Category Archives: Strength

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

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.

MI40X Review (Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0): CEP Exposed

MI40X Review (Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0): a look at Ben Pakulski’s program featuring the cell expansion protocol (CEP).

The newly upgraded version of Mass Intentions came out last month.  I’ve had the opportunity to look over this program and I’ll share my review with you.  I’ll start with a general overview of what you get if you decide to order this training program:

The Rapid Action Start Plan:

You’ll go to a members page immediately after ordering this program.  It takes a little trial-and-error to navigate it, but it’s not hard to figure out.  This page starts with an introductory video by Ben in which he explains how to get the most out of this program.  I would recommend you watch this intro video in it’s entirety and not try to skip directly to the training.

The Training Phases Summarized

Primer phase: this regimen last for three weeks and it is designed to help your body prepare for the intense workouts to come.

Phase 1-2–high volume: As the name implies, you’ll be doing a lot of sets/reps during these phases.  Each body part will be trained twice a week (one workout will be higher weight and the other higher reps).

Phase 3–power/hypertrophy: you will be training with heavier weights during this part of the program.

Phase 4–strength training: workouts for increasing your capacity as far as your one-rep max goes.

Phase 5 –dealoading: this is an “easy” phase which will allow both your central nervous system and your muscles to rest–preparing for the next phase.

Phase 6–overreaching:  you’ll go through an intense time of training right after you deload.

Phase 7–hyper recovery phase:  This time is not so intense on training and is designed (as the name implies) to help you maximize recovery.

You can download pdf files (workout sheets) to guide you through each of these before-mentioned phases.

The whole program will last for 18 weeks if you do it as prescribed (which is what I recommend).

You also have the option of selecting your level of training experience (beginner, intermediate, or advanced).   This means you could repeat the program through progressively difficult levels and maximize your purchase.

 Cell Expansion Protocol (C.E.P.)

One of the central concepts to MI40X is Cell Expansion Protocol (C.E.P.).   MI40x has ten downloadable videos explaining this in detail (Ben discusses this with a Ph.D.).  But I’ll explain the basic idea:

One of the keys to muscle size/growth is the muscle cell’s unique ability to contain/acquire more than one nucleus.  Muscle cells basically “borrow” nuclei from satellite cells when exposed to certain stimuli (like lifting weights).  This transfer of nuclei is a key component of building muscle.  Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0 shows you some specific techniques to make your training even more likely to cause this cellular process to occur.

The Videos

MI40X includes a complete video library, organized according to body part training.  I was really impressed with the quality of the videos.  A few years back most programs only had low-res, small videos.  This is (thankfully) no longer true: the videos I’ve downloaded have really good resolution, even in full screen mode.  Just keep in mind they are big files and may take a little while to download (depending on your internet connection speed).

Here’s a screenshot of the chest workout:

MI40XReviewChestTraining300I think you’ll find the video content to be the highlight of this program–watching the videos is as close as most of us can get to hiring Ben as a personal trainer.

Nutrition Guide

One of the most overlooked aspects of building muscle (and fat loss) is diet.  Be sure to follow the MI40x nutrition guides so you’ll have the right fuel for your training and recovery.  The more meticulous you are with your meal planning, the better your results will be.

Supplement Guide

I’ll give you a word of caution here: I’d recommend you just stick with very basic supplements (whey protein, creatine monohydrate, etc.) of brands that you trust.  I’m sure Ben’s recommended brands are fine, but don’t stress over supplement brand/budget.  Stick to the basic supplements and focus more on training/nutrition.

Additional Programs:

What I have just reviewed is the basic MI40X package.  You will have the option of buying additional products/programs.  You don’t have to order them to get what I’ve described above.   But they would be worthwhile if you find some of them meet your needs.

