Building High-Performance Muscle™
Author: Ian King

Grip Strength Basics - 06.08.07
by Ian King | Fri, Jun 08, 2007

Want a strong grip? Vary the grip of the bars you're using by incorporating "fat bar" implements or even something as simple as sponges. Minimize the use of straps and value the benefits of heavy deadlifts (or power cleans, pulls, etc.). Finally, do rope or towel chin-ups.

Volume & Intensity - 04.06.07
by Ian King | Fri, Apr 06, 2007

I'm going to give you a really important key to training. When you're in a workout, don't make the decision on what is enough based on how you feel during the workout. Make the decision about what you should do in that workout based upon what impact it's going to have on you the next time you come back to do that same workout. So if you think, "Should I do that extra set?" forget about how it feels now. Ask yourself, if I do that extra set what will happen in three days time? You have to divorce yourself from that feeling at the time and project into the future. I can't give a more powerful key to volume and intensity than that.

Fix Your Quads - 01.15.07
by Ian King | Mon, Jan 15, 2007

If you have any quad imbalance at all, the least you should be doing at the end of your squat day is one set of full range single leg squats (other leg out in front, just off the ground) holding onto a frame if you need to, allowing only as much trunk flexion as is absolutely necessary. Perform one set of ten reps at the end of the training session nearly every workout. Simple, yet so powerful!

Triceps Dips Tips - 01.05.07
by Ian King | Fri, Jan 05, 2007

The following are options that can be used to increase the isolation of the triceps whilst dipping: 1) Keep the elbows close to the body 2) Use a narrow spaced dip rack as opposed to wide-apart parallel bars 3) Use a parallel dip rack as opposed to dip bars that flare outward 4) Keep the trunk vertical 5) Keep the legs straight as opposed to bending at the knees 6) Using a smaller circumference dip bar 7) Take a palm-out grip (this will mean the elbows go away from the body, but may give added emphasis to your triceps.)

Train Smart - 12.27.06
by Ian King | Wed, Dec 27, 2006

I don't want a focus on how hard you work. I want a focus on what you need to do to get the best results. It will involve hard work, but isn't based solely on hard work. In fact, there are going to be training weeks when I don't want you to work hard, or even workout at all! In that scenario, you're going to be working "hard" at recovery! That means you should periodize intensity and train hard where it's most appropriate and beneficial.

DB Vs. BB Benching - 11.28.06
by Ian King | Tue, Nov 28, 2006

Dumbbell bench pressing tends to have a narrower line of pressing than barbell benching. It allows you to rely more on your triceps. If you've been doing this, you may have lost some pec strength and size. Many with superior triceps strength fall into a trap by using the closer grip bench press too often. It builds great triceps but it's not the best for chest development. I believe you need to spend as much time with an extra wide grip as you do with the extra narrow grips for chest development, which is where wide grip benching comes in.

Cheat Technique - 11.07.06
by Ian King | Tue, Nov 07, 2006

One of those traditions not yet accepted by science is the use of cheating in weight training. When I use the word "cheat," I'm recognizing a genuine category of technique, not denigrating it. Cheating techniques are legitimate techniques that have their time and place. My definition of a cheat movement is simple: to use joints outside the target muscle groups to overcome the load. The rationale for this is to overload the strongest joint angle or to get through a weaker joint angle. This technique has a long history in strength training and may not be as "dangerous" as some would have you believe.

Relax and Train Calves - 10.24.06
by Ian King | Tue, Oct 24, 2006

The next time you're on the standing calf press, look at what your arms are doing. Surprise, there's movement in the muscles! There's some tension and some contractions. Harmless, you say? Try this: consciously and with great discipline, totally relax the upper body. No contraction allowed, only that needed to remain vertical. Now how does that feel? What was that? You're fatiguing in the calf more quickly? Hmm...

Relax and Train Calves - 10.10.06
by Ian King | Tue, Oct 10, 2006

The next time you're on the standing calf press, look at what your arms are doing. Surprise, there's movement in the muscles! There's some tension and some contractions. Harmless, you say? Try this: consciously and with great discipline, totally relax the upper body. No contraction allowed, only that needed to remain vertical. Now how does that feel? What was that? You're fatiguing in the calf more quickly? Hmm...

How Deep is "Deep?" - 09.06.06
by Ian King | Wed, Sep 06, 2006

When it comes to deep squatting, an Olympic lifter should be looking to get his butt as close to the floor as physically possible. If you're a powerlifter, "deep" is breaking parallel as required in competition. For a bodybuilder wanting to exploit the hypertrophy benefits of deep squatting, I believe the optimal depth is just before the point where you can rest your butt on your calves and take an effortless break. This will be deeper than the powerlifting competition requirements, but not as deep as an Olympic lifter may go.

Sleep Early, Wake Early - 08.29.06
by Ian King | Tue, Aug 29, 2006

If you use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, your first few hours of the day may not be as good as they could be when compared to a situation where you woke naturally. The body can wake naturally, in particular in response to light. The ideal situation is to go to bed early and rise early. The pattern of the sun going down at the end of the day and rising the next day is a message — you should work with it, not against it. This is the ideal lifestyle for getting buffed!

BOSU BS - 08.25.06
by Ian King | Fri, Aug 25, 2006

BOSU balance trainers? They'd make great lamp shades.

Play! - 07.28.06
by Ian King | Fri, Jul 28, 2006

Play should always underscore our physical events. Ensure that there's an element of enjoyment. I've been able to ensure athletes I train have a healthy amount of fun and hard work. If you plan to train for a lifetime, learn to enjoy the journey! Remember, if you don't use it, you lose it. Age and gravity do their best to take our ability to do it — don't let lack of enjoyment further rob you. Develop the attitude of training for life through enjoying the experience of training!

