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Mass Weight Training: Building Muscle - A Tribute to Kong

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by j flex roo, Nov 7, 2009.

Put it out there
  1. j flex roo

    j flex roo Team Captain

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    There's a degree of debate happening on this forum, and as wise as the heads on here seem to be, there is varying opinion as to what kinds of exercises are optimal for building up the muscle (if that is indeed your goal).

    It worries me when I see a personal trainer in a gym with a new trainer recommending anything other than compound lifts.

    I realise that for a beginner, perhaps isolation, full body routines are a good starting point.

    But it really annoys me when a comparative weed (PT's included) comes up to me and tells me I'm doing the wrong lift, recommending instead to do some 'safer' less efficient bollocks, which would never in a million years build 1/100th of the muscle a heavy compound lift would.

    I've been lifting for the better part of 5 years now, and while not the 'fittest' looking of lifters, I reckon I'm stronger and more muscular than probably 80% of blokes I see lifting.

    I'd like to gather some opinion on the best exercises, techniques and opinion (arranged by body part) that work the best for you.

    I'll kick things off with the often abandoned body part: the legs.

    Legs:

    I love working legs, even if it can be sheer murder.

    Here's my optimal exercises I use, in order of preference:

    1. Barbell Squats;
    2. Deadlifts (yes, as well as being a back lift, I consider it a leg lift also...a brilliant backside and hammy builder);
    3. 45 degree leg press
    4. Lunges with Barbell
    5. Hack Squat Machine
    6. Calf Raises (of whichever variation).

    I do not tend to value isolation leg exercises such as hammy curls or quad raises as I feel they don't add much value, but can be a good supplementary exercise to warm up on before squatting or to finish with.

    As for rep ranges, on the legs I tend to think that there a definite benefits to be had in very low rep ranges, going very heavy. This of course can be dangerous if not done properly. However, if you know your stuff and are confident, you should be fine.

    However, high reps are also good if you are looking to shake it up. I've gone fairly heavy on leg presses and gone for 15-20 reps quite a few times, and have found walking difficult the whole week after, as well as getting some decend growth.

    For now, if possible, I'd like to stick with legs for this discussion...next one to yack about with be chest (every ones fave).

    What's your leg routine? What rep ranges are you using for optimal growth?

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  2. cptkirk

    cptkirk Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    for a leg day i follow this:

    max effort squat or deadlift (i would deadlift 3 x more then squat if not more, i refer to actually doing the exercise, not wt)
    a single leg exercise (lunge, step up)
    posterior chain exercise (rdl, ghr etc)
    never bother with calves so i'll pop some core in here (you can never have too much core stability)

    for deadlifts i have some lower back history, nothing serious but enough to program for so i do a deadlift/rack pull type of thing from a mid shin ht as i go into lumbar flexion at the bottom of a bilateral squat/deadlift pattern...for squats i go down to a bench that is set up an inch before i go into lumbar flkexion to stay out of that potentially fatal position...a rep range here is something like 9 - 15 total reps over at least 5 sets so maybe work up to a max set of 3 or 5 or 5 x 3 etc...no point going over 6 reps i don't think...both of these really are best to build total body strength so your accessory lifts are also heavy enough to make a difference..for example if you can squat only 50kgs then you'll lunge with something like 20kgs maybe but if you can deadlift 150kgs then you';ll easily be able to lunge with 50kgs...see what i mean? this is the case for upper body too

    i don't think there's much of a difference between going to parallel then going below nor deadlifting from the floor then from a mid shin ht, except in competition for depth is required

    single leg training is where it's at i beleive for legs...we're not all blessed with hip/ankle mobility so get the muscles hit in a deep squat or deadlift pattern, this is it...load up a bb and go into split squats, reverse lunges, dynamic lunges, walking lunges, pistol squats (maybe a db for these), and deficit variations too...i've had my heart rate up to 168 after a heavy set of reverse lunges before and they also use all your stabilising muscles (think injury prevention here) so more muscle use then a squat, but a lowewr load which is also good for deloading the spine a little...spinal loading taxes the nervous system and as soon as that is gone, your toast...about 5 - 8 reps each leg for these as heavy as you can...if you need to rest between legs then do so

