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67 responses

  1. Liam | Fitness Trainer
    May 21, 2009

    The points 1 to 4 made in this post go against conventional hypertrophy training, but I guess that this is about strength and not muscle gain. I definitely agree with points 5, 6 & 7.

  2. michael
    May 21, 2009

    thanks for responding to my comment,I found this site a couple of weeks ago and was surprised by the advice on muscle definition because I have also been told different. I wanted to hear from you because I am planning to start strenght training myself and when I asked a few people about it they said your advice was completely wrong,one even said that I would damage my body because strenght training puts so much strain on it.

  3. Fit Jerk
    May 21, 2009

    Hurrah! Yep I love strength training… but one other thing you need to mention is the TEMPO of the lift during strength training.

    A strength training tempo is SLOW… very slow. 4 seconds kind of slow. Anything faster than 4 seconds and slower than 1 second is working hypertrophy.

  4. Jason G
    May 21, 2009

    Yash,

    Thanks for your comment. I actually have not tried running on concrete with the Vibram Five Fingers. I am worried that running naturally/bare foot on unnatural surfaces like concrete and even asphalt might result in some unforeseen injuries down the line. However this is based on speculation and I have not researched the issue mainly because trail running is more for me. However doing sprints down a peer sounds just as rewarding.

  5. Justin from GymJunkies
    May 21, 2009

    Preach on brother!!!

    I like how there has been a huge shift in fitness blogs and websites from bodybuilding -> strength training.

    It really shows that were not ALL ABOUT looks and actually do care about the health benefits of our workout.

    Why do I need to buy a fitness magazine when I have FBB 😉

    – Justin

  6. Studio Element Personal Training
    May 21, 2009

    Good post! I’m constantly trying to get my clients to understand some of these mistakes. Well, I guess it’s good for business.

  7. Ariel
    May 22, 2009

    Great post Rusty!!

    I was wondering if you could do a post on Jessica Alba’s Body sometime, specifically for girls… I really love her body and I think it is the perfect mix of lean muscle tone! Perhaps you could include diet tips to get as lean as her, and then maintenance tips too! I want to be as lean as her but I don’t want to have to eat super low calories for the rest of my life!

    Just an idea! Have a great one Rusty!

  8. craig
    May 22, 2009

    Hey Rusty,

    I just wanted to comment about VAcoder’s/The Spaniard’s discussion. 145 lbs at 5’11 is thin, but it’s not TOO thin. Cam Gigandet (sp?) or of course Brad Pitt are around this height, and have looked great while staying in the 150lb range. This is exactly where I’m at. Now, probably like VAcoder, I’m just trying to gain a little size in my arms and shoulders.

    If you’re really ripped, low body weight sounds lighter than it actually is – especially if you like a slender look.

  9. Ariel
    May 22, 2009

    Here is the lean Jessica Alba Body I want!

    http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0a9bgpOe8X1al/340x.jpg

  10. admin
    May 22, 2009

    Sam,

    I need to get some low carb tortillas. My thoughts are that they sound like a good thing! 6 grams of carbs is next to nothing…I miss breakfast burritos and fajitas. You will probably still want to have the ocassional super-low carb days if you are trying to get lean in max time, but this is a good thing to have on the other days. Thanks for the comment…I never realized that they would be so low carb.

    Connie,

    I set the incline at 2.0, because that supposedly works the muscles in a similar way to natural running. I’ll do incline for a fast walk for 15-20 minutes after a hard HIIT session every once in a while. It is a way to keep the metabolism rolling along.

    Scott N,

    Olympic Lifting is different. Those lifts have to be done like that. When I’m talking about strength training, I’m not referring to the quick, Olympic style lifts.

    Helder,

    You are right…I love doing sets of 3 reps. It feels like about the ideal amount to really build hard, defined muscles. As far as explosive lifting goes….I just hate recommending it, because of the damage it does to the joints over time.

    Matt,

    Thanks for the reply…and you are exactly right!

    The Spaniard,

    Honestly, I’d have to see a person before making that judgment. I have seen exceptionally toned guys within that range who look outstanding. It is so hard to say without seeing a person.

    gus,

    Brad Pitt acheived his look more from a strict diet than anything else. It is simpler than what most people make it out to be, but not easy. You have to create a strong calorie deficit from eating low-cal for a period of 1-2 weeks, take a couple of days where you add a few more calories and then back to a tough diet for 1-2 weeks…and continue the process. It is easier said thn done because you will get hungry. The muscle tone he displayed is largely due to having low body fat. There are several training method that would create that physique. What I would recommend is low rep strength training, because that insures the least amount of muscle loss under extreme calorie deficits…add in a bit of HIIT and Bodyweight circuits and you are good.

    Jason G,

    Good call on not wearing those to a gym…they do look kind of geeky (but cool for trails or the beach). It sounds fun running through thew woods in nature wearing these.

