Training Programs Archives


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Building an Impressive V-Shape


Building a classic V-shape like that embodied by Steve Reeves, Frank Zane, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is easy to do if you follow the guidelines I'm about to lay out below. Much of bodybuilding is about making small changes to your physique here and there. Add a quarter inch here, lose an inch there. Bodybuilders are real-life sculptors with real-world clay in the form of muscle.

Building a V-shape is about creating an illusion of broader shoulders, wider lats and pecs, and a narrower waist and hips. The way to do this is to work on building up the lateral head of the delts, the deepening the ribcage, buffing up the lower pecs and widening the lats. You also have to shape the waistline such that it seems like it's getting smaller (reduce fat, increase muscle separation). Finally, you need reduce the apparent size of the hips.

I'll tackle each of these in turn.

Broadening the shoulders has the effect of making the tips of that classical V-shape. And it's easy to do if you focus on the lateral head. This means working the side delts with lots of side laterals and behind-the-neck presses. Try using the Pre-Exhaust method: Do a set of side laterals followed immediately by the presses. This engages the lateral head, fatigues it, such that as many muscle fibers of the side delt are utilized as possible in the presses.

Latissimus Dorsi, or latsTo develop the wide latissimus dorsi muscle, or the “lats,” you must do wide grip chins, lat pull-downs, and barbell rows (mostly builds thickness, but also builds width).

To build the lower pecs, parallel bar dips are the best exercise around. You'll develop that lower line that is so well-recognized in the top champions.

Bent-arm pullovers are key to developing the larger ribcage that is necessary to support the increased musculature of the chest, lats, and shoulders. They not only enlarge the ribcage, they also build the lats and supporting muscles of the upper body.

Reducing the size of the waist is mostly dependent on reducing body fat. As you may know, there is no such thing as spot reduction. You can't just cut the fat off the stomach. No, you'll have to cut fat everywhere. So, diet and aerobics come into play. Losing fat is a numbers game: Burn more calories than you consume and you'll lose body fat.

However, you'll still want to do some ab work to develop the muscles there so that they'll really pop when you lose the belly fat.

Finally, you'll have to build the thighs to give the illusion of smaller hips. Of course, building the thighs is worthwhile, even if doing so didn't make your hips appear smaller. Squat and leg presses are key exercises to develop the sweeping quads that are necessary to enhance the classic V-shape.

Following these guidelines will enable you to build the body you want with that coveted v-shape every man and woman wants.

4 Effective Training Tips For the Core

Syndicated from eZineArticles
How do you know if you are getting the most from your core training program? It sounds like a simple question; but it's not. I mean with the ever increasing knowledge and understanding of the body's core, more and more information is being released for us to review and utilize. It's difficult to stay on top of the latest and most effective / efficient techniques. Read more…

My New Favorite Chest Exercise – Incline Bench Press


I've been very fond of the flat bench press my entire bodybuilding career, but I've lately developed a love of the incline bench press.

It offers similar benefits as the flat press, but with little of the ill effects (for me, at least) that flat benches bring.

First, the flat bench press tends to overemphasize the lower pecs; you can get that “droopy pec” syndrome, where your lower pecs completely overpower your upper pecs and you lose some balance in your pecs.

Incline bench presses eliminate that because they really focus on the upper pecs. These are especially great if you've been doing flats and declines for quite some time.

Second, for me at least, a lot of the shoulder joint discomfort I was having with the flat benches is completely gone. I'm in a new groove. And it's helping me build stronger delts, too!

I want to mention that I use a Smith machine. I've never been one to train well with partners (I have too many individual idiosyncrasies that I drive training partners nuts), and rather than rely on somebody I don't know to spot me, I just use a Smith machine.

I am aware that I lose some of the benefit of the exercise in terms of almost completely giving up on strengthening the stabilizing muscles (but I do other work for them, like dips and dumbbell work, which are better than barbells any day of the week), but I'm focusing here on maximal effort. I do a rest-pause with these. Here's a typical set/rep combo:

  • Set #1 10 reps, mostly a warm up, with about a minute rest
  • Set #2 10 reps with increased weight, with about a minute rest
  • Set #3 8 reps with more weight, followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Set #4 As many reps as possible with same weight (usually 2-4), followed by 10 seconds rest
  • Set #5 Same as #4
  • Set #6 As many reps as possible with substantially-reduced weight (try to get at least 10 reps out, but I've been known to pump out 15-20)

I've found this system, practiced on my 3-day split (Chest and Deads day one, Legs & Arms day 3, Back & Delts day 5), allows me to beat the hell out of my pecs yet gives me a week to recover (it sometimes takes 6 days for the soreness to wear off). I follow up this chest workout with my Deadlift routine (it's short, but it's killer!) – this will be the topic of my next post.

How I Am Training Now


Here's an update on my training. As you may know, I've been a proponent of low-volume, low-frequency split training. It is simply the best muscle-building system I have come across.

Typically, I split my body into two parts, and train each half every other day (Monday-Wednesday-Friday, for example).

However, I am experimenting with a new split – a 3 way split where I train my Legs, Torso, and Arms and Shoulders on alternative days.