    everyday life is all anterior based stuff for lower and upper body so this needs to be off set in the gym...this is why i cringe when i see programs of squats, leg extensions and leg presses because your simply reinforcing bad posture (yes, you have it) and overlaoding an already overloaded anterior chain...this is where more posterior chain work comes into it so think rdl's, single leg rdl's, back extensions (keeping out of lumbar hyyperextensions) and glute stuff such as hip thrusts, 3pt extensions and the like...reps for these should be in the 6 - 12 rep range depending on the exercise and the load your using (6ish for rdl's and 12ish for back ext)

    calves need at least 3 sessions a week eith a hellava lot of volume and wt so if you've got the time and your body is still going hard, do it...if you're gonna do them 1 or 2 a week then you may as well not even do them

    80% of the year i do plyometrics of some description (i am now) which is basically 2 exercises done straight after a warm up...i also haven't listed o lifts as i don't do them much but i've been meaning to so might do some before or after christmas...basically they are hard for most to get a hold of andf the explosive nature means sloppy technique usually which can increase the risk of injury...with paying clients who want results yesturday, teaching a single O lift for even a whole session isn't worth it for them or for me so low level plyomtrics and some medicine ball stuff is a better option...it's importnat to remember that quality over quantity rules here...as soon as jumping ht or the speed of the exercise reduces, stop the set
  3. had sex on fire

    had sex on fire Draftee

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Superman walk 3 20
    Squats 3 6
    Calf raises 3 15
    Single leg deadlifts 3 15
    Lunges 3 20
    Hammy thrusts 3 15
    Wall sit 2 2min
    this is my leg day alot my exercises are for functional srtength sort of thing. love to finish off a leg session with a wall sit kills my quads and can't walk properly after them.
  4. j flex roo

    j flex roo Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    1. What's a Superman Walk?

    2. How the hell do you do Single Leg Deadlifts?

    3. What are Wall Sits?
  5. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Good thread.

    Will post when it finishes on legs :p
  6. whichone

    whichone Rookie

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    You basically just stand holding dumbells in each hand and bend forward (from the hips) as far as you can (balancing on one leg) and then come back up. Great for the hamstrings.
  7. cptkirk

    cptkirk Team Captain

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  8. had sex on fire

    had sex on fire Draftee

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    that basically it except i do superman/spiderman walks trying to stay as close to the ground as possible and quicker then what he does in the vid

    i use DBs in both hands for single leg deadlifts pretty much my favourite exercise at the moment
  9. j flex roo

    j flex roo Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    The spider man walk looks pretty much like walking lunges to me.

    I think that sort of thing has a definite utility.

    However, I fail to see how those types of exercises where you will be fairly limited in the weight you can use will be better than a squat with 150 kg on the bar. Or a 180 kg normal deadlift. I can't see how they will maximise the amount of muscle fibres stimulated and herenceforth maximising growth.

    I personally can't be bothered with that type of stuff...to be honest, it takes balance and coordination, which I think I have, but would just prefer to squat or deadlift heavily than risk going A over T. However, what works for you works for you. That is merely my take on it.

    This brings me to what I guess is the thrust of what I am trying to get at here - posters like Captain Kirk appear to take a fairly scientific approach, whereas people like myself take more 'conventional' stance.

    'Philosophy' on training is what drives trainers of a few years experience.

    So I guess, with regards to the topic of the moment, legs, I want to know the following.

    1. Exercises you use
    2. Rep ranges
    3. How do you perform each individual rep? For instance, slow concentric movement followed by an explosive eccentric movement? Or superslow all the way? Static holds? Negatives? Cptkirk has touch on a bit on these types of methods already...
    4. Philosophy that drives it all. I.e. maximum muscle stimulation through lower weight higher reps, or do you think you get best growth from higher weights and lower reps?

    I personally think I've seen best leg growth with the following:

    - Squats. High weight with 5-7 reps.
    - Leg press uber-heavy for 10-15 reps
    - Deadlift very heavy with 8-10 reps
    - Calf raises with high reps 15-20 very very heavy (for the sake of completeness).

    In a nutshell I think legs benefit most from a mix. I find that high rep sqats make my knees agro, so I like the lower rep stuff. It is an incredibly taxing exercise, and I find anyway that 5 or 6 perfectly executed reps with 70-80% of a 1RM gives me plenty.

