Sunday, 28 September 2008

Know Your Rep Range

When training there are many different repetition ranges that can be used when pounding out the sets during a workout, but what impact does the amount of reps do?

Contrary to common opinion the rep range has a huge impact not only on muscle growth and muscle strength but also on the cardiovascular system, nervous system and skeletal system. The repetition range you use in a workout has a huge impact over the whole body in different ways.

Previously I have mentioned how power lifters use low reps and high weight to increase strength without huge muscle growth while bodybuilders use less weight on higher reps to achieve hypertrophy (optimum muscle growth). To take this a step further I have created the table below so you can see exactly what your rep range is doing to your body.

As you can see low reps (1 to 3) with high weight that power lifters use really does increase strength and power while not having a huge impact on muscle growth, but at the same time this rep range also helps improve bone density and neural adaptations.

For bodybuilders the optimum rep range of 8 – 10 not only increases muscle growth through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy it also improves bone density, neural adaptations, strength and much more.

There are many different repetition ranges a person can use as the rep range chart shows. Using this chart should really support and push your workout forward.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Muscle Definition

One of my new female readers has posed the question of me debunking the myths on muscle definition and slimming so today I want to address these by giving the answers.

Muscle definition is an interesting one, I get quite a few people ask me how they can define a specific part of their anatomy and the truth is its not as easy as targeting a specific area...unfortunately.

Contrary to common belief it is not right that to gain muscle definition you need to train with light weight and very high reps (15 to 20 range). In fact at this level you are in the realms of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (building larger muscle mass to you and me).

Muscle definition is gained through fat loss, by losing fat but retaining lean muscle you will notice muscle contours start to appear.

To gain muscle definition what is needed is a balanced diet and a good exercise program that utilises the fat burning zone.

Did you notice when talking about muscle definition I said fat loss not weight loss? This brings me neatly on to the diet!

Your diet should retain proteins, carbohydrates and essential fats as these supply the body with energy and aid the body in every day life. You will find for fat loss your diet will also have a slightly reduced calorific intake.

When training your body will use carbohydrates and fats to sustain your energy needs. If you do not have a good level of energy stores and you train to a high intensity your body will then start using your muscle store for energy sustenance.

The training regime should be of an intensity that sits in the fat burning zone rather than the cardiovascular zone. For those burning with desire to get in to the fat burning zone the simple way to gauge this is as follows.

To get in to the fat burning zone we lower the intensity of the training workout (treadmill, cross trainer etc). The fat burning zone is the level at which you are training and your heart rate sits between 60% and 70% of its maximum heart rate.

To gain your fat burning zone heart rate take your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) and multiply this by 60% to find your fat burning zone base heart rate is. To find your ceiling fat burning zone heart rate take your maximum heart rate and multiply this by 70%.


I'm 27 so...

220 - 27 = 193
193 x 60% = 116
193 x 70% = 135

This means when training in the fat burning zone my heart rate should always sit between 116 beats per minute and 135 beats per minute.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Glycemic Index - Low GI Foods

Many seasoned bodybuilders and weight lifters are well versed with the terms glycemic index and low GI foods as they use these as an important part of their diet.

What is surprising is that unlike bodybuilders many people have never heard of the glycemic index or low GI foods so do not understand how they can help maintain weight control and support fat loss.

So what is the Glycemic Index?

Created by Dr. David Jenkins at the University of Toronto (Canada) in 1980 the glycemic index is a measure of blood glucose levels caused by the consumption of carbohydrates.

The idea behind the glycemic index is that the lower the number a food sits on the glycemic index the slower the glucose is released into the bloodstream.

This means that the lower the GI rating a food has the better it is for the body as it releases glucose slowly and steadily over a period over time.

Most bodybuilders try to keep their carbohydrate intake within the low GI foods as this will keep their metabolic rate steady throughout the day, in turn supporting their fat loss to keep their body lean.

GI Foods

Below is a list of foods and their GI range

Low GI (55 or less on the glycemic index)

Fruits, vegetables (not including potatoe), pasta, pulses, milk, fish, eggs, nuts, oil, meat, grainy breads.

Medium GI (56 - 69 on the glycemic index)

Whole wheat products, brown rice, basmati rice, sweet potatoe.

High GI (70 - 100 on the glycemic index)

cornflakes and other cereals high in sugar, potatoe, white rice, white bread, croissant, sweets, desserts and sugar (Sugar is the only product that is 100 on the index).


