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Sunday, October 28, 2012

High Intensity Strength Training - By Joe Aben

Originally posted on on February 24, 2002

Intensity, as I define it in relation to weight training, is the amount of work done in a given amount of time. High-intensity strength training, which I practice and teach, is performing the most work possible in the shortest amount of time. The “work” is the actual time spent training with weights. High-intensity strength training (HIT) is characterized by performing one set (for each exercise) taken to the point of muscular failure with the most amount of weight possible using impeccable form.

Many fitness “gurus” believe that multiple sets of a given exercise and spending countless hours lifting weights are needed to develop strength. However, Ralph N. Carpinelli, Ed.D., a researcher and writer for Hard Training journal, found that “there is very little evidence-in fact, only two studies out of 50-to suggest that more than one set of strength-training exercise is required for the maximum development of strength.” (December 2000, p.20). When practicing high-intensity strength training (HIT), it is important to understand and utilize the following key elements. They include: progression, momentary muscular failure, rep speed, form, and rest (or lack of).


Use the most weight possible for each exercise. Adding weight to the exercise makes “Progress”. A word of caution: Never compromise form for the sake of adding weight. It may take you three workouts using the same weight before you can add pounds to your exercise. You may want to use “Platemates” to help you gradually increase the intensity of your exercise. Platemates are small magnetic weights starting at 5/8 of a pound that can be attached to barbells or dumbbells.

Momentary Muscular Failure

You may think of failure as being a negative term. However, when practicing HIT it is very positive. In order to progress, you must reach momentary muscular failure. This happens when a set is taken to the point where you cannot perform another full repetition within the parameters of good form and speed.

Rep Speed and Form

A repetition (rep) can be broken down into two parts: 1) the positive (or concentric part), and 2) the negative (eccentric part). Take for example the bench press exercise. The positive would be pushing the weight from your chest to the ceiling. The negative would be lowering the weight to your chest. As a general rule, take about 3-4 seconds to raise the weight and 3-4 seconds to lower the weight (don’t forget to breathe!). You should also be able to pause for a second at the mid-point of the rep. If you cannot pause, the weight is too heavy or you have reached the point of muscular failure. A good HIT set consists of 8 to 12 of these “perfect” repetitions.


In order to maintain “high intensity”, your rest between sets should be minimal. You should take about 60 seconds (no more than 90 seconds) between sets or exercises. This is usually about the amount of time it takes you to change the weight and prepare for the next exercise. As mentioned previously, HIT is performing the most work possible in the shortest amount of time. The benefits are lost if you rest 5 minutes in between exercises. Of course, the less rest you take between sets- the higher the intensity (therefore, increased benefit but also increased difficulty). It is a good idea to keep a journal of your workouts and write down the exercise, weight, reps performed, and duration of your workout. This way you will be able to see your progression. You will also be able to move on to the next exercise without trying to guess the amount of weight you are using for the particular exercise.

Anyone can perform HIT wanting to increase physical and mental strength. I have found that it is the most safe, beneficial, and time-efficient way to strength train. The benefits are too numerous to mention; but rest assured if you practice the principles outlined in this article, you will increase your strength and lean muscle mass. Have fun, get strong and stay strong and healthy for your lifetime.

Physical Culture

Vital Nutrition

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rest, Repair, and Recovery - By Joe Aben

Originally Posted on on July 29, 2002

One of the most frequent mistakes I encounter with someone who initiates a strength training (weight training) program is not getting proper rest and recovery between workouts. It is a fantastic feeling to be motivated and have a “gung-ho” attitude when beginning a program, but some control and moderation must be included with that eagerness in order to see results. Maintaining motivation to work out through one’s lifetime is a challenge in itself. However, there is nothing more discouraging to a beginner than being so sore from his first workout that he can hardly sit down (or stand up). The following article will hopefully assist you in understanding how and why rest and recovery are very important factors in implementing a strength-training program.

One should keep in mind some basic principles of training when starting a program. The Overload Principle – For physical improvement to take place, workloads must impose a demand on the body’s systems. When the body becomes accustomed to existing work loads, new work loads must be added to keep the body challenged. The overload principle is closely related to The Principle of Super-Compensation – Super-Compensation is the period in which overload is needed to insure proper growth and progression. These principles can vary according to individuals’ genetics, body type, sex, age, present condition, type of stimulus, intensity of stimulus, and duration.

