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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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Three-In-One Triceps


Triceps Muscles

Targets:
Triceps, all three heads with emphasis on long and lateral heads.

Best In Workout:
This three-in-one move is so brutal that it is best to put it early in your routine. Follow this move with reverse-grip pressdowns to exhaust the medial head.

Sets & Reps:
Perform 3 sets with 10-15 reps.

At The Start:
Lie down on a bench with your head at the very edge and have a partner hand you a loaded barbell. If you do not have a partner, you can place the loaded bar at the edge of the bench, then lie down and grasp it.

Wrap Those Thumbs:
Hold the bar with an overhand grip, slightly inside your shoulders. Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety. Because you are bringing the bar over the face, it is imperative that you completely wrap your thumbs around the bar. Your hands will sweat, and you do not want to drop the bar at any point during the move.

First, The Skull:
The first part of the move calls for a traditional skullcrusher, in which you bring the bar to your forehead, stopping an inch or so away from your head before pressing it back up to full-arm extension. You can also do a modified skull in which your upper arms remain at a 45 degree angle to the floor, but it is your preference. The 45 degree skull will not affect the other portions of the move.

After The Skull:
Lower the bar down toward the top of your head and all the way down to the floor. On the way down, the bar should just miss the top of your head/bench. You basically want to think about reaching the point where the floor meets the leg of the bench.

The Pullover-to-Press:
After a good stretch, keep your arms bent and pull the bar directly over your face to your lower chest. To keep the bar an inch or so above your face as you move it to your lower chest takes incredible triceps strength. From your lower pecs, press the bar straight up as you would during a close-grip bench press. Squeeze the triceps hard and go right into the skullcrusher and the sequence continues. All three moves constitute a single rep.


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One-Arm Low (Or High) Cable Crossover


One-Arm Cable Crossover

Targets:
Pecs, with emphasis on the upper and middle chest fibres.

Best In Workout:
You can use this move as a pre-exhaust exercise preceding the compound presses necessary for mass, or you can put this last in your workout to flush and pump the muscle full of water, blood and nutrients.

Sets & Reps:
Perform 3-4 sets with 15-20 reps

D-Handle:
Grasp a D-handle attached to the low cable and place your non-working hand on the same-side hip. Similar to the single-arm overhead press, using only one side of the body will help engage and recruit more stabiliser activity than you typically experience. As your core fatigues, you can hold the opposite handle in the non-working hand, helping you anchor and balance yourself.

Stance:
Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and tighten your abs. Standing halfway between the two low cables with a wide stance provides a stable foundation.

Slight Bend:
Stand up straight and keep your working arm slightly bent. You should work to keep that slight bend in your elbow fixed throughout the entire set. Doing so will help focus the attention on the chest fibres. If you open and close the bend in your arm, you will lessen the effectiveness and shift some of the focus off the chest and onto your arm.

Range Of Motion:
Pull the handle up and across your body. Bring the handle all the way across so that at the end of the range of motion, the handle is in front if the opposite shoulder. During the typical cable crossover, the handles meet in front of your chest or face, but working one side at a time allows you to cross your body, engaging more pec fibres for a longer ROM before returning to the start position and repeating.


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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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What is a good intensity technique for mass and how do you use it?


Heavy incline barbell presses are a well-known chest-builder, but they can be dangerous if you are training alone. Done in the Smith machine, they will hit your upper pecs through a full range of motion with less risk of injury. You can work in some partials to train weaker parts of the movement. Finish off with a set of incline presses with a huge drop set, removing plates and getting right back under the bar each time you hit failure. This technique flushes the muscle with blood and takes you well past failure. Partials and drops on the incline Smith should help your chest a great deal.