T Nation Twitter - Short Answers to Short Questions

It's a safe bet you're familiar with the social networking service Twitter. If you've spent any amount of time surfing the web, you've likely played with (and perhaps already abandoned) this peculiar micro-blogging service.

To review, Twitter users are required to limit their blog updates, or "tweets", to just 140 characters; which some critics argue makes Twitter utterly useless. (Unless you're into tweeting nonsense status updates like "just went to the bathroom again. W00T! W00t!")

But having a character limit does have benefits. It forces the user to cut to the chase and eliminate any useless information, and just focus on what's truly important. It's kind of like the concept of training economy, except for word junkies.

So here's the newest T NATION concept: we gave some of our busiest coaches a problem, such as a weak bodypart or a supplement question, and asked them to come up with a solution. The challenge was: they only had 140 words (not characters; we're not that cruel) to get the job done.

With 140 words, there wasn't a lot of room for individualization or fine-tuning. Hell, there wasn't even room to be polite! But there was (hopefully) just enough space to state the one or two absolutely most important things that need to be done to address the given problem.

Some of our coaches knocked it out and still had room for profanity and insults. Others required some cold, cruel editing. But as expected, even with a 140-word limit our coaches could drop a lot of knowledge bombs.

Check it out!

Scenario 1

My shoulders haven't grown in ages. My diet is perfect. What can make them grow again?

Erick Minor

"Try following this routine twice/week for 3 weeks.

Since the deltoid muscle is composed of a high percentage of slow twitch fibers, high volume and moderate to high reps are needed.

For the first shoulder exercise, use the 8x8 method- a favorite of training legend Vince Gironda.

A. Barbell Front Raise-Wide Grip-full range 8x8 Tempo: 2010 Rest: 45 sec.

Place hands 4-6 inches wider than A/C joint; keep elbows pointing out to the side and slightly bent at all times; raise barbell overhead; lower the bar in a controlled manner.

Start with a load equal to your 10-rep max and gradually decrease by 5-10lbs/set as necessary.

B1. One Arm DB Press-Standing 3-4x6-8 Tempo: 3011 Rest: 60 sec.

B2. Side-lying 1-arm lateral raise 3-4x8-10 Tempo: 2010 Rest: 60 sec.

Notes: Lie sideways on a bench while supporting yourself on your forearm. Hold DB against your thigh and raise DB until you make a 90-degree angle between your arm and torso. Slowly lower weight to start position.

Rest 3-5 minutes then alternate the B1 and B2 exercises with 60 seconds rest between sets.

Dave Tate

"Shoulders won't grow? You have three options:

  1. Stop training them. Your shoulders might need a break. Try giving them one.
  2. Bump up your frequency but reduce the volume. Drop the "shoulder day" and move your overhead presses and side raises to your chest day and your rear deltoid movements to back day.
  3. Your technique sucks donkey balls. Lighten the weight and tighten up your form.

Scott Abel

So your shoulders won't grow? First, drop the load emphasis and move to an intensity and frequency focus.

Your next priority should be on range and plane of motion in which overload is best accomplished.

Three non-consecutive days per week, train shoulders with a different emphasis.

Day 1: Explosive, best suited for strip sets. Rear delt raises, seated lateral raises, machine shoulder presses: Two strip sets for each. Sets should last 2 minutes each with full recovery.

Day 2: Choose any 5 exercises, changing plane emphasis each time. (e.g.- rear delt raises to side laterals to front raises, etc.) Keep reps from 8-15 and go to failure.

Both Day 1 and Day 2: Train the muscle, not the movement.

Day 3: Emphasize training the movement for the muscle. In other words, train shoulders as part of a kinetic chain. Exercises like Hang Snatch, Power Cleans, Side lateral throws, negative push-ups. Do 4 sets of 8 for each.

Jim Wendler

This is too easy. I could've done it in 140 characters.

So your shoulders suck? Do Military Presses with a 5/3/1 set/rep scheme. Follow this with giant sets of military presses, lateral raises, and rear delt laterals. Do 5 sets of 10 reps for each. Round this out with rows and chins for balance.

By the way, you're wrong. Your diet sucks.

Shelby Starnes

The shoulders get hammered hard during chest and back work, so they don't require a ton of direct work. If your shoulders haven't grown in a while, try the following high intensity "routine" after your normal chest workout:

One "3-stage rest-pause" set of dumbbell laterals, done unilaterally:

Shoot for about 10 reps on the first mini-set and then take 5 deep breaths. Do as many as you can for the second mini-set (probably about 2 or 3 reps) and then take another 5 deep breaths. Then finish it off with 1 or 2 reps.

During the movement, keep your elbow bent at a 90 degree angle and focus on moving your elbow from your side, up to level with your ear, then back down, under full control.

Switch sides, and repeat.

This "routine" will really cap off your delts nicely, both from the side and front.

Nick Tumminello

For puny shoulders, do each workout once per week following your pushing and/or pulling workouts.

