Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to a Build a Thicker, Wider Back

Anatomy of the human back
I remember when I first started lifting weights after my parents bought me a Weider home gym and weight set, I didn't put much emphasis on training my back. At that time, I didn't think back muscles looked very awesome and actually thought that a super developed back like the ones I saw on the professional bodybuilders in the magazines looked gross.

Because of the lack of attention to my back, it has been one of my weakest and least developed body parts for a long time...until recently. In order to bring up my back I decided to put more focus on it by increasing the volume, having separate workouts for width and thickness, and really trying to feel the back muscles and letting them do the work. 

In looking back, I believe my weak and underdeveloped back was due to the following three mistakes.

1. Not enough intensity and volume

When I first started lifting weights, exercises for my back were an afterthought. It was a situation where I would throw in a few sets at the end of a chest workout, thinking that was enough for my back. 

So I was doing something like 12-16 sets for my chest and only 4-6 sets for my back. Obviously, this was a pretty uneven disbursement of sets between the two opposing muscle groups.

Through my years of lifting, I've found that the back muscles can handle a relatively voluminous and heavy workload. But early on, because of the amount of weight available for me at home, I couldn't really load my back muscles with enough weight for a truly intense workout. So back exercises were probably done for between 15-20 reps.

If i were to be able to go back and do it over again, I would make sure to mix it up with rep ranges between 3-6 and also 8-12 reps. I would also make sure the number of sets for my back at least equaled the number of sets for chest, if not more.

2. Ineffective choice of exercises

I remember only doing 2 back exercises when I first started in my basement:
  1. Lat Pull downs 
  2. DB Bent Over Rows
I guess I was doing lat pull downs for width and dumbbell rows for thickness? :P

For those that know a little bit about back training, you know these two exercises leave a lot to be desired when it comes to training the musculature of the entire back.

The lat pull down is a good second or third exercise for your back but it shouldn't be your primary and only one. Single arm DB rows are also a good exercise but not as your primary one either.

Example of how to do Pendlay rows

My back could have had much better development had I done pull-ups/chin-ups instead of lat pull downs and Pendlay barbell rows instead of the single arm dumb bell rows (if I was only able to choose two). Even better if I would have done ALL of them!

The Pendlay barbell rows and pull-ups are my two favorite back exercises for developing an awesome back. If you're not sure how to do the Pendlay row, check out the link at

You can also check out this article on if you'd like to see more on the EMG activity of different back exercises.

3. Inability to "feel" the back muscles

Unless a person is a natural at "feeling" the back muscles during back exercises, it is very difficult to learn how use your back muscles instead of your arms and shoulders to do the exercises.

I never had anyone show me how to do this. It wasn't until I became more interested in back training that I read and learned about some tips on "feeling" my back.

When it comes to rowing/thickness exercises, something that helps me is to keep in mind the movement of the shoulder blades. I try touching my shoulder blades together on the concentric portion (they won't actually touch) and then let them spread apart on the eccentric portion of the exercise.

During back width exercises, I initiate the movement using the lower lats and really focus on feeling the lower lats throughout.

Another tip is to picture your hands as "hooks" and "pulling with your elbows". Doing this automatically helps my arms be less active and thus my back does more work.

You can either imagine your hands like hooks or you can actually buy hooks!

Using wrist straps also helps with allowing the back muscles to do the work and involve less of the biceps and forearms. 

I used to not want to use straps but I just started using them recently and they really help you focus on your back and allow you to exhaust your back beyond what your forearms allow you to handle. 

I'm currently using the Harbinger Big Grip "No-Slip" Pro straps which are really great.

So why did I do so little for my back? Well, because I couldn't SEE my back muscles when looking in the mirror of course! :P

I know I'm not the only person guilty of this. Many people disregard their backs when they first start training. Everyone wants to blast their pecs and biceps because those are what we see most in the mirror! But knowing these three mistakes and some tips on how to get a more effective back workout should lead you to seeing better results in the future!

Recent back picture taken 07/26/11. I wish I had a before picture of my weak back to show!
Here's an example back workout I used to bring up my back. It consisted of a back width day and a back thickness day usually with 2 or days rest in between the back workouts.

Format below is Exercise: number of sets x rep range

Back Width Workout
-Weighted Pullups - 4 x 6-8
-V-Bar Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 8-10
-Wide grip Lat Pulldowns - 3 x 8-10
-Kneeling J-Pulldowns - 2 x 12-15

Back Thickness Workout
-Pendlay Rows - 4 x 6-8
-Seated Cable Row - 3 x 8-10
-Machine Row - 3 x 8-10
-One Arm DB Row - 2 x 12-15

Good luck with your back training!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Myofusion Order results in Free Fat Burner!

