CNS Fatigue: A Real Concern or Just Another Lame Excuse?

The CNS controls everything; if it’s fried your performance is going to suck. So you have to be careful about CNS intensive methods and allowing for proper recovery of the CNS. CNS intensive training methods are the max effort method in which you are lifting extremely heavy weights for a max or near max attempt and the dynamic effort method in which you are lifting light weights very fast. Sprinting and all types of plyos are also CNS intensive activities.

Ideally, you never want to perform two CNS intensive workouts on back to back days. The nervous system needs adequate recovery and although you may not be sore the next day after a CNS intensive workout, that doesn’t mean that you are ready to train.

So if you do a 1 rep max squat on Monday you need to do something like repetition upper body work and/or some light running drills or cardio or whatever on Tuesday. What you don’t want to do is sprint, jump or lift heavy again. You should ideally separate CNS intensive days by 48 hours. Therefore if you have to incorporate sprints into the weekly schedule it is usually best to do them as a double session on your max effort days. So on Monday morning you would run your sprints and then on Monday night you would do your max effort squats. If you are really pressed for time you could do a short sprint workout outside and then walk into the gym for your max squats.

If you are simply training for bodybuilding this is not as important but if you are training for strength/performance this rule needs to be taken under strict consideration.

While CNS recovery is important to consider I should also point out that it has gotten to be a very hot topic recently and I think some people may be taking it too far. Actually, I know they are taking it too far. It’s good to constantly make advances and stay up to date on the latest scientific discoveries and apply them to our training but we never want to get too caught up in this either. If your schedule doesn’t work out perfectly with the structure of CNS intensive days and non CNS intensive days, don’t freak out about it. When we were growing up we didn’t know anything about this and we were all ok. I used to jump, trying to touch the rim at least fifty times per day in high school. And when I finally got there, I continued to jump fifty times per day trying to dunk for the next few years. That was high intensity plyos being done 365 days per year and you know what happened? My vertical went up.

Walter Payton was probably the greatest running back of all time and he famously did hill sprints every single day of every off season. Would he have been better if he skipped a day between? Who knows? But the point I am trying to make is that you have to always be aware of and take into consideration the science, but never be afraid of hard work and breaking the rules when you have to; we don’t live in a perfect world. The guy who works harder than anyone else will always have an advantage over the science geek who worries about and plans his training to the T. It’s like Rocky versus Ivan Drago…

Years ago nobody ever discussed or heard of CNS fatigue or adrenal fatigue and now everybody and their mother is worried about it and is p*ssy footing around like a bunch of school girls. Get over it. If you drink too much coffee and don’t always get ten hours of sleep and get stressed out on occasion and train harder than everyone you know, it aint gonna kill ya. You’ll be fine. I don’t know who is writing this stuff but I keep getting questions about it and now I feel bad that I ever mentioned it in the first place. It just gives the weak another excuse to remain weak.

Yes, CNS and adrenal fatigue are real issues and you should be concerned about avoiding both of them by trying to adhere to the rules I listed above. But the reality is most people just need to learn how to train harder and smarter and stop making excuses.

Besides, rules are made to be broken. Right?


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.

 

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Doing Cardio While Building Muscle – Part 3

Intervals

The good – intervals allow you to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time and keep your metabolism elevated long after you finish doing them.

The bad – if you are training legs two or even three times per week, you can not do intervals more than once a week without overtraining. Let me rephrase that; you can but eventually it will lead to overtraining or at the very least slow down your strength gains. You can negate this slightly by keeping your leg training volume extremely low and doing your intervals on the same day as your weight training. You can’t do five to eight sets of legs two or three days a week and 30 minutes of intervals on top of it. That’s a dead end road.

You also have to remember to do your intervals on your training days and not on off days like you might do with other forms of cardio because that will lead to overtraining much quicker.

The ugly – if you choose sprinting as your form of interval training you could get hurt; it’s an ugly truth that has to be faced. The thing that will lead to even more injuries is following faulty interval protocol advice. Normally it is recommended to do 30-60 second intervals when they are being performed on a stationary bike. A lot of people take these recommendations and apply them to sprinting. This is a huge mistage! Nobody can sprint for 30-60 seconds. Ok, not nobody; but most average people can’t do it. World class athletes can sprint for that long, but not everyone else.

