Muscle Magazines Review – July-August

Pre internet era, weight training and bodybuilding information was fairly scarce. We were pretty much limited to being spoon-fed through the gym grape vine, or via the monthly magazines that hit the news rack. Although we knew that most of the information was shit, I still remember devouring every mag for any morsel concerning training, diet and bodybuilding gossip. While waiting for the next month’s run of mags, we pretty much read them again and again.

Different times now. The internet being an instant and interactive medium makes the muscle mags look like obsolete vestiges of a bygone era.  I haven’t checked a mag out in years, but this month I decided to round up a bunch of my former favourites and mine them for gems, nuggets of wisdom or the weird and wonderful stories from the bodybuilding world.

Flex Magazine


Flex always has the best inspirational shots and pictorials. It is the original muscle comic book. Usable information sold separately.

The first section of any of the mags looks at all the research and gossip sound-bytes.

*There’s a short blurb updating the whereabouts of 90’s sensation Achim Albrecht. Thought this guy was phenomenal in the day and he is now running a personal training business. Any day 6 foot above the ground when you’re a 90s bodybuilder is a good day I suppose.

Albrecht was a beast in the early 90s - an early Markus Ruhl

Albrecht was a beast in the early 90s – an early Markus Ruhl

*Faster lifting is better for muscle growth because of its testosterone and HGH boosting effect, but it also increases cortisol levels somewhat. The recommendation is to train more explosive in the offseason and then use submaximal speeds precontest the HGH boost without all that nasty cortisol.

* Dorian Yates recommends calf training with 2 total work sets to failure. Is Dorian the only lifter HIT has worked for? Forgetting the fact that this style of training destroyed him over a short period of time, but most evidence points to volume and frequency, especially for calves. Which athletes have the best calves – cyclists, ballet dancers and soccer players. They do heaps of volume and place a tremendous amount of time under tension on their calves. No way is anyone growing genetically average calves with 2 sets of six.

For 12 reps a week you too can have Yates' calves!

For 12 reps a week you too can have Yates’ calves!

* A rehashed Charles Poliquin shoulder workout makes an appearence –  Poliquin cautions to not “pronate the wrists’ (pouring water from a pitcher) because it can lead to shoulder impingement.- My shoulders started to improve a lot using Meadows tip of bent over lateral raises with heavy weight doing high rep partials. Building up the rear delt gives that flared shoulder look from the front.

* Bryan Haycock looks at a study concerning maximising muscle mass which draws the conclusion that a variety of rep ranges is needed for best results. I’m using Haycock’s HST Program at the moment and it provides the best of all programs.

* The usual assortment of pictorials featuring seperate body part articles from arm training from Phil Hill, Ramy, Kai Greene, ANOTHER arm article with Frank McGrath ANOTHER Arm training article with Strongman competitor Brian Shaw. Direct arm training is essential to aesthetic arms to be sure. BUT, too add inches you have to add at least 10-15 pounds of bodyweight to achieve that one extra inch. No hammer or Hercules curls are going to give you size if you weigh 165. I do think keeping the weights light, focusing on feel and isolation and pumping the shit out of them works best.

Heath recommends 8-12 reps for bi's, 12-15 for tris and using FST-7

Heath recommends 8-12 reps for bi’s, 12-15 for tris and using FST-7

* An article by Chad Nichols on diet –

– protein utiilsation – some people need more than 1 gram per pound others need less. Eating too much can cause your body’s digestive system to slow down and hinder muscle building to get rid of the excess.

– Eating every 3 hours may not be optimal – use your hunger levels as a gauge – eating too often can slow down gains – it doesn’t allow for efficient protein synthesis because body is always playing catchup.

– regarding eating carbs at night – do whatever works best for you.Blinding me with SCIENCE, Chad!

Carbs at night? Whatever works for you.



I haven’t looked at this in years, but this publication has really gone to shit. I suppose it was never catering to the hardcore crowd to begin with, but now it seems more a schizophrenic version of Men’s Health more than anything.

One third of the way in, waist deep in advertising and miscellaneous bullshit, the first readable article is a short piece on Rowdy Roddy Piper who’s still hanging in there despite admitting his body is a train wreck after all the injuries.

We used to think this was near the pinnacle of muscular achievement.

We used to think this was near the pinnacle of muscular achievement.

* There’s a throwaway gimmick training routine featuring the stars of the Expendables giving their take on the best workout for certain bodyparts…because after all, it’s about random workouts, not principles or cohesion to allow for progression that’s important. :-/

* The only other worthwhile thing worth mentioning is an interview with Dave Tate who alludes to the fact that there’s more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to building size.

