It’s pretty well known that Vin Diesel is in shape. What may be lesser known (besides his real name which is Mark Sinclair) is that he wasn’t always the jacked action star that he is today.

Believe it or not, Vin was once a little on the chunky side, now I’m not saying he was 400 pounds but he definitely wasn’t the buff behemoth he is today.

Let me put it to you this way, Diesel once played a character named “Fat Jackie” and that wasn’t an ironic name, Diesel was fat. He shed a bunch of weight, roughly 35 pounds, after that role so he could do roles like Riddick and Dom from the Fast and Furious movies and here’s how he did it.

He started working out… like, a lot. He even said that working out became his only sense of gratification, and it shows. It’s impressive to me because it’s one thing to put yourself out there to become a professional actor but to want something bad enough to drastically change and shape your body, honestly, I think it’s inspiring. Diesel went to work building muscle and shedding fat.

So, we all know the man has a chest like a slab of granite, but here’s how he got it. He would attack the bench press, incline press, decline, and push-ups. It’s not even that complicated. He just worked with the weight he was comfortable handling. Here’s what he did:

4 sets of 8 reps. He always ends each station with a superset, which is where you go until you just can’t go anymore. I think if it worked for Vin it will work for you too.

It could be safe to say that Diesel’s career would definitely not be the same if he didn’t lose those love handles.

If you want to build leg strength and size then hit the squat rack.

The squat is one of the best and most commonly used exercises to build strength and size. That’s why pretty much every athlete and bodybuilder practically lives in one of these racks.

Now, if you do your squats and you’re thinking, “I haven’t seen the results I want, so I’m going to give that up” you might be doing it wrong. Here is a step by step breakdown of how you should properly do your squats.

First, find your footing. Keep a wide base to focus on the inner quads and glutes. A narrow base will target the outer quads, so position your feet accordingly.

Next, keep your head up. I’m not speaking motivationally, I mean literally, keep your head up. Don’t look down because this will put a strain on your neck and spine. Try to keep your head level when squatting so you’re focused on your legs and butt.

The third thing you want to do is watch your weight. Do not sacrifice form for the amount of weight you want. If you have to go lighter to have the proper form then do it. You aren’t going to see results if you’re squatting 500 pounds but barely moving. You should feel pressure when you’re squatting but it shouldn’t be unbearable.

Now let’s get into your form. You’ve probably asked yourself, “How low should I go?” You should go to the point where your upper legs are parallel to ground and then explode up. If you’re not going this low then you probably aren’t getting the results you’re after.

As for reps- the lower body is stronger than you think and can handle a higher rep count. I would say anywhere between 8-12 reps per set would be a good number but don’t be afraid to bump that up to 15 or 16 if you think you can handle it safely.

Speaking of safety. You’ve heard it before, do NOT extend your knees past your toes. This form could greatly increase your chance of injury or loss of balance, and you really don’t want that to happen with a metal bar full of weight on it.

If you’re doing this right then you should feel some stress in your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, and you should be seeing results before you know it. Squat on!

Swimsuit season is here and in order to look your best, you have to know how to train like the best.

Fortunately, there are a lot of people in the world of fitness who are more than willing to share what it is that they do.

Yanita’s fitness journey began shortly after participating on Bulgaria’s “Survivor” show more than six years ago, and she’s been training consistently ever since.

“Before I got into fitness, I had done various sports including rhythmic gymnastics. About five or six years ago, shortly after participating on the television show, Survivor Bulgaria, I started going to the gym. During my fifty-two day stretch on the television show on an island in Panama, I ended up losing eighteen pounds, and I dropped to eighty-eight pounds! When I returned home, I decided that fitness and proper nutrition would help me reclaim my body and get me back into shape. In the process of recovering from the show, I got hooked on training, and I just haven’t stopped since!”

Here’s what Yanita does to maintain her fantastic physique.