    Yash,

    I could use a bit more calf development and definition. I think I may incorporate running with these. I love sprinting on the beach barefoot, but this gives me many options.

    Jason G,

    Great answer. To be ultra low in body fat percentage it is more about rough diet than anything else. He wasn’t able to hold it that low for very long…but people really don’t need to be that low anyway.

    Liam,

    Yeah…the main focus of my site is getting lean and strong without adding excess muscle. If someone was working for mass they would want to go to failure to induce damage to the muscles.

    Michael,

    The type of strength training I recommend is safer than the typical high rep to failure type of lifting. You can concentrate better and do perfect reps in the 3-5 rep range than you can doing 10-15 reps. Also…since you avoid failure there is much less damage done compared to the high rep way of working out. The people you spoke to are following out-dated methods. While they can aceive a decent look with their approach, my approach will give them an “extra sharp” look without all of the excess muscle soreness and fatigue. Also…my approach will make you stronger and conserve muscle mass under a strict diet…the high-rep stuff will just make you weaker over a period of time. The choice is yours. One more thing…90% of personal trainers in most of the gyms are trained under a system that hasn’t evolved in over 25 years…95% of the people in your free weight room are following that same system as well.

    Fit Jerk,

    I certainly like to take it slow, because I get longer lasting results that way and it feels better on my body.

    Justin,

    Thanks for the kind words. Your site is phenomenal as well. I wish they had the Internet when I first began training. I spent a lot of money on bad bodybuilding magazines back in the 80’s.

    Studio Element,

    There is a HUGE need for good personal trainers who really help people reach their goals and are not afraid to go against the grain a bit.

    Ariel,

    Well Jessica probably goes pretty low cal from time to time. I will do a specific post for women soon.

    Craig,

    Great point. I have friends named Tom and Gerry (not kidding)…they are twins. When I met them in my fraternity about 20 years ago, they were around 140-145 and looked great. Both of them were lifeguards at the time and they had a lean build. Over the years of being active and training they are now closer to 160-165. I think they jsut slowly filled out a bit from growing a bit older. They look great at both weights and didn’t look exceptionally skinny at 145…they were both just ripped from being active lifeguards.

    Ariel,

    I will do a post on the approach I would recommend to get that look.

    Rusty

  11. Mike
    May 23, 2009

    I like this idea. So 5 reps but how many sets?
    Thanks!

  12. Anthony
    May 23, 2009

    Simply put, phenomenal post. The reiteration of these things helps us remember to workout the right way.
    Thanks for this Rusty.

  13. Brandon B.
    May 24, 2009

    I’ll keep it short and say, good post!

  14. a student
    May 24, 2009

    Hi Rusty,

    I know that you usually like to workout in a fasted state to lose fat – but I’ve often heard that eating carbs before can help to burn MORE fat. Here’s an example: http://www.realage.com/ct/tips/7682

    I also have a question about strength training in general: I usually use free weights because I think that its better for using all the stabilizing muscles and this translates to real life strength. I’m currently doing 3 set of 8 reps with two 25lb dumbells (so 50lbs total) benchpressing. (I used to do 12 reps with 15lb dumbells but I’ve slowly been trying to cut down the # of reps after reading through your site). Anyways, I would like to benchpress using heavier weights, but I don’t think that I will be able to lift the weights into the position to benchpress – (I sit on the bench with the weights on my knees and then lean back while holding the weights to their position by my shoulders). My question is if I want to get stronger should I switch to using the machine or should I just try to work on my core/biceps so I can lean back with all the weight while “pretending” the weight is ‘heavy’ when I benchpress it.

    Thanks

  15. a student
    May 24, 2009

    I also have a question about strength training in general: I usually use free weights because I think that its better for using all the stabilizing muscles and this translates to real life strength. I’m currently doing 3 set of 8 reps with two 25lb dumbells (so 50lbs total) benchpressing. (I used to do 12 reps with 15lb dumbells but I’ve slowly been trying to cut down the # of reps after reading through your site). Anyways, I would like to benchpress using heavier weights, but I don’t think that I will be able to lift the weights into the position to benchpress – (I sit on the bench with the weights on my knees and then lean back while holding the weights to their position by my shoulders). My question is if I want to get stronger should I switch to using the machine or should I just try to work on my core/biceps so I can lean back with all the weight while “pretending” the weight is ‘heavy’ when I benchpress it.

  16. Jared
    May 25, 2009

    This is a great post, just the thing i have been looking for! What would be the best approach in using this method, like reps, sets and number of exercises per bodypart? thank you very much!

  17. Kieran
    May 25, 2009

    Hi Rusty, great post! Just one question: can you get lean and toned with just bodyweight exercises? And if so, how many reps and intensity would you recommend for a nice slim toned look?

  18. Yash
    May 26, 2009

    @a student:
    It sounds like you have access to a gym, so you should use the barbell and the bench. Barbells let you use more weight than dumbbells since there’s less balance involved for the individual sides.

