Slow and Fast Dietary Proteins

We all know that there are differences in carbohydrates – high glycemic, low glycemic, simple sugars, starches, etc. And we know that different carbohydrates are absorbed in the gut and appear in the blood at different rates depending on various factors. For example simple sugars are absorbed more quickly than more complex ones, the rate of absorption of the latter depending on how quickly the complex sugars especially in the form of starches, can be broken down and subsequently absorbed.

The rate of absorption, and its subsequent effects on insulin levels, makes up the basis for the glycemic index of not only foods but whole meals since the presence of protein and fat with the carbohydrates usually slows down the absorption over the whole digestive process. Fast and slow carbohydrates have different metabolic effects on the hormones and on various metabolic processes.

Now we also have slow (for example casein) and fast (for example whey and soy) dietary proteins. The speed of absorption of dietary amino acids by the gut varies according to the type of ingested dietary protein and the presence of other macronutrients. The speed of absorption can affect postprandial (after meals) protein synthesis, breakdown, and deposition.1,2

Its been shown that the postprandial amino acid levels differ depending on the mode of administration of a dietary protein; a single protein meal results in an acute but transient peak of amino acids whereas the same amount of the same protein given in a continuous manner, which mimics a slow absorption, induces a smaller but prolonged increase.

Since amino acids are potent modulators of protein synthesis, breakdown, and oxidation, different patterns of postprandial aminoacidemia (the level of amino acids in the blood) might well result in different postprandial protein kinetics and gain. Therefore, the speed of absorption by the gut of amino acids derived from dietary proteins will have different affects on whole body protein synthesis, breakdown, and oxidation, which in turn control protein deposition.

For example, one study looked at both casein and whey protein absorption and the subsequent metabolic effects.3 In this study two labeled milk proteins, casein (CAS) and whey protein (WP), of different physicochemical properties were ingested as one single meal by healthy adults and postprandial whole body leucine kinetics were assessed. WP induced a dramatic but short increase of plasma amino acids. CAS induced a prolonged plateau of moderate hyperaminoacidemia, probably because of a slow gastric emptying. Whole body protein breakdown was inhibited by 34% after CAS ingestion but not after WP ingestion. Postprandial protein synthesis was stimulated by 68% with the WP meal and to a lesser extent (+31%) with the CAS meal.

Under the conditions of this study, i.e., a single protein meal with no energy added, two dietary proteins were shown to have different metabolic fates and uses. After WP ingestion, the plasma appearance of dietary amino acids is fast, high, and transient. This amino acid pattern is associated with an increased protein synthesis and oxidation and no change in protein breakdown. By contrast, the plasma appearance of dietary amino acids after a CAS meal is slower, lower, and prolonged with a different whole body metabolic response: protein synthesis slightly increases, oxidation is moderately stimulated, but protein breakdown is markedly inhibited.

This study demonstrates that dietary amino acid absorption is faster with WP than with CAS. It is very likely that a slower gastric emptying was mostly responsible for the slower appearance of amino acids into the plasma. Indeed, CAS clots into the stomach whereas WP is rapidly emptied from the stomach into the duodenum. The results or the study demonstrate that amino acids derived from casein are indeed slowly released from the gut and that slow and fast proteins differently modulate postprandial changes of whole body protein synthesis, breakdown, oxidation, and deposition.

After WP ingestion, large amounts of dietary amino acids flood the small body pool in a short time, resulting in a dramatic increase in amino acid concentrations. This is probably responsible for the stimulation of protein synthesis. This dramatic stimulation of protein synthesis and absence of protein breakdown inhibition is quite different from the pattern observed with classic feeding studies and with the use of only one protein source.

In conclusion, the study demonstrated that the speed of amino acid absorption after protein ingestion has a major impact on the postprandial metabolic response to a single protein meal. The slowly absorbed CAS promotes postprandial protein deposition by an inhibition of protein breakdown without excessive increase in amino acid concentration. By contrast, a fast dietary protein stimulates protein synthesis but also oxidation. This impact of amino acid absorption speed on protein metabolism is true when proteins are given alone, but as for carbohydrate, this might be blunted in more complex meals that could affect gastric emptying (lipids) and/or insulin response (carbohydrate).

In light of the fact that both hyperaminoacidemia 4,5,6 and resistance exercise7,8,9,10,11 independently stimulate muscle protein synthesis, a recent study (by Wilkinson et al. 2007) looked at how different proteins differ in their ability to support muscle protein accretion.12

The study investigated the effect of oral ingestion of either fluid nonfat milk or an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic macronutrient-matched soy-protein beverage on whole-body and muscle protein turnover after an acute bout of resistance exercise in trained men. The authors hypothesized that the ingestion of milk protein would stimulate muscle anabolism to a greater degree than would the ingestion of soy protein, because of the differences in postprandial aminoacidemia. compared whey against casein.

In this study arterial-venous amino acid balance and muscle fractional synthesis rates were measured in young men who consumed fluid milk or a soy-protein beverage in a crossover design after a bout of resistance exercise.

The primary finding of the current study was that intact dietary proteins, as against say portions of intact proteins such as concentrates or isolates of whey, soy or casein, can support an anabolic environment for muscle protein accretion.

Two other studies done to date found that the ingestion of whole proteins after resistance exercise can support positive muscle protein balance.13,14 However this study was the first to show that the source of intact dietary protein (i.e., milk compared with soy) is important for determining the degree of postexercise anabolism.

The study (by Wilkinson et al. 2007) also found a significantly greater uptake of amino acids across the leg and a greater rate of muscle protein synthesis in the 3 h after exercise with the milk-protein consumption as compared to soy-protein ingestion. Thus milk protein promoted a more sustained net positive protein balance after resistance exercise than did soy protein.

The authors concluded that since the milk and soy proteins provided equal amounts of essential amino acids, and that the level of EAAs drive protein synthesis,15 it’s likely that differences in the delivery of and patterns of change in amino acids are responsible for the observed differences in net amino acid balance and rates of muscle protein synthesis. Because of differences in digestion rates, milk proteins may provide a slower pattern of amino acid delivery to the muscle than soy protein.