Don’t believe me?

Go try it. Warm up thoroughly and try to sprint for 60 seconds straight. Let me know what happens. We have all seen the Olympics and how winded guys are after sprinting the 100 which happens to last all of ten seconds. Most of us have seen guys run the 40 and not be able to catch their breath for at least a few minutes afterwards. And that takes five seconds or less. Not only is sprinting for 30-60 seconds impossible for most people but it also greatly increases the risk of injury.

When you keep your sprint distances and times very short, you decrease the risk for injury because you never hit top speed and instead spend most of your time in the acceleration phase. This phase has the least potential for injury. For that reason, most people should be running 20-50 yard sprints. This keeps you at top speed for a very short period of time; usually little enough time to maintain form and not suffer an injury. When you run at top speed for too long the chance for a break down in form and thus an injury is greatly increased.

I would never recommend that a non athlete ever try to sprint for 30-60 seconds straight and you should never take that advice from anyone. It is faulty and dangerous. To further reduce your injury while sprinting, use adequate rest periods between sets. Also, running with a sled slows you down enough to avoid top speeds and makes sprinting much safer.

Bottom Line – Intervals are a great tool for getting ripped, however when your main goal is to get big and strong and just keep fat gain to a minimum, they should be used sparingly if at all. I would recommend sprints above intervals on a bike and even then I wouldn’t do them in true interval fashion but more of a traditional speed workout with short sprints and adequate rest periods. This will still elevate your metabolism greatly and keep you lean. Just look at the physiques of Olympic sprinters for proof of this; that his how they train. Sprint, rest… no intervals.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.

 

Doing Cardio While Building Muscle – Part 2

The purpose of doing cardio when trying to get bigger and stronger is to keep you lean, improve your insulin sensitivity and allow you to eat more calories. What kind of cardio will have the least negative effect on your size and strength gains? That’s a no brainer; walking. The great thing about walking is it will not impede your progress in the least, the bad thing is that you have to walk for a bare minimum of 45 minutes to really burn a decent amount of calories and you will not elevate your metabolism much after walking. That is the great thing about interval training; it elevates your metabolism dramatically for long after you have finished your workout.

With that being said, I would still choose a good fast paced hour long walk on the beach over sitting on a stationary bike inside while pounding away on some brutal intervals. I despise intervals on a bike with a passion. My ass goes numb, my balls go numb and I get a splitting headache. Not to mention that I am bored to tears within three minutes. Plus, I think we all do more than enough sitting and the last thing I want to do is sit some more while I’m supposedly “working out;” my hip flexors are tight enough already, thanks.

If you love to ride a bike then that is fine and you should do what you love. But for God’s sake, go outside and do it. People will actually get in their cars and drive ten minutes across town to walk inside a gym and sit on a stationary bike and ride it for twenty minutes and then drive home. Why not just ride your bike across town? I don’t get it.

So we have established that low intensity, long duration cardio (walking) is the best option for those who are concerned with any losses in size and strength whatsoever. This method was a favorite of many great bodybuilders such as Dorian Yates. Another option here, is to just go for a long slow/low intensity bike ride. Either one works great; but again I warn you to protect your nuts, aka get a good seat.

Next on the list is medium/moderate/high intensity steady state cardio. This kind of cardio is a little tricky because it can elevate cortisol and lead to losses in size and strength. To prevent this you need to be sure to limit the time spent doing this to 30 minutes, max. Two days a week should be safe and three days would probably be ok for most people as well. It’s when you get into the 4-7 day per week, 45-60 minute marathon sessions that you see people at the gym doing (whose bodies never change in the least from one year to the next)all the time, that you get into trouble. If you limit your use of this method you should be ok.

Lastly, we have intervals which we will cover in part 3.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.

 

Doing Cardio While Building Muscle – Part 1

There is much debate and controversy on the subject of doing cardio while building muscle. Once and for all I am going to set the record straight. So without further adieu, here’s the real deal on doing cardio while trying to gain size and strength…

If you are a beginner who also happens to be a ripped ectomorph who has to fight for every ounce he gains (e.g. a classic hardgainer), I suggest that you lay off cardio almost entirely for at least 8-12 weeks. Get your training and diet down and pack on some size. In that time you should be able to gain at least 15lbs of muscle if not 20+. After you have done that you can add in some cardio. I would start with three weekly sessions of twenty minutes of moderate intensity cardio; no intervals. Use a bike to limit the amount of eccentric stress or pounding on the joints. And remember there are actually things known as real bikes that go outside, not just stationary bikes that people park themselves on to watch Oprah. Although, if you choose that route, get one with a well padded seat that will not lead to the death of your sex life.