Full Routine:

Monday: Back/Abs

Pull-Ups 3 x 10
Barbell Rows 3 x 10
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns 3 x 10
One-Arm Dumbbell Rows 3 x 12
Seated Cable Rows 3 x 12
Hyperextensions 4 x 20
Bicycle Crunch 1 x 40
Vertical Leg Crunch 1 x 40
Knee Tucks 1 x 40
Plank Ups 1 x 40
Cable Crunches 1 x 20

Tuesday: Shoulders/Abs
Upright Rows 3 x 10
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4 x 12
Side Lateral Raises 3 x 15
Barbell Shoulder Press 3 x 15
Bent-Over Lateral Raises 3 x 18
Bicycle Crunch 1 x 40
Vertical Leg Crunch 1 x 40
Knee Tucks 1 x 40
Plank Ups 1 x 40
Cable Crunches 1 x 20

Wednesday: Arms/Abs
Dips 3 x 10
Dumbbell Curls 3 x 12
Dumbbell Kickbacks 3 x 12
Hammer Curls 3 x 15
One-Arm Overhead Extensions 3 x 12
Standing Barbell Curls 21s
Bicycle Crunch 1 x 40
Vertical Leg Crunch 1 x 40
Knee Tucks 1 x 40
Plank Ups 1 x 40
Cable Crunches 1 x 20

Thursday: Legs/Abs
Thigh Abductor 4 x 20
Squats 4 x 12
Inner Thigh Abductor 3 x 30 Superset
Outer Thigh Abductor 3 x 30
Lunges 4 x 20
Romanian Deadlifts 4 x 20
Calf Raises 4 x 20
Bicycle Crunch 1 x 40
Vertical Leg Crunch 1 x 40
Knee Tucks 1 x 40
Plank Ups 1 x 40
Cable Crunches 1 x 20

Friday: Cardio
HIIT

Saturday: Rest
Recovery

Sunday: Rest
Recovery

“My diet usually changes about every five weeks. I base the changes on my goals in the gym and how my body responds to the foods that I’m eating. Depending on how long my day is, I will usually eat about six times a day. I space my meals out by two and a half to three hours apart. For breakfast, I’ll usually have oatmeal and throughout the day, I eat lots of protein.”

Daily Diet:

Meal 1: ¼ cup Oatmeal, 4 ounces Low Fat Yogurt or 1 scoop Protein
Meal 2: 1-2 Grapefruit or Oranges
Meal 3: 3 ½ – 5 ounces Chicken or Fish and Large Salad
Meal 4: 3 ½ – 5 ounces White Fish or Salmon, Large Salad and 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Meal 5: 1-1 ½ ounces Almonds

Have you ever wondered what it takes to have the body of an action-movie superstar? Well, you’re in luck, because that’s what we are sharing with you today.

If you are looking for an easy way of attaining that movie-star bod, then this isn’t the place for you. Getting silver-screen worthy abs doesn’t happen without a strict diet and commitment to working out, but fortunately, we’ve got you covered on both of those ends.

Is there any better action star in recent memory than Jason Statham? Between the Transporter trilogy and his appearances in the Fast and Furious series, Statham has solidified himself as a bonafide action film superstar.

In order to play these roles and perform the stunts they require, Statham has to get his body in peak physical condition. Here’s a peek into the weekly workout this leading man puts his body through.

Day 1: Progression to his deadlift one-rep max

Warmup #1: To get loose, Jason starts his warmups with rowing. He rows for about 10 minutes at around 20 strokes per minute.

Warmup #2: Next, Jason does a pyramid circuit of push-ups, pull-ups, and body weight squats. For the first round, you do one rep of each exercise and work your way up to five. After the fifth round, you work your way back down to one rep. In total, you’ll do ten rounds.

Workout: Deadlift
This is Jason’s deadlift workout, so the numbers are reflective of his weights. Obviously, if you want to follow this, then put your own weights in place. The first rep should be about 30%-35% of your one rep maximum.