If you want to give yourself a steady flow of fuel throughout the day and also keep your metabolic rate high to support potential fat loss and a leaner body try to keep towards the low GI food range.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Ladies Only

I have had some positive feedback about Muscle power shop in recent times but one thing has become apparent, I am not catering to the ladies of this world!

To right this awful wrong I am creating the ladies only category on the blog. Here I will detail all that ladies need to know about building lean muscle for definition and using weight training as part of a fat loss regime.

Over the coming weeks and months the ladies only section will become a library of everything a woman needs to know to achieve her goals.

What I think will be important in the ladies section is explaining how weight training will support goals and why it will help along with the usual nutritional support.

Ladies I hope you will enjoy the ladies only section and hope you will coment on the information provided so I can make the ladies only section tailored to your needs.

Now to apologise for not having created the ladies only section sooner! ....SORRY!!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Gym Etiquette

Gym etiquette is an interesting and important part of training, you would be surprised at how many people do not know or take heed of the rules in a gym they frequent.

Those who do understand Gym etiquette will understand exactly what I am talking about, this is the small boy that picks up his weights and stands too close to you so you cannot complete the last few reps of your set or the gym rat who thinks he owns all the weight machines!

There are quite a few rules that need to be adhered to when visiting the gym, these rules make it enjoyable and safe for all who visit.

I write this post due to the poor etiquette I have seen of some who visit the gym I go to, now this is the gym I train in when in the UK, not the one in Bulgaria (I never have a problem with gym etiquette in the Bulgarian gym).

So what gym rules should you follow to keep your gym safe and enjoyable for all?

  • Do not use your mobile phone while in the training section of the gym
  • Do not carry out exercises right next to the weights as this stops others picking the weights they need
  • Keep a safe distance from the people to your left and right when carrying out exercises to ensure you and those around you have enough space
  • Always put weights back after use so they are not a hazard for others and so others can easily find what they need
  • Do not "Hog" the benches and weights, would you like it if you had to wait for someone who had 4 sets of dumbbells and a barbell in front of them!
  • Clean down machines after use, no one wants to sit in your sweat
  • The gym is for training, a little banter is good but having a meeting about your weekend in the middle of the gym with 3 friends is not fair on others
  • Keep the noise down, some people are trying to concentrate
Now I am not sounding off when advising of the above, these are clear guidelines on how you and others can help each other make a training session a real enjoyable experience.

When training I try to go when its quiet and there are not many people around this way I can fully concentrate on lifting those extra few kilograms without worrying about people affecting my workout.

Take Gym etiquette seriously as next time it could be you getting annoyed with someone not following simple rules.

Train hard, but above all train safe :D

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Intermediate Back Workout

Today Im showing you a standard intermediate back workout, also with a secondary bicep workout as the biceps are used as a secondary muscle group in any back exercise.

You will notice that this workout uses compound movements and also encompasses one 5x5 workout exercise. This back workout will add size and strength to your back and biceps, just what you need from a good stable workout!

This workout is for those who wish to build bulk and should be carried out once a week to see the biggest gains on your back.

Deadlift - 5 sets of 5 reps
Barbell Row - 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Dumbbell Bent Over Row - 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Lat Pulldown - 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Bicep Cable Curl - 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps
Bicep Dumbbell Curl - 3 sets of 6 to 8 reps

I used to use this workout before moving on to the 5x5 workout, by using this workout my strength did increase and I gained good size on my back.

Disclaimer - With any workout please only lift what you physically can, its more important to lift lighter and correctly than lift heavy and damage yourself.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Want a Guest Writer

Do you have a weight lifting/fitness related blog and want to have a guest writer?

Well I am now making myself available for guest writing on others blogs and websites. I am not charging anything for this although I would expect a bio box with a link back to here.

If you interested in taking up this opportunity please leave a message below or email me at

gfm _tr[at]

I will then Email you to talk further about your site and what type of post I can write for you :D

I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


L-Glutamine is an amino acid and is one of only a small number of amino acids that are encoded in the standard genetic code.

Function of L-Glutamine

L-Glutamine has been scientifically scrutinised for nearly two decades. It has been proven in this time that L-Glutamine helps speed up the recovery process in the treatment of injuries.

When weight lifting or bodybuilding we lift weights and make small tears in our muscle fibres so they grow back stronger. You have to think that in essence small tears in muscle fibres are classed as a minor injury to our body, because of this L-Glutamine is a powerful supplement as it aids the recovery and growth of muscle fibres.

Many amatuer and professional weight lifters and bodybuilders use L-Glutamine supplements to aid their muscle growth and repair.

