Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to Make Incline Curls More Effective

www.ironmanmagazine.comQ: I’m a big believer in your Positions-of-Flexion workouts. I have gotten more growth with that [three-exercise approach] than with anything I’ve tried. One exercise I often have a problem with is incline curls [the stretch move for biceps]. Is there a substitute?

A: Thanks for the POF props. A lot of trainees find the simplified three-way full-range approach a logical way to build more size and muscle fullness. It’s an efficient method of training a muscle completely with just a few moves. You get muscle synergy, stretch overload, continuous tension and occlusion and anabolic hormone release as well as full-range fiber activation.

As for your question, there is no other curling exercise that has you start the action with your upper arm angled down from and behind your torso. When your arm is straight in that position, the biceps is stretched over the shoulder joint, so it’s elongated for unique fiber activation and anabolic stress. Here are a few tips to make incline curls more effective:

1) Try different bench angles. The lower you set the incline, the more stretch you will get; however, too low and you can put too much stress on the shoulder joint. Try lower angles and higher angles to see what feels best—just be careful and don’t jerk or heave the ’bells to get them moving.

2) Wedge your elbows. Some trainees don’t feel the exercise because their elbows are free to move. If the bench you use is wide, you can angle your forearms out and use the sides as elbow supports. If that’s not possible, you could have your partner use his or her hands to keep your elbows stationary.

3) Keep your upper arms still. A lot of trainees allow their upper arms to drift forward as they curl. That decreases biceps tension and activates the front-delt heads. Keep your upper arms perpendicular to the floor throughout the set, and only curl the dumbbells to the point at which your elbows are bent slightly above 90 degrees.

4) Curl with your palms facing forward. If you allow your palms to turn inward, you relieve stretch on the biceps at the bottom.

5) Cock your wrists back as you curl. In other words, as the ’bells are moving up, allow a break in your wrists so your hands are angled back toward the floor.

For those unfamiliar with POF, a full-range biceps routine is standing curls (midrange), incline curls (stretch) and concentration curls (contracted). [Note: For other POF bodypart routines as well as complete workout programs, see the official POF mass-building manual, 3D Muscle Building, available at the X-Shop at]

Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on the POF DVD and Size Surge programs, see the ad sections in this issue. Also visit  and for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books.  IM


Salt From Seaweed

www.ironmanmagazine.comThe Japanese have believed in seaweed’s health benefits practically forever—and it is a rich source of iodine; vitamins A, B, C and D; and magnesium.

According to the November/December ’10 Well Being Journal, it also has 26 times the calcium of milk. Other attributes highlighted in the item, titled “Pass the Seaweed,” include its ability to “reduce tumor growth and arterial plaque formation” as well as its “fat-burning effects.”

Those benefits have led researchers in England to develop a salt substitute that is actually seaweed crystals. Watch for it.


[If you want to lose body fat faster, check out these 5 tips to Burn Stomach Fat the smart and effective way.]




NAC and other Major Muscle-Enhancers• N-acetyl cysteine is an amino acid that acts as a decongestant, boosts immune response and serves as a powerful detoxification agent. One of its key features is its ability to assist in the production of glutathione, the body’s most dynamic antioxidant and free-radical scavenger. There is evidence that this water-soluble nutrient can also help support lean muscle development.

Researchers contend that NAC’s ability to boost glutamine in the bloodstream accounts for its ability to prevent muscle breakdown. Additionally, new information shows that NAC supports cell-volumizing activities, such as increased protein synthesis for lean-muscle development.

Kinscherf, R., (1996). Low plasma glutamine in combination with high glutamate levels indicate risk for loss of body cell mass in healthy individuals: the effect of n-acetyl cysteine. J Molec Med. 74(7):393:400.

Droge, W., et al. (1998). Role of cysteine and glutathione in signal transduction, immunopathology and cachexia. Biofactors. 8(1-2):97-102.

[Are you looking for health, muscle and the amazing anti-aging benefits of resistance training? Get the new e-book by Steve and Becky Holman, Old School, New Body. Read the Iron Man magazine review here.]

