Muscular Development Magazine – January 2016


This month’s MD is basically an (ad filled) 2015 Olympia post mortem with every other page repetitively discussing either the result, Dexter’s age defying 2nd place and Kai’s no show in every column. Steve Blechman begins with his usual Phil Heath backhand serve….did Heath reject Steve’s sexual advances on his way up the pro-ranks or something? The Heath directed, editorial vitriol is beginning to become redundant, Stevie.

“Phil Heath, is nicknamed “The Gift” because of the natural abilities that have helped to propel his career. Phil is a tremendous athlete and competitor, but one of the notable events of the 2015 Mr. Olympia contest was how close it was. In fact, The Gift almost got his ass handed to him by a 45-year-old grandfather, Dexter Jackson.” – Steve Blechman

The pro-panel are asked (set up) on the topic of whether “Phil Heath is one of the Greatest of all time?” Predictably, the 90’s era panel argues that he wouldn’t have been able to shine their glutes back in the deep lineups of 20 years prior. Numbers-wise, Phil will be closing in on Dorian’s record of 5 Sandows this year, but the panel respond with an unanimous “well the lineups suck today, that’s why”. With some of the guys like Compton and McCarver closing in, it will be increasingly difficult for Heath to equal the record of Coleman and Haney’s eight.

“What I really see affecting Phil’s legacy is that he’s had such little real competition. Aside from Kai, nobody is pushing him. And Kai didn’t even show up to compete in 2015!” – Kevin Levrone

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Could Heath have hung with these guys?

Dan Solomon thinks the ocean that once separated Phil from his fellow competitors is quickly being bridged by Heath’s own, less than stellar, recent performances.

“I asked Head Judge Steve Weinberger to summarize Phil’s victory at this year’s Olympia. He replied, “If it was a horse race, it was just by a nose.”

Bob Chich disagrees saying that Phil has the title on lock for a little while longer with only Cedric and Ramy posing any kind of tangible threat.

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Is the Gift approaching his use by date?

“What Cedric lacks isn’t physical; it’s mental. Big Mac needs to start believing that he really is THAT good. Ced needs to break through the mental barrier that prevents him from becoming a formidable opponent of Phil’s. Basically, he needs to stop being Mr. Nice Guy-Happy to Be Here-Let’s Have a Good Time Out Here Onstage. Cedric needs to have a “hulk” button he presses and becomes angry— and believe me, you wouldn’t like Cedric when he’s angry. Cedric is taller than Phil, wider than Phil, bigger than Phil and combines great muscularity with exceptional lines, but the clock is ticking.”

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Or can Cedric McMillan upset the applecart?

On the topic of Ramy –

“What do Ramy and Phil have in common? Zero. This is what gives him the best shot of upsetting the champ. At the end of the day it’s a muscle contest, and Ramy has more of it per square inch than anyone else on the planet. What makes Ramy the biggest threat to Phil’s title reign over anyone else is simple. He’s got youth on his side, more muscle, the same size waist and now he’s getting the last piece of the puzzle in place— experience.”


Now he’s working with Aceto, can Ramy finally bring the goods?

Amazingly, Peter McGough doesn’t mention his idol-prince, Yates, in this month’s column, but instead recaps the year that was. Nothing really of note worth mentioning except for the fact that Rachel McLish, the first ever Ms Olympia turned 60 this year (!!!) and this tidbit –

““Of the 13 Mr. Olympias, Which One Would You Most Wantto Look Like?” Arnold Schwarzenegger came out on top with 27 percent of the vote, with runner-up Frank Zane receiving 18 percent. Interesting that in this day of all-out mass, over 50 percent of the punters voted for two guys who haven’t competed in over 30 years.


Rachel McLish at 59….I think the appropriate term here might be “GILF”

The Year in Review piece clutches at straws looking for interesting and notable tidbits of 2015. Of note were:

  • The rise of Cody Montgomery
    The Flex Lewis vs Joe Raymond challenge
    The record prize purses and number of pros (200 in 2005 vs 1200 today)
    End of the Ms Olympia
    Passing of Baito Abbaspour
    Dallas McCarver
    Arnold’s call out of the judging standards.
    Kai’s no-show
    Dexter’s dominance at 45 years old.
    Phil’s win by slight margin at the O

And in other bodybuilding highlights for 2015….