Reps: 10
Weight: 135 pounds
Rest: 1 minute

Reps: 5
Weight: 185 pounds
Rest: 2 minutes

Reps: 3
Weight: 235 pounds
Rest: 3 minutes

Reps: 2
Weight: 285 pounds
Rest: 3 minutes

Reps: 1
Weight: 325 pounds
Rest: 3 minutes

Reps: 1
Weight: 340 pounds
Rest: 3 minutes

Reps: 1
Weight: 350 pounds
Rest: 3 minutes

Reps: 1
Weight: 360 pounds
Rest: 3 minutes

Reps: 1
Weight: 365 pounds

Cooldown:
You might not have access to one, but Jason cools down with 10-minutes of jumping on a gymnastics trampoline. He also has an Olympic diving background, so he’s probably doing things in the air you should never attempt.

Day 2: Functional Circuit Training

Warmup #1: Rowing, the same as the day before.

Warmup #2: Static hold circuit. Jason does these four exercises as a circuit for four rounds. You’ll do each hold for 30 seconds.

1. Ring Dip Hold: While Jason uses Olympic rings for this, you’ll probably have to use parallel bars.

2. Kettlebell Farmer Hold: Grab some heavy kettlebells and let them hang arm’s length at your sides.

3. L-Sit on Parallettes or dips bars: Jason uses paralletttes to do this, but you can do L-sits on a dip station with parallel bars.

4. Bodyweight Squat Hold: The exercise is in the name. Get into a low squat, and hold.

Workout: The “Big Five 55” workout.

Jason will do five exercises 10 times. The first round, he does 10 reps. Second round, he does nine. He does this all the way down to one.

1. Front Squat (95 pounds)
2. Pullups
3. Decline Parrallette Pushups

For this you’ll put your hands on the parrallettes and feet on a box so that they are approximately 1 foot higher than your hands. Do the prescribed number of pushups. Get LOW on the down end of your pushups.
4. Power Cleans
5. Knees to elbows

Here you will get into a pull-up position, and let your feet hang. From this position you will lift your knees up to your elbow.

Day 3: Interval Workout

Warmup: Jason rows for 10 minutes at a steady pace of slightly under 20 RPMs.

Workout: Rowing

Jason rows for 500 meters, and then takes a three minute rest. However, during this resting period, he is still moving around.

Here are his numbers for the sake of comparison:
Sprint 1. 1:40.1
Sprint 2. 1:39.7
Sprint 3. 1:43.9
Sprint 4. 1:41.6
Sprint 5. 1:38.7
Sprint 6. 1:50.3

Cooldown:
Jason finishes this workout with a 500-meter farmer’s walk. He takes two 70-pound kettlebells and goes as quickly as possible.

Day 4: Set work

Warmup #1: Just like every day before, Jason is back on the rower.

Warmup #2: 20 repetitions of body squats.

Workout: Five sets of five repetitions of the front squat. Jason does this with a weight that’s 105% of his bodyweight.

Reps: 5
Weight: 175 pounds
Rest: 90 seconds

Reps: 5
Weight: 175 pounds
Rest: 90 seconds

Reps: 5
Weight: 175 pounds
Rest: 90 seconds

Reps: 5
Weight: 175 pounds
Rest: 90 seconds

Reps: 5
Weight: 175 pounds

Cooldown:
Jason does 200 pushups. Yeah, 200. AFTER working out. He does this similarly to his circuit workouts. He does a pushup, and his partner does one. He does two, his partner does two as well. They do this all the way to 15, and then back to one, until they hit 200.

Day 5: Cumulative Movements

Warmup #1: You guessed it, MORE ROWING!

Warmup #2: Jason alternates between 15 meters of crab walks, and 15 meters of bear crawls. He does this five times each.

Workout:
One round through a series of five exercises. You’ll want to try and get these done as fast as possible.

