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Tips of the week Intensity for back extensions

Tipps der Woche Intensität bei Rückenextensionen

Back extensions are the most versatile exercise for the posterior muscle chain (hamstrings, glutes and lower back). Once you have mastered the basic version of this exercise, here are two ways to increase the intensity of this exercise and make it more difficult.

1 - Back extensions with dumbbells / chains / weight vests

Once you've mastered the basic version of back extensions, it's time to add resistance via an external load. You can hold a dumbbell at chest height, use a chain that you place around your neck or use a weight vest. Strong exercisers can do about 15 repetitions with a 65 kilo dumbbell.

2 - Back extensions with bands

Back extensions performed with bands are very challenging. The accompanying resistance makes the exercise surprisingly difficult throughout the range of motion and you will find that the back extensors are challenged in a positive way.

Tip: Drink coffee to boost your metabolism

How to use coffee wisely to speed up your fat loss, boost your performance and relieve cravings

By Erick Avila


A simple cup of coffee can help you lose fat. Coffee is loaded with compounds that have been shown to increase metabolic rate, make you burn fat substrates better, boost your athletic performance, improve satiety and reduce cravings.

Even with good exercise and nutrition programs, our bodies fight against us and try to maintain our old body fat percentage. This is often referred to as the "body fat set point". Coffee can help fight this set point by increasing your metabolic rate, which can help you burn more calories even when you're not exercising. In one study, the metabolic rate of those who drank coffee increased by 3 to 11% for three hours after consumption.

But wait, there's more

Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) found in coffee inhibit glucose absorption in the gut. In studies conducted with rats, the plasma glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) response was attenuated and a lower maximum blood glucose response was also observed during the 180 minutes following the meal. GIP stimulates the production of glucagon - a hormone that promotes the breakdown of glycogen and conversion to glucose. This is beneficial for people who want to be defined, as glucagon initiates a neural signal to the brain that contributes to satiety.

Caffeine and exercise

During the later stages of most fat loss diets, the hypocaloric effect tends to cause fatigue and a slight feeling of weakness during exercise. Caffeine consumption leads to an increased rate of lipolysis, which is glycogen-sparing, allowing you to extend your time to exhaustion.

Caffeine promotes the release of catecholamines, which helps you to cope better with exercise-induced stress. Well-trained individuals have a higher capacity for catecholamine release in response to exercise than untrained individuals, which is at least partly responsible for their higher levels of physical performance during performance tests.

Even if you are not a well-trained athlete, caffeine-enhanced catecholamine release will help you perform at a higher level than without caffeine.

What type of coffee is best?

Robusta has been found to contain slightly more caffeine and chlorogenic acid than Arabica, but both varieties contain sufficient amounts of these ingredients to provide benefits. The roasting process of coffee destroys the chlorogenic acid it contains. The longer coffee is roasted, the more chlorogenic acid is destroyed. However, if you stick to a medium roast, it will still contain about 50% of the chlorogenic acid found in unroasted coffee, with the remainder forming quinic acid and caffeic acid, which can also aid fat loss.

Dosage and cyclical use

Different people have different sensitivities to caffeine. The longer and the more coffee you drink, the less sensitive you become. For fat loss and hunger suppression, cyclical use of caffeine can enhance the effects during your fat loss phase.


  1. Koot, P., & Deurenberg, P. (n.d.). Comparison of Changes in Energy Expenditure and Body Temperatures after Caffeine Consumption.Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism Ann Nutr Metab, 135-142.
  2. Tunnicliffe, J., Eller, L., Reimer, R., Hittel, D., & Shearer, J. (n.d.). Chlorogenic acid differentially affects postprandial glucose and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide response in rats. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 650-659.
  3. Nehlig, A., & Debry, G. (n.d.). Caffeine and Sports Activity: A Review.International Journal of Sports Medicine Int J Sports Med, 215-223.
  4. Zouhal, H., Jacob, C., Delamarche, P., & Gratas-Delamarche, A. (n.d.). Catecholamines and the Effects of Exercise, Training and Gender. Sports Medicine, 401-423.

Tip: Build strength and endurance with rope pulling

All you need to increase your stamina is a rope and something heavy to pull

By Jim Wendler


Physical challenges need to be a regular part of every man and woman's life to build a strong mind and a strong body. Here's a challenge I use with my athletes.

Attach a rope to a weight sled (or something else heavy) and pull it towards you. The rope we use is 35 meters long. We lay this rope on the road and everyone has to pull the sled with one hand over hand movement.

Each athlete must complete two warm-up sets and two work sets. Each set consists of pulling the sled the full 35 meters. It is important that someone stands behind the puller and pulls the rope out from under the athlete as they pull the sled. This makes a big difference.

How much weight you use will depend primarily on what surface you are pulling the weight on. The road in front of my house, for example, is asphalted but hasn't been resurfaced for years, so it's very rough. A freshly asphalted road will feel much different. Pulling on concrete is usually easier and grass is just plain sh...e. The weights should therefore only be used as guidelines.

