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Food Facts

7212-eat3Tea has multiple health benefits, specifically the green variety, but chamomile may be best for cancer prevention. According to the October ’13 Prevention, new research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that apigenin, a substance in chamomile, “attaches to key proteins and helps reprogram cancer cells so they lose the power to prevent their own death.”

Vitamin and mineral supplementation can improve mood, according to the May/June ’13 Life Extension. A meta-analysis published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine found that supplemented subjects had a 65 percent lower risk of perceived stress than those who got a placebo. They also had a 70 percent lower risk of mild psychiatric symptoms and a 73 percent reduction in fatigue.

Broccoli is one of the best cancer-fighting veggies around—but go for fresh over frozen. According to the October ’13 Prevention, frozen broccoli lacks the enzyme myrosinase, “which helps create an antioxidant that fights inflammation and cancer.”

Nuts may help fend of diabetes due to their high fiber, fat and protein contents. According to the November ’12 Bottom Line Health, a study found that subjects who ate a one-ounce serving of nuts at least five times a week were almost 30 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who rarely or never ate nuts.

—Becky Holman


Straight-Arm Pulldowns

The most dedicated trainees are always looking for exercises to target muscles from different angles and to reach parts of the muscles that they think are not being trained well. That thought process led to a fairly simple exercise known as the straight-arm pulldown, a movement that should not be a cornerstone of your workout but that can be included when you have the time.

To perform straight-arm pulldowns, stand in front of the pulldown machine. You can use a long pulldown bar or a shorter straight pushdown bar. Takes a shoulder-width or a slightly narrower grip on the bar with your palms facing down. Your arms should be straight, and the bar should be slightly above shoulder height or at face height. While maintaining the straight-arm position, pull your arms all the way down until your palms are facing your thighs.

This exercise works the teres major (“upper lat”), the latissimus dorsi (“lat”), the long head of the triceps and the posterior deltoid (“rear delt”). Unlike a straight-arm pullover done on a bench, the top range of motion on the straight-arm pulldown is more limited. Another difference is that the straight-arm pulldown is a weight-bearing exercise, while the pullover—because you’re lying on a bench—is nonweight bearing. So on the pulldown your abdominal muscles have to contract isometrically to keep your torso from leaning backward due to the weight. Just be aware that the straight-arm pulldown does not lend itself to heavy weight. The levers are too long due to the straight-arm position.

Many trainees like to finish their back workouts with this exercise. By then the accessory muscles for rowing and traditional pulldowns—including the biceps and brachioradialis—are fatigued. The upper and lower lats may be able to perform a little more work, but the smaller arm muscles can’t. So by bypassing the biceps and brachioradialis and using the long head of the triceps, you can do more work for your back. A traditional three or four sets of high reps should do. Again, you won’t be able to go heavy.

All exercises have risks and benefits. We often refer to this in health care as the risk-benefit ratio. In other words, what do we gain and what do we risk, what’s the likelihood of each, and, finally, is it worth it? Many people have injured a particular ligament on the inside of the elbow. The ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL, is stretched or torn from too much throwing and from any stress that would bow the elbow inward. Unfortunately, the straight-arm pulldown is one of those movements that can stress the ulnar collateral ligament.

A truly straight elbow position locks the elbow somewhat and reduces the amount of load on the UCL; however, if the UCL is sore or hurts, straight-arm pulldowns will generate elbow pain. Luckily, the shoulder shouldn’t have any pain from this exercise, but if the cartilage ring surrounding the socket, the glenoid labrum, is torn, the range of motion of the straight-arm pulldown can stress the labrum and aggravate an already torn one. If you have clicking and pain in your shoulder during straight-arm pulldowns, stop. If you have inner-elbow pain during the exercise, then it’s simply not for you. If you injured your elbow recently, you may be able to wait a few months and try straight-arm pulldowns again.

Train smart, and then train hard.

—Joseph M. Horrigan


Editor’s note: Visit www.SoftTissueCenter.com for reprints of Horrigan’s past Sportsmedicine columns that have appeared in IRON MAN. You can order the book 7-Minute Rotator Cuff Solution by Horrigan and Jerry Robinson from Home Gym Warehouse, (800) 447-0008 or at www


Q&A: Train Like Zane, and 21s for Big Guns

7211-train4Q: Were you a fan of Frank Zane’s when you were young?

A: Zane was my favorite bodybuilder when I was at the zenith of my obsession with bodybuilding in the 1970s. Schwarzenegger also made a huge impression on me then, as did a few others of the era, but it was Zane who made the greatest mark.

I admired Zane’s physique, but I also liked his demeanor, intelligence and scholarly attitude. Although he didn’t have the genetics for size that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva and Bertil Fox (three of the biggest bodybuilders of that era) did, Zane was still tremendously impressive—an exceptionally aesthetic package of size, definition, symmetry and presentation.