7-metre Fat Rope Climbs
Reps: 5
Weight: Body

Front Squats
Reps: 5
Weight: 185 pounds

Ball Slams
Reps: 5
Weight: 30 pounds

15-metre Rope Pulls
Reps: 10
Weight: 90 pounds

Bench Press
Reps: 10
Weight: 175 pounds

Ball Slams
Reps: 10
Weight: 25 pounds

Pull-ups
Reps: 15
Weight: Body

Dips
Reps: 15
Weight: Body

Ball Slams
Reps: 15
Weight: 20 pounds

Resisted Fat Rope Pulls
Reps: 20
Weight: Body

Whip Smashes
Reps: 20

Jason’s Time: 23:53

Day 6: Running

Workout: Jason spends at least an hour running through the mountains.

Day 7: Rest

If you were able to complete this workout, you have earned a day (or week) of rest.

Hardly anyone actually enjoys leg day. But the results of skipping this grueling day can be TERRIFYING.

Beginning your leg days with curls is probably a sign that you are doing leg day VERY wrong. And I get it, leg days are hard, but skipping this brutal and vitally important day is a lot more noticeable than you think. For example, exhibit B:

And it would appear that more and more people are skipping this crucial day.

Celebrities aren’t immune to this phenomenon either it would appear.

Your body needs equal work on every part. This is not a foreign concept either. If you only work your chest, your back is going to suffer. If you only work your arms, your core is going to suffer. And even if you only work your legs, your upper-body is going to suffer terribly:

These guys are obviously doing something very right, otherwise they wouldn’t have so much muscle. BUT, they are doing something very wrong also. Find your balance and please, whatever you do, take a little advice from a wise sponge and don’t skip leg day.

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has become a worldwide workout/ health icon. Just take one look at the man and there’s no question that this guy is constantly motivated to be the best that he can be.

“The Rock” is a MASSIVE human being and when asked what keeps him motivated he had two answers: Gratitude and Hunger.

“I try and find a way to be grateful for every single thing I have every single day… the other thing is hunger. You always hear people say ‘Well it’s about being number one’, ‘about being at the top’, or how about this: “You’re always gonna find someone out there who’s gonna work harder.’ Well I don’t know that, that might be bullshit, BUT I know no one is going to be HUNGRIER than I am.”
-Dwayne Johnson via Instagram

This is the mindset that every man and woman needs to go into the gym with. Be grateful that you are able to get better and be hungry enough to want to get better.

Motivation is always hard to find, but I challenge you to watch how hungry Dwayne Johnson is and not feel the want, THE NEED, to reach your goals.

Ok, this is easily one of my favorite subjects because… well, come on.

We have entered the age where the booty reigns supreme among all assets and it is fantastic! If you want a butt that rivals Beyonce, any of the Kardashians, or booty God Jennifer Lopez, here are some easy ways to get yourself a glorious gluteus.

The number one way for anyone to get a beautiful booty is squats. Try doing 4 sets of 15 squats twice a day, and do your best to not wait longer than 2 minutes between sets. Single leg squats also do wonders for those buns. Simply shift your weight to your left leg and take a wide step out and squat in this position then do the same with the right leg. Squats really do it all, the whole butt is going to feel it. That’s a good thing.

This next exercise attacks the lower, looser part of the booty, thank god. Toe Taps: Lie on the floor with your arms on your sides. Lift your feet, bending both knees to 90 degrees so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Now slowly and quietly tap your left toes to the floor, then your right. Alternate tapping feet for one minute. If you feel any lower back pain, don’t bring your toes all the way down. If you’re doing this right, you will definitely feel it.

Finally, the Pile. This is a simple, no fuss, move that really works. In fact, it’s actually part of the Brazilian butt workout (if you want a better booty, you’re going to want to get on that). Here’s how it’s done: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing out. Bring your arms out straight in front of you and lower into a squat. Come back up and repeat. Go as low into the squat as you can without letting your knees move past your toes. Be sure to tuck your tailbone under and contract your glutes. Keep your torso tall, and don’t let your knees creep past your toes. Do for 1 minute. (After about 40 seconds, pulse at the bottom of the squat for 20 seconds.) This is fun and easy, and by God it gets results.

These three exercises are surefire ways to get your butt from flab to fab, and there’s no better time than now to tone that tooshie.