• Vanadyl sulfate is derived from the mineral vanadium and has been found to mimic the actions of insulin. It’s also revered for its ability to promote vascular pumps, adding fullness and hardness to muscles.

Vanadyl sulfate’s ability to mimic insulin also indicates that it will help drive nutrients such as protein and carb into muscle tissue much more efficiently. That was shown by a scientist who reported in the medical journal Diabetes that vanadyl sulfate has the ability to increase creatine uptake by muscle cells. That action can stimulate increase protein synthesis and cell volumization and refuel spent muscles.

Radda, G.K., et al. (1996). Control of energy metabolism during muscle contraction. Diabetes. 45(1):88-92.


• While many amino acids assist in protein synthesis, beta-alanine increases the intramuscular concentration of the amino acid carnosine, a buffering agent. During workouts, muscle pH levels decline, increasing acids that trigger inflammation and fatigue. By increasing carnosine levels in working muscles, beta-alanine can buffer muscle acidity, enabling you to extend sets for more fiber activation.

In recent studies, taking four to six grams a day for 10 weeks showed average increases of intramuscular carnosine of 58.8 percent. The results also indicate that after four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation, workload capacity increased by 13 percent, with an additional 3.2 percent improvement in resistance-trained bodybuilders. Those results clearly show that beta-alanine delays fatigue and speeds recovery.

Tallon, M.J., et. al., (2005). The carnosine content of vastus lateralis is elevated in resistance-trained bodybuilders. J Strength Cond Res. 19:725-729.

Hill, C.A., et. al. (2007). Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high-intensity-cycling capacity. Amino Acids. 32(2):225-233.

—George L. Redmon, Ph.D.


Oksana Grishina – Iron Man’s Swimsuit Spectacular

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[If you want to lose body fat faster, check out these 5 tips to Burn Stomach Fat the smart and effective way.]



Direct Hit First for a New Muscle-Mass Burst

IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #679:
Direct Hit First for a New Muscle-Mass Burst


Direct Hit First for a New Muscle-Mass Burst

Q: I’ve been following your Pre-Ex 3X discussion in the e-zine. I’m able to do it with stiff-arm pulldowns supersetted with undergrip pulldowns because I don’t have to change exercise stations. My lats feel incredibly worked and pumped. I want to do it for every muscle group, but I’m in a big gym with lots of people. What do I do about supersetting the exercises that are stationed far apart, like leg extensions and squats? Also, how do I use one-arm exercises like concentration curls or one-arm pushdowns in a Pre-Ex superset?

A: You can solve both of those problems with one simple solution: Modified Pre-Ex…

We mentioned that in a previous e-zine on arm training–and there’s a complete Modified Pre-Ex 3X program in that pre-ex e-book (pages 36-39). It outlines the method for EVERY bodypart plugged into The Ultimate Mass-Building Split. But you can probably figure out modified pre-ex routines for each muscle group if you’re familiar with Positions of Flexion

For modified pre-ex you simply do a 3X sequence of a single-joint CONTRACTED-position exercise first. For example, if you’re doing quads, you hit leg extensions first, so your routine would look like this…

Contracted: Leg extensions, 3×10
Midrange: Squats, 3×10
Stretch: Sissy squats, 4×10

Remember, for each exercise you start with a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again. You may want to do a 4X sequence on leg extensions–or even 5X. It’s up to you. Obviously, the more sets you do, the more you will pre-fatigue your quads for squats.

Of course, you can’t use as much weight on squats, but that’s a good thing–less danger and spine compression. Plus, just like with pre-ex supersets, you’ll feel the target muscle much better on the second compound exercise in a modified pre-ex sequence. In other words, your quads will be screaming on squats when you do 3X leg extensions first…

The same modified pre-ex solution applies to one-arm and one-leg movements. For example, if you want to do one-leg calf raises to start your calf routine, simply do 12 reps with your right leg, then 12 with your left, then back to 12 for your right and so on until you complete 3 rounds. After a 40-second rest, move to loose-form leg press calf raises as your compound exercise–3×10. Great pump, wicked burn. Then finish with donkey calf raises for stretch…

For arms, start your biceps with concentration curls–back and forth for three or four rounds. You can start triceps with one-arm pushdowns, driving your arm back behind your torso on each rep for a killer contraction…

Modified pre-ex is a good substitute for pre-ex supersets. And if you’re able to superset, you can still use modified pre-ex as a variation for more mass creation every so often–as well as the standard 4X mass method with the normal Positions-of-Flexion exercise order–midrange, stretch, contracted.

