Must Reads: The Testosterone Files - 1999


1999 could be described as The Year the World's Impending Demise Was Greatly Exaggerated.

The hopeful optimism that should've greeted the dawn of a new millennium was tempered by an undercurrent of fearful Y2K-anxiety that the world as we knew it was about to go straight to holy hell in a hand basket.

But '99 couldn't have been more positive here at Testosterone. 1998 had been a big year for the upstart little magazine and many bodybuilders and weight training enthusiasts had begun to take notice; so much so that Biotest HQ had to continually upgrade the servers to sustain the growing number of visitors who checked out the site every Friday when the new issue was released.

Other magazines and competing supplement companies had taken notice as well, but their predictions were decidedly less optimistic. "This cocky little magazine won't last," was the general consensus. "They don't sell third party ad space and only sell a couple supplements; how the hell will they possibly afford to stay in business?

"After all, you can't keep the lights on relying on great content alone. Testosterone magazine better party like it's 1999 cause odds are they're not going to see 2000."

The Top 7 Ways to F___ Up in the Gym
by Ian King

Despite being highly regarded in Olympic coaching circles, this Australian-born strength coach was a relative unknown to the American bodybuilding scene, at least until this article was published on Testosterone.

I'll let you in on a little secret: the vast majority of pro bodybuilder training articles appearing in the major muscle mags were (and often still are) either ghost written by staff writers or yanked from the cavernous, silky-smooth behinds of lazy bodybuilders who can't be bothered to recount how they actually trained to get as big as they are in the first place.

Now you have thousands of clueless natural bodybuilders earnestly following these brain-dead routines as if somewhere in Joe Weider's office was a stone tablet with "3 sets of 10" engraved upon it brought down from Mt. Sinai by Moses himself.

As such, this article caused much grumbling when it was posted: "Do only 10-20 sets per workout? I do more than that for biceps alone!" Yet those who bought in were introduced to some very valuable training info, including how to program to avoid overtraining, target weak points, and limit injury potential.

Tellekinetics: A Better Way to Train
by Jerry Telle

Most of us who've been in the gym for a while are pretty set in our ways. We may try the occasional new exercises or change up our routines now and again, but the basics are the basics cause they work, right? Why mess with them?

"Why not?" asks Jerry Telle.

Telle is an innovative exercise scientist who hopes to change the face of resistance training by figuring out how to attain optimal training resistance on every repetition. Telle's focus is to increase fiber tension throughout the set by using techniques similar to drop sets and changing the position of the weight.

This type of repetition micromanagement is super effective for guys who despite being plenty strong can't seem to feel a muscle working, such as a big weight bencher with the anemic pec development of Conan O'Brien.

To help illustrate his methods, Telle includes a sample chest routine. Try it out for yourself and see what it feels like to have your whole chest cramp up.

Can't Add Size to Your Biceps? Train Your Forearms
by Charles Poliquin

The title of this one says it all. Thousands of guys tirelessly blast their biceps with every exercise and Weider principle known to man, but limit their grip training to a few hours of PS3, and depending on their luck with the ladies, a few high rep sets of the five-knuckle shuffle.

Mr. Elbow Flexors himself, Charles Poliquin, says simply cutting back on direct biceps work and focusing instead on the forearms and grip can achieve massive gains in upper arm growth. He then provides a 20-workout, forearm-building routine that often results in forearm circumference gains of up to three-quarters of an inch. In addition, trainees often report new biceps growth when they return to training biceps "normally" again.

Bigger forearms don't just look good in a T-shirt. Just think of the look on your father-in-law's face next Christmas when you crush his mitt like a beer can.

Achieving Structural Balance
by Charles Poliquin

Everyone eventually reaches a strength-training plateau, and for every plateau-busting routine available there's a hundred or so frustrated lifters who haven't seen their bench go up since John McCain was in diapers.

The thing is, often it's not the muscles you're targeting that are the problem. For example, if your bench press has stalled, the problem might not be your chest, shoulders, or triceps, but a weak rotator cuff that's forced your body to try to protect itself by inhibiting strength gains.

The article provides relative norms for seven different upper body exercises, so you can correct your own imbalances and start preventing plateaus before they happen. It may not be sexy, but it's oh-so effective.

4 Seconds to More Productive Workouts
by TC and Ian King

There are times in every red-blooded man's life where they have to step up and stand behind what they believe in:

Republican or Democrat?

Coca-Cola or Pepsi?

Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel? (Or Jessica Simpson? Preferably the pre-Tony Romo-Mom-jeans Jessica.)

Tempo matters or tempo is for dorks?

Even on this website, one of the first to introduce tempo training to a mainstream audience, the opinion on tempo is decidedly mixed. Some, usually bodybuilders, say it makes or breaks the training experience while others, often powerlifters, say it's about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

Turns out, they're both right.

In this article, TC and Ian King opine that it's the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) that's really the issue here. If you take advantage of the SSC and blast through your repetitions like Regis Philbin on a 14-cup espresso bender you'll definitely perform more reps; a bonus for powerlifters and explosive athletes alike.

That said, slowing your eccentric tempo down to a 4-second count and including a pause at the bottom essentially eliminates the SSC, forcing you to work harder and recruit a lot more muscle fibers. The net result, they claim: less reps, but more muscle. Check it out!

Resurrecting the Oak, Part 1
by Chris Shugart

As you probably know, Arnold Schwarzenegger, before he became synonymous with a failing California economy and cheesy movie cameos, used to be a bodybuilder, and a rather successful one at that.

The thing was, today the "experts" would say he didn't know diddly about working out. He trained too long, too often, did too much direct arm work (uh, didn't he also have big arms?), didn't weigh his food, and didn't count his tempo with a metronome.