    I'm interested to know, do the posters who do the single legged deads and walking lunges/spidermans see very good mass being put on the legs? Have these posters ever gone hard on the conventional squats and deads?
  10. j flex roo

    j flex roo Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    To be honest mate, I have been abandoning my pins the last month.

    I find that if I have a leg session that night, all day I'm dreading it. It's psychologically taxing more than anything.

    Will be getting back into the squats this week. :eek:
  11. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    I've been no better. About 7 or 8 weeks back I got really sick with the flu and had to stop training/eating, and as a result lost over 4 kilos. I haven't touched legs since (apart from calves), as I'm still not 100% and didn't really want to be walking around like a crab for a fortnight.

    I'm thinking I'll get back into it next week, though.

    Coupled with the fact that the girlfriend hates big legs, I actually don't want to build a whole lot of leg mass. I work the calves weekly, but tend not to do too much more than 2 or 3 sets of heavy squats once every 3 or 4 weeks.

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  12. j flex roo

    j flex roo Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    What rep ranges work best for the types of exercises you do for legs, Cptkirk?
  13. j flex roo

    j flex roo Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Nicely illustrated.

    Chest?

    My mantra is (and it seems to be working pretty well):

    1. Big compounder - namely flat bench usually (or incline - whatever you feel like targetting - use instinct), swithced with dumbbells every 8-10 weeks or so. Heavy as you can bear 8-10. Always throw in a weight that tests you for a few sets of 1-3 occassionally. 1RM tests are a good way to guage strength progress, and I tend to think that generally (cue the outrage) the stronger you are in chest exercises the bigger you are. Well d'uh.

    2. Second compounder - take your choice. I personally love incline smith benches. They isolate the muscle nicely. Yeah, yeah, what about the stabilisers!?!? I reckon the stabilisers get trained plenty in the first evercise. Remember, the chest is a relatively small muscle group, so the stabiliser activation isn't as huge an issue as training legs is. Go hard and heavy here. 8-10 heavy as you can.

    3. Full dips - will add a fair bit to the lower portion of the chest as well as bringing plenty of tricep - a key component in a good bench - into it.

    4. Pullovers with a dumbbell - do these heavy. I like them because they stretch everything out in a different way, and also stretch the lats and triceps muscles.

    Basically, I go for a mix of sheer weight progression at any cost (in the first two compount exercises of my routine) mixed with trying to really isolate the chest (through the smiths mainly).

    I might also add some type of flye in if I still feel like my chest is not punished enough. But this is fairly rare.

    Guess from the look of that routine I do like the compounds.

    Has worked pretty well so far. I'll be interested to see others take on how things should be done.

    Go nuts all.
  14. Oberfuhrer Abetz

    Oberfuhrer Abetz Draftee

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    I might have to try the incline smith as there seems to be a few around here that swear by it.

    I've outgrown the DB rack so at the moment I am struggling to find a decent specific chest exercise.
  15. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Yep, I've found it to be the best exercise for the upper chest, as far as mass-building goes.

    Dumbbells are adequate enough, but I like to perform my reps just within the lock-out range, which is far more effetive using a barbell. The funny thing is, I can comfortably lift more on the regular incline bench than I can on the Smith incline. I guess the difference is on the Smith it's a lot easier to focus on working the chest and taking as much of the shoulders out of it, due to not having to 'stabilise' it. Very under-rated variation. :thumbsu:

    As for my workout, will get to that when I find time. It's pretty hard when your net drops out every 2 or 3 minutes.
  16. cptkirk

    cptkirk Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    smith machine is the worse machine going around, it fixes you to one line of movement which if it isn't your natural line of movement which is usually isn't, then you'll compensate somewhere in the shoulder girdle where you shouldn't

    i train chest 2/week (upper days) and will do a max effort type bb variation which rotates through flat bench, floor press, and board preses for the most part so something between 3 - 6 reps

    on 1 of the days i'll do a second chest exercise which will be a db variation or a hard push up variation for 8 - 12 rep-ish

    if you have access to them, try gymnastic ring or trx push ups, the best chest exercises out there for mine...they combine the simple pressing motion of a bench press movement with the arc range of motion of a fly or crossover at the same time

    another push up bit to do is feet up x as many as you can, feet on the floor x as many as you can then with hands elevated x as manya s you can x 2 - 3 rounds...add up all the reps then get more the next time
  17. mcuzzy

    mcuzzy Club Legend

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Smith Machine is great! Good for concentrating on the body part I reckon.

