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Tips of the week Build your back with the 21 method

Tipps der Woche Baue Deinen Rücken mit der 21 Methode auf

Most exercisers use the classic 21 method for biceps curls. With the reverse 21 method, the usual sequence is reversed. Start with the heaviest part of the set and finish with the lightest part.

  • Start with 7 full repetitions.
  • Perform 7 partial repetitions across the top half of the range of motion
  • Perform 7 partial repetitions across the lower half of the range of motion

Reverse 21's act as a mechanical descending set where the set gets easier as fatigue sets in. This method works very well for pull-ups and can be easily adapted to suit your current skill level.

Reverse 21-pull-ups

Start with full repetitions and then perform partial repetitions across the top half of the range of motion, starting with your upper arms parallel to the floor and pulling all the way up. Finish the set with partial repetitions across the lower half of the range of motion, starting with your arms fully extended and pulling yourself up until your upper arms are roughly parallel to the floor.

You can also use rings instead of a bar. If 21 total repetitions are too ambitious at the beginning, adjust this number accordingly. Even if you only do 2 to 3 repetitions per mini set, you will achieve results. This method also works well for lat pulldowns.

Tip: Use bands for side raises

The lateral shoulder muscle head gets bigger and stronger when you emphasize the middle area of the side lift.

By Adam Bentley


The shoulder muscles are made up of three muscle heads located around the shoulder, which means it's impossible to fully train the shoulder muscles with just one exercise. And even though many exercises train the anterior and posterior shoulder muscle head, the lateral muscle head is often left out.

The act of putting weight on the shoulder as it moves sideways from the body is necessary to activate the lateral head of the shoulder muscle. The lateral head of the shoulder muscle develops its greatest force-producing potential when the shoulder is abducted by 60 to 120 degrees. To train this muscle head of the shoulders, you should use lateral raises and make the middle part of the movement the heaviest part. A popular technique with dumbbell side raises is to use some momentum from the body to overload the maximum contraction.

Here's another way: use resistance bands. This may sound effeminate, but studies have shown that bands work just as well - or maybe even better - than dumbbells for this exercise. Performing side raises with a resistance band puts more stress on the muscle in the midsection, where it is most active.

Performing the exercise this way also means you can spend more time pushing against the maximum contraction with the heaviest load, rather than being pulled back by the eccentric movement with a dumbbell.

Tip: Stop trying - start committing yourself

It's time to stop all the nonsense and finally reach your goals. Trying is lying to yourself. Start committing to something.

By Chris Shugart


Trying something is lame

"I would never cheat on you and it feels good to know that you would never cheat on me," you say to your girlfriend.

"Well, I'll try not to cheat on you," she replies.

Ouch. Try? She's going to "try" not to cheat on you? Well, that's not very reassuring.

But why? Why does the word "try" cause you such anxiety? Well, because you know that "trying" often doesn't lead to success. Think about it. You are invited to an event that you don't really want to attend. Your polite response is, "Yes, I will try to come." - which means, "There's no way I'm going to go."

Similarly, when we tell others that we are "trying" to do something, when we tell ourselves (usually in what is called an inner monologue) that we are "trying" to do something, it means that we probably won't do it.

Trying is lying

The more scientists and psychologists study this topic, the more we learn about the establishment of schemas in our brains. One thing becomes very clear: the words we use program us to perform - or not perform - certain actions. The problem? The "try" software is buggy.

"I will try" usually means it's not going to happen. You go to the supermarket. You think "I'll try not to buy junk food." You buy junk food. "Well, I'll try not to eat it all at once!" You eat it all at once. "Well, next week I'll try to buy only the foods that will help me achieve my goals." Yes, okay....

We are polite when we tell others that we will try to do something that we know very well we won't do. But we do the exact same thing to ourselves. It is a self-soothing mechanism. It makes us feel better. And of course, it's a big fat lie.

Commit instead of trying

Remember that thing about brain programming? Memory studies show that thinking "I'll try to remember" actually tells your brain that it's okay to forget that thing. The simple way to remember something better is to say to yourself "I will remember this..." Where the first sentence acts as a procrastination mechanism, the second performs the action.

Now we need to apply this to our health, diet and lifestyle goals:

  • "I will try to avoid junk food." Aha, yes, "try" to avoid it because junk food gets legs at night, sneaks into your house and jumps into your mouth. Are you going to buy junk food and knowingly and willfully stuff it in your mouth or not? Your decision.
  • "I'm going to try to go to the gym." Wow, you want to try it. And now you feel calm and content because you know that maybe, under some circumstances, you will somehow try to go to the gym...but not right now.

If you want to be successful, eliminate the word "try" from your vocabulary. This is actually very honest and liberating. There are some things you will do and some things you won't do. Two categories, no wishy-washy, no self-deceiving in-between. Decide, commit and do it.

Use the rubber band trick

Put a rubber band around your wrist and give it a firm snap every time you say or think the word "try" in relation to your training and nutrition goals. And then make the decision immediately. Are you going to do it right now or not? Do this for a week and you will be surprised how much confusion will leave your mind. You may also be surprised at how quickly you start to achieve your goals.

