Our very own Jerry Martin dominated in the President’s Day Festival in Hampton, VA. This was an NASF bodybuilding event which took place on Feb. 20, 2010. Jerry took the overall title as well as the best poser award. Check him out as he entertains the crowd with his robot routine.
Jerry has been training at Jack King’s Gym since 2000. He entered his first bodybuilding contest in 2006 and has competed in eight contests altogether. Jerry has placed 1st in four of his eight contests. Look for Jerry to compete again as early as April 2010.
1) Basic Crunch
For the basic crunch, you’ll lay flat on your back on the floor in front of a bench or chair. Your knees will be bent at a 90 degree angle with your feet propped on the bench or chair. Be sure that your lower back is perfectly flat on the floor.
When you crunch, ultimately what you’re doing is trying to jam your upper abs into lower abs and groin area. When doing your crunch, you’ll raise your shoulders off the floor about 3-4 inches. This is NOT a sit-up. The crunch is a very short movement, but if you use your fingers to feel the contraction of your abdominal muscles, you’ll understand how effective this movement is. Push your lower back into the floor as your raise your shoulders. You are aiming for control. A tip for the movement is to try to crunch toward the ceiling and not toward your knees. For a more advanced movement, you can reach with your arms and hands toward the ceiling.
The key to crunches is controlled movement. Don’t worry about how fast you’re doing the reps. Once you get the feeling of your back pressing into the floor, you’ll become aware of how your abs are supposed to feel when performing this movement. Don’t let go of that feeling. You’ll be surprised by how such a short movement will end up providing the best contraction.
2) Leg Raises
For leg raises, you will lay flat on your back on the floor or a bench. You’ll begin by raising your legs until they are perpendicular to the ceiling. Be sure to keep your legs together and straight throughout the movement. If your lower back comes off the floor or bench, you’ve gone too far. Lower your legs back down slowly in a controlled movement. Again, be sure your legs are straight. Don’t allow your legs to touch the ground on the downward movement. Instead, raise your legs again until they are perpendicular to the ceiling. If you need support, you can hold onto a sturdy object to keep your body grounded. Otherwise, simply leave your arms straight down by your sides.
For both ab movements, work toward being able to complete 20-25 reps across multiple sets. Ideally, you’d want to alternate between the two ab exercises performing 20-25 reps for each. For maximum results with these exercises, the key will be CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL. Concentrate on the movement and the muscles that are being worked. Build up reps over time and add sets as you progress. If you do, you’ll love the results.
In this post, I’ll talk a bit more about two techniques you can use to build your upper body without lifting weights. I want to preface this post by saying that I am an advocate of training with weights. There is nothing better. But, if you can’t get to a gym or don’t have weights at home, there are still ways that you can improve your physique. So, I wanted to share some techniques that will help you do just that. If you follow these routines for six weeks, you’ll be able to see the results in the mirror.
I developed a chest routine based primarily around push-ups after an injury prevented me from being able to use most apparatus-based training methods for chest. I used the push-up routine in preparation for the Mr. America contest and it, along with other techniques, was successful in getting me where I wanted to be. From this experience, I learned that push-ups truly are invaluable. So, here are a couple of push-up routines that will be sure to challenge your muscles.
Push-up Variation #1
First, you’ll get into the push-up position with your hands positioned just outside your shoulders. Do one controlled push-up using perfect form. You want to go slow enough so that you feel what you’re working. Then, stand straight up. Go back down into push-up position and do two perfect push-ups. Then, stand straight up. Continue this process while increasing the number of push-up reps you do by one with each set. Continue until you are doing at least 10 or more push-ups and go until you start losing reps in the process. This routine is based on one that Marines did many years ago. This drill is a fun way to challenge yourself and add variety to your workout. You won’t be able to do as many as you think you can.
Push-up Variation #2
For more advanced trainees, try this push-up variation. First, you’ll do as many push-ups as you can do on your first set. Rest for a couple of minutes. Then for the second set, try to repeat the number of push-ups you did in the first set. If you can’t quite get the same number of reps as you did in the first set, it is ok.
