Sunday, 30 November 2008

Dont Be Scared Of Lifting Weights

Many women are scared of lifting weights because they think it will make their muscle grow so their physique will look more manly and too muscular, but this is not at all true.

If you ever saw my interview with Lisa Stokes then you will have seen a photo of Lisa that showed her not being a huge, musclebound female even though she lifts a very, very respectable amount of weight. The reason why Lisa has this strength but is not huge in stature is because of the way Lisa trains.

I believe women should not be worried about visiting the gym and lifting weights, truth be told lifting weights can actually support weight loss so should be an addition to any training regime!

Did you know that for every extra pound of muscle that you carry on your body you are burning an extra 60 calories a day without moving?

The best form of training for women who wish to lift weights is actually the powerlifting technique, this means lifting very heavy with low repetitions (upto 5 reps) building your strength without cumbersome, huge muscles.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Bench Press Partial Repetitions

Partial repetitions are an amazing way of increasing your bench press by working on the problem areas in your lift.

When lifting a heavy weight on the bench press you will feel through the lift that at a certain section you feel weak, but when you get passed that part of the lift you can power out the rest of the repetition without any problems. It is because of this we carry out partial repetitions.

Partial repetitions are where you will not carry out the full repetition from start to finish but only carry out a certain section of the lift for reps and sets.

The two main places where people fail on their bench press due to a weakness are either at the very bottom of the lift trying to power the weight off the chest or towards the top of the lift after getting the bar just over half way up.

Partial Repetitions - Lower half

To improve the lower half of your lift we do partial repetitions starting with the bar resting at chest height and having a stopper placed about 6 inches (15.5 cm) above your chest. A top tip is to use the power rack as your stopper.

Once your set up push the bar from your chest to the stopper, bring down slowly and repeat for your full repetitions and for how many sets you wish.

Partial Repetitions - Upper half

To improve the upper half of your lift we do partial repetitions with the bar starting in its normal position at the top of the lift and having a stopper placed about 6 inches (15.5 cm) below your full bench lockout (where your arms are extended at the top of the lift). A top tip is to use the smithy for this partial repetition exercise as it has safety stoppers that can be used.

Once your ready pick up the bar as you would in a normal bench press and lower the bar to the stoppers slowly before powering the bar back up to your starting position. Complete the amount of reps and sets your happy with.

You should find you can lift heavier than your normal bench press one rep max on the upper half partial reps.


You should incorporate both partial rep exercises into your workout as training the lower part of your bench press will build your starting strength while training the top half of the rep will build that important power needed to push the bar to the top of the lift.

Video of Andy Bolton training with partial reps

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Building Bigger Lats

Everyone knows the secret to building bigger lats is to carry out back exercises, but exactly what exercises will increase the size of your lats and how?

Well firstly the lats are a big muscle and building big lats will give you a good sized back you can be proud of, but you need an overall workout on the lats for this to work.

The size of a person back comes from the width of the upper part of the lats, this part of the lats is built with wide grip pulling movements. The best way to improve your back size is to include some wide grip exercises such as the barbell row, wide grip lat pull down and wide grip seated row in to your work out.

To gain a good overall V shape to your back you also need to work on the lower parts of the lats, to do this carry out the following exercises, close grip lat pulldown, close grip seated row and dumbbell bent over row.

As you can see it is important to have a mix of narrow grip and wide grip exercises in your back workout to gain a big, well proportioned, V shape back.

Back Muscles

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Top Tips - Stronger Bench Press

Everyone wants to build a strong bench press, whether its a powerlifter or just someone wishing to look good in the gym a strong bench press is a must.

Today I want to talk about top tips to increase your bench press and build strength. You may wonder what amazing secrets I am going to reveal...well there are none, wat I am about to say is common sense techniques that really work.

Build Stronger Triceps

When lifting in the bench press the triceps are the secondary muscle in the lift. If you improve the strength of your triceps this will dramatically improve the amount you can lift in the bench press.

The best method of increasing the triceps for this movement is to complete the bench press with a very narrow grip (slightly less than shoulder width apart). You will find it difficult to lift a heavy weight lifting in this manner as the triceps become the primary muscle and the pectorals the secondary thus giving your triceps a great workout.

Working the Negative

Perform the negative (lowering the bar) section of the lift in a slow and controlled manner ensuring the bar is bought down to the chest you are going to improve your strength greatly.

You may find lifting your maximum difficult at first carry out the lift in this manner but you will sure see the gains in time.

Partial Repetitions

Partial repetitions are a great way to build a stronger bench press as you can work on the section that needs the most improvement.