Till next time, train hard–and smart–for BIG results.

New Release: The Pre-Ex 3X e-book is available at It contains 3 complete programs–pre-ex supersets, modified pre-ex and home-gym–along with how to integrate Rest/Pause 4X and Drop Set 4X–plus you get the Ultimate Mass-Building Split. The official Positions-of-Flexion mass-building e-book is 3D Muscle Building, available at the X Shop.

–Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

LIMITED-TIME $19.99 BEST-SELLERS: We’re offering each of these at their lowest price ever to get you big and ripped by spring. Click on the title you’re interested in for more info…

1) The 4X Mass Workout–fast, simplified supersaturation training for X-treme size

2) The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout–the latest update to our original X e-book

3) The X-centric Mass Workout–the negative-accentuated training manual

4) The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout–total body transformation training

5) X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts–10 complete mass programs

6) X-traordinary Arms–includes the 3D HIT workout system with big-arms routines

7) 3D Muscle Building–the original Positions-of-Flexion mass-training manual

8) X-treme Lean—Fat-Burning and Nutrition Guide (with training too)

9) The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout

10) The X-traordinary Size Surge Workout

11) The Ultimate 10×10 Mass Workout

12) Eric Broser’s FD/FS Mass-Shock Workout

Latest release: The Pre-Ex 3X Mass Workout—Plus Drop-Set 4X, Rest/Pause 4X and the Perfect Mass-Building Split. Merges the pre-exhaustion muscle-size method with 4X style mass training. 3 complete programs, including modified Pre-Ex 3X, no supersets required. Also, how Mike Mentzer used pre-ex and how you can alter it to get massive gains without anabolic steroids or overtraining–just BIG gaining.

NEW: The X-traordinary SIZE SURGE Workout, Jonathan Lawson’s legendary two-phase mass program that packed 20 pounds of muscle on his frame in only 10 weeks. See all the changes he made to the original workouts, transcribed from his training journal. In printable templates so you can duplicate his incredible gains. You also get his eat-to-grow diet and streamlined no-frills supplement schedule, anabolic acceleration methods and loads of tips and tricks. Plus, an interview with a top-level bodybuilder who trains Size Surge style for incredible growth.

Newbies: If you’re a beginning bodybuilder, coming back from a layoff or a trainer who trains beginners, our new e-book, Quick-Start Muscle-Building Guide, is for you.

To follow the ITRC training program in “Train, Eat, Grow,” get a copy of the latest issue of IRON MAN.

This Special Report was submitted by Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman.
The IRON MAN Training & Research Team

The ITRC Training Newsletter is not intended as training advice for everyone. You must consult your physician before beginning any diet or training program. You may forward this email to as many friends as you want, but do not photocopy or reprint this report in any format without the written permission of the copyright holder.


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All Content (c) Copyright 2012 IRON MAN Magazine
All Rights Reserved


Tip 424:Use BCAAs for Less Soreness and Greater Work Capacity

Take branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in large doses for less muscle soreness and a greater work capacity. A recent study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that taking BCAAs is a simple strategy for getting better results from training.

This study is important because it is one of the first to use a week-long “loading” period in which participants took 20 grams of BCAAs and then took bolus doses of 20 grams of BCAAs immediately before and after a fast eccentric training protocol. The exercise protocol included 100 drops jumps with a maximal effort rebound jump, which would normally produce significant muscle damage leading to delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Results showed that compared to a placebo group, the BCAA group reported much less muscle soreness and had lower biomarkers of inflammation, as measured by creatine kinase. Creatine kinase is commonly used to test muscle damage after hard training and elevated levels indicate damage to the sarcolemma of the muscle fiber, which cause enzymes to “leak” from the cell into the blood. Less creatine kinase indicates that the BCAAs helped maintain the integrity of cell membranes during training, leading to less damage and subsequent muscle soreness.