Maxx Charles, Cody Montgomery, Juan Morel, Jon De La Rosa, Dallas McCarver and William Bonac are supposedly the bodybuilders to watch in 2016 – ironic since the majority of people are still seemingly watching the pros of yesteryear and admiring them more.

Will any of these up and comers fulfil their promise in 2016?

Training Research

Train more often for better growth. A study looking at whole-body workouts 3 days a week vs splits showed that hypertrophy was greater in the whole body, frequency group. BUT, the study used untrained college students so it’s difficult to equate to experienced bodybuilders. Nice one Schoenfeld.

A study comparing training to failure and not doing so showed no differences in training methods and results – but again the study used recreationally active students and not elite lifters.

Lift faster for better growth. Lifting superslow didn’t produce the same effects as lifting for speed. “a meta-analysis that pulled the results of many studies in the literature, found that the optimum repetition duration varies from 0.5 to eight seconds. Training at slow repetition speeds greater than 10 seconds did not produce hypertrophy at the same rate as lifting faster.”

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Waterbury’s been preaching fast lifting speeds for years….

Also, do your cardio on an empty stomach – “When fasted, blood sugar was lower and free fatty acids, growth hormone and cortisol were higher than when the subjects ate breakfast. Consistently exercising while fasted in the morning should result in greater fat burning and fat loss than exercising after breakfast. (Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27:1929-1932, 2015)”

Eating eggs seems to be a bone of contention again. Once blamed for elevated cholesterol levels and heart attack risk, they were exonerated (“eggs-onerated”) for while and now again, seem under scrutiny – “People with diabetes who ate one egg a day increased their risk of heart disease by 44 percent compared to people who only ate one egg per week. Egg eaters are also more likely to get prostate cancer.”

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Good enough for Cool Hand Luke

Keep your alcohol consumption away from workouts – Animals received 10 sets of 6 reps with electrical stimulation. Two hours later, they were injected with enough alcohol to cause intoxication. Electrical stimulation increased protein synthesis by 28 percent, but the alcohol stopped the process.”

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Keep the wine away from the workout

A Belgian study found that glutamine suppresses the mTOR pathway and could interfere with muscle protein synthesis. Individual amino acid supplements can have unpredictable effects in athletes. (Amino Acids, 35: 147-155, 2008)

Fancy a Red Bull before a workout? “Combining caffeine with taurine has antagonistic effects. For best performance results, skip the taurine in your energy or pre-workout drink. (Journal International Society Sports Nutrition, 11:44, 2014)”

red bull workout

Stick with coffee instead

High intake of green tea and green tea extract might be toxic to the liver. (American Journal of Epidemiology, 181: 397-405, 2015) Researchers noted that the incidence of liver cancer was much higher in China than in the United States. Green tea is a staple of the Chinese diet.

Tramadol is effective for treating premature ejaculation, but only seems to work for about 8 weeks before the effects wear off.

Want to cut your risk of prostate cancer? Cum more often then. “Men who ejaculated 21 times a month reduced their risk of the disease by 20 percent. The most frequent ejaculators in the study were divorced men in their 40s.”

Anti-depressants have been linked to sexual dysfunction as many of there users have experienced. “Prozac reduced sex drive in nearly 50 percent of users. Oleptro had the least effect on arousal and orgasm. Zoloft was in the middle, causing sexual impairment in 40 percent of users. Antidepressants can improve mood, but they can have severe effects on sexual performance and enjoyment. (General Hospital Psychiatry, published online October 30, 2014)”

Schoenfeld’s Year in Review of Training Research is an interesting read. He doesn’t introduce anything that we haven’t heard or practiced before, but instead confirms what many of us already know works. The salient points of the article:

Muscle growth can be achieved by using a fairly wide range of repetition durations.

