Monday, April 29, 2013

Natural Genetic Potential, Casey Butt, Reg Park, Formulas.....The Truth

After writing the post Bodybuilding Dirty Little Secrets I received an e-mail asking about Casey Butt and his formula for natural potential. Of course the main question was whether the formula is correct or not. The formula is not correct and is overestimating your potential since it's based on the bodybuilders such as Reg Park, Steve Reeves, George Eiferman and others who were not clean. 

Reg Park and Anabolic Steroids

From Wikipedia

After a second full year of training, Park broke what had been an American monopoly on bodybuilding titles by winning the 1951 National Amateur Bodybuilders Association (NABBA) Amateur Mr. Universe. He cemented his superstar status by winning the 1958 AND 1965 NABBA Pro Mr. Universe titles. Standing 6'1" and with a top weight of 250 pounds, Park was known for his muscular mass and was a forerunner to modern bodybuilding. Park was also renowned for his strength, which he often demonstrated in contests and strongman exhibitions. He is on record as the first bodybuilder to bench press 500 lbs. As an actor, Park made five films — all Italian Hercules sword and sandal.

Casey Butt is one of those guys who like to play it "nerdy" using statistics and what not but I can prove to you that Reg Park was not a natural bodybuilder without fancy mathematical formulas. Just look at the picture above. What do you see? You see Arnold who was using steroids since his teens and next to him you see Reg who is pretty much the same size, same bodyfat and similar height. Do you really think that he got to that level with just squats and eating good? He was also quite strong. He is the first bodybuilder to bench press - 500 lbs. Wait a second. What's Arnold's best bench? Around 450lbs for 5 reps which equals about 500 lbs maximum bench press. Wait a second. 500lbs bench press is pretty much almost as strong as today's bodybuilders. So, you are telling me that Reg park is:

- a guy who competed at a bodyweight of about 220 lbs at 6'1 low body fat;
- gave Arnold (known steroid abuser) a run for his money;
- bench pressed 500lbs;
- had a long career and lived in time when steroids were legal and could be found easily;
- was obsessed with bodybuilding;

and did not take anything?

If a guy with similar status appears on a training forum and claims that he is natural most people would laugh at him but because bodybuilders are delusional and feel nostalgic when it comes to Arnold's role model they choose to believe he is natural. Wake up.

Since the estimations of Casey Butt are based on steroid lifters (all of the guys presented here are not natural) I would advise you not to use his formulas, calculators, books or whatever.

The real natural potential of bodybuilders with good genetics are:

Note: The below weight is for people with 4-6% BF (body fat percentage). This is a very, very low percentage that most people will never really reach. To reach the above weight at such a low body fat is super impressive despite what people tell you. You will look amazing without clothes. Before somebody starts sending me death threat please check your body fat first.
5'5     135

5'6     142
5'7     149
5'8     156
5'9     163
5'10   170
5'11   177
6'0     184
6'1     191
6'2     198
6'3     205
6'4     212
6'5     219
6' 6    226
As far as measurements are concerned it's really hard to tell - some people have good arm genetics, others have good chest genetics. How much will measure your different bodyparts is a pointless estimation. However without drugs or holding higher body fat you you won't weight more than the above. Once again the above estimation is for people with decent genetics and really low bodyfat.
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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bodybuilding Dirty Little Secrets

I wish people were honest with me when I started training.
I wish people were not pushing their own products in my face.
I wish there were no lies.
I wish somebody told me the sweet truth about bodybuilding when I was young...

Bodybuilding has lied to you. Actually bodybuilding has lied to everybody and this is the truth, the truth that nobody wants to tell and everybody denies.

Bodybuilding is a sport built on PEDs (Performance Enhancement Drugs). Without PEDs there is no bodybuilding. None. 

When did bodybuilding start? According to the current data "the first bodybuilder" was Eugen Sandow who was born in 1867. He is the only world famous bodybuilder you are likely to hear about who was natural. The only one. However while the body of EugeneSandow is achievable naturally there are rumors that he used amphetamines to look drier/more ripped during his show/presentation day. But when were amphetamines discovered ?