    I do 5 pushups between every chest set these days.
  18. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Haha I just knew when I was writing my post that you'd sprout something along those lines.

    As I said, I know it's not a 'natural' movement, but who gives a shit, to be honest. I wrote that it was great for 'mass building', which it is. I've been doing it on-and-off (switching with dumbbells) for about two years now, and no injuries of note, either.

    As I said, I actually lift less on Smith Inclines, and the idea behind it is actually to eliminate as much shoulder contribution as possible. I understand where you're coming from, as the theory is right, and at first I found it rubbish. However it is impossible to explain this to people in person (I've tried showing an old gym partner), so I don't expect it to make much more sense online; the arc at which I hold my arms and width at which my shoulders lie, as well as the positioning of my hands on the bar, all allow me to completely isolate the chest, and in particular the upper section (as much as possible, at least; which is more than I can manage on the regular incline). It might not fit into your online readings, but it sure as hell works. And I'm not the only one who believes so, by the sounds of it.
  19. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Not sure if you're asking me or cptkirk, but I would alternate, yeah.

    As I'm sure you know, your body adapts to what you put it through reasonably quickly, and for this reason you'll find you plateau (both in strength and size). Mixing up your routine every 6-10 (different for everybody) weeks helps prevent this.

    Right now I'm on a Bench Press cycle, but I think after my rest week I'll switch back to Dumbbbells. Speaking of which, I should get around to writing up my Chest routine.

    As long as it's genuine interest that will result in actually using my advice, I love to give it. There's plenty of guys that know more than or are bigger than me, but that's the beauty; there's always more to learn. I find talking about it helps keep me motivated, too. It really is a disease of sorts.
  20. mcuzzy

    mcuzzy Club Legend

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Thanks for the advice.

    I'll start the benching tomorrow.

    Also added db pullovers in.

    bench, db flys, incline bench, db pullovers and dips.

    whomb, you'll have to post up your routine sometime i'm hell curious.
  21. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Finally I've got around to doing mine. Nothing spectacular; the thing that differs my training from most (not all) is the method in which I lift, not the exercises per say. I've harped on about it a lot in this thread (and others), but for a long time (up until some time last year) my chest workout focused a lot on my lifts as opposed to the muscles themselves.

    When I look back it was only this body part, which probably stems from my old hometown gym's culture of wanting to bench the most. Anyhow, my lifts were always pretty impressive for someone of my age and size; I could bench sets of 110kg (to the chest, none of that half-rep bollocks) x 10 pretty comfortably whilst weighing around 80kg. However my chest was always lagging behind the rest of my body, and through experimentation (including leaving the ego behind) I realised that despite using correct technique, I wasn't even really thinking about the muscles I was using whilst working out.

    Since then I've dropped the weight right down for everything; while I once benched 110kg and curled 27.5kg dumbbells (sets), I now lift around 90-100kg and 17.5-22.5kg (sets) respectively. A lot of people often ask why I can't lift more considering I weigh anywhere between 90 and 98kg, but it really is the best way of building size. No, I'm not saying 'lift half of what you normally do for more reps'; it's absoutely about form for me. Since dropping the weight and completely focusing on the muscle being worked (including a slloowww negative on each lift and using the continuous tension principle) I had gained more in a year than ever before.

    Anyway without crapping on any further, my routine:

    1) Primary Press lift - Either of Bench Press or Dumbbell Press, rotated every 8-10 weeks. 1-2 warm-up sets, followed by lengthy fascial stretching between each set. Then I go to 3 working sets, with an optional fourth depending on what I feel at the time. I really hate when people use the term, but I rely on instinct for my training; dependent on how I'm feeling, I'll usually start at a moderately heavy weight and push out around 12 reps. If I'm feeling up to it, I'll work up the weight a little and push out 10 or so for the next two. If not, I'l stick with that weight for the remaining sets. Again, depending on how I'm feeling, I might use a drop-set or the rest-pause technique for the last set or two.