If you are beyond the beginner level you should always be doing some kind of cardio on a regular basis, be it intervals, moderate intensity steady state, or low intensity, long duration steady state. Again, don’t limit yourself to machines indoors; get outside and drag a sled, run sprints, jump rope or play a sport. That’s a lot more fun anyway. I think everyone should be doing something like this at least three days per week for at least 30 minutes. It’s healthy and prevents a host of health problems, not to mention that it keeps you in shape and looking good.

Contrary to what many people believe, cardio can actually be of great benefit to those looking to get bigger and stronger. Not only does it improve the cardiovascular system and thus improve the quality of your weight training workouts but it allows you to eat more muscle building calories while staying lean. To pack on 20-30 pounds of muscle you have to eat an inordinate amount of food. Doing some cardio will help ensure that you don’t get fat from all the excessive eating.

The bottom line is that everyone but absolute beginners should be doing some kind of cardio type activity at least three times per week for thirty minutes. This will not inhibit size or strength gains in the least but may actually enhance them. You should vary your activities and intensities as much as possible. You can do cardio immediately after you train, although I prefer to do it on non weight training days or later in the day after training because I am usually too spent after lifting to give it my all on the cardio. Doing it on off days is usually a better option anyway because it serves as an active recovery activity and also gets you burning some calories on those days.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.

 

Less Time Equals Better Results

Why is it that almost everyone you see working out in the gym does high volume bodypart splits? Today is Monday and in just about every gym in America that means it’s chest day. Tomorrow is back, Thursday is legs and Friday is arms…or something like that, I guess.
 
Why the lack of variety or rational thought? What is the need for all that training volume?
 
You need to understand that most forms of training have just been passed down for decades from one generation to the next, without the inclusion of rational thought. Sometime in the 60’s, sensible training programs started becoming less and less prevalent with the rapidly growing usage of anabolic steroids.
 
In the days of old, men like Steve Reeves and Paul Anderson trained with far more sensible, lower volume programs but these started to disappear during the 60’s. By the time Arnold got to Gold’s Gym in Venice for the first time, high volume, bodypart splits were the widely accepted way for everyone to train for size and strength.
 
This type of training is not based on deductive reasoning but just on the fact that “it’s what everyone else is doing.” The proponents of these training methods will always blindly tell you that “higher volume training is needed for hypertrophy gains.” Says who? I can tell you for a fact that the University of Chicago isn’t wasting time examining the effects of Jay Cutler’s marathon workouts. There are no studies saying that you need 8-12 sets per bodypart to grow. In fact there are studies that show the opposite; that one set is just as effective as three.
 
The proponents of this type of training will also tell you that higher volume training is associated with higher levels of growth hormone secretion. What they don’t tell you is that the level of GH increase is not enough to make any difference at all. In fact, almost anything you do elevates GH. Extreme temperatures elevate GH but my biceps don’t get bigger every time I take a shower. The increased GH secretion from training is so minimal that it is not enough to make the slightest difference whatsoever.
 
For the drug free lifter who does not possess muscle building genetics quite up to par with the Austrian Oak, training this way is a huge mistake. Not only does it drain your amino acid pool and glycogen stores but it dramatically enhances your recovery time between workouts. If you do 8-12 sets for chest on Monday you can not recover from that workout and be able to train again for seven days. So you are only getting one growth stimulus per week or fifty two per year. Now if you reduce your volume to the point where you can recover faster and more efficiently without draining your amino acid pool and glycogen stores so greatly, you can train bodyparts twice per week instead of once. Now instead of 52 growth stimulating workouts per year for each bodypart, you can now do 104. In fact, if your volume is kept low you can even get away with training bodyparts three times a week in certain situations. Now, which do you think will be more effective; 156 growth stimulating workouts per year or 52?
 