From wikipedia

Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887, by the German chemist L. Edeleano, the stimulant effects were not noticed. In the early 1930s, when amphetamine's CNS stimulant properties and use as a respiratory stimulant were discovered it was marketed as an inhaler for nasal congestion. At this time, medical professionals recommended amphetamine as a cure for a range of ailments-alcohol hangover, narcolepsy, depression, weight reduction, hyperactivity in children, and vomiting associated with pregnancy.

So, it's quite questionable whether Eugen Sandow used amphetamines but it's safe to say that his mass and level of leanness are clearly achievable naturally. 

Every FAMOUS bodybuilder after Eugene Sandow is not natural and used/experimented/abused/ultra-abused steroids and other recreational drugs. The first bodybuilder that comes to mind is Steve Reeves. Steve Reeves was not a natural bodybuilder. He did experiment with low doses of steroids and other drugs. Truth be told people from back then are no different than people today - they still did everything in their power to get bigger. Everything. 

As 2PAC would say: "Some things will never change."

After Eugene Sandow's death the scene of bodybuilding changed completely. The two famous bodybuilders were John Grimek and Steve Reeves. However Steve Reeves was much more Hollywood material due to his facial features and that's why he has become the face of bodybuilding at that time. He was Arnold before Arnold. He possessed that classic macho, a little too sensitive, look and people loved it. 

Steve Reeves had excellent genetics for bodybuilding - small waist, wide shoulder, strong bones. During his military service Steve was called "The Shape". However there was one secret behind his reign few people know. That little secret is called - John Bosley Ziegler or the godfather of Methandrostenolone (known as Dianabol/D-bol). While D-bol was originally released in the 1960s by Ciba Specialty Chemicals (company Ziegler worked for at some point in his career) there were prototypes of the product already during the 1940s. 

Excerpts from the article: Testosterone Dreams: Sex, doctors, and the male hormone

"Testosterone was first synthesized in 1935. Shortly after testosterone was produced in a European laboratory, following a competition among three pharmaceutical companies, Time magazine reported that: German and Swiss chemical laboratories are already prepared … to manufacture from sheep’s wool all the testosterone the world needs to cure homosexuals (and) revitalize old men.”

"The first public advocate of testosterone therapy for aging men was the popular science journalist Paul de Kruif, whose manifesto The Male Hormone was published with some fanfare in 1945. Excerpted in Reader’s Digest and promoted by a full-page review in Newsweek (“Hormones for He-Men”), The Male Hormone was in some respects a prophetic book. The potential market for a rejuvenating male hormone seemed to be enormous: “How many millions of American males, not the men they used to be, would flock to the physicians and the druggist, a bit shame-faced and surreptitious, maybe, but hopeful, murmuring: ‘Doc, how about some of this new male hormone?’

During that period of time (the 40s)  Ziegler experimented - on himself and athletes with many testosterone versions. Ziegler already had access to the popular steroid testosterone propionate and the extremely dangerous fat burner DNP. There was also experimentation with the powerful hormone insulin. The really scary part is that were are talking about the 1940s -the prime years of Steve Reeves. He, Grimek and a bunch of other lifters did catch that phase and were no strangers to the "finishing touch"*

During the 70s and 80s or in other words the era of Arnold Schwarzenegger steroids were quite common and used by pretty much most of bodybuilders. Arnold started taking steroids (mainly D-bol) at a very young age (teenager) and when he won Mr. Universe in 1969 at 19 years of age he was far from being a natural bodybuilder. He had really good structure and genetics but reality is - he did in fact take PEDs. All of this information was presented in the book called: Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography by Wendy Leigh. This book is very hard to find since Arnold's legal team is doing everything possible to eliminate its existence.

Many bodybuilders during the old days are trying hard to make everybody believe how little gear they used and that most of their success was due to the same old rules - training, diet, persistence. No, it was not like that. Here's an excerpt written by Nelson Montana, author of The Bodybuilding Truth.