I trained as Zane reportedly did but without success. Although Zane didn’t have super-duper genetics for muscle size, he still had exceptional genetics for bodybuilding—and all of those men had assistance from bodybuilding drugs. So even Zane was able to prosper while using training volume and frequency that were ineffective for most bodybuilders.

It took me years of frustration and struggle before I learned the big lesson that bodybuilders must train in a way that’s appropriate for them if they are to make good progress. What Frank, Arnold, Sergio and Bertil did worked for them, but don’t conclude that it will work for you.

For genetically normal, drug-free bodybuilders the sort of training that I promote is much more effective because it’s appropriate for most people—both in terms of the genetic makeup of most people and the gym time required. Two or at most three visits to the gym each week—my recommendation—is much more practical for most people than six or more visits, which is what Zane and Schwarzenegger did in their prime.

Q: What is the 21 routine for biceps?

A: It involves doing three groups of seven reps per set—to produce a total of 21 reps per set, but there are variations on the way the sevens are done.

Here’s one classic example: Take a barbell with about half the weight you’d normally use for a set of six to eight curls. Curl up to the halfway point, and then do just the top half of the curl stroke for seven half reps. Then, without any rest—and using the same poundage—lower all the way down and do seven bottom-half reps. Then, without changing the poundage, immediately do seven full-range reps.

It’s the final dose of seven that’s the toughest. Unless you get the first two doses of seven reps with reps to spare, you won’t have a hope of getting the final dose.

Find the weight that enables you to just squeeze out the full 21 reps. You may need several trial-and-error efforts to find that poundage. Rest more than five minutes between the test sets. Once you have the right poundage, that’s the weight for your first work set. Start the routine proper a few days later.

Do the 21s for three full sets—three sets of 21s—as your entire biceps workout, with three minutes of rest between sets. You’ll need to reduce the weight for the second set and again for the third set to keep your reps up at 21, but drop it just enough to enable you to squeeze out your target reps. Do that for five successive weeks of two biceps workouts per week—Monday and Thursday, for example.

Give your all to making a little progress at each workout—a smidgen of extra resistance while keeping up the full 21 reps per set. Keep accurate records of each set so that you know what you have to beat next time—all in correct exercise form, of course. Do just enough work for the rest of your physique to maintain your development there—the minimum.

Most people will probably find it easier to add a smidgen of weight—no more than one pound—to a barbell, than half a smidgen to each of two dumbbells. So barbell curls may be more suited to 21s than dumbbells, but dumbbells will still work, provided you can add a very small amount of weight at a time to the dumbbells. If you do use dumbbells, be sure you fully supinate your wrists  in order to involve your biceps completely .

After you’ve done the 10 workouts of 21s, return to regular sets for a couple of months, and then do another burst of 21s.

Are 21s effective? I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that they are when used for occasional short periods, although they didn’t help me when I tried them. That said, I overdid it when I tried them. Had I done no more than three sets of 21s twice a week and no other biceps work during that period—and had I not overdone training for the rest of my physique, perhaps the 21s might have helped me. Give them a try yourself, and see.

—Stuart McRobert



Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new BRAWN series, Book 1: How to Build Up to 50 Pounds of Muscle the Natural Way, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or www

Before or After?

7212-eat8What’s the most important meal of the day? If you answered, “Breakfast,” then you need to take a remedial course in sports nutrition.

The classic work by Paul Cribb, Ph.D., showed that taking the identical supplement—protein, carbs and creatine—before and after exercise was more effective in promoting gains in muscle and strength than taking it in the morning and evening.1 Clearly, timing matters!

Even so, I find it amusing that many arm-chair experts expound in their inane blogs about how several studies show no effect of nutrient timing—meaning that there are some studies in which taking in a protein-and-carb or whatever combination supplement around the peri-workout window is no better than just eating your regular meals. To that I say no sh#$.

If you’re looking for unanimous agreement of data showing that any strategy works 100 percent of the time, the field of scientific inquiry isn’t for you. Instead, join a monastery, where absolute truth is taught. Heck, there are studies showing that creatine doesn’t always have an ergogenic effect. Does that mean you shouldn’t take it?

What is clear is that consuming nutrients around the peri-workout window either helps tremendously or has a neutral effect. If you have half a brain, it makes perfect sense to take advantage of the nutrient-timing window because there is no downside.