The overload principle is responsible for producing hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the term used to indicate the existence of muscle growth (increased muscle size). When a muscle is forced to respond to increasing demands, it will gain strength and grow in size in order to protect itself. This brings up an interesting point - Growth (progress) occurs during your rest period, NOT during the training. Although it may appear that an increase in size occurs during training, this is actually brief and it is what some strength athletes refer to as the “pump.” This happens as a result of the increased blood flow “pumping” into the muscle(s) being exercised. What one is actually doing to the muscle(s) when training is creating very small tears in the muscle fibers. These small tears breakdown muscle tissue and if proper rest is achieved before the next time that muscle tissue is broken down --- progress and growth are the results. The muscle tissue creates scar tissue (i.e. repairs itself) over the small tears in order to protect itself and prepare for the increasing demands being imposed on it ---HYPERTROPHY. But if the muscle tissue is broken down again before it has been given sufficient time to recover and repair then the principles of Overtraining and Diminishing Returns take effect.

As a general rule, 48 to 72 hours is usually the time it takes for a given muscle or body part to fully recover and repair from an exercise IF one is applying the principle of overload. Keep in mind though, as stated previously, there are many factors that may change the recovery time. There are many people who, because of their fitness level, age, intensity, etc., may require more or less rest and recovery. I have found that most of my clientele need a minimum of 72 hours to fully recover from a total body strength-training workout.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is common when exercising. DOMS usually peaks at 24 hours following a workout. Muscle soreness, however, should not be the only component to consider when choosing to exercise next. Temper dedication with judgment and moderation. Too much of anything can be bad for your health. If you train too hard, too long, and too fast without proper rest and recovery, the body rejects progress and deteriorates. Strength train within your own capabilities and you will enjoy your exercise experiences and reap the benefits of life long health, strength, and fitness.

Physical Culture

Vital Nutrition

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nice Home Gym Set-Up in Ireland

Hey Bob,

All moved into the new gym - that was WORK and I was only moving 10 miles down the road I can't imagine the pain of moving it from Washington, DC to Florida!

I've included a few photos of the new gym.

Anyways the gym is approx 225 square feet, 8ft high to the wall plate. The floor is covered with stall mats 1.5 inches thick.

Equipment wise it has the power rack my dad made for me when I was 18

Approx 320kg in York olympic plates ( even though I don't really consider them "real" york plates as they came with 140kg barbell sets, the paint is chipping off some and I'm fairly sure they are chinese and not american made)

Some PDA stainless steel fractional plates in grams

Approx 150kg of york standard plates (again I do not consider them "real" york plates")

An early PDA shrugbar

An Ironmind Buffalo bar ( I use this on and off)

2 "york" olympic bars that came with 140kg sets

assorted standard barbells

Nautilus Pullover 2ST

Hammer Incline Press

Hammer 45 degree back extension

Stairmaster 4400CL

Exercise bike

Next thing on the list is to save up for a good quality olympic bar everything over here or by the time I get it over here easily ends up costing over twice what it does in the states. It will probably be next summer / autumn before I can afford it but I'm considering Ivanko, York, pendlay, texas power bar - I'm still reading reviews and pricing - have you got any recommendations for a good quality bar that I should also be considering?

Stu - your Irish brother in Iron

Stu, I would recommend the same ones you mentioned but I would also check to see if you could get a used ELEIKO bar. -Bob

Physical Culture

Vital Nutrition

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Build Muscular Size and Strength - By Lanier Athletic

Originally Posted on on December 17, 2002

Most people need to add to the muscle on their bodies. This extra muscle, for most people, is just to replace the muscle lost by aging, dieting, and a sedentary lifestyle. The inevitable effect of this lost muscle is 1) Extra fat due to slower metabolism, 2) Bodily proportions showing less muscle and more fat, and 2) Decreased functionality due to decreased strength.

For more of the reasons to add muscle, see "Loss of Muscle Mass is the Real American Fitness Problem".

The purpose of this article is to address many of the misconceptions that exist concerning how to add muscular size and strength.

The basic principles of proper strength training are rather simple. The bottom line is that it requires "hard work" to gain muscular size and strength.

What Do You Mean by "Hard Work"

Many people confuse "hard work" with "lots of work". These phrases are not the same in exercise. In fact you can’t do both. You can not work really HARD for very long. If you are working out for a long time, you are not working hard. Hard work (also called high-intensity training) means each exercise should be continued to the point of temporary momentary muscular failure.