The BCAA group recovered maximal strength faster than the placebo group, indicating enhanced protein synthesis to restore function. The findings suggest that adequately supplementing with BCAAs is more beneficial for recovery and performance than other popular methods including cold water immersion, antioxidant supplementation, NSAIDs, and the use of nutritional interventions and ergogenic aids, such as taking creatine or caffeine.

Researchers stress that the key for better performance and rapid recovery with BCAAs is to take a large dose before and after training in order to increase the immediate pool of amino acids available for protein synthesis. The regular Poliquin readership is aware that the very BEST results will come if you also take BCAAs during training in addition to before and after. Why not provide the body with a consistent pool of muscle building blocks while you are trashing your muscle fibers?

To read more about how BCAAs can help you get results, check out The Benefits of BCAAs.
Howatson, G., Hoad, M., et al. Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage is Reduced in Resistance-Trained Males by BCAAs. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012. 9(20).

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Create Your Own Masterpiece of Muscle

www.ironmanmagazine.comI was looking for something in my basement the other day when I stumbled across some old photos and assorted notebooks and documents. There was a drawing I made when I was about 19 that represented what I hoped I would eventually look like. At that time I had competed twice, at about 160 pounds and not very lean at all. I had a long way to go.

What I find most interesting looking at it now, besides the fact that I wasn’t very good at drawing muscles, is that I didn’t “idealize” my vision of what I would look like. This wasn’t Lee Haney’s or Rich Gaspari’s body with my head (drawn proportionally too small, the size I wish my head was). Without realizing it, I kept my own bone structure and even the flaws and weak points. My shoulders, chest and legs were far more developed than the arms, which is along the lines of my own particular genetic strong and weak points. My torso was a bit long for my legs too, which is just the way my bone structure is.

So here I am more than 20 years later looking at the drawing, and it’s pretty close to the way I look dieted down now, more or less. It was about a 50-to-60-pound gain in lean muscle tissue over what I was then, but sure enough I built it eventually.

[Are you looking for health, muscle and the amazing anti-aging benefits of resistance training? Get the new e-book by Steve and Becky Holman, Old School, New Body. Read the Iron Man magazine review here.]

It got me to thinking about how amazing bodybuilding really is. There are a lot of ways to get in shape now, from P90X to CrossFit, Insanity and so many more. But no matter how many methods come and go, bodybuilding remains. Why is that?

Bodybuilding is different from anything else you can do in terms of exercise because it allows you literally to sculpt your body into what you want. Obviously, we are all working within our unique limitations. I mentioned bone structure, and that is something that can’t be changed. Danny DeVito and Kobe Bryant, for example, have two completely different types of bone structures.

We also have specific muscle belly lengths and shapes. If you have high calves, for example, no amount of calf raises are going to bring them down closer to your ankles. Once you build some mass on your biceps, you will find that they either have a peaked shape or they don’t. Each of us is the product of many, many previous generations of our ancestors and the traits they passed down, such as height, hair and eye color and skin color.

The wonderful thing, however, is that great bodies come in all shapes and sizes. If you work hard enough and long enough in the gym and are dedicated to eating well and getting enough rest, eventually you will look pretty impressive compared to the average person. Everywhere you go you will instantly be identified as someone who has put a great deal of time and effort into his or her physique.

It’s easy to focus on what you lack or that you don’t look like the guys and girls in the bodybuilding magazines. Instead, think about how far you’ve come from where you started and how you are getting closer and closer to that ideal vision you hold in your mind of the way you ultimately want to look.

Because we are in essence sculptors, we can target certain areas that will improve our proportions. Weak points can be given extra attention, and strong points can be maintained. Even certain parts of individual muscle groups can be targeted.

If your chest is decent but you lack thickness in the upper pecs, you do more inclines and less flat and decline work. If you need more outer-quad sweep, you can do leg presses and hack squats with a very close stance. Our bodies are works of art—we are the artist, and the work is always in progress.