    2) Cable Crossovers - "but they're not functional". Yeah, well they work bloody well. The reason I move to these and not another compound next is I prefer to exhaust the chest as much as possible before getting to the next compound. Not scientifically based, but I remember reading a book some time that recommended this principle, and it's worked well for me. Again, only a moderately heavy weight, using the 'pyramid' principle in working my way up most of the time. Every 3rd (or so) rep I squeeze with full contraction my pecs; I use this on a lot of exercises (bench, curls, T-bars, French Presses etc). Arnold claimed it help bring out peaks in muscles such as the Bicep, or to bring out the striations in your chest. I'm not sure if that's 100% true (it may have coincided with my inevitable growth), but at the very least it fully exhausts the muscles and helps gain one hell of a pump.

    3) Incline flyes - Now I'm up to the upper chest. I use a slight inclination; I'm careful not to go too upright as I don't want to bring the delts into play any more than I have to. First warm-up set I go extremely light, stretching at the bottom of every few reps. I go around 15-20 reps, as I really want to avoid straining anything. For this reason I also spend about a minute in between the next set or two simply stretching my arms out to the side and holding as far as I can without any discomfort. Arnold endorsed this stretching principle in between sets (for everything) to not only get a great feel of the muscle being worked, but also to activate as many fibres as possible in the working sets. I'll use a moderate weight for 2-3 sets, making sure my arms go down (and in an arc, not just elbows to the ground ala bench press) as far as comfortable, before bringing it back up in the same arc (again, not straight up like 90% of people do).

    4) Incline Smith Press - This has been covered in a few earlier posts, so I'll save the pretentious drivel for the next exercise.

    5) Dumbbell Pullovers - For this I use a moderate weight to start off with, working up to around 12-15 reps. My actual working sets are about as heavy as my gym goes, using between 6-10 reps. This is one of the few exercises (along with squats and deads) that I feel heavy/low works best for hypertrophy on. Arnold (that name again), as well as Jay Cutler, recommend these for not only building middle-lower chest thickness, but also expanding the ribcage. Now I'm not sure whether or not it's possible to do the latter, and Arnold admitted that nearly all exercise scientists dispute it, but it's definitely helped me get closer to a barrel chest. I should say here that chest is still by far my weakest point, and while a lot of that comes down to my first few years of training, it's also genetics; my ribcage and general chest structure are dismal. I had an absolute pidgeon chest (heartbeat showing and all) growing up, so any benefit such as this exercise for chest expansion is great for me. I'd definitely recommend it to more advanced lifters. I should also note I need to be careful in doing this, especially due to the heavy weight, as sometimes if I drop my concentration I bring my triceps and lats into play. Nothing wrong with that normally, but I try to avoid it if I can.

    6) Dips - 3 working sets at the end of my workout, usually super-setted with my ab work. By this point I'm usually beyond exhaustion (at least my chest is), but I never neglect these. Coming back to my inferior chest structure, my lower portion of the pecs have never had that 'lining' you see on some people. It's purely genetic, as I've seen plenty of guys that have never lifted possessing this. Bastards, to be honest. Anyway, if I'm careful to avoid bringing the triceps into play (again, nothing wrong with it, but I prefer to isolate the chest) it helps build me that bit closer to achieving that 'lining' look. I try to lean forward as much as possible to isolate the chest, and whether or not I use additional weight depends on how I am on the day; some days my triceps just don't want to stay out of it :rolleyes:.

    So that's about it. I apologise for the relentless lecture, although I'm sure those that had no interest skipped this anyway.
  22. j flex roo

    j flex roo Team Captain

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    Thanks Whomb. That was a great rundown.

    I've tried the deep tissue stretching and things like rest-pause etc.

    I'm aware of some pretty intense stretching exercises that are supposed to help activate the extra fibres lifting weights otherwise cannot.

    What are the one's you prefer, Whomb?
  23. james_omahoney

    james_omahoney Debutant

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    *snore*

    ;)
  24. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    I can't say I've looked into specific exercises in detail. I just stretch out the particular muscle(s) being worked; for example on chest day I'll stand with one arm against a sturdy pole and stretch out the pecs as far as comfortable. Big into stretching out the rear delts in a similarly reverse technique, too. I use (light) weight for stretching the lats as well as the chest; all others are just body weight/gravity.
  25. Kong

    Kong User of non-performance enhancing PEDS

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    Re: Optimal Exercises and Optimal Techniques for Muscle Gains

    You wish you had half my discipline, n00b. :p