Ingestion of soy protein results in a rapid rise and fall in blood amino acid concentrations, whereas milk protein ingestion produces a more moderate rise and a sustained elevation in blood amino acid concentrations.16 Interestingly, these increases in anabolic p
rocesses were seen without any concurrent increases in whole-body protein oxidation. Part of the explanation for this lack of increase is that the test meals consumed by participants in this study had 30% of total energy from fat, which would likely have slowed digestion and, thus, the rate appearance of amino acids into general circulation. As well, the dose of protein used (7.5 g indispensable amino acids) did not stimulate amino acid oxidation.

Previous studies that examined the effect of ingestion of similar quantities of crystalline amino acids on muscle protein turnover have shown that increases in net protein balance with the ingestion of 40 g crystalline indispensable amino acids (8.3 g leucine)17 were similar in magnitude to that seen with the ingestion of only 6 g crystalline amino acids (2.2 g leucine)18. These data suggest that, when large quantities of amino acids are ingested, amino acids are likely being directed to deamination and oxidation.

The authors of this study (by Wilkinson et al. 2007) proposed that the digestion rate and, therefore, the ensuing hyperaminoacidemia that differed between the milk and soy groups after exercise is what affected the net uptake of amino acids in the exercised leg.

However, regardless of their conclusions, because there are variations between the proteins, it’s still possible that the differences in amino acid composition between the two proteins had some effect on protein accretion. For example, the analysis of the proteins in this study found that the content of methionine in the soy protein (1.4%) was lower than that in milk protein (2.6%).

Combination of Proteins Work Best

Because of different absorption kinetics, proteins from different sources are used differently in various tissues, including locally by the gut, by the liver, and by skeletal muscle. As well, the kinetics change not only with the source of protein, but also when protein intake is increased.19

Recent studies have alluded that whey protein may be the best protein to use after training. However, this is not the case when one looks at the immediate beneficial effects of whey protein on protein synthesis, the counter productive effects on insulin, and the lack of long term effects on protein synthesis.

A recent study looked at the effects of protein supplentation on body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic capacity during 10 weeks of resistance training.20

Thirty-six resistance-trained males were split into three groups and followed a 4 days-per-week split body part resistance training program for 10 weeks. Protein supplements were randomly assigned, prior to the beginning of the exercise program. Group one received carbohydrate placebo, group two whey protein + casein, and group three whey protein plus branched-chain amino acids and glutamine.

In this study, the combination of whey and casein protein promoted the greatest increases in fat-free mass after 10 weeks of heavy resistance training.

References

  1. Dangin M, Boirie Y, Garcia-Rodenas C, Gachon P, Fauquant J, Callier P, Ballevre O, Beaufrere B. The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention. Am. J. Physiol. Endcrinol. Metab 2001:280: E340-E348.
  2. Dangin M, Boirie Y, Guillet C, Beaufrere B. Influence of the protein digestion rate on protein turnover in young and elderly subjects. J Nutr 2002;132(10):3228S-33S.
  3. Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, Beaufr B. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 1997;94: 14930-14935.
  4. Bohe J, Low A, Wolfe RR, Rennie MJ. Human muscle protein synthesis is modulated by extracellular, not intramuscular amino acid availability: a dose-response study. J Physiol 2003;552:315–24.
    Biolo G, Tipton KD, Klein S, Wolfe RR. An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein. Am J Physiol 1997;273:E122–9.
  5. Bohe J, Low JF, Wolfe RR, Rennie MJ. Latency and duration of stimulation of human muscle protein synthesis during continuous infusion of amino acids. J Physiol 2001;532:575–9.
  6. Biolo G, Tipton KD, Klein S, Wolfe RR. An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein. Am J Physiol 1997;273:E122–9.
  7. Chesley A, MacDougall JD, Tarnopolsky MA, Atkinson SA, Smith K. Changes in human muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol 1992;73:1383–8. Biolo G, Maggi SP, Williams BD, Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Increased rates of muscle protein turnover and amino acid transport after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol 1995;268:E514–20.
  8. Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol 1997;273:E99–107.
  9. Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Ferrando AA, Wolfe RR. Resistance training reduces the acute exercise-induced increase in muscle protein turnover. Am J Physiol 1999;276:E118–24.
  10. Yarasheski KE, Zachwieja JJ, Bier DM. Acute effects of resistance exercise on muscle protein synthesis rate in young and elderly men and women. Am J Physiol 1993;265:E210–4.
  11. Biolo G, Maggi SP, Williams BD, Tipton KD, Wolfe RR. Increased rates of muscle protein turnover and amino acid transport after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol 1995;268:E514–20.
  12. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, Macdonald JR, Armstrong D, Phillips SM. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(4):1031-40.
  13. Elliott TA, Cree MG, Sanford AP, Wolfe RR, Tipton KD. Milk ingestion stimulates net muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006;38:1–8.
  14. Tipton KD, Elliott TA, Cree MG, Wolf SE, Sanford AP, Wolfe RR. Ingestion of casein and whey proteins result in muscle anabolism after resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36:2073–81.
  15. Volpi E, Kobayashi H, Sheffield-Moore M, Mittendorfer B, Wolfe RR. Essential amino acids are primarily responsible for the amino acid stimulation of muscle protein anabolism in healthy elderly adults. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:250–8.
  16. Bos C, Metges CC, Gaudichon C, et al. Postprandial kinetics of dietary amino acids are the main determinant of their metabolism after soy or milk protein ingestion in humans. J Nutr 2003;133:1308–15.
  17. Tipton KD, Ferrando AA, Phillips SM, Doyle D Jr, Wolfe RR. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol 1999;276:E628–34.
  18. Borsheim E, Tipton KD, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR. Essential amino acids and muscle protein recovery from resistance exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2002;283:E648–57.
  19. Fouillet H, Juillet B, Gaudichon C, Mariotti F, Tomé D, Bos C. Absorption kinetics are a key factor regulating postprandial protein metabolism in response to qualitative and quantitative variations in protein intake. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Dec;297(6):R1691-705.
  20. Kerksick CM, Rasmussen CJ, Lancaster SL, Magu B, Smith P, Melton C, Greenwood M, Almada AL, Earnest CP, Kreider RB. The effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Aug;20(3):643-53.

Red Meat Controversy

Red meat consumption has been a controversial subject for decades. It’s been blamed for contributing to the onset of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes, and as a mortality risk. I’ve been writing about the benefits of red meat for decades now, with the most recent short piece three years back titled What about Red Meat?