Now here’s a twist. Data presented at the 10th Annual ISSN Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 14 and 15 showed that taking in creatine after exercise may be better for you than getting it before exercise. Either way, creatine is great to take if your goal is lean-body-mass gains and strength increases. This study, which was performed at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida, showed that recreational bodybuilders put on more lean body mass (4.4 pounds vs. 2.0 pounds) and got stronger on the bench press (16.7 pounds vs. 14.5 pounds) if they took in creatine post-training vs. pretraining. Keep in mind that these aren’t the typical fat slobs you see in many published studies. They were already in tremendous shape, and so any change in body composition or strength would be difficult to effect.

Does that mean that taking creatine preworkout is a waste of time? Hardly. As the study was only one month long, perhaps just taking creatine continually over the course of months or years would negate any short-term effect involving timing. Nevertheless, this study does indicate that timing matters. Does it work for everybody all the time? Does anything work for everybody all the time? Exactly. Be a pragmatist. Take advantage of nutrient timing. The only downside is, well, nothing.

—Jose Antonio, Ph.D.


Editor’s note: Jose Antonio, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University in sunny South Florida.


1 Cribb, P. J., and Hayes, A. (2006). Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 38:1918-1925.


Q: What are the effects of alcohol on my bodybuilding efforts?

Q: What are the effects of alcohol on my bodybuilding efforts? 

A: It depends on how much and how often you drink. I like the saying, “The devil is in the dosage.”

Research has shown that if you get bombed on a Friday night, your testosterone will not be fully restored until the following Wednesday, so getting bombed is basically going to produce half a week of lackluster workouts and recovery.

I like to drink on special occasions like birthdays, trips to Las Vegas and times that I’m in a fancy restaurant with friends or my wife. A night of drinking for me is some fancy Scotch or a glass of red wine. Alcohol is a no-go during contest prep, and I abide by the saying, “You do the booze, and you lose!” Every decision in life is an opportunity to move you closer or further from your goals, so if you plan on getting bombed, just realize you’re delaying the time it’ll take to achieve your goals.


Editor’s note: Vince Del Monte packed on an amazing 40 pounds of muscle in 24 weeks. Known as “the Skinny Guy Savior,” he offers courses to help you go from twig to big, including No Nonsense Muscle Building. For more info or to sign up for his free newsletter, visit www.VinceDelMonteFitness.comIM


Hardbody Alicia Coates


Place of residence: Phoenix

Height: 5’5”

Weight: 128

Occupation: IFBB pro figure athlete and personal trainer

Web site: www.AliciaCoates.com

Current sponsor: None at the moment

Favorite movie and/or TV show: “Pride and Prejudice”

Favorite book: The Secret Garden

Favorite healthful food: Vegetable-and-mushroom omelet

Favorite cheat food: In-N-Out Burger—double-double animal-style burger with animal-style fries

Describe your current training program:


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Tasty Korean Tacos

7212-eat2Just about everyone loves finger food, and tacos are always a favorite. These are tasty and satisfying, with a whopping 40 grams of protein per serving to keep your anabolic environment primed.

5 ounces 99 percent fat-free lean ground turkey

1/8 teaspoon ground chili powder

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/8 teaspoon onion salt

2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos

1 teaspoon Asian chili oil

1 tablespoon organic low-sodium rice vinegar

1/3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise

1 green onion

3 grape tomatoes

1/4 red pepper, cored and sliced

1/4 green pepper, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon corn

1/4 cup nonfat cottage cheese

1 ounce avocado (for 3 slices)

1 low-carb tortilla

Cooking spray

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the ground turkey, and cook until browned. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, aminos, rice vinegar and onion salt. Mix completely. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Slice the red pepper, green pepper, zucchini and green onion into two 2-inch pieces. Coat with cooking spray and bake for 10-12 minutes or until tender.

Coat the tortilla with cooking spray and heat in a pan on medium until it starts to crisp.

Slice the grape tomatoes in half and then the halves into 4 pieces each. Slice the avocado.

Put all the ingredients on the tortilla, top with cottage cheese, and serve.

Makes one serving: calories, 406; fat, 17.19 grams; carbohydrate, 27.68 grams; protein, 40.77 grams

—Jenny Grothe


Editor’s note: Jenny Grothe is a trainer, nutritionist, motivator, speaker and author who enjoys playing in the kitchen. Having lost 60 pounds, going from a size 14 to a size 4, she knows firsthand the importance of regular training and a clean diet in maintaining a healthful lifestyle. Since losing the weight five years ago, she has competed in seven figure competitions, placing in five, and has run three marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2011. To contact Jenny and learn more about her services, go to www.jen-fit.com.

Forearm Rockers

There’s no doubt that it’s important to have muscular forearms. When you’re dressed in a short-sleeved shirt, it’s the only visible bodypart. That means you want your lower arms to be beefy and vascular. What’s more, forearm strength can help you build bigger biceps and even improve your bench press poundage.