Just record the number of reps you were able to perform in each set. Continue this process for about five more sets. Be sure to make note of the number of reps performed in each set. You’re always trying to repeat the number of reps you performed in the preceding set. A day or two later, you’ll do the routine again. This time, you’re trying to exceed the number of reps you performed in each set from the previous day’s workout.
For either of these push-up variations, perform the routine twice per week. Cycle through these exercises just like you would exercises for any body part. In other words, you don’t want to perform these exercises on two consecutive days. You’ll want to allow for a day of rest in between.
Shoulders, Back, & Arms
To develop shoulders, back, and arms, you’ll need to do chins or pull-ups.
Remember, you can always improvise a chin/pull-up bar. One of the best places to look is at playground at a local park or school. You can use monkey bars, swing sets, and other equipment to do your chins/pull-ups.
Chins are performed with an underhand grip, whereas pull-ups have an overhand grip with palms facing away. If you want to work mainly arms on a given day, do all chins. If you’re trying to stress back and shoulders on a given day, do all pull-ups.
Chins/pull-ups are more difficult than push-ups, but you’ll still want to set rep standards with the following routine just as you did with the push-up routines outlined above. On the first set, do as many chins/pull-ups as you can. Rest for a couple of minutes. Then, try to repeat the number of reps on the second set. Repeat this process through the next 4-5 sets. Losing reps is no sin in this routine. The key is to keep a written record of how many reps you’re able to perform in each set. This provides a measure of comparison over time so you can work to improve.
Cycle this routine into your workout schedule allowing for rest in between days where you work the same body part. Again, you can use chins for an arm day and pull-ups for a back/shoulder day.
If you do these two movements, push-ups and chins/pull-ups, with no missed days for six weeks, you will definitely see results in the mirror and feel it in your clothes. The uphill sprints and lunges detailed in previous posts will take care of your lower body development if you push it.
If you have drive and ambition, the rewards will be there.
I’d love to hear any questions/comments you have about these or any of the other routines I’ve posted on the blog. Next time, I’ll talk more about recommendations for waist work.
I have people asking all the time what it is like to train at my gym. I always say that my gym provides a serious atmosphere for people who are serious about training.
What you’ll find is an environment where people are supportive of one another and will push each other to their limits, helping them reach the maximum potential. You’ll find people who know what they are doing and who are willing to share what they know with others who are eager to learn more. We have many members who are currently training for competitions and who are active on the scene. However, that does not mean that if you don’t want to compete that you should not consider Jack King’s as your home gym. Regardless of where you are physicially or where you want to be, if you want an environment where people are focused, supportive, and striving to be the best, check us out. Whether you’re looking for how-to’s or others who can challenge you to the next level, we encourage you to stop in.
I received a phone call today from an old friend asking what I’d been up to. I used to train him starting back when he was 19 years old or so. He usually checks in around the holidays. Anyway, I was filling him in on the latest happenings in my life, one of which was me being featured in the Septemeber issue of MILO.
This was a big thrill for me since I was the first-ever bodybuilder featured in the journal. My friend suggested that I put a link on my blog site so that readers could find the journal if they wanted to. You can access a website to order the journal here: http://ironmind-store.com/MILO-Sep-09-172/productinfo/1282-17.2/
The full journal issue is September 2009, Volume 17, Number 2.
I hope you do check it out. I had a lot of fun providing the details for the article which is basically a brief account of my career beginning with Olympic lifting and then my transition into physique competitions. It also includes some training and nutrition advice and gives some insight into my psyche and highlights of my career.
Hope you enjoy. Until next time, keep training hard.
Over the course of my career, I have refused to let injuries keep me down. When a body part is injured, I’ve always found novel ways to continue to exercise the injured body part. The key is to find a way to exercise it without putting it under the same kind of stress that led to the injury. This approach has worked in all my fifty-some years of training. It was through this approach that I realized the power of lunges for leg development. After I suffered an injury to my right sartorious muscle, I was unable to do squats, so I implemented a training regimen consisting of lunges. This was back when no one was doing lunges, but I knew that to continue to get the kind of leg development desired, I would need to adopt a new strategy. The results were so outstanding that I have continued to work lunges into my training and I consistently recommend them for both men and women who train at my gym.
