Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Should Women Train Differently from Men?

Yes! But Not for the Reason You Think…
The fact is, women are better at training than men.

Before we get into the reasons and the science we need a short discussion on how a person (male or female) gets stronger or builds muscle or loses fat.


Volume is defined as weight x reps x sets. As an example, let’s say you lift 100 pounds for 3 sets of 10 reps. Your volume for that lift would be 100 x 3 x 10=3000.
Your volume for that exercise would be 3000 pounds.

You can discuss muscle damage, metabolic stress and 20 other variables but in the end, volume trumps everything. Volume lifted relates to greater strength, size and more work performed which equates to burning more calories for fat loss.

The goal in training is to increase the volume a little each week pushing your body to adapt (adaptive response).

Can the average woman do more total volume than the average Man?

Of course not. A 200 pound man squatting 300 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps is going to do more total volume than a woman who squats a 1 Rep Max (1RM) of 155 pounds. Everyone’s volume is going to vary due to genetics, training age, prior injury and a host of other factors. But, in terms of Relative Volume, women are better. Relative volume is measured in terms of a percentage of their 1 Rep Max (1RM).

In studies, women have been found to tolerate heavy load training better than men. And they improve relative strength better than men using the same routine.
Where a man might struggle to knock out 3 sets of 5 reps at 80% of their 1RM, a woman might be able to hit 6 or 7 reps on 5 sets at 85% of their 1RM plus women recover faster than men needing less rest between sets.

The Science
Studies give us several reasons for this female advantage.

Range of Motion

Women generally display a larger range of motion than men. The better the range of motion the more stimulus to the working muscle.


Men have from 10 to 30 times more testosterone than women. Testosterone is anabolic meaning testosterone aids in building muscle mass. The lack of testosterone is why it’s virtually impossible for women to get “bulky”.

But women have many times more estrogen than men. Estrogen may not be as anabolic as testosterone but estrogen is anti-catabolic (meaning it keeps muscle from being destroyed). Estrogen improves muscle recovery, aids in metabolism and helps strengthen bones, joints and tendons.

Muscle Fiber Type

Men have a higher proportion of Type I muscle fibers. Type I fibers are responsible for explosive and powerful movement But the energy of Type I fibers is expended quickly. Women, on the other hand, have a higher proportion of Type II muscle fibers that are used for endurance activities. Women, therefore, are capable of doing more reps and recovering faster than men (meaning shorter rest times between sets).

Pain Tolerance

I’ll keep this short as to not embarrass my male audience. But any woman who has ever had a male companion with a cold knows that women have a higher tolerance for pain than men. Women, therefore, are able to push through the discomfort and get more reps and sets at a higher % of their 1RM.

How to Train Like a Girl

In order to get stronger, add muscle and burn fat you have to:

·        Use a higher % of your 1 RM (and show up your male counterparts) At least 5% more.
You can physically test your 1 RM but until you have spent a few months under the bar and attempt to lift heavier with good (if not perfect) form you can us a 1RM calculator. Look in the Calculators/Resources tab at the top of the page. The calculators aren’t perfect but they are close enough for this purpose. You’ll find they are closer on some lifts than on others.
·        Push for a couple more reps than you planned for
·        You can plan for shorter rest periods between sets
·        Use a full range of motion on every rep
·        Get out of your comport zone
·        Progress on every workout- more weight, more reps, or more sets
You only improve in any type of training by progressing on every workout. You have to subject your body to stimuli it is unaccustomed to to get the necessary adaptive response or progress will stop.
·        Recovery
You don’t get stronger or gain muscle in the gym. Your workout just provides the stimulus. You get stronger during recovery. Get 7-9 hours of rest every night.
·        Get the right nutrition
No matter how hard you work in the gym, you cannot out train a bad diet

Other Articles of interest:
The Myth of Steady-State Cardio (Must Read!)

Throw Away Your Scales

Ten Mistakes Women Make in the gym

7 Lies About Women, Fitness and Diet

Others can be found by using the search box in the right column-key words "women", "ladies"

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


If you said barbell bench press, you’re wrong!

If you tell anyone you lift their first question will usually be “how much do you bench”?

There are several reasons for that question:

·        The bench press is the first lift they learned or the only one they know.
·        The bench press is one of the “Big Three” lifts used in many strength contests (along with the dead lift and squat) outside the Olympics.
·        They’ve been told they have to do the bench press.. It’s sort of like “you have to eat your spinach”

There is no doubt the bench press is a fantastic exercise and one you should be doing. But the barbell bench press is actually better for building strength than muscle mass.

But here are the reasons the barbell bench press is not the best exercise for building muscle on your scrawny chest:

1.     The barbell bench press is a compound exercise involving the pectoral  (chest muscle), anterior deltoids, triceps, forearms and, for some people ,even the back and legs.
This is about as wrong as wrong can get

It is impossible to isolate the pecs doing the barbell bench press.

2.     It’s impossible to get a full range of motion on the pecs doing a barbell bench press especially on the stretch(bottom)  portion of the lift.

3.     The other muscles involved with the bench press will exhaust before the pecs preventing the pecs from getting maximum stimulation.

4.     While the pectoral muscle is essentially one large muscle, it covers a lot of area and connects in several places. And it is possible to stimulate different portions of the pecs more than others. The bench press limits the areas and angles you can use to stimulate the pecs.

The best exercises to build the pecs: (in no particular order)

The first two exercises may surprise you. But they are excellent for building pec muscle.