“EVERYONE says to get big quads you’ve got to squat. Well I know a lot of guys with big quads who don’t squat. If that was the truth, then every powerlifter would have huge legs. And that’s false. If you can’t master the movement, just go do the leg press. if benching always built a big chest, every powerlifter would have a huge chest. That’s false.”

I look at some of these young powerlifters and they can move some massive poundages, but they look like nothing physique wise. It’s not a knock on them, because they have different goals, but it plainly demonstrates that size isn’t dictated by pure strength alone.
Muscular Development

MD mag

Probably the best of the magazines out there. It has some solid writers and a good mix of information to entertainment value.

 * There’s some wunderkind called Justin Compton on the front of the mag – kid is 25 and looks like he’s going on 45. He has an arms article in there with the useful of advice of doing cable and unilateral work before the free weight movements. I learned this from Meadows too and it has saved my joints.

25 years old going on 45. Who said weight training and GH are the fountain of youth??

25 years old going on 45. Who said weight training and GH are the fountain of youth??

* Shawn, Dorian and Kevin give their take on the debate of whether bodybuiding is a sport. Rich Piana recently did a video on it and emphatically insists it’s not a sport.

 * Cool story about Yates and how he deliberately would wear a tracksuit that he called The Tardis (Dr. Who reference) to give his competitors the illusion that he was smaller than what he was.

 In street clothes, Yates belied his size.

In street clothes, Yates belied his size.

Speaking of Yates, Gregg Valentino whose Rambling Freak column I usually ignore, called Yates to task for a Facebook post made recently regarding the denial of the Holocaust. Not sure whether it’s the ravages of old age, but in recent years, Yates has gone loop-to-loop batshit on some of his conspiracy theories (check out his London Real interview for more wackiness) – the irony being that the real conspiracy is that the Jew he worked for for so many years gave him an absolute gift in the form of a number of undeserved Olympia wins.

 * Research Roundup

– Lower body aerobics interfered with squat performance but not bench press (duh)

– Static stretching pre bench press doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt either.

– Muscle tension and amino acid availability trigger muscle growth. The longer athletes can keep muscles under tension (i.e., time under tension), the more muscles grow. High levels of amino acids stimulate protein synthesis, even without muscle tension. The amino acid leucine is key to turning on biochemical pathways (i.e., mTOR) that promote protein synthesis. Consuming protein, particularly whey protein, after exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis.

– Caffeine enhances neural activation of the muscles – helps with explosive strength but doesn’t increase absolute strength.

-frequent consumption (5 times a month or more) of high-mercury fish such as salmon, tuna and shark can raise mercury levels into the danger zone. About 4.8 percent of Americans have mercury levels greater than 5.8.(Great, I eat 1kg a day..)

 Fat Loss Research

– time-restricted  (think intermittent fasting) feeding has variable results on body composition— but beneficial effects on metabolic risk factors such as blood fats, blood sugar and insulin levels, insulin sensitivity, and inflammation.

– capsaicin increases satiety and fullness by increasing seretonin levels.

Capsaicin does a body good!

Capsaicin does a body good!

– 41% less likely to be obese living at altitude – altitude decreases appetite and slows nutrient absorption in the gut.

– Ketogenic diets long term can impair blood sugar regulation – The animals also developed blood markers of unhealthy fat regulation and inflammation such as elevated cholesterol, triglycerides, leptin and Interleukin 6. In mice, long-term adherence to ketogenic diets cause unhealthy changes in metabolism that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

 Sex Research

– Viagra can increase testosterone levels

– Prostitutes have been hard hit economically (sluts be giving it away for free)

– Tribulus shows promise for being a female aphrodisiac – The supplement increased sex drive, lubrication, frequency of orgasm, and decreased pain compared to women taking a placebo (fake tribulus)

* An interesting article on the long held practice of doing cardio after weight training.

  • – The activation of AMPK from endurance training counteracts mTOR function in response to resistance work, negatively influencing muscle growth.
  • – This is especially true because mTOR function is typically maximized right after lifting weights meaning that the simultaneous activation of AMPK from endurance training would greatly deplete mTOR activity and muscle growth.
  • – While cardiovascular exercise at the end of your workout promotes the greatest weight loss, a study showed that a considerable portion of this weight loss is actually muscle mass.
  • – Solution: Perform your cardio before weights (or not at all) it appears that performing a standard cardiovascular workout before resistance exercise enhances the propensity to gain muscle mass.
Do you cardio BEFORE you weight train.

Do you cardio BEFORE you weight train.

