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Increase Your Training Intensity - Pre-Exhaustion
By: Richard Mitchell

You can only build muscle tissue if you can generate progressively stronger muscular contractions, so this calls for an emphasis on finding ways to increase exercise intensity. This should not be confused with exercise duration as maximum training intensity will actually shorten the time needed to achieve maximal muscular growth.

In an earlier article I outlined the ways in which you can intensify your training. Here we'll focus on the role that pre-exhaustion has to play in intensifying the training effect.

When an exercise employs two or more muscles it will be impossible to achieve failure for the primary muscle as the weakest muscle will give out first. This is perhaps best explained by giving an example. When targeting the chest, most exercises involve use of the triceps which is a relatively small and weak muscle. When performing the incline bench press for example, the triceps will fail before the pectorals have the opportunity to work to failure thus limiting the value of the exercise.

How do you get around this? By first performing an exercise that isolates and tires the pectorals before immediately moving on to the main exercise. For maximum benefits there should be no rest between the pre-exhaust exercise and the main compound exercise.

Beginners don't need to worry about pre-exhaust routines but when they advance to intermediate level they can be introduced once a week for each body part.

Examples of pre-exhaust routines commonly performed by bodybuilders are listed below:

Biceps - barbell curls and close-grip, palms-up pulldowns.

Triceps - pressdowns and dips.

Pectorals - flyes and bench presses.

Lats - dumbbell pullovers and barbell rows.

Deltoids - dumbbell laterals and presses behind neck.

Traps - shrugs and upright rows.

Thighs - leg extensions and squats.

Richard Mitchell is the creator of the website that provides guidance and information to athletes at all levels of bodybuilding experience. Go to Bodybuilding Advice to learn more about the issues covered in this article.

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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