What about Red Meat?

Red meat has been maligned now for the past few decades. It seems that nothing good can be said about it except that it’s great barbecued. But the tide is turning and research is showing that red meat has been undeservedly maligned.1

I’ve always said that red meat is good. And there are several reasons for this. First of all I never believed in what the naysayers were preaching. Again, just as with saturated fat, there are too many inconsistencies. After all red meat has been a staple in our diets since the beginning of our time. So why all of a sudden is it poisonous to us?

And red meat contains as much oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat as in olive oil, as it does saturated fat. Oleic acid is considered to have significant health effects,ii and is also felt to act as a sensing nutrient and when present decreasing appetite.3

Red meat is one of the best sources for amino acids. It's high in vitamins A, E and B complex. Vitamin B12, while plentiful in meat, is not found in vegetable products. Red meat is loaded with iron that is easily absorbed, unlike iron that is present in many plant sources. As well, red meats are excellent sources of other nutrients including L-carnitine, taurine, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), coenzyme Q10, potassium, zinc, and magnesium – all vital nutrients, especially for those of us who want to improve our body composition.

For example, L-carnitine is primarily found in meat. And red meat is the best source of L-carnitine with about 600 mg present per 100 grams. Fish contains only 35 mg per 100 grams. For athletes, plentiful L-carnitine means not only a larger proportion of lean muscle mass, but increased use of energy-rich fat as fuel during exercise. As well CLA can result in a reduction of overall body fat and an increase in lean muscle mass, by increasing insulin sensitivity and helping to regulate protein and fat metabolism in the body.4,5,6

Red meat is also one of the best foods for maximizing body composition. A recent study found that women on a low calorie, red meat diet lost more weight and were healthier than those who were following a low calorie, low meat diet.7 As well, there were no adverse effects on bone metabolism because of the high red meat/protein diet.

In another study, red meat was shown to have beneficial effects on serum cholesterol and triglycerides, the other important fat.8 At the end of the nine month study, the researchers found that the red meat group had an average decrease of 1 to 3 percent in "bad' low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and an average 2 percent increase in "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and an average drop of 6 percent in their levels of triglycerides.

As well, red meat, with its saturated fat, increases serum testosterone levels. I’ve seen this in clinical studies that I’ve done on patients and athletes who I’ve put on my diets, with the emphasis on red meat. And this association has also been shown in some studies.9,10,11

Since then a number of studies have found little association between the consumption of red meat and some of the perceived consequences, such as various cancers (for example a recent study found that red meat consumption did not raise the risk of colon cancer, unlike previous studies that suggested that it did – see abstracts below).

A study published this past May (2010) found that it’s not red meat per se but processed meat that is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

I’ve copied an article below that is also available at http://harvardscience.harvard.edu/medicine-health/articles/processed-meats-come-increased-risk-heart-disease-diabetes.

The bottom line is that red meat is an ideal food for elite athletes who want to maximize body composition and performance, and is especially so if they follow my phase shift diets – see www.MetabolicDiet.com for more info).

Interestingly a recent study concluded that buffalo meat, a red meat that’s becoming more popular, seems to be associated with several beneficial CVS effects.12

Full text at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2727138/pdf/djn386.pdf.

References

  1. Hodgson JM, Ward NC, Burke V, Beilin LJ, Puddey IB. Increased lean red meat intake does not elevate markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in humans. J Nutr. 2007 Feb;137(2):363-7.
  2. Wahle KW, Caruso D, Ochoa JJ, Quiles JL. Olive oil and modulation of cell signaling in disease prevention. Lipids. 2004 Dec; 39(12):1223-31.
  3. Obici S, Feng Z, Morgan K, Stein D, Karkanias G, Rossetti L. Central administration of oleic acid inhibits glucose production and food intake. Diabetes. 2002; 51(2):271-5.
  4. Gaullier JM, Halse J, Hoye K, Kristiansen K, Fagertun H, Vik H, Gudmundsen O. Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation for 1 y reduces body fat mass in healthy overweight humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 79(6):1118-25.
  5. Eyjolfson V, Spriet LL, Dyck DJ. Conjugated linoleic acid improves insulin sensitivity in young, sedentary humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004; 36(5):814-20.
  6. Steck SE, Chalecki AM, Miller P, et al. Conjugated Linoleic Acid Supplementation for Twelve Weeks Increases Lean Body Mass in Obese Humans. J. Nutr. 2007 137 (5).
  7. Clifton PM, Noakes M, Keogh J, Foster P. Effect of an energy reduced high protein red meat diet on weight loss and metabolic parameters in obese women. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2003; 12 Suppl:S10.
  8. Davidson MH, Hunninghake D, Maki KC, et al. Comparison of the Effects of Lean Red Meat vs Lean White Meat on Serum Lipid Levels Among Free-living Persons With Hypercholesterolemia – A Long-term, Randomized Clinical Trial. Arch Intern Med. 1999;159:1331-1338.
  9. Hamalainen EK, Adlercreutz H, Puska P, et al. Decrease of serum total and free testosterone during a low-fat high-fibre diet. J Steroid Biochem 1983; 18 (3):369-70
  10. Hamalainen E, Adlercreutz H, Puska P, et al. Diet and serum sex hormones in healthy men. J Steroid Biochem 1984; 20 (1): 459-64.
  11. Dorgan JF, Judd JT, Longcope C, et al. Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study. Am J Clin Nutr 1996; 64 (6): 850-5.
  12. Giordano G, Guarini P, Ferrari P, Biondi-Zoccai G, Schiavone B, Giordano A. Beneficial impact on cardiovascular risk profile of water buffalo meat consumption. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Sep;64(9):1000-6.

Improving Performance With Carnosine

Carnosine, a dipeptide made up of the amino acids alanine and histidine (histidyl-alanine) has many beneficial effects. It has been shown to have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, increase performance, increase healing, enhance the immune system, and provide anti-aging effects.1,2,3,4,5,6,7

It also inhibits glycation, a destructive protein/sugar reaction that occurs in the body and which contributes to aging through a number of mechanisms including the breakdown of connective tissue, a loss of elasticity, and a decrease in cellular hydration. Carnosine, along with alpha lipoic acid, provides protection against glycation and premature aging.

