Wednesday, December 21, 2011

“When We Complete Our Squats, The Naysayers Shut Up!”

The success stories just keep pouring in. This one will boost your motivation.

John Warfield from Jackson in Michigan USA just emailed me his results with StrongLifts 5x5. Get this: in only 9 months he accomplished a 325lb Squat and 415lb Deadlift... at age 50! Read his amazing story.



You've changed my life, and my wife's life, in a major ways.

About two years ago I weighed 300 pounds and had a third chin growing. Seeing myself in pictures disgusted me and almost made me cry. I felt ashamed of my body and mind.

A year later of almost daily hour long cardio sessions, I had dropped to 200 pounds, and my energy level was soaring. However, looking in the mirror and seeing a still "loose" physique and hanging skin made me wince. Not knowing any better I embarked on adding the entire round of weight machines to shore up my body -- improve strength and pull up the loose spots.

The machines, at light weights, helped for a while, and I started to show definition that I'd never possessed before. However, as the weights grew, my muscles didn't really. Trying to increase to heavy weights on machines, with such restricted movements and no stabilizer invovlements, was both stupid and dangerous. The machines, especially the leg machines, tended to create large balls of muscle that only really worked about a third of the muscle length. I had huge globs above my knees, and balled hamstrings that always tended to cramp. One day, while "curling" with my hamstrings on the reverse leg lift, I felt one of the hamstring bands snap over another, and the pain was excruciating. I knew I couldn't keep that up.

I started hodgepodges of split routines... I benched on the smith machines... I "squatted" on the smith machines... But strength results did NOT follow, only injuries. I thought I was hot stuff 1/3 squatting 250 pounds on the smith machine with the large shoulder pad, but my hamstrings were laughing at me while my thighs were crying. I didn't know "squat" and felt unfulfilled and guilty for not being able to find a path to my max potential.

Searching for an answer brought me to StrongLifts about a 9 months ago. I really wanted to go with compound lifting, but having never lifted free weights before I was afraid. But you laid it out so plain and simple, and showed how starting with the bar was going to give me the technique to master the weights -- so I jumped in with both feet.

I started everything with the bar, and built, and built. After completing the first round of StrongLifts 5x5, I had gained 10 pounds of muscle in my legs. The muscle is sooooooo different. The entire strands have grown thicker and stronger. It's NOT bodybuilder muscle, it's growth along the entire length, and all stabilizer muscles as well. My hamstrings have gotten so healthy I can do sprints with ease. My legs, arms and chest have grown in this way, while my waist has shrunk still more, and my "looseness" from weight loss has all but disappeared. My abs and torso muscles are thick and powerful. Having once been a size 50 waist, I am now a comfortable 35.

My wife was so impressed with the results we started her on the program. After 4 babies and stubborn extra weight, she was desperate for fat loss and firmness. Her belly muscles, when pregnant, really got pulled apart and doctors had told her that there was nothing she could do to pull them back in and rehab her lower gut. But having had me blast her with a good Mehdi "BULLSHIT" and seeing the results I had achieved, she jumped in. We started training together and she has lost 15 pounds, transferred countless more pounds from fat to muscle, down-sized clothing three times, and shows leg muscles of an olympic champion. She's proud of herself and I am very proud of her.

We are currently on MadCow for intermediate, which has allowed both of us to break through plateaus in squats and deadlifts.

I'm 50 years old, 6'1", 212 pounds, and on Monday I deep squatted 325 pounds (x5). Today I deadlifted 415 pounds (x5). Having done this made me want to write. We can't thank you enough for publishing the StrongLifts site and providing encouragement. We have fallen in love with squats and now love our bodies like we have never imagined we could. We've had to endure the no-squatters, the knee blowers, the unsolicited advice givers, the curlers in the power rack, etc... and now are able to withstand the barrage of negativity that comes from the majority of gym goers...

But when we complete our lifts and walk past the naysayers with the squat or deadlift body/mind pump and steel torso, they shut up -- and silence truly is golden.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

John Warfield
Jackson, Michigan USA


Awesome story John. Your results prove that any guy can achieve a 300lb Squat and 400lb Deadlift within a year (heck, you did it in only 9 months) IF using the RIGHT kind of methods - obviously StrongLifts 5x5, it's simply the most powerful training program on the entire Internet.

If you haven't claimed your free copy of the 5x5 report, please download it now by clicking here (...and remember to send me your success story like John did so I can publish it on the blog, it will motivate all the other StrongLifters).

