growth of muscles

If I ate a cookie for every trainee I’ve watched haphazardly hoisting weights around in a wishful attempt at gaining muscular inches and building a shirt ripping physique, I’d be more a contender to be an Oreo’s sponsor then I would be to one day win the Olympia!

Training-induced muscular size is predominantly born in response to ‘tension’… utilizing and maximizing tension to your advantage may be the single biggest factor in achieving your muscle-building potential and optimizing your results in the gym.

Heavy BB CurlIt matters not how much weight you can lift or how many reps you can perform if you’re failing to stress the target muscle with adequate stimulus!

Case in point, in contrast to how I typically see them performed, the primary movers when performing dumbbell bicep curls for example should NOT be the hips, spinal erectors, anterior delts or traps (with perhaps a little incidental emphasis at some point falling in the vicinity of the biceps)… and don’t even get me started on the all too common enthusiastic (and also ill-advised) use of momentum!

(growth of muscles) –

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In fact, while I’m on this topic, I’d like to aptly name this widespread variation of bicep curls, “oscillating hip swings with bicep assistance!”

‘Technique’ of the above nature is obviously advantageous for working with more weight, however, contrary to popular belief, upping the weight lifted is not necessarily advantageous to optimizing, or even to eliciting, more muscle growth in a target muscle.

Sure, one may gain a sense of satisfaction at ‘swinging’ 100lb+ dumbbells up and down… though to say that performing curls in this manner is suboptimal is, well… an insult to the term suboptimal!

I can state categorically that no curl bicep curls will, unsurprisingly, fail to optimize the potential hypertrophic response from the biceps. Duh, right?

One may even impress their buddies (if they don’t know any better) with that Hulk-like feat of (imagined) strength… though the only feat actually achieved was the superhuman success of having turned an isolation movement intended to work the biceps, into a whole-body compound exercise for the EGO!

GREAT job numbnuts!  (growth of muscles )

growth of muscles

I would also predict that parading next to zero bicep development and suffering pain in the elbows and shoulders from this practice may eventually eclipse any misplaced short-term feeling of accomplishment.

Oh, and TRUST ME, jerking your body like you’re on the dance floor as a means to get those heavy ass weights up will NOT impress that hottie you’ve got your eye on… save those ‘moves’ for the nightclub you should invite her to!

Having said all that, it’s important to understand that I did NOT say the weight used during an exercise is unimportant…

Progressively increasing the weights you lift on a somewhat regular basis plays a MONUMENTAL role with regard to progress… HOWEVER, both to optimize this process, and also to help facilitate long-term growth, an increase in the weight lifted MUST be accompanied by an increase in the levels of TENSION generated within the target muscle! …the inverse of this is what I typically see!!

growth of muscles

One of the aspects of training that oftentimes sets a pro apart from everybody else is the pro’s ability to CONSCIOUSLY contract the working muscle!

Pro’s can typically create such high level contractions that they have at their disposal the ability to generate MASSIVE amounts of muscle-building tension in the muscle they’re aiming to hit during an exercise.

This is achieved in large part due to an unusually strong mind-muscle connection typically developed and honed over many years of training…

and one of the reasons why a great number of (unnamed ;)) pro’s can lift with horrendous form, yet still experience tremendous results!

Just think what these guys could achieve if they did things optimally!!

So… can we shortcut the time it takes to learn how to actively ‘feel’ a muscle, and then to enhance this mind-muscle connection over time?


Am I going to share some of this information with you today?

You bet! That’s what I do, folks.

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The goal will be to literally FORCE each target muscle to bear the load and do the work during each of its respective exercises, by way of ISOLATION!

By isolating a muscle and making it the only / prime mover, the brain will begin to learn how to ‘feel’ the muscle at greater and greater levels naturally, especially as the muscle fatigues, and as you’re able to lift more and more weight under control over time.

You may then one day join the ranks of the elite in possessing an elevated degree of conscious control over the level of muscular contraction you can achieve.

Of the progressively increasing levels of tension you can then create.

And of increases in hypertrophy that will NEVER be seen by 99.9% of trainees!

Sound good!? Excellent. Read on.

Isolation can obviously be achieved by using optimal movement patterns during the execution of each exercise (optimal exercise execution has been touched upon heavily throughout my programs, in particular in MI40-Foundation)… however, it all starts with IDEAL SET-UP! (growth of muscles )

growth of muscles

We want to focus our time and energy each rep solely focusing on maximizing tension within the working muscle, therefore it is IMPERATIVE that we learn how to eliminate extraneous movement.


