This is a review of Daniel Martin's recent article titled "Want A Huge Body? Squat, Clean and Deadlift!". The article below is by Big Red and Anthony Church, famous writers on TeenBodybuilding.com.
Anthony Church: Analyze everything! No matter what you do in life, you must take the time to analyze everything. Become a discriminative reader, writer, and listener. Going through life you will hear, see, read, and write many things. Unfortunately a lot of this material is better off going in one ear and out the other with no interference from the brain. The source of the information is just as important as the information itself. A good rule to live by is never take anything at face value. Any time someone tells you something, you have to ask yourself… "Has this person seen this with his own eyes, has he experienced this, has he heard it or listened to it with his own ears, and if so what was HIS source of information?" By analyzing everything that comes in, you will save yourself a lot of time, money, aggravation, and tribulations. Your job from now on is to be like a vending machine. Take in the money and only if it is good, should you yield something for it or because of it. Otherwise the money should be spit back out for some other use that suits it better.
Big Red: There is a wealth of information on the Bodybuilding.com and TeenBodybuilding.com web sites. Some of this information is conflicting, and some of it is outright wrong. While many views expressed by writers I don't agree with, they do have their rights to express these views, however, I am disgusted by some of the techniques that certain writers endorse. No scientific evidence backs these techniques, and quite often is just the view of a child trying to be different. As one of the more experienced writers for this web site, I feel it is my job to evaluate and correct those poorly written articles that could not only cost people valuable time and muscle, but also get them hurt. Today, my partner, Anthony Church and myself are going to be doing just that by critiquing the article "Want a huge body? Squat, clean and Deadlift" by Daniel Martin.
Note: Quotes in italics are from the Daniel Martin article.
I'm sure you all have heard the phrase "you ain't squat unless you squat." To me, I would consider that true. I've seen guys in the gym literally killing their arms with bicep exercises, and won't gain an inch on there arms. That's because their main lifts pretty much suck. I would consider your main lifts squats, deadlifts, t-bar or barbell rows, and bench press. Doing any type of curl isn't really necessary for big arms, but I would recommend that you do some type of curls so that you are actually tearing down the biceps muscle. The reason why your biceps won't grow very fast by doing an exercise regimen taken over by curls is because your bicep is one of the most smallest muscles on your body, and nothing else is growing along with them. So then your biceps stay the same size as well. Just your Quads, Hams, and Glutes are at least 60-70% of your body's muscle. Your upper only has the pecs and delts, and the lats are the biggest of the upper body. I would consider your whole arm equal to your calves (your calves should be the exact same size of your upper arm to be 100% proportioned). So if your lower half grows your upper body is bound to grow along with it.
AC: "I've seen guys in the gym literally killing their arms with bicep exercises, and won't gain an inch on their arms. That's because their main lifts pretty much suck."
There are way too many independent variables to determine that the reason their arms don't gain an inch (which by the way is a pretty impressive gain) is because "their main lifts pretty much suck." That comment obviously was not well thought out and if it was, it deserves some serious criticism. Who is to say that the reason they aren't gaining an inch on their arms is because their main lifts "pretty much suck?" Maybe they are doing too many sets, too many reps, not getting enough rest, training too frequently, not training frequently enough, not eating properly, using incorrect form, or even not using enough or too much weight. These are only some of the variables that could be playing a part in this. In addition, you don't mention of anyone that kills their arms with bicep exercises and makes very impressive gains on their arms. The people in your example are few and far between. The vast majority of people that use bicep exercises to help increase their arm size are very successful, myself included. I am willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that more people see positive results, than negative or no results at all. There are many people whose "main lifts suck" yet their arms are impressive for their age, relative size, or even weight. Your "main lifts" are NOT a substitute for arm exercises that isolate the muscle.
"Doing any type of curl isn't really necessary for big arms."
First off, when he says "big arms" I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he meant biceps because curling motions don't work the "arms", they target the biceps. Second, who is to say what "big" arms are? To me, 17-inch arms are big. Then again, 21-inch arms are even bigger. To my little brother, 14-inch arms are big. Like many other things, big arms are only what an individual defines them as. If 14-inch arms are big to him, then he may be right, curls aren't necessary for "big arms." Curls are an isolation movement. The "main lifts" he talks about may work the biceps, but they are working them INDIRECTLY. They are not the primary muscles involved. To stimulate maximum muscle growth for the biceps, they must be ISOLATED, meaning they must be the primary muscle involved in the movement. Also, other than eccentric contraction, biceps play virtually NO role in two of his four "main lifts." In squats and bench press the biceps have little to no role other than eccentric contraction. If you are doing your deadlifts correctly, your biceps should also play very little role in the movement. To put it simply, your biceps are stimulated most effectively for growth when they are put under direct and isolated stress. To say "any type of curl isn't really necessary for big arms" is like saying any type of press isn't really necessary for big triceps.