What method should you use to strength train? The method used in a strength training program is called its protocol. The protocol describes such things as frequency of training, number of repetitions and sets, number of machines, what weight to use, and how to progress to more weight as you get stronger. There are lots of different protocols which all work to some extent. For the beginning weight lifter we recommend either Standard Nautilus Protocol or Super Slow® Protocol. Write ups of these protocols are included in your membership packet. The reason for choosing these two very similar protocols is that they are simple, time efficient, they stress form by being relatively slow, and they get results. Both protocols call for a single set of exercises and has the advantage of producing good results in a short time (30 minutes, 3 times per week). Super Slow® Protocol places an emphasis on safety and form, and research has shown it to be the most productive method for beginners when a personal trainer is used. This method is very intense and is best learned with a personal trainer. Once you have learned Super Slow®, however, a workout partner works very well. Eventually you may decide to try some of the multi- set protocols, working different body parts each day, etc. These topics are well beyond the scope of an introductory document such as this one.

But It Really Hurts

Unfortunately, high-intensity strength training is quite painful toward the end of each exercise. This is only bearable because the exercise does not last very long. In fact, there is less than 1/2 minute of discomfort for each exercise. The results of working out this way are dramatic and well worth the temporary discomfort. Also, the discomfort will not bother you nearly as much, once you have become used to it. Don’t try to achieve maximum effort at the beginning. Just try to work a little harder each time.

Should a Beginner Work That Hard?

This depends on factors like age, physical limitations and experience with the equipment. If you have no health problems, you should be able work hard fairly soon. It is more important, however, to learn good form at the beginning, than it is to finish that final repetition

Size vs Strength

Most people think there is a difference between muscular size and muscular strength and that you can increase one without increasing the other. This is physiologically impossible. A muscle becomes stronger by becoming bigger. If a muscle is bigger, it is also stronger.

But I’ve seen people with small muscles lift more weight than people with large muscles.

There are two principles involved here, 1)neurological efficiency, and 2)skill. Neurological efficiency is a hereditary characteristic referring to a person’s ability to use his/her muscles. Those with greater neurological ability are able to utilize a higher percentage of their muscles than those with lower neurological ability. If the person with the smaller muscles (and better neurological ability) increases his muscular size, he would be even stronger. A person can only be compared to himself when comparing muscle size and strength relationships. Also, many weightlifting feats which are thought to be a test of strength are, at the least, equally a test of skill. A skilled weightlifter can easily lift much more than an unskilled person of similar strength.

The Role of Heredity

A potential range of strength has been set for everyone at birth. This range is usually quite large, especially for men. The average untrained male can improve his strength by 300% with proper training. This figure is 150% for the average female. The message here is that though everyone can make major improvements in their muscular size and strength, very few can be competitive bodybuilders..

What Causes Muscle to Grow?

Muscle growth is a defense mechanism in response to the body perceiving that it is not strong enough to meet environmental demands. In this case, the environmental demands come from high intensity strength training. Other forms of exercise also cause the muscle growth response, but to a lesser extent.

The Importance of Rest

The purpose of the exercise is to stimulate the body to grow. The growth takes place during a time of rest. If there is inadequate rest, some or all of the strength improvements will be inhibited.

What About Nutrition

Nutrition is the third requirement. The average American diet provides more than enough of the nutrients needed for good health and muscular growth. Eating a balanced diet of moderate portions is more important than Food supplements and Protein Powders.

Use Good Form and Don’t hold your breath. Whatever method of strength training you use, learn and use proper form. When done incorrectly, weight training can lead to unnecessary soreness and even injury. Also, it is dangerous to hold or control your breath during lifting because it raises your blood pressure.

Don’t work through pain.

This is referring to joint pain rather than muscle discomfort. When starting on weights, learn how to safely and productively strength train. Strength training is the most productive of exercises, but only if done safely. If you have trouble with pain in a joint, ask Lanier Athletic Center staff. Remember, you’re supposed to be exercising for your health. Surgical procedures, a possible result of repeatedly working through pain, is not health enhancing.

Physical Culture

Monday, October 15, 2012

Q & A - Best Books and Propper Mindset - Brad Steiner

Dear Brad,

Here are a few questions for you from Paul M.

1. What would be the top books on self defense that you would have me read. I think that you recommend several on Paladin Press right?

2. I think its wise to try to de-flate or avoid conflict when possible right? But once you know it can't be avoided and you are threatened you must act. What is the propper mindset an individual should have once he decides he must fight?

Hi Paul,

I thank you for your questions.