Top half of lift

You can use blocks on your chest (telephone directories are good) to only bring the bar down half way so you can work on the top portion of your lift, you will find you can lift heavier training this section of the lift.

Bottom half of lift

Use the power rack as a stopper so you can lift directly from your chest for a few inches and return to your starting position to improve the lower part of your lift. If you can build your strength in the lower part of your lift then you will find your bench press improve in strength greatly.


Sometimes we can get in to a rut when lifting, we find that we cannot improve on the maximum we are lifting. Using the above techniques will improve your bench press greatly in a short period of time.

Instead of just trying to ramp up the weight on the normal bench press, start working on your technique on the negative, improve the strength of your triceps and work on partial reps to build the strength where your bench press is lacking.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Bodybuilders - Big Shoulders

Many people work hard in the gym to gain big shoulders so they look broad. The problem is that many do not train their shoulders properly so look wide from the front yet look flat from the side.

There is two reasons why people fail in getting big, full rounded shoulders, these are

  • Overloading weight so they lose form
  • Forgetting to train the rear deltoids
Overloading weight so form is lost

The deltoid muscles are very sensitive to movement so when lifting weight that is too heavy form is lost and losing form means the slightest change in the angle of the lift moves the stress from one deltoid to another.

An example is the lateral raise, working the lateral deltoid. Many tend to lift heavier than needed and lose form putting the emphasis on the front deltoid instead. What happens is that the front deltoid grows in size while the lateral deltoid does not gain at all, this results in rounded shoulders that have size when looking from the front but lack any size when looking from the side.

Forgetting to train the rear deltoids

This is the most common of issues when training the shoulders, it is so surprising that most people do not train these little but very significant muscles. While the rest of the shoulder is getting a good workout these muscles are left lagging behind meaning the shoulders are not looking as thick from the side as they could do.


When training the shoulders always ensure you keep good form so the emphasis is on the correct deltoid and never forget to train the rear delts. This way you will build a bigger, thicker set of shoulders while actually lifting less.

New Gym Visit

Today saw me visiting a new gym. I have been thinking for a while to move from the gym I am at as it is quite a distance from my home and doesnt fully cater to my needs. I have a good friend who trains at another gym that is only a thirteen minute walk from my home so I went to visit today.

To be honest I was pleseantly surprised as this gym has everything I need to push my boundaries further and lift alot heavier. I will also have the added bonus of being able to train with a partner, my friend who trains at the gym.

My friend is really interested in training to build his bench press, but working together we think that we can both benefit from being able to push each other and spot each other when needed.

I think it will be another 4 weeks before I sign over to the new gym but it is something I am certainly looking forward to!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Protein Shakes

After eight months it is a shock to me that I have never written about the great support protein shakes can have on supplementing your diet to ensure you get your daily protein intake.

Generally people take protein shakes after training which is great. Truth be told taking protein shakes is a great way to supplement your diet and ensure you are getting your daily protein intake while also giving you an easy meal replacement for when you dont have time to make a mid meal snack.

There are two types of protein shake on the market, one has low carbohydrates so is nearly 100% protein and the other carries a 50/50 ratio on protein and carbs.

The protein shakes that are low in carbs are a great supplement to a main meal so you can increase your protein intake from your meal while not increasing the carbohydrate intake which you have already gained from the meal itself.

The protein shakes that are 50% protein and 50% carbohydrates are perfect for a snack between meals or for after training as they will give you a great protein injection while also giving your body the energy it needs.

I normally keep a tub of both at home so I can use them as I need, normally this means a protein shake that is low in carbs to supplement my breakfast so I know my protein intake has started well for the day. I then have a 50% protein and 50% carb protein shake straight after training to give my body the nutrients it needs.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Lisa Stokes Interview

Today we are very lucky to have an interview with Lisa Stokes, a female powerlifter from Australia. I say very lucky but this does not go far enough to give Lisa the respect she deserves as Lisa is a powerlifter in the Australian National Powerlifting team who has achieved so much in such a short period of time in the sport.

Lisa Stokes - Image courtesy of Dallas Olsen


What made you start out in Powerlifting and how old were you?

I had no plan to become a Powerlifter, and in fact I didn’t really know what Powerlifting was until I was sitting back stage after a figure competition and chatting to guy from my gym. I was obviously looking pretty unhappy and he asked what was up. I had said that I loved training, and had always been into sports but there was such an anti climax for me competing in figure competitions; there was no competition, no event that got the adrenalin pumping. He suggested that I give Powerlifting a go, and 4 weeks later I started training and had to learn how to do each lift. I was 38 years old.

