Bigger Deadlift through Partial Training by Gabe Wells

I felt that since the first article did so well, that I would continue on with the series. The deadlift is without a shadow of doubt, MY top choice for putting on some serious size and strength. Face it, who wants to be small and weak? If it’s you then you have no place in a gym…

The deadlift can be trained in a variety of ways, power from the floor or strength at lockout. This depends on your weak point and where your sticking point is. If your sticking point is just below the knee, then Rack pulls are very good for you. My quam with this movement is that guys tend to move more weight here so it becomes an ego exercise. Remember this is only a partial movement, so you are only partially strong. 900lb rack pull doesn’t translate to 900 deadlift, never has never will to my knowledge. Remember, you are training a lift not your ego.

Main lift: Deadlift

Rack Pull: Typically performed inside a rack, place the pins about 2-3inches below knee level. Positioning yourself as you would pull from the floor. Pull and return to rack. Do not bounce the bar off the pins, as this could send unpleasant vibrations through your body. In short, don’t bounce the bar dork! As stated earlier, you typically can work heavier loads so lets set up the scheme.

405lb deadlift, we’ll use 105-115% range of 1rm @ 3×5

Block Pull: Just as the rack pull, you are pulling from your sticking point. (typically from upper shin to right above knee) except here you are pulling from mats about an inch thick or so. This gives you the ability to adjust on the fly. Also the mats actually similate the floor pull because they absorb the shock and prevent “bouncing” that you get with rack pulls. You can get mats from or either a sporting good store. All else fails, just swipe those exercise mats from the gym closet, but be ready for a fight with the aerobic community!

Same principle scheme as rack pulls, except we will use a slightly lower percentage. (75-85%)

After warm up sets, work your way into the 3×5 worksets. Please do your body a favor and warm up properly.

The breakdown:

Week1: Rack pull (3×5) @ 105% (425lbs.)
Week2: Block pull (3×5) @ 75% (305lbs)
Week3: Rack pull (3×5) @ 110% (445.5lbs)
Week4: Block pull (3×5) @ 80% (325lbs)
Week5: Deadlift (3×5) @ 85% (345lbs.)
Week6: Rack Pull (3×5) @ 115% (465lbs.)
Week7: Block Pull (3×5) @ 85% (345lbs.)
Week8: Rest!!!
Week9: Test 1rm of deadlift

Gabe’s Note: Doing heavy pulls as those outlined in this program will tax your CNS (central nervous system) so listen to your body will do YOU wonders. Happy lifting!


How to Get Shredded and Stay Ripped All Summer Long by Jesse Westburgh

Who doesn’t want to be able to walk down the beach and have every head turn to look at you? Want to know how? Well just let me start off with saying your journey will not be an easy one. Getting and maintaining a shredded physique takes discipline and desire. If you’re one of those people who start preparing their beach body in May, you are wrong! You need to build a good base of muscle mass in the winter months and then once the beginning of spring comes along then start your cutting phase. Cutting down fat and water starts with your diet. This is hands down the most important part. You need to be eating clean healthy foods every two and a half to three hours. These foods should consist of high protein (chicken, white fish, lean turkey, Greek yogurt), moderate to low carbs (oat meal, brown rice, Ezekiel bread, fruits, veggies), and a good amount of healthy fats (almonds, sweet potatoes, other unsalted nuts).

The timing of eating certain foods is also very important.  You want high protein in every meal, good amount of carbs in the morning to get your day going, healthy fats right before bed, and 55g of carbs/30g protein/20g simple carbs(something like gummy bears!) right after your workout.

Next, we have your water intake. If you want to lose water weight, you have to drink A LOT of water. By drinking 1 to 2 gallons of water a day, you will trick your body into getting out of survival mode and to stop storing water. The less you drink, the more your body will store. High amounts of sodium and certain supplements such as creatine will cause you to retain water as well.

Now we get to everyone’s favorite part, the workouts! When it comes to cutting down I use Steve Poynter’s Psychotic Fat Destruction plan. This plan consists of high intensity high reps and changes up very often throughout the 12 week process. If you want to get more details about this workout, you’ll just have to go check out his web site I highly recommend this! In addition to his workouts, I do a very large variety of high intensity cardio. Some of my favorite ways of getting the sweat going are HIIT sessions of the elliptical and stair master, tire flips, sledge hammer workouts, and flipping a palm tree log end over end up and down the beach.