Some of the top books on self-defense are books that really do not address the topic of "self-defense" per se, but rather are excellent treatments of close combat.

Book #1 is Kill Or Get Killed, by Rex Applegate (I suggest the WARTIME — i.e. the FIRST (1942) — edition . . . reprinted by Paladin Press)

Book #2 is All-In Fighting, by William Fairbairn (Reprint available from Paladin Press)

Book #3 is Cold Steel, by John Styers (Reprint available from Paladin Press)

Book #4 is Hand-to-Hand Combat, U.S. Navy V-5 Physical Education Book (Reprint available from Paladin Press)

Book #5 is BruceTegnér's Complete Book of Jukado, by Bruce Tegnér (Paperback and other versions for sale on eBay, and through many channels on the internet)

Book #6 is Self-Defence Complete, by Pat Butler (Out of print, but copies available and well worth purchasing, on line)

I would also refer you to my web site, for the Book Review Section, which you'll find helpful.

I agree with you 100% about the need to strive always to avoid violence and trouble. In fact, I have an article on our web site in which I explain that AVOIDANCE is in fact Technique #1.

Once it is clear that you are in real danger and cannot walk away, diffuse, or somehow talk your way out of a situation, and you must act to defend yourself, only an attitude of total fury and committment — utter ruthlessness and fierce disregard of anything save stopping your attacker — is in order. There's no "nice way" to defend yourself, I'm afraid.

You should expect to get hurt and disregard anything but dropping your attacker. Remember that human beings can be exceedingly difficult to "shut down" once aroused and on the attack determinedly, so followup, followup, and FOLLOWUP! Once you know that you must defend yourself do so and relent only when your attacker is harmless. This occurs — a) If he runs away (Let him go), b) If you can safely escape (Go ahead and get out of there!), or, if neither of those things obtain, then c) When your attacker has lost the ability and the will to endanger you further (Strike no more once it is clear to you that no danger is any longer present).

I wish you well, and if you have any further questions please know that I will do my best to answer them for you.


Brad Steiner


Physical Culture

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Psychology of the 20-Rep Squat - By Phil Escott

From Hardgainer #55 - July/Aug 98'

Twenty-rep squats done to a person's absolute limit are so productive that they are practically indispensable to most hard gainers' routines. If you really want to grow without drugs there is no substitute for cycles of full-bore squats. The strength of character needed to push your body through 20-rep squats is not easy to find for most people. It's much easier to be influenced by opinions that advocate far longer workouts done to way less than maximum intensity.

Is it all hell, then? No. The satisfaction of breaking further into new poundages is extremely satisfying, not only for itself but also for the physical and mental gains it produces. Anyone who perseveres diligently with a cycle where they are breaking personal records every week on the 20-rep squat, whatever the weight they are lifting, deserves serious respect. The trouble is, too few people want to push themselves that far, and most beginners give up at their first taste of just how hard it is.

I'd like to share some of the ideas I've applied in order to keep people at intensive 20-rep squatting, and keep their gains coming. Most of these I devised for myself, as I've no natural willpower. I've had to tricks to keep me from giving up cycles short of my maximums, and to keep me from putting the bar back after 15 or even 10 reps!

I lifted my first weight at age 29 and never had a huge desire to be big. Strangely enough that attitude is what actually led me to the correct way to work out. After following routines designed for the steroid heads for a couple of years, and getting nowhere, I read hardgainer and brawn and the ideas there made sense. A lot of my acquaintances decided that they didn't want to chance these abbreviated workouts "in case they lost their muscle"! I wasn't really bothered about muscle, but I knew I was only really interested in the major barbell movements. I followed the principles of abbreviated training, and finally started to grow. Then I got interested in muscle!

In early 1997 I took over a gym in my home town that I used to train at before I got a power rack and stayed home. I was a bit nervous at first as many of the trainees there have been training longer than me and are stronger. I was worried that they would not be receptive to abbreviated workouts. I needn't have worried as many of them seemed tired of conventional stuff and were gagging for a change. I've now had experienced, intermediate and novice trainees on abbreviated program, and the results have been phenomenal.

Many who hadn't had any arm growth for years put an inch or more on their arms–and this was without any specific arm training, just heavy routines based on the squat, deadlift or stiff-leg deadlift, bench press, a row or pulldown, maybe a shoulder press, and some grip work. Curls are only allowed if somebody is new to the routines and absolutely insists on training arms. They usually happily drop the curls after a few weeks when they get into the spirit of things. It's so gratifying to have more and more people asking me to write out routines for them once they see the gains piling on the others. I now have total confidence in putting people on these workouts, however experienced they may be. Because I believe that the squat is one of the main cornerstones of training, if not the main cornerstone, here are some of the ways I have found to encourage people to get their sets and cycles finished.