We want to create an ideal environment for success (think intra-set posture) before we even contemplate moving the weight. But creating a solid postural foundation is an aspect all too under-appreciated by the VAST majority of trainees. Most mistakenly don’t give it a second thought, or, just deem it as unimportant… and this is one reason why they will NEVER fulfill their muscular potential! They are selling themselves short…

Don’t let this be you!

You’ll regret it down the line, whether it’s because your results suck, or you just keep getting injured.

What I’m sharing here is not some second rate info all too prevalent in cyberspace. This stuff, applied correctly, will be GAME CHANGING for many of you!


So pay CLOSE attention…

I’ll give you a set of general guidelines to follow to create your optimal foundation. How to set yourself up to get the MOST out of the intended working muscle, during essentially EVERY exercise you ever perform for each respective body part.

Apply these IMMEDIATELY to the next exercise you do, and then forever. You’ll soon notice improved growth via the increases in intra-muscular tension in the target muscle, and, over time, in your ability to progressively improve your conscious muscle contractions. (growth of muscles )

* Always keep your chest proud and your torso ‘tall’.

* Keep your head neutral throughout (inline with your spine, relative to your torso) – no head bobbing!

* Ensure that your shoulders remain pulled-back and depressed.

* Retract your scapula allowing for zero internal or external rotation of the shoulders.

* Keep your abs / core tight and your spine stable throughout (no arching).

* For all exercises where you are upright, either keep the torso vertical, OR, try leaning forward very slightly (approx. 30º) PIVOTING FROM THE HIPS, not from the spine – bring your butt back just a little so that your hips move behind your shoulders. This will help to avoid hip movement and any backward lean.

* Whenever standing, contract the glutes and hamstrings, and shove your feet into the floor / platform… this will also assist in eliminating unproductive hip sway. (growth of muscles )

growth of muscles

Being adept at isolating a muscle-group gives you a number of potential physique enhancement advantages, not solely limited to those we’ve discussed.

For one, having this skill would play a key role in helping you to re-model / re-mold your physique in WHATEVER direction you want (wider shoulders anyone?). This is because you will have much more CONTROL over WHERE the tension gets placed, not momentum, and not your brain that only wants to make moving the weight easier by using as much assistance as possible.

To sum up ladies and gentlemen… let go of the muscle stealing ego lifting and instead, set yourself up for success by learning to, “LOCK IT DOWN”!

… unless of course you don’t really care about building muscle and actually like getting injured 😉

So, we of course all know intellectually that form is a MASSIVE factor with regard to our physique enhancement efforts, but pay SERIOUS attention to it! What you do during your workout is ESSENTIAL for hypertrophy. Gym time is when you MUST provide your muscles with the stimulus necessary to have them say, “boys we gotta GROW!!”.

The majority of the training world are not super-responders to resistance training. Most will never be that beast we’ve all seen in the gym making massive gains in musculature despite doing pretty much everything wrong.

Do not assume that you are the exception. If you do, then like a flat-earther attempting to travel to the edge of the globe, don’t be surprised if you find yourself eventually spinning your wheels going round and round in circles with little-no progress to show for your efforts. (growth of muscles )

As implied in earlier articles in this series, there is a lot more to think about other than simply moving a weight from point A to point B… this is an outdated and inefficient approach, and yet remains the prevalent ideology seen in gyms around the world. Even more widespread though are a lack of notably impressive physiques (despite some people putting in respectable effort). I would go so far as to argue that inadequate form plays no small part in this occurrence.

In the previous article of the series we touched on some of the hows and whys of locking your body down during an exercise… let’s now talk about some TOP LEVEL training techniques that you should be implementing during EVERY single rep you perform for better gains STARTING NOW!

My goal is to help you to minimize your wasted time, and of course, to MAXIMIZE your MUSCLE-GROWTH!! Some of these guidelines you will have heard me talk about before, and some will be new to you.

But don’t just read them… LEARN them!

APPLY them!

And experience a HUGE jump in progress!!

(growth of muscles)

Always initiate the movement from the muscle you intend to work.

The target muscle should near-always be the prime mover from start to finish; I recommend attempting to create and build tension within it prior to even executing the movement (this will likely require practice for most of you but will become easier in time).

Aim to fully lengthen and fully shorten the muscle (full flexion and full extension).