The Cure for Stalled Pull-ups - 07.06.06
by Ian King | Thu, Jul 06, 2006

Stalled out on the number of pull-ups you can get? Not surprising. Imagine what would happen to your bench press gains if you used the same weight for the same number of reps each workout. This is exactly what happens when people use bodyweight exercises. They are, in essence, using the same weight for the same number of reps each workout! The solution is simple, even without using a variety of exercises. Manipulate the loading. Just add weight to a belt. Manipulating this variable will ensure that you'll alter the maximum number of reps possible at bodyweight, or whatever method you use to assess your progress.

My Best Nutrition Tip - 07.03.06
by Ian King | Mon, Jul 03, 2006

Nutrition is very simple. How many years have you been reading that you should eat every two to three hours? It's been said for a couple of decades! But how often do people do it? You don't have to be a rocket scientist in nutrition. If you just do this one thing, eat every two to three hours, you're going to be a hit.

Volume and Intensity - 06.27.06
by Ian King | Tue, Jun 27, 2006

I'm going to give you a really important key to training. When you're in a workout, don't make the decision on what is enough based on how you feel during the workout. Make the decision about what you should do in that workout based upon what impact it's going to have on you the next time you come back to do that same workout. So if you think, "Should I do that extra set?" forget about how it feels now. Ask yourself, if I do that extra set what will happen in three days time? You have to divorce yourself from that feeling at the time and project into the future. I can't give a more powerful key to volume and intensity than that.

The Top 10 For Mass - 06.13.06
by Ian King | Tue, Jun 13, 2006

Today's training tip comes from Ian King: The Top 10 For Mass Here are my top 10 exercises for mass. Some will come as no surprise. Some will. The order I'll list them will reflect to some extent how I rate them, but in some cases it's difficult to say one is better than another. Also, you'll see the inclusion of peripheral exercises, but only those with the greatest ability to contribute to mass development. 1. Deadlift 2. Squat 3. Bench Press 4. The Clean 5. The Chin-up 6. Shoulder Press 7. Bentover Row 8. Dips 9. Biceps Curl 10. Calf Press

Make It Hard - 05.12.06
by Ian King | Fri, May 12, 2006

If you use a bench that reminds you of your grandmother's 50-year-old sofa, it's too soft. You'll lose energy while stabilizing the movement of the shoulders. I prefer a harder bench to a softer bench. Think of the mechanics of action-reaction: the harder the surface, the greater the "rebound." The softer the surface, the greater the dissipation. A really soft bench may cost you 5-10% off of your 1RM!

The Floppy Bar Syndrome - 05.08.06
by Ian King | Mon, May 08, 2006

There are two principles in training some people don't understand yet: 1) You can change the priority of an exercise by where you place it in the training day. 2) You can change the priority of an exercise by where you place it in the training week. So, an exercise that's placed first on Monday is going to get the largest training effect. An exercise that's placed last on Friday is going to garner the least training effect. If you want and/or need to prioritize a certain area of your training, respect these principles and plan accordingly!

Experienced? Use Fewer Reps - 04.19.06
by Ian King | Wed, Apr 19, 2006

The more advanced you become, the lower the repetition number that you'll get the best response to. Put simply, sets of 12 may have worked in the early stage, but chances are that five years later you'll need to be averaging around six or so reps. And as time goes on, this may go down. What was once a neuromuscular loading for you is now a hypertrophy rep! In later years, you may find yourself becoming non-responsive to higher reps.

Limit Limiting Beliefs - 04.04.06
by Ian King | Tue, Apr 04, 2006

Any limiting belief about your desire for size will limit the outcome of whatever you pursue. When I hear statements like "I don't want to get too big," I believe that person is putting the brakes on his results before he even gets started. In essence, what he's really saying is "I don't believe I can get big, so why not aim lower and not be disappointed?" Don't go there. Don't allow limiting beliefs about your potential to smash your results to pieces before you even get started!

4 Grip Tips - 02.22.06
by Ian King | Wed, Feb 22, 2006

To improve your grip strength: 1) Vary the grip of the bars you're using by incorporating fat bar implements or even something as simple as sponges. 2) Minimize the use of straps. 3) Value the benefits of heavy deadlifts. 4) Do rope or towel chin-ups. Just toss a towel over a chinning bar, grab each end, and perform chins!

The Big Sleep - 01.31.06
by Ian King | Tue, Jan 31, 2006

Athletes in serious training should aim for eight to ten hours a day of sleep to enhance recovery. That can be in one long block or one longer one and one short one (a nap). Get as many hours of sleep before midnight as you can. There's a belief that an hour before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight. Also, make your room dark and noise free. Your sleep hormone release may be better in a darker environment!

Over and Under-reaction - 01.13.06
by Ian King | Fri, Jan 13, 2006

When it comes to training tools or methods, it's natural for people to overreact in the short-term and under-react in the long-term. When a "new" thing becomes popular, many over-promote it and many overuse it. After a while they become disillusioned or bored, and then under-use it. Instead of going through this yo-yo response, I encourage you to objectively analysis any new trend. Ask yourself, "What application would that have for me?" In doing so, I want you to cut out any marketing hype or the opinions of others. Ask and answer the question yourself with complete objectivity. If you can do this exercise, you'll yourself a lot of time and energy.

Perfect Lateral Raises - 12.20.05
by Ian King | Tue, Dec 20, 2005

Any lateral raising of the arms beyond parallel to the ground sees a sudden increase in upper trap involvement. This isn't bad in itself, but if you wanted to keep the tension on the delts and not give yourself a rest, you may want to reduce the range. To really isolate the optimal overload range of the delts during the lateral raise, reduce the range of the arm movement from about 45 degrees below arm parallel to about 45 degrees above arm parallel.

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