1.     Pushup
The best variation to build the chest is the “triangle” hand position. Place you hands together flat on the floor with your fingers and thumbs forming a triangle between your hands. Keep your elbows in close to your sides.This moves most of the stimulation from your triceps to your chest.
For the best chest stimulation, do the pushup with you feet elevated above your hands and/or add weight. Use a weighted vest or have a training partner stabilize plates on your back
Progress by adding weight or increasing the height of your feet above your hands.

2.     Weighted Chest Dip
The Dip is normally associated with building triceps. But, instead of keeping your body upright as you would for triceps, lean forward as much as possible. Use a dip belt (made for the purpose) to add weight or just hold a dumbbell between your feet. Progress by adding weight.

3.     Fly’s
There are a lot of variations on the chest fly;
Cable Fly-standing high cables fly. Standing low cable fly, seated cable fly, incline bench cable fly, decline bench cable fly, flat bench cable fly.
Dumbbell Fly- incline, decline or flat
Pec Dec

All of the above will give you a longer range of motion and stretch than the standard bench press and produce more growth. Use them all. Mix them up. Use all the different angles,

The incline variations will stimulate the upper pecs more. The declines will stimulate the lower pecs more.

Crossovers, a variation of the cable flys, will help stimulate the inner portion of the pecs.  Cross your forearms over each other as far as possible and hold the squeeze.

While iso-stretches (holding the load in the stretch position) will stimulate the outer pecs better.

The dumbbell fly, whether incline, decline or flat will give you a much better range of motion than the barbell version.

Even a dumbbell flat bench press will give you a better range of motion than the barbell press.

4.     Machine Press
The only advantage to using a machine press occurs when you have a machine available that allows a longer range of motion than the standard barbell bench press. There are several brands that have this advantage.

5.     Incline and Decline Barbell Bench Press
Both the incline and decline bench press will give you a slightly better range of motion than the flat bench and it’s harder to cheat. Incline will hit the upper part of the pecs and decline will hit the lower part of the pecs.

Keep the flat barbell bench press in your program. But remember that it’s a strength exercise (and a very good one) but it’s not the best option of building chest muscle.
A wider grip will stimulate the pecs more than a standard or narrow grip and give you a slightly better range of motion on the eccentric.

How to do a proper barbell bench press
Follow these guidelines for the safest and most effective barbell bench press

1.     Your feet stay flat on the floor. It’s ok to pull the feet slightly back under you to get better traction and push through the floor.
2.     Your butt stays flat on the bench
3.     Don’t flare out your elbows when lowering the bar. Keep them no wider than 75 degrees. Flaring the elbows out to 90 degrees will result in shoulder impingement.
4.     Lower the bar to mid-chest and raise the bar on a diagonal line to directly above your shoulders
5.     Don’t try to raise your chest up to meet the bar by arching your back. There should be no more than a slight arch in the lower back.
6.     Find you most effective grip width. It will depend on the length of your arms and the health of your shoulders. Too wide and you will have shoulder problems. Too narrow and you are shifting the stimulus to your triceps.


Turn on your sound

Monday, September 26, 2016



First we need to clear up what creatine is and what it is not.

Creatine is a naturally occurring substance in your body. It is similar to protein only in that is contains nitrogen. It can be obtained from the food we eat (mainly meat and fish).

Creatine is not a steroid, it is not a growth hormone (or any other type of hormone) and it has not been found to be a health risk in any way.

Creatine is the most studied supplement of all. If you do a google search you will find more than 7000 studies on creatine covering more than 40 years.

What Creatine does.

Creatine is a key player in the phosphagen energy system, the primary source of ATP (the main energy substrate in our body) during short-term, high intensity activities. Creatine functions as an energy storehouse to replenish ATP in muscles that are rapidly contracting. When your muscles run out of creatine your high intensity, short-term energy shuts down and your muscles can no longer produce force.

Supplementation with creatine is based on the theory that one can increase the saturation of creatine in the muscles through that supplementation. Increases of 10-40% in muscle creatine have been documented following supplementation with creatine protocols.

Studies have reported a significant increase in the quality of training, leading to 5 to 15% greater gains in strength and performance. Nearly all studies indicate an increase in mass or 1 to 2 kg in the first week of loading.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition position:

“The tremendous numbers of investigations conducted with positive results from CM (Creatine Monohydrate) supplementation lead us to conclude that Creatine is the most effective nutritional supplement available today for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and building lean mass.”

Note: Creatine doesn't make you stronger or faster all by itself. You won't get stronger or faster by taking creatine and sitting on the sofa surrounded by an orange cloud of Cheeto dust. Creatine gives you the ability to train harder or faster or longer.

A couple of side notes regarding the most common questions/comments I get about creatine:

·        “I don’t take creatine because it make you retain water”- True. Your muscle cells will retain more water-about .5 to 1 kg  per 100 pounds of body weight. If you weigh 200 pounds you’ll gain about 3 pounds of water STORED IN YOUR MUSCLE CELLS which will make your muscles look fuller and speed the protein synthesis process. Creatine will NOT make you fat.

·        “Creatine doesn’t work on everyone so it probably won’t work on me”-True-About 5% of the population will not get the same benefits as the other 95%. What makes you special without even trying it?

·        “Supplements are too expensive”-False-Creatine Monohydrate can cost as little as $15-$16 for 200 servings. That’s almost a year’s worth. The standard dosage is 5 g. (about 1 tsp). Read the lable and make sure you are getting a good brand. it should contain nothing but Creatine Monohydrate. By the way, pure creatine monohydrate is colorless (when disolved), odorless and tastless.