Carnosine has beneficial effects on exercise performance by helping to overcome muscle fatigue, likely due to its effectiveness as a buffering agent and perhaps its antioxidant, chelating, and enzyme regulating effects.8

Carnosine levels tend to be higher in athletes such as sprintersi9,10 and in bodybuilders11. These studies also show that intramuscular carnosine may be an effective physiological H+ buffer and that there is a significant relationship between the carnosine concentration in human skeletal muscle and high intensity exercise performance. A recent study found that beta-alanine supplementation increased muscle carnosine levels12 and resulted in an improvement in exercise performance.13

However, since dietary carnosine is absorbed across intestinal epithelial cells, using carnosine itself is a more direct approach to increasing carnosine levels compared to using beta alanine, which is used in producing endogenous carnosine.

References

  1. Nagai K, Suda T. Immunoregulative effects of carnosine and beta-alanine. J. Physiol. Soc Jap 1986;48:564-571.
  2. Boldyrev A, Johnson P. Carnosine and related compounds: antioxidant dipeptides. In: P. Johnson and A. Boldyrev, Editors, Oxidative Stress at Molecular, Cellular and Organ Levels, Res. Signpost 2002;101-114.
  3. Nagai K, Suda T, Kawasaki K, Mathuura S. Action of carnosine and beta-alanine on wound healing. Surgery. 1986;100(5):815-21.
  4. Wang AM, Ma C, Xie ZH, et al. Use of carnosine as a natural anti-senescence drug for human beings. Biochemistry (Mosc) 2000;65(7):869-71.
  5. Zakharchenko MV, Temnov AV, Kondrashova MN. Effect of carnosine on self-organization of mitochondrial assemblies in rat liver homogenate. Biochemistry (Mosc). 2003;68(9):1002-5.
  6. Stvolinsky SL, Dobrota D. Anti-ischemic activity of carnosine. Biochemistry (Mosc) 2000;65(7):849-55.
  7. Hipkiss AR. On the enigma of carnosine's anti-ageing actions. Exp Gerontol. 2009 Apr;44(4):237-42.
  8. Begum G, Cunliffe A, Leveritt M. Physiological role of carnosine in contracting muscle. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2005 Oct;15(5):493-514.Links
  9. Parkhouse WS, McKenzie DC, Hochachka PW, Ovalle WK. Buffering capacity of deproteinized human vastus lateralis muscle. J Appl Physiol 1985;58:14–17.
  10. Susuki Y, Ito O, Takahashi H, Takamatsu K (2004) The effect of sprint training on skeletal muscle carnosine in humans. Int J Sport Health Sci 2: 105–110.
  11. Tallon MJ, Harris RC, Boobis L, Fallowfield J, Wise JA (2005) The carnosine content of vastus lateralis is elevated in resistance trained bodybuilders. J Strength Condit Res 19: 725–729.
  12. Harris RC, Tallon MJ, Dunnett M, Boobis L, Coakley J, Kim HJ, Fallowfield JL, Hill CA, Sale C, Wise JA. The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids. 2006;30(3):279-89.
  13. Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, Harris BD, Sale C, Boobis LH, Kim CK, Wise JA. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 2007;32(2):225-33.

Athletic Performance

There are a lot of factors that impact on athletic performance, some of which are changeable, and others that are not.

There’s a misconception that we’re not all that much different from each other. While that may be true of the big picture—we all have arms, legs, hearts, etc.—there are enough minor differences in each of us to make significant changes on what we can and can’t be as well as accomplish.

It’s a fact that we’re all different. We hear it all the time from those in the know. We all react differently to various foods and nutritional supplements, we all metabolize differently and we all have different genetic make-ups that make us unique. These variations have a major impact on an organism’s function, including how we respond to almost everything, including macro and micronutrients, drugs and chemicals.

For example it’s been shown that insulin sensitivity is affected by many variables, including lifestyle, body weight, exercise, diet, certain nutritional ingredients and supplements, inflammation, and certain diseases. But just because you have a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance, perhaps even to diabetes, doesn’t mean this has to happen.

That’s because the body has a certain redundancy built into it so that many genetic roadblocks can be opened up or circumvented under specific environmental conditions. In other words a single altered gene or even several of them, although affecting some function or functions in the body, may make only little, even zero, difference depending on the circumstances.

For example, this redundancy, which plays a part in our reaction to specific nutritional and other environments, means that broad principles will in fact apply to the majority of people, with perhaps some minor variations.

However, we can’t deny that some people have it a lot easier than others. It’s obvious that in order to excel in any sport or to develop extensive muscularity you have to be born with the potential to do so. This potential, which all of us have to one degree or another, involves the mental as well as the physical aspects of sports. It’s what you do with whatever potential you have that will ultimately decide how well you reach your performance goals.

While those with the highest genetic potential for any one or more sports have a genetic head start, what they accomplished depends on many other factors. In the extreme, even if you had the ultimate potential for a sport but suffered a lack of food or were unable to ever train, you would never achieve in that sport.

It’s the environmental factors that shape the flow of genotype to phenotype. In other words even the truly gifted have to have their potential molded and developed by the right factors. On the other hand those not as genetically gifted can accomplish elite status by maximizing all the environmental factors that they can.

All four environmental factors, lifestyle, training (and this means more than just exercise training but also ways to get the most out of the training that works best for you), diet and nutritional supplements must be in synch before you can reach those upper limits of performance that are in line with your natural genetic potential.

Athletic Performance Pipeline

While the issues in each section of the pipeline are complex, my rather simple body composition pipeline will help you visualize what factors are important in maximizing performance.

If everything is in synch then we'll achieve our goals, as long as they are realistic.

A weak section in the pipeline will decrease the end results.

Thus reaching your performance goals takes a structured approach that looks at lifestyle, exercise, diet and nutritional supplements – factors that we’ll cover in detail on this site.

And keep in mind that while we may suspect that we have a natural predisposition for a specific sport, none of us really knows what that potential is until we use everything we can to unmask it.

Ask The Super Strong Guy: Why Does My Bench Suck?

Q
Yo, my bench REALLY sucks, and I'm struggling to make progress. I saw a video of one of your guys, Stan Efferding, benching 600-plus pounds. That got me all fired up! Help me out, brah; I need to get my stats up!

