Monday, March 18, 2013

Qualifications in fitness for Mauritians. By Vic Goyaram

Qualifications in Exercise and Nutrition for Mauritians
Researched and composed by Vic Goyaram

Fitness qualifications
I decided to write this article after having received several queries from friends in Mauritius about fitness qualifications that they can obtain. To my knowledge there isn't any institution offering courses yet in Mauritius. I am sure there will be in the future given the growing interest in fitness education and the number of qualified and experienced people. We need more qualified professionals in Mauritius because we need to reach out to the maximum people, not only those in bodybuilding. 

I am putting together whatever I know about courses and qualifications in this article. It has been many years that I haven't been in Mauritius and if there has been any change, please feel free to add your own input.  Although I am writing this article from a Mauritian perspective, many readers from other countries may also benefit. Rest assured that there is something for everyone, irrespective of educational background. 

How can qualifications help you?
First of all, let it be clear that having qualifications does not qualify you automatically to be an expert. We have all known people who can be classified as follows:
  • People who flaunt their qualifications but whose level of knowledge is rather low. There are lots of personal trainers who don't even look like they are into any form of exercise, let alone lift. 
  • People who do not have any qualification but whose genuine interest for learning and long experience in the field really shows in how much they know in the field.  
  • People who have no interest in the fitness world but who view fitness-related jobs as a way to make quick money and one good day decide to pursue a personal training course. A couple of weeks down the line you will see them teach the wrong things in gyms.
I have personally learned a lot from people whose qualifications I didn't care to look up. From their knowledge it is evident that they know a lot from experience, continuing study and open-mindedness to consider new ideas. Knowledge is constantly accumulating, more new things are becoming known and a lot of old ideas and beliefs are being disproved.  Therefore, we must be flexible enough.  

Qualifications can help you in the following ways:
  • If you want to become a personal trainer, advisor, PE teacher or have a gym and want to give better coaching to others.
  • If you are an athlete and want to increase your knowledge on sports training and nutrition that can give you an edge.
BUT NEVER FORGET THAT learning never stops. Even if you have a PhD in Exercise/ Nutrition Sciences there is still room to learn. You can even learn from someone who has no qualifications. Remain humble even in a situation when others are wrong and you may be right. There are so many new research findings in the fields of exercise and nutrition that there is so much more to learn. Don't give your qualifications a bad name. 

Routes to qualifications

1. The academic-formal education route

There are two ways to go about with this one. The first way is as follows:

Specialised degrees
Doing an undergraduate degree in the field of Biology, Biochemistry, Nutrition, Physiology and allied disciplines. After this degree you can either go into other professions (industry, teaching etc) but this qualifies you to a number of certifications that you can pursue which require that you have a degree in the above disciplines. I will tell you more about these later.

Courses at the University of Mauritius
The University of Mauritius offers good quality undergraduate courses in disciplines that prepare you for sports/ exercise related fields. Undergraduate education at the University of Mauritius is very good. Don't let anyone tell you that their degree is not good. The one who discourages you from studying a field you are passionate about deserves a slap.

There may be shortcomings at the postgraduate level in certain fields but undergraduate education at UoM is very good. A lot of UoM graduates remain unemployed in Mauritius but once they decide to let go of mommy and daddy's house and stand on their own feet abroad they will see the edge their UoM degree gives them. Even if foreign universities may require you to do equivalence exams you will be better than most students abroad. The following are the qualifications from the University of Mauritius that I have short-listed.

1. The Diploma in Sports Science & Recreational Activities. click for details

2. The BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy: Physiotherapists are key people in sports. Respect to physiotherapists. They are also trained to help children and elderly as their training is not sports-specific. I have a friend who is the physiotherapist for the South African Canoeing national team. She is very good and has a gratifying career. More details on the UoM BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy course click here

3. The BSc (Hons) Biology: This is the degree that I did with UoM 12 years ago. It is an excellent degree with the curriculum encompassing all aspects of living systems and the environment. With respect to our field you will be adequately trained in biochemistry, cellular biology, physiology as well as plants of pharmaceutical importance. With this degree in your pocket you will be equipped to go into any field dealing with living things.  For my final year I did my research project on human nutrition (mineral bio-availability). I was also able to do mini-research projects on plant antioxidant biochemistry. Personally speaking, this qualification helped me obtain employment in the field of Agriculture, horticulture, plant pathology and medical diagnostics before I undertook exercise biology as my future career course. Every single thing that I have learned from my degree has helped me subsequently. Click here for more details