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Nov 19, Caloric Requirements for 52 y/o Diabetic Weight Trainee | Muscle Building Q&A

Question: Hi Alex. I am 52 yrs old, 5'7" and 165 lbs. I want to build a ripped physique, but don't necessarily want to grow really big. I just want a body with a defined muscle structure.

I understand, that to build more muscle, I need to increase my caloric intake. The problem is, I am a diabetic with a prescribed caloric requirement.

How can I possibly increase my muscle mass and yet, limit my caloric intake, which is designed to control my blood sugar? I hope you can enlighten me on this one. Thanks.

– Andrew

Answer: That's an interesting question you pose, Andrew. I'll do my best to answer it, but I am by no means an expert on diabetes.

So to be safe, please consult your doctor before implementing any of my suggestions regarding nutrition, training or otherwise.

Now, hopefully I can help you find a way to become leaner and more muscular. I'm guessing that your caloric intake is at least at maintenance level. That is, your bodyweight remains static over time when eating at this level.

Since you want to gain some muscle, it would be ideal if you could increase your caloric intake from its current level. You would only need to increase it by 250-500 calories over your current maintenance intake. Do you have any flexibility with your intake, or is it completely set in stone?...

...Check with your doc to see if there's some way you can safely increase your intake. Ask him or her if it's possible to increase your total caloric intake by eating greater quantities of foods that help to control your blood sugar (e.g. whole grains).

Additionally, since it is an established fact that weight training improves insulin sensitivity as well as blood sugar control, these benefits may cancel out any negatives from eating more calories. Again, though, that's something to go over with your doctor.

If it turns out that you can increase your caloric intake, then you are set to start gaining muscle and getting ripped just like any non-diabetic lifter would. It's only a matter of choosing an effective weight training routine and consistently putting in the hard work.

If, however, you aren't allowed to raise your calories at all, don't worry. All hope is not lost.

Since you said you really only care about getting a "body with a defined muscle structure," you can still make great progress towards this goal without a surplus of calories...

...You'd simply keep your caloric intake as is, and initiate your training regimen. By maintaining your current caloric intake, you would actually be in a slight deficit from the increased exercise activity.

Thus, you would begin to notice a gradual reduction in bodyfat.

Despite being in a slight caloric deficit, you would still experience a noticeable surge in strength over the first few months due to being a beginner. It's even possible that you experience some muscle growth during this early phase, as well (ahh yes, the beauty of newbie gains).

Of course, the most desirable scenario would be that in which you are able to increase your caloric intake by 250-500 calories over maintenance.

So I again urge you to contact your doctor about this now, so that you can start your transformation ASAP.

– Alex

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When To Use The Mixed Grip On Deadlifts

Will T. from Florida has a Deadlift grip question. Quote...

Hey Mehdi,

I'm from Florida, 22 years old, 6'1" at 195 pounds, and currently squatting 235 lbs 5x5. My question is regarding deadlifts, at which I'm currently lifting 245. I've been stuck several times around this weight, and it's entirely because of my grip strength. With the double overhand grip, it invariably starts to fail around the fourth rep and the fifth often feels too weak to attempt.

I've read your article on how to boost grip strength and it's helped a great deal, and my grip strength is increasing, just. very. slowly. While screwing around in a bout of frustration, I found that I could pull 315 with a mixed grip quite easily for reps. Every part of my body besides my grip seems ready for more weight.

So, I would just switch to mixed grip, but I feel I'm at far too light a weight to start doing that. So my question is, should I accept the slow gains on my deadlift in the interest of bringing my grip "up to par," or should I go ahead and adopt other measures such as chalk and a mixed grip in order to start pushing my big mover muscles?


You should definitely use chalk, white knuckling (squeeze the bar hard) and the mixed grip so you can keep adding weight on your Deadlifts. Here's why:

The goal is NOT to build grip strength only. The goal is to build full body strength. If you need specific grip training, do that separately.It's not like your grip will be weak if you can Deadlift 400lb with a mixed grip. Your hands will get stronger from pulling that weight.

Start using the mixed grip on your last Deadlift set, but keep using the normal grip on your warm-up sets which should be like this: 5x135lb, 5x175lb, 5x210lb. So up to 210lb you pull with a normal grip, the 245lb with a mixed grip.

Use white knuckling on every single set and try to Deadlift all your warm-up sets without chalk. If you can't pull your last warm-up set with the normal grip, chalk your hands (get an eco ball if your gym doesn't allow it). If you still can't Deadlift it, use the frigging mixed grip so you can pull that weight and get all your reps.