How did you become professional?

In Australia Powerlifting is an amateur sport, but I first made the Australian team (IPF) in 2007.

What is your favourite exercise in the gym?

Hmm....I love to bench, well these days anyway. When I first started lifting bench was my weakest lift, and after getting my shoulders fixed and working on my technique I really started to love it. Now when I lie on the bench I feel like I am “home”.

What are your personal bests in

(At 60kgs in weight)

Squat 122.5kgs
Bench Press 75kgs
Deadlift 140kgs

What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

It depends on where I am in my training cycle of course, but I generally do 4 dedicated lifting sessions per week. If I am away off from comp I also do interval training which could be anything from hill sprints, stationery bike or rower intervals. When I first started lifting my coach had me do a lot of outside plyometric training, although these days it is more gym based speed work. Right now I am off season so I am taking the chance to do some circuit style training with sets of over 6 reps!

Well done for winning the Bronze at the IPF World Masters in October 2008, where do you see your future from here?

Thanks, it was certainly a buzz and quite unexpected. Right now I am having a break as I have been hitting it pretty hard since I started lifting 3 years ago. The first competition I have committed to for next year is the Australian Nationals in July 2009. I am still only a relatively new lifter and have been really happy with my progress to date and my coach and I are hoping to see continued progress over the next few years. I am keen to compete at the IPF Open World Titles in 2010 and to gain a top 3 ranking at home here in Australia the same year.

Do you have any words of motivation for our female readers?

I love Powerlifting for women because it builds a strong functional body which is really sexy. Sure it is great to be able to out lift the guys in the gym, but it is more about feeling amazing and strong when you walk down the street. I also love the fact that powerlifting is not at all about how we look (in fact the equipment pretty much assures the opposite J).

If I can start a sport at 38 years of age and make the national team, you can do anything you want to do.

I'm sure you will all agree this was a great interview! If you would like to find out more about Lisa please visit Lisa's website at

10 Week Lift Peaking Cycle

For those that want to improve their strength in particular lifts I have created a ten week lift peaking cycle.

This 10 week lift peaking cycle caculator is perfect for Powerlifters who want to work on their deadlift, benchpress or squat in the run up to a meet. Work on your lift using this peak cycle and you will hit your peak for week week.

Some of you may wonder how the peak cycle works. Well basically the cycle works by building you up to your one rep max by getting you to lift specific percentages of your one rep max over a period of time. You will find by the end of your peak cycle when you attempt your one rep max it will be easily achieved and you can put extra weight on to the bar.

To get your 10 week lift peaking cycle calculator click here

I hope you like this new addition to my free tools and any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Great Ivan Abadjiev

Many in the Olympic lifting and Powerlifting world have heard of the great Ivan Abadjiev (also spelt Ivan Abadzhiev), the man who broke all training boundaries to make Bulgaria THE weightlifting champions of the world. The thing is Ivan Abadjiev is an illusive man and there is not a huge wealth of information on him available.

Today Im going to try and pen as much information as possible for all those who have been salivating at finding as much information about this man as possible.

Ivan Abadjiev was born in 1932 in Bulgaria, at first he started out in gymnastics before moving to weightlifting. He got himself a name as a mad man in Bulgaria because he started weight training twice a day, but this paid off when he won the Silver medal in the Olympic lifting lightweight (67.5kg) category at the 1957 World Championships in Tehran.

After giving up weightlifting Abadjiev became a pen pusher for the Bulgarian sports committee grumbling all the time about the inferior training of the Bulgarian weightlifting team, this was until the weightlifting team produced poor results at the 1968 Olympics.

Although the sports committee in Bulgaria thought Abadjiev was crazy they gave him a chance to improve the Bulgarian weightlifting team, and this he did. In 1972 after training under Abadjiev utilising his twice a day training regime Bulgaria won three gold medals and three silver medals.

Up till the start of the year 2000 Bulgaria dominated the world of weightlifting with some lifters actually being able to lift three times their own bodyweight which opened everyones eyes across the globe given how small this country is (7.5 million people today).

Ivan Abadjiev is now an older man and not training people as he used to but this legendary coach still has many trying to replicate his training regimes for great success.

So what was Ivan Abadjievs secret training regime?

Abadjiev believed that training should be between 30 to 60 minutes with the average being 45 minutes, the reason for this is because this is when the testosterone in the body peaks and after this any training can reduce recovery time.

Here is a sample of the workouts he used to put his Olympic weightlifters you will see this is training multiple times in a day.