4. Specialised Physiology/ Biochemistry/ Nutrition/ Food Science degrees: If you decide to be a specialist from undergraduate level itself then you need to fly abroad to study. There are many options in the UK, the Americas, Australia and other European countries but not everybody has the money to go to such countries. An excellent foreign study option remains India. There are many good universities in India that you can afford with more or less the same amount of money you'd spend for a degree in Mauritius. There are also South African universities that rank among the world's finest but the downside is that they are quite expensive, although not as expensive as Europe/ US/ Canada/ Australia. An undergraduate degree may cost about Rs. 1.5 million. I recommend the following universities in South Africa:

Some can take it further and go on higher degrees. The job prospects are numerous provided one is versatile. University Lecturer/ researcher in exercise science, formulations R&D scientists for supplement companies, scientific writer for magazines, scientific coaches. It takes so much time and massive efforts that sometimes it pains and you have to be really passionate about it or else don’t do it. It is really tough. You may need to spend 10 years at a university to reach this level and spend a boatload of money and undergo sacrifice. This is especially true if you choose to be independent or do not come from a family who has money. Ask me about it. 

For people having degrees in other fields
If you are pursuing a degree in other fields (commerce, accounting, engineering etc) and are interested in getting a training/nutrition certification then it is possible as there are many reliable ones that you can acquire that do not require a specialised degree. You will learn more about these below.

2. Online Accreditations
You have to be very careful with online course providers. There are many scam artists on the Internet offering one-day fitness certifications. In my opinion, one of the best online course provider is the International Sports Science Organisation (ISSA).  It is based in the USA among it's panellists are Dr. Sal Arria, Dr. Fred Hatfield, Dr. Thomas D. Fahey, Dr. John Berardi, Dr. William J. Kraemer as well as highly knowledgeable bodybuilding legends like Bill Pearl and John DeFendis. I have helped friends obtain their ISSA qualifications, especially their nutrition certification. 

The ISSA offer training and nutrition certifications and it is not difficult to pass exams provided you put the effort in. With an SC certificate these courses can be done from Mauritius itself. For more information:
Click here to visit the ISSA website
2. Professional Certifications

a. The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN)  
Click here to visit the ISSN website
The ISSN was founded by Dr. Jose Antonio, Dr. Richard Kreider, Dr. Susan Kleiner, Dr. Doug Kalman and Anthony Almada. It is a non-profit and academically-based society for the promotion of sports nutrition and applied nutrition. The ISSN is recognized by leading organisations and universities worldwide and also has a scientific journal where research and reviews are published by researchers worldwide. ISSN is the real deal. 

The ISSN offers two main sports nutrition certifications, namely the:
  • The Sports Nutrition Specialist (SNS): If you have an HSC and are above 18 you can do the SNS.  You require a knowledge of basic exercise training, general nutrition and sports supplements. If you are in Mauritius you will need to get a Biology/ Health professor at a university invigilate you while you write the exams at a pre-determined time.  The SNS is definitely worth the investment. For more details about the SNS click here. (Yo! I didn't mean "lick" but click)
  • The Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN): If you have a master’s degree or a 4-yr undergraduate degree in the related disciplines you can do this. If you have a degree in an unrelated field there are some conditions that should be met.  You must get a professor to invigilate you for the exams or you can take the exams in America at the ISSN conference (expenive). For more details on the CISSN credential and how to obtain it please click here to find out more
b. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
Click here to visit the NSCA website
When it comes to training certifications honestly I don't know better than the US-based NSCA which has been founded in 1978. The NSCA bridges the gap between science and its application and its certifications are the most sought-after in the industry. NSCA certifications are also recognised worldwide. The famous Journal of Strength and Conditioning research (JSCR) is the published by the NSCA.

Below are the major certification courses offered by the NSCA:

The NSCA-CPT (Certified Personal Trainer)
To become an NSCA-CPT you will need HSC plus some experience in training. You will have to take an intensive exam at an examination centre. The closest for Mauritius is South Africa. The NSCA qualifies CPT specialists as follows:

"Health/fitness professionals who, using an individualized approach, assess, motivate, educate and train clients regarding their health and fitness needs. They design safe and effective exercise programs, provide the guidance to help clients achieve their personal health/fitness goals and respond appropriately in emergency situations. Recognizing their own area of expertise, personal trainers refer clients to other health care professionals when appropriate". More details here.