Supplementation, in addition to healthy eating and proper workouts, will take you just one step closer to having an awesomely shredded body. Some of my favorites while cutting are Cellucor D4 and C4, Optimum Nutrition HydroWhey, MaxMuscle BCAA, and MaxMuscle Vita-Cel multivitamin.

If you can muster together the strength to put together all of these factors together for a long enough period of time, you will absolutely impress all beach goers! Just remember that it’s not about whether or not you go to the gym, it’s about what you do while you’re in there.

Work hard and push yourself to new limits every day!

“Failure is my strength, pain is my motivation.” – Michael Jordan

About the Author

Jesse Westburgh is a 22 year old pipe fitter from Mt. Pleasant, SC.  A Kentucky native, Jesse has been seriously lifting for about a year after being rescued from overtraining and poor diet by good friend (and fellow big dawg) Steve Poynter, who he credits for expanding his knowledge of bodybuilding and helping him find a new love and respect for the bodybuilding lifestyle. Jesse looks forward to stepping on stage next year while he learns as much as he can so he can share it with others.

Bigger Bench through Partial Training by Gabe Wells

What is partial training? Take a compound lift (bench, squat, or deadlift) that you are familiar with and work a partial movement of that lift. Maybe you are having issues off your chest or perhaps your issue is lockout of your bench, so we will use this and create a sample routine. Nothing over elaborate just really want to stick to the basics here.

Here we go:

Main lift: Bench press

For our variations we will use pin press and 2 or 3 board press (depending on how long your arms are)

Pin press: positioning a bench inside a power rack, set pin bars approximately 4-6inchs off your chest. Rest the bar on pins and press, return to start position…pretty simple eh? Good it should be, now how do we set this up reps and sets wise? For our example routine we will use 5 sets of 3 @ 80-95% of bench press 1rm. For sake of ease lets say your max is 300lbs. and we will use 80% for all sets. Now remember to squeeze shoulders together, drive with your legs, and grip the bar tightly as if you were trying to pull it apart.

5 sets @ 240lbs for 3 reps

Board press: Just like the pin press the board press is excellent for working the lockout. The triceps get a very thorough working as well. First of all, board presses aren’t just for breaking in a bench shirt! These are very instrumental in helping develop tricep power. Using 2boards or 3boards depending on how long your arms are, lower the bar to the boards, slight pause and press to lockout. Just as pin press, we will use 5×3 scheme/80-95% of 1 rep bench press max. Lets use 90% of bench press max.

5 sets @ 270lbs. for 3 sets

Alrite students lets put this into a simple format that easy to follow. Each week we will do a variation of the bench press.

Week 1: Bench press (5×3) 80% (240lbs)
Week 2: Pin Press (5×3) 80% (240lbs)
Week 3: Board press (5×3) 90% (270lbs)
Week 4: Deload
Week 5: Pin Press (5×3) 85% (255lbs)
Week 6: Board Press (5×3) 95% (285lbs)
Week 7: Bench press (5×3) 80% (240lbs)
Week 8: Deload
Week 9: Test 1 rep Bench press

There we have it kids, a bigger bench through partial training. Partial training allows for new ground to be covered as well as different avenues to work the main movement without being burnt out on the main movement.

Adaptation by Gabe Wells

I was having a discussion with a client the other day about the healthcare/fitness industry and why there are no absolutes. We both established that the healthcare industry has solidfied itself as a field of practice, however what about the fitness industry? The red-headed step-sister to the healthcare industry, fitness wants to establish itself as a completely absolute field of study. Why? Well, this is were it gets pretty interesting and I am pretty sure that others may agree/disagree with what I may have to say. If you agree, cool if not cool still. I’m not here to hold hands and pacify, my job is to give you the unadulterated truth at least in my eyes. (insert wink and “the gun” gesture.) Here’s where the buck needs to stop and start making sense; THERE ARE NO ABSOLUTES IN FITNESS except change, what does this mean? What has worked for you before may not always work for you now. Means that those glorified diets, programs, fitness trends are destined to stall out after a period of time regardless of your level of commitment. Your body has this ability to “learn” from previous ventures it is call adaptation. Example, we all know this person or have been this person at one point or the other, “I have been walking at the track for about 2 months, the weight came off fast and began to slow down to a standstill. What happened?” Adaptation is what happened, your body basically “learned” what you have been doing over that period and adjusted it’s energy reserves accordingly as to preserve itself. There is nothing wrong with adaptation If you understand that this the only absolute in the fitness industry. You can throw a curveball at your body by switching your routine and dietary habits, usually every few weeks your body learns a new habit that is foreign….simple solution, small changes will create huge results. A tweak here or there, such as a cheat day a week could actually throw your body into shock or  even a different workout routine. Just remember if you are finding yourself stalling out just make a small change and watch where it takes you…

Strength & Conditioning for Fighting Part 2 by Sim Lucien, CSCS

In Part 1, I outlined the concepts for people looking to train for a real fight. That is, serious amateur or pro fighting, boxing, wrestling and/or jiu jistsu.