L-Glutamine in your diet

L-Glutamine can be found in many day to day foods such as

  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Milk and dairy produce
  • Cabbage
  • Beetroot
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Different varieties of beans

If your serious about your training regime then L-Glutamine could be the right supplement to assist in your diet.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Calf Muscles

The calf has the real name of gastroc-soleus and is named this because it is made up of two different muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

The calf muscle is found at the rear of the lower part of the leg, running from the back of the knee to the rear of the ankle where the achillies tendon is found.


The Gastrocnemius is very powerful yet a superficial msucle that has two heads, both running from the knee to the achillies tendon.

The Gastrocnemius is used for walking, running, standing, jumping and many other activities that require leg and foot movement.


The Soleus is very closely related to the Gastrocnemius and soem believe it to be one and the same muscle. The Soleus gets its name from its shape as it is the same shape as the solefish.

Like the Gastrocnemius, the Soleus is used for walking, standing, jumping and other activites. Without the Soleus a human could not stand as the Soleus manages the planterflexion of the foot (this means pushing the foot down away from the leg) without the Soleus we would fall forward flat on our face.

Calf Muscles

Both calf muscles are extremely strong and are different to most muscles in the body as they do not require low reps and heavy weight to increase in size. The calf muscles responds best to higher reps (15 - 20) and lower weight.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Rear Deltoid Raise

The rear deltoid raise is an exercise used to work the rear deltoid, this is an isolation exercise as it only works the rear deltoid and no other muscles.

The rear deltoids are not very strong so when carrying out this exercise with correct form only a low weight is required. It is important to carry out the rear deltoid raise with the correct form as using weights that are too heavy and/or the incorrect form with mean you utilise other muscles to lift the weight.

Reat Deltoid Raise

Equipment - Dumbbells of desired weight

Preparation - Hold the dumbbells with an overhand (pronated) grip lying face down on a bench.

Movement - Keeping your arms straight and elbows slightly bent lift your arms out towards your back (like they are a pair of wings), once there bring your arms back in front of you and repeat.

Reps/Sets 8 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Rear Deltoid Raise (Lying)

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Knowledge is Power

I have been asked many times why I do such a low amount of repetitions when training, it seems not many people understand the impact training has on the body. Many people think that more reps equals stronger muscles, they do not know that training is a lot more technical than this.

From early on in my training I found that understanding the body and how it works is such an important tool in building muscle. Knowing how the body performs means you can choose the specific training you want to achieve results without causing injury.

Those of you who have visited my blog since it was created will know I have spoke about this previously but this is something I feel passionate about.

I wont lie, I am still learning every day and this makes me happy as knowledge is power. I know that the more knowledge I have the better my training will become!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Home Workout

There are time when getting to the gym just is not possible and this is where a home workout can help. I know from my own experience that on rare occassions I find it hard to fit all four training sessions into my schedule.

It does have to be noted that a home workout will not give the same impact on your body that a real gym session would. Home workouts do support a proper gym workout if you are missing the odd session here or there, nothing more.

For those that are interested in what a home workout look like below are the exercises I carry out.

Press ups - minimum 20 x 8
Tricep dips - 10 x 5
Crunches - 4 x 30
Leg Raise - 3 x 25

As you can see this is just a small assistance workout where no weights are needed, it also has no heavy impact on the muscles. It is this reason why I say that a home workout is just a supplementary session for the weeks when you try as haerd as possible but cant fit all gym sessions in.

My Home workout - Press ups

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Good Morning Exercises

The good morning is called by its name due to the form used when carrying out the exercise. To explain the good morning the easiest way is to imagine a person bowing to greet another person.

The good morning predominantly works the lower back but also works the hamstrings.

It is important to only carry out the good morning exercise if you are intermediate to advanced at weight lifting and also to start with a low weight so your body can become accustomed to the movement. The good morning exercise is classed as controversial as it can cause serious back injuries if not carried out correctly, Bruce Lee famously damaged his back while carrying out good mornings.

Good Morning

Equipment - Barbell with desired weight

Preparation - Hold the barbell with an overhand grip resting behind your head on your upper back (make sure it does not rest on your neck). Stand with your legs shoulder width apart.

Movement - Keeping your upper body straight bend your hips and lower your upper torso forward until it is parallel with the floor. Keep your chin up throughout the movement to ensure your back does not become rounded as it has to be kept straight to avoid injury.

Some people find that they cannot lower their torso all the way down without their back rounding so do not bend down so far.

Reps/Sets 8 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Good morning

The video shows the knees bending slightly, this form is to reduce stress on the lower back.