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Q. What is the best way to add a nice, tall peak to my biceps? I've got pretty good mass, but I want some mountain peaks on those things.
A. The unfortunate reality is that there really is nothing you can do to add a "peak" to your biceps. The shape of your muscles is genetically predetermined and there is no way of "shaping" them or "sculpting" them. I cringe every time I hear people talking about shaping exercises, even IFBB pro Shawn Ray! All you can do is make them bigger or smaller. Stick to your basic bicep exercises like barbell and dumbbell curls, and then hopes that the gods of genetics were kind to you.
Q. If you had to pick one exercise as being the most important and crucial lift for bodybuilders, which one would you pick and why?
A. A lot of people would probably say squats on this one, but I think for overall body mass the deadlift cannot be beaten. It is such a simple lift yet can yield so many gains for lifters in all walks of the iron game. Arguably the most intense lift one can perform, deadlifts work from you finger to neck to toe. The basic idea is simple; stand up with a barbell without rounding your back.
But the wonders this simple movement can achieve cannot be overlooked. Deadlifts hit the quads and hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back, the entire back complex and just about everything else to some degree. If you aren't already dead lifting, start! As soon as I began taking them to failure, I ended up with stretch marks all over my body from rapid growth.
Q. Which is better for chest development, barbells or dumbbells?
A. I don't think there really is a "best" tool for developing chest. Barbells and dumbells both have their pros and cons, both of which I think cancel each other out. Using a barbell can sometimes be a problem on the rotator cuffs since the arms are on a fixed plane and cannot move naturally.
Dumbells allow the arms to move through a more natural range of motion. On the other hand, you will be able to handle more overall weight with a barbell. Some people might say that weight is not a factor, but I disagree. I believe that the more weight we use, the more overload we can achieve, and for this a barbell is better. For overall chest development, use a combination of barbells and dumbells.
Q. I've been bulking up for a few months and now it's time to cut down a bit, and also get rid of the spare tire I've put on my stomach. I've been doing 200 crunches every night, and a lot of work on the swiss ball. What are the best ab exercises for a ripped midsection?
A. Yet another all-too-common myth that plagues every gym across the continent, "spot reduction". I'd say this is probably the most misunderstood concept, and so many people fall victim to it. Let me clear this up once and for all to everyone who doesn't already know: YOU CANNOT TARGET FAT LOSS FROM A SPECIFIC AREA ON THE BODY! It simply cannot be done! The areas which fat is pulled from the body are controlled by your genetics and not by you! Resistance training will strengthen the muscles and connective tissue, and cardiovascular training will burn fat. It is that simple. Training the abs with resistance will not give you a flat midsection.
Q. How long should I rest between sets?
A. This varies from person to person. The bottom line is to rest until you are fully prepared for the next set and can give an all out effort. Never start another set unless you feel that you have fully recovered and that your strength will be at its peak. This will usually be anywhere from 2-5 minutes.
It also differs from lift to lift. After an all out set of deadlifts or squats, I'll usually need about 5 minutes to be ready for another set. On the other hand, I could be ready for another set of tricep pushdowns in as little as 2 minutes. All I can say is to listen to your body, because everyone is different.
Q. Thighs are probably my weakest bodypart and are lagging behind everything else. I need to increase their size to make my body proportionate, what would you recommend I do?
A. Some people simply have bodyparts that are genetically inferior and that will never grow at the same rate as other bodyparts. My weakest point is my calves, and they refuse to grow no matter what training technique I implement. For others it might be chest, lats, or thighs in your case. For overall thigh development, squats are the king.
They cannot be beat for overall lower body size, and will also help to gain size on the entire body because of GH release. If you are not already squatting, you must start. 2 other great mass builders for the thighs are leg presses and barbell or dumbbell lunges. For hamstrings, stiff legged deadlifts rule. Stay away from wimpy exercises like leg extensions or leg curls, or at least use them sparingly. Stick to the big compound movements, the tough ones that leave you dizzy and gasping for breath.
Squats: 2 x 6-8
Leg presses: 2 x 8-10
Stiff legged deadlifts: 2 x 8-10
Q. Is it okay to train certain body parts like calves and abs more often that other body parts? I usually train them twice a week.
A. I personally do not see the logic behind training a particular muscle group more often than another. Calves and abs are still muscles and need recovery time just like anything else. Stick to training everything once a week for optimal recovery time and growth.