But what if that doesn’t apply to you? What if you just want to be in killer shape, have a different kind of challenge in your workouts or just like the fight training scene? What if you’re learning and no where near ready to compete?

This article will breakdown the most effective way for you to get “fight fit” and have a great time doing it!

The beauty of the not competing athlete is simplicity. Since we don’t have to prepare you for live action, there’s much less risk and subsequently, less strict guidelines to consider.

As with any type of training, your goals, expectations and needs are most important. So, what do YOU want?

If your biggest goal is to learn one skill, focus on that. If you want to learn a lot of skills, you can focus on one at a time and cycle every few weeks or just dive into several disciplines and once. That way is harder as you’ll have a ton of info thrown at you at the same time, but you figure out how to blend things on the run. If you just want to be challenged and get in great shape, the everything at once method is great, especially when you add in strength and conditioning work. Just make sure you get a ton of rest, eat well and a lot so you can recover and listen to you body.

No one likes injuries, especially when they cut into training time.

Next you have to think about what you want to do in a specific sense. Is it a singular style like karate, boxing or Muay Thai? Is it a dual art like grappling which combines wrestling with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Sambo? Or are you going for MMA which means you’ll have to be well-versed in a wide array of styles?

So let’s say for example you want to study MMA (so grappling and striking), but you’re not interested in fighting (yet, trust me, it’ll happen), so you have a lot of time to play with.

There’s a couple ways to go about it. A lot will hinge on you’re schedule and the availability of training classes at your gym, camp or with your coaches/partners.

Let’s also assume you have you have a ton of down time, great class availability and a full gym to play with (a dream come true, I know!). I’ll use the schedule of my camp, New York Jiu Jitsu, because they’re availability is awesome!

Monday-Friday, there’s an hour-long MMA class. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, there’s an hour-long Muay Thai Class just before it. Tues and Thurs, there’s a 90-minute long Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class just before MMA. So, one could do two classes a day for 2-2.5 hours of training in the middle of the day and train 5 days a weeks.

That’s a pretty good start.

Now, depending on your strength and overall fitness levels, you can adjust your S&C work accordingly. If you want to preserve strength and muscle mass more and get good conditioning, lift weights 2-3 times a week and do cardio 0-2. If you want to get great conditioning and/or get ripped and just not lose too much strength and muscle mass, lift weight 0-2 times/week and do cardio 2-3 times.

Your total workout time/day shouldn’t be more than 3.5 hours on any day. Do this schedule for 12 weeks and you’ll be pretty skilled and well-rounded, strong, athletic and in killer shape!

Manning Up to the Challenge

Sup big dawgz! I’m back with another interview. Most of the interviews that I have done have been with guys who are fairly young who are making their mark in the world of strength athletics. However, I felt that it was time that we hear and meet one of the more “seasoned” big dawgz. This guy knows is stuff when it comes to training and is making a mark in the world of strength athletics in his own way. Before we get into the bread and butter of this interview, here’s a quick look at Manny Kirby!

Full Name: Manny Kirby
Birth Date: 5 November 1966
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 235-240 lbs.
Hometown: New York City, NY
Years training: 15 years
Best Gym Lifts:
• Flat Bench Press: 405×5
• Decline Bench Press: 405×5-6
• Dumbbell Incline Press: 160×4-5
• Standing Smith Machine Shoulder press: 225×10
• Hammer Curls: 85×10 each hand
• Deadlift: 405×10
• Stiff Legged deadlifts: 405×12
• One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 190×10 each hand
• Hack Squats: 540×10
Hobbies: Eating & Mixing Music

Manny – thank you for sitting down with me and letting us at Big Dawgz United get to know you better. How did you get started in bodybuilding?

I got started in bodybuilding by watching Bruce Lee movies, my pops doing his karate, and watching the Incredible Hulk! In 1996, I was in a car accident. It was pretty bad but I lived. I was laid up for 4 months. I couldn’t even do a push up. 3 months later, I was in the gym working out because I needed to and had to.