Workout A

1. Barbell Shoulder Complex 2-3 sets
     Wide grip High Pull (nipple level) 8-10 reps
     Shoulder Press 8-10 reps
     Hang Snatch (slow eccentric) 5-8 reps

2. Front Dumbbell/Band Front Raise 2-3 x 8-12 (3112 Tempo)

Workout B

1. Shoulder to Shoulder Press 2 x 20-30 total reps

2. Lateral Dumbbell/Band Raise 2-3 x 8-12 (3112 Tempo)

Training Notes

  • Rest 60-90 seconds between all sets.
  • On BB Shoulder complex, use as little hip English as possible to perform the movements. We are not trying to improve power here, we're trying to build big shoulders. The less help from the rest of the body, the better.
  • Combining a band with dumbbells on shoulder raises creates more consistent resistance.
  • Wide grip high pulls are easier on the shoulder than upright rows.

Dr. Clay Hygt

Building an impressive set of shoulders is simple, just not easy. My suggestion is to train them three times a week, using one main shoulder workout and two "mini" workouts.

On Day 1, do 3-4 rounds of my Delt Triad right after you train chest.

Three days later, do your main shoulder workout, consisting of shoulder presses and front & side raises. Run the rack (triple drop sets) on

the side raises.

Finally, hit rear delts on back day. Triple drops work well here as well.

Scenario 2

If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?

Christian Thibaudeau

Here is my 140... EXACTLY 140 words šŸ˜‰

It's hard for me to choose only one supplement because several have helped me for very specific purposes. For example, I have a heart condition and Curcumin is effective for reversing some factors involved in cardiac problems (on top of being a good anti-inflammatory). I've been taking it for almost a year and my heart's ejection fraction went from 30% (dismal) up to 60% (normal range).

But I will say that Alpha-GPC is my favorite because it's the only supplement that led to a drastic strength increase the first time I took it (30lbs on my overhead press!). I take 1200mg 60 minutes prior to training.

I take another 900-1200mg before bed (it increases the receptor's sensitivity to GH and GH is produced mainly during sleep) along with 3 caps of ZMAĀ® and never have I recovered so well.

Chad Waterbury

This is not even open to debate: if you can have only one supplement, you better be sure it's FlameoutĀ®.

If you weigh less than 150 lbs, take four FlameoutĀ® a day. If you're 150-200 lbs, take 6 a day, and if you're over 200 lbs, take 8. Spread that over 3 of your daily meals each day.

Mike Roussell

This is easy. SurgeĀ® Workout Fuel.

I can't replicate the free form BCAA and whey hydrolysate, or the maltodextrin and dextrose mix that I get from SurgeĀ®.

Jeez, I'm not even at 100 words. Can I pick a second supplement? If so, I'd also say FlameoutĀ®.

Dave Tate

Finibarā„¢ ā€“ If they tasted like shit I wouldn't go through a box a week. I selected this because regardless of my diet or training they're always included.

Oh, and stop tucking your damn shirts in. It doesn't make you look yoked up.

Tim Ziegenfuss, PhD

Talk about an unfair question! In fact, I'm changing it. The question now reads: Which supplements are on my "short list"? Before I give my answer I think it's important to understand my perspective and goals. I'm a married guy with five physically active kids. I'm the provider and protector, and I need to be able to hang physically and mentally for the next 20+ years.

With that in mind, my short list includes creatine monohydrate, FlameoutĀ®, and Rez-Vā„¢. Collectively, this combo helps me keep my bones healthy, muscles strong and explosive, brain and cardiovascular system functioning optimally, and immune system firing on all cylinders to minimize my chances of getting sick.

A nice secondary effect from using this list of supps is that my body composition (lean mass to fat mass ratio) is always near perfect, even if my dietary habits are not.


Man, I couldn't get by without Metabolic DriveĀ® Protein and Superfood and, well, FlameoutĀ®, and Rez-Vā„¢, and Curcumin....

Hell, you gotta' remember, Tim and I make stuff that we want to use, so it's natural that just about everything we've made would be on my list!

Scenario 3: I want to train in my garage on Sunday. I have next to no equipment. Give me a good "off day" workout. By the way, my main goal is to look good naked.

Bret Contreras

To look good naked, you need low body fat levels and adequate muscle tone. This bodyweight workout will burn some serious calories and hit each muscle group without hampering your weekly strength workouts.

All you need are two chairs, a table, a couch, a towel, and a roof.

Rest 60 seconds in between sets. After warming up, do:

1 x 20 pike push up
rest 60 sec.
1 x 30 Bulgarian squat
rest 60 sec.
1 x 25 elevated push up
rest 60 sec.
1 x 10 single leg box squat
rest 60 sec.
1 x 15 hanging row
rest 60 sec.
1 x 15 sliding leg curl
rest 60 sec.
1 x 30 close-grip push up
rest 60 sec.
1 x 15 single leg straight leg bridge
rest 60 sec.
1 x 10 pull up
rest 60 sec.
1 x 20 single leg hip thrust
rest 60 sec.
1 x 30 bench dip
rest 60 sec.
1 x 120 seconds front plank
rest 60 sec.
1 x 60 seconds side plank

Mike Robertson

One of my personal favorites is known as the leg matrix. This fat-melting protocol is guaranteed to crank up your metabolism and help you get leaner than a lizard.