I recommend any one of three lunge variations. Do one of the three variations twice per week. Rotate the variation used over time to add diversity and challenge your muscles. With all of these variations, you will start out doing a number of reps that you can reasonably perform, maybe 10 per leg. Try to work up to 20 per leg.
Variation #1- Static Lunge
In this lunge, you will work one leg at a time. You will begin with one leg forward and one leg extended backward. Your back leg will be positioned far enough back so that when you go down, you will go straight down rather than going forward over your front foot. You will lower yourself straight down by bending the front knee. This will place most of your bodyweight on your front leg. If you go too far forward, it is bad for your knee and it won’t do what you want for your muscle. Drop straight down until your back knee nearly touches the ground. Then push up with the main emphasis being on the heel of your forward foot. This movement is best performed in front of a mirror so that you can view the mechanics of the movement.
Concentrating on one leg at a time is much better for development than trying to alternate legs with each rep. By remaining in a static position, you ensure that you are in perfect position for each rep.
Variation #2- Backward Lunge
The backward lunge emphasizes the glutes. From a standing position, step back with one leg and lower your body into a lunge position. Recover using your front leg. You will rise on your front leg exactly as you would do in a standard lunge. For the next rep, step back again. Each rep is a controlled step back. Once you become consistent with the movement, you can do one leg then alternate to the other.
Variation #3- Forward Lunge with Movement
This lunge is preferably done outside due to the amount of space needed to lunge forward multiple times. In this lunge, you will step forward in a controlled manner and then drop down by bending your front knee. Lower until your thigh becomes nearly parallel to the ground. You will then raise straight up, NOT forward. Then step forward with the other leg.
This lunge can be done on pavement, but be careful of surfaces on which you could easily lose your footing. To increase the difficulty of this lunge, you can do this movement up a steep hill or up a staircase.
If you lunge up a staircase, you will skip over one step with each lunge. You will only want to consider these variations once you are very adept at the movement.
You may choose to increase the difficulty of any of the lunge variations by holding dumbbells for added resistance. However, you’ll find that these movements are challenging enough that you won’t really need weights. I don’t recommend trying to balance a barbell while doing these movements.
I often performed forward lunges all the way across a large parking lot that was located behind the gym where I trained. At first, I started with alternating lunges across the parking lot. When I became proficient at that, I would lunge across the entire lot using only one leg at a time. After my parking lot routine, my legs would absolutely buckle beneath me. These techniques are tried and true. Give them a try, you’ll love the results.
Last time, I shared a non-apparatus training routine for upper body. In this post, we’ll concentrate on lower body.
Sprinting uphill is a great hamstring, quad, and calf builder. You’ll always want to warm up prior to sprinting with a light jog. You’ll do a series of sprints, increasing your speed with each consecutive sprint until you eventually get to the point where you are running as fast as you can up the hill. Be sure that you find a steep hill. A slight hill will not build the desired level of muscle. You’ll increase the number of sprints you do over time in each session. You might start with 10 sprints per session, then work to 12, then to 15. Aim to do sprints at least twice per week.
An alternate to uphill sprints are step or stair lunges. In this technique, you will lunge up stairs or steps. You will begin at the bottom of a set of stairs and as you lunge, you will lunge over one step. This means that you skip a step with each lunge. Be sure that you are moving slowly and controlled. Aim to find steps which will allow you to complete 20-22 lunges. When you reach the top, your heart will be beating almost out of your chest, but by the time you walk back to the bottom of the stairs, you should feel ready to go again.
I’ve used non-apparatus techniques in my own career and found that they’ve made a huge difference. I’ve used them for periods of 6-8 months at a time, relying mostly on hill sprints for leg work. At a contest following use of non-apparatus techniques in training, someone came up to me and asked what I had been doing differently—that I must have been doing something special to be in that kind of shape. Needless to say, they were very impressed and I think you will be too when you implement these techniques in your own training.