I recently made an order for more Myofusion since it was on sale for $31 per 5lb jug with free shipping (plus its my favorite tasting review of it is here). I bought 4 jars, 2 banana and 2 strawberry, to make sure I have plenty for my upcoming bulk :)

Along with the Gaspari Myofusion protein, I purchased SAN T2 Xtreme which I also plan on using during my bulk to possibly minimize fat gain and build and restructure lean muscle.

The great thing about the T2 Xtreme I purchased is that I only ordered 1 bottle but received 2 by mistake!...Woohoo! Getting free supplements like this is like Christmas for me :)

2 for 1 SAN T2 Xtreme. Now I'll be twice as ripped :P

More specifics of how I plan on "bulking" are coming in a future blog post so I would suggest subscribing to my email list or liking my page on facebook for immediate notification of the post. Thanks!

Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Build Boulder Shoulders

Shoulder pic taken August 2nd, after a chest and shoulder workout :)

Building big, wide shoulders has been something that I've always aimed to do in order to obtain an "aesthetic" physique. 

Broad shoulders in which you can see a clearly defined separation between the deltoids and triceps/biceps, always look amazing. My personal favorite exercise for shoulders is the lateral raise :)

But I'd also like to share a great blog post which Dr. Andro from recently wrote, detailing the EMG activity of different shoulders exercises and which ones were the most effective. Check out the article at the link below:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OxyElite Pro for $24 a Bottle!

***EDIT 8/18/11 at 11:03 AM CST***
Sorry, but looks like this deal is dead already. That went really quick!

Right now, is having a buy 1 get 1 50% off sale on OxyElite Pro along with 20% off. 

My favorite fat burner on sale for $24 a bottle!

I used OxyElite Pro during my 12 week transformation and it is my favorite fat burner by far. It gives a good clean energy with no jitters and great appetite suppression.

If you buy 2 bottles, shipping is free so you can get the 2 bottles for a total of $47.99. This is only about $24 dollars a bottle which is a great price for OxyElite Pro and the cheapest I've ever seen it!

To get this price:

  1. Click here to activate 20% off
  2. Search for OxyElite Pro
  3. Click the checkbox where it says "Click & Save: Buy 1 select sports nutrition & get the 2nd 50% off!"
  4. Put 4 in the Quantity in bag field and click Update
You can actually make this an even better deal by buying 6 bottles (the max) and adding in the gold card. This total is $130.17 for 6 bottles which is $21.60 a bottle!

Feel free to share this deal with others using the buttons below :)
Or like my Aesthetic Muscle page on facebook for more deals like these in the future!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2 Free Quest Protein Bars!

I'm going to be out of town in Chicago for the next few days so I decided to post a link for a free sample of 2 Quest Protein Bars!

I normally don't buy or use protein bars but I did get chance to try out the Quest Protein Bars I have to admit, these are indeed the best protein bars I've ever had!

Get your free samples!

They also have a great nutritional profile and isn't made out of a long list of ingredients like other bars. Also, no soy protein! (which many bars seem to have for some reason). It's a high protein, high fiber, low carb bar that tastes delicious!

From their website:
"Quest bars have the best nutritional profile of any protein bar on the market – bar none. We’ve got 20g of protein, 4g non-fiber carbs, and no sugar alcohols or other junk. And most importantly, our bars taste better than any other bar. We’re so confident that you’ll agree that we let people order a single bar to try without having to commit to buying an entire box."

(As an added note: many people recommend microwaving the bars  for 10 seconds before consuming.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fish Oil Order from

So upon researching the different options for fish oil currently available, I decided to buy the Now Foods Ultra Omega-3 from

Since my order for the fish oil was so close to the amount I needed to reach for a free gift ($75), I decided to buy some other things as well. 

My package came today with everything BUT the fish oil since it was back ordered. I did receive a shipping confirmation yesterday though, and I should be receiving the fish oil on Wednesday. So thumbs up to for quick replenishment of the back order.

Package received from order!
Pictured above are the extra items I decided to buy:

  • MRM Creatine Monohydrate, 1000 grams for $19.99 - I was running low on creatine monohydrate and I wanted to make sure I had plenty for my upcoming bulk. $20 bucks for 1,000 grams is about the lowest price you'll find for creatine so I decided to get this at this time.
  • Nature's Science Vitamin C, 1000mg/100 Capsules for $5.98 - This was a great deal because this was actually a Buy 1 Get 1 Free offer so I got 200 of Vitamin C 1,000 mg capsules for $5.98! Vitamin C may slightly blunt cortisol so I take it in the mornings when cortisol is highest.
  • BSN Syntha-6 Decadence Bar, Chocolate Caramel Pretzel, $2.49 - My main reason for buying this was that I still needed a small dollar amount added to reach $75 dollars for the free gift, after the discounts were applied for the fish oil and Vitamin C. Another reason though is that Syntha-6 makes delicious protein shakes so I've been wanting to try their bars too. (I'll write a review on this bar once I try it!)
Mmmm...looks so delicious!