The NSCA-CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist)
This uses a more scientific approach to training and coaching. It requires a post-secondary qualification. Exams are held abroad. South Africa is the option for Mauritians. A lot of professionals have it. The NSCA qualifies CSCS specialists as follows:

"Professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance. They conduct sport-specific testing sessions, design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs and provide guidance regarding nutrition and injury prevention. Recognizing that their area of expertise is separate and distinct, CSCSs consult with and refer athletes to other professionals when appropriate". More about the CSCS certification". More details here

The NSCA-CSPS (Certified Special Populations Specialist)

People with special needs like those with disabilities or medical conditions can also benefit from exercise. Special populations specialists are well equipped to attend to these people. The NSCA qualifies CSPS specialists as follows:

"fitness professionals who, using an individualized approach, assess, motivate, educate, and train special population clients of all ages regarding their health and fitness needs, preventively, and in collaboration with healthcare professionals. Special populations include those with chronic and temporary health conditions. CSPSs design safe and effective exercise programs, provide the guidance to help clients achieve their personal health/fitness goals, and recognize and respond to emergency situations. Recognizing their own areas of expertise, CSPSs receive referrals from and refer clients to other healthcare providers as appropriate". More details here.

Feel free to write to me if you need any guidance about the fields of study to choose. Also chat with others who are experienced in this field. My email address is  It takes a lot of sacrifice to get these qualifications but at the end of the day it is worth it. There is no easy way out. You have to sacrifice to gain. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Powerlifting training for bodybuilders. By John Bubb, former NABBA Pro bodybuilder

Old School Bodybuilding

Powerlifting-type training for bodybuilding
By John BUBB, former NABBA pro bodybuilder
John Bubb on the legendary NABBA Universe stage
Introduction by Vic Goyaram

This article is for those willing to use powerlifting-type training to improve their strength and physique. Most people imagine big butts and waists when thinking of a power lifter’s physique but that's incorrect! Improper diet is probably more to blame than powerlifting exercises and style of training. There are many great powerlifters who display envious physiques with virtually no bodybuilding training. One example is Vince Anello, the legendary US-based powerlifter. Likewise, most of us diehard fans know about bodybuilders with a powerlifting background and whose training borrows a lot from powerlifting. We all know about Johnny Jackson and Franco Columbu. The dangerous physique that John Bubb sported in his prime is also courtesy of his powerlifting background and his powerlifting-style of training. As usual, we are more than pleased to have John sharing his pearls of wisdom with us on Bodybuilding Mauritius. 
Powerlifting legend Vince Anello was built like a
bodybuilder. He even competed in bodybuilding shows like Mr. America
IFBB Pro Johnny Jackson is a competitive powerlifter in the offseason.
When Bob Cicherillo announced Johnny "O" Jackson at the Olympia
you'll always see the thickest muscle in the pro league.
John Bubb's suggested plan for BULKING up
(12-week program)
John holding his own next to Reg Park and Arnold
The main trouble with giving out this type of advice is that I have no idea how long you have been training or how advanced you are. Obviously the type of exercise schedule that I’m going to advise would be far too advanced for somebody who had only been training for a few months. I’m going to assume that you’ve done at least a year.

If you want to put on size and get much stronger, you’ve got to forget you are a bodybuilder for 6 months and pretend you are a POWERLIFTER. Train for size and strength and then when you go back to pure bodybuilding you will be able to perform the conventional exercises with a lot more weight and thus make them more effective. Before I became a professional I used to enter power lifting contests quite regularly and the preparation for these contests used to really help my bodybuilding training. In fact I found that I gained size all over (even my arms) when I was literally only doing Bench Press, Squats and Dead Lifts. It thickens your muscularity or, gives you more muscle density.

If you do decide to follow this plan you will probably feel that you are not doing enough, but trust me, you will be. And remember, most bodybuilders over train. Especially beginners because they are over anxious to make progress. You grow while you are resting, not when you are pumping. Talking of resting, when you are doing power training you need nice long rests between sets. If you rush you won’t make the poundages so you will be diluting the effect.

Always warm-up with a little Cardio before you start.