When it comes to working out and staying in shape, Chris Hemsworth is a prime example of work ethic and keeping routine.

Yet, even he says he can get bored in workouts that focus on just one singular group alone.

“My workouts are also about being diverse and mixing things up. It’s easy to get bored. If I’m doing arm day, I’ll work box jumps in between sets. By working in more cardio, you keep shocking your body and you prevent having problems in certain areas.”

It’s obvious that not everyone has the same genetics and physique as the 6’3” 210 pound God of Thunder, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to look and feel the best we can. Lifting and staying in shape shouldn’t be this constant routine of Back and Bicep or Chest and Traps, mix things up and keep your body on its edge. It takes a certain amount of discipline to play the role of the witty and cunning Thor, but to look the part is a whole other universe in itself.

Alongside intense workouts, Muay Thai, and surfing, Hemsworth continually eats right. For example, Luke Zocchi, a professional trainer and Hemsworth’s personal trainer says that he eats six times a day with “meals consisting of clean proteins, vegetables, and brown rice.” Diet is the main benefactor with working out, eating healthy and eating in a beneficial style towards your goal is what its all about.

If you’re looking for that first start towards the weight gain Hemsworth saw, here are a few tips for a person on a diet such as his: Sustain a high protein style of eating, for every pound of weight you should be eating 1 gram of protein (ex. 178 pounds = 178 grams of protein per day) and stick to things that sit well. Things such as brown rice and noodles are heavy in carbohydrates and calorie count, in addition throughout the day eat snacks such as nuts and peanut butter. If you’re really trying to gain weight, look into using a mass gainer style protein shake, a great one to use is GNC’s Bulk 1340. Continue those workouts and watch what you eat, results will be evident with the right kind of discipline and plan put in place.

The mere thought of looking like that is intriguing, but there has to be work and effort behind it, so stop making the excuse of “I can’t” and start doing what you’re fully capable of. Start small and short if need be, but in order to make headway you have to start somewhere. So in regard to starting your way towards God-like physique, Thor says it best:

“Do a workout in your living room. It’s really easy to jump online to find nutritional plans and workout routines and more. Ultimately, being fit is about motivation and action creates motivation.”

Mix up your workouts, keep your body in action mode, eat right and stop making excuses.

It’s no secret that actors and actresses will go through insane body transformations in order to look right for a role. We’ve seen this done by actors like Chris Pratt, who got SHREDDED preparing for his role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as Chris Hemsworth, who has started to look like the God of Thunder whether he is on screen or not. But when remembering these intense transformations, it is impossible not to mention Jake Gyllenhaal’s knock-out role in “Southpaw”.

Gyllenhaal has been known to submerge himself deeply into every role he takes, saying “When I set my mind to something I just won’t stop until I do it.” And “Southpaw” was not his first breathtaking body transformation either. In fact, just the year before Gyllenhaal’s boxing hit, he starred as a strange, nearly malnourished, ambulance chaser in the film “Nightcrawler”.

The star dropped nearly 30 pounds in order to look the part, trying to do it in the healthiest way possible, telling BBC “It affects your body, but I try to be as safe as I can.” His diet played the biggest influence in shaping his dangerously slender form, which mainly consisted of kale and tiny servings of meat and crackers.

After this journey came Gyllenhaal’s newest task: becoming a real boxer. “I didn’t know how to box when I started. I had five months to learn,” he said in an interview discussing his intense training, “I decided to train twice a day so it would give me an advantage, and it would seem like 10 months of training.” These two-a-days were no cakewalk either, starting with an 8-mile run before getting into the ring for the “real” workout.

