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Pec Striations


My pecs are thick from heavy bench presses and dips, but I don’t have any striations. Yet I’ve done hundreds of sets of crossovers over the last year or so. What’s wrong?

You could do thousands of sets of crossovers over many years and still see no striations in your pecs. Alternatively, you could no crossovers whatsoever yet still see striations. (Similarly, you could do countless sets of crunches yet never see your abs.) The key issue is your bodyfat percentage. No matter how large your pecs are, and no matter how many crossovers you do, if your bodyfat percentage is too high you will never see your pec striations. (Similarly, no matter how much ab work you do, if you have too much fat over your abs you will never see your six pack.)

If you want your pec striations to be visible, gradually reduce your bodyfat percentage to under 10% – sufficiently under to produce the required visibility.

Also don’t do crossovers thinking that they will build big pecs. They may help you to build some additional detail in your pecs, which you would see only if you are very lean, but they won’t build a lot of muscle, at least not if you are a typical, natural bodybuilder.


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Decline Cable Crunch


Decline Cable Crunch

Targets:
Abs with a emphasis on the upper abs.

Best In Workout:
In general, always do abs last in your workout, following your major bodyparts. But within your ab-specific training, put this weighted crunch before your bodyweight moves.

Sets & Reps:
Perform 4 sets with 10-15 reps

Bench:
Place a decline bench near a low pulley (your head nearest the stack). Most gym have portable abdominal benches, so drag or carry one to the pulley station. Place it a couple of feet away from the stack so that when your grasp and place the rope in place, the weight rises off the stack and will not touch down between reps.

Rope:
Hook a rope attachment to the cable and hold the handles tight to your body outside your ears. You can also grasp both ends of the rope and hold them on one side of your head. The emphasis is not altered all that much and could be more comfortable and practical depending on the attachment. But if your do so, be sure to transfer your hands to each side of your head from set to set.

Range Of Motion:
Crunch up as high as possible, bringing your elbow toward your quads. Because you are holding a cable that provides constant tension, you can raise your body as high as possible. In other words, you do not have to stop short of perpendicular to the floor as you do during your bodyweight version to keep the abs engaged and stimulated, but come up as high as you can go. Try not to pull through your quads to lessen the engagement of the hip flexors.

Back To Start:
Squeeze your abs hard and then slowly lower yourself to the start position and repeat. Feel free to come all the way down until your head touches the bench, but if you want to make it more difficult, stop just short of letting your shoulder blades touch the bench. Either way, do not let the weight plates touch down at the bottom of each rep.


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Beach Bummed


Competitive bodybuilders usually train for symmetry and proportion in an effort to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. There are many individuals who go to the gym to build up their beach muscles, disregarding symmetry and proportion in designing their training programs. Instead of training opposing muscle groups equally, they sometimes ignore the muscles they cannot see (back, hamstrings, calves, quads) and focus on the muscles they admire in the mirror everyday (chest, biceps, shoulders and abs). Although training specific muscle groups more than others can create an unbalanced-looking physique, disregarding a muscle group over time can potentially lead to other problems that may subject the body to injury.

One common mistake with regard to balanced training is performing an unbalanced training program between the chest and back muscles. The amount of time, energy, effort, volume and frequency between the agonist chest muscles and the antagonists back muscles may not be equal, or even close. A simple example would be an athlete who performs 4 sets os four exercises for the chest (for a total number of 16 sets) and does only 3 sets of three exercises for the back (for a total number of 9 working sets). Following this unbalanced training regime over time will result in back muscles much weaker than the chest muscles. This imbalance may lead to a slightly kyphotic posture (forward/rounded shoulders) that can potentially cause shoulder problems because of the faulty posture. In addition to the stronger chest muscles (compared to the back muscles) pullong the shoulders forward, inadequate stretching of the chest musculature can further contribute to this problem.

