Category Archives: Strength Training

Allocating Volume to Maximize Muscle Growth

I’ve spent 23 years analyzing program design. In the beginning, I would read Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding and peruse the muscle mags. Then I stumbled upon HIT Training, then HST Training, and finally T-Nation. Eventually I learned how to use Pubmed and investigate the research. I’ve also talked shop with probably over a thousand lifters, coaches, personal trainers, and physical therapists.

Program design was always a complicated topic for me. I went through the typical “I have to include every single exercise imaginable into my routine” phase, as well as the “just focus on the basic big five exercises” phase, and everything in between. I’ve examined the routines of all of my favorite bodybuilders and powerlifters over the years, in addition to attempting to decipher the rationale behind various Soviet and Bulgarian periodization schemes. Program design can be highly complicated, but it can also be fairly simple.

read more

I Want to Do a Chin Up! 15 Tips to Improve Your Chinning Progress


Neghar Fonooni Busting Out Some Pull-Ups

Many strength coaches believe chin ups to be the ultimate test of upper body strength. The problem is, many lifters, especially women, struggle with performing even a single bodyweight chin up. It is therefore of great interest for these lifters to figure out the quickest and most efficient route to being able to perform an unassisted bodyweight chin up. Here are some of the things that I’ve discovered over the past 17 years as a personal trainer.

1. Multiple Methods Can Work

There are many different methods that can build chin-up strength. No methods have been researched and compared in the literature to my knowledge. Therefore, we must rely on anecdotes, expert opinion, logic, and tradition in this case. Some lifters do chin ups very often, others 1-2 times per week, and others rarely do them and still retain their chin up strength. Seasoned lifters may perform advanced variations such as loaded chin-ups and side-to-side chin-ups twice per week. However, as a beginner, you will require different strategies to get you chinning, which I will expound upon at the end of this article.

read more

3 Tips for Faster Strength Gains

It’s funny how a big PR can immediately turn an average or lousy day into an amazing day. Showing up to the gym is easy. Going through the motions is easy. But consistently getting stronger month in and month out is very challenging. It requires intelligent training, sound nutrition, and ideal levels of sleep and stress. However, even when we seemingly do everything right, we sometimes spin our wheels. This is why it’s important to pay close attention when training. Here are 5 tips that can expedite your progress.

1. Manage Fatigue and Regulate Effort

You don’t always have to train balls-to-the-wall in order to see results. When I was a teenager reading bodybuilding magazines, I recall countless articles urging lifters to take every set to failure. In fact, I distinctly remember reading an article by professional bodybuilder Tom Prince, who claimed to take every set he ever performed to momentary muscular failure. I remember wondering how in the hell these bodybuilders could pull this off, knowing that they performed high volume training and probably busted out at least 20 sets per training session. I felt insecure about my own training and assumed that I wasn’t nearly as manly as these guys since I wasn’t able to do so. Well, let me clarify. I could indeed take every set to failure, but I didn’t feel that it was the optimal way to train.

read more

Decline Pressing From the Floor


Some of you might already be aware of this, but I never realized that one could perform decline presses from the floor just by bridging at the hips. I assumed that I wouldn’t be able to achieve a full ROM, but this wasn’t the case.

I’ve always loved me some decline pressing, but I don’t have a decline bench in my garage gym (or at Gold’s Gym in Phoenix or Revolution Training in Tempe for that matter). My friend on Facebook, Simon Headland, suggested that I give these a try, and I loved them.

On Friday I did two sets of bench press, two sets of incline press, and two sets of decline press (shown below) for a nice little upper body pressing workout. Give these a try if you enjoy decline pressing but don’t have access to a decline bench.

read more