“I did timed rounds of exercises, gradually increasing time as I improved… I started with jumping rope to increase my coordination, quickness, endurance, agility, and footwork speed. I then shadow boxed to warm up and get my rotations loose. I’d follow that up with 6 rounds of the heavy bag, 3-4 rounds of speedball, and 4-6 rounds of pads. Together, they helped improve my strength endurance, power, coordination, technique, and footwork. All rounds ran anywhere between 2-5 minutes depending on the day and what we were training. It was incredibly gruelling, but a lot of fun because we were constantly mixing things up.”
-Gyllenhaal on Bodybuilding.com

Aside from his boxing workouts, the Academy Award Nominee stays active outside of the ring as well. He maintained a steady combination of bodyweight lifts and weight-based lifts, working in “a lot of dips, pulls-ups, walking lunges, shrugs, deadlifts, crunches and squats,” as well as doing shoulder and bench press to ” add a bit of muscle mass.”

Spending six hours a day working out obviously helped Gyllenhaal get into fighting form, yet still he claims, “My look really came from my diet.” With an intense diet of at least six meals a day, eating every few hours, this should not come as a surprise. At this point you should realize, results come from what you put into your body, and Gyllenhaal proved that fact after revealing his diet:

“My diet would consist of lots of eggs, chicken, fish, bananas, apples, almonds, cacao beans, raisins, goji berries, rye bread, pasta, couscous and potatoes, and lots of steamed vegetables and salad: avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, and other dark-green leaves. Nothing was fried, and everything was as natural as possible.”

The movie star’s transformation is nothing short of jaw-dropping. To go from 30 pounds underweight to fight ready, adding about 15 pounds of muscle in just 5 months, is impressive to say the least, but not all of us have six hours a day that we can set aside to get in the gym. However, starting a routine of getting in the gym every day is the first step towards reaching your goal. Establish that habit, eat right, and stay committed.

Watch this video to see just how Jake Gyllenhaal did it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=103&v=uIZ6SDCuYkY

Building a muscular physique isn’t incredibly difficult, but it requires you to take the time to learn exactly how each muscle is structured.

Now, it’s not as simple as moving a bunch of weight, but that’s definitely part of the equation.

To get the best results possible, you must understand your muscles’ biomechanics and fiber type composition. This allows you to know how many reps you should do, at what frequency, and what amount of rest is appropriate for optimal growth.

Unfortunately, many lifters don’t apply this knowledge to specific muscle groups and rely on doing sets of (on average) 8-12 reps during their entire workout. This is a mistake because every muscle is different than the next, and its composition requires you to make changes depending on what you’re working out.

Fiber Types
There are at least three different types of muscle fiber. In order of increasing contraction speed, increasing force production and decreasing resistance to fatigue, you have type I, type IIa, and type IIb fibers.

Type I fibers are slow-twitch and type II fibers are fast-twitch.

Below is a chart showing you the difference in these fiber types:

Muscle fiber type composition is largely genetically determined and has very important muscle-specific training implications. Fast twitch fibers respond best to relatively low volume, long rest intervals, high intensity and low frequency. Slow twitch fibers, in opposition, respond best to relatively high volume, short rest intervals, low intensity and high frequency. Perhaps most importantly, fast twitch muscle fibers have significantly greater growth potential than slow twitch fibers.

The fiber type composition of each muscle varies per individual, but as with most physiological characteristics, people don’t differ that much. In the general population, differences in the percentage of slow twitch muscle fibers are normally below 5% and almost always below 10%. So, you probably aren’t that special in this regard, even though your momma said you were. As for muscle fibers changing from one type to another, getting old seems to be a factor (the percentage of fast twitch muscle fibers in your body starts to decrease after age 30), although some studies have shown high-intensity resistance training helps to prevent this.

Whatever the story, since weightlifters, powerlifters, bodybuilders, and sedentary populations differ less than 5% regarding the percentage of slow twitch fibers in their muscles, it’s unlikely that you need to take fiber conversion into account with your training. Also, the theory that high intensity (>90% of 1RM) is optimal for hypertrophy because it makes you more fast twitch and those fibers have the highest growth potential is false. Yes, getting stronger helps you get bigger as it enables you to put more stress on your muscles, however, it’s also important not to neglect your slow twitch fibers. In bodybuilders, equal hypertrophy of both fiber types has been found, in contrast to powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters, which show preferential hypertrophy of the type II fibers.

How Do I Know What Muscle Is What Fiber-Type?