"The reason why your biceps won't grow very fast by doing an exercise regimen taken over by curls is because your bicep is one of the most smallest muscles on your body, and nothing else is growing along with them. So then your biceps stay the same size as well."
I find it difficult to even make sense out of what he is trying to say here. Let me figure this out. Because, supposedly, no other muscles are growing along with your biceps, then your biceps are going to stay the same size? Wait; let me make sure I read it correctly. Yes, sure enough that is what he is saying. According to him, in order for your biceps to grow, you need other muscles to grow along with it. I don't think I really need to comment on the ignorance that stands behind that statement. My advice to you is, ignore that portion of his article all together.
"Your upper only has the pecs and delts, and the lats are the biggest of the upper body."
Well, last time I checked I had arms attached to my upper body. On them, there were biceps, triceps, and forearms as far as the basic muscles go. I haven't checked out my back lately but I could have sworn I had a trapezius muscle and spinae erecti last time I looked. There were a couple of smaller muscles too. They were called rhomboids, and the teres minor and major. Oh yeah, I had abs too, but according to Martin, all I have left are pecs, delts and lats. If anyone has seen the other muscles of my upper body please e-mail me and let me know. I need them to complete my package. I hope that this will not stop me from competing in the future.
"I would consider your whole arm equal to your calves (your calves should be the exact same size of your upper arm to be 100% proportioned). So if your lower half grows your upper body is bound to grow along with it."
This is funny. According to Martin, in order to be 100% proportioned your arms must equal your calves. I hope that is all that my proportionality is based on when I get on stage. That is just a drop in the bucket here though. The funny part comes when he says that because to be proportioned your calves should equal your "whole arm," your lower half of your body grows right along with the upper half. Are you following? I don't blame you if you're not. There is nothing to follow. His statement leads off in many directions. Direction one: to be "100% proportioned" your "whole arm" should equal your calves (I'm assuming he meant "calf"). Direction two: If your lower half of your body grows, the upper half is bound to grow with it. Direction three: The reason direction number two is true is because direction number one is true. Make sense? I would hope not because the fact is it shouldn't. What he wrote makes no sense and it is obviously thoughtless and not very well planned at all, to say the very least. Again, disregard his statements here.
BR: "So if your lower half grows your upper body is bound to grow along with it."
Have you ever seen guys in your gym with big upper bodies, but legs that resemble those of a marathon runner, or how about sprinters with enormous calves and thighs, but very little mass in the upper body? Daniel is saying here that so long as you train your lower body, your upper body will grow in proportion. If that was the case sprinters would have thick chests, wide backs, and huge arms, but we all know that's not true. The only way to make a body part grow is to train it. This is why people have lagging body parts.
How will you row 255 with some 13 inch biceps? How will you bench press 405 without having huge triceps? How will you deadlift 600lbs plus (without wraps) with 10 inch forearms? If you have not put squats in your routine please do so. You will grow so much faster than you would without them. I try to explain this to my school friends. The excuses are usually "they are too hard," "i have bad knees" or "I heard they do more bad than good." My answer is usually "OK then, stay small." As long you where a belt, wrap your knees, keep strict form, and don't go below parallel (when your thighs are parallel to the ground) you will be fine and you lower your chances of injury. But don't half rep it either. You should be able to squat your bodyweight X's 1 and a half for at least 20 reps or more. For instance Tom Platz could get under 315 and do 35 reps with it, and then after less than 60 seconds of rest do 25 more reps. If you really, truly have bad knees do the next best thing and that's either half squats or leg presses. I asked my friends dad which is a chiropractor about a couple of my friends having bad knees, and if they should be doing squats. He said "half squats are actually therapeutic on the knees, and doing heavy full squats puts less force on the knee than heavy leg extensions." Most people think the complete opposite of that. Then he said that leg presses are the next best thing from a squat. As for growth that goes. And as for the people who say that they are too hard. That's probably because you're trying to be superman, and lift more than you actually can. When you are in the gym you cannot have a big head, your ego hat on, or whatever you want to call it. Stick with your weight, and don't even pay attention to what other people are doing.
"You should be able to squat your bodyweight times 1 and a half for at least 20 reps or more."
I'm curious to know who should be able to do this. Should a novice trainer be able to do this? Or is this a goal to set for when you reach your height in lifting? I know I can't squat 1.5 times my body weight for 20 reps. I might be able to squat 325 for a single rep. This is a very broad statement to make, and could cause many injuries. What if a person has never squatted before, and decides to get underneath 1.5 times their weight. Chances are the bar will crush them.
