum speed/force) and “TUT” workouts (time under tension–emphasizing slow, controlled movements).

Moore says he was “blown away” when he tried training this way: he saw improvements in in his physique and strength levels in just a few weeks.

Here’s another bonus to high frequency training: fat loss.  The book goes into detail about the best way to adjust your diet and add some cardio so you can get lean while building strength.

REVIEW:

I’m very impressed with Visual Impact Frequency Training.  I really like the way Rusty has put this program together.  Is it right for you?  It depends on your goals.

I would not recommend this program for beginners–those who have not put on their first few pounds of muscle.  Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets may be better if you are a novice trainee who is just getting started.

I would also not recommend this for guys who are looking for a typical bodybuilding physique.  MI40X would be better if you are only concerned with mass.

But this program would be great for the following:

1. Trainees who are basically satisfied with their size but want to improve their strength and muscle definition.

2. Guys (or girls) who want to lose fat while maintaining (and even improving) their lean mass (muscle).

3. Those who are willing to train 5-6 times a week.  This program is designed for those who can go to the gym (or train at home) several times a week.

4. Trainees who desire to “mix things up” for two or three months in order to add variety to their workouts and keep things interesting/challenging.

5.  Older trainees who would like an effective way to work out that is relatively easy on the joints.

I think you would enjoy this program if you match any (or all) of the five criteria I’ve just described.  Please CLICK HERE if you’d like to order or learn a little more about Visual Impact Frequency Training

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3 Week Diet Review

I’ve had an opportunity to review the 3 Week Diet by Brian Flatt.  Let me first by telling you what you get if you choose to order this program (note: these are all in digital formats–they are not “hard copy” books).

3weekdietreview
Introduction Manual:  This book explains the “how” and “why” of the diet.  The author presents the scientific rationale behind the 3 Week Diet and shows you how to implement it for maximum success.  The manual also includes information on supplements that may be able to help target “stubborn” fat.  He mentions yohimbine, for example, which is one of the only supplements I recommend for fat loss.

Diet Manual:  This book is designed to help you set up your eating plan (daily calories) based on your estimated body fat percentage (you can calculate it with a formula provided in this book).  Flatt also provides a list of foods that will help you maximize your fat loss along with a list of foods to be avoided at all costs.

Workout Manual:  This illustrated exercise guide shows you how to burn the maximum number of calories in minimal time.  One nice thing about the training component is you don’t have to commit to lengthy gym sessions.  You can in fact, do this program at home if you have some basic equipment (dumbbells and a bench).  You’ll notice the exercise component is not very elaborate for good reason–you shouldn’t over-do your training when you are keeping your calories and carbohydrates low.  Just some walking to burn calories and a little resistance training to preserve muscle (and burn some extra calories is enough).

Mindset & Motivational Manual:  One of the most overlooked aspects of weight loss is the psychological element.  This manual provides tips and tricks that will help you get (or stay) motivated and change your mindset.

REVIEW:

Needless to say, this program is a “crash diet” approach to weight loss.   This term has a bad reputation since slow and steady weight loss is considered a more ideal way to do things.  But losing weight quickly does have a few advantages:

Time: You may need (or just want) to lose weight withing a limited time frame.  Certain athletes, for example, may need to drop the pounds in time to qualify for their weight class.  It may be a simple as wanting to get ready for some social event.  There are reasons/situations for which a slower fat loss strategy is not practical.

Motivation: There’s something to be said for the motivation that comes with seeing the numbers on the scale move quickly from one day to the next. Dropping a lot of weight quickly can also be a good way to get started on a much longer journey.  You may want to do this plan, for example, then follow up with a more “balanced” approach to fitness with the momentum you have created.

Focus:  Most of us go to the gym or start a training program with more than one goal–we want to look leaner and more muscular (most female trainees would say they want to get “toned”).  But there’s something to be said for focusing all your effort on a singular goal for a short period of time (that goal being fat loss in this case).