Review:

I think MI40x is a worthwhile investment for certain types of trainees.  Here a few that come to mind:

1.  Intermediate or advanced trainees looking to break through plateaus in building size and strength.

2.  Trainees who have hypertrophy (size and strength) as their main goal.

3.  Those who are willing to invest time and effort to finish 18 weeks of carefully planned training and nutrition.

If this describes you then I think MI40X would be a good investment for you.  It is not the cheapest program out there, but I think you’ll be satisfied with the amount of content you get for the money.  This program lasts 18 weeks, so 11 dollars/week isn’t a bad deal for something that will help you reach your goal.  Just CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about this program.  Please use MY LINKS if this review has helped you.

UPDATE:  You can now get MI40X for 97$ (normally 197$) while the offer lasts.  CLICK HERE for more information.  If you want to skip the cheesy intro sales video just find the “buy program” tab at the bottom of the page.

The Man Diet Review Chad Howse

The Man Diet

The Man Diet

I’ve had a chance to review The Man Diet by Chad Howse. I’m always interested in
learning new ways to boost testosterone naturally, so I enjoyed reading through his suggestions.  Let me start with a summary of what you get if you decide to order these books.

The Man Diet (main manual/e-book):  This is Chad Howse’s introduction and explanation of the diet.  He explains why it is so important to maximize your testosterone and shares how you should eat if that is your goal.  He also includes other lifestyle methods you can do to help boost your levels of the manly hormone.

The Man Diet Meal Log:  This is a simple way to keep records of the types of foods you are eating to ensure you are on track.

The Man Diet Cheater’s Guide: Howse explains how you can use strategic “cheating” (eating the foods you love) while staying on track with your overall fat loss goals.

QuickStart Guide: This is the summarized version of the program–you can use this to get started immediately while you study the details later.

Supplement Guide: As the title implies, this is the author’s suggestions for supplements to maximize your testosterone.

You also get unlimited updates if you choose to order this program.

Optional Products:  You’ll have the option of buying additional products if you decide to order this program.  You do not have to order them but you can if you choose to.

#1 Man Workout: This is a well-designed training program to help you build strength/muscle and lose fat (which will help with testosterone levels).  You may not need this one if you are an experienced trainee who knows how to work out.  But it would help guys who are out of shape and need a program to get started training again.

#2 Epic Sex Drive: These e-books have tips specifically designed for increasing libido.  I especially appreciate the fact that the author recommends against viewing sexually explicit material.  I believe porn does a lot of harm and can cause erectile dysfunction (visit yourbrainonporn.com for more details).

#3 Cookbook:  This e-book has recipes that are consistent with the dietary recommendations the author makes in the program.

Evaluation:

I was familiar with many of the recommendations made in this book.   There are a lot of similarities between The Man Diet and The Renegade Diet, which is a good thing (it means both authors know their stuff).   But I did pick up a few new strategies that I haven’t heard before, especially in regards to the timing of specific supplements/nutrients.

There are a couple of disagreements I have with the author in regards to his supplement advice.  He recommends specific brands of supplements.  I’m sure the brands he promotes are fine, but I’d recommend you shop around for better deals.  Vitamin D3, for example, is available at any drug store.  He also recommends tribulus in one of the books, which I don’t completely understand–a recent study has confirmed that it does not boost testosterone.1  I wish he had recommended maca powder instead (it won’t boost testosterone, but there’s some evidence maca is good for libido).  He could have also included the Citrulline-Arginine combination for sexual potency.

Conclusion:  Overall The Man Diet has a lot of good tips for boosting your T levels.  I think the author has listed about everything you can do short of testosterone replacement therapy.  I think this would be especially helpful for older guys who are looking to implement every possible strategy towards this goal.  It’s also a good value (the going prices is about 20 bucks at the time of this post).  Just click here if you’d like to order this program or learn more about it.

Note:  This review/product is not intended to replace medical advice.  Low testosterone cannot always be resolved through diet/exercise and can be medically dangerous (it can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, etc).  Be sure to talk with your doctor about this.