Instead of training your legs for power you should train them for endurance because your legs are being used the whole entire day. Doing a bunch of 1-10 rep sets doesn't cut it for me. So, I get under 225 and do as many reps as possible which is usually 12-15 reps. Then put the weight on the rack for only 10-15 seconds and get back under it again. I continue to do this until I reach 100 reps and then squats are over. Let me forewarn you to keep a trash can near by if you plan to do squats this way. If I had a nickel for every time I puked in the gym I would have a shit load of nickels. You will feel your whole entire body fatigue and not just your thighs when you do squats this way. Ever since I have discovered training my legs like this my upper half has increased a lot. In July I didn't do one curl the whole month and put a 1/4 inch on my arms.
AC: "Instead of training your legs for power you should train them for endurance because your legs are being used the whole entire day. Doing a bunch of 1-10 rep sets doesn't cut it for me."
Here he is assuming that because you walk on your legs all day, you don't want them to be powerful. Not only that, you don't want them to be big either. He is pretty much telling you what YOU want YOUR legs to be. According to him legs should only be trained for endurance. Now if training your legs for endurance suits you, and for many it does, then by all means, train them for endurance. However, this is not to say that legs should not be trained for mass or power.
This is the most ignorant statement I have heard so far. As Anthony said, you should train your in a manner that will help you achieve your goals. If you want endurance, why would you squat? If you were training for endurance, wouldn't it make more sense to run? How many athletes who's sport entails running train for endurance by squatting? None, they squat for power, they run for endurance.
"So, I get under 225 and do as many reps as possible which is usually 12-15 reps. Then put the weight on the rack for only 10-15 seconds and get back under it again. I continue to do this until I reach 100 reps and then squats are over."
Maybe Martin has better endurance than the rest of us. I know for sure though that if the average person did a set of squats to failure at about 15 reps and then tried to do another set after 15 seconds he's not going to fail anywhere near that same number. And after 3 or 4 sets like this the average individual will be failing at around 2-3 reps, taking about 30 sets to get to 100 reps.
I also train with doing very, very, very heavy deadlifts and will definitely make every part on your body grow. On deadlifts I usually start by doing the bar for about 100 reps to get every joint and muscle limber. I max out on every night I do deadlifts to build lots of power in my body. After getting stretched and warmed up I do 25, 25, 20, 18, 15, 12, 10, 6, 1or2 reps with 60 second breaks except for the last one give yourself 3-5 mins and then max out. You might want to keep a trash can near by on this one too.
AC: Can you see what is wrong with what is written here? No, I'm not talking about his lack of grammatical skills. I'm talking about him repeatedly contradicting himself. He begins by saying he "trains with doing very, very, very heavy deadlifts" which is fine. Then he knocks himself down when he says that he starts "by doing the bar for about 100 reps." While warming up is definitely necessary and very helpful in preventing injuries, it does not need to be carried to all sorts of extremes. You should never go to failure on a warm-up set. If you do, it is no longer a warm-up set but rather becomes a working set. Also, conservation of energy is important when warming up. You do not want to be depleting your glycogen stores any more than you have to with your warm-up. You want to save your glycogen for your working sets when you really need it. A 100-rep warm-up is both ridiculous and unnecessary. He also states that he maxes out on every night he does deadlifts. Readers, please do not follow that advice. Because of the unnecessary stress put on your body when you "max out" it becomes unsafe to max out more than once a month or the week before a power-lifting event and again at the event itself. Maxing out every time you do an exercise can not only injure you in the long run; it could put you out for the long run.
BR: I'd also like to comment on this. There is no need to take a set of dead lifts above 7 reps. Dead lifts serve two purposes, the strengthen the lower back and to release growth hormone. By doing dead lifts above 7 reps you loose form risking injury and it becomes more of a cardio exercise then a strength and mass builder. Also, studies show that the optimal time of rest in between sets of intense compound exercises is 2-4 minutes.
And the last of endurance high rep training is clean and press. This exercise will bring you a broad shouldered Herculean look to your upper body. It includes the same movement as a deadlift except you must lift the weight over your head. I do high reps with this exercise just because it involves the legs, and forces your upper body to do another rep because your lower is not the least bit tired. I do 25 sets of clean and press, and the reps yoyo up and down. One set I'll do 50 reps and the next change the weight heavy enough to where I fail at 4 and the only break you get is when you change the weight.
BR: I have a real problem with the clean and press in a bodybuilding routine. I have a real problem with the clean and press in a strength training routine. The only place the clean a press deserves to be in a routine is that of an Olympic lifter. So why is it such a popular movement? According to Matt Bryzcki, the strength coach at Princeton University, during the 70's many pro-teams were looking for strength coaches. Because power lifting and bodybuilding wasn't as popular as it is today, they hired many Olympic lifters. Unfortunately, many of these people knew very little about lifting and gaining muscle size and strength. They simply knew how to perform their movements (the clean and jerk, over head press and snatch). These movements quickly morphed into what are today known as the clean and press. Unfortunately, the clean and press is very insufficient at improving strength, and takes a great deal of time simply to master the movement.