Example training session:

  • Warm-up sets: 2 x 35m @ 30 kilos
  • Work sets: 2 x 35m @ 90 kilos

Guidelines and tips:

  1. The hardest part is getting the sled moving. Once you have found a good rhythm, you should try not to let it come to a standstill. The first few moves will be short and erratic. Get the sledge moving.
  2. Once the sled is moving, pull with your arms with fast and long strokes. Move the sled as far as you can while you are fresh and rested, as the beginning is always the hardest part - you are not only pulling the sled, but also the entire rope. Your arms will eventually give up - and if they don't, then the weight was too light.
  3. We strive for a challenge and total exhaustion. When your arms give up, get up, count to 10 or 20 and make it your goal to do 5 or 10 extra pulls per arm. Set - and achieve - goals like this until you're done.
  4. If you've never used a thick rope before, be prepared for your biceps, forearms, hands, lower back and latissimus to get fried. You'll also be gasping for air.

Tip: Perform barbell lap curls

I bet you've never tried this explosive bicep exercise before.

By David C Scott


Barbell Lap Curls are an excellent exercise to increase strength production in the biceps, as well as hypertrophy (growth). (

  1. Sit down and place a barbell on your lap.
  2. Place your hands just outside your lap and grip the bar as tightly as possible.
  3. Move the barbell upwards explosively and with great initial force in a curling motion, ending at your chin or neck.
  4. Bring the bar back to your lap and repeat.

Sets of 8 to 12 repetitions work very well for this exercise. You can increase the intensity by doing 3 to 6 repetitions per set.

The most important part of the movement is the initial explosive movement. Move the bar powerfully upwards to contract the biceps powerfully. The upward swing is the most important part of this exercise. The starting force must be explosive and this explosiveness must continue until you have completed the movement. Contract your biceps hard at the highest point of the movement before lowering the weight in a controlled manner.

Tip: Make the trap bar your secret weapon

Six reasons why the trap bar is awesome.

By Charles Staley


The trap bar has very specific advantages for almost everyone:

  1. Pulling exercises performed with the trap bar typically resemble a cross between squats and deadlifts, but you can make whatever you want out of these exercises. You can pull in a very hip-dominant way with significant torso tilt, or you can stay upright and make the exercise more like front squats.
  2. The trap bar works the trapezius very hard and probably even harder than pulling with a straight bar. This has to do with the grip width and the neutral hand position.
  3. As deadlifts with a trap bar involve a more upright posture than conventional pulls, you can recover more quickly from this exercise variation as it puts significantly less strain on the spine than conventional deadlifts. This means that trap bar deadlifts are a good option for sets with higher reps for more volume. I often work my way up to a set of 1 to 3 reps of conventional pulling and then move on to using a trap bar for subsequent sets of 6 to 10 reps.
  4. The trap bar is a great tool for farmers walks as it is almost impossible to drop the weight on your feet. Unlike Farmers Walks with dumbbells, the variation performed with the Trap Bar does not affect your gait as the weight does not hit your thighs from the outside. Try the following: Perform 10 reps of trap bar deadlifts and then start walking with the weight.
  5. The trap bar requires less technical skill than a straight bar. A beginner will instinctively assume a safer position than with a straight bar.
  6. The trap bar puts less strain on the knees than squats with a barbell and is easier on the back during deadlifts.

Tip: Take on this squat challenge

This workout only takes 9 minutes - but those 9 minutes will be the worst 9 minutes of your life

By Dan Blewett


Short on time for a training session? Want to test your courage? Want to watch your friends throw up at the gym? Then try this.

9 minutes from hell

  1. Load a barbell with 35 to 50% of your 1RM weight on squats.
  2. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Perform as many fast reps (with good form) as possible.
  3. Pause for 2 minutes.
  4. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Perform as many repetitions as possible again.
  5. Pause for 1 minute.
  6. Set a timer for 1 minute. Perform as many repetitions as possible without putting the weight down in between.
  7. Cry. Cuss me out. Breathe in as much oxygen as you can. Go home.

Tip: Perform flying chest movements on the cable with cuffs

Try this supportive chest exercise to compensate for a weak point or train around an injury.

By Dave Tate


This little-known exercise variation is often used by top powerlifters to help build and stabilize chest and shoulder muscles. Having pulled my pecs several times, I was looking for an exercise that would completely isolate the chest region without relying on a one-dimensional butterfly machine.

  1. To perform this exercise you will need a wrist cuff. Lie on an incline bench and attach the ropes of a cable pulley crosswise to the two wrist cuffs. (The incline bench offers you a better range of motion).
  2. Hold your chest high up in the air as if you had a rope around your sternum pulling you upwards.
  3. Perform flying movements.

Since you are not holding dumbbells or cable handles with your hands, you cannot use your hands to guide the movement, nor can you use your forearms to support the movement. You will feel your chest muscles working through the entire range of motion right from the start.


By Bret Contreras

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