Mark: The fastest route to big gains is to correct your form and work on improving it. I know coaches who can show people how to cut a tenth of a second off their 40-yard dash simply by having them change their setup at the starting line.

When you lift with good form and "set up" properly, the same dramatic results can be seen in powerlifting.

When I go out and teach Crossfit Powerlifting certs, it's not uncommon to see athletes hit a personal record minutes after being taught how to do the movement the right way.

Just a few simple changes in technique and, wham, they're lifting 25 pounds more than they ever have before. Just like that!

The main thing is, most people don't know how to get tight. Stan Efferding slapped 50 pounds on his bench and nearly 200 pounds on his total in six weeks with Super Training.

This is amazing when you consider how strong he was already. A big focus for him was learning to stay tight throughout the movement.

Here are a few things I did with Stan that can help you reach your own PR:

  1. Pin back those shoulder blades. Try to pinch them together while pulling your chest up. Pull your shoulders down toward your hips while arching your middle and lower back. This will help create stability and shorten how far you press. Imagine trying to make your flat bench look like a decline bench.
  2. Keep those wrists straight! Trying to crush the barbell in your hands will giving you better leverage to press. Get your legs under you by positioning them where they feel strong and stable. Then push/flex your quads like you're trying to lift your body off the bench.
  3. Your legs will be tight throughout the entire movement. Some end up only flexing their legs when they press. That's when your ass comes off the bench and you look like you're having a seizure on the bench.
  4. As you begin to lower the weight, start tucking your elbows in to your sides. This will have you pressing with better leverages and reduce stress on your shoulders. Don't tuck your elbows in to your sides too much at the start – only as you're lowering the bar.
  5. Bench off your nipples. Nah, they won't get chaffed … they may get hard though! Take the weight out of the rack and let it "drift" toward your sternum before starting your descent. The barbell should be even with your lower pecs/nipples before you begin lowering. When the bar touches your T-shirt, it should be a little lower than your nips.
  6. Push the barbell away from you by flexing your lats. You know that lat spread you hit every morning after logging on to Bodybuilding.com?

Come on, dude: Don't lie! You know you flex every morning before and after your shower. (After the shower is the best because the heat from the water gets the veins cranking, although staring down some serious shrinkage is a tough way to start your day.) Anyway! When you flex your lats like you would when hitting your lat spread-that's how you need to flex your lats out of the bottom position of the bench press.

When it's time to press the weight, push it up with everything you got. Simple enough, right? Don't lose sight of this. You now have a lot to remember, but above all else, being strong has a lot to do with showing up and working your ass off.

  • 7. Drive your head into the bench to finish off the press.
  • 8. Lastly, change stuff up a bunch. Don't do regular benches every week. Try partial-range-of-motion presses out of a rack, where it's about half the distance of a regular bench.

Try benching with a 2-second pause on the chest. Try benching off a phone book or some boards. Throw in some close-grip work. Rotate a few exercises around from one week to the next and watch your numbers take off.

Most important, get yourself tight!

Ask The Super Strong Guy: What's Your Favorite Strongman Move?

Q
What's your absolute favorite strongman move, and how would I add it to my regular lifting split?

My favorite strongman moves? Dragging movements, big son! Bring out your inner caveman and pull home some fresh-clubbed dinner! Or, if don't wanna drag a deer with your bare hands … go sledding!

In strongman competitions, they usually pull a plane or truck. I don't take it that far, but I do pull a weighted sled. Rogue makes some great, bomber sleds. You may want to order an extra strap for more exercise variations. Many trainees don't realize that the number of moves you can do with a sled is only limited by your innovation. Bust out that meathead brain and get creative!

Many also don't understand that you usually want to WALK with the sled, not run. Again, to do a full variety of sled exercises, you may need to have two straps or use an additional rope or pull-down attachment. You can do many upper body and lower body exercises with the sled. I will sometimes pull the sled for 20-30 min before a training session, alternating between upper and lower body with little rest. With lower body, I typically slap the sled strap onto my belt.

What makes the sled so awesome? I'll lay it out for you, kid!

Metabolic Resistance

Work your muscles and the ol' ticker, otherwise known as your freaking heart. The sled can help increase muscle mass through various pathways but, as an added bonus, it'll also burn your lungs and work your cardiovascular system. The better conditioned you are, the better you'll recover from your workouts! Always strive to not only get bigger and stronger, but also to be in better shape.

You really can't mess up sled dragging. In fact, at my gym Super Training, which I sometimes feel is full of idiots, we often use sled drags for "the humps." The who? Humps are people who just can't get sh!t right — not for lack of effort, but because they don't have an athletic bone in their body, or they are just crazy awkward. You know the type: knock-kneed, flat-footed, and fat-faced. It's just brutally hard to teach some of these types how to perform a box squat or a deadlift with proper form.

No Eccentrics Allowed

Ok, what the f@ck does that mean, dude? The eccentric (or "negative") portion of a bench press is when you lower the weight, or in any exercise when a muscle is being stretched – rather than contracted — through a range of motion. This "muscle stretching" is often associated with muscle soreness. So, we can conclude that: No Eccentric Loading = Less Muscle Soreness. With a sled, you just pull. You stay positive.

TUT, TUT!

The sled allows for total manipulation of time under tension. You can have your muscles under tension for as long as you can continue dragging the sled. For example, you could have a set last up to 10 minutes, provided that you're feeling bat-sh!t crazy.

Sun and Chicks Galore

Sled drags let get you outside and let you work that tan! Plus, chicks driving by are turned on big time by a guy who can carry a lot of weight. Maybe they dig it because they know, one day, they will be really fat and may need someone to haul them around. Just playing. Chicks just love dudes with a sled.

Go Sledding

See, the sled is amazing. It can make you bigger, stronger, faster, leaner and healthier! "Damn, coach: Will it make my weenis bigger, too?" I'm not sure on that, son, but it's worth a shot. Start by incorporating sled work on your rest days, to replace any boring cardio sessions, or after certain workouts. Try this simple, sample sled session:

Sledzilla

Triset

Forward Sled Drag
3-4 sets of 100 yards walking, 3-5 plates, depending on strength level. Drive your heel into the ground.