You'll also notice in the picture that I received other some items as well:
  • Free sample of Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion Chocolate - I already know what Myofusion tastes like...I just wanted more protein :)
  • Free sample of Optimum Nutrition Essential AmiN.O. Energy - My friend said he sampled this as preworkout/energy product and liked it so I wanted to try it also. 
  • MetaCal BodyFat Calipers - This was my free gift which is a $3.99 value. I played with it a little today and its very difficult to do the pinching by myself and measuring. I know I'm doing it wrong because it says I am 2-3% body fat which I know is impossible. I will have to get my girlfriend to do this for me :)
The total cost for this order was $81.89. I think I got a good deal on the fish oils and the Vitamin C. The fish oils will last me 4 1/2 months, the Vitamin C will last 200 days, and the Creatine will last 200 days as well. So I think I did good finding the best value in these items.

*Don't forget to use code LIFTLIFE for an additional 10% off if you order from*

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fish Oil Increases Muscle Protein Synthesis

There was a fairly recent study done by the Washington University School of Medicine, which concluded that fish oil increased the rate of muscle protein synthesis.

Based upon the results of this study, I'd like to experiment with the higher dosages they used in the study to see if I will notice any differences in my training, recovery, and/or body composition

I know there's some concern with high dose fishoil, but being that I'm only going to experiment with the higher dosages for a month or two...I think I'll be okay.

EPA/DHA Dosage
The omega-3 dosages they used in the study were 1.86 grams of EPA and 1.5 grams of DHA. 

The current fish oil I am using provides the common 180 mg EPA/120 mg DHA. I normally take 6 of these each day which would provide a total of 1.08 grams EPA/720 mg DHA, which is far short of the dosage used in the study.

For me to get the same amount of EPA as used in the study I would need to take a little over 10 softgels of my current fish oil product! (Since I can't split the fish oil capsule, I'll need to round up to 11 capsules)

I'm running low on fish oil anyway so I started looking today for what would be the best buy in order for me to get 1.9-2 grams of EPA per day.

Here are a few of the products I came across in searching for fish oil:

Cost per Day
To decide which one would be the best buy I had to include shipping in the prices and any discounts/coupons that I could find. Here's what I found:

In searching for fish oil, I saw GNC had a deal of the day for triple strength fishoil for $9.99 for 60 capsules. I would only need to take 3 per day to get the 1.9 grams of EPA. This product also came with free shipping so cost per day is .499.

The True Protein fish oils only cost $24.49 for 1,000 softgels and even at 11 per day it would last me 90 days. However, the shipping at this site is not so cheap and costs an additional $11.26! Even with the discount code I found ,"THESWOLE", this only reduces the total by $1.22 so the total cost is still $34.53. This amounts to .379 cents per day.

The NOW Foods Ultra Omega 3 costs $22.51(this includes shipping) for 180 softgels. Since these contain 500 mg EPA per softgel, I would only need to take 4 a day. This would last me 45 days so the cost per day would be .500 cents per day. 

Fish Oil for Sale plus Coupon Code!
However, I found on, they are having a sale right now on the NOW Foods Ultra Omega 3. I can get 3 bottles of the 180 softgels for a total of $56.35 (use discount code LIFTLIFE for 10% off and choose standard shipping of $5.98)
The cost per day for this discounted price would be .417 cents per day.

Even though this is still more expensive then the True Protein option, I am choosing to go with the NOW Foods Ultra Omega 3 from since I only have to take 4 softgels per day instead of 11.

*Note* You can make the True Protein option even cheaper if you buy more than 1 bottle. If you buy 2, it brings the cost down to .325 cents per day, but you would still need to take 11 softgels of this per day. I would rather pay a little bit more so I don't need to swallow so many softgels.

($24.49 * 2) + $12.59 shipping = $59.12
2,000 softgels / 11 per day = 181.81 day supply
$59.12 / 181.81 = .325

I'm very interested in seeing how my body will react to higher dosing of omega-3's. I'm already thinking that I may not notice anything at all, since fish oil isn't really a supplement that you'll really "feel". 

I'm hoping that maybe the high fish oil dosage taken post workout combined with the Intermittent Fasting eating schedule will somehow provide an even greater anabolic response than what was seen in the study :)

I haven't actually ordered the fish oil has anybody else out there found a better deal on a high EPA fish oil than the NOW Ultra Omega-3?

***Edit 08/04/11 7:28 PM***
I decided to go with the Ultra Omega-3 from Even though its on back order, they still let you order it to get this discounted price :)
I didn't look into liquid fish oil at all and I will have to include those in my search next time.

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