Of course, this is all just theoretical if you don’t know the fiber type composition of your muscles. To solve this problem, some smart trainers – who for whatever reason, always seem to be French Canadian – came up with a test to find out how fast twitch a muscle is. This test is commonly known as the 80% test. In short, you find your 1RM for an exercise that isolates a specific muscle and then test how many reps you can do with 80% of that. If you can do less than 8, the muscle is fast twitch dominant. If you can do more than 8, it’s slow twitch dominant.

The upside of this test is that it’s individualized. The downside is that it’s impractical. I don’t know of anyone that uses it systematically because you need to find an exercise for each muscle that really isolates it, meaning it’s probably hard to do a 1RM with that particular exercise (ever do a 1RM fly?). You also can’t overcome neural factors. Bad technique or an inefficient nervous system will cause you to underestimate your 1RM and make you look more slow-twitch than you really are. You can use exercises like front squats and dumbbell bench presses to get a general idea of your fiber make-up, but it’s far from perfect.

Chest Exercise

For pressing movements, the more you flare your elbows out to the sides, the better. This internally rotates your shoulders and makes the exercise involve more transverse shoulder flexion and less (non-transverse) shoulder flexion, which is the movement that occurs during front raises and mainly targets your front delts. In agreement with Vince Gironda and TC, neck/guillotine presses are arguably the greatest pec exercise in existence. Benching like this is known to cause shoulder pain for some – not to mention decapitate the odd hapless pudknocker who erroneously assumed “Guillotine” was yet another French Canadian strength coach – so you may want to use dumbbells or not take the risk at all.

An underrated exercise that doesn’t mess up your shoulders while still really hitting the pecs is pronated grip fly’s. Most people do fly’s exclusively with a neutral grip, but the pectoralis major is stronger when the shoulders are internally rotated, so a pronated grip is superior for chest stimulation.

You can do this with dumbbells, but dumbbell fly’s have a resistance curve that doesn’t match the human strength curve (no tension at the top) and going too deep can compromise the shoulders. As such, I prefer cables. If your gym doesn’t have attachments that allow for a pronated grip, like straight handles or short ropes, you can just grip the hooks (attachments are for pussies, right?) or pull straps through the hooks and grip the straps.
As for the optimal amount of reps to use for chest exercises, use relatively low to medium reps.

Triceps

If you understood the section about the chest, you know why benching like most powerlifter isn’t optimal for chest development. Powerlifters often don’t have the biggest pecs, but their triceps are usually monstrous (Dave Tate, anyone?).

This isn’t only due to the biomechanics (arched back, elbows tucked, J-curve) of the powerlifting bench press that emphasizes the triceps over the chest, but also the triceps’s fiber type composition.

Accordingly, it’s best to use relatively low reps the majority of the time. There’s one more thing you should know about the triceps – it consists of three heads (long, lateral and medial) and the long head is biarticulate, meaning it crosses the elbow and the shoulder joint and helps to extend and adduct the shoulder (move your arm down and towards your body). That means it enters ‘active insufficiency’ when it has to function as an elbow extensor while the shoulder is adducted or extended.

Shoulders

As you probably know, there are three deltoids – the anterior, lateral, and posterior head of the shoulder.

By the way, there is no such thing as a ‘medial head.’ In anatomy, medial refers to ‘near the middle of the body,’ whereas the correct term, lateral, refers to ‘the outside of the body.

The terms are commonly confused and understandably so, but they’re in fact opposites, not synonyms. Terminology isn’t the only thing that’s misunderstood about shoulder training. Many people use completely unbalanced shoulder programs. Gundill (2002) noted that bodybuilders have front delts that are on average five times bigger than sedentary people. But their lateral delts are just three times bigger and their rear delts a mere 10 to 15 percent bigger.

This isn’t surprising, given that many people do horizontal and vertical pressing on top of shoulder work – and their shoulder work isn’t balanced to begin with.

