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What is your primary physique goal? You have the power to transform yourself, so what do you want to accomplish? Building lean muscle mass (not just bulk that’s mostly fat and water) is always a key objective. Of course, we want to have nice shape and aesthetics. But we still want to be big and thick, bursting with so much muscle that no one would even have to ask if you lift. One glance, and it’s obvious. Yet few of us are satisfied with the size we are, or the rate we are growing. One reason many fail to reach their goals is overemphasis on machines and isolation movements. The basics that were transforming skinny kids into rugged muscle men as long ago as the 1930s are just as effective in 2023. It’s just a matter of doing those old-school basics and doing them right. Here are eight exercises guaranteed to pack more beef on to your frame, along with tips on how to get the most out of each.

Bench Press

It was dubbed “The King of Upper Body Exercises” more than a half-century ago, and it’s hard to argue against that title. We think of the bench press as being primarily a chest movement, but in reality, this compound motion hits the anterior deltoids and the triceps as well. Chest development among physique athletes was superior in general in decades past relative to today, and many have surmised that the old-school devotion to the bench press as the primary exercise in chest workouts is the reason. Many modern-day trainers avoid the flat barbell bench press in favor of dumbbells and machines, ostensibly because many consider the bench press to be a “dangerous” exercise. They could be making a grave error, and not allowing their pectoral development to reach its full potential.

Do them this way: There is a huge difference in how to perform bench presses to develop power versus to stimulate growth in the pectoral muscle. First off is the rep range. Working primarily with sets of 1-5 will increase strength rapidly. The problem is, the pecs aren’t under tension long enough to damage the muscle fibers sufficiently to cause a growth response. Try sets of 8-12 instead. Next is learning to work the muscle rather than move the weight. Set yourself up like so: roll the shoulders down toward your hips while pinching your shoulder blades together. Put a slight arch in your lower back and “pop” your chest up. Use a grip just wider than your shoulders, and keep your elbows tucked down. Now you’re ready to press with pure chest power. Try to contract the pecs forcefully at the top of each rep. If you feel your triceps more than your pecs at that point, stop your reps a couple of inches short of lockout and focus on squeezing the pecs. Always control the negative, feeling your pecs elongate as they stretch. Never, ever bounce the bar off your chest!

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The squat has built more outstanding legs than any other exercise, and by a vast margin. It’s the absolute most basic leg movement you could imagine: put a barbell across your upper back and shoulders, do a deep knee bend, and stand up. Every man known for his spectacular wheels paid his dues with thousands of sets at the squat rack. Even with the excellent array of equipment available, including all manner of leg presses, hack squats, and even squat machines, nothing will ever replace the good old-fashioned squat.

Do them this way: If you want to squat a lot of weight, squat like a powerlifter, with the bar lower down on your back. That puts the glutes and the lower back in the best mechanical position to move maximum resistance. If you’re more interested in building huge thighs, do “high bar” squats like a bodybuilder, with the bar right across your upper traps. You will also want to keep your torso as upright as possible, though there should be a very slight forward lean. This will put the stress right on your quads, where you want it. As far as foot position, you will have to play around to find the one that allows you to get to parallel, or even better, below parallel, with no knee pain. Taller guys tend to need to set their feet farther apart, while men of average height or below can often have a shoulder-width stance. The toes should be angled just slightly outward. Do not lock out the knees at the top, and never drop fast and bounce out of the bottom position. Lower the weight under control, then drive right back up. Reps should be in the 10-15 range, though you can do heavier sets of 8-10 as well as lighter sets of 15-20 to attack different types of muscle fibers.

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“I lift things up and put them down.” That was the famous line spoken several times in the infamous Planet Fitness commercial that became a worldwide catchphrase. Yet it also perfectly describes the deadlift. If there is anything close to a full-body exercise, it’s the deadlift. In the course of pulling a heavy bar from the floor, you will work your entire back, from traps to lats and spinal erectors, along with your rear delts, biceps, forearms, quads, hams, glutes, and even calves! Talk about bang for your buck. Of course, most lifters do deadlifts for their back. Deadlifts give the entire back a look of thick, rugged power.

