Tag Archives: Advanced

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.


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.

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.


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.

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 3

Phase 3 of Hypertrophy Max is called Max Lactic.   As the name implies this training phase is focused on working out in a way to maximize lactic acid production.

Hypertrophy Max Phase 3

Hypertrophy Max Phase 3: Feeling the Burn

This looks like it would be the most painful part of the program, but I think you’ll find it to be worth it.  Here are a few benefits to this type of training:

*You become mentally tougher as you work through the pain barrier.

*Increased growth hormone (higher lactic acid=more GH).

*Positive changes in body composition.  Ben says a trainee can realistically expect a drop in body fat percentage while simultaneously seeing muscle gains–not a bad deal, right.

As always, Ben has a way of getting the maximum muscle stimulation out of each movement–it’s a truly scientific approach to building muscle.  I noticed a few movements/exercises I’ve never seen before and he teaches you how to tweak familiar exercises to get the most out of them.  I understand why he’s considered one of the best minds in bodybuilding.

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.

Off The Floor: A Manual For Deadlift Domination Review


One-Handed Deadlift

I recently had the chance to review Off the Floor: a Manual for Deadlift Domination by David Dellanave.  I’ve never heard of David before I read/reviewed this program, but he has a pretty impressive list of deadlift records under his belt.

I’ll start by explaining what you get when you order this program:

Off the Floor Training Manual:  This e-book explains the authors overall training philosophy.  It includes a comparison of several deadlift variations as well as suggested routines.

Deadlift Exercise Library Quick Reference: This is a specific, step-by-step illustrated guide on how to properly perform the exercises mentioned in the manual.

Deadlift Gear Guide:  A list of equipment you may find helpful for your training goals.  Most of the gear he recommends is fairly inexpensive.

Biofeedback Training Guide:  This e-book explains simple steps you can take to track your progress in the gym and make consistent improvements.

Supplement Guide: David’s recommended supplements (his list looks very similar to my Supplements That Work  page).

Review:  One of the major advantages of this program is learning just how many ways you can deadlift. I’ve never realized just how versatile this exercise is for building strength, size, and even helping recover from injuries. Off The Floor is a valuable addition to my library of training information.  Let me share who I think would most likely benefit from this program:

*Intermediate/advanced trainees who want to break through strength plateaus.

*Home/garage gym owners desiring to maximize the use of limited equipment (you can do a lot with a barbell and this program).

*Coaches/trainers who want to learn from a true deadlift expert.

I believe Off The Floor would be a good investment if you fit into any of these categories.  Just click here if you’d like to order the program or learn more about it.


Incline Curls for Bigger Biceps


I remember my years of training, when I’d spend hours browsing through the pages of Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. This picture (or one very similar) really caught my attention, and incline dumbbell curls have been one of my favorite bicep exercises ever since.

The advantage of laying on an inclined bench is pretty simple: it helps you isolate the biceps by reducing the involvement of other muscles.  It’s a pretty straightforward exercise, but I’ll offer a couple of tips.

*You’ll need to use less weight than you would with most standing variations of curling.

*Try to rotate your wrists as you raise the dumbbells so that your pinky is slightly higher than your index finger.

Try this exercise to your arm training to isolate the biceps and add variety to your arm training.

Hampton Strength Systems Review (Powerbuilding)

The folks at Critical Bench have a new program out called Hampton Strength Systems.  I’ve had the chance to look over it, so I’ll start my review with a summary of what you get with this program:

Bench Mode Training Manual:  This book is a complete guide on how to increase your bench.  You’ll go four through training cycles, complete with assistance exercises.  The workouts are very detailed, explaining exactly what % of your one-rep max you’ll need to use for each session.

Bench Mode Printable Training Log: You can print these sheets to record your progress in the gym.

Book of Methods:  This is an overall guide to methods for getting stronger.  These are workouts (and techniques) designed to build strength/size with specific body parts.  I really like the leg workout I saw–it looks like an efficient, simple way to build your leg strength.

Feats of Strength Training: This manual really fascinated me.  Hampton explains how he trains for specific feats of strength, like breaking blocks with his fists.

Progressive Rep Training:  This system is based on the concept of using low reps and adding reps within your training cycle.  You’d start out with something like 3×3 on your main exercise/set and try for 3×4 on your next workout.  I know of some elite lifters who use this method.

Basic Barbell Exercises Routine: this is a routine made up of compound exercises for the purpose of “building over all body strength and conditioning.”  The routine can be done 2-3 times a week.


Hampton Strength Systems is based on the concept of powerbuilding–gaining both size and strength.  I like this way of training because it is what most of us are after.  It’s kind of the best of both worlds, combining aspects of bodybuilding and powerlifting.

In addition to the training information, I think most readers will appreciate some of the personal stories the author includes.  I especially liked his descriptions of his personal transformation, competition experiences, etc.

I believe this program is a worthwhile investment for intermediate/advanced trainees who want to build strength and mass.  Just click here if you are interested in checking it out–you can get a free gift (Bench Mode) that may help you decide.

Deadlift Dynamite Review

Andy Bolton

I’ve had the chance to read Deadlift Dynamite, written by Andy Bolton and Pavel Tsatsouline.  I was especially interested in this e-book because Bolton was the first man to deadlift over 1000 lb. (he’s done this twice in competition).  Here are a few things you’ll learn if you decide to invest in this program:

*Why you should deadlift.

*Exercises you can do to learn proper form and get stronger in preparation for the deadlift.

*Stretches to correct tight muscles (hamstrings, hip flexors, etc.).

*How to properly execute the lift.

*How to use kettlebells as a part of your overall strength building.

*How intermediate/advanced trainees can properly cycle their training in order to get progressively stronger (Bolton shows you the exact cycle he used for his record-breaking lift).

I was also pleasantly surprised to see they also included information on the bench press and squat.


Deadlift Dynamite has over 260 pages of valuable information on strength training.  I was impressed with this product and I think it would be worth the money for those seeking to build strength.  It would be especially helpful for trainees who are thinking about competing in a powerlifting competition.  Just click here if you’d like more information on this product.