It would make sense to start adding 10 pounds per workout to your Deadlifts since you say you can already pull 315lb AND assuming your technique is right. Meaning: add 10lb every time you Deadlift, then switch back to 5lb increments once you're past 315lb. This will speed up your strength and muscle gains.

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Nov 19, Best Ectomorph Workout Strategies | Muscle Building Q&A

Question: I looked at your article on different body types, and was intrigued to find that the ectomorph somatotype accurately describes both my personality and my body type. I was wondering, in terms of weight lifting, how does this body type affect the way I should weight train optimally (i.e. reps, etc.).

– Justin (Adelaide, South Australia)

Answer: Thanks for the question, Justin. I can definitely give you a few useful tips and tid-bits on the optimal training strategies for ectomorphs.

Knowing your body type can certainly help in finding an effective training strategy, but it can only do so to an extent...

...So before I pass down my golden nuggets of ectomorph-specific training wisdom to you, let me first stress this point:

You won't notice any distinct improvement in your progress, unless you already have the basic weight training and bodybuilding diet practices down pat.

So if you haven't been doing the basics, then stop reading this page and instead click on the two links above – Read them, memorize them and implement the information found within them.

If you have been doing all the basics, religiously, and have still been struggling to add lean mass, then read on...

...All of the training tips in the bulleted list below are based on the knowledge that ectomorphs generally have poor recovery and burn calories too rapidly.

Thus, each training tip aims to solve these problems by minimizing muscle damage while maximizing recovery time, as well as by limiting caloric expenditure.

Now, without further ado, here are my training tips for ectomorphs: Lift 2-3 times per week.Do an upper body/lower body split routine.Focus 100% of your time and energy on the big compound lifts.Don't go to failure, unless it's during the final set of an exercise.Try to limit the duration of your workouts to less than 45 minutes.Minimize your cardiovascular activity, especially intense cardio.Optimal rep range for ectos is impossible to know, but if I had to guess, I'd say about 3-8.If you really are a full-blown ectomorph, then the advice will certainly help you out.

However, the truth is that most self-proclaimed ectomorphic "hardgainers" are actually not hardgainers at all. In reality, they're skinny because they don't eat enough.

I may sound like a broken record player, but many (though not all) people need to have this point repeatedly pounded into their head: Diet is king! If you're having trouble gaining weight, you must eat, eat and then eat some more! If that doesn't work, then keep eating until you start gaining muscle.And on that note, I'll wrap this page up. Good luck with reaching your goals.

Eat, train & be patient,

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Monday, December 19, 2011

7 Powerful Tips To Master Perfect Barbell Row Technique

If you're a guy who want to master perfect Barbell Row technique, this will be the most important article you will ever read.

Here's why: almost everyone is dead wrong in how they do Barbell Rows. Most guys do Yates Rows, 50° shrugs with underhand grip named after the steroid bodybuilder Dorian Yates. And, guess what? Unlike Barbell Rows, Yates Rows don't train your back - only your traps - and can rip your biceps tendon apart.

Left: StrongLifts Member Tom Doing Perfect Barbell Rows. Right: Bodybuilder Dorian Yates Doing Yates Rows Left: StrongLifts Member Tom Doing Perfect Barbell Rows. Right: Bodybuilder Dorian Yates Doing Yates Rows

Look - if you're one of those steroid meat heads who spends more time with his drug-supplier than on training, you'll grow no matter how you Barbell Row. But if you're a DRUG-FREE, 100% natural lifter like me, then you'll have to do Barbell Rows with proper technique to gain upper-back strength and muscle.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Barbell Row technique that I'm about to show you is superior to every single other Row variation you'll ever see the curl monkeys do in your gym. In fact, Coach Glenn Pendlay MS USAW (who taught me this very Barbell Row technique years ago) has done EMG studies comparing every single possible variation of Barbell Rows. Guess what he discovered?

Barbell Rows Done With The Bar Returning To
The Floor On Each Rep Strengthen Your Back, Lats And
Traps More Than Any Other Barbell Row Variation!

Here's what this means: you will strengthen your upper-back, lower-back, lats and traps with one single exercise if you do Barbell Rows the way I'll show you. More: you'll not only build a muscular back by Rowing like this, your Bench Press will also skyrocket (because a strong upper-back is key to a big Bench).

Listen: the guys who say Yates Row are better are confused by broscience and muscle magazines. This Barbell Row technique is backed up by EMG studies, REAL science. But don't take my word for it, simply test-drive StrongLifts 5x5 for 12 weeks using the Barbell Row technique that I'm going to show you, and your own body will make you see the truth of what I'm saying.