Do them this way: You’re never going to be able to squeeze and isolate the lats during deadlifts, so don’t worry about that. Many have found that going higher on the reps does a much better job of stimulating overall back growth. Take an overhand grip on the bar. Squat down low to start the lift, and drive from your heels while pulling with your back and arms. Never allow your lower back to round.

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Handsome muscular Caucasian man of model appearance working out training arms in gym gaining weight pumping up muscles bicep and tricep with dumbbells and on machines fitness and bodybuilding concept

Barbell Row

Barbell rows have long been a staple for back thickness. Bent at the waist, you pull a barbell into your abdominal area with a pronounced contraction of the lats. Machines and cables are nice variations, but nothing will ever beat the sheer effectiveness of the barbell row.

Do them this way: The most important form tip is to bend at the waist, with your torso at about 45 degrees to the floor. If you are able to get it closer to parallel, go for it. Most find that position drastically limits the weight they are able to use. That being said, too many guys stand too close to upright, and turn what should be a row into a bastardized shrug. Going too heavy is the reason why form goes to shit in nearly every case. They will jerk the barbell up and bounce it off their body, with the lats hardly being under any tension at all. Use a weight you can feel in your lats, otherwise you’re wasting your time.

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In the era before every gym had a dozen or more different machines to work your chest, lifters built mighty pecs with bench presses, dumbbell flyes, and dips. The humble dip is so simple that you could do it between two chairs if you didn’t have a set of dip bars available. Like the bench press, it thoroughly hits the pecs, front delts, and triceps. It’s also versatile. Lean forward, you get more chest involvement. Maintain a straighter torso, and the triceps take more of the load. It’s safe to say that any man who can do a good set of 10 reps with 90 or more pounds strapped around his waist is going to have impressive pecs, shoulders, and triceps. They also make an excellent finishing movement with nothing more than bodyweight.

Do them this way: If you are doing dips for chest, consider them as being akin to a decline press, as the angle is nearly identical. The neutral (hands facing each other) hand position puts you in a powerful position for pressing. Dips for the chest should have you lowering into a full stretch of the pecs, though you should always take care not to descend any lower than what your shoulders are safely capable of. Stop reps just shy of lockout, squeezing the pecs at the top of each rep. When doing dips for the triceps, you can lower to just above parallel, but do push out to fully locked elbows and fully contracted triceps. Flare the elbows away from the body for chest and keep them tucked in tighter for triceps.


You could theoretically build a great back by doing nothing more than deadlifts, barbell rows, and chin-ups. Chin-ups are another incredibly basic movement. Reach up and grab onto a bar, then pull yourself up! Most lifters opt for lat pulldowns instead, and I’m not saying those aren’t worth doing too. But pulling your own bodyweight upward, and especially if you become strong enough to do so with additional weight strapped on, will give you a wide, meaty upper back. People avoid chins because they are hard to do, the same reason many pass on squats and deadlifts. Yet the hardest, most uncomfortable exercises are usually also the most productive.

Do them this way: Chin-ups are going to be something you want to do first in your back workout, otherwise they will be a real struggle. You can use several different grips for chins. Because the standard wide overhand grip is the toughest, always do those first for a couple of sets before you move on to underhand or neutral grip chins. Or you could do all your chin-ups with the overhand grip, then save those other hand positions for lat pulldowns later in the workout. Don’t be afraid to use wrist straps. Most importantly, pull up and try to squeeze your upper back before lowering under control. Avoid the jerky swinging motion that you see in CrossFit, as it will do nothing to build your back.

Close-grip Bench Press

When most guys think of the best exercises to build the triceps, they typically envision extension movements like skull-crushers and cable pushdowns. While those are also effective, they don’t allow for the sheer amount of weight made possible in compound movements like dips and the close-grip bench press. Many pros with enormous horseshoe triceps have credited close-grip bench presses as being responsible for the bulk of their triceps mass. Think about it. A very strong man might be able to use about 150 pounds for skull-crushers, but he would likely handle around 315 on the close-grip. In the same way that torso angle can shift the resistance on dips from pecs to triceps, bringing your grip in closer on the bench press forces the triceps to work much harder.