I have fairly recently trained down in Florida with top pro of the 70's and early 80's CASEY VIATOR. 
I asked him directly about steroid use in the 70's and this is what he had to say.... and I quote... 
"Don't let anyone fool you about our low doses. We were just as reckless with steroid use as they are today." 
I asked him when the big doses started.... 
" The big doses started around 1974 and yes we were all right on top of it". Yes we ALL used GH back then and it was from real cadavers. The GH we all used was called CRESCORMIN and nobody was going to morgues to get it". 
I wanted an example and I told him about what I heard my mentor, and his friend and former training partner, Mike Mentzer used......only 400 of deca/week and 30 of d-bol/day. 
CASEY LAUGHED and then said this...." Mentzer used up to 2.5 grams of deca a week, God knows how much primobolin acetate, along with d-bol and growth, so as I said don't be fooled about our low doses as we were just as reckless as theses guys are today.  
I "left it at that" and didn't question him about HIS specific gear use because he really doesn't like to talk about steroids and is very much against their use in bodybuilding.....he is ashamed of his past gear use bro's but is perfectly aware that it allowed him to compete at a very high level and attain to success as one of the biggest and strongest form 73-83. 
During that same period of time the money loving Joe Weider had a vision - create an image using the best bodybuilders and show people a way to achieve that goal. The way was of course - supplements sold by him. Since many people would be training hard in the gym, emulating their heroes and yet staying far, far from their level of physical development there had to be a "supplement" that "makes" everything work. Joe Weider was selling those supplements. 

The advertisements contained fake promises, fake pictures and most of all no working products. Just like today. Reality is most of Weider supplements were just powder milk and sugar. They tasted horrible and were based on the myth that you need enormous loads of protein to build muscle mass. Many of the bodybuilders who advertised the products were not even using the supplements themselves - just like today. 

I have a question for you - how much money did you waist on supplements ? Don't get mad. We all did.

Bodybuilding had become really popular after the contest Mr. Olympia was created. The biggest bodybuilding contest to this day. The first Mr. Olympia was Larry Scott who was trained by the popular guru - Vince Gironda who himself was against steroids. Of course this was a lie and Vince Gironda took PEDs but responded poorly or as most people would say - "like a regular gym rat". One of the reasons he was a little too bitter and was screaming so loud against steroids. Virtually all of his pupils such as Larry Scott, Don Howorth, Rick Wayne, Mohamed Makkawy and many others used at least dianabol back in the day. Here's what they say about the subject:
Don Howorth: People said dianabol didn't do much but they were full of it. I took 20 mgs a day and my bench press skyrocketed. I never felt any side effects. I don't think I took enough to notice. 
Larry Scott: We only used a couple of dianabol pills a day and they really made a difference. Messed with the Libido though.

While the stories about "just a few pills" may be partially true the professional bodybuilders during the 80s were taking about 100mgs of d-bol and of course many other substances. Here's what THE MYTH Sergio Oliva has to say on the subject:

Sergio Oliva: This is an area of great interest for people. I don't care who wants to take steroids, because that's a personal choice... that's his life. Now, today, everybody has access to them. I even saw in one of the big magazines that Arnold denies having used them, but Arnold was one of the first to bring steroids over to America. And everybody in the old days used them: Zane, Columbu, myself, Arnold, Larry Scott, Harold Poole, Dave Draper, and even Steve Reeves. There's no way to deny it. It wasn't much, nothing like today. But the development of drugs is much different. I used decca and dianabol, and that was something really big at the time; and decca was not considered that bad. It was even prescribed by doctors to help make your bones strong. Today you have guys weighing 200 pounds, and six months later they weigh 250-300 pounds! So you know these guys are taking something unbelievable. When they say they haven't taken any thing, you know that it's phony.  (excerpt from interview made by By Brian D. Johnston )

After the Arnold era ended the bodybuilding scene was taken by guys Like Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, Nasser El Sonbaty..etc. They took the steroid abuse to the next level. Dorian Yates who is the prime example of average genetics was one of the first "mass monsters" mainly due to unheard before abuse of growth hormone and insulin. He was pushing 280lbs at 4% BF. Size only a few like Nasser El Sonbaty could match. At the same time he was promoting the so-called High Intensity training method made famous by Mike Mentzer. While the training principle itself has solid points most of it was pure hype and this method of training had absolutely zero impact on the outcome. The main rival of Dorian in 1997,  Nasser El Sonbaty, has admitted to drug use and criticized professional bodybuilders for lying and hiding the truth

Nasser El Sonbaty used a lot of drugs through his life but was one of the few bodybuilders honest with the "kids".