I have a slightly different view of the Iron Game to most trainees because prior to getting into weights my only form of exercise was yoga, and I only used that as a preparation for meditation. Some of my way of thinking about squats has come from the experiences I had then, and I'd still say the best training aid anyone could have is to learn to meditate. The focus and visualization powers it gives you are worth ten thousand dodgy food supplements!

Tips to Squat By

The first thing to get out of the way is that a set of full-bore 20-rep squats should begin the night before. It goes without saying that your eating and sleeping should be in order generally, but it is particularly important to be well rested the night before tackling a heavy set. Eat well, too.

When you are doing one set of 20 near your maximum you need to cut out as many variables as you can in order to track your progress as accurately as possible. This could come down to wearing the same shoes, using the same equipment at the gym, and performing each set from week to week in the same manner for a whole cycle, i.e., taking squats to parallel. There is no point adding to the weight lifted if you are not going down as far. Progressive resistance is the key; make sure you know it is progress and not cheating.

A good idea is to set yourself up for squats in a power rack in front of a mirror with no weight on the bar. Get somebody to tell you exactly when you are at parallel, look in the mirror and see where the bar lines up on the rear uprights. Mark the spot so that you know for sure that every rep is the same even when there's so much discomfort late in a set that it feels like you are parallel even when you're only halfway down. There are other ways of ensuring you don't cheat reps, but this way works a treat if you have the appropriate equipment.

Before beginning a cycle it is a good idea to set some rules for all your sets. The two I insist on are:

a. If you take the bar onto your shoulders to start a set, the full 20 reps must be completed unless you get trapped at the bottom on the failing bars, or you feel that you sustained some injury (which should not happen if correct form is observed). The bar must never be put back on the rack just because you are suffering mere discomfort.

b. Every rep must be to parallel–no cheating. The proviso here is that your lower back must not round. If your lower back rounds at the parallel depth, try a wider stance with toes turned out more. That stance change may enable you to go a bit deeper without your lower back rounding.

With those rules established you need some mental techniques to get you through each set. Squats are largely a head game. You can do those last two reps; you aren't really at failure; it's just your head crying out for you to stop because the general discomfort is so intense. But how do you convince your body of that?

In watching many people on a 20-rep squat routine I've seen how different characters cope with the intense discomfort, but there are some things that can help all types. When the temptation to put the bar back is becoming almost unbearable here's a few things you can try. These principles can be adapted for any exercise.

1. Retreat

This is where experience of meditation can be helpful. There is a place inside us where we are the witnesses of what is happening to our bodies, and retreating there can lessen the discomfort of squatting. Just watch yourself as if you were watching a film. Become disconnected from the pain, observe it, react to it, but don't get overwhelmed by it. Now direct all your muscular effort to the target muscles instead of squirming and losing the form with potentially dangerous results.

2. Regroup and set up

You have just completed a rep and your head is scrambled. This is not the time to rush the next rep however quickly you'd like the set to end. This will just set you up for injury. Instead of focusing on the pain, breathe, regroup your thoughts, focus on your form checklist to keep the next rep as good as possible. "Back straight, midsection tight, lower under control, drive up in good form, no squirming." Right, go for the rep and get back to the top with your head scrambled again. Regroup your thoughts again, and "enjoy" the next rep.

3. Life or death

What about if the rep just won't go up? Providing you are sure you have applied the previous two steps, you can now turn it into a life or death situation. Convince yourself that you are trapped under a car or lorry and you have to lift it up or you'll be crushed. Puts a sense of urgency on the rep that will make you realize that you have reserves when needed. Got any kids? A morbid variation of this is to imagine one of them is trapped instead–works for me every time! Ever heard about mothers lifting cars to get their children out from underneath? This is the intensity we need in order to trigger the growth process!

The more I see people succeeding or failing in 20-rep squat routines, the more I believe it is a test of character as much as a test of physical strength. No matter how much character we may possess, though, failing on a weight can be very demoralizing and blow a cycle before its natural end. Sets can be blown late in a cycle for various reasons–bad eating, not enough rest, lack of motivation or preparation, or poundage increases that are too great. Keep the gains coming for as long as you can by keeping all these bases covered. Good luck!