The training program

Mondays and Thursdays (Chest, triceps, calves and abs)

First exercise: Bench Press – FLAT
Execution of the bench press
  • 1 set of 15, really silly light
  • 1 set of 8 using a weight with which you could get 10 if you were really trying. 
  • Add weight and do 1 set of 5 using a weight with which you could get 8 if you were really trying.
  • Add a little weight and perform 1 set of 5.
  • Add a little weight. 1 set of five flat out. Make sure you do get five.
  • Add a little weight. 1 set of five to failure. On this set you might only get three or four to start with, but that’s fine.
  • 1 set of five using the same weight as you used for the third set of five. This time do as many as you can. You’ll probably surprise yourself and get seven or eight. If you manage eight you can finish. If not do:-
  • 1 set of eight or ten using the same weight as you used for the first set of five.
After you’ve done this four or five times you should be able to add a little extra weight on all the sets of five. It’s particularly satisfying when you suddenly find you are getting five on that fourth set and you can add even more weight. You’re on the move and this is the first day of the rest of your life!!

Second exercise: Triceps Extensions lying on a bench (Head Crushers)
Execution of the skull crushers
1 set of ten quite light.
4 sets of eight heavy

Third exercise: Your favourite Calf Raises.5 sets of 15 to 20.
Click for full article on calf training

Fourth exercise: Abdominals
Finish up with 3 or 4 sets of abdominal exercises, that is crunches or leg raises. Don’t go mad. These are just to make sure that no part of your body gets left out.

Tuesdays and Fridays (Legs, Back, Biceps, calves)
First exercise: Conventional Squats.
Squat execution
  • 1 set of 20 really silly light, then:-
  • 1 set of eight – easy, then:-
  • 5 x 5 performed exactly as the Bench Press.
  • 1 set of as many as you can manage using the same weight as you used for the first set of five. Finish.
Second exercise: T-Bar Rowing
T-bar row execution
  • 1 set of eight - quite light
  • 4 sets of six – heavy
  • Bend your knees slightly and make sure you keep your back really flat throughout the complete movement.
Third exercise: Conventional Barbell Curls

Barbell curl execution
  • 1 set of 8 or 10 - fairly light.
  • 5 sets of 6 – heavy. Do these in a fairly loose style with just a little bit of heave and swing. DON’T overdo it however. Just enough heave to get the heavy weight moving.

Fourth exercise: Choose another Calf Raise (different from Monday & Thursday)

5 sets of 15 to 20.

Every third work-out (on the legs and back days) leave out Squats and do DEAD LIFTS as follows:-

  • 1 set of ten really light and easy.
  • 1 set of six a bit heavier, but well within your capability.
  • 1 set of four fairly heavy, but still not flat out.
  • 1 single rep – heavy.
  • Add a little weight. 1 single rep. 
  • Add a little weight. 1 single rep. 
  • Add a little weight. 1 single rep. 
  • Take off a little weight. 1 single rep. 

Drop the weight way down and do four or six to finish off. 

If you follow this recipe to the letter you will be amazed and thrilled at how quickly your poundages shoot up after a few workouts. And remember, there is nothing like Dead Lifts to thicken your back. giving you that muscle density you are looking for.

Do all of this for twelve weeks.


John Bubb for Bodybuilding Mauritius

About the Author
John Bubb is a former NABBA professional bodybuilder with more than half a century of experience in the iron game. John has six top four finishes at the NABBA Pro Mr. Universe from 1967 to 1971, including a runner-up placing to Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1968. 

John has trained several bodybuilders from many countries and has remained very active in the bodybuilding arena decades after hanging his posing trunks. He is one of our most prized contributors at Bodybuilding Mauritius and we feel very honoured to have someone of the calibre of John dispensing advice to all of us with such enthusiasm. 

We at Bodybuilding Mauritius are very keen about old-school bodybuilding as we believe that in order for bodybuilding to have a future it must look back at its past. We couldn't ask for a better guru of Golden era bodybuilding than "Iron Grandpa Bubb". 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

All about training the calves. By Vic Goyaram

All about training the Calves
Researched and Composed by Vic Goyaram

In the history of resistance training calves hold the presidential position of the least trained and perhaps the most inappropriately trained muscle.  Over the last couple of months, how much attention have you given to your calves compared to your arms and chest? We all wish to have 19" or 20" arms and find ways and means to go get them but how serious are we about developing calves? Calves top the neglect list for a variety of reasons: they are a pain in the you-know-where to train, they do not respond well to training in most people, they are pretty much covered most of the time except in summer (out of sight, out of mind) or you simply quit training them out of frustration about the absence of any noticeable progress. This article attempts to shed light on key aspects of calf training and development. We will address the genetic aspect of calf development, common calf training mistakes and provide some solutions.
Anatomy and genetics of calves