Reference:

1. Actas Urol Esp. 2014 May;38(4):244-248. doi: 10.1016/j.acuro.2013.09.014. Epub 2014 Mar 14. Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: A prospective, randomized, double blind study.

Muscle Explosion 2.0 Review

Nick Nilsson has updated Muscle Explosion, a program I reviewed a while back (you can muscle-explosion-20check out my original review if you are interested). This program is based on the same principles as the original but he has tweaked it to make it even more effective.  What’s new with the version 2.0?  I’ll explain.

1. A day of fasting.

One of the strategies in Muscle explosion is to get your muscle glycogen levels low through certain dietary strategies.  In the this revised version you’ll have the option of fasting for 24 hours (kind of like what is proposed in Eat Stop Eat).   The idea is to prime your body/muscles to “bounce back” once you refill them why glycogen (by eating carbohydrates again).

2. Reverse Carb Tapering

You will be advised to try eating most of your carbs at dinner (your last meal) during the third and fourth week of the program.  The idea is to minimize fat or even promote fat loss (similar concept as the Renegade Diet).  Nilsson calls this “reverse carb tapering,” and it is explained in more detail in the program.

3. Supplements

Some new supplement brand recommendations have been added.  But I would recommend you just stick to reputable brands and take a minimalist approach to supplements (protein, creatine, fish oil, and a multivitamin).

4. Fat Loss Circuit Training

Nilsson has tweaked the fat loss aspect of the training.  You’ll be doing movements that involve the whole body instead of bodypart split training.  You should find this workout more interesting (and challenging) than what was in the original version.

5. Lactic Acid Training

The original Muscle Explosion utilized partial training methods (stretched and contracted positions) in the lactic acid training phase.  But the new version uses more conventional methods for this–high repetitions and rest-pause training.  You’ll find this to be a simpler way to get the lactic acid going.

6. Positions of Flexion 1 and 1/4 Rep Training

Nilsson found has replaced stretch-pause training with this method.  This is better to maximize the tension on the muscle you are trying to train.  It also allows for a better stretch and contraction.

7. Weak Point Training

The new program has a day dedicated to target the weak points of major lifts.  You will do a lot of volume on weak points without frying your central nervous system.  The result should be stronger overall lifts.

8. Single-Rep Cluster Training

The original Muscle Explosion was more for hypertrophy and didn’t really include strength training.  You’ll be dedicating a full day to strength in the the new program through a method called single-rep cluster training.

Review:

I think Nilsson has taken a great program and made it even better with Muscle Explosion 2.0.  This would be good for intermediate to advanced trainees who are looking to break through plateaus in building strength and size.  Please click here if you’d like to order this program or learn more.

Farmer’s Walk

farmerswalkI first remember seeing the Farmer’s Walk while watching the World’s Strongest Man contest.  It’s a test of overall body strength as well as endurance.

Today I tried it for the first time.  I really like the idea of doing exercises like this as “finishers”–movements to burn extra calories and work on conditioning after you’ve lifted weights.

My gym doesn’t really have any special bars or equipment for this, so I just grabbed some heavy dumbbells. It worked pretty well but it would have been difficult to do in a gym that is small and/or crowded.

I really like the way this exercises taxes your whole body.  You can also step in such a way that you’ll add some calf training (tiptoe at the end of each step). I’m going to try it again next week now that I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Two More Tips:

1. Grip tends to give out before anything else, so you may want to use lifting straps at some point.

2. One-handed farmer’s walk will give your core a great workout (because your core muscles will have to keep you upright during the movement).

Hypertrophy Max Review Phase 4

Phase 4 of Hypertrophy Max is called Max Volume.  These workouts are designed to maximize (you guessed it) training volume.   You’ll hear them talk about the concept of over-reaching–doing more volume than you would normally do.  This can be very effective if you can do it without over-training.

Hypertrophy Max Phase 4: arm training

Hypertrophy Max Phase 4: arm training

Here are a few benefits to this kind of training:

*You’ll break through size and strength plateaus as you push your body to new limits.