What challenges have you faced to get where you are today?

Well the only problems I really had were not enough money for food, supplements, and a gym membership. However, I always found a way.

Take note – there is ALWAYS a way! I know you are a very busy man so how do you balance work, training, and a life outside of both?

Balancing a life with fitness was and is hard. I find it hard to sleep at night when I know the time I’m sleeping I could be doing something. I try not to look at anybody from a personal trainer standpoint but being in the field makes you see things in a different light: “I wonder if she works out,” “he has a huge upper body, but he has no legs.” So it’s hard. I really don’t have a life. My life is my friends online – the close one. They are the people I do my videos for, the ones I deal with simple everyday life stuff with – even though we have never met. Having a woman is hard. When preparing for a competition, it can put a strain on the relationship, let alone a friendship. So I balance my life accordingly and very carefully. If I’m not training somebody or busting a nut in a workout, I’m always doing something.

You sound like me, Manny. I am ALWAYS doing something. What is a week of training like for you?

A week of training in the mind of Manny? Sometimes, it could be really brutal. There are days where I had no energy to train or sleep. There are times where I take days off just to repair and grow. There are days where I may do High Volume workouts or H.I.T.

It sounds like you never know what to expect with your training. I know in our conversations you have competed in the past. Tell us about that.

Well…I’ve done one powerlifting meet and got 2nd. My first bodybuilding show was a week later and I placed 7th. Every show after that has been 3rd or 4th place except my last show where I got 10th out of 10 people.

How do you prepare for a contest?

I prepare for a show by not looking at any pictures and trying not to listen to those who give advice and have never stepped on a stage in their life! I try not to change the workouts – keep the reps high and weights heavy and push onward!

Onward and upward to bigger and better things. Now, I know that you are a sponsored athlete with the supplement company Advanced Muscle Science. How did you get involved with Advanced Muscle Science?

I got involved with AMS through my buddy Ian Kauffman. I had just gotten out of working with a company that had lied to me. This is the first time I am actually speaking about this. A few people know of this. The person lied to me about contracts and never answered any messages or emails telling me he didn’t want to use me anymore for who knows what reason. So all the videos, pictures, and interviews I did had to be taken down – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the website I was working on. I told Ian I was looking for another sponsor and he told me about David Cannoy and Advanced Muscle Science. David and I spoke briefly through email and phone. He said he wasn’t going to sponsor anybody but we could work out something for supplements along the lines of networking. Then, a funny thing happen. He got in touch with me, changed his mind, and sponsored my next show!

That is just great Manny. New York City is like my second home and favorite place to visit when I get a chance. I haven’t lifted at a gym there but what is the lifting scene in the Big Apple?

Well the lifting scene is pretty much the same everywhere. You have the ones who lift to compete, the ones who do it for the health, and the talkers.
At Steel Gym where I train, we have a mix of cool people there. Daren, the manager, has seen it all – pro bodybuilders, models, movie stars, TV stars – you name it. Ken, the owner, is quite cool and laid back. He is the most approachable gym owner I have met.

What is your definition of a Big Dawg?

What is a BIG DAWG?!?!? To me, a Big Dawg is a person (male or female) who can do more than a normal person can in the gym and still be nice to other people!

Awesome definition. What are your future plans and goals?

My plans right now are to get the Iron Coalition off the ground!! Maybe do a show next year…maybe. More on that later.

I smell a follow-up interview. With you being a personal trainer and a bodybuilder, do you have any advice for those who want to compete in bodybuilding?

Those who want to compete in bodybuilding – you got to have the heart for it, the means to an end to get up, do the work and still smile through it all. Listen to those who will tell you the truth and take the words you like and use it. Then you can achieve what you want on stage and off!

Solid advice from a solid guy! Now for a little fun! Finish this sentence:

The one movie I can watch over and over again is “Enter the Dragon”
The one food I can gorge on all day is Cookies & Cream ice cream
If I could watch one TV show forever, it would be cartoons

How can bodybuilding fans follow you online? or

Well, I want to thank you again for doing this Manny. Is there anyone you would like to thank?

