Showing posts from June, 2015

12 Mistakes in Building Muscle through Calisthenics

I thought I'd do something a little different than the usual exercise video and do a video podcast instead. In this podcast I talk about body weight exercises and how to build muscle from calisthenics:

Here are the show notes:

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a fascination with body weight only programs.  It’s the number one search topic on my Strength and Physique blog, and I know many personal trainers have their own body weight only programs.

I don’t think it’s the cost factor (calisthenics can be done without equipment), because I’ve seen people do just body weight exercises at the gym.  Which is ridiculous, because why do calisthenics at the gym when you can do them anywhere for free?

Not only is there a lot interest in body weight only programs, but there’s a lot of interest in building muscular bulk through body weight only programs.  Can you build muscle mass on just calisthenics?

Yes.  But the road to muscle mass is long and narrower on a calisthenics program.  Wanting t…

Lifting with an Injured Back

Q: I want to say thanks for those Strength and Physique updates.  Those are nice little nuggets and tips in my inbox. I just got done with my last physical therapy session for my tweaked back. I fucked up my bulging discs back in March and had to go back in for therapy.

And then once my back was better, there were OTHER issues they discovered: muscle compensations and imbalances affecting my hip/pelvis alignment. 

My back is actually much better now (when I tweaked it doing, of all things, a yoga stretch I had lots of nerve irritation which was scary as it made my legs feel weak) but there are other issues with a rotated pelvis and/or hip misalignment. 

But one question I wanted to ask you was what your thoughts are on lifting for those with injured backs? Obviously, I need to always be mindful of my form and if I'm pushing the boundaries, but my physical therapist discouraged me from doing deadlifts anymore. Even my orthopedist didn't want me doing deads, or squats unless they w…

Manipulating Meal Frequency to Maximize Muscle

Bodybuilding dogma states that in order for you to build muscle you have to eat. You want to be big? You got to eat big. You have to eat a lot, and you have to eat often. Bodybuilders typically eat 6 times a day. But is it necessary to eat all the time?

When I was a young buck concerned with getting big and muscular, I was eating all the time. I’d pack 3 mini meals to take to work. My meals were a protein drink, a protein bar and a can of tuna mixed in with mac and cheese. Each meal had about 20-30 grams of protein. Plus I made sure I drank a lot of water. With breakfast before and dinner after work, I'd total 5 meals a day.

I used to eat frequently, but I found that it was far too expensive and time consuming to always be eating. It helps to gain and maintain muscle by eating frequently, but it does interfere with your lifestyle and work. You can’t really do much if you’re carrying around a cooler of food and have to eat every 2-3 hours. You also can’t perform athle…

Pre-Contest Training

Q: I have really been enjoying your books and making great progress in the gym.  Recently just finished the 14 week mesocycle in Neo-Classical Bodybuilding, and I'm very keen to start on the body specialization as I have some weaknesses.

Just slightly confused how to plug these workouts into the density phase.  Are these workouts purely for density phases only?  For instance Chest specialization workout #2: Is that just one training session or added onto the T-boost workout? I guess using the specializations means I'll be training one more day a week? 

Thank you very much just slightly confused.

Hear from you soon, love the videos too. 

E. Pascale

My Answer: Glad you like the books and videos. As far as the specialization workouts, they are to be used only as a density phase.  Chest specialization workout #2 is one training session.  Workout #3 is the T-boost workout in the chest specialization program.  The specialization programs that are outlined in the book are four workouts …

The Perfect Curl and the Body Drag Curl


Bench Press on the Strength Training for Fat Loss Program

Q: I am interested in doing your Modern Strength Training/Fat Loss program:
One arm kettle bell swingFront barbell squatBarbell hack squatPull upsPush upsPreacher curlBench dipsSide lateral raiseCalf press leg press machine
If I add the bench press on that program or switch it with one of the work out, would it ruin the whole program?  I've been bench pressing for the start and warm up as always. I was also advised to do bench press only once a week as well. Another question I have is, am I allowed to do cardio exercise on the same day or should I do it on separate day?


My Answer: You should do cardio on a separate day.  As far as adding the bench press, that would lengthen an already very long workout.  If you really want to do the bench press, then do them instead of the push-ups:

One arm kettle bell swingFront barbell squatBarbell hack squatPull upsBENCH PRESSPreacher curlBench dipsSide lateral raiseCalf press leg press machine

Body Weight Supersets for Fat Loss

Q: Hi I'm 14, and I like to workout with just body weight.  It seems like I'm stuck.  I don't know what to do. I'm going for strength training and weight loss, but I'm such an amateur.  I don't have a diet or food plan, I started using this app that counts calories and that's it. Please give me some feedback, I don't know what to do.

This is my routine. If you have any suggestions, I'd be very grateful. These workouts usually make me feeling sore, you could say they are hard to finish.  I feel like my abs aren't really getting hit all around and as hard. I'm 5'7, 180 lbs, age 14, 18-25 body fat.

Note: I usually have to wait more than 2 days to recover


Wide Push-ups 3x8Perfect Push-up 3x81.5 Push-up 2x10 - 30 seconds restResistance Curls 3x12 (each arm) Wide Dips 4x12Cross Crunches 4x12Sprinter Abs 3x15Reverse Crunch 3x12Mountain Climbers 30 seconds x 2Leg Raises 3x8Pistol Squat 3x8 (each leg)Plank 60 seconds


Push-ups 4x20 W…

Ring Exercises for Physique Training

Q: James great post. You know I've trained on gymnastic rings this past year and got pretty good (full lay front and back levers, iron cross almost, Maltese/planche holds on rings) and also working on transitioning. The most visually impressive and easiest is the straight arm pull into inverted hang. Then you can go into back lever and roll out again. I've been doing this as my warm-up prior to hitting the weights. 

One thing though is I've lost a lot of size. It might be because I train everyday or diet/stimulant use but I'm much sleeker now, like a male artistic gymnast. And while you say that's much preferred it honestly doesn't look "jacked" enough, and I don't think you can achieve that guy's physique (>>) in your post with just ring training. 

Very few gymnasts look like that: Yuri Van Gelder, Brandon Wynn.  I actually spoke with Brandon, and he mentioned that weights would get your physique to that godlike impressive look much bette…