Here's how to do it: after studying Glenn Pendlay's description of this superior Barbell Row technique, Rowing myself like this for several years and teaching this Row technique to hundreds of guys, I've come up with the seven most important tips to master perfect Barbell Row technique. Here are the 7 tips...

1. Row Each Rep From The Floor.
Because you'll never train your upper-back fully if you let the bar hang in the air. Barbell Row like you Deadlift: with the bar starting and returning to the floor on each rep. The barbell should be above the middle of your feet when you start Rowing, same stance as on Deadlifts.

2. Grip The Bar Like You Bench Press.
For maximum carry-over to your Bench Press, your Barbell Row should be the exact opposite movement. This means no underhand grip but both palms facing you, using the same grip width as when you Bench. Thumbs around the bar and squeeze it hard for maximum strength.

3. Pull With Your Elbows.
This simple trick will help you use your upper-back maximally rather than turning your Rows into a biceps exercise. Pull your elbows towards the ceiling instead of merely pulling with your hands. If you don't "get" it, briefly Barbell Row using the thumbless grip to get the feeling for it.

4. Row Against Your Chest.
If the bar doesn't hit your chest, it's like doing a partial Squat or half Bench: the rep isn't completed and you're not getting the most out of the exercise. So always Row the barbell against your chest. Where exactly? Same position as where you touch the bar on the Bench Press.

5. Keep Your Upper-back Parallel.
Don't let yourself get carried away by your ego or you won't get the most out of Barbell Rows. Be strict: your upper-back should be doing all the work. If your Barbell Rows turn into 50° shrugs or you're cheating with your hips and knees, the weight is too heavy. Lower it.

Proper Barbell Row Technique: Barbell starts on the floor, pulling with the elbows, bar against chest, chest open, shoulder-blades squeezed together Proper Barbell Row Technique: Barbell starts on the floor, pulling with the elbows, bar against chest, chest open, shoulder-blades squeezed together

6. Open Your Chest.
It's - again - the same position as for the Bench Press: squeeze your shoulder-blades together at the top as hard as you can and open your chest up. Don't try to hold the weight at the top, that's all unnecessary nonsense because adding weight builds muscle. Simply pull the weight hard and fast against your chest, and then return it to the floor.

7. Keep Your Head Down.
Do not try looking at the mirror in front of you in your gym, or you'll get neck pain. Don't look at your feet either otherwise your lower back can round and hurt. Simply look at the floor below you and tape yourself from the side you want to check your Barbell Row technique.

Barbell Row Video.
Here's a video of an ex private client of mine, StrongLifts Member Tom, showing the Barbell Row technique described in this article. Pay attention how the bar starts and returns to the floor on each rep, and how his torso remains parallel. The barbell could be a bit closer to his shins if he puts his legs straighter, but otherwise this is perfect technique...

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Sep 6, Box Squats | How to Box Squat with Proper Form

Box squats are a squat variation that involves squatting down onto a box (or platform) of a given height. It provides two major benefits.

The first benefit is that it improves your body's proprioception; it's ability to know where to stop at the bottom of a rep, within the range of motion of the regular squat exercise.

The other benefit is that it distinctly breaks up the eccentric (negative rep) and concentric (positive rep) chain of movement. This makes the concentric movement more challenging because you have to initiate it from a dead stop.

The end result is that you strengthen your posterior chain, and thus, improve your explosiveness and speed out of the hole.

Plus, your strength gains transfer directly over to regular squats. This is despite the fact that box squats require using a lighter load than regular squats.