Calves are not only Gastrocnemius and Soleus 
The calves are very often anatomically described in most training articles as consisting of the soleus and the gastrocnemius. This is very incorrect as it fails to appraise calf muscles running in front of the tibia bone that has a lot of growth potential, contributes a lot to calf strength and the appearance and mass of the calves when looked from the front. These front calf muscles consists of the Peroneus, extensor digitorum with the tibialis anterior claiming the lion's share (Fig 1).  We will cover some exercises that hit the front calf muscles. 
Fig 1.: The anatomy of the calves. The calves are not made up
only of the soleus and gastrocnemius but also of front calf muscles
"Either you have them or you don't"
For no other body-part than calves does the saying "either you have them or you don't" hold true in bodybuilding.  Indeed, how your calves are built, their attachment and muscle fibre allocation are largely determined by genetics. Some people do not have much muscle cells to build on in the calves. One example is Dennis Wolf who has little muscle fibre allocation in his calves in comparison to Ben Pakulski (Fig 2).  In general, black Africans are less gifted in the calves department in the sense that they have very short calf muscles and long achilles tendon. Just compare the calves of Ronnie Coleman to that of Dorian Yates (Fig 3) and you will notice the massive difference in the length of the gastrocnemius. This "high calves curse" as it is sometimes called is an advantage as far as speed is concerned but a massive disadvantage when it comes to developing massive and full calves (Fig.4). Exceptions to this rule are guys like Chris Dickerson and Sergio Oliva who both owned massive pairs of calves.
Fig 2: Dennis Wolf (left) has both high calves and fewer muscle
fibres than Ben Pakulski (right) in his calves. 
Fig 3: Ronnie has high calves while Dorian has full calves that
attach very low.
Fig 4: Black Africans generally have high and
skinny calves, a massive advantage for sprinting.
Can we blame genetics alone for poor calves?
Bad genetics has too often taken the blame for poor calves but the problem in my opinion is that calves are inadequately trained. By inadequately I mean that calves either don't get enough training sessions or are not trained with the same intensity as arms and chest for example. This is indeed true as how many people do you see training calves in your gym everyday? Very few. The fact that most gyms are equipped with numerous benches and fewer squat racks and calf stations reflects this reality. 

Bad genetics is an important factor but I am sure that some of you have overcome bad arm or chest genetics with intense workouts to slap new mass onto your arms and chest. The same can be done for the calves. No matter what your genetics you can train hard to improve your calves.  You must strive to get your calves as big as your arms. For instance Steve Reeves (Fig 5) had both arms and calves stretching the tape at 17.5".  
Fig 5: Symmetrical development. Reeves' calves were the same
size as his legs. Trey Brewer's quads that are out of
proportion to his calves. 
How to attack the calves?
While most people are content with throwing a couple of sets of calf raises at the end of their leg workout we are here for some real progress. Training calves are indeed painful because of an abundance of nerve endings there but you must learn to love the excruciating pain.  In this section I will provide some essential pointers as well as a sample routine that has worked wonders for me. 

Pointer 1: Train with the right frequency and intensity
Calves have a very high recuperative power. The calves are designed to be really tough as they hold your bodyweight the whole day. You can train your arms until you are unable to move them. You can train your quads until you are unable to walk but no matter how hard you train your calves you will always be able to walk home. Calves are that tough and need to be trained accordingly. In my opinion, calves need to be trained more than once per week using different repetition ranges. I have seen that cycling the frequency allows for good progress, whereby you train calves 3 times for one week and then only twice the next week with probably a couple more sets. Always experiment.

Pointer 2: Nobody cares if you can calf raise 2000 lbs. 
People lifting excessive poundages for fast, bouncy quarter reps are a very common sight in gyms. This does nothing by way of stimulating the calf muscles. Nobody cares if you can calf raise 2000lbs on the leg press if you don't have the results to show for it. You need to develop calves that look like they can press 2000lbs, rather.  Each repetition should be performed in a slow controlled manner with a full range of motion.  Partial repetitions can  be used in exceptional cases and shouldn't be the norm. 

Pointer 3: The right speed and tempo
A good tempo is 1 second up, 3 seconds hold and 2 seconds down. This will ensure optimal time under tension. You must learn to feel each rep and not bounce up and down with reps that last only a fraction of a second.

