Q: I love squatting, but when I go heavy (5 RM or less), I get freaked out, and I think this fear is somehow inhibiting my success in the movement. Any ideas as to how I can get around it?

A: You can overcome this problem by using the technique called "Heavy Supports." Chuck Sipes, a Mr. America known for his amazing strength, developed it. He claimed it built tendon strength, but the truth of the matter is that it helps heighten the shutdown threshold of the Golgi Tendon Organ (GTO), which is a tension/stretch receptor located in the tendon. The GTO inhibitory effect can be seen when two people of unequal strength arm wrestle. As the weaker person loses, it looks like he's suddenly quitting and gets his wrist slammed to the top of the table. What's really happening is that the GTO perceives a rapid rate of stretch during the eccentric contraction, at which point it yells to the brain, "Shut down, or this pimply-faced goon is going to rip the biceps apart!" The brain then sends a rapid signal to inhibit the contraction in order to prevent a muscle tear.

The same thing is true of your legs when you do squats. However, you can raise the GTO threshold by interspersing 8-second heavy isometric holds, aka supports, in between regular sets. So a squat routine may look like this:

  • Set 1: Full squats 5 RM at 85% of max (rest for three minutes after each set).
  • Set 2: A heavy support of 8 seconds at 200 % of max. Basically, it's 1/16th of a squat. You just unrack the weight and hold an upright position with your knees just short of lock-out. The weight should be heavy enough that your knees will look like they are suffering from a Parkinson's attack, or how TC's knees quiver when he finds a new 8-track Barry Manilow tape.
  • Set 3: Full squats 5 RM at 85% of max.
  • Set 4: Heavy support 8 seconds at 210 % of max.
  • Set 5: Full squats 5 RM at 85% of max.
  • Set 6: Heavy support 8 seconds at 220 % of max.

Don't be surprised if your heavy support loads climb up dramatically. Don't be shy to use even greater percentages for the heavy supports than the ones suggested. As a result of doing these, you'll gain greater confidence and greater control over heavy squat poundages. And, consequently, your rate of development will go up.

Q: I can probably bench about 350 pounds on a Hammer machine, but if I were to attempt to bench 350 pounds of free weight, it would probably decapitate me. What's going on here? Are my stabilizers pathetically weak?

A: No, not necessarily. It's not so much your stabilizers but the fact that most Hammer machines provide you with advantageous leverage. Therefore, you can handle way more weight. As a rule of thumb, if you do five plates a side on a Hammer bench press machine, you'll have a hard time doing three plates a side on the bench press. Likewise, if you do 150 pounds on an Atlantis leg curl machine, you may be able to do about 220 on a Bodymasters leg curl machine.

The bottom line is that one can convert lifts from one brand of apparatus to another if you spend enough time around different brand names.

Of course, it's possible that your stabilizers are poor, too. If they're up to snuff, you should be able to do 90% of the barbell bench press weight when doing semi-supinated dumbbell presses. In other words, if you bench 200 pounds, you should be able to press a pair of 90 pounds (2 x 90 = 180 pounds, which is 90% of 200 pounds).

Q: I tried your One-Day Arm Cure routine. I was impressed with the results. Do you have a similar routine to boost chest size? I'd be interested in trying it.

A: Sure. I've included it below. If you compare to the One-Day Arm Cure, you'll notice that there are a few differences. Since the chest is large muscle mass, I prefer to do fewer sets, as smaller muscles like the biceps recover much more quickly. I've also made some dietary changes based on the interactions I've had with Dr. Eric Serrano, my co-host at the "Alternating Body Composition Seminar" (the next seminars are in Dallas, Texas, November 7-8, 1998, and Phoenix, Arizona, December 5-6. Phone 1-888-847-2727 to reserve a spot).

The reasoning "behind the madness" of this program is that the extreme, excessive volume brings about extreme, excessive supercompensation. In fact, if everything goes according to plan, you could actually add inches to your chest measurement!

7:30 Breakfast:

  • 1 lean steak
  • 2 poached eggs
  • 1 slice of whole grain bread
  • 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon of flax seed oil
  • 3 grams of vitamin C
  • 1 multi-vitamin-mineral tablet
  • Udo's digestive enzymes (optional)
  • 1 serving of Power Drive

9:00 Program A:

  • Incline Dumbbell Press (6-8 reps on a 402 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo, rest 90 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Press (6-8 reps on a 402 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo)

9:30 Program B:

  • Chest Dips (4-6 reps on a 404 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes (4-6 reps on a 303 tempo, rest 90 seconds)

10:00 Program A:

  • Incline Dumbbell Press (6-8 reps on a 402 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo, rest 90 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Press (6-8 reps on a 402 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo)

10:30 Program B:

  • Chest Dips (4-6 reps on a 404 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes (4-6 reps on a 303 tempo, rest 90 seconds)

11:00 Program A:

  • Incline Dumbbell Press (6-8 reps on a 402 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo, rest 90 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Press (6-8 reps on a 402 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo)

11:30 Program B:

  • Chest Dips (4-6 reps on a 404 tempo, rest 90 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes (4-6 reps on a 303 tempo, rest 90 seconds)

12:00 Lunch:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 mixed greens salad
  • 1 yam
  • 1 teaspoon of flax seed oil
  • 3 grams of vitamin C
  • 1 multi-vitamin-mineral tablet
  • Udo's digestive enzymes (optional)

1:30 Program C (exercises, reps, and tempo differ from the morning workout):