This is partly due to the misconception that side raises are a good isolation exercise for the lateral deltoid. They’re not, unless you modify the exercise. During abduction, as in a side raise, taking the force generated by the lateral deltoid as 100%, anterior deltoid force is approximately 75% and supraspinatus force is 25%. That means the supraspinatus (another rotator cuff muscle) and the anterior deltoid together produce as much force as the prime mover, the lateral deltoid.

How To Train JUST The Middle Shoulder

Decrease the amount of shoulder flexion (raising your arm as in a front raise). You may have heard that it’s safer to do side raises in the ‘scapular plane’ which is about 30° to the front, and this is correct, but that means it becomes a front raise. The same goes for not fully extending the elbow. Yes, it’s easier on the elbow joint, but you should still aim for 99% extension. This should be sufficient to keep the stress on the muscles instead of the elbow. You want the weight to be in a line that extends straight from your lateral deltoid. This means it’s better to do the exercise on an incline bench.

Try an angle between 15 and 60° incline. The lower the angle, the more you also involve the posterior deltoid.

Doing side raises on an incline brings me to another factor to increase lateral delt activity, range of motion. The first 30° or so degrees of abduction are produced primarily by the supraspinatus, after which the lateral deltoid becomes the prime mover. Now, that’s not a bad thing, because the supraspinatus needs training as well, but it does mean you need to control the motion at the top. If you’re one of those yahoos that yank the weight to the side and then duck under it, you’re just straining your supraspinatus instead of training your lateral delts.

If you do the exercise on an incline bench (face into the bench), you can’t duck under it, and can focus on muscle activity instead.

There’s one more very important factor that determines shoulder muscle activity – shoulder rotation (just like with the pecs). The more you internally rotate your shoulder during shoulder flexion and abduction, the more you involve both the lateral and the posterior head, and the less you involve the anterior head. However, during horizontal shoulder abduction, as in a reverse fly, externally rotating your arm actually increases lateral deltoid activation at the expense of the posterior deltoid. So for lateral and posterior deltoid training, I advocate extending your elbow very close to fully, not using the scapular plane, and internally rotating your shoulder.

These technique adjustments increase middle delt stimulation, but also decrease subacromial space width and increase impingement risk, so take care if you have shoulder issues. Also, you can counter these problems somewhat by retracting your scapulae.

The thing is, shoulder impingement is mainly a concern if your shoulders aren’t structurally balanced to begin with and these exercises ameliorate that situation, so it’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg scenario. Additionally, I recommend doing shoulder isolation work on an incline, which is generally easier on the shoulder. As for the posterior delts, besides internally rotating the shoulders during reverse flys or low incline side raises, you can train them with any type of pulling motion, such as rows or face-pulls, that hyperextend the shoulder (bring the elbow behind the body). The lats and the pecs can’t extend the shoulder beyond anatomical position, so the posterior deltoids then become the prime movers. For front delts, the front raise in the scapular plane with the shoulder externally rotated is a decent, risk-free front delt exercise.

Unless you’re not doing any overhead pressing work, I don’t think you need any front delt isolation work though, especially not until your shoulders are structurally balanced.

Speaking of structural balance, to train the external rotators, I recommend face-pulls with an underhand grip. Be sure to pull the rope all the way against your face. If you want to isolate the infraspinatus and teres minor, do side-lying external rotations. They produce the greatest EMG activity of most external rotation exercises and allow for full ROM. Remember though, reverse flys also train all the external rotators, so unless you have trouble activating the infraspinatus and the teres minor, it’s generally sufficient to just do those and face-pulls. As for reps, all scapula-humeral muscles are actively involved in maintaining posture and stabilizing the shoulder during practically every upper body movement. As such, they can be expected to have a high work capacity and are correspondingly around 60% slow-twitch dominant.

This goes for the entire shoulder girdle, with one curious exception – the infraspinatus provides some oomph for the external rotators and is fast twitch dominant by a small margin.

Hopefully this information helps you when it comes to optimizing your workout. Don’t just do the standard 10 reps, and move on. Know what every muscle in your body needs to grow!