The clean and press is also dangerous and unproductive. One might argue that it improves explosiveness. That's bullshit. Explosiveness is how fast an athlete can react to a situation and then apply force. The clean and press uses too much momentum, which takes away from the amount of work the muscle's actually do. Imagine pushing a cart at a steady pace for 20 yards. Now, push the cart at a running start for 15 and then let it roll the last 5. See my point? Lifting any weight in a ballistic, explosive manner will open you to the possibilities of many injuries. I can't think of one exercise that requires more ballistic movements than the clean and press.
"I do 25 sets of clean and press, and the reps yoyo up and down. One set I'll do 50 reps and the next change the weight heavy enough to where I fail at 4 and the only break you get is when you change the weight."
This is just plain stupidity. If you are training for endurance, then keep your reps high and train for endurance. If you are training for strength, then keep your reps low, take longer breaks and train for strength, but to change your rep scheme so dramatically in such a short period of time, what good will that do? None, and chances are you are going to be so tired after doing 50 reps of clean and press, that the weight will crush you on the heavy set.
Now bench press, military press, and rows. I approach these exercises completely different because they are upper body exercises. You don't walk on your hands all day... do you?? I don't think so. So, I keep the reps at 8-12 on all three exercises with 25sets and 90 sec to 2 min breaks.
AC: I'd like to ask Martin who told him to train how you live and live how you train. Several times in his article, he alludes to the fact that you should be training your muscles the way you use them every day. He states that since you walk on your legs all day you should train them for endurance, and since you don't walk on your hands all day, you should not train them for endurance. This is simply not true. How you train your muscles is dependent on what you want your muscles to do, not on how you use them during the day.
This is how I do my off season training. It is completely all compound exercises for mass building, not muscle shaping. And I eat 6-7,000 calories a day, but that's another article. Here's my routine.
- Monday - 100reps of squats with weight you fail at 10-15 reps and 10-15 sec breaks
- Tuesday - 25 sets of T-bar rows 8-12 reps 90sec-2min breaks
- Wednesday - 9 sets of deadlifts with the following reps and breaks above
- Thursday - 25 sets of bench press 8-12 reps and 90sec-2min breaks
- Friday - 25 sets of clean and press vary the weight up and down in between sets like from 45 lbs to 165 lbs on every set but you need to put enough weight on and take enough off to fail at...let's say 4 and 20 reps
- Saturday - 25 sets of military press and 90sec-2min breaks
BR: Man, I am going to have a field day with his workout routine. Maybe there's a toxin in the 6,000 calories (unless you're on steroids, or are 7' 250, there is no need for that many calories) of food Martin consumes that breaks down brain cells.
First lets assume the majority of people reading this are natural training ecto-morphs. Not only would the amount of sets done each day lead to over-training, but there is so much overlap. You're working shoulders directly 2 days in a row with cleans and then military presses, add in indirect work from bench, and its three days in a row. You're back is being worked two days in a row with T-bar rows followed by dead lifts. Your legs are being worked 3 times a week with dead lifts, squat and then clean and press. Then he goes onto say work your biceps and triceps two times a week on top off all the indirect work they are getting.
I also wonder how anyone can perform 25 intense sets of bench press in under an hour. I do a total of 6 working sets for chest at maximum intensity and it takes me 45 minutes. Maybe Martin's not using any intensity at all.
This is a horrible routine and I do not recommend it to anyone.
At the end of Monday and Fridays workout do a few sets of any kind bicep and triceps exercise. Every workout should not go passed 45-50mins. I do not recommend this workout to people who are just starting out, people who can't get enough sleep, play other sports, or can't eat enough. I do recommend this to competitive or recreational bodybuilders for "BULKING UP" training not cutting up. If you do play other sports it is very hard to go to practice and give it your all after a workout like this one. I found it too hard to even get in my fullback position after a day of squats, and I fell, I mean literally fell onto my QB and took him straight to the ground, oh what a horrible day that was. So, I stuck to basic strength training the rest of the season. And to the people who say this is too much training in a weeks time I respect your opinion and the way you train, but this is the way I train.
AC: This has to be just about the worst statement he makes in his article. The amount of sets and reps he talks about in the article is, without a doubt, not the best way to get massive. To use his suggestions for that would be like driving your car without any wheels. The engine would get endurance work, but as far as you getting anywhere (representing size) you are out of luck. It is insane to believe that his sets of 100 reps plus are the most effective way to gain size. However, it might help you lose size. Moreover, if anything, he is backwards when saying, "not cutting up." If you were to use his advice, it would compliment weight loss much better than an increase in muscle mass.
BR: Expect to lose all your hard-earned muscle by following a routine like this.