The first Mr. Olympia was 200 pounds at about 5'7 height. Today we have guys competing at 250 pounds/5'7 height. What changed? The supplement industry developed? Better training equipment? More knowledge? More food? No. None of that was the reason for the muscle size increase. There's nothing new under the sun. Supplements still do nothing and most of the research backing them up is paid behind the scenes and corruption is all over the place. The only thing that changed are the dosages. How much gear does a professional bodybuilder use? A lot - grams of testosterone and insane amount of growth hormone which alone costs USD 40 000+ a year. All that is a "public secret". The text below is a quote of Wayne Demilia, President of the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB)
When my guys tell you it costs more than $25,000 to get ready for a big contest, do you think they’re talking about pasta?
Despite claims like the above one many people continue to believe in miracles, wonders even though the reality is completely different. Truth be told if PEDs and other chemicals are removed from bodybuilding there won't be much improvement compared to Eugen Sandow's time. The only difference is that today's true natural bodybuilders compete a little leaner (less bodyfat) due to better dieting and recreational drugs such as yohimbe and the popular cutting stack - ECA (Ephedrine, coffeine and aspirin). Muscle size wise the natural guys are the same or at least the real ones are. 

Many people claim that dieting, training methods and better training equipment are the reason for the progress of bodybuilding. The truth however is that the changes are not that significant. Old school bodybuilders since Sandow's time were known to eat - eggs, meat, milk...wholesome foods. Actually there was even some sort of protein supplement called Plasmon used by the lifters. Arthur Saxon also wrote in The Development of Physical Power about drinking Bovril (a beef extract) on a regular basis in addition to his usual food. On top of that I would even add that during Sandow's time refined sugar products were not everywhere like they are today. The "fake" foods we find today in the stores and we see on TV were not part of people's diet. So, the diet was the same - protein rich foods. Yes, there were no iPhone applications to track your macros but people still managed to survive. Let's now take a look at the training methods.

The training methods during the early days were - lift heavy weight. Many people before Steve Reeve's time were not familiar with "repetitions". They were simply lifting maximum weight but without burning out or going to failure. Quite similar to the training philosophy presented by Pavel Tsatsouline in most of his books. Right about the time of Steve Reeves people started relying more on repetitions because of the pump and the faster increase in size. One of the biggest differences during the old days was that there were no training splits and everybody was training the whole body each training day. For example Steve Reeves routine looked like that:

All exercises were done each training day and the workouts took a lot of time. At some point people decided to split the body and train different body parts on different days in order to reduce the duration of the workouts and recover better. 

While people today are using splits we pretty much do the same thing. For example when you look at Steve Reeve's routine he does 1-2 exercises per bodypart and about 3 sets per exercise. That would make 6 sets per day or 18 sets a week. Modern bodybuilders usually do 4-5 exercises per bodypart each week. The number of sets is about 3-4. That makes around 20 sets per bodypart a week or volume similar to Steve's routine.

Regardless of how you train you won't gain two inches on your arm thanks to "evolved training method" and today even with all the "training advancement" people are still using old school routines such as 5x5, push/pull, 10x3...etc.