  19. Ganio
    May 28, 2009

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been following your blog for about a month now, and from a chemist/biochemist background, all I have to say is that I am glad that I have found such an amazing site as yours. We get so caught up in the media hype that we forget that “fitness” is individual based and much easier than we think. Keep up the amazing info!!

  20. Mindbodygoal
    May 28, 2009

    I think the thing to remember is that speed does play a crucial role in terms of strength training and for optimal strength, some work should be done working on speed.

    When I say speed, I do NOT mean high velocity reps, I refer to high speed concentric contraction only.

    For example, when looking to increase bench strength, sets for working speed should see the bar lowered slowly to the chest and paused for at least a second THEN exploded off with power.

    Typically weights of 50% max are used within the powerlifting community.

    Be Well

  21. Aely
    June 2, 2009

    Hey, I came across your site a few days ago. I’ve been reading around. I have a couple questions. I am just beginning to work out. I have about 15-20 pounds I want to lose. My goal is to get lean and toned. As a female though I am worried about strength training because I don’t wanna get bulky, I however do want to gain strength. I have heard before that if you do not want to get bulkier you should lift higher reps with less weight. Im reading on here though that higher weight should be lifted to do lower reps. Would that not cause me to get bulky if I add more weight and do less reps.

  22. Troy
    June 8, 2009

    Hi there,

    Quick question, I’m a naturally small guy whos never really been to the gym, but always been slim and fit from sport, but I was looking at trying to “bulk up” (By this I mean get a nice Brad Pitt look rather than string bean arms!) But I’ve been reading and it seems your program will maintain the same muscle size and strip body fat of which I have little anyway. Are maximal contractons the way to go for me?

    Thanks!

  23. Adrian
    June 8, 2009

    From what you write, you make people think that you aren’t gaining size when strength training. You still gain size, the two too are connected. Of course the size gains aren’t as big in strength training as in size training (8-10 reps). Adding some size isn’t bad either. Not necessary to look like Ronnie Coleman but no need to stay skinny too. Esp. for those ectomorphs who want to add mass and strength!

    Best of luck

  24. Terry
    June 8, 2009

    Love the nudes in Paris!Too good.

    I missed this post somehow. Glad I caught up with it. More good training info. Less reps, a good thing.

  25. wolverine
    June 16, 2009

    Hey Rusty is there a real difference btw doing 3 reps of 5 sets performing 2 exercises per body part, or doing 3 reps of 10 sets performing one exercise per body part, i sort of prefer doing 10 sets and avoiding failure, thanks

  26. Craig
    July 30, 2009

    Hi Rusty
    I wanted to compliment you on the site and this post specifically.
    Have you posted an actual ‘workout plan’ anywhere on this site that one can follow other than just your recommendations you make in posts. I think it would be good to have some kind of structured routine to follow with selected exercises and how many per bodypart, set/rep, cardio for each day.

  27. HGH Talk
    October 3, 2009

    @ Craig (above)

    Structured routines don’t work the same for everyone. I did post before on my routine, on my site, but I doubt it will be followed strictly by anyone.

    I mainly do calisthenics and some weight lifting, but nothing too heavy; my main goal is mainly to keep a certain level of fitness and health…not for bodybuilding.

  28. Ben T
    February 9, 2010

    Dear Rusty,

    I recently wrestled with my friend, and i tried to squat him and i couldn’t , he’s 180 something and 6’2 , im 5’8 and 162 pounds, im fit i have some stomatch fat but not a lot (in the right angle you can see my abs lol) I am on week 3 of the visual impact plan, currently sacroplasmic hyperthropy, and i know you mention that deadlifts and squats build mass on your legs, i dont want that, i have pretty big legs thats how i was born, i mean they’re well defined and muscular. I want to increase strength in my legs and body, what do you recommend to increase strength.

    p.s.

    what would be an ideal place to ask you questions, are blogs ok, or is there a special email or place on the site

    thanks for all your help and awesome advice

    sincerely,

    Ben

  29. Niko – noeXcusefitness
    February 3, 2012

    Some good advice. I am guilty of making more than one of those mistakes over the years. Not anymore, check out all my training at

    http://www.noexcusefitness.com.au/category/nikos-training/

    If you have any questions about aspect of my training message me.

    Niko

  30. James
    November 14, 2012

    Hey I’m haveing a problem gaining strength. I used to be pretty strong for my age and weight, doing 255 on bench and only weighing 152 and 16. But now working out the same exact way I can’t even get close to what I was doing. I’m haveing trouble repping 175 8 times. I just can’t do anything but my body look Prietty big and I’m weighing the same weight but I’m 17 instead. I thought it might be like my shoulders are really weak and my back as we’ll. but I really have no clue I need help!

  31. David
    June 12, 2013

    I’m most surprised by point #6: No Stretching. This will be the most difficult habit to break.

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