Do them this way: Don’t take the “close grip” part of the exercise name too literally. Going too close with your hands will result in severe wrist strain. A good rule of thumb is to space your hands one hand width closer on each side than where you have them for bench presses. As with dips, you will want to keep your arms and elbows close to your body to emphasize the triceps. Don’t worry about trying to touch the bar to your chest, either. Stop short a few inches, then drive up to full lockout. Always take your time warming up, as these can be tough on the elbow joints and triceps tendons if you get too overzealous and jump into heavy weights too soon.

Alternate Dumbbell Curl

If you could only do two biceps movements, you would be just fine if those two were barbell curls and dumbbell curls. While barbell curls have a deservedly solid reputation for building millions of big guns over many decades, dumbbell curls do offer a couple of advantages. Many lifters experience wrist pain sooner or later from curling with a straight bar and move on the cambered EZ-bar. That’s because not all of us have full rotation of the wrist that allows for complete supination, and the straight bar forces the wrists into an unnatural position. Dumbbells allow you to move in exactly the way your body wants to. They also don’t allow a stronger arm to compensate for a weaker arm, as the barbell does.

Do them this way: There are two keys to good form on alternate dumbbell curls. One, don’t swing the weights up with momentum, and two, don’t let your elbows drift up and forward, away from your torso. Do your best to keep your elbows pinned to your sides. You can either supinate your hand as you curl up or keep them supinated (palms to the sky) the whole time. Forget about going very heavy. Do that, and I guarantee you won’t get the most out of these. Use a weight that really lets you squeeze your biceps hard at the end of each rep.

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By: Ron Harris
Title: 8 Best Lifts for Lean Muscle Mass
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Published Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2023 14:36:17 +0000

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Mens Health




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Limitless Bodybuilding

By PJ Braun

Sponsored by Blackstone Labs™

Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Experiment and figure out what’s best for you. Pay attention to your body and if something doesn’t feel right, try something different.

By the time you guys read this article, I will have surpassed 18 months in federal prison and working out in the gym is not just a distant memory, but now getting close to being a reality again as the second half of my sentence winds down. I have so much excitement in my heart and mind to get back to training with real weights and machines instead of bodyweight. Since the first time I touched a weight 30 years ago, I fell in love with working out! If I could work out all day, every day, I would! Sex is awesome too, close second, but I give the edge to the gym! Am I that crazy!?! I love chasing the pump and seeing my progress and I love challenging myself to push harder and more efficiently. I hate myself for getting away from that for a few years before my sentence, but I have learned to not live in the past. Time to make up for lost time. Over the years I have tried literally hundreds and hundreds of different exercises from powerlifting to functional to rehabilitation and I have learned what works best for my body through copious amounts of trial and error. So, I have decided to detail my most important exercises for each body part and why!

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I started out like most kids in the gym obsessed with the barbell bench press. It was an exercise that determined who was the worst ass in the high school gym and I hated not being good at it. When I was in my late teens, I started training under a powerlifting coach named Rob DeLavega in Brookfield, Connecticut at a Powerhouse Gym and he taught me the key fundamentals of the squat, deadlift and of course the bench press. I was not a great bench presser until years after my powerlifting career. My best max was only 455 pounds, but I was pleased when I could work out with 405 pounds for sets of eight and really proud when I did 225 pounds for 50. I was always better with stamina then low reps. The problem with the bench press is that ergonomically it is inferior to many exercises for building the chest because of the angle and stress on the shoulder joint. Most great bench pressers have massive front deltoids but often develop shoulder injuries. I destroyed both shoulders bench pressing and to this day still have lots of pain. So going back in time, if I could do things a little different, I would have spent most my time on the incline barbell press. This exercise really isolates the chest and is safer on the shoulder joint. Of course, you still need strong delts and triceps because like any compound movement, the body must work in synergy, but by keeping your scapula down and back, the stress is just unreal! It’s much harder than the flat version but it will blow your chest up!