The only thing that changed over the last 70 years is the level of confusion. This is the truth and you may choose to ignore it and follow "Weider's training principles" or some other fancy over hyped training method but in the end of the today all natural bodybuilders end up having the same muscle mass as the guys from previous centuries. Why? It's quite simple actually - the level of testosterone in males and females has not changed dramatically. Without having large amount of testosterone in your body you will never build huge muscles. It's like trying to fly without wings - no matter how fast you move your arms eventually you fail miserably. The prove can actually be found in the usage of steroids - the bigger the dose, the bigger the man. In other words even if you are using steroids at some point in order to get bigger you will have to increase your dose or otherwise you won't grow after a certain point. There is a reason why professional bodybuilders are taking grams of anabolic steroids each week instead of 200mg of testosterone - you simply get bigger by using more drugs. 

Today just like the old days money is king. And how do you make money in the muscle world - by creating pipe dreams. The newest sensation right now are the fitness YouTube channels such as FlexForRail (Matt Ogus), TheHodgeTwins, CTFletcher and many others. Virtually 90% of the famous channels are owned by steroid users. A good example would be Matt Ogus who is clearly a steroid user competing in "natural competitions". The kid is barely 20 and has the muscle maturity of a 32 years old man training for 12 years. He is also ripped but has a bloated (water retaining) face. For those who don't know that's a pure sign of drug abuse. Yet many people are following him on YouTube because of his "precious" advice while he is "making bank" uploading value deprived videos of him showing nothing more than his huge ego and the effectiveness of anabolic drugs. 

Typical look of bloated steroid user

Without pipe dreams being sold nobody would make any money. Nobody. The supplement companies will bankrupt, the famous bodybuilders won't be payed, the "gurus" will vanish, the youtube channels of steroids users such Matt Ogus, HodgeTwins and Scooby will disappear.

It's all one big conspiracy - from the gym membership to the last protein shake. 

Imagine a world where everybody knew that every single supplement is useless?

Imagine a world where everybody knew that you don't need to train six times a week?

Imagine a world where everybody knew that natural training ends at 170lbs 5'10 5% BF if you have good genetics?

Imagine a world where the professional bodybuilders are barely bench pressing 300 lbs after 10 years of training?

Imagine a world where Mr. Olympia is 200lbs 6'3. 

Imagine that world. 

* finishing touch - most professional bodybuilders describe the usage of steroids as polishing of the physique while the reality is that drugs are the engine of bodybuilding and have been so from the start.
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mark Rippetoe Banned Me After Asking Him About Steroids!

Yesterday I registered on Mark Rippetoe's forums in order to ask him what kind of steroids he used but he banned me without answering. Not a big surprise since he is a big douche bag and only cares about money coming from selling his massively overrated book - Starting Strength. Here's what Rippetoe once said in regards to his pupils:

So, Mr. Rippetoe has no problem spreading stupid false knowledge about gaining muscle mass and yet he refuses to talk about steroids?

I see no difference between him and the fake supplement companies.


All of them are liars.

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Is Lazar Angelov Natural ?

Lazar Angelov is the newest and the hottest Bulgarian sensation. "Shredded as hell, big and aesthetic". I have received many questions from people wanting to know whether he is "natural" or drug sponsored.

No, Lazar Angelov is not natural. He is no stranger to hormones, T3, clen, tren and whatever else people use to get shredded these days. Why?

To me it's obvious because I have been training for a very long time and I've seen it all. I know how a natural looks like. In general a natural would never be that ripped during the whole year unless having those ectomorph genetics which allow you to stay lean (5% BF) while eating 3 500 calories a day. However most naturals with those kind of genetics are usually very small in that condition presented by Lazar Angelov. Simply said - this guy has way too much mass at 4% BF and his genetics are average.

Here's how your Natural Angelov used to look like:

Do you recognize that guy? It's your bro Lazar at 10% BF. 

Want to look like Lazar? 5% BF, legit 18 inches arms, during the whole year? Well, get the fuck out of my blog since I don't sell or promote anabolic steroids.
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rippetoe Does It Again

I just saw the newest article of Mark Rippetoe on T-Nation and couldn't resist to share my take on it. The article can be found here

Note: Don't buy T-Nation's supplements. 

According to Mark Rippetoe the main difference between a "true" trainer and a "fake" one is this: 

"he understands the difference between the primary exercises and the assistance exercises; they understand what they're used for and how they're programmed."

