Tag Archives: bodybuilding

It’s Not How Much You Lift; It’s How You Lift It

“It’s not how much you lift; it’s how much you look like you can lift.” — IFBB Pro Bob Cicherillo

I’m decently strong. I deadlifted 405 at age 22. I can do 20 full range chin-ups in my 30’s. With that said, I don’t really care. If someone were to ask me, “How much do you bench?”, I don’t really know. When I go through my workouts, I blindly select a weight, whatever feels right.

You see, for most people’s primary fitness goal (vanity, let’s just get that out of the way right now), lifting the weight should be a secondary goal. What you’re really doing is applying resistance to motor patterns. Muscles control skeletons, therefore, movement is created by muscles. The key is to feel the contraction of the muscles with just enough load applied, not arbitrarily lifting the weight by any means necessary.

When I workout in commercial gyms, most of the people on the machine before me use way too much weight. They are thinking about lifting heavy loads rather than contracting the muscles and it shows in their [lack of] development. So here’s my tip: focus on control and applying loads to intentional movements rather than lifting weight. The “how to” is a subject of hands-on training; but if you apply this to every set, every rep, you’ll be way ahead of the game. Your joints will be healthy. And the best part is, it doesn’t matter how strong you are; you’ll look strong.

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No Such Thing as Natural Bodybuilding

I will preface this post by saying that regular weight training is one of the best things you can do for your health and physique. With that said, I’ve been to enough bodybuilding events including Olympia to know that there is no muscle industry without steroids. This applies to both men and women.

Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS) refers to a class of hormonal drugs that promote anabolic (tissue building) and androgenic (secondary male sexual characteristics) effects. Different drugs predominate in one area or the other, but all AAS promote both of these effects to some degree. Keep in mind that bodybuilders also take drugs such as Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Insulin, and Diuretics (the final water loss before a show to create that shrink-wrapped look).

There are “natural” organizations, but natural really means “clean”. Clean means you can pass a drug test. The physique industry is synonymous with steroids like Irish pubs are synonymous with booze. You can’t have one without the other. The smallest (size-wise) Mr. Olympia ever was Frank Zane. He won the Mr. Olympia at less than 200 lbs. but he was not natural. He might not be a steroid monster like the pros of today, but he was certainly juicing, at least with mild anabolics.

Frank Zane, 3-time Mr. Olympia, also known as 'The Chemist'.

Frank Zane, 3-time Mr. Olympia, also known as ‘The Chemist’.

Fat Free Mass Index (FFMI) — Maximum theoretical muscle mass

The Fat Free Mass Index is supposedly the most amount of lean body mass that a drug-free bodybuilder can attain. In my opinion, however, not all athletes with a high FFMI of 24 or 25 (fitness models, for instance), got there without chemical assistance.

Prohormones — Steroids without side effects?

Utter nonsense. If the medication is not working on the androgen receptor (increasing acne/oily skin, aggression, and accelerated genetic predisposition expression of male pattern baldness), it’s not promoting anabolic effects, either (muscle-building, bone density, decreased fat mass).

Creatine — Most effective muscle-building supplement

Creatine is not a hormone, but a fuel source for working muscles. Energy is created for short-burst muscle activity in the breakdown of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate = 3) to ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate = 2). Creatine donates a phosphate group (+1) making more fuel available for muscle cells. I’ve personally gained 9 – 10 lbs. of lean mass by loading creatine. It’s cheap–a six-month supply of high-quality creatine monohydrate (Creapure) is only 30 bucks. However, you should check with your doctor to see if creatine monohydrate supplementation is safe for you.