Here are the benefits to such training: First, I get a whole week to recover from a workout. This is working great for my recovery. The other cool thing is, since I'm training harder, with more volume and weight, little injuries crop up and I can structure my workouts such that I can get nearly 2 weeks between workouts for an injured body part. (Right now, I am dealing with a knee injury. It's NOT from my weight training. Rather, it's the unfortunate outcome of three knee surgeries after being hit by a car when I was a teenager. In fact, the heavy training has made my knee feel better than ever.)

As I alluded to earlier, some other benefits of this schedule is that I can work with heavier weights, higher sets, and more variety between reps, weights, and exercises.

The drawbacks to this split are: I'm not sure I'm getting enough stimulation. I mean, the higher intensity and volumes work wonders. But I feel like there's too much time between workouts. One of the things I can do to deal with this is to focus on a specific body part that I want to improve. For example, if I feel like my biceps are not getting enough frequency, I can split them out and train them separately from the rest of my body parts on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. This is an option I haven't tried yet, but it is certainly feasible.

I also am not doing much in the way of supplementation, either. Currently, I'm taking a multi-vitamin, calcium, and a glucosamine/condroitin mix (to help repair the knee). When I really get back into my weight training again, I'll begin taking a weight gain powder, creatine, and some BCAAs. I'd like to gain about 20 pounds of muscle.

What do you think about this new split? Have you tried something like it? Any pointers? Let me know in the Comments – would love to hear your take on this.

4 Effective Training Tips For the Core


Core training is super important for strength and stability

How do you know if you are getting the most from your core training program? It sounds like a simple question; but it's not. I mean with the ever increasing knowledge and understanding of the body's core, more and more information is being released for us to review and utilize. It's difficult to stay on top of the latest and most effective / efficient techniques. However even with this increase in knowledge and discussion, most exercisers don't know what makes up the core, what its main job, and how to effectively train the core to that job better.

Let's start by looking at what makes up the core. The core is made up of the Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Internal Obliques, External Obliques, Quadratus Lumborum, Multifidus and the Erector Spinae. Now that we know what the core is, what does it do? The core's main responsibility is to stabilize the spine; and from there all movement can be generated. The rotational movements, forces needed in most athletic movements (i.e. throwing, twisting, swinging and jumping), are all generated from the core. Our core is our foundation, and in essence we are only as strong as our foundation. In addition, a weak core could also limit our strength potential.

Now let's look at those 4 fun and challenging exercises to improve our core and improve our fitness.


Kneel on a mat and place your hands on top of a stability ball or in the Portable Body Weight Trainer. Draw your abs in and slowly lean forward rolling your hands over the ball as it moves away from your body. Go out as far as you can while keeping your body in a straight line (Perfect Form). Pull back on the arms keeping them straight; reverse the movement and returning the body to the upright or starting position

Beginner: Small range of motion
Intermediate: Deeper extension and longer holds in extended position
Advanced: On the Bodyweight Trainer, move to a roll out in a standing position

Knee INS (Portable Bodyweight Trainer or Stability Ball)

Begin by bracing your abs. Put your hands on the ground and rest your toes in the straps of the portable trainer or rest your shins on the ball. With your arms straight (opening up the shoulder joint) and your back flat, your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Keeping your back straight (don't round it), move your knees as close to your chest as possible by contracting your abs and pulling them forward. Pause and then return your knees to the starting position by pushing your knees backward.

Beginner: Knee Ins
Intermediate: Knee Ins with Crunch (as described above)
Advanced: Perform Knee Ins with a Pike movement or attempt the Knee Ins from hands

Rotational Medicine Ball Throw (Partner or Wall)

Standing facing your partner or a wall in a lunge stance. The lead leg (the one closest too your partner / wall) should be the one that is forward. When you catch the throw or rebounded medicine ball, make sure that your arms are outstretched. This will help you control the force that is being place on your body through the activation of the core muscles as they rotate away from where the ball was thrown. Then rotate back toward your partner or wall and throw the ball with both hands. To make this more difficult bring your feet closer together or more narrow. To continue to progress increase the speed at which the medicine ball is thrown and increase the weight of the ball.

Beginner: Soft throw with a light ball
Intermediate: Hard throw with a light ball or soft throw with a heavy ball
Advanced: Hard throw with a heavy ball

Side Plank with Floor touches-(Elbow, Hand, Feet–Floor/Portable Bodyweight Trainer)

Lie on one side with feet and legs stacked on top of each other, and forearms on the ground. Draw your abs in and activate your glutes. Then lift your hips and legs off the ground until the body forms a straight line from head to toe. One progression would be to place your top foot in front of the other (offset them). A more advanced movement would to lift the top leg until you are resting on forearms and one foot.

Beginner: Support on elbow with feet offset, on top of each other (outside leg in front of back leg)
Intermediate: Support on the elbow or hand with feet offset
Advanced: Support on the elbow or hand with feet with on leg lifted in the air while balancing on the bottom leg, still maintaining a straight-line from your shoulder to your ankles.

There you have it 4 Effective Training Tips to improve your core and your fitness. Give them a try and let me know how they worked for you.

Jeff Paluseo

Owner and founder of Sports Fitness Solutions. He played professional hockey , was the Head strength and conditioning coach for the Houston Astros double A affiliate the Corpus Christi Hooks and the Head Strength and conditioning Coach for Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Check out his website at

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