The whole article is written using the most annoying style on the planet earth a.k.a use so complicated terms that nobody understands until you repeat it five times. What Rippetoe is really saying in this article is this: focus on the basics and make sure you progress. That's it. No need to make people's heads hurt by writing 1500 words posts saying nothing.

The main reason Rippetoe recommends focusing on the basics is because that way you are going to buy his massively overrated book - Starting Strength. There is nothing wrong with doing assistance exercises and you can actually get super strong without ever doing the basic ones. Who is stronger, the guy who bench presses 300lbs or the guy that can do dips with 100lbs added weight? Who is stronger, the guy that can perform a pull-up with added 80lbs or the wannabe power cleaning 135lbs? Who is stronger, the guy who deadlifts 500lbs or the guy doing good morning with 225lbs?  

I am asking you, Rippetoe!

I absolutely hate Mark Rippetoe because he has done a lot of harm to many young lifters. It's all about money and he is no different than the companies he critisizes. Do you know how much money T-Nation pays for an article? USD 400. Yes, this is correct USD 400 for an article that can be written in a day. Why do I say that? Well, go on Ripptoe's forum and ask him what he thinks about T-Nation's supplements? He will tell you they suck and yet he does not reject receiving money for crappy articles. That's what I call being a greedy son of a bitch. 

I will never write for T-Nation unless they want me to publish an article about how much they suck and what kind of disrespectful scumbags they are. If they want to publish similar article I am all for it. Back to the subject.

Look, Mr. Rippetoe I know your PR team will sooner or later read this post. Listen to me carefully! You are not making people stronger. No. You are making people fatter. You are getting advantage of delusional lifters who believe Ronnie Coleman turned pro naturally. You are getting advantage of delusional morons who think 25% BF is the same as 5% BF. You became famous using Crossfit and now you are talking shit about it. You are fat.

Message to Starting Strength forum members - enjoy getting fat using the basic exercises.

Starting Strength - First Steps To 40% BF.
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The Dip

The dip is one of the oldest exercises. Not older than the push-up but still old. Parallel bars and pull-up bars have been built in many schools, parks, playgrounds...etc. The main reason for the popularity of the dip is the cheap equipment required for it and its effectiveness. 

The dips is a compound exercise for your chest, triceps and deltoids
The Basic Dip

In order to perform the basic dip you will need parallel bars or two chairs (not recommended). If you are going to perform dips on regular parallel bars the steps are:

1. Grip the bars with each hand and jump in order to get in position. Lean forward just a touch.

2. Keep your body very tense - abs, glutes, grip...etc and lower yourself until your elbow and shoulder are in one line. You may go deeper if your shoulders allow you.

There are three reason why you may be experiencing shoulder pain when doing dips:

- going too low; 
- being too weak;
- your shoulders reject doing dips no matter what;

It sucks but some pair shoulders just can't tolerate dips due to the extreme stretch at the bottom of the exercise and sometimes even getting stronger using other pushing exercises such as push-ups, bench press...etc still does not solve the issue. With that being sad I believe a lot of people out there who are currently experiencing shoulder pain during dips will be able to perform the exercise after improving their active flexibility and get stronger. 

3. Push yourself back up without using too much swinging.


- Use sturdy and secure bars/equipment in order to avoid injuries;

- Lower yourself under control - don't simply drop yourself and bounce back-up;

- Keep your core very tight during the movement - you will feel stronger;

- Don't go too low if you are not ready - parallel is good enough;

- Don't look up - look straight forward or slightly down;

- Don't hold your breath during the exercise but also don't let all your air go out. Stay tight, breathe shallow. Exhale slightly on the way up - that way you are stronger.

- Don't scream during the exercise;

- Warm-up your shoulders before attempting this movement;


Parallel Bar Dips

When you Can do about 20 dips add some weight using a backpack, dip belt...etc. Be patient and don't rush lifting big weights - your shoulders will thank you.