Reps performed at a speed where the concentric and eccentric portions last one second each (i.e., 1-0-1) are equally as effective as those lasting three seconds (i.e., 3-0-3) if the primary goal is to maximize muscle growth. However, reps performed at very slow cadences (>10s per repetition) were found to produce inferior results from a hypertrophy standpoint.

Both light and heavy loads produce significant increases in hypertrophy.

Take-home message: Lifting throughout a spectrum of rep ranges (heavy, moderate and light) would seem to maximize growth of all the fibers in a given muscle, so train with a variety of loads over time. Keep in mind however, “recent research out of Russia shows that the hypertrophic response to training in different loading zones may be fiber type-specific.4-7 Specifically, lighter- load training appears to result in a preferential increase in type I muscle fiber size while training with heavier loads seems to have a greater influence on type II fiber growth.”

Training more frequently can enhance muscle growth

Take-home message: Periodize your routine so that it has cycles where muscles are trained three times a week using total- body routines, and intersperse cycles of split-body routines that involve high- volume sessions with muscles trained less frequently per week.

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Classic era guys used both whole body and splits to best effect

The upper and lower hamstrings can be activated by using different exercises.

“Take-home message: The leg curl should be considered an essential exercise for maximizing growth in the lower part of the hamstrings. That said, there were large inter-individual differences in activation patterns between subjects; some exhibited considerably greater upper EMG amplitude with the stiff-leg deadlift, while others showed much higher activation from the lying leg curl. Thus, performing a combination of knee flexion and hip extension is the best way to ensure complete development of the hamstrings”

Stiff Leg Deads and Hamstring curls for optimal development

Do you cardio AFTER weight training. “Performing either treadmill or stationary bike exercise prior to strength training decreased the quality of the strength-training workout, with the stationary bike causing a greater decrease than the treadmill. Train for strength first and then practice aerobics. In other studies, Japanese researchers found that practicing aerobics after strength exercises was healthier for blood vessels. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 29: 1077-1082, 2015)”

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An interview with the ageless wonder, Dexter Jackson reveals that his longevity comes down to two things and I’m not sure which one it is. He’s either extremely smart or extremely lazy. Competing in 76 pro shows is no small task however, and he’s bagged 24 wins from that tally. When asked;

“How in god’s name have you not burned- out yet, mentally, physically or both?

“I think it’s because I didn’t have to do a lot of the stuff that most of the other guys did. For many years I didn’t do any cardio at all, and even now I just do 30 minutes a day in my prep. Other champs have had to do as much as two to three hours of cardio, and that takes a toll on the body just like the weights do. I have always kept my workouts shorter and I took full rest days. My workouts would be 60-90 minutes long, and I spent many years training only three or four days a week.”

“That gave my body three or four full days to recover. After contests, I have always taken a full two months off when I don’t go near a gym. So you could say I paced myself. Your body can only go at full throttle for so long before it breaks down. Taking your foot off the gas and coasting for a while is essential if you want to keep doing all this for many years. I recognize that my genetics and my metabolism have played a big part. I never went up and down 30-40 pounds once or twice every year like some other guys.”

He doesn’t do any of the compound movements anymore because of the toll on his joints.

“But I have switched to a lot more machines and dumbbells, and don’t do any of those movements I mentioned. I can still go heavy and train with intensity using machines, and that’s kept me safe.”

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No more barbells or dumbbells for Dexter.

Ron Harris writes a 365 day program for getting huge in 2016. It’s a really good training and diet program for those that want everything laid out for them down to the detail. It’s split into phases across different months so you’re achieving different goals at various stages of the year. Ron’s been in the trenches forever so he knows what he’s talking about.

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Former MD writer John Romano once asked in that “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” documentary, “Where are the bodies?” when it comes to steroid related deaths. Ummm. One need not look too far these days with many lifters dying for steroid/PED implicated reasons. An article this month once again drives home the real ramifications of drug use in bodybuilding and sports due to high BMI’s and long term side effects.


Baitaollah Abbaspour was another bodybuilder to join the ranks of the every-growing Deadpool this year.