Question: “given that we are strongest in the mid-range of a movement, plus considering that important aims for achieving a maximum hypertrophic-response include creating and maintaining maximum tension, why not simply forget the extremes of the range in which we are forced to use less weight leading to less tension?” Well (for starters), to reach our MAXIMUM muscular potential we must also strive to achieve maximum muscle-fiber recruitment! Working only in the mid-range would deprive us of achieving this… learn to get strong at the extremes of the range and you’ll further enhance your muscle-building efforts! (growth of muscles )

A muscle is fully lengthened when its antagonist is fully contracted, be conscious of this.

InclineBBPressTo ensure that you fully lengthen a muscle in order to complete the eccentric portion of a rep, it helps to focus on trying to engage the antagonist (opposite) muscle in the path of movement. To illustrate this point, your bicep is fully lengthened when your tricep is fully contracted, therefore when performing bicep curls for example, aim to contract your triceps at the bottom of the rep. When performing a pressing movement for the chest, try to contract your back at the bottom etc.

Contract through the entire duration, and entire range, of available motion.

Just moving the weight through a full range of motion should not be the goal, squeezing / contracting the working muscle as HARD as possible throughout should be the aim… remember, squeeze it like it owes you money! 😉

No pause at the top or bottom of the movement.

Barbell SquatKeep in mind that when the goal is to maximize hypertrophy, constant tension appears to be beneficial! The contrast in growth between sets of continuous movement compared to sets where tension to allowed to momentarily dissipate (at the top and / or bottom of a rep) appears to be significant! If / when strength increases are your predominant goal, rest / pause to your heart’s content, otherwise
keep that weight moving / muscle contracting!


Perform 40 to 70 second sets.

While there’s not a massive amount of applicable research on the topic, experience in the field suggests to me that keeping a muscle under tension for between 40 to 70 seconds appears to be optimal for the majority of muscle-groups… so make this your default! For many of you, this will force you to reduce the weight you can use, however when your muscles are a’popping you’ll soon thank me ;). I would typically recommend placing a little more emphasis on hitting failure (or close to failure) around the 40 second mark given that heavier weights can be used, though work through various points of the 40 to 70 second spectrum on a regular basis. One approach might be to perform 40 second sets with heavier weights during the first exercise for each muscle-group, finishing off with 70 second sets and lighter weights during the final exercise.

Perform slower negatives to positives.

It’s widely believed that the eccentric / negative phase of a movement causes the majority of micro-trauma to muscle myofibrils, hence it appears to stimulate greater hypertrophy. I recommend most people to spend 4 seconds in this phase with just 1 second allotted to the concentric / positive portion of the rep (a 4-0-1-0 tempo), for non-advanced lifters in particular. This should ensure COMPLETE control on the way down, therefore more tension throughout the movement.

No extraneous movement / body English.

It’s perhaps somewhat redundant to re-state this after yesterday’s article, however ramming the point home should do more good than harm. As a general rule, always aim to move ONLY the muscle you intend to work! As explained yesterday… LOCK IT DOWN people!

With the entirety of this post (as well the previous 2 articles in this series in mind), ask yourself, “is how I’m training currently likely to be maximizing my results?”… if not, you’ve unearthed GOLD here so be sure to scoop it all up and apply what you’ve learnt! (growth of muscles )


“When the goal is to maximize hypertrophy, always execute an exercise in a manner which allows for maximum continuous tension in the target muscle(s), through a full range of motion, for a total of 40 to 70 seconds, pushing to achieve frequent progressive tension overload!”

A huge proportion of what you need to know to maximize your training is in that quote…

Read it, write it down, re-read it, memorize it, reflect on it when you arrive at the gym and crush your next workout!

BPak out…

Welcome back Dr. Zach Bush! Our last episode with Dr. Bush was one of our highest dowloaded ever so we decided to bring him back on to talk about how to limit our exposure and the effects of glyphosate. Dr. Bush is researching the effects that Monsanto’s chemical has on our cellular health and communication network. 

We sat down with Dan Garner last weekend at the S.W.I.S conference to talk health optimization from a performance standpoint. Often we find that the largest hinderance to improvement particularly in trained athletes is underlying health conditions. In this episode Dan walks us through his though process when analyzing anyone from your average Joe to world class athletes. We discuss food sensitivities, gut health, digestion, underlying pathogens and of course finding your optimal ranges.

growth of muscles

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Dave Palumbo introduced the bodybuilding world to keto way before it was a fad.  His findings on macro balancing and nutrient absorption have challenged the paradigm around the bodybuilder diet.  Ben and Dave discuss how Dave stumbled upon the ketogenic diet, how he is trying to change the thought process behind diet in the bodybuilding world, cheat days and their thoughts on the current state of bodybuilding as well as who the next big names could be in the sport.

growth of muscles