Here’s a very interesting story as a reporter goes through a training cycle to compete in a figure competition. Wall Street Journal reporter Alyssa Abkowitz took on a more intense project after toning up for her wedding by entering into a fitness competition and discovering the world of bikini bodybuilding. In the video she discusses the process along with her diet and workout routines.
The chest is composed of large, powerful muscles, capable of withstanding intense force and trauma. That being said, it usually takes extra focus and effort to significantly wear them out and leave you with that lingering, ever-so-sweet soreness.
Since added work is necessary for peak chest stimulation, workouts are often structured with Arnold-style immensity, from the countless numbers of sets, to the fine-tuning exercises that can go on ad nauseum. All of the aforementioned can mean a serious time commitment in the gym, but what about if you only have a few minutes to tear it up before you have to head out?
The answer is: The Nemen (Nee-men) Special, which can reduce your mighty chest musculature straight down to rubble; all in one exercise.
What you will need: A bench, 45 lb barbell, eight – 10 lb plates (these weights may vary due to individual strength), preferably a partner, and a hearty appetite for suffering.
The exercise resembles that of a lightweight bench press drop set, with maximum repetitions being executed at each weight increment. If done correctly, meaning you attack each interval intensely and are 100% unable to complete a repetition on your own, you will be getting double takes from your fellow gym-goers as they walk by and chuckle at the image of you painfully struggling to rep out with just the bar.
Set 1, Four tens per side: To failure.
A spotter should help you with the last one or two reps, then once the bar is racked, remove the weight with as much speed as possible – time is of the essence!
Set 2, Three tens per side: To failure.
Set 3, Two tens…
Set 4, One ten…
Set 5, Just the bar!
By set 5, you should be working up a sweat, perhaps be slightly winded, and defintiely have a hearty exhaustion permeating your upper body. Although the bar is, well, the bar, the load should be adequate enough to reduce your pecs to a whimpering mess and you should get to the point where you need a spot to rack it.
Congratulations, you now know one of the most time-efficient chest nukes; next time you are lookign to quickly shred your pecs before class/work/a night out, give the Nemen Special a try!
Are you an athlete looking to enhance your abilities? Would you like to increase your muscular size? Would you like to increase your strength? Would you like to boost your self-esteem? Do you want to lose body-fat? Are you a weekend warrior trying to extend your ability to play sports? Are you a stay at home mom who just wants to look and feel better? Are you a forty something male who wants to feel strong and lose some that spare tire? If you answered yes to any of these, you should be training for strength.
Strength training is not just for powerlifters, bodybuilders or high impact sports. Strength training can benefit everyone. At a minimum you should be strength training to ensure your health and overall wellbeing. And I’m not just talking about today, but for the future as well. As we age we lose muscle. This is an undeniable truth. This facet of aging has several negative outcomes:
Losing muscle will cause a decrease in your basal metabolic rate. Muscle drives the metabolism. The more you have the more calories you burn. Conversely, the more you lose the fewer calories you burn. It doesn’t stop here.
The more muscle one loses the weaker one gets. This is logical because the fewer muscle fibers there are to create motion, the less force you’ll be able to produce.
The weaker one gets as a result of muscle lost, the tighter one gets resulting in a loss of flexibility. And as one loses flexibility, they lose more strength, which also creates a loss of muscle. This loss of flexibility coupled with a loss of strength dramatically increases ones risk for injuries.
Are you starting to see what a vicious cycle this becomes?
So, I think my point that despite your genetics, experience, what you know (or what you think you know) about training, strength training is for you.
People who engage in very repetitive tasks such as long distance running, labor or swimming show very little or no improvement in the size and strength of their muscles. Long distance events are by nature very low in intensity.
Compare a marathon runner to a 100 meter sprinter. Marathon runners who train for very long periods at a very low intensity are emaciated looking having less than normal muscle mass and carry on average 14 ? 16% body fat. Sprinters, on the other hand, who train for short periods at a high level of intensity are very muscular and have half the body fat levels than marathoners. If cardio is the key to getting lean, as many people presume, why do marathoners have a higher body fat than sprinters? The reason is, a specific stimulus is required for a specific outcome.
The specific stimulus needed to stimulate muscle and strength is high intensity training. This is a universal training principle that affects everyone without exception. This is due to the fact that we are anatomically and physiologically the same. If this were not true doctors could not perform surgery and prescribe medicine. Consequently, the stimulus needed to induce biochemical changes that build muscle and strength in humans is the same.
Intensity, when referring to training, is the percentage of physical exertion that one is capable of. Training with one hundred percent intensity is the best way, the only way, to stimulate muscular size and strength in the shortest amount of time. How does one gauge the intensity of their workouts? By taking your working sets to positive or concentric failure.
Taking a set to the point of failure, where you cannot possibly perform another rep despite your maximum effort is one of, and perhaps the most important of several factors in your success. There are many who disagree and advocate high volume training with 60%, 72%, 95%, or whatever percentage of intensity they decide is the best. Some even claim training all out, with one hundred percent intensity is not only unnecessary, but detrimental. Over the years I’ve seen so called strength coach specialists, and personal trainers with 15 letters after their last names, concoct the most ridiculous routines, using almost every percentage, that have yet to show any effectiveness in real world application.
The main problem with these bogus routines is that there are only two accurate measures of intensity. Zero, when you are at rest; and 100%, when you?re training to the point of failure. How do you measure anything less than 100% intensity? If I can do 10 repetitions to complete failure with 100 pounds on the leg extension machine, where do I go for 80% intensity? Do I perform 10 reps with 80 pounds? Or do I use 100 pounds and only perform 8 reps? Is 80% the optimum percentage, or is it 65%? There is no evidence that suggests, let alone proves, anything less than 100% effort is equally or more effective. Are you starting to see the ridiculousness and inaccuracy of such training prescriptions?
Intensity cannot be measured accurately with reps or weight. While performing a set, intensity increases exponentially with each successive rep. Performing the first 5 reps on the leg extension is not equivalent in intensity to performing the last 5 reps. Hence, 5 reps is not the equivalent of 50% intensity.
The only way to train that is completely accurate is with all out intensity to failure. This will give you a concrete view of how you?re performing. If you train with 100% intensity during every workout and you do not progress, you know you are not recovering. There will never be a question whether you are providing a strong enough stimulus for progress. However, if you follow the percentage of intensity or the percentage of max rep principles, how will you know you are training intensely enough to stimulate muscular size and strength? If you plateau, are you training too hard or too long? Do you lower the percentage or raise it? Do you need more rest, or do you need to train at a higher intensity? There is no need for this guessing game.
Your goal is to bring about the largest, most rapid outcome for your individual genetic potential. In order for this to occur, the body requires 100% intensity every working set of every exercise. This is the only truly accurate way to gauge the efficacy of your training program. Nothing less than 100% will do. The body needs a reason to adapt. Give it!