  • Flat Dumbbell Press (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Decline Dumbbell Flyes (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 90 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Press (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Decline Dumbbell Flyes (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 90 seconds)

2:00 Program D:

  • Incline Dumbbell Presses on a Swiss Ball (1 x 15-20 reps on a 201 tempo)

2:30 Program C:

  • Flat Dumbbell Press (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Decline Dumbbell Flyes (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 90 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Press (8-12 reps on a 302 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Decline Dumbbell Flyes (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 90 seconds)

3:00 Program D:

  • Incline Dumbbell Presses on a Swiss Ball (1 x 15-20 reps on a 201 tempo)

3:15 Mid-Afternoon Snack:

  • 1 serving Grow (or some other meal replacement drink)
  • 1 low-glycemic index fruit, like an orange or pear
  • Udo's enzymes (optional)
  • 1 serving of Power Drive

4:00 Program E (high reps):

  • Incline Dumbbell Press 912-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 60 seconds)
  • Barbell Bench Press (15-20 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 60 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Press (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 60 seconds)
  • Barbell Bench Press (15-20 reps on a 201 tempo, you'll have to decrease the weight on the second set)
  • 20 grams of glutamine in 8 ounces of water

4:30 Program F (high reps):

  • Decline Dumbbell Presses (1 x 20-25 reps on a 101 tempo)

5:00 Program E (high reps):

  • Incline Dumbbell Press (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 60 seconds)
  • Barbell Bench Press (15-20 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 60 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Press (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 60 seconds)
  • Barbell Bench Press (15-20 reps on a 201 tempo, you'll have to decrease the weight on the second set)

5:15 Snack:

  • 2 pieces or servings of low-glycemic index fruit, like mandarin, apple, orange, pear, cherry, etc.
  • 20 grams of glutamine in water

5:30 Giant Set (high reps):

  • Incline Dumbbell Press (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Barbell Bench Press (15-20 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes (12-15 reps on a 201 tempo, rest 0 seconds)
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes (15-20 reps on a 201 tempo)

6:00 First Recovery Feeding:

  • 2 servings of Champion Nutrition Creatine Extreme
  • 20 grams of branched-chain amino acids
  • 2 grams of vitamin C
  • 4 tablets of Champion Nutrition OxyPro
  • 800 mg of phosphatidyl serine

7:00 Second Recovery Feeding:

Blender drink consisting of:

  • 1 Grow (or other meal replacement drink)
  • 125 grams of carb powder
  • 10 grams of creatine
  • 20 grams of glutamine
  • 7:30

    Now that you're warm-up is over, it's time to get down to the real workout nawww, just kidding. It's over. You survived. Slap yourself on the back, if you can.

    Regarding the One-Day Arm Cure, I've further refined it based on the feedback I got from readers and the nutritional tips I got from Eric Serrano in the upcoming edition of "Winning the Arms Race."

    Q: I took "Principles of Nutrition" last year as an undergrad. My professor taught us that taking an amino acid supplement would do no good for two reasons: A) To do any good, an amino acid must be accompanied by all of the other essential amino acids, and B) Even if they are all there, the body cannot process amino acids in such quantity. Athletes will use more, but still nowhere close to the levels in most supplements. Have you ever heard someone make this kind of argument?

    A: I've heard about someone making the same argument before, about the same time that the medieval scientific community was horrified at the concept that the earth was round. Let me attempt to answer each question:

    A) Where the "phoque" (French word for seal) did he get this one? Amino acids have long been used in single presentation to elicit a specific physiological response. For example, tryptophan and lysine have been respectively used to induce sleep and treat herpes. Our pre-workout stimulant Power Drive uses the amino acid tyrosine to induce arousal for training. And, many readers report that when they combine it with thermogenic agents, such as Thermadrol Extreme from Champion Nutrition, it extends its fat-burning properties.

    B) The scientific community for lack of proper measuring tools and insight has underestimated protein requirements for athletes. Thanks to the work of protein research pioneer Peter Lemon of Kent State University, the knowledge on protein requirements has been greatly expanded and corrected.

    You could do your teacher a great favor by having him read Dr. Mauro DiPasquale's awesome treatise on amino acids called "Amino Acids and Proteins for the Athlete The Anabolic Edge." You can order it from CRS Press by calling 1-800-272-7737.

    Q: Last night I was listening to an old Muscle Media audio tape, and you mentioned using a triathlon stopwatch to time your rest period. Would you happen to have the specific model? I'm looking for something that will "beep" when my rest period is over.

    A: I use the Timex Triathlon Indiglo that you can purchase at any major department store. Just follow the instructions on how to use the timer function. It's as simple as that.

    Q: I've found that if I lift weights a few hours before my karate lesson, I have much greater speed and strength in my strikes. Is that normal? Shouldn't I be fatigued?

    A: No, it's quite normal that your karate-specific strength is enhanced by a weight training workout before going to the dojo. Optimally, you should have 4-6 hours between the two sessions. What you are experiencing is a phenomenon called post-tetanic facilitation. When you recruit high-threshold motor units, like you do in a weight-training workout, and take a subsequent 10-minute rest period, there's a temporary increase in strength lasting 4-6 hours. That's why Ben Johnson used to do heavy squats before a race and achieve those world record starts. This trick for enhanced power performance is thought to have been developed by former Soviet Union sprinter Valery Borsov, Olympic gold medalist of the early seventies.

    Best of luck at the dojo.