Backward Sled Drag
3-4 sets of 100 yards walking, 3-5 plates, depending on strength level. Try to stay on your toes.

Walking Sled Rows
3-4 sets of 100 yards walking, 3-5 plates, depending on strength level. Rest 1-2 minutes. You can row high or low, or switch it up as you go.

Lastly, don't forget: "Poppa been smooth since days of Underroos." If that quote doesn't inspire you to get up off your couch, throw away your Ben and Jerry's, and crush up some freakin' sled training, then nothing will.

Ask The Super Strong Guy: Should I Lift Heavy To Look Big?

Q
I just want to look bigger. Is there any reason I should incorporate power/strength training into my lifting routine?

Big son, are you freakin' kidding me? You go to a gym for 2 reasons, and 2 reasons only:

  • To get jacked
  • To get stronger
  • To look at hot chicks
  • To get that Jersey Shore tan and showcase how jacked you are

Okay, so only 2 legit reasons (I'll let you figure out which those are). Guess what? They go hand-in-hand. You need a strong foundation to get jacked, no doubt about it!

All those p*ssies doing cardio and trying to tone are not only dumb, they are also stupid. Next time you're in the gym and see a fat dude on an elliptical, walk over to him and say: "Not to be rude," which alerts everyone that you're about to drop a bomb and should help soften the blow, "but I think you're stupid. Your body's ability to chew up calories and not store them as fat can be increased by gaining muscle mass."

Powerlifting will not only help you lift the part, it will help you look the part. It's a win-win, son. Get stronger and more jacked by lifting heavy stuff. Simple.

Powerlifters are the size of dinosaurs, and there is no better way to add mass to your puny frame than good ol' fashioned heavy lifting.

Lift By Example

Look at the size of the all-time world record holder Donnie Thompson. Now, I know Super D is fat. He was nearly 400 pounds when he squatted 1,265, benched 955 and deadlifted 770. However, that doesn't change the fact that he had some of the biggest legs and back ever built by a man.

Hell, Mike O'Hearn used to compete in powerlifting, and he uses a lot of power movements to this day. As much as I hate to admit it, Mike can kick my ass in many exercises in the gym. I know this firsthand; Mike trained with me in the late 90s.

I realize Mike looks like a bigger version of Fabio, but that's due to his diet and the fact that he's 6-foot-2 and probably around 5% body fat. Mike probably weighs 255-or-260 pounds, and he has raw-squatted 800 pounds for 2 and pulled 765.

Then, there's my chubby little self. All I do is powerlift and focus on the squat, bench and deadlift, and I shamelessly admit to being jacked.

Heck, I got a 4-pack on a good day. At 6-foot, 295 pounds, that's pretty damn good. (OK, maybe I'm only 295 in "bodybuilder" weight, which are like "Internet inches" – you gotta add a few. I might weigh closer to 280-to-285. Wanna fight about it?)

Let's not forget about my boy Stan Efferding, who is 6-foot-1, 280 pounds, and shredded. He loves powerlifting.

In fact, he did a few meets and has some all-time raw records. He squatted more than 850, deadlifted more than 800, and has benched more than 6-hundo numerous times. Not bad for a pro bodybuilder. Stan credits much of his success in bodybuilding to powerlifting. Stan used to be about 100 pounds soaking wet; powerlifting helped him add the size and mass to become a pro bodybuilder.

Go Big

Anyway, dude, you need the following exercises in your routine to add size and strength: squats, bench press, deadlifts, bent-over rows, overhead presses, pull-ups, dips, sled pulls, and maybe even some farmer’s walks.

Your main movements – the movements you do when you first get to the gym – will be bench, squat, deadlift, overhead press, or some variation of those exercises.

Mark used to pull the animals he killed with his bare hands, but it was against gym regulations.

These moves are your bread and butter. These are the same exercises Jesse Burdick and I preach when we do our Powerlifting Certification Courses for CrossFit.

Want more power? Get yourself a subscription to my magazine: Power. We talk about how to get bigger, leaner and stronger through diet, exercises and programs. Alright, I'm done with the sales pitch. Suit up, set up, and get to the gym, big son!

Ask The Super Strong Guy: How To Squat Pain-Free

Q
Big Bell, how can I train max effort squats with an injured back?

First thing's f#cking last: Why is your back hurting, cupcake? I hear people say, "Dude, I don't deadlift because it hurts my back." To which I reply, "No, your back hurts because you're weak, and you don't deadlift because you're a pansy!"

OK, let's get serious. Pain signals weakness or dysfunction somewhere. Don't be a hump like everyone else and avoid it. Instead, use your head and fix it! I'll give you some crucial tips on protecting your back, followed by a solid box squat workout for those with busted backs.

So, Why Does Your Back Hurt?

First, realize that your back probably doesn't hurt just from lifting. On top of lifting too heavy or with crappy form, here's a list of common back-busters, plus some easy fixes you should start using NOW. Occupation: How many cops suffer from a bad back or a super-tight lower back? A lot of sitting comes with that job. Policemen who stand more often have the, er, luxury of wearing a big-@ss belt that pulls their hips out of place. Wherever you work, stretch and loosen your body at every opportunity.

Sitting: Sitting can be cancerous! Try not to slouch. Get up from your desk or La-Z-Boy as often as you can. A short walk every 1-or-2 hours will make a huge difference for your lower back.

Posture: While standing, walking and running, keep that spine and neck neutral without looking like Mr. Robot Pants.

Diet: Didn't expect this one, did you? A crap diet will lead to poor health in general and can cause inflammation throughout the body. I follow the Paleo Diet combined with some of Kiefer's principles discussed on Dangerously Hardcore. If you want the simplest advice ever, just cut refined and over-processed carbs from your diet! You'll be on your way to feeling healthier almost immediately.

Offense

Now that you're aware of your body, eating healthier, moving more often and taking better care of your spine, start actively protecting yourself!

Use these two tips any time you lift heavy weight or perform a tough task like scaling a mountain, wrestling a bear, or getting out of your car.

Activate Your Abs!

Tightening your stomach will help brace your back for action. Activate your stomach by tightening up your belly, as if someone were going to sock you in the gut. Think of pulling your belly button to your spine and clenching your entire core.

Fire Your Glutes!

Clinch up, bro! I know it sounds gross, but your @ss can protect your back. On the deadlift, you will notice this right away.