So on arm day, if you don’t have time to do wrist curls and reverse wrist curls, try forearm rockers instead—to hit both the flexor and extensor muscles in one movement. Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand at the sides of your thighs and keep a slight bend at the elbows. Curl the dumbbells up and in, lower, and then curl them up and out. Use a slow rocking motion. The inward move will train your forearms’ undersides, the flexors, while the outward move will train the tops, the extensors. Shoot for 15 to 20 reps each way.

This is a great method for completely blasting your lower arms with one quick exercise. And because you use dumbbells, it’s easy to do drop sets. Simply grab a lighter pair and keep rocking!

—Steve Holman


Antagonist Supersets

Q: I use your P/RR/S training system on a three-day split, and it’s working great. Currently, I enjoy doing chest and back on day 1; quads and hams on day 2; and shoulders, bi’s and tri’s on day 3. I work out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and do cardio Tuesday and Thursday. My question: Since I work antagonistic bodyparts on the same day, is it okay for me to do something like a chest exercise first, then a back movement and then chest again, etc.?

A: Have you ever heard of a dude named Arnold Schwarzenegger? If not, would it ring a bell if I called him seven-time Mr. Olympia, “Conan the Barbarian,” “The Terminator,” the former Governor of California or the most famous bodybuilder who ever lived? Yeah, I thought that might do it. Arnold not only trained on a very similar split to yours (although on a three-days-on/one-off schedule), but he would very often do supersets for chest/back, bi’s/tri’s and quads /hams—and it seemed to work pretty darn well for him!

It’s also a technique that I use quite often myself and with my hundreds of clients all over the world. My favorite P/RR/S workouts for implementing this protocol occur during both Power and Shock weeks. This type of antagonistic-bodypart training has several important advantages that should be tapped into from time to time if you’re going to follow my golden rule of constant progression: variety in stimulation.

For example, by doing a back exercise like a row or pulldown right after a chest movement, you will be able to keep your strength at a greater level for each bodypart and enhance the recovery for each bodypart. Because you’re alternating pushing and pulling muscles, the pushing muscles will actually return to full strength at a faster rate than if you were just to rest—and vice versa—and you’ll more than likely be able to complete the same amount of overall work in a shorter period of time.

Here are a couple of sample workouts to give you a better idea of how to put antagonistic bodypart training to the test:


Power Chest/Back Blast

Bench presses 3 x 4-6

Wide-grip bent-over rows 3 x 4-6

Incline presses 3 x 4-6

Undergrip pulldowns 3 x 4-6

Weighted dips 3 x 4-6

Close-grip cable rows 3 x 4-6


Shock Quad/Ham Crusher


Squats 3 x 7-9

Seated leg curls 3 x 7-9


Leg presses 3 x 7-9

Lying leg curls 3 x 7-9


Leg extensions 3 x 10-12

Stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 10-12


—Eric Broser


Editor’s note: Eric Broser’s new DVD “Power/Rep Range/Shock Max-Mass Training System” is available at Home-Gym.com. His e-books, Power/Rep Range/Shock Workout and The FD/FS Mass-Shock Workout, which include complete printable workout templates and Q&A sections, are available at X-Workouts.com.


Indian Fruit for Faster Fat Loss?

7212-eat4I am being bombarded with e-mail from companies that are selling Garcinia cambogia. No, it’s not clothing from Vietnam. It’s a fruit, a type of tamarind, used in curries in Indian cuisine. Ever since Doctor Oz applauded its fat-burning effects on his show, demand has taken off. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The active ingredient is hydroxycitric acid. According to the April ’13 Better Nutrition, “Both animal and human studies have demonstrated unique ways in which HCA promotes loss of bodyfat.”

For one thing, HCA appears to reduce an enzyme that turns food into bodyfat. So it somewhat blocks the fat production. “Instead of being stored as fat, sugars and carbs are converted into glycogen, a fuel that’s stored in the liver and muscles and burned to generate energy.”

Of course, you have to have a glycogen deficit in your liver and muscles to store more glycogen, but even so, the higher glycogen level in your blood can reduce hunger: “It signals your body that your fuel tank is full. In addition, HCA has been shown to raise levels of serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter.”

Studies also show that athletes taking HCA had more energy during workouts. Hmm, might be an alternative to caffeine.

HCA researcher Harry Preuss, M.D., of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., performed a study with Super Citrimax, a combo of HCA, calcium and potassium, using healthy but overweight subjects. They ate 2,000 calories daily and walked 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The HCA group lost an average of 12 pounds, while the placebo group lost only three pounds. The HCA group also experienced much better changes in high-density- and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and serotonin.

HCA may be worth a try for fat loss and appetite control. If nothing else, you’ll have more workout energy—and that alone can get you leaner.

—Steve Holman