Honorable mention: The incline dumbbell press is a close second because it’s so important to incorporate unilateral exercises to work out imbalances, and you can place the dumbbells exactly where you need to really feel the muscle work.


I love the dumbbell press and the Hammer Strength shoulder press. However, you can press all you want but if you really want them to look awesome, you need to do tons of lateral raises. The medial and posterior delts need that extra stimulation or you will be very imbalanced. My favorite is the seated dumbbell lateral raise done slow and strict. I start with the dumbbells under my legs so I can get a farther range of motion, and it’s hard to cheat when you’re seated.

Honorable mention: Reverse pec deck. Most people do this way too heavy and get too much trap involved. Done very light and strict, you can really engage the posterior delts more than anything else to round out the back of the delts!


For many years I focused on the barbell squat. I loved squatting heavy and would often work up to 495 pounds for sets of 10. I squat deep and love the feeling of exploding out of the hole. However, it wasn’t until a great bodybuilder named Ben Pakulski and I did legs together that he talked me into opening my mind about training. In 2006, we did legs for a Muscular Development video at Gold’s Gym Venice. I told him I mostly just do lots of squats, but he got me to start incorporating more variety and splitting the days up. I started experimenting and that’s when I really started growing. What was the key? The hack squat! Nothing overloads your quads the way the hack squat does and it’s much safer on your back!

Honorable mention: Close-stance leg press to 90 degrees. A lot of guys either use too short of a range of motion or too deep of a range of motion where the spine starts to curl off the back support, which is very dangerous. Keep the knees together and come down to 90 degrees and explode up to really overload the quads!


OK guys, you are going to be really surprised by this one. But if you really want thick hamstrings, the key exercise here is a wider-stance squat! Yes, that’s right. When you learn to sit back into your glutes and hams and perform the reps slow and efficient, the hamstrings get a different kind of stimulation. You’re probably thinking, I thought squats were a quad exercise? Squats work the entire lower body and when you open your stance, sit back and push through your heels, you will blast your hamstrings like crazy too. Want to really intensify it? Check out this tip in my honorable mention! Want to get more glute involved? Try the dumbbell plié squat or sumo variation.

Honorable mention: Lying hamstring curls done before you squat, so they are engorged with blood. Either superset or just done as straight sets, this combo really brought out the thickness in my side poses and the lying hamstring curl is essentially like doing a barbell curl for your arms. Explode up and control the negative. Learn to do hip thrusts properly, and the stimulation to the posterior chain will be superior to doing squats alone.


I absolutely love training back, and I had a hard time coming up with my number one here, so I am going to first say that your back needs lots of volume and angles but most importantly, you must row like crazy to grow. I love all variations of row exercises, from barbells to dumbbells to Hammer Strength to cables!! They all have their place, but I am breaking this down for width and thickness. For width, you have to barbell row with an underhand grip. Oh yeah, baby, like the great Dorian Yates in those crazy Blood and Guts workouts that really brought the lower lats thickness out. I have gone up to some sloppy sets of 405 but prefer to be stricter with the weight. For thickness, I switch over to the old-school T-Bar row. Not a machine. It must be done with a 45-pound bar in a corner with a V-Grip handle near the top.

Honorable mention: Pull-ups, which are great for starting the foundation of your back. Wide-grip, close-grip and underhand chins done early in your bodybuilding journey will provide a great deal of strength. Sadly, I can barely hang from a pull-up bar without a great deal of pain in my shoulders now, but that’s from all the old injuries. For all you young guys starting out, form is most important! Don’t swing, and use a complete range of motion.


Later in my career, I got really into cable variations for the triceps to warm up my elbows. If you look at my photos, you see that triceps were one of my best body parts and they grew almost too fast for me and made my biceps look smaller. The exercise I feel did the most for mass is the overhead dumbbell extension, done with both arms at the same time. I would often go up to the heaviest dumbbells in my gym, which was 130, and could do it strict and slow for 15-20 reps.

Honorable mention: The rope pushdown, which is the most versatile exercise for the triceps because you can change the stress of the exercise so easily. I prefer to start literally every triceps workout with rope pushdowns to really warm up my elbows and find that it’s really easy to pump up fast this way!