Next time you pull anything, actively think about engaging your glutes. You'll notice it takes stress off your lower back.

Train Smarter

OK, now that I got you thinking, I'll help you train while you're banged up. After all, one of my principles is: "Only rest when you're dead." You may not be able to train at max effort, but we'll get you pretty dang close.

While you're hurt, make sure you wear a lifting belt and make sure, instead of regular squats, you perform high box squats. For now, we will limit the range of motion and squat above parallel. Squatting onto a bench can be nice because it's high and has padding. If you don't have padding, put a sweat shirt or towel on the box.

Box Squatting Basics

Squat Wider Than Normal
Use a slightly wider stance than your normal shoulder-width position. Go out 2 inches wider per side, so you'll be roughly 4 inches wider total.

Open up the Hips
Force the knees out to where your ankles/feet are. This will help create torque in your hips.

Keep Your Back And Head Neutral

Don't overarch or over-exaggerate your neck. Just keep your head up with your neck neutral, and don't allow your upper body to move too much. You're trying to turn this exercise into a hip movement.

Brace Your Stomach
Get your gut tight! Expand it with air and push down against your belt to create an extra brace. You want to push down more than out. You don't want to push your stomach "out" and make a beer belly, which can lead to overextension – too much distance between your belly button and sternum.

To simplify how your gut should feel, try a heavy side bend with a dumbbell. You should experience a similar pressure. (If the advanced among you want more info on overextension and mobility tips, refer to my home boy Kelly Starrett's website, MobilityWod.)

Booty Clap
Make sure you're flexing dat @ss! If not, then I'll have to check while I'm "back spotting" you! Flexing your butt will help protect your lower back.

Wear A Flat-Soled Shoe
Slap on something with a minimal heel-to-toe drop, like Chuck Taylors. This will allow you to force your knees out without rolling on your cheap-@ss space shoes.

Work It
Let's do 8 sets of 2 reps with about 60% of your max, so you're basically doing a speed protocol. Every 3 weeks, work up to a 90% single. Go by how you feel. Let pain be your guide.

After this, we need to train our stomach, lats, hams and glutes. Hit those muscles with some really light stiff-legged deadlifts. Let's have you do 5 sets of 5 with 135-to-225 pounds, depending on your strength. Hit up the weighted planks I suggest in my core workout. The static holds will work well for your back.

Finish the workout with some full range of motion seated rows. Allow your spine to round and get a lot of stretch. Let's hit up 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps.

Back in Action Workout

High Box Squat
8 sets of 2 reps, 60% of 1RM.
Every 3 weeks, work up to a 90% single.

Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift
5 sets of 5 reps, 135-to-225 pounds

Plank (Weighted)
3 sets of 1 minute each

Seated Cable Rows
3 sets of 8-10 reps

In my gym, we have many lifters who squat over 800 pounds and deadlift over 700, with zero back problems. We allow for proper recovery of our lower backs; we've also developed incredibly strong backs. In addition to the tips and workout above, I attribute our "healthy back record" to the Rogue Reverse Hyperextension, invented by Louie Simmons. The reverse hyper lets you work the muscles in your back with no load on the spine. Great for strength and rehab!

Use Your Head

If you are REALLY injured, go see a doctor! Don't be too stubborn. Try to find a sports med doc who works with lifters.

Certain pains are a necessary evil of pushing your body. Over time, you will learn to love and embrace 'em as much as I do. I have endured and embraced pain because I know it's temporary and leads to success. Get some, son!

Ask The Super Strong Guy: How Do I Build Massive Powerlifter Pythons?

Q
Hell's Bell, strong dude: you have some massively huge pipes! How big are they? More important, how do I build bigger arms?

Mark: Listen up, big son: only fools and meatheads measure their arms. If I had to take a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess), I'd say my guns at their biggest measured 22 1/2 inches. Now, at a lighter body weight, they're probably 21 1/4 inches.

Not that I'd ever actually measure them – how ridiculous!

Now, my boy John Cena's pipes are so huge that he wears headbands on his biceps, and YOU can do the same. Be what you set out to be. You want 20-inch arms? Then go get 'em, son!

The summer sun is still high in the sky, and like my dad always said, "Suns out, guns out!" This brings us back to how you can build sleeve-rolling, shirt-bursting, seam-popping elbow-movers.

  • Is there only one way?
  • Is there only one way to do anything?
  • Is there only one way to make a sammich?
  • Is there only one way to eat a peanut butter cup?
  • Is there only one way to skin a cat? God, I hate cats!
  • Any-who, you smell what I'm cooking.

There are multiple ways to do all kinds of stuff. To obtain big arms, you have a few options:

  1. Get in a lot of volume (i.e. sets x reps),
  2. Use a high intensity (i.e. a heavier weight),
  3. Over-train with heavy weights and high volume. Not!

As a power athlete, I prefer Option No. 2: lifting heavy. In fact, I believe lifting heavy weights at low reps is a huge factor in turning your guns into cannons.

Powerlifting training is so effective that many dudes who never specifically train biceps are walking around with 20-inch armaments. However, many powerlifters are fat as all hell, and while they may boast a 20-inch arm, you probably wonder if they're better at bench press or food-cram.

The moral of that story: your diet always needs to be in check. To become big, you'll have to eat big – but not like a pig. Avoid fast food, fried foods and sugary drinks. (If you're going to be a piggy, it can only be after gruelling workouts.)

Always try to eat protein first, and eat it often. There are numerous protein drinks and other supplements available to help you build 'dem guns.

Now comes the workout, which you should only perform once per week. We'll be lifting progressively lighter weight with higher volume, starting heavy and then going high. For man-eating pythons, there's nothing better than supersets.

Superset 1: Heavy Work

Close-Grip Bench Press
5 sets of 3-5 reps

Zottman Curl
3 sets of 6-8 reps

Technique Tip:

Close-Grip Bench Press: Place your hands on the beginning of the bar's bumpy portion, known as the knurling. If you're on the smooth part, your grip's too close. Tuck in your elbows and bring the bar down toward your nips, not your upper pecs. Perform this exercise off a few (2-3) boards, a pin in a rack, or a phone book. Doesn't matter what you choose, just use something to cut down the range of motion. If you really want to be popular, you can bench press off a bible. Warm up using sets of 5 and work up toward a 3-rep max.