To train more often you absolutely have to lower your training volume. The total sets per workout should be kept low and the total sets per exercise should be even lower. There is no need to hit four sets of incline presses, flat bench presses and decline presses for your chest workout. Doing that is a form of neuroses; you think that you need to hit every angle and do and endless amount of sets to stimulate every last muscle fiber, but this is simply not the case.
 
The reason these training programs remain popular is because nobody wants to be told that they are wrong. Admitting your mistakes is something many people can’t do. It is why when something radically different is proposed, the high volume proponents get upset and offended. Nobody likes to have their ego bruised so they keep on doing and promoting the same old high volume workouts that they always have.
 
That’s fine, let them continue to do what they choose; personally I have way more important things to do than spend all of my waking hours in the gym. If I can get better results in a fraction of the time I will choose that option every time.
 
Cut your volume down, up your weights and intensity and get ready for the “what are you on” questions to start rolling in.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.
 

Muscle Building Nutrition

It has been said that nutrition is responsible for 80% of your muscle building results. I think that is dramatically overstating it but nutrition is critically important to your muscle building efforts. Without proper nutrition you will never build the physique you desire. Below are a few easy to follow nutrition rules that will help you get bigger and leaner. Follow these rules and you will reach your goals, ignore them and you could be in for years of frustration.

• Eat every 2-3 hours. Doing this keeps your body in an anabolic state and keeps your metabolism running along at high speeds so that you don’t get fat. If you need 3,000 calories per day to build muscle, it is much more effective to have five 600 calorie meals or six five hundred calorie meals than it is to have three big 1,000 calorie meals. Doing that leads to fat accumulation and also has you going too long without eating which only leads to muscle loss.

• Build your meals around a base of lean protein. Protein is what builds muscle, so every time you sit down to eat you should be consuming some kind of protein. That should be the main focus of each meal. Once you have that covered you can add in starchy carbs, vegetables and good fats. As far as daily protein requirements go, you should shoot for one gram per pound of bodyweight per day. The only time you would need more than this is when you are dieting and your carbs are extremely low.

• Eat vegetables at every meal except breakfast. Not only are vegetables incredibly healthy because they provide tons of nutrients and fiber but they also slow down the absorption of your meals leading to less bodyfat accumulation.

• Eat organic foods whenever possible. There is so much artificial crap in the food we eat these days that it is really a very wise decision to eat organic as often as you can. This includes meats, fruits, veggies and grains.

• Avoid sugars, artificial sweeteners and saturated fats as much as possible. The consumption of sugar and saturated fat is what leads to numerous health problems and diseases. Too much saturated fat and sugar consumption also leads to inflammation in the body and can actually worsen nagging injuries and lead to other aches and pains. Many people actually notice a reduction in back pain once they cut saturated fat and sugar from their diet. Some saturated fat in meats is ok from time to time, but you should really try to cut out the sugar and artificial sweeteners. Although they don’t talk about it much in this country there is plenty of evidence that artificial sweeteners are not the least bit healthy.

• Eat most of your carbs at breakfast and immediately before and after your workout. Those are the times when your insulin sensitivity is highest and when you will use carbs most efficiently with the least risk for body fat gain. Don’t be scared to eat carbs at this time because most of them will be used for building muscle and will not usually add to body fat accumulation.

• Drink at least a half gallon of water per day. Doing this keeps you well hydrated which keeps your performance levels high. Even a slight drop in hydration will cause a drop in performance. A half gallon is a good start but a gallon is usually better, especially in the summer.

• Pay strict attention to your sodium intake
. When I say that I mean it in the opposite way that most people and doctors would think I mean it. I mean that you must be sure that your sodium intake is adequate. This is especially true for athletes who play in the summer time when it’s hot out and you are sweating a lot. Without adequate sodium intake, your performance can suffer drastically. Adequate sodium levels also help to maintain strength levels while dieting.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.
 

The Top Ten Weight Training Exercises for Building Muscle

1. Deadlift – Not many weight training exercises work as many muscle groups and build muscle as fast as the deadlift.  The neck, traps, upper, middle, and lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, biceps, forearms, and abs are all utilized in the deadlift.  No other exercise is a better test of overall body power.  While uninformed people always ask, “how much can you bench,” the question they really should ask is, “how much can you deadlift?” A deadlift is the most basic exercise anyone can do.  Bending down and picking a weight up off the floor is the one weight training exercise that mimics everyday real life situations.  Most people will rarely find themselves on their back needing to push a heavyweight off their chest but everyone has to bend down and pick things up. If you could only do one exercise to build muscle this would be the one to do.
 