V-bar Dips

You can also perform dips on the v-bar. The main advantage is that you will able to choose the grip width according to your needs. This variation also works your chest a little harder. 

Gironda Dips

This variation is supposed to make your chest wider by focusing on the outer lower part. Needless to say your shoulders will get murdered. I recommend that you avoid it.

Ring Dips

Ring dips are very hard. 20 Parallel bar dips equal 4-5 dips on the rings. The stabilization required to perform a ring dip is just so demading. If you want to excel in ring exercises you can visit: (no need to buy the products just use the forum - it's all there.)

Triceps Bench Dips

This variation is designed to murder your triceps and it does. You can even add additional weight as shown in the picture. However I do NOT recommend this variation because the shoulder stress is higher compared to a free standing dip. 

Chest Dips

Chest dips are regular dips with a little forward lean in order to shift the stress to the chest muscles.

Russian Dips

This dip variation is designed to make you stronger for the muscle-up - it's hard.

Korean Dips

Korean dips are performed on a straight bar. The exercise is very advancedand requires a ton of shoulder flexibility. If you are goal are bodybuilding realted it offers no benefits compared to other safer variations. However if you want to be a "bad ass motherfucker on parallel bars and upload bad ass videos on youtube" it's a good movement.

Straight Bar Dips

Straight bar dips are a good movement to do when training towards a muscle-up. This movement is less stressfull on the shoulders due to the smaller range of motion and extreme forward lean required in order to stay balanced.

More variations


Q: Dips vs. Push-ups?

A: I wrote a post on this subject.

Q: What progression do you recommend if I can't do dips ?

A: I recommend that you do weighted push-ups on chairs - they will prepare your pushing musculature and joints for the dip. On top that it's actually a quite decent exercise itself.

Q: Do you recommend that I do clapping dips?

A: No. Too risky. If you won't to build explosive upper body just use clapping push-ups, speed bench press...etc.

Q: Is it true that my chest will look like man breast if I do too much dips?

A: No, dips develop the whole chest. The only way to have man boobs is to get fat as hell or abuse steroids and get gynecomastia. 


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Monday, April 22, 2013

All About The Biceps Curl

The biceps curl is one of the exercises that gets some serious hate from members of the Rippetoe cult and other iron puritans. Of course as you probably know there is nothing bad about doing biceps curls and today I am going to write all I know about this legendary movement.

The most popular way to perform the biceps curl is to use dumbbells. Yes, the dumbbell biceps curls are more popular than the barbell curl because more people have dumbbells at home than barbells. The standard way to perform a dumbbell curl is the following.

Step 1: Grab a pair of dumbbells

While this is pretty straight forward action and technically not a part of the exercise there are still a few fine points I feel I should mention. When you are picking your dumbbells from the ground make sure that you use proper form. A lot of people disrespect the weight and sometimes get injured by lifting really light weights because of twisting.

Imagine you are performing a dumbbell deadlift like this:

By keeping your spine in a neutral alignment you are essentially ruling out the possibility to hurt your back. And since the weight you will use for biceps curls is pretty light I would say you will never injure your back if you lift the dumbbells this way.

Step 2: Get in position and curl up

Turn your palms so that they point away from you. Brace your abs and squeeze the dumbbells super hard. By squeezing the dumbbells super hard you will become stronger due to the increased tension and tension equals strength. Also when you brace your abs you are essentially protecting your spine from twisting. Once you are in position just bring the dumbbells up.

Dumbbell Biceps Curl Variations

Alternating arms - when doing dumbbell biceps curls you have the opportunity to alternate each arm or in other words to first curl with one arm and then with the other. That way you can focus more on your form. Avoid too much swinging and playing around.

Seated dumbbell biceps curls - you can also perform seated dumbbell biceps curls as recommended by the "guru" Vince Gironda. The main benefit is that you save some energy and your form is even stricter since any twisting and arching of the back is more pronounced.