Do you fall into one of these categories or have your own reason for desiring rapid weight loss?  Keep reading while I explain the diet in a little more detail.

The 3 Week Diet is a modified version of a protein sparing modified fast.  Unlike a complete fast, you will be eating.  But your calories will be very low and mostly come from protein and fat.  This, combined with resistance training, will help you lose the most amount of fat possible while preserving as much lean mass as possible.  This isn’t an “easy” way to lose fat, but it is very effective (I’ve personally used this strategy with good results).

Keep something in mind if you decided to try this diet:  some of the weight you lose will be temporary because it is water and glycogen (glucose in the muscles/liver).  But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for three reasons:

1.  If you need to make weight for a sport (or some other reason) it doesn’t really matter what kind of weight you have lost.

2. As I’ve mentioned, there is something very motivational about seeing the numbers move down quickly on the scale.

3.  Low glycogen levels are an important component of fat loss, which is ultimately what most of us are after (you’ll see this explained in more detail in the program material).

SUMMARY:

No one diet/exercise program can meet everyone’s needs.  The 3 Week Diet is designed for those who desire to focus on losing weight quickly to the exclusion of other goals.  If this describes you then I believe this program is a worthwhile investment that will deliver good results.  Just remember it will require you to adhere to a strict diet.  Click here if you’d like order or to learn more about the 3 Week Diet

Feel free to check out my list of Recommended Programs if you think something else may better suit your goals.

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Niacin and Fat Loss

Niacin

Niacin

A while back I wrote a post describing how I lowered my cholesterol without having to use statins.  The most important step I took was to start using a wax matrix niacin supplement.  This single step was largely responsible for bringing my cholesterol to a healthy range.

But I’ve recently run across some information that has caused me to make some slight adjustments in the way I take niacin.  Let’s talk about niacin and fat loss.

Niacin causes a temporary “flush” (tingling, reddening of the skin, and a hot sensation) within a few minutes of ingestion.  For this reason, many unscrupulous supplement companies put niacin in “fat burners.”  The user will assume the flushing sensation is fat/calories burning away.  But the opposite is actually happening–I’ll need to explain this in more detail.

The (limited) research indicates a dose of niacin will temporarily prevent the production of ketones and free fatty acids.1  It may simultaneously encourage the oxidation of glucose (since that would be the only available energy source).  The body “rebounds” somewhere within 3-5 hours, producing a surge in growth hormone (and other hormones associated with fat mobilization), free fatty acids, and ketones.

With this in mind, it does not make sense to take niacin in a fasted state (or right before fasted training).  You are essentially preventing the body from producing/using its preferred fuel source (ketones) when blood glucose is low.  But it may be useful to take it a few hours before you train, taking advantage of this “rebound” effect (timing your training to coincide with it).  I’ve also run across  some anecdotal evidence of guys getting good results from taking niacin along with a high carbohydrate meal at the end of the day.

The information I’m sharing pertains to the use of regular (immediate release) niacin.  What about the wax matrix niacin I use to control my cholesterol?  I’m not aware of any research, so I’m assuming there is a similar effect (maybe less drastic) for a more prolonged period (wax matrix niacin is time-released over 6-8 hours).  In other words, I’m assuming fat mobilization will be suppressed at some level for several hours after taking this supplement (possibly followed by the “rebound” effect).

This is where I see intermittent fasting to be particularly useful.   I follow the Renegade Diet, so I just wait until I have a protein shake in the afternoon (which has milk/carbs) before taking my first dose of wax matrix niacin.  My second dose is taken with dinner.  This would also work well with the Eat-Stop-Eat system of a 24-hour fast–just skip niacin during your 24 hour fast, then resume it on non-fasting days.

Reference:

1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1983 Aug;57(2):410-4. Growth hormone, cortisol, and glucagon concentrations during plasma free fatty acid depression: different effects of nicotinic acid and an adenosine derivative (BM 11.189).