I see so many people train biceps too heavy and because of that, they don’t maximize the contractions and the full range of motion for the biceps. I was guilty of this early on in my career and it wasn’t until I started doing lots of incline dumbbell curls that my arms really grew. The incline curl when done properly takes the delt out of the exercise and from a full range of motion, the stretch at the bottom makes the muscle really isolate. I love dumbbell exercises, and this is by far my favorite.

Honorable mention: The dumbbell preacher curl. They key on this one is locking your armpit onto the top of the preacher bench and keeping your shoulders pulled back. Another awesome unilateral isolation exercise.

The best of the rest: I have trained calves, abs, and forearms hard and thorough, but my position is slightly different here. These are areas that simply can be ignored if they are genetically superior because of all the stimulation they get. I know so many guys who don’t train abs because they get lots of stimulation from compound exercises and their abs are sick. It’s easy to overtrain the ancillary groups too. Specifically forearms, because your grip is involved in so much! I developed major tendinitis from doing forearm work and don’t isolate them anymore. You want massive forearms? Don’t use straps on back day!

My calves were massive before I even touched a weight. EMG studies show that the donkey calf raise recruits the most muscle fibers, but many gyms don’t have that machine, so you got to make do with what you got. Variety is key for calves and abs, and if I really had to pick a number one ab exercise, it would be the kneeling rope crunch because you can really exaggerate the range of motion and contraction. If you want to really hit your core, you need to involve reverse curvature of the spine, meaning your lower body curls up toward your head instead of the standard crunching down!

So, there you have it. My most important exercises. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Experiment and figure out what’s best for you. Pay attention to your body and if something doesn’t feel right, try something different. What works best for me may not work best for you and the best part of the bodybuilding journey is learning the keys to success in the gym to unlock your true potential. Just because I have been training 30 years doesn’t mean I have stopped learning. When you stop learning, you stop your growth. That goes for the body, the mind, and the spirit.

Until next time, I love you all. Peace out, bye.

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The post WHICH EXERCISES REIGN SUPREME? appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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By: Team FitRx
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Published Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2023 13:33:45 +0000

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GlycoLog allows carbs to work for you to build muscle, so you can achieve serious lean gains.

The Great Carb Debate. Are you confused about carbs? That’s no surprise. The great carb debate has been going on for years, and carbs have gotten a pretty bad rap. Some people have labeled carbs as evil outcasts that make you fat and say that carbs should be shunned by everyone from celebrities to soccer moms and even high-level athletes – who in fact need them more than anyone else. What’s the solution? GlycoLog from Blackstone Labs™ allows carbs to work for you to build muscle, so you can achieve serious lean gains. GlycoLog puts CARBS back on the MENU!

Serious Lean Gains. There are lots of carbphobics out there, but you don’t have to be one of them. The issue that some people have with eating carbs is that it increases insulin, the body’s storage hormone. Insulin can either shuttle carbs into fat or muscle, depending on your genetics. Most people have poor genetics, which means eating carbs inevitably leads to increased fat. But that doesn’t have to be the case when you incorporate GlycoLog into your supplementation regimen. Using GlycoLog means carbs are back on the menu again, and they’re bringing some serious lean gains with them!

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Mens Health

When the Weight Stack Isn’t Enough



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The Giant Killer

By Two-Time 212 Olympia Champion Shaun Clarida

Sponsored by MUTANT

Q: I see you use something called a GymPin to add weight to both machines with stacks as well as plate-loading machines like Hammer Strength and Arsenal Strength. Which machines do you need to do that for, all of them? Every post of yours I see it looks like you have every plate a machine can hold!