For some people, training legs consists of quads and that is it. The disregard their hamstrings while training only the quadriceps. Exercises such as the leg extensions, hack squats and front squats place a large amount of emphasis on the quads. Although these exercises are great you need to do an equal amount of hamstring work with leg curls and romanian deadlifts to stress both muscle groups. Distributing attention evenly to both muscle groups can give you healthier knees and lower back, as well as fewer hamstring strains because of an unbalanced hamstring-to-quad strength ration.

A less obvious training error woth regard to balanced training concerns the shoulders. Overhead shoulder press, incline bench press, flat bench press and other chest and shoulder pressing movements are critical for maximal muscle development. However, these exercises focus on the major muscle groups such as the deltoids, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and other muscles known as prime movers. Often ignored in a training regime is the training or isolation of the smaller muscle groups in the shoulder known as the rotator cuff (the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) that are critical in keeping the upper arm in the socket of the shoulder. Failure to train these smaller muscles groups, two of which are not even visible can create an imbalance between the large prime movers and small stabilisers. This lack of imbalance in strength may result in bursts of bursitis, tendinitis or even rotator cuff tears in the shoulder joint.


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Straight-Arm Pulldown Vs Decline Cable Pullover


Both are great for isolating the lower lats but which is better because of its increased range of motion and time under tension.

Straight-Arm Pulldown
A classic exercise, the straight-arm pulldown is a great pre-exhaust movement for lats or as a finisher at the end of a brutal back workout. It completely isolates the lats while also calling into play the core musculature. You have probably felt your deep abdominals hard at work during a gruelling set of these pulldowns, and that is absolutely critical and expected. The exercise requires considerable stabiliser activity, especially the heavier you go. If you are stopping the bar on the upward phase when your arms approach parallel, your lats and core are under extreme tension. Many athletes allow the bar to travel too high, causing a loss of tension in the lats. The two keys for this exercise are to hold the peak contraction for a count at the bottom with the bar directly in your line of sight, and pulling it all the way into your body at the bottom of the rep as you squeeze your lats.

Decline Cable Pullover
This lower lat exercise takes a little trial and error in terms of bench placement. You have to place the bench far enough away from the stack to allow your arms full extension at the start of the rep without letting the plates touch down. You might have to do a couple of trial reps to ensure you are set up correctly. Unlike the straight-arm pulldown, the decline pullover requires minimla stabiliser activity. If you are thinking the pullover is a chest move, you are correct, but it is even more so when performed in an incline or flat position. The decline pullover is an excellent lat exercise whose key is a shoulder-width grip and completely straight arms throughout the movement. Opening and closing the angle of the elbows will automatically involve triceps and chest.

The Winner: Decline Cable Pullover
Even though your head is lower than your legs, with the cable gravity does not diminish the effectiveness of the exercise as you pull the bar into your lower body, therefore your alts remain involved longer. Because the bar travels closer to your legs, you can squeeze your lats as you would during the straight-arm pulldown. However, the angle of your body causes the lats to be engaged through a greater range of motion. In contrast to the straight-arm pulldown, which requires you to stop the bar to keep tension, the decline cable allows you to reach back overhead while maintaining that necessary tension in the lats. The fact that you do not have to worry about balance makes the decline cable pullover the clear winner in the race towards building incredible lower lats.


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Diet Destroyers


Sports and energy drinks have become very popular among many sports athletes and gym-goers, but if you don’t limit consumption of these drinks you will pack on extra calories your body doesn’t need, especially on your midsection. Research suggests that your body requires only water during moderate exercise less than 60 minutes. Recommendations from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association include drinking 7-10 ounces of water during exercise, or sipping on a sports drink every 10-20 minutes during, long intense training sessions. Otherwise you should consider staying away from high-calorie energy drinks altogether. To burn off one 200 calorie Monster Energy drink, a 185 pound man would have to vigorously train with weights for 25 minutes. If you are attempting to get lean or ripped, stick with water.