Zottman Curl: Do a normal dumbbell curl and turn the palms up as you come to the top of the lift. As you begin to descend, point your palms towards the floor in a reverse-curl fashion. Lower the weight for about 4 seconds. Slower is better on the descent! Perform these between your main working sets of close grip bench. Use 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

Superset 2: Light Weight, Higher Reps!

Close-Grip Bench Press
3 sets of 8-12 reps

Hammer Curls
3 sets of 8-10 reps

Technique Tip:

Hammer Curl: It's ok to use a little body English (swing) on these if necessary.

Superset 3: Sky-High Reps

Dumbbell Triceps Extension
3 sets of 15 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curl
3 sets of 15 reps

Technique Tip:

Incline Dumbbell Curl: Use only a slight incline. (Most people go 45-60 degrees.)

Superset 4: Feel The Burn

Cry
1 set to preferred reps

After you're done screaming, please remember that heavy squats, deadlifts, bench press and back training will help build big arms, as well.

Do you feel like I've answered your question yet? It's taken me awhile to get here, but I built huge guns by powerlifting, powerlifting, and – oh yeah – powerlifting. You can too!

Big pipes take a long time to build. It ain't easy out there, kids. You got people who will say you can't or you shouldn't, but you can, you should and you will!

Ask The Super Strong Guy: How Can I Deadlift 500 Pounds?

Q
My goal is to deadlift 500 pounds by the end of summer. By deadlifting every other week, I've come pretty close. Yesterday, for example, I did 225 x 10, 315 x 8, 405 x 6, 425 x 3, and then two sets of 445 x 1-which felt pretty heavy. Is there too much warming up? Any tips on how to break on through to the other side?

-Elijah Wheeler, Washington, DC

A: Okay, your goal is 500, and you're currently at about 450. Let's attack this somabitch with everything we got. We'll even use the fatty tissue between your ears for a change.

You're lifting backward, son.

In your sample warm-up, you're doing high reps followed by strength training. Elijah, do me a favor—go run 2 miles before you try and attempt the fastest 40-yard dash of your life, and let me know how it goes. Your high school football coach may have thought that was a great idea, but I'm here to tell you that he was not only wrong, but just plain dumb!

Running 2 miles is unrelated to running an optimal 40 time. You'll pre-fatigue the muscles, and you won't be able to sprint at maximal speeds. It's better to do a few 100-meter sprints at 60 percent and maybe work on some starts. But you wouldn't want to do anything too hard or challenging before the main event.

The same is true with any strength training protocol. After doing some short duration mobility work from Kelly Starrett's Mobilitywod.com, you'll be ready to get yourself into optimal positions to start warming up. Here is a sample warm-up for someone in the 400-to-500-pound deadlift range. You'll notice I like deadlifting with both Sumo and Conventional form in the warm up. They will allow you to hone your form from two directions and give your body a new stimulus:

Sample Deadlift Training Program

Barbell Deadlift

  • 1 set of 10 reps w/ bar only
  • 1 set of 3 reps w/ 135 lbs
  • 1 set of 3 reps w/ 185 lbs
  • 1 set of 3 reps w/ 225 lbs
  • 1 rep w/ 275 lbs
  • 1 rep w/ 315 lbs
  • 1 rep w/ 365 lbs
  • 1 rep max Alternate the 2 exercises.

Sumo Deadlift

  • 1 set of 3 reps w/ 135 lbs
  • 1 set of 3 reps w/ 185 lbs
  • 1 set of 3 reps w/ 225 lbs
  • 1 rep w/ 275 lbs
  • 1 rep w/ 315 lbs
  • 1 rep w/ 365 lbs Alternate the 2 exercises.

From here on out, be cautious with the jumps in weight. When you're at 90-to-95 percent of your max, a 50-pound jump can kill your progression and your ego. Make smaller jumps of 15-to-30 pounds to save some face, gauge your strength and form, and prepare yourself for the heavier attempts.

Let's say your max is 445 pounds, it might go down like this: 385 lbs. x 1, 405 lbs. x 1, 425 lbs. x 1, then finishing with 450 lbs. x 1. Hell yeah, you just beat your 1RM by 5 lbs. and your street cred just went through the roof!

And if 450 felt a little too easy, try a harder weight. This is also the perfect time to do any extra rep work. Lower the weight to 315 and try 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps!

Here are a few recommendations for improving your deadlift:

  1. Only do a singular max deadlift from the floor every 6-to-8 weeks. Better yet, save the new record for your next power meet, and use variations to increase your deadlift. For more information, read some of the other deadlift stuff I wrote about on this site.
  2. If you have limited access to great equipment, just establish rep records on your deadlifts. Record reps, weights, and stance for any set at the following weights: 350, 315, and 275 (These are based on a 450 lift). Blow everything out and do as many reps as you can with only one of the chosen weights you selected for the day, write down your results, and then beat them on the next go-round.
  3. Lift for results. This means selecting weights properly and not getting too fired by loading the weights up too heavy, too early. This also means not lifting at 100 percent of your max all the time. Great strength gains are obtained with lower percents too, so work smarter and not harder.
  4. Don't neglect form. This is heavy weight, baby. If your back is rounding out, then give yourself time to adjust to heavier weights and focus on form. Don't be a wimp, just make sure to lift heavy AND correctly.
  5. Never bounce the weights off the floor. Everyone wants to look like a beast and celebrate after a serious feat of strength, but glorious lifts are always overshadowed by embarrassing accidents.
  6. Train your entire backside. This means your entire back, glutes and hamstrings. If these areas are weak, your deadlift is weak too.
  7. Implement speed deadlifts. Use 65-to-75 percent of your max for 8 sets of 2 reps during the weeks you are NOT deadlifting heavy.
  8. Train your abs with heavy weights. Try pull-down abs or heavy sit-ups.
  9. Get my magazine called POWER. Go to www.ThePowerMagazine.com and get ready for some kick-ass reading on how to build strength.

Take Home Message

Follow these instructions and you'll kill 500 pounds. Shoot, you may even just put it up over your head, and your new goal might be 600!

You now have all the tools you need. You just need to follow through on your end and bust your ass. Give a key to the inner universe to a thousand men, only one will open the door. Be the one!