Physical Culture

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Training and Self-Defense/Martial Arts Questions Wanted for Brad Steiner's Section

Please email me any Strength Training or Self-Defense/Martial Arts questions that you would like to ask Brad Steiner. Thank You. Email:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Genetic Potential and Exercise Choice - By Ron Sowers

Originally posted on on February 4, 2003

Being a natural trainer is the smartest and most rewarding choice a lifter can make, the gains we make are REAL! We must though, pay close attention to recovery. In doing so, an abbreviated program is most often and wisely chosen. There are many programs available, all with strong proponents to back them up. But just how brief should a program be? Some proponents claim you will only EVER need 3 or 4 basic exercises to completely transform your physique. EVERY muscle will develop to it's fullest!

I do completely concur that some of us do have such limited recovery reserves that we must perform the absolute bare minimum in our programs. The only thing I would like to put forth, is that some of these programs, the ones which suggest only EVER using this small handful of exercises, will leave many muscles lacking in development.

The training is based on the contention, that if we reach our maximum strength on several core exercises, that we will also reach our genetic limits of size in ALL muscles involved in those exercises. Note: This article is not written to say we must include a large number of exercises, or construct workouts peppered with isolation exercises, but, it is to point out that we may not be able to reach our genetic limits in size, in ALL muscle groups, if too few exercises are used in the course of our training career.

If we fail to include at least some variance of exercises in routines, even though we are "using" all, or most all of our muscles, my contention is that some of these muscles may not be working to a hard enough intensity to illicit the maximum growth response. For example, some trainee's bone structure is such that the triceps are always the first to fail in the bench press. Now if this trainee uses the bench press as their ONLY pec/delt/triceps exercise, for most of their exercise career, and their bone structure is such as I just described, then, what will happen when the triceps reach their genetic size/strength development? Progress on the bench ceases, and since no poundage increases can be made, progress and size gains also cease for the pecs and the delts. Even though, much growth potential may still be available. Also, in this circumstance, since the triceps always were the dominant muscle group, or weak link, in the bench, the pecs and delts are most likely underdeveloped. This scenario would be even more evident in leg development. The squat is usually, and almost always chosen as THE quad building exercise. And it does deserve this reputation, although, when the muscle or group that IS the weak link in the squat, reaches it's limits, progress on the squat ceases, just as in the example of the bench press, and growth is halted in all other muscles in the thighs.

It has been scientifically proven that a larger muscle FIBER is also stronger, and visa-versa. So it stands to reason that by stimulating a muscle to grow stronger, it will also make it larger. I am sure that if you could actually remove a muscle, for example, the vastus medialis, from several different people, the largest muscle would be the strongest. But this is where I believe the so called 'rub' is. We have all experienced or witnessed the following: Person "A" is able to squat 500 pounds, but their quads appear smaller in size than the quads of person "B", who can only squat 350! Since we know "A" has the same internal structure as "B", ie. muscle fibers, connective tissue, etc. , the only explanation (besides neurological efficiency} is that the quadriceps muscles of person "B" MUST be stronger, even though this strength does not translate synergistically to the squat exercise.This person might have included other forms of thigh training periodically, or their particular joint leverages are such that their quads received a higher workload when squatting. Person "A" might want to include leg extensions to offset the size/strength imbalance. For example, the function of the Vastus Medialis muscle, is to pull the patella towards the inside of the leg, keeping the "knee cap" on track and assisting with extension. This muscle only shows high activity in the last few degrees of thigh extension. This means, a basic squat will not provide complete stimulation for this muscle.

Another example of how this can easily be visualized is as this: Imagine that your biceps insertion tendon is fixed in such a way that you require huge poundages in the curl exercise to reach failure at 10 reps. Your program dictates that you perform chins as your only lat/bicep exercise. What will happen, is while performing the exercise, your lats will experience the brunt of the work since your biceps have such a huge mechanical leverage advantage. Years later, when the lats reach their genetic limits, your progress in the chin will come to a halt. At this point though, your biceps still have MUCH potential for growth remaining, which will never actualize if a specific exercise for the biceps is not chosen.


Basic exercises should always be the framework of our routines. Even though we can build a great deal of size and strength with programs including only, Squats, Dips and Deadlifts, (for example} performed 4-8 times a month, it may be wise to periodically cycle between exercises and include more compound movements and a few well chosen isolation exercises.

Physical Culture