2. Squat – The squat has been known for years as the “king of all muscle building exercises” and for good reason.  I’m not talking about sissy boy half squats either; I’m talking about real below parallel, full squats. If you don’t at least break parallel it’s not a squat.  Like deadlifts, squats involve an enormous amount of muscle mass and stimulate the release of anabolic hormones such as testosterone.  This is great for building muscle fast. The squat is probably the most revered exercise among serious lifters and the power rack is considered our sacred ground. If you ever want to develop any kind of real lower body strength and build muscle fast, you have no choice but to squat.
 
3. Chin up – Not many exercises will build muscle in the upper body like chin ups. Known as the upper body squat, chins stimulate nearly every muscle from the traps down to the abdominals. Any exercise that allows you to move your body through space as opposed to moving a weight or fixed implement around you has a much higher degree of neuromuscular activation, and therefore a much greater potential to elicit gains in size and strength. Look at the development of male gymnasts and you will see for yourself what years of chin ups and dips can do for the upper body. If you want to build muscle fast, be sure to include chin ups in your weight training program.
 
4. Parallel Bar Dip – A close second to chin ups as one of the best upper body exercises for building muscle fast, and for all the same reasons. If you want big arms you had better include dips in your training program. No other weight training exercise will add slabs of muscle to the triceps as effectively as dips. A huge chest and enormous pair of front delts are also a pleasant side effect that comes with regularly performing this outstanding muscle building exercise.
 
5. Hang Clean & Push Press – A total body muscle building exercise which hits the calves, hamstrings, glutes, quads, lower and upper back, traps, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms.  Although it is, by definition, an Olympic lift, it can be done in more of a strict manner to really target the traps, upper back, and shoulders. When done in this manner, it is not performed solely with the intention of developing explosive speed like most Olympic lifts are performed. Doing the clean and push press in this manner is a form of power bodybuilding and will really blow up the traps and shoulders. If you could only pick one weight training exercise for building muscle, this might be the one. It’s a shame you don’t see this in more bodybuilding programs.
 
6. Bench Press – This is one of the three powerlifting exercises and along with Military Presses, is the greatest of all pressing movements for building muscle in the upper body.  When looking at the effectiveness of an exercise, the questions to be asked are what will allow the lifter to use the most weight and what exercise involves the most muscle mass.  The bench press meets both of these prerequisites and besides being incredibly effective as a muscle building exercise, it is one of the best measures of upper body power.
 
7. Military Press – Also known as the front press, this was once considered the number one measure of upper body power and was the premier muscle building exercise for the upper body.  In the old days of strength training most people didn’t even do bench presses; every weight training exercise was done standing up. Bench pressing was looked down upon as a show lift and real men only did overhead presses to build muscle.  Bench pressing took over with the development of powerlifting and bodybuilding and the military press took a back seat.  It is still however, a great measure of upper body power and should be done by anyone interested in building an impressive set of shoulders and building overall muscle mass throughout the upper body.  Even though some uninformed doctors will have you believe that overhead pressing can be dangerous, old time strong men argue that there would not be as many shoulder injuries as there are today if the military press had remained the upper body weight training exercise of choice.  Equally effective variations of the military press include the push press, push jerk and split jerk.
 
8. Bent Over Rows – When it comes to building muscle in the upper back and lats, bent over rows are hard to beat. This weight training exercise can be performed many different ways; palms up, palms down, wide grip, close grip, to the abdomen, to the sternum, with an ez bar or with a straight bar.  However you do them, nothing will develop thickness in the back like rows will, and anyone who has been involved with bodybuilding for a while will tell you there is nothing more impressive than a well developed back, muscular back.
 
9. Good Mornings – Although they are a rarely performed weight training exercise by a large majority of bodybuilders, good mornings remain one of the staples of a good size and strength gaining program. Powerlifters seem to be the only ones who know about the muscle building properties of this outstanding exercise. The reason this muscle building exercise is often avoided is that good mornings are brutally hard work. But that hard work brings huge rewards. Good mornings will build muscle fast and pack tons of size on your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. They are also one of the best weight training exercises to help improve your squat and deadlift, which is the main reason they are a mainstay in powerlifting.
 