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Stubborn Fat Solution Review Lyle McDonald

I  read Lyle McDonald’s Stubborn Fat Solution years ago.  Here’s my review (with some StubbornFatSolutionReviewupdated ordering information):

As some of my regular readers know, I’ve been a “fan” of Lyle’s for over a decade now (since I read The Ketogenic Diet back in the 90’s). I knew this would be a good read.

Summary:

Lyle explains the way fat functions–the way our body stores it and uses it. He then explains the issue of stubborn fat (usually the hips/thighs in women and “love handles” in men). There are specific issues which cause stubborn fat to be . . . well . . . stubborn (circulation, hormones, etc).

There is some surprising information here. Lyle noted, for example, that female fitness models used to tell him their upper bodies were getting leaner while their lower bodies seemed to be getting fatter. At first he dismissed this, but his research led him to believe there may be something to this claim.

Lyle proceeds to give a solution to the problem: a specific exercise/supplement protocol designed to first mobilize, then oxidize stubborn fat. What he says makes perfect sense, and he backs up his statements with research.

Now, let me explain something: this is not a book for those who have significant weight to lose (you may want to check out his Rapid Fat Loss Handbook/Guide to Flexible Dieting package if you have a lot to lose). It is a resource for those who are already fairly lean and need some help getting rid of the before-mentioned problem areas.  If that describes you then I think you’ll find The Stubborn Fat Solution to be the only thing short of plastic surgery that works.

UPDATE:

UltimateDiet20Lyle is now offering two more books as a part of this package: The Ultimate Diet 2.0 This is a complete manual of  diet, training, and supplements for those who want to get lean while preserving as much muscle mass (and strength) as possible.  I know of some professional bodybuilders who have used this diet to prepare for competitions.

This package also includes The Ultimate Diet 2.0 Addendum.  This book addresses what you should to to prepare for the diet and what to do when you take breaks from the diet.

Just click here if you’d like to learn more about The Stubborn Fat Solution and The Ultimate Diet 2.0.

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Body Transformation: Amanda “MandaFit” Olsen

It’s time for another body transformation interview!  A few days ago I ran across the Facebook profile of Amanda “MandaFit” Olsen.  I contacted her, and she agreed to take time out of her very busy schedule to do an interview.

Amanda struggled with her weight from childhood into her young adult life.  But she became an unstoppable force once she set her mind to losing weight and changing her lifestyle.  Manda transformed from a softbody into an elite soldier–one who has the highest physical training scores in her unit!

Check out this interview and be inspired!

MandaFit1

Kevin: Why don’t you tell my readers a little bit about yourself (age, where you live, your profession, etc).

Manda: My name is Manda Olsen, 27 and will be a very wise 28 in November. I currently reside in Orange City, Florida–a small city east of Downtown Orlando. I am the owner of a small Personal Training business and studio gym called Mandatory Fitness, LLC. I started my fitness career after being approached many times in the gyms and asked if I were a personal trainer, or what my diet consisted of. I always considered working as a personal trainer and coach but never thought I had what it took or confidence in myself knowing my flaws.

Kevin: Let’s talk about your “before” body. What was your heaviest weight? What got you to that point (were you always overweight or did you gain a lot of weight as an adult)?

Manda: I grew up not knowing a thing about nutrition or how to properly train in order to start seeing the results. I had ALWAYS been overweight growing as a kid and into my teenage years.

Being overweight really takes a toll on everything.  My relationships with my family suffered, and I also felt ugly and uncomfortable all the time. I felt silly working out and  I clung to anyone who showed me attention whether it was with good or bad intentions. That resulted in even worse relationships and friendships that stirred me in the wrong direction. I began going out every night, drinking and partying.  I wasn’t taking care of my health or body.