*Like the previous phase, volume training tends to result in increased growth hormone production.

Keep something in mind with volume training:  this only works if done as prescribed by Vince and Ben.  You have to give yourself adequate time to rest/recover, use the appropriate level of intensity, etc.

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

Hypertrophy Max Review (Phase 2)

The second phase of Hypertrohy Max is called Max Density, meaning it is focused on increasing the efficiency of training–doing more work/training in less time.  Ben is the one who trains in this series (not Vince).   This style of training, they argue, is often overlooked.

As always, the video workouts are really high quality.  Ben Pakulski is really a master at taking an exercise and adding subtle angles/grips to maximize the muscle stimulation.

Ben Training Chest

Ben Training Chest

Another thing you’ll notice is Ben doesn’t use a lot of weight–using a high percentage of your one-rep max is not the focus of this phase of training.

Here are just a few advantages to training this way:

*It isn’t as hard on your joints.  As I get older I’m getting more interested in learning how to get results with lighter weights.  This is something I would have studied more if I could go back and re-do my 25+ years of training.

*It would be very useful for competitors who are preparing for a contest (or photo shoot).  Ben noted that he can’t use extremely heavy weights when he gets close to competition because of the dieting involved.

*No spotter required.  You could probably do most of this phase without a training partner.

Click here if you are interested in ordering Hypertrophy Max. 

 
NOTE: Hypertrophy Max is closed until December. Please check out Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0 (MI40X) if you are looking for a similar program.
 

Fix My Back Pain Review Rick Kaselj

BR3-4I’ve had the chance to review Fix My Back Pain, the new program to help those with back injuries.  I’ve been impressed with previous programs from these authors/creators and I was also personally interested in this concept (I’ve also had back pain issues at different times throughout my lifting “career).  I’ll start this review with a program description/summary–here’s what you’ll get if you order it:

Quick Start Video Guide:

Quick Start Guide

Back Pain Cycle

This video will get you started with the program–be sure to watch it before you get into the other videos.  Rick Kaselj discusses his background/experience and explains the the “back pain cycle” that many trainees endure.  The object, of course, is to break this cycle through a series of exercises.  He also describes various kinds of back injuries and their symptoms.

Component 1: Internal Back Reshaping

This is another video you need to watch.  Kaselj argues that at least 20% of the results will come from following some practical steps such as doing some simple decompression exercises.  This, he argues, is the first step to living pain-free.  There are several practical steps here in addition to the decompression movements.

Component 2: Outer Back Reshaping

This video has instructions for the way the rest of the program will work–exercise protocols designed to strengthen muscles in such a way as to protect the back and reduce/eliminate pain.

Component 3: Injury Specific TrainingFixMyBackPain

Here’s the aspect of the program that is custome made: you choose the final instructional videos according to the specific type of injury you have.  Once you’ve chosen the appropriate category you can download videos and and exercise manual.  The disc herniation & bulges page, for example, has suggested exercises to do before and after you train.  As mentioned, the idea is to strengthen muscles that will help reduce the pain associated with a specific type of injury.

BONUSES

You’ll get some bonus material when you order Fix My Back Pain:

Barbell Deadlift Dominated (pdf file) and Pain Free Deadlifting (video).  Both of these resources will help you safely increase your strength in this foundational exercise.

48-Hour Back Pain Rescue Guide (pdf and video).  These are exercises you can do to relax and strengthen your back.  No equipment needed.

no-back-strain-group2No Back Strain Workout.  A guide to exercises that avoid compression/strain on the back (video and e-book are integrated).

REVIEW:

Fix My Back Pain is a cost-effective way to help trainees manage or alleviate pain.  I’d highly recommend it for those who want to use exercise as a means of dealing with pain/injuries of the back.  Just keep in mind there is no substitute for visiting your doctor–be sure to talk to your physician if you aren’t sure of your ability to safely exercise.  Just click here if you’d like to order or learn more about this program.