Start with a 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up.

Then, perform the following:

Vertical Jumps x 12
Prisoner Squats x 12
Lunges x 12 each leg
Step-ups x 12 each leg

Perform all the exercises consecutively, without rest. After completing one matrix, rest 60-90 seconds and repeat for 3-4 total matrices.

If you want, throw in some core work like front or side pillars at the end. Enjoy!

Nick Tumminello

  • We get distracted at home so workouts must be short and easy to follow.
  • In this home workout, NO plyos are used to minimize eccentric load on an "off day."
  • Each circuit emphasizes a different plane of motion to create variety and fun.
  • Alternate lower body (LB), Upper body (UB) and Conditioning (O2) for max fat loss.
  • Perform all exercises at max speed.
  • Pulling exercises are difficult without equipment. Therefore, include plenty of upper body pulling on your in gym days.
  • Stretch chest after workout.
  • Repeat this circuit 2-3 times without rest:

Sagital Dominant
LB Arm Swing Squat x 30 seconds.
UB Reverse Burpee x 30 seconds.
TB Skips (in place) x 1 minute.
Rest x 1 minute.

Frontal Dominant
LB Lateral Lunge x 30 seconds.
UB Spiderman Push-Up x 30 seconds.
TB Jumping Jacks x 1 minute.
Rest x 1 minute.

Transverse Dominant
LB Reverse Lunge w/twist x 30 seconds.
UB Push-Up w/ T-Roll x 30 seconds.
TB Shadow Boxing x 1 minute.
Rest x 1 minute.

Alwyn Cosgrove

Our goal here is a bodyweight/cardio hybrid to develop work capacity, help recovery, and burn some calories.

Select a rep range that is EASY for you to do with your bodyweight ā€“ you could start with 20 reps or maybe just 5 reps ā€“ it just needs to be easy. The goal is not to create so much muscular trauma that your weight training workouts are negatively affected. This is technically a cardio session ā€“ not a strength session.

Perform a countdown circuit (e.g. start with 15 reps and drop one rep per circuit until you finish with a circuit of single reps).

1. Y-Squat
2. T-Push up
3. Reverse Lunge (each leg)
4. Inverted Bodyweight Rowing (use a strap of some kind as an anchor)
5. Lateral Lunge (each leg)
6. Burpees (with a jump)
Finish with: Plank and side planks: 60 seconds
Foam roll everything.

Mike Boyle

If you think you need a fancy gym to have a kick-ass workout, think again.

Try this circuit out next Sunday morning. You just need a barbell, two dumbbells, and a little room to move.

Bodyweight Squat x 10
Feet Elevated Pushups x 20
1 Leg Squat 10 reps/leg
Dumbbell Row 10 reps/arm
Lunge Walk x10 each leg
Dumbbell Curl + Shoulder Press x10
Barbell AB Rollouts x 20

Rest 2 minutes, then repeat the circuit three times. Then you're done. Follow with 9 hours of guilt-free football watching.

Dan John

It's perfect that you don't have equipment!

This Sunday, instead of training, go to a local food warehouse and buy the following:

Chicken Breasts
Veggie Bags
Cases of beans
Reusable Plastic "Gladware"

Cook all the meats appropriately. Lightly steam the veggies. Put all the food in the containers. Make enough for four meals a day. If you can get away with it, add a serving of white, navy, or black beans (think about a can a day over the three meals). Try to have the meals broken down into 1/3 meat, 1/3 beans, and 1/3 veggies.

Eat those four meals every day. Every minute you spend prepping your meals is worth ten mind-numbing jumping jacks. Looking good naked is all about nutrition, not your training.

Sorry, but it's true.

So What Did We Learn Here?

  • Shoulders seem to respond well to a variety of angles and intensity techniques like supersets, drop sets. But the basics still dominate.
  • Splitting your shoulders up and training the front, side, and rear deltoids on separate days is effective. You may benefit from the increased frequency.
  • Conversely, your shoulders may be overtrained. Try resting them, or at least dropping the "shoulder day."
  • You can have a hellacious at-home workout with minimal equipment and just a little room.
  • Looking great naked is still about what you eat. Spending a Sunday cooking and shopping may be your best fat-loss routine.
  • SurgeĀ® Workout Fuel, Brain CandyĀ®, Micellar Curcuminā„¢, Rez-Vā„¢, ZMAĀ®, and FlameoutĀ®, and Superfood should rate high on your supplement-shopping list.

Final Words

"It's called tweeting" "Oh yeah? Well, I call it Twatting..." ā€“ Vince Vaughn, Couples Retreat.

Love 'em or hate 'em, social networking devices aren't going anywhere. But being forced to be short and to the point isn't necessarily a bad thing. You can solve a lot of body problems in 140 words or less.

Okay, so some of our coaches went over 140 words. But look at Twitter fanatic Jim Wendler ā€“ he can solve all of your life's problems in only 140 characters!