David Cannoy and Advanced Muscle Science, Claudia Reid, Ian Kauffman, Harry Riverazarrella, Zoila Acevedo, Vivian Greaves, Tammy and the crew at World Physique, Shawn Jones, Kimberly Myles, Jefferey Hall, Will Chiles, Serge Zavala, Natural Vitamins, Derik Farnsworth, Jay Sailor, Marcus McDonald, John Kotler, Versa Gripps, Zed Unapproved, Unapproved Clothing, Myansusa Suppelments, Jennifer Rankine, Kandace Hudspeth, Steel Gym, Darren Favacho, Ken Hunt, Tiffany Shockley, Nichole Thompson Williams, The Bodybuilding Lounge, Rick Roffeld.

Strength & Conditioning for Fighting Part 1 by Sim Lucien, CSCS

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to balance the lifting, conditioning and everything while training for fighting.

Talk about a LOADED question!

Because there are so many individual variables to consider (the exact sport you compete in, your level, your S&C background, how much time before your next event and the type of event), this is going to be more of a conceptual overview with my experiences mixed in.

Check back to my past posts on Fire and Water Fighting and Who gets into MMA for more looks at training and opposition.

So let’s start with a couple basic assumptions:

1. You are in shape enough to be able to compete.
These two are notorious for walking around way above their weight class and cutting a ton of weight fight week.

Unless you are Forrest Griffin or Rampage Jackson, you being 30+lbs above your competition weight means you’re fat and out of shape. This post ISN’T FOR YOU! Get your diet right, get in the gym and get in shape! Worry about your fight skill and specific conditioning later.

2. You are skilled enough to compete.
I don’t care what you squat, bench and clean. I don’t care if you can drop 5-min miles for a half marathon. If your only punches are the right and left hay maker, you can’t kick, your wrestling sucks and joint locks don’t exist in you world, YOU CAN’T FIGHT!

Stay in shape, stay strong and learn a discipline or two and you’ll be ready to rumble.

Concept 1: The more you will have to fight, the better your conditioning must be.

If you have a tournament (multiple bouts in the same day), you need to be in better shape than if you have if you only have one bout. If you have to fight five rounds (MMA championship fight) you need to be in better shape than if you only have to fight three rounds.

That being said, it doesn’t just mean more cardio! It doesn’t matter how good your wind is if you hit like a girl!

Get your strength and power endurance up so you hit as hard in minute 1 as you do in minute 30.

Concept 2: The closer to the fight you are, the better conditioned you have to be.

So let’s say you have a fight in 3 months (12 weeks). During weeks 1-2, you really don’t need to do that much conditioning work (provided you’re in shape enough to be able to take a fight). Really (and this depends on your particular style and strengths), you don’t need to condition for the first 6-8 weeks. Keep working your technique, drills and sparring.

This is the time to build your strength levels as high as possible. This is called “front loading.”

We do this because strength gains take longer to make, but last longer. Next we ramp up the conditioning and taper down the strength work. Something has to give as the body can only handle so much stress before something gets injured or you get sick. Our strength will fade slowly, but the extra energy will go toward recovering from our other workouts. Because cardio goes faster, but is developed faster, we increase our frequency and intensity of those workouts in the 4-6 weeks leading up to the fight.

Concept 3: The closer to the fight you are, the more specific you have to be.

Let’s use out last example of the 12 weeks before a fight. On week one, your lifting is geared to getting you prepared for more strenuous training, cardio isn’t really needed and your fight training is mostly you working general techniques or anything you needed to improve on after your last fight. As we get closer to your next fight, details become more important. Here, we focus on the specific techniques and drills needed for the upcoming opponent.

Is the opponent southpaw? Jiu jitsu black belt? Great wrestler? Stand up specialist? Great with the clinch? A ferocious kicker? Your game plan on how to address and attack these and other specs of your opposition must be drilled to the point of second nature at this time. Your strength work is minimal, but lifts train you to be as efficient and effective in you competition as possible. Your conditioning is geared to make you the most ready for EXACTLY what you will have to do in the ring, mat or cage.

Concept 4: The closer to the fight you are, the healthier you should be.

This should be the biggest DUH moment of this article, but the point can’t be overstated. The flaw most fighters across all the sports have made in their training for decades has resulted in the fight really being who was less beat up.

Look at it this way: you’re about to have a contest in which another person is trying to beat you up. YOU SHOULDN’T HELP THEIR CAUSE! Be as well-fed and hydrated as possible (given that you may have to cut weight). Be well-rested. Lifting can be cut totally 1-2 weeks prior to the fight to allow for more recovery. Workouts should be short and focused. The last week especially, you’re not gettingnoticeably better. At this point, just be mentally sharp, on your A game and healthy.