Session 1
(Mon, Wed, Fri)

  • 9:00-9:30 - Front Squat
  • 9:30-10:00 - Break
  • 10:00-11:00 - Snatch
  • 11:00-11:30 - Break
  • 11:30-12:30 - Clean and Jerk
  • 12:30-13:00 - Front Squat
Session 2
(Mon, Wed, Fri)
  • 16:30-17:30 - Clean and Jerk
  • 17:30-18:00 - Break
  • 18:00-19:00 - Snatch
  • 19:00-19:30 - Front Squat
  • 19:30-20:00 - Pulls
Session 3
(Tue, Thu, Sat)
  • 9:00-9:30 - Squat
  • 9:30-10:00 - Break
  • 10:00-10:45 - Power Snatch
  • 10:45-11:15 - Break
  • 11:15-12:00- Power Clean
  • 12:00-12:30 - Front Squat
  • 12:30-13:00 - Pulls

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Core Strength Training

Some of you may have never heard of the phrase "Core strength training". Well core strength training is training the core of the body, the muscles that make up the core are

  • Transverse abdominals (Stomach)
  • Obliques (Stomach)
  • Rectus Abdominus (Stomach)
  • Erector Spinae (Back)
  • Ilio Psoas (Hips)
  • Glutius Maximus (Bottom)
  • Glutius Medius and Minimus (Bottom)
Core training is often overlooked by many as they concentrate on the big lifts like the bench press, but what they dont know is that by putting a little core training in to their workout their other lifts will improve.

In nearly all compound lifts the core muscles will have some part to play. An example will be the next time you try the lat pulldown, you will feel your core muscles tense as you pull the bar down.

Now for core strength training you dont need to add an extra training session for this, the easiest way to complete you core training is adding it at the end of all your workout sessions.

Here is a sample of what you can add to your workouts to improve your core strength

Workout day 1 - Crunches 4 x 30
Workout day 2 - Reverse Crunches 4 x 30
Workout day 3 - Russian Twists - 4 x 30

By building your core strength you will see gains in your big lifts as you engage these muscles to support the primary muscles in the lifts.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

L-Carnitine Info

L-Carnitine is a non essential amino acid, the body uses L-Carnitine by synthesizing it into the amino acids Lysine and Methionine.

Function of L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine have many roles but the ones that you would wish to gain from promoting growth to supporting the metabolic process, providing muscle energy and cell growth. L-Carnitine does this through the transfer of long chain fatty acids to Mitochondria.

L-Carnitine has been scientifically proven to mobilise long chain fatty acids, these long chain fatty acids such as Triglycerides are then transfered in to Mitochondria.

Mitochondria is a cells power plant as it generates the cells power through Adenosine Triphosphate (know as ATP).

How does this help me?

This means that your muscle will not fatigue so quickly giving you an extra boost with your reps while also helping with you regulate your metabolism and increase energy.

L-Carnatine in your diet

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

  • Avacado
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Milk

Monday, 3 November 2008

Arnie Press Exercise

The arnie press exercise is a variation of the seated dumbbell shoulder press and was created by the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The idea behind the arnie press is that rather than concentrating solely on the front deltoid the arnie press will give a more rounded workout on the deltoids without impacting on secondary muscle except for a slight use of the triceps.

Arnie Press

Equipment - Dumbbells of desired weight

Preparation - Hold the dumbbells with an overhand (pronated) grip sitting with the dumbbells at chest height and palms facing towards the body.

Movement - Push the dumbbells towards the ceiling while rotating your hands so the palms of your hands are the way you are facing by the time you arms are fully extended above your head (do not lock your elbows). Once you have your arms fully extended above your head take the reverse motion to return to your starting stance.

Reps/Sets 8 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Arnie Press

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Powerlifting Rules

Some of you have heard me talking of powerlifting alot over the past few months since the launch of Muscle Power Shop, but how many of you truly know what powerlifting is all about?

I decided to write a short post about powerlifting because many people ask me "What do you mean by you being a powerlifter?"

Powerlifting is a sport where you compete in three lifs, the Squat, Benchpress and Deadlift. The winner of the competition is the person who lifts the total amount of weight over the three lifts for their weight category.

Competitors get three attempts on each lift and the maximum weight lifted is the one used towards their final score.

The IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) are the governing body of the sport and they set out the rules of exactly how a competition is run and how the winner is chosen.

To find out more about the Powerlifting Rules you can click here for those who are heavy readers you can download the full IPF powerlifting rules at the bottom of this link.