Set Up. This exercise is best done in a power rack (though a squat rack can suffice). Start by placing a box or platform inside the rack. Box Height. The box should be the right height for the depth that you'll be squatting. This may require you to be creative to change the heights by putting weights underneath or atop the box to increase its height. There are three types of box squat depths: low, parallel and high box squats. Low. The box height for low box squats can be as much below parallel as desired, so long as you don't have to "rock" your body to squat up. The box is too low if you have to "plop" yourself down in order to sit.Parallel. The top of your knees should be parallel to the crease of your hips. If only your thighs are parallel to the floor (which is considered parallel on regular squats), the box is still too high.High. A high box height is useful for improving the sticking points above parallel. So, the box height for high box squats should be set so that you're only about 1-3 inches above parallel when seated.Adjust the Safety Catches. Adjust the safety bars to prevent the barbell (or yourself) from going beyond the range of motion, in the case of a failed rep or an accident.Add Plates. Add the desired amount of weight to the bar.Get Under the Bar. Get into position in front of the box and proceed to get underneath the bar. You must use the low bar squat barbell position. That means that you place the barbell on the upper part of the middle trapezius, and across the top of the rear deltoids.Unrack The Bar. Unrack and step back into position. Assume a significantly wider than shoulder-width stance with your feet and knees pointing outward. Flex your abs, and keep them tense throughout the entire set, in order to stabilize your core, and thus protect your lower back.Position Your Body. To maintain a proper low bar squat position, push your chest out and bring your scapulae (shoulder blades) together while pulling your elbows down and tensing your upper and middle back muscles. Keep your head inline with your spine, so as to avoid hyperextending your neck. Your gaze should be directed diagonally downward, ahead of you.Negative Repetition. Begin the movement by dropping your hips back and down. Take a Seat. Lower your body at a controlled pace and carefully sit your butt down onto the box. Actually sit down. Don't just "touch and go."Tempo. The negative should take about 1-2 seconds.Midpoint. The midpoint is at the bottom of the range of motion, when you are seated. Here, you must keep your body tense. However, if you can relax your hip flexors without relaxing any other muscles, do so. This allows you to distinctly separate the eccentric and concentric chain of movement. Unless you're doing high box squats, your shins should be at least perpendicular to the floor when seated. Tempo. Pause on the seat for about 1 second.Positive Repetition. Okay, time to stop being lazy, and squat up off that box! "Grip" the Floor. Curl your toes hard by pressing them into the floor. Push through outsides of your feet to drive your hips up and off the box.Squeeze. As you're gripping the floor with your feet, you must squeeze your glutes hard in order to actually propel yourself off the box. As you continue upward, bring your thigh and core muscles into it, too.No Rocking. Do not intentionally rock your torso to gain momentum off the box. That's cheating and it puts you at risk for a lower back injury. Note, however, that some (unintentional) rocking will inevitably occur when squatting heavier loads.Lockout. Complete the repetition by squatting up until your legs are completely extended and locked out.Tempo. Squat up as fast as you can without losing control of breaking form.Repeat. Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions. This exercise is often done with low reps (i.e. 1-3, up to 5) and heavy weight. Though, some folks use a more moderate rep range (e.g. 6-10) with lighter weight.

This Exercise Is Great for All Lifters. It does not matter if you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced weight lifter. Box squats can be the right exercise choice for anyone...

...That said, beginners should be doing it for a different reason than intermediate or advanced lifters. As a beginner, your aim should be to reinforce proper squat depth and range of motion.

By training with box squats (assuming you use a proper box height), it's impossible to not perform the complete range of motion.

Additionally, as a beginner, you should use lighter weight and adhere to a moderate rep scheme on this lift. You can go heavier once you become more exeperienced.

Similar to beginners, some intermediate and advanced lifters (mostly powerlifters) may also use box squats to reinforce a given squat depth and range of motion. However, they often have additional or altogher different objectives.

If you're an intermediate or advanced lifter, box squats are an effective means for increasing your explosiveness and speed out of the hole. In contrast to beginners, the movement will generally be more productive if using heavier loads and lower reps.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mar 25, Quadriceps Muscles | Anatomy & Exercises for the Quadriceps Femoris

The quadriceps muscles, or the quadriceps femoris, which is comprised of the four muscle heads in the front of the thigh, is the strongest muscle group in the human body.

The quads are primarily responsible for the extension of the leg at the knee joint, such as when you kick a ball or jump up in the air.

On this page, you can find all information you'd want about the quadriceps muscles. Learn its anatomy, view pictures and discover the best exercises for training it.

Use the table of contents (TOC) on the right to easily navigate through this guide.

Quadriceps Femoris














Note: The vastus intermedius is not visible in the previous image. View it in the image below.

Quadriceps Femoris with Vasuts Intermedius^ up to TOC



Dumbbell LungesDumbbell SquatsDumbbell Step UpsDumbbell Front SquatsDumbbell 1-Legged Split Squats


Backward Sled DragsBear Crawl Sled Drags


Bodyweight LungesBodyweight Step UpsJump SquatsPistolsSissy SquatsWall Squats


1-Legged Leg PressHack SquatsLeg ExtensionLeg Press


Standing Quadriceps StretchLying Quadriceps Stretch (prone position)Lying Quadriceps Stretch (side position)^ up to TOC

IliopsoasPectineusSartoriusTensor Fasciae Latae^ up to TOC

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