10. Pushup – Yes, you read that right, I said pushups are one of the best weight training exercises to build muscle fast. For a beginner pushups are the absolute best muscle building exercise to do for the pecs, delts, and triceps. However, as you make progress and get stronger pushups become too easy and are usually forgotten about. That is a huge mistake. There are several varieties of pushups that can be used by intermediate and advanced lifters such as elevated pushups on pushup handles, dumbbells, or chairs. Pushups can also be done on gymnastic rings hanging from chains and suspended a foot or so above the ground to make them even more challenging. When either of these versions of this awesome muscle building exercise becomes too easy you can have a partner hold weight on your back, use a weighted vest or even drape heavy chains across your back. If you are looking for more variety, Hindu pushups are another great version of this exercise and can sometimes humble even the strongest of men.
 
So there you have it, the best weight training exercises for building muscle fast. All the food and supplements and drugs in the world are worthless if you train like a Nancy boy.  Machines and isolation movements are as effective as running on a treadmill when it comes to getting big and strong. Stick with the weight training exercises above; make them a staple in your training, and start saving up for a new wardrobe. Its time to build muscle fast!


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.
 

Using the 5×5 System to Build Muscle

The 5×5 system is one of the oldest muscle building programs in the book and has stuck around forever. 5×5 is good and 5×5 is bad; it just depends on the situation. There are a few ways that the 5×5 muscle building system is implemented.
 
The first way that people use the 5×5 system to build muscle is that they warm up to a weight and then stick with that weight for five sets of five. So you need to choose a weight that you can handle for that many sets. In essence, the fifth set will be the only set that is quite difficult. This is a decent method to build muscle but largely a waste of time for anyone but a beginner. There is too much volume at an intensity that is too low building muscle. For beginners and early intermediates, I think the 5×5 system is a good one. When you are neurologically inefficient, you seem to respond better to a few more repeated efforts. I still don’t know if five sets are really necessary though; 3×5 is probably better in most cases.
 
The next way people employ the 5×5 system in an attempt to build muscle is by starting with a heavy weight that they can barely get five reps with and then lowering the weight with each significant set. Again, I think this is too much. The only set that was worth doing was the first and maybe the second. This is not the optimal way to build muscle.
 
The third way I have seen this system employed to build muscle is to work up to a heavy weight that you can barely get five with and then keeping that weight for the next four sets, no matter how many reps you get. Progression is made each week by trying to get more reps in the subsequent sets. This is a favorite of one particular egomaniacal strength coach and like everything else he recommends, is total crap.
 
The last way that the 5×5 system is used to build muscle is by doing five increasingly heavier sets so that only your last set is tough. Basically the other sets are warm ups so you are really just warming up to a five rep max or very close to it. If this is the case, it’s really 1×5 and not 5×5. It’s a bit of a misnomer. But if I had to pick one, this would be the best method.
 
Working up to a five rep max and then a down set at 90% of your best is an even better option for building muscle. Or you could do a very heavy set of five but leave a little something in the tank and then go for broke on the second set. There is some evidence which shows that this second option may even be the better choice simply because the body may not function optimally during the first heavy set. This is due to the laws of homeostasis and various things of this nature. The first set causes shock and certain protective mechanisms may set it which prevents the first heavy set from actually being the best set. The job of the first heavy set may be to provide neural arousal and prepare the body to go all out on the second set. This is something that people have to play with on their own and see what approach helps them build muscle fastest.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.
 

Weight Training Exercises to Avoid if You Want to Build Muscle Fast

When it comes to constructing the ultimate weight training program to build muscle, exercise selection is a very important component. You build muscle fastest with compound weight training exercises. Any bodybuilding program that focuses on machines and isolation weight training exercises is a complete waste of time.
 
Below are the worst weight training exercises on the planet and should be avoided at all costs if you want to build muscle fast.
 
1. Smith Machine Squats - Squats are one of the best weight training exercise you can do in order to build muscle fast. Doing them on a Smith machine however, is a huge mistake. Squatting in a Smith machine is very hard on the knees and causes the lifter to develop what is known as a pattern overload syndrome. The smith machine isolates the legs while taking the trunk out of the movement. In a normal free weight squat your lower back and abs must stabilize the weight and every muscle group must work in unison. This is how the body functions, as a unit, never in isolation. This can lead to severe imbalances and injuries.
 