A: I use it on almost every machine that has a weight stack that you use a pin to adjust the weight for, because most of the stacks were designed to accommodate a certain level of strength that very few people go beyond anyway. A lot of times a weight stack will only go up to something like 200 pounds and the GymPin lets me add 25 or 45 more pounds to that. I do also use it for plate-loading machines like the Hammer Strength Incline Press for chest so I can add a sixth plate to each side since there’s only enough room for five 45s. It also comes in handy on certain leg press machines when the posts don’t allow me to put enough plates on to really challenge me. On most models I can push 13 or 14 plates a side if I’m going as heavy as possible. I’ve seen people do crazy things like using bungee cords or duct tape to secure extra 45s. The GymPin is a much safer and more convenient tool to add extra resistance. I feel it my duty to mention that no one should be adding weight to anything if you are sacrificing form, range of motion, or mind-muscle connection just to say you used x amount of weight. But if you are genuinely maxed-out with what a machine holds or allows for, use my code GK20 for GymPin at!

The Heat Is On!

Q: Your new home state of Texas went through a record-setting heat wave less than two months after you moved there. How did you handle all those days in a row that were well over 100 degrees outside?

A: Honestly, I love it. I’ve always been a fan of the heat. I love Florida and Texas weather. What isn’t so fun is that summer is also the rainy season in Texas. The storms here are just ridiculous. They are so loud I thought the windows were going to shatter! I wake up and it’s 70 or 80 degrees. It gets up to 100 or more by noon. I prefer the heat. You know I stay covered up almost all the time when I train. So don’t feel bad for me, I’m fine even at over 100 degrees!

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Olympia Prep: Bigger and Better

Q: You are starting your prep for the Olympia, where you will defend your 212 title and hopefully earn your third win. Where are you at with your physique this year as compared to your starting point in 2022? I believe you hit an all-time high for your off-season bodyweight and strength.

A: I did get up to 215 pounds, which is crazy. I never thought I would be that heavy in this off-season with having a new baby and moving across country. I had assumed my training would have suffered a bit here and there with all that going on. But I have been able to get my training, meals, and cardio in every day without fail. I’d always heard “everything is bigger in Texas,” and now I believe it! I remember sending Matt Jansen my check-in when I hit 215, and I was surprised. That’s a lot for me. I will come in a little bigger at this Olympia than ever before, but the most important thing for me is conditioning. Nothing else matters if the condition isn’t top-notch. That’s why I never focus on my bodyweight. I’m more concerned with trying to improve certain areas like my chest and hamstrings. As I get stronger on those movements and add new lean muscle tissue, the weight does creep up. It’s been a great off-season and I also feel I’m going to grow into the show. I’m one of those guys who gets stronger in prep, so sometimes I have to be mindful and stay safe, so I don’t get injured. But I’m going to keep pushing hard, stay strong, and hold as much size going into the show as possible. Despite being 40 and already being as strong as I am, I still find I’m able to make strength gains.

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How Being a Dad Changed Me

Q: Has being a dad changed your outlook on life at all yet? Most men say they feel like an entirely different chapter of their life has begun.

A: I feel like an adult now! I actually had this conversation with Branch Warren recently at Destination Dallas. I thought I was motivated and had purpose before, but becoming a father was like turning a switch. From now on, everything I do moving forward isn’t for me anymore. It’s for my daughter. Now she’s the reason I’m determined to improve and win my third Olympia title. She gives me a whole new fuel and drive to be the best I can be.

Home Gym, Texas Style

Q: Do you have any equipment at home?

A: My new home in Texas has a four-car garage, and I set aside two of the bays to be my “home gym.” In the past in New Jersey, I always had to drive to the gym for my morning cardio. It wasn’t a long drive, but I always thought I would save time by having cardio equipment at home. Now I can do that as well as abs, calves, and adductors. At home I have a Matrix Stairmaster, a Hammer Strength leg raise, an old-school Hoist seated calf raise, an Icarian calf press, an Atlantis ab crunch, a Nautilus ab machine, and Magnum abductor and adductor machines. I also got a new Nautilus hip/glute drive machine. This saves me a lot of morning trips to the gym, and of course I still do all my heavy training there.

Instagram @shaunclarida

YouTube: Shaun Clarida

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Shaun’s MUTANT® Stack



BCAA 9.7







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By: Team FitRx
Title: When the Weight Stack Isn’t Enough
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Published Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2023 12:58:27 +0000

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