That’s why it doesn’t matter how many trendy exercise systems there are or how many people are captivated by their flashy infomercials promising the body of your dreams in 30 or 60 days. To those who are way out of shape and need to lose fat and get some muscle tone, those systems are fine—but they will never take the place of bodybuilding.

You are unique as a bodybuilder. The next time you train, you’re not doing it to lose weight, “get in shape,” or anything so vague. You are a physique artist, and the weights are the tools you use to craft your personal masterpiece. I know I can’t wait to get back to work on mine. How about you?


Editor’s note: Ron Harris is the author of Real Bodybuilding—Muscle Truth From 25 Years in the Trenches, available at


Tip 423: Do a Needs Analysis to Best Train for Your Sport

Train for your sport by identifying the physical abilities and movements required to be successful. If you play a sport that favors power, strength, or speed over endurance, you need to do sprints and not long distance running. Even if you tap into the aerobic system, as with a sport like soccer, you will improve performance more and get in shape faster by doing sprint training than by doing endurance running.

A new study in the International Journal of Exercise Science compared a 5-week high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program with endurance running for improving endurance capacity in female collegiate soccer players. Endurance capacity was measured with maximal oxygen uptake and a shuttle sprint trial. Training consisted of two weekly sessions, and soccer players were split into a HIIT group in which they ran 5 maximal 30-second sprints with 4.5 minutes of recovery or an endurance running group in which they ran for 40 minutes at 80 percent of maximal heart rate.

Results showed that the HIIT group improved aerobic capacity more than the endurance running group, and the mean maximal oxygen uptake improved by 4.74 percent to 2.36 ml/kg/min in the HIIT group compared to a 3.42 percent improvement or 1.66 ml/kg/min in the endurance group. The HIIT group also performed better on the shuttle run, completing more shuttles in the allotted time than the endurance group.

Not only was HIIT better for preparing the players for the soccer season, it took less time (endurance running took 80 minutes weekly, whereas HIIT took 50 minutes weekly for the first 3 weeks, but for the final 2 weeks, rest periods were decreased from 4.5 minutes to 3.5 minutes, resulting in total training time of 40 minutes a week!). Plus, the players rated HIIT as more fun because of the competitive aspect of sprinting versus steady state running.

Previous studies reinforce the need for appropriate energy system training to succeed in your sport. Not only is endurance training less effective than intervals for improving aerobic capacity for sports, it compromises power and strength. For example, a 2008 study had Division 1 college baseball players do either endurance training at a moderate to high intensity or sprint intervals. Over the course of the season, the endurance group decreased peak power output by an average of 39.5 watts, whereas the sprint interval group improved power by an average of 210 watts!  

Take away the awareness that unless you are an training for an endurance sport like cross country, for example, you should not be doing endurance training. Identify the energy systems used for your sport and train accordingly, taking note that HIIT will improve aerobic capacity more than endurance training.

This applies to recreational trainees or people who want to lose fat as well: You must identify your goals and then perform training that will help you meet them. This may seem obvious, but every trainer has encountered frustrated individuals who are not losing weight despite doing lots of endurance exercise. There are still sport coaches and parents who will demand endurance running be performed to get athletes in shape for strength, power, and speed sports. Use this evidence to convince them otherwise. For more tips on getting your athletes ready to compete this fall, read Ten Tips for Producing More Strength and Conditioning Results with College Athletes.
Rhea, M., Oliverson, J., et al. Noncompatibility of Power and Endurance Training Among College Baseball Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2008. 22(1), 230-234.

Rowan, A., Kueffner, T., et al. Short Duration High-Intensity Interval Training Improves Aerobic Conditioning of Female College Soccer Players. International Journal of Exercise Science. 2012. 5(3), 232-238.

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Food Facts

www.ironmanmagazine.comSunflower seeds can build muscle. According to the March ’12 Better Nutrition, a handful, about a quarter cup, contains four grams of fiber and six grams of protein.

Apples may be good for digestion. According to the April ’12 Health, antioxidants in the peels appear to reduce inflammation of the digestive tract.