2. Leg Extensions - Compound weight training exercises are the best muscle building exercises there are. Leg extensions are an isolation movement which do very little to build muscle. This movement also creates shearing forces on the knee and should be avoided at all costs.
  
3. Abduction/ Adduction machines - This is the one where you sit with your legs spread and strapped into the machine. You perform this weight training exercise by opening up or spreading your legs and then closing them. This is another isolation movement which will do nothing to build muscle. On top of that, you will look like a girl if you do it.
 
4. Abdominal Crunch Machines - The abs never work in isolation in the real world. In fact, the abs do not ever contract consciously. They contract unconsciously as a way to protect the spine. The abdominal muscles never work without the use of the hip flexors yet these isolation crunch machines are specifically designed to take the hip flexors out of the movement. For these reasons, this is a very ineffective weight training exercise for building muscle.
 
5. Ab Roller Devices - This apparatus is a version of the aforementioned crunch machines and is another useless piece of equipment. This device takes the neck completely out of the movement which is exactly what you don’t want to do. Contracting and or flexing the muscles of the neck during an abdominal crunch is exactly what you want to be doing and is physiologically correct. Another waste of time in the quest to build muscle fast.
 
6. Smith Machine Bench Press - The bench press is a great muscle building exercise but doing it in the Smith machine is not a good idea. Much like the Smith Machine Squat, this exercise will cause you to develop a pattern overload and will lead to injury. Pressing on the Smith Machine isolates the pressing muscles and completely eliminates the use of the stabilizer muscles, such as the rotator cuff. This will lead to imbalances that can transfer to serious shoulder injuries. You can’t build muscle when you are injured.
 
7. Bench Dips - This is another weight training exercise that I did for many years and now regret. I routinely did this exercise with four 45 pound plates on my lap. Little did I realize at the time that bench dips put your shoulder in a very dangerous position and can eventually lead to serious problems. While this exercise is useful in building muscle it is also dangerous. If shoulder safety is a concern I recommend that you avoid this exercise and stick with parallel bar dips for building muscle.
 
8. Concentration Curls - When it comes to weight training and building muscle, everybody’s favorite bodypart is biceps. Chin ups and barbell curls are the best weigth training exercises for building huge biceps. Concentration curls are not. This is a pure isolation movement which supposedly puts a “peak” on your biceps. The only problem with that is the fact that it is physiologically impossible to peak your biceps. Muscles grow evenly along the entire length of the tissue from origin to insertion. When looking at the effectiveness of an exercise one of the key determinants in the results that it may produce is the amount of weight that can be lifted. In a concentration curl it is very difficult to lift a great deal of weight and thus it renders the movement ineffective. If you want to build huge biceps, avoid concentration calls.
 
9. Bench Press to the Neck - This was a big favorite muscle building exercise of Larry Scott and Vince Gironda. It was supposedly a great muscle building exercise for the upper or clavicular pectoral muscles. The problem with this movement is that it will absolutely destroy the shoulders and can easily lead to a pec tear. This is one movement that you should stay very far away from in your quest to build muscle fast.
 
10. Old School Pec Dec - This is the supposed muscle building exercise machine which has you bend your arms ninety degrees while externally rotating. You place your arms on the pads and then proceed to bring the pads together in front of your body. This is not only dangerous for the shoulder but is absolutely useless and will not build muscle at all.
 
11. Knee Break Squats - As mentioned earlier, the squat is the best weight training exercise there is for building muscle. Some trainers and coaches have advocated initiating a squat by first breaking at the knees rather than the hips in an effort to put more stress on the quadriceps muscles. The problem is that this also puts unnecessary stress on the knees and severely limits the amount of weight that can be lifted. Squats should be initiated by first breaking at the hips and sitting back and down, not by breaking at the knees and pushing your knees forward as you descend.
 
These weight training exercises are listed in no particular order. Unfortunately there are many other weight training exercises that are performed on a routine basis by many lifters that are also useless and dangerous. Those listed above just so happen to be the worst. If a weight training exercise causes pain, you should always avoid it. If a weight training exercise is supposed to target a certain muscle group in isolation and requires you to use extremely light weights it is usually best avoided. The exception to this rule would be prehab and rehab type exercises such as external rotation exercises for the rotator cuff.
 