* Is BYM338, a Myostatin inhibitor the next  big thing?

  • – In an animal model, BYM338 caused up to 50 percent greater muscle growth. The effect was one of hypertrophy of the muscle, with larger diameter fibers as opposed
  • to “hyperplasia” or increased cell numbers. Researchers also noted that the effect was equally as large in both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers without any fiber-type switching. What is of particular interest is that when compared to inhibiting myostatin alone, inhibiting the receptor with BYM338 resulted in nearly twofold greater increases in muscle mass.

* An article featuring the Top 10 events in bodybuilding this millennium showcases how boring bodybuilding has become as a sport. Of the 10 most notable events

  • – introduction of the 202 division
  • – Heath becomes champ
  • – Dexter becomes champ
  • – Jay becomes champ
  • – Vic Martinez almost becomes champ. zzzzzzzzzz

Sleeping_Gorilla markus sleep Ronnie sleep

Bodybuilding Today

* Best intensity range for strength and size?

– 70% of 1RM for newbies, 80-90% for trainees with more than 1 year experience.

  • – Schoenfeld study compared the muscular adaptations to a high-volume training program performing three sets of 10 reps versus a high-intensity , high volume routine performing seven sets of three reps. The volume load was equated so each group essentially performed a similar amount of work per session.
  • – Before and after the study, strength was measured by 1RMs in the squat and bench press, and muscle thickness was measured as well. After eight weeks, both groups significantly increased muscle thickness by approximately 13 percent, with no differences seen between groups. In addition, both groups also increased strength— yet the high-intensity , high-volume group had superior strength gains.
  • – Shows that combining high-intensity with high-volume training provides ample mechanical tension for muscle growth, along with sufficient neuromuscular stimulation of fast-twitch muscle fibers for strength improvement.

* William Lewellyn critiques an Australian published paper that implied 24 young men between 18-24 died of steroid related – 23 of 24 tested positive for other drugs including opiates, psychostimulants (cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA) and benzodiazepines. Accident and “undetermined” accounted for another two deaths. 6 died from suicide. Only two of the 24 men died of cardiovascular-related issues, and other drug toxicity was cited in both cases!

* Drug Q&A – anything over 25-30mg anavar a waste.

* Ronnie Coleman Q&A – Admits Father Time has caught up with him. He could bench 495 x 8, now benches 275. No more squats and deadlifts. Still eats 500 grams of protein (2 grams per pound)

Squatting days are over, but forever a legend of the game.



Musclemag has some good writers, but that fun, edgy feeling it had 20 years ago when Robert Kennedy was at the helm seems to be missing now…

* Cover model Craig Carpurso describes his training methods where he will do 100 reps using the same weight for as many sets as it takes to get the 100. He says this should take no more than 6/7 sets or the weight’s too heavy. He then follows it up with 3 supersets doing 3 sets of 10, 3 sets of 15 and one set of 30.

* Josh Bryant submits a piece on mechanical drop sets for different body parts which is fairl good.

* Shelby Starnes on Arm training- He says it’s all about pumping and driving blood into the muscle  8 -15 reps with short rest periods and no longer than a minute between work sets.

* An article discussing Charles Staley’s Escalating Density Training – it’s good as a finisher to flush a tonne of blood into the muscle for a huge pump and hit those weak point areas that need some shock training. Aim for 60 reps in total in 10 mins – if you can get 100 then you increase weight 5-10%

* Interesting modern day take on Mentzers HIT modifying it to include more weight, dumbbell based training with researched based science to make it more effective. I could see myself trying this in the future just as an experiment although I think the original version of HIT as Jones and Mentzer pushed is a load of baloney.

Mike Mentzer - total wacko but best physique ever.

Mike Mentzer – total wacko but best physique ever.

* Raw Milk article – I drink this in Australia and I think its the most anabolic food available to bodybuilders. I used to drink 2 litres a day and it was a snap to add weight and speed recovery. I spoke with Robby Robinson and he said he used to live on the stuff. Regular milk is shit – Pasteurisation wipes out Vitamin C, thiamin and B12.

Can't get enough of this Raw Milk in Australia.

Can’t get enough of this Raw Milk in Australia.

* An article on running for “big guys”. I personally wouldn’t even run if my house was on fire, so it’s a topic thats anathema to most bodybuilders. But, if you’re a fan of the meditative effects of distance running as a form of cardio and fat loss, then this article gives some tips for minimising the damage that plagues so many runners.

heath run

* A good guide on interpreting the results of your blood work with simple definitions of the tested markers, reference ranges, and the potential causes of abnormal values. Would have been even better if they included some information regarding hormone markers because inevitably most males are going to more interested in things like testosterone, LH, FSH, estrogen etc than Blood Urea Nitrogen.