I always made time to run about 2-3 miles a couple of times a week and thought that was enough (now I realize it wasn’t). So one day I think I had just had enough of being uncomfortable in my own skin. I knew what I had to do if I wanted to reach my goals of being “fit.” I stopped drinking and smoking and made it a priority to wake up at 5am and hit the gym. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing but because I was there, I felt accountable to make a change.

I’ve lost a lot of “friends” along the way because they weren’t into my new lifestyle. But I gained self motivated and positive friendships and they’ve taught me everything I know today!

My heaviest weight was 240lbs and a size 18 pants. I didn’t own shorts till I was 21 and never once went to the beach or the pool with my friends. Changing my lifestyle and prioritizing my life has allowed me to create my own happiness, find out who I really am and my capabilities. I am now 138 and in a size 3. It is still a struggle everyday because I spent 20+ years eating whatever I wanted and my metabolism still needs work. It is something I will be working on for the rest of my life because to me, success is never final.

Kevin: What was the “breaking point” for you—what motivated you to transform your physique?

Manda: I’d say my breaking point was not EVER feeling comfortable. I am 5’3 and at my heaviest, it took my breath away to tie my shoes.  I knew I was an attractive girl but I didn’t feel like it on the inside.  I had no confidence.

Kevin: How long did your transformation take?

Manda: It took me 3-4 years to drop down to the 140’s. Like I said, it’s still an everyday struggle.  But once you see the results, it almost becomes an addiction to be better everyday. It’s an amazing feeling to look back at where you’ve come from and see what is really possible when you put your mind to it.  It has been a learning process of putting in the work day in and day out.  I’ve been drawn to more motivating and inspirational people with goals and they have taught me a lot.  Now I want to teach and share it what I’ve learned.
MandaOlseen

Kevin: Did you ever hit any plateaus in losing body fat? How did you get through them?

Manda: There were times I felt uncomfortable being “thinner” and it was like an out-of- body experience when my clothes that I had been wearing for so long no longer fit me. All I had known was an overweight body. I was tempted to think I could afford to gain some of the weight back and just lose it again.  This caused setbacks and plateaus but I just turned them into comebacks.

I also learned a lot about training through trial and error.  I started out doing 2-3 hours of cardio a day.  That’s how I lost my first 15-20 lb, but then I hit a plateau.  I eventually realized the importance of lifting weights. I was introduced to weight training and bodybuilding by a good friend and mentor, Joey Diaz.  I developed a new passion for the gym and training and now I understand why women should lift weights.

Kevin: How has your new body affected your confidence?

Manda: I have so much more confidence now that people see me as a fitness enthusiast. I don’t look at my business as my job, but as my passion. I get to motivate and help push other people to reach their goals because I know it’s possible. People are always asking me  where I work out or when I’ll be competing. It feels good to be able to share my story with confidence and not be ashamed.

Kevin: Please give us a general description of your diet and training (how you typically eat and train—number of training days per week, resistance vs cardio, etc).

Manda: My days are GO-GO-GO from 5am-9:30pm. I don’t stop and I’d have it no other way. I wake up a 4:50am pretty much every day–either to do morning cardio or to train a client. I then eat breakfast no later then 7:30. My meals will remain on regimen every 3 hours until my last HumaPro shake at 9:00pm. I weight train 5-6 times a week, depending how busy my work schedule is or how sore I am. I make it a point to sweat EVERY DAY, therefore I run at least 4-5 miles, 7 days a week. My lifting schedule is split up into muscle groups allowing my body to heal properly and go even harder the following week.

As far as my diet, it’s clean 95% of the time. I stay pretty consistent with my meals and prepare them ahead of time every Sunday. I stay anabolic by eating my 1g of protein per pound of body weight daily and eating every 3 hours. If I am busy and cannot eat a meal, then I will supplement with a protein shake or BCAA’s. I ‘cheat’ every Saturday or Sunday, but my ‘cheats’ are not really cheats. I can’t get myself to gorge on food that I know will make me feel like garbage the rest of the day so I opt for sushi or I will eat high carbohydrates.