Internalize in your brain that "try" is a negative word. Trying is the first step on the road to failure. To try is to lie.

Tip: Perform 2 minute leg presses

High reps and continuous tension can build a mountain of muscle - especially in your legs. Give this workout a try.

From T Nation


Sports performance coaches often disdain the leg press because the exercise doesn't have much carryover to other sports and because squats are a more effective way to build total body strength - something that's obviously important to coaches working with competitive athletes. But what about the leg press for bodybuilders?

Leg presses are an excellent exercise for hypertrophy - especially for the quadriceps. So what's the best way to use leg presses to build quadriceps? Medium to close foot spacing, feet placed further down on the rack and high reps.

High reps? What about "train heavy or go home!" The latter has merit, but if your quadriceps are only slightly larger than your calves, then it might be time to take a few weight plates off the sled and train for time under tension.

Most exercisers have a high percentage of slow-contracting muscle fibers in their quadriceps. This is why you can go up to 50 repetitions per set with quadriceps. Some bodybuilders grow like weeds with 30 reps per set.

While not everyone has the same muscle fiber composition - and while varying repetition ranges is usually best - high reps could be the cure if you're lacking mass in the quadriceps area.

Here's a training program that puts all of this into practice

Using a much lighter weight than normal, a full range of motion and a close and low position of the feet, perform leg presses for 2 minutes without rest. Remember that full repetition range means going down until your quadriceps cover your chest.

Extend your legs only 95% on each repetition. The key here is to keep the muscle under continuous tension throughout the set.

At the end of the set, you may well want to cough up one lung - or both... This should be seen as encouragement ;-)

Tip: Get energy from hot rice cereal

Tired of oatmeal? Start your day with this protein-packed wake-up call.

By Chris Shugart


Breakfast can be more than just oatmeal and eggs. For years, bodybuilders have also been turning to hot rice cereal. This is a kind of rice version of oatmeal. Here's an easy way to prepare it in advance and have a ready-made breakfast for the whole week.

  1. Spray your slow cooker with coconut oil to prevent sticking and because coconut oil tastes delicious.
  2. Add 3 cups of water and 1 cup of uncooked rice cereal.
  3. Add fruit as desired, frozen raspberries, fresh banana slices, a few apples, etc.
  4. Add cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves or use a ready-made apple pie spice mix.
  5. Set your slow cooker to 6 to 7 hours before you go to bed.
  6. After reheating, stir in one or two scoops of protein powder.

Option: Replace rice cereal with rolled oats.

This recipe makes 4 portions.

Tip: Do bike sprints for your quadriceps

The pump supports muscle growth and nothing pumps up the quadriceps better than bike sprints. Try this at the end of your next leg training day.

By Ben Bruno | 03/14/16


I'd love to beat whoever invented the Airdyne Wheel. It's so simple and looks so harmless, but it brings me to my knees every time. I've done 100 reps of squats, descending sets of leg presses and walking lunges until I drop, but the pump I get in my quadriceps from an Airdyne bike sprint where I give it my all is more intense than anything else.

Bike sprints are no better for leg muscle growth than the previously mentioned exercises, but they definitely work the quadriceps if you go all out. Look at bike sprinters. Their thighs are huge - even compared to regular cyclists. For the average exerciser, bike sprints can complement training with weights and lead to a killer pump at the end of the session, which will aid muscle growth.

There are endless ways to incorporate bike sprints into your training program. Some people time their bike sprints, while others prefer to do them for distance. Either is fine, but start with a distance where you end up in the 15 to 30 second range for each sprint. Do 3 to 4 intervals per workout and work your way up from there by either increasing the distance of the sprint, the total number of intervals, or both.

The dreaded Tabata training session would look like this: 8 rounds of 20 seconds with 10 seconds rest each.

If you don't have an Airdyne bike or an Assault bike, a spinning bike or a regular ergometer will also work. Just keep the tension high enough that the workout feels challenging for the legs, while keeping the tension low enough to achieve a sufficient speed so that the workout feels more like a sprint than a slow uphill ride with high resistance.

Tip: Ladies, live out your spring fever before your workout

A pre-workout orgasm could help women get better workouts

By Dr. Jade Teta


Studies on women have shown that their brains undergo a number of fascinating changes after orgasm. These include increased activity in areas of the brain associated with relaxation, reward, memory and pain sensation.

Clearly, orgasm is a reliable tool for reducing pain sensitivity in women. This is associated with reduced anxiety and less activity in areas of the brain associated with fear. In addition, scientists have reported what they describe as a "trance-like" state.

Although I don't have a double-blind study on the subject to hand, I would love to see a study that investigates whether these changes in the brain can result in increased maximum weights in women. Less anxiety, less insecurity, better trance-like focus and increased pain tolerance? Sounds like the optimal mental state. Could orgasm have performance-enhancing effects in women? It sounds likely.

Sorry guys, but there are no similar studies of the male brain. It looks like the reduction in anxiety, insecurity and pain are specific to women.


By Ben Bruno

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