* Another article from the “ripped from T-nation” files is complexes for fat loss. It basically entails circuits with minimal rest for barbell compound movements using a descending rep scheme for each new circuit. If you can complete it within 14 minutes your rating is…ahem (Beast Mode) Nice to see your staying current with the fitness vernacular, MM. Nothing new here folks!



Australian Ironman always has some good information and extensive local competition coverage. It heavily promotes Australian writers and industry figures. 

* An interesting study again from Brad Schoenfield showing that volume equated training (that is, the volume was held constant between the bodybuilding and powerlifting groups.) using well trained subjects demonstrates that powerlifting and bodybuilding training produce similar hypertrophy when volume is held constant but powerlifting produced better strength gains.

  • Layne Norton chimed in saying “For a long time I have thought that volume was the major driving factor as why higher reps seemed to produce more hypertrophy in bodybuilding vs. powerlifting routines. Now we have evidence to support this idea.“
Hypertrophy is the same  if the volume is held constant.

Hypertrophy is the same if volume is held constant.

* Some evidence as to why sun tanning might be benficial – “UVA exposure dilates blood vessels, significantly lowers blood pressure and alters nitric oxide metabolite levels in the circulation, without changing vitamin D levels.”

* And yet another win for coffee drinkers – “higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower type-2 diabetes risk and provide novel evidence that changes in coffee consumption habits are related to diabetes risk.”

* Steve Holman has some interesting tips for training hamstrings which involves

  • feeling the negative,
  • training them unilaterally,
  • prioritising them and
  • hitting them with frequency.
The sick hamstrings of Tom Prince.

The sick hamstrings of Tom Prince.

A good way to minimise elbow pain is by supersetting dumbbell pullovers with dumbbell extensions .

* Greek Yoghurt is the single best food to aid fat loss according to Harvard Research and tomato juice consumed over 30 days had a large effect on inflammation.

* Steve Holman writes another Positions of Flexion program. I think the POF system is great for hypertrophy and for beginners a great place to start. I still use its principles (even with the HST program I’m using at the moment) whenever I train for hypertrophy because the pump I get is unreal on this system.

* Scott Goble a hugely respected amateur Australian bodybuilder pens an article on the changing nature of training, nutrition and supplmentation over the ages. Scott is a charismatic and whip-smart guy, not to mention an absolute beast. He’s also bloody hilarious and if you have facebook add him for his very unique and often times laugh out loud status updates about the iron game.

He echoes a sentiment that I’ve felt for a long time – that the early 90s with the popularisation of HIT through the resurgence of Menter mostly due to the domination of Yates did more to instill a false fear of overtraining and lead people down a time wasting path than any other.

Some interesting quotes from Scott in the article

  • – “Regardless of how sophisticated bodybuilders become with their training, in the ’70s, now and in the future, the biggest guys will probably be the ones with the heaviest squat, deadlift and bench press — and that will never change.”
  • – “The future, in my opinion, is accommodating resistance. This form of training is mostly associated with the use of bands and chains, which allow a load to either increase or decrease at a specific part of the range of motion. This in turn allows the athlete in question to more efficiently overload a muscle with maximum tension throughout the entire rep.”
  • – “I also see science catching up with many of the industry experts who utilise nutrient timing to give their clients an advantage. While there is little hard science to support nutrient timing, there is more and more anecdotal evidence to suggest it works. I think the future will provide us with the solid scientific evidence to back up the practical experience of bodybuilders around the world who believe that it’s not only what you eat that’s important, but when you eat it.”
Scot Goble - one of Australia's best.

Scot Goble – one of Australia’s best.

* The Arnold Sports Festival starts in Australia next year and it should be huge!

* There’s an interesting look at the latest trend of Ready Made Meals Industry in Australia catering to busy (or lazy/ill prepared) bodybuilders. I can’t lie, I’d like to try some of them because I happen to be unimaginative sometimes in the kitchen when I’m ultra busy and tired. There’s always something about another person’s cooking that makes it taste better too.

Pre-prepared and delivered meals for the lazy bodybuilder

Muscle Meals – Pre-prepared and delivered meals for the lazy bodybuilder

* Elington Darden article lifted from the archives of T-nation on abbreviated arm training using super slow 30/30 cadence reps. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to at least give this a go, even though I’m not a full believer in super slow training (or abbreviated training for that matter), and will give it a test run in the near future.


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