Train hard, train smart and focus on the big, basic, compound weight training exercises and you will build muscle fast.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.
 

The Magic Number for Building Muscle

When looking at most popular muscle building workouts you need to understand that most forms of training have just been passed down for decades from one generation to the next, without the inclusion of rational thought. Sometime in the 60’s sensible muscle building programs started becoming less and less prevalent with the rapidly growing usage of anabolic steroids.

In days gone by, men like Steve Reeves and Paul Anderson trained with far more sensible, lower volume muscle building programs, but these started to disappear during the 60’s. By the time Arnold got to Gold’s Gym in Venice for the first time, high volume, bodypart splits were the widely accepted way for everyone who wanted to build muscle and gain strength to train.

This type of training is not based on rational thinking but just on the fact that “it’s what everyone else is doing.” The proponents of these training methods will always blindly tell you that “higher volume training is needed to build muscle.” Says who? I can tell you for a fact that the University of Chicago isn’t wasting time examining the effects of Jay Cutlers workouts. There are no studies saying that you need 8-12 sets per bodypart to build muscle. However, there are, in fact, studies that show the exact opposite; that one set is just as effective as three when it comes to building muscle.

The proponents of this type of training will also tell you that higher volume training is associated with higher levels of growth hormone secretion. What they don’t tell you is that almost anything you do elevates GH. Extreme temperatures elevate GH but my biceps don’t get bigger every time I take a shower. The increased GH secretion is not enough to make the slightest difference whatsoever in the muscle building process.

For the drug free lifter who does not possess muscle building genetics quite up to par with the Austrian Oak, training this way is a huge mistake. Not only does it drain your amino acid pool and glycogen stores but it dramatically increases your recovery time between workouts. If you do 8-12 sets for chest on Monday you can not recover from that workout and be able to train again for seven days. So you are only getting one growth stimulus per week or fifty two per year. Now if you reduce your volume to the point where you can recover faster and more efficiently without draining your amino acid pool and glycogen stores so greatly, you can train bodyparts twice per week instead of once. Now instead of 52 growth stimulating workouts per year for each bodypart, you can now do 104.

To train more often you absolutely have to lower your training volume. The total sets per workout should be kept low and the total sets per exercise should be even lower. Contrary to what a lot of the popular programs out there today prescribe, there is rarely a need to do more than two sets per exercise when you are trying to build muscle. If you can’t get the job done with two sets you probably aren’t training hard enough. In theory you should be able to get the job done with just one set but I like to use two just to be safe and make sure all bases are covered. The second set is basically an insurance set.

The are only a few times you should do more than two sets per exercise. If you are a raw beginner who needs more sets just to practice and perfect your form then you should probably do more than two sets. If you are doing speed exercises such as cleans or box jumps you should also do a few more sets. Finally, if you are varying the reps and weights, you can do more than two sets. For example if you are doing two sets of three with 315, a set of five with 295 and a set of eight with 275, you can get away with more than two sets. But other than that, you should never do more than two sets of any exercise with the same weight for the same reps.

There are a few different approaches you can take to doing your two sets. The first approach is to go balls out on your first set and then drop the weight a little bit on your second set and use it as a sort of backoff set. Theoretically this will allow you to give your most effort when you are freshest on your first set. The second approach is to hold a little something back on your first set and instead use it as a hard, working warm up set. Then you go balls to the wall on the second set. It has been suggested that a heavy, but not all out set, before your money set can serve as a neural primer and arouse your nervous system thus making the second set even more effective. The third option is to not take neither set to the limit but instead just do two very hard sets to clean failure. Each option works very well but you will have to experiment to see which is best for you. The most demanding method would be to do two all out death sets to failure. This can work but may be a bit hard for most people to recover from.

Whatever option you choose will be far better than the normal, mindless nonsense of doing 4-6 sets per exercise and you will get far better results. Better muscle gains with far less work? Sounds like an unbeatable plan to me.


Jason Ferruggia is a world famous fitness expert who is renowned for his ability to teach people how to gain muscle fast. He is the head training advisor for Men’s Fitness Magazine where he also has his own monthly column dedicated to muscle building. For more great muscle building information, please visit Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets here.