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The Brinkzone

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Training articles I have written

While it is very important to be consistant in your training, it is also necessary to make changes from time to time.  Sometimes those changes are with the exercises you use in your workout.  You can vary the exercise, the amount of sets or repetitions. You can also make small changes, like grip, or hand spacing. A slight change in repetition speed can also make a big difference in how your muscles respond to the workout. Most of the time, I use powerful movement on the positive part of the rep, and very slow, controlled movement on the negative part. Then for a change of pace, I will move the weight more quickly, while still being sure not to use any momentum. These little variances shock the muscles into new growth so they can adapt to the unusual stimuli. I also mostly work in the 6-10 rep range, but occasionally, I will do sets of 20 reps to wake up the red, slow twitch muscle fibers for added growth. Another great muscle shocker is to change your workout volume. I am a believer in HIT, or High Intensity Training. This is where you perform short, intensive workouts to force your muscles to adapt, then you let them rest and rebuild themselves. Occasionally, I will perform longer workouts, which are still quite intense, I might add. I use these to fire up the muscles, then slowly decrease the volume when I feel the muscles need more rest and less work. I also change back and forth between full repetitions and partials. Pete Sisco is a big proponent of moving the weight through a limited range of motion for safety purposes, and also so more weight can be used for the given exercise. Although many fanatics may say you must do full range reps, it may not be necessary. You should experiment for yourself, and make your own decision. Another Pete Sisco idea is static contractions. With these, you push a very heavy weight just a couple of inches into the strongest part of your range of motion, and hold it there for anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds. They really do build strength, as I experimented with them for a couple of weeks last year. The amount of weight you eventually can handle is staggering! What I actually like doing with static contractions is to hold the weight in the contracted position for ten to twenty seconds after I have completed my actual set. I feel it really help's to strengthen the muscles, and is easier to control than the standard partials which many HIT trainers perform at the end of their sets. Again, there are so many training variances, that there really isn't any excuse for someone's routine to go stale. Just do not try everything at once. Make a change here and there, and when it come's to the advanced tips like static contractions at the end of your set, use them only on occasion. Over-training is the quickest way to put a halt to your training progress. Train smart, eat, rest and grow!
Dan Bialik
 
 
I believe in short, intense workouts using as much weight as possible while using good form. I don't like using sloppy form to lift heavier weights, as an injury can really set you back on your progress. I have many routines for adding lean muscle mass on my Routines page. I will personally train individuals in the St. Louis, Mo. area. I can also consult individuals via mail and e-mail. For more information on my training consultations, please contact me.  For the ladies looking more for toning and weightloss, check out Kim Lyons, or Jennifer Nicole Lee ! I have alot of respect for Pete Sisco and his power partials, and static contractions. I will do a few workouts from time to time using static reps to handle unbelievable weights. They are really great for building pure power. Otherwise, I regularly do partials, or static reps at the end of my regular sets. For proper nutrition, nobody knows better than Will Brink. If you workout hard, you don't want to take chances on whether you are getting proper protein and carb replenishment. If you are trying to lose weight, Will tell's you which supplements actually work, and which are just hype. Again, I highly recommend the above professional trainers. I would also be glad to help you reach your fitness and weight training goals myself! Contact me with your questions or concerns today. I am pretty quick at replying to all inquiries. Good luck!
Dan Bialik
 
Dips
Dips are a great builder for the chest, shoulders and triceps. I perform them on my Power Stand, but they can be done on parallel bars, or the backs of two sturdy chairs. To concentrate on chest, allow your elbows to flare out a bit while pulling your knees up so that your upper body lean's forward. To put more emphasis on the triceps, keep your elbows in near your sides and keep your upper body more vertical. Start with slightly bent arms and lower slowly until your upper arms are horizontal to the floor. Then, press back up powerfully until your arms are just short of straight. Do not lock out the elbows but instead, keep them slightly bent to retain constant tension on the working muscles. As you get stronger, you can add weight to a weight belt, or hold a dumbell between your ankles as I am in the demo picture.

T-Bar Rowing
T-Bar Rows are a great exercise for back thickness. They are much safer than bent rows, as the back is in a much stronger position because of the angle of the bar. Keep the knees bent and a slight arch in your back. Pull back powerfully with the elbows, then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position. These can be done with a neutral grip, (see picture) or palms up and palms down grips. The angle of the hands will direct the emphasis to a different area in the lats.