What he did do though, was friggin' bring it in the gym. When it came to training, he knew one thing better than anyone and that was how to bust ass. Check out this article for some of his forgotten high-intensity training techniques.

Top 10 Triceps Exercises
by Charles Poliquin

Need we say more? Impressive biceps are a dime a dozen, but a thick, proportioned set of triceps is a little more rare, like natural yet perky boobs at a fitness show; spot a nice, round, natural set and you can't help but stare in loving admiration of the delicate way they stretch an inappropriately tight T-shirt just so.


For those whose favorite triceps exercises include kickbacks, pressdowns, or anything with the word Bosu, this article is a must-read.

Dead Pool

The Dead Pool 1999
by Anonymous

Competitive bodybuilding is both a fringe sport and an extreme sport. While the mainstream media loves to sensationalize the pharmaceutical component to near absurdity ("Meet the steroid junkie who's arms exploded!"), even the most hardcore meathead will concede that some guys (and gals) push well into the realm of insane dosages, all in hopes of achieving physical perfection and hopefully, bodybuilding immortality.

The Dead Pool series caught a lot of flack back in 1999, and it would likely catch even more criticism in today's hypersensitive world. The premise was simple: have an insider with intimate knowledge of bodybuilding's top pros comment on who's taking what, and lay odds as to who will be the first to drop dead like a 300-pound hypertensive Jersey cow in Zubaz pants and matching do-rag.

To protect everyone's interests, all the bodybuilders were given aliases, which some of Testosterone's bodybuilding savants cracked in about 7 seconds. Check it out and see how well you connect the dots.

History of the Supplement Industry Part 1
by Garrison Kane

If you're reading this website you probably lift weights, and odds are you also take supplements. And if you happen to take a protein supplement or meal replacement currently sold at Wal Mart, odds are the last time you had a bowel movement your neighborhood was forced to issue an air quality advisory.

That said, supplements have certainly come a long way. Today there are products that will help you burn fat, build muscle, and perform better, often with peer-reviewed journals to substantiate the claims.

It wasn't always this way. There was a time when supplement manufacturers were just opportunistic hucksters preying upon the hopes and dreams of insecure boys to make an easy buckÉoh, wait a minute, they're mostly still like that.

Still, a combination of industry pressure, government intervention, and a savvier consumer have forced many of these slimeballs into other industries, although every so often a new rough beast, its hour come round at last, shuffles towards an unmarked post office box in California to be born.

If you've ever wondered how this industry came about, this article is for you.

Let Go of the Rock
by TC

The old saying tells us "to focus on the journey, not the destination," which is a cool line to drop unless you're shooting the breeze with your doctor before your annual rubber glove prostate exam.

To be honest, I've always been suspicious of people who get excessively inspired by books or movies or music and make huge life-changing decisions. It may sound cool on those rare occasions when it all works out, but I imagine that for every feel-good success story there's a few hundred stories like this:

"I was a stressed-out stock broker earning mid-six figures until I read 'Awaken the Giant Within,' at which point I immediately quit my job and began pursuing my first love: remixing bull moose mating calls to a trippy hip-hop beat. To date, I've sold two remixes, although both to my parents, and I felt compelled to give them a 20% discount as I'm currently living in their basement rent-free. But good golly am I happy!"

Let Go of the Rock is TC's account of the many career ups and downs he's experienced on his way to being editor-in-chief of Testosterone magazine. Although many of the stops along the way would kick the snot out of any man's self esteem (manure salesman? bug exterminator?), he refused to let fate control his destiny instead of the other way around.

Every so often we're faced with major career or life changing decisions that seem impossible to make. All too often, these decisions simply boil down to choosing between what we know (and want to change) and the unknown.

Will the new path have just as many bumps as the one you're on now? Perhaps, perhaps not. But if you never take a chance, you'll never know what kind of life is waiting for you just around the corner.

Interestingly, this article is credited (or blamed) for causing scores (possibly many more) of Testosterone readers to make radical, life-changing decisions. Read it and see if it prompts you into making one.

"It's like the Chinese allegory of the man caught in the rapids. He's managed to grab hold of a rock, but the raging waters are beating him against the rock over and over again. If he doesn't let go, he'll soon die, but he's afraid to let go because he doesn't know what dangers lie downstream.

Let go of the rock."

12 Weeks of Pain - Limping into October
by Ian King

This 8-part series (yes, EIGHT parts) was one of the most groundbreaking article series ever to appear in Testosterone.

Quality routines are easy to find; there are about 1000 in the Testosterone archives alone. Still, King's limping series is different. It starts out deceptively slow and easy, but that's only to correct any imbalances and set you up for the ass kicking to come. Every two weeks it ratchets up the intensity and volume until you're blasting up bigger weights-with better form-than ever before.

This article was also the first to introduce Testosterone readers to what is now known as the Ian King split: Upper Body Push/Hamstring Dominant Legs/Upper Body Pull/Quad Dominant Legs.


How to Please Your Man
by TC

Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and what was on the forefront a few short years ago is ancient history today.

Take cell phones, for example. Ten years ago your goal was to find one that made calls efficiently and hopefully didn't resemble a 20-pound cement block with a plastic keypad. Today, the newest of the new phones are essentially obsolete the moment you sign the contract, sentencing you to three painful years of envying the guy in the next cubicle over who waited an extra two weeks and got the newer iPhone that doubles as both an anal massage device and mustache trimmer.

TC says all this upgrading has done diddly-squat for improving male-female relationships, and to make his case he presents a list taken from a 1950s home economics textbook written for high school girls so that they'd be better prepared for married life.

I won't give any of it away, but let's just say there was a reason Ward Cleaver didn't need 800 channels of HD sports to be happy.

That's it for '99. If there's continued interest, we'll continue with the new millennium!