Incline biceps dumbbell curls - this variation changes the angle and places more stress on the center part of the biceps. Many people prefer to do it this way because the stress is felt right in the muscle belly while performing the exercises the conventional way sometimes can place a little too much stress on the inner elbow and biceps tendons. Of course the most popular reason people do incline curls is to achieve a better peak. Biceps peaks however are more dependant on genetics than exercises.

Dumbbell Spider Curls - another way to perform the dumbbell biceps curl is to lay on an incline bench the opposite way (protect your genitalia). This move was made popular by Larry Scott and is also designed to increase your bicep peak.

Zottman Curls - zottman curls are a movement designed to strengthen your wrist extensors. It was made popular by George Zottman. 

The exercise is a regular dumbbell curl with a wrist rotation at the top. Perform a regular bicep curl but at the top of the exercise turn your wrist so that the palms point away from you. Then simply lower the weight under control. You will have to use less weight since the wrist extensors are weaker compared to your wrist flexors.

Hammer curls with dumbbells - hammer curls are a great exercise to do if you have some sort of biceps pain around the elbow area because the stretch of the biceps is much smaller. Due to the grip (neutral) the brachialis which is a muscle between your biceps and triceps is helping a lot. Your forearm gets worked as well. 

This exercise is quite often used by arm wrestlers.

Concentration curls - this is a "one arm at a time" variation. It is designed to fully isolate the biceps and work the center of the muscle belly. In order to perform the movement you just need a bench/chair to sit on. Then simply lock your elbow at your knee and lift the dumbbell. Don't cheat.

Dumbbell Preacher Curls 

The preacher curls are designed to "target your lower biceps" but of course the whole muscle is hit. Many people used to believe that doing preacher curls was going to lengthen the biceps muscles but as we all know now - this is stupidity. The only thing that can change the length of your biceps is some sort surgical intervention.

In order to perform the preacher dumbbell curl you will need a Scott bench or adjustable incline press.

Lock your arm by firmly by placing your triceps on the pad. Lower the dumbbell under control using an underhand grip. Then slowly curl up the weight without using your back, legs...etc. 

Note: Some people my experience pain at the lower portion of the biceps tendon. In that case you could reduce the range of motion little bit by ending the negative portion (lowering part) a little earlier. 


All dumbbell biceps curl variations presented except the Zottman curl can be performed with a barbell.

The Barbell Curl

The barbell curl is considered the best mass builder when it come to biceps. Well, this is debatable and the correct answer is that there is no "best" exercises since all movements are just tools. What's better a pen or a pencil - it depends on the situation.

In order to perform the biceps curl you first need to position the loaded barbell at the floor, squat rack (yeah !), preacher bench...etc. Then simply take a comfortable grip, usually a little wider than your shoulder width, and grip the bar with your palms facing away from you. Grip it like you mean it ! Tense your abs, glutes, quads....hell even tense your face and bring that iron up as high as you can. Don't cheat by arching your back. Cheat biceps curls are not worth the risk !

Cheat curls make a great photo shoot but in reality the only thing they do is test your back!

When lowering the bar don't just let gravity do the work. Perform a quality and controlled lowering - not too slow but not too fast either. That way the exercise is harder on the muscle and easy on the joints - just what we need !

The Ez Bar Curl

The Ez Bar Curl is performed the same way as its brother - the straight bar curl. Some people argue which is better. I have presented my opinion in details here.

The Reverse Barbell Curl 

The reverse barbell curl is designed to target the wrist extensors and brachialis. Some people use it to "fill the gap" caused by having short biceps tendons. You will have to use less weight compared to your standard curl. Enjoy the burn !

Barbell Spider Curls

Spider curls are usually performed on an incline bench unless you have special equipment in your gym. 

Here's how to do them:

Barbell Preacher Curls

This exercise is performed the same way as its dumbbell variation. Make your life easier by using a short straight bar or an EZ-curl bar. Using the straight bar is not very convenient. 


Bodyweight curls

If you don't have access to weights or a gym you can try curls on gymnastic rings or horizontal bar.

Elastic band curls

Another cool way to do curls, which was made famous by the P90X cult, is to use elastic bands. It's pretty handy when you are traveling.



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