 Benchpress
The benchpress will build powerful chest, shoulder and triceps muscles. For emphasis on the chest muscles, use a grip slightly wider than shoulder width, or even wider. To avoid shoulder injuries, keep your elbows pointing slightly downward towards your feet, rather than flared out to the sides. To avoid wrist/Carpel Tunnel problems, be sure to wrap your thumbs around the bar, rather than using a thumbless grip. It really does make a difference with the angle of your wrists, try it and see! Lower the weight slowly, (about 5 seconds down) then press powerfully back up to just short of lockout. Do not lockout the elbows, as this will remove the stress from the working muscles. For safety sake, always use a spotter when working near failure on the benchpress. To shift the emphasis from your chest to your triceps, use a grip inside shoulder width and keep your elbows close to your sides. I like to turn these into a decline exercise when using a Smith Machine, by putting my feet up on the bench and raising my butt off the bench. This places much more stress on the triceps. Just be sure you have a very stable bench and you are able to keep your body securely in the center of the bench.  Otherwise, it is always better to keep both feet flat on the floor. When using very heavy weights, keep both feet on the floor for sure!

Chins
Chins are a great exercise because you use your entire bodyweight. I like to hold a 40lb dumbell between my ankles when I do my heavy sets. They really add alot of strength to the upper and middle lats, biceps and forearms. I prefer a shoulder width, underhand grip. It seems to hit lower in the lats. I will also use a slightly wider, overhand grip and a close, underhand grip. Just remember to pull your elbows down, rather than pulling your hands toward your shoulders, as pulling down your elbows put's great stress on the back muscles, while pulling your hands toward the shoulders throw's the stress to your biceps. I will perform this variation when I am trying to work my biceps, but for the back, pull with the elbows! Pull yourself up with power, then lower yourself very slowly. This negative, or lowering portion of the rep is where most of the strength come's from. If you cannot pull your entire bodyweight, set a chair or bench by the bar, and use just enough foot support to get your reps. Also, you can use the chair to get to the top of the lift, then lower yourself very slowly. You will be chinning without the chair in no time!

Crunches
Crunches are the perfect exercise for building the abdominal muscles. There is no wasted movement in the crunch. You raise your shoulders off the bench until your ab muscles are contracted, then you lower back down to the start position and repeat. Bend your knees and place your feet on the bench, or you can raise your feet a few inches off of the bench to add stress to the lower abs. A nice trick is to pull your abs in tightly while you perform your crunches. This help's to build the inner lining of the abdominal wall. Breathe in as you lower yourself. Breathe out forcefully in the fully contracted position. Perform 15-20 reps. When you can do more than 20 reps, add some resistance. I like to use two 30lb dumbells when I do mine. I lay the dumbells on my shoulders so I get the entire weight resistance on my abs. Be sure that you do not pull on your head if you like placing your hands behind it. I won't clasp my hands, but rather, I will just lay my hands lightly against my ears so I don't get the urge to tug on my head. Remember, crunches will do a great job of building lean muscle tissue to your stomach area. If you need to lose fat, this must be done with proper diet. All the crunches in the world cannot turn fat into muscle! A smart balance of diet and exercise is the best way to get rid of excess fat.
dan4fitness

X-Reps:
You perform x-reps at the end of your set, when you cannot complete another full repetition. With the weight in the semi-stretched position of the movement, You perform short, pulsating movements almost like an isometric, or static rep. The semi-stretched position would be the lower portion of the barbell curl or benchpress, when the working muscle is in the stretched, not contracted position. It is thought by some that this build's more muscle than partial reps in the contracted position. I am experimenting with them now, so hopefully soon, I will know for sure if they are for real. The principle behind them does make since, though. You can read more about x-reps at:
 
 
Rest/Pause:
This is a great method for getting a desired number of repetitions with a very heavy weight. Say, you want to get six reps, but can only manage three. Upon completing the third rep, rack the weight and count to eight. Now, pump out one or two more reps, rack the weight, count to eight and pump out one more rep. You have really upped the intensity on this set! Be careful not to over-use this very advanced technique.

Drop Sets:
Another technique to add intensity to a set. You complete your reps with a heavy weight, then take a plate off each end of the barbell. Pump out as many reps as you can, strip off another plate and complete one more set. You can also use dumbells. Just pick up the next lower set of dumbells and rep out to failure until you just can't complete another set. This is also called "Down the Rack".

Extending a Set:
If you have trouble going to failure on your sets, whether it be that you do not have a spotter on squats, or the benchpress, or you just can't mentally squeeze out that last rep or two, here's a little trick you can use. Do as many reps as you comfortably can. Rack the weight and count to ten. Then finish off with as many reps as you can, set finished! This is along the lines of Rest/Pause, but you are more or less doing two sets in one, where Rest/Pause add's a couple one or two rep, mini sets to a set where you did not get your desired number of reps in the original set. Both are great intensity enhancers, but this isn't as mentally exausting as Rest/Pause.
 
 
Squats 
Squats are a great muscle builder for the entire body. They not only build your legs, butt and lower back, but they also throw your whole body into an anabolic state. When performing this "super" exercise, be sure to keep your back straight and your abs pulled in tight. I go slowly down to parallel, then push back up to short of lockout to keep continuous tension on the muscles.
 
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