You’ll have to be willing to do these techniques by yourself, as you won’t find many people who will be willing to run uphill sprints with you. These techniques are brutal, but in the end, they will definitely pay off. I’ve seen my leg press increase by 50 lbs. by doing nothing but lunges. I discovered this by accident when due to an injury I was unable to do squats. I decided to do lunges one-leg-at-a-time across a parking lot. I did this for about 8-9 weeks. When I came back from my injury and saw the dramatic gains in my leg press strength, I realized for the first time what a powerful tool lunges are.
I’m an advocate of non-apparatus training techniques in situations where you do not have the ability to use an apparatus. This may be due to an injury which prevents the range of motion necessary to perform certain apparatus-based movements or it may be that you simply don’t have access to the equipment necessary to perform apparatus-based exercises. Whatever the reason for using them, non-apparatus techniques can be a great way to achieve muscular development. However, I would not recommend replacing an apparatus-based routine with a completely non-apparatus training routine.
I’ve used a variety of non-apparatus training methods over the course of my career and I’ve been intrigued by the high level of interest that such methods receive from the general public. Given the high level of interest in these methods, I’ve outlined my top recommendations for a non-apparatus training routine. We’ll begin with an upper body routine in this post, and in the next post, I’ll share my lower body recommendations.
Alternate chin pull-ups with raised push-ups. You’ll want to do 3-4 total sets of each exercise while alternating between exercises for each consecutive set. Neither exercise will detract from your ability to perform the other because you’re working completely different muscle groups.
It’s fairly easy to find a pull-up chin bar. It might be something you fashion from items around the house or you can find one on a school playground. When you do your pull-ups, you’ll want to bring your chin in front of and just over the bar. When you come down, don’t go all the way down into a complete hanging position. You’ll want to stop about 3-4 inches short of a complete hang and then begin to pull yourself up again. This is to keep your muscles under tension and you’ll learn across exercises that the time your muscles are under tension is extremely important for muscle growth. You’ll aim to complete whatever number of reps you can do and then repeat that number for each pull-up set.
For the push-ups, you’ll want your legs raised. You can prop your legs on a wall or stairs, whatever is convenient in your training area. For each push-up, your chest will nearly touch the ground. When you come up, you want to push until your arms are about 85-90% straight. Don’t lock your elbows. You’ll aim for as many as reps as you can get and sustain across each set. You don’t want to drops reps each set.
To target the abs, you’ll do leg raises using the pull-up bar. From a hanging position, you will contract your abs and raise your legs from a vertical position up to a horizontal position where they are extended straight out in front of you. You may also use traditional crunches to target the abs.
In the next blog post, I’ll share my lower body non-apparatus training recommendations.
Following a 1991 article published in Iron Man magazine, I received a ton of calls asking how it was that I was able to win the Masters Mr. America using the push-up alone for upper body development. The first problem is that I did not do only push-ups for upper body development. Unfortunately, the way the article was written led many to this false belief. I would be quick to set them straight. I did use push-ups, but used them along with other apparatus-based upper body exercises. Push-ups were a great addition to my routine when I was unable to do bench presses and other apparatus-based chest exercises due to an injury.
My conversations with people about the Iron Man article typically led to me sharing my repertoire of “non-apparatus training” techniques for the entire body. I believe in the power of non-apparatus training techniques when you cannot perform apparatus-based exercises due to injury, lack of equipment, or any other valid reason. However, you have to have to perform non-apparatus techniques at a level of intensity that would emulate what you would perform on an apparatus. You have to use appropriate set and rep counts to challenge your body in such a way as to create parallel gains to what you’d see using apparatus. I would not recommend replacing an apparatus-based training routine with a non-apparatus-based routine. Use non-apparatus training to supplement an apparatus-based routine, not replace it. The bottom line is that non-apparatus training is helpful when you don’t want to give up your training routine altogether due to circumstances which prevent you from using an appartus.
Now that we’ve set the fact straight, I would like to share my recommendations for a non-apparatus training routine should you ever find yourself in a situation where you would need to implement one. I’ll highlight some upper body techniques in my next post and lower body techniques in the following post.