Kevin: Are you involved in any fitness competitions?

Manda: Currently I have not competed and it’s the number one question I am always asked. I have intentions to get up on the stage and I know it will happen eventually. But for now my main focus is my career and my clients. I have had the privilege of working and training a pro figure and other aspiring competitors, so I do know what it takes and I will gladly accept that challenge when the timing is right.

Kevin: What made you decide to get involved in personal training?

Manda: I decided to get involved with Personal Training in 2013 when I chose to surround myself with only inspiring, self-motivated people.  I noticed how many people looked up to me and believed in me.  Once I completed basic training for the Army I knew anything was possible, and this gave me that last bit of confidence needed to become a personal trainer.

Kevin: I did notice that you are in the military—God bless you for your service to our country!  What motivated you to join the armed forces? What role does fitness play in your life as a soldier?

Manda: I joined the US Army in Feb 2013. It’s an incredible feeling to know I’m part of an unbreakable force and have done something not everyone can do–earn the privilege of wearing the uniform. Being a soldier is a lifestyle even when you aren’t in uniform. I understand I have values and standards to live by and I’m now inspired to pass them on. I currently hold the highest physical training (PT) scores in my reserve unit and will be attending Master trainer school in the future to be able to instruct PT for my unit. I also have been asked to stand in front of my company and give a Nutritional class and hopefully raise our PT scores as a unit. It’s quite an honor!

MandaArmy
Kevin: What do you say to new trainees who are just starting their transformations?

Manda: Don’t stop. Be the force to inspire other people. You will get so much more than what you put into it. Don’t throw in the towel, just use it to wipe the sweat off your face.

Kevin: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview!

Please check out Mandatory Fitness if you are looking for a personal trainer in the Orange City/Orlando area.

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Eccentric Training: Negative Overloading for Hypertrophy

I remember doing concentration curls back in the early days of my training.  I was in the high school gym and an older teammate on the football team gave me a tip.  He advised me to slowly lower the weight over a count of a few seconds.  This was my first time to hear about “negatives.”

Mike Mentzer

Mike Mentzer

I’ve learned more about this kind of training over the years. Mike Mentzer believed in emphasizing the eccentric/negative part of the repetition.  He advocated doing a few slow negative reps at the end of an all-out intense set.  Ben Pakulski also utilizes this technique in his training videos.

One advantage of this method is maximizing time under tension–the amount of time the muscle is under the stimulus of a given weight.

Overloading the negative repetition is another variation of this technique.  Here’s the idea: you can resist more weight than you can actually lift.  Let’s say you can bench press 275 lb.  Chances are you could slowly lower more than that–probably well over 300 lb.  By doing so you would be putting 300+ lb of tension on your muscles, even if you can’t lift that amount of weight.

At least one study suggests this way of training is effective.  Forty male subjects were divided into five groups and trained using the leg press for 3x a week.  They all used the same percentage of their one-rep max during the concentric (lifting) part of the repetitions.  But each group used a different % of their one-rep max for the eccentric (negative part of the lift): 0, 33, 66, 100, or 138%.  Strength gains were the same in those using the 100% and 138% load for their eccentric training.  But only the trainees who overloaded the negative repetitions (the 138% group) gained mass in their legs (they were also the only trainees to increase bone mineral density).1

One if the biggest challenges with this kind of training is the need for a spotter on certain lifts.  But there is a pretty simple solution that can be applied to many exercises: lifting the weight with two arms/legs, then lowering it with one.  This works very well on the leg press, for example.

We shouldn’t go crazy over one study or think of this technique as a “magic bullet.”  But it seems like it is worth a try if you are trying to break plateaus in your size gains.

Reference:

1.Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Jul 22. Early-phase musculoskeletal adaptations to different levels of eccentric resistance after 8 weeks of lower body training.

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