Fish oil does a body good, even your eyes. According to the November/December ’10 Well Being Journal, a recent study found that omega-3 fatty acids may siginficantly reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the primary cause of blindness in seniors.

Probiotics, beneficial bacteria found in yogurt, are primarily known for helping alleviate digestive problems. According to the Setpember ’11 Bottom Line Health, they have also recently been linked to improved immunity and a reduction in the severity of some autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. So if your joints hurt or your exercise-induced asthma is acting up, try some Greek yogurt, which is also packed with muscle-building protein, about 18 grams in only six ounces!

—Becky Holman


Should We Keep Changing Our Training?

www.ironmanmagazine.comYear’s ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger advised his followers to change their weight-training programs every six weeks. The idea was to shock the muscles, which were becoming acclimated to the current training program. The muscles would become sore when the program was changed, and Arnold liked the feeling of being sore. He believed that meant the workouts were more productive. Arnold has been such an influential character in bodybuilding and fitness that his opinion carried much weight, and the idea of changing routines became commonplace in most gyms. The question is, Does Arnold’s idea have any validity?

When we do any activity we are not accustomed to, we will experience sore muscles in the following days. It’s known as delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. If Schwarzenegger were at his seven-time Mr. Olympia peak and we took him bowling, he most likely would have become sore in the back and bowling arm. The DOMS would occur because he was not used to it, not because of the weight of the bowling ball or a lack of fitness or strength on his part. This soreness would not develop more muscle. It would resolve in about 72 hours. [Soreness lasting 96 hours or more is most likely an indicator of muscle damage or injury.]

[If you want to lose body fat faster, check out these 5 tips to Burn Stomach Fat the smart and effective way.]

Does simply making muscles sore again help development? Today’s athletes perform a great deal of weight and strength training. Most do not change their training programs every six weeks—the last thing they need is sore muscles that are at risk for injury—yet their muscular development is very good.

What about other components of training and fitness?  When I was a professional strength and conditioning coach, I was careful about introducing new exercises slowly to athletes who were in their 30s. The athletes were accustomed to training for their sport and their weight program a certain way. Changes could produce significant muscle soreness at a point when they could not afford to lose time in practice. New ranges of motion and new movement patterns could also expose a weakness that was actually fully functional in their sport.

Recreational trainees can run into the same types of problems.  A friend of mine who has more than 30 years of bodybuilding and weight training experience decided to change his routine and start walking stairs for cardio and leg work. The result? He started limping due to pain. An MRI revealed meniscus tears and another problem in his knee. He had been functional and pain free before walking the stairs. The problem was, he was no longer accustomed to walking stairs repeatedly and most likely aggravated existing meniscus tears that were not causing him any pain previously.

The change in the workout is not always beneficial. There are risks, and it is important to realize that the changes may not be benign.

There are ways to change the emphasis in a workout without shocking the muscle. One famed track coach (who also designed his sprinters strength programs) said he would never add or subtract an exercise during off-season or in-season training. He might, however, reduce the exercise in volume and intensity and have an athlete just perform one set of an exercise with light weight rather than eliminate it. That way, if he wanted the athlete to do more of the exercise, all he had to do was increase the weight and volume. There wouldn’t be any delayed-onset muscle soreness because the athlete had been performing the exercise continuously.

Part of the idea of continually changing routines is to avoid boredom in the gym. If you are a life-long trainee, you may find later in life that aches and pains appear when you try new exercises or some of the new fads. It may be best to alternate exercises that you know have worked for you in the past and use caution when adding brand-new ones after 20 or more years of training.

Train smart, then train hard.

—Joseph M. Horrigan


Editor’s note: Visit for reprints of Horrigan’s past Sportsmedicine columns that have appeared in IRON MAN. You can order the books, Strength, Conditioning and Injury Prevention for Hockey by Joseph Horrigan, D.C., and E.J. “Doc” Kreis, D.A., and the 7-Minute Rotator Cuff Solution by Horrigan and Jerry Robinson from Home Gym Warehouse, (800) 447-0008 or at www