Michael Rudolph, the Senior Science Editor, highlight the best training techniques of the year:

Cluster Sets – These are nothing new and have been covered extensively in the past on many different sites.
Let’s say you can bench press 275 pounds for five successive repetitions. Well, during a cluster set you would lift the 275 for the first mini-set within the cluster for two repetitions, rack the weight, wait for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat two more times, or for two more mini-sets, within the first cluster. This would give a total of six repetitions with 275 pounds, meaning you’ve effectively performed one more repetition within the cluster set than you normally do during a regular set, with no rest between repetitions.

Plyometrics – consists of five to six sets within the five- to eight-repetition range, and approximately 90 seconds rest between each set. The most effective plyometric exercises typically utilize just your bodyweight with no additional resistance. Some of the more popular and effective plyometric movements include box jumps, squat jumps and plyometric push-ups, which make good finishing movement on bench press day, resulting in noticeable gains in the bench press.


Chains – predominately cater to fast twitch muscle fibres. In general, when the lift is easier to perform at the top of the lift and harder to perform at the bottom of the lift, it is amenable to chain-loaded training, meaning that the use of chains will result in accommodated resistance, which will likely generate strength gains. These lifts are said to have an “ascending strength curve,” meaning as you ascend in the movement, strength potential increases. Most standing lower body lifts, including the squat and deadlift, have ascending strength curves, along with other common lifts like the bench press— as they all produce the greatest force at the top of their respective movement and are, therefore, responsive to chain-loaded training

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Chain training worked for Hercules

Llewellyn features the Quickshot needle delivery system that will seemingly revolutionise the delivery system of injectables through painless shots similar to an insulin pen.

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The future of painless pumps?

Primobolan is disappointing to many because you seem to spend more for less gains. However it might hold some value on a cut when calories are low and you’re trying to squeeze out some extra quality growth.

Asking the pros (better known as the bioscience corner)- are full body routines better than splits for beginners? All questioned are of the consensus that full bodies are ok for beginners but splits are more productive at the end of the day. Take that science!

Other quotable gems:

“Eating every 2 hours boosts your metabolism” – Dexter Jackson

“I doubt your body could use 100gm of protein at once” – Dennis Wolf.


Dennis digesting 100g of protein at once.

How do you know that you’re built for the sport? Phil Heath describes his first contest that he prepped 4 weeks for – The 2003 Northern Colorado. – “But at 192 pounds after only four weeks of dieting, I won the Novice, the Open Light-Heavyweight and the Overall.”


Heath’s first show – the 2003 Northern Colorado

Lee Haney thought Phil deserved the win but looked soft in the midsection where Dex and Shawn had him beat. Did you see Shawn’s gut this year Lee?

Ronnie the unequivocal nice guy once said that he did lose it when a guy he was arresting called him a nigger. Office Ron “hurt him so badly he had to go the hospital…and then when I got him to hospital, I put his head through the wall.”


Officer Ron delivering forced reps to a felon’s head during an arrest.

Ronnie also thinks Shawn Ray would have dominated the 212 class had it existed in the 90s. Ronnie said he looked up to Shawn and copied his posing routine in 1998 the year he won his first Mr O.

Dexter’s son is 6’2 and 280b football player. Dex keeps things covered up while training because he thinks that it’s bad luck to be on show before the competition, posting selfies and what not. He doesn’t want to link himself as that guy who turns up looking like shit.

Charles Glass thinks Dexter had Phil beat this year saying “Phil only bested Dex on rear double bis and lat spread, but Dexter “killed Phil on conditioning.” DJ also did the whole show with no sponsor and had won the Arnold Classic in both the USA and Australia prior to that too. He takes 6 weeks off after the Olympia – no weights, cardio or anything.

Slime-ball Farah is quoted as saying in his column “Look out for Big Ramy to make even bigger things happen next year” – Yep, especially since now he’s with Aceto, Georgie boy.

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From Dennis James to Aceto to Farah back to Aceto….if Heath is “the Gift”, Ramy is “Pass the Parcel”

Weak point training should be the focus of any good offseason program says Hany Rambod.


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