Pointer 3: Variety in training
Calf exercises are more than just standing and seated calf raises. That's what people most commonly do. You can do calf exercises on a variety of equipment or with no equipment at all (more in the exercise description section below). Moreover, you can hit calves from a variety of rep ranges too, not just low reps for the gastrocnemius and high reps for the soleus. In the sample program that I will provide calves are trained with high, moderate and low reps using a program adapted from Neil Hill's Y3T program. Always bring the element of surprise in your calf training. What works for others may not necessarily work for you.

Pointer 4: Intensity techniques
Calves lend themselves very well to high intensity techniques like drop sets, supersets and static contractions. Whatever it takes to get them growing as long as you don't go overboard. 

Pointer 5: Barefoot or shoes?
Performing calf exercises barefoot may give you a better feel and better grip on the block.  If your gym does not allow barefoot training then make sure you use shoes that allow enough flexibility at the ball of the foot to allow you to perform your repetitions properly. Most training/ running shoes can do the job.

Pointer 6: Changing toe orientation?
It is a common practice to change toe orientation to try emphasize the inner and outer gastrocnemius muscles in calf raises. Remember that you cannot isolate the inner or outer gastrocnemius. There are two schools of thoughts on this one. We will deal with it in a more in-depth article in the future in which we will analyse the evidence for and against.  

The best calf exercises and performance pointers

Standing Calf raise & variations
These can be performed on a standing calf raise machine. When the knees are extended the gastrocnemius takes the load of the work. Therefore, the standing calf raise works the gastrocnemius more than the soleus. For reasons of stability and safety the standing calf raises are best performed in a Smith Machine or a Standing Calf raise machine.  Standing calf raises whole holding a dumbbell (Fig 6) are nice but not enough to overload the calves, in my opinion. Your forearms will most likely give up before you have done enough reps to tax the calves fully, even if you perform the exercise with one calf at a time.
Fig 6 : Eva Andressa paid her dues with standing smith machine
calf raises 
and enjoys the rewards. 
The knees must be kept stiff during the entire set and not move in order to reduce the involvement of the quads. Furthermore, do not forcefully lock out your knees when you are going heavy in order to minimise the risk of injury. 
Fig 7 : The Standing Calf raise machine works wonders
provided the machine design is right
Donkey calf raises
Donkey calf raises are great for working the gastrocnemius. If you gym has a machine for this exercise go ahead and use it. Otherwise you can have your buddies sit on your back. I am sure you have in mind the famous pictures of Arnold performing donkey raises with his friends on his back. 
Fig 8: Donkey calf raises can be performed with a machine

or better, with a sweetheart on your back

(Photo courtesy: Ironman magazine)
Calf raise on leg press machine
This is another personal favourite. I suggest to maintain a slight bend in the knees. You can use a vertical, horizontal or a 45 degree leg press machine for these. But be safe.
Fig 9 : Calf raise on the incline or vertical leg press
Reverse hack squat calf raises
This is probably my favourite exercise right now. Leaning against the back pad makes the movement comfortable. 
Fig 10: Reverse hack squat calf raises
(Photo courtesy: South African IFBB Pro Marius Dohne)
Seated calf raises
The seated calf raise works the soleus muscles to a greater degree. Indeed, the more bent your legs are the less involvement there is from the gastrocnemius and the more stress is born by the soleus. 
Fig 11 : Seated calf raises recruit the soleus muscles to a
greater degree (Photo courtesy:
Tibialis raise variations
Most calf training articles and programs do not make provision of the tibialis and front calf muscles.  In the standing Smith Machine tibialis raise the tibialis are targeted very well. Rest your heels on the block rather than your toes. Raise your toes to full contraction. Perform the movement slowly. Experiment to find your groove. A Smith machine is recommended for safety and stability reasons.
Fig 13 : Standing tibialis raise in the Smith machine
Sample calf specialisation routine
I decided to give my calves special attention about 3 months ago by training them three times a week using a program adapted from the Y3T system. I brought my calves from 16.4 to 17.3 inches (cold measurements). They are slightly in line with my arms (17.2", cold). I aim to bring the calves at 18' over the next year. The program is given below. 
Fig 14: My calves at 17.3"
Session 1: High reps
Calf raise on hack squat machine (reverse) 5 x 30 reps
Seated calf raise 5 x 30 reps

Session 2: Moderate range day
Calf raise on leg press machine 4 x 15-20 reps
Seated calf raise 4 x 15-20 reps

Session 3: Heavy day
Calf raise for gastroc (any equipment) 4 x 8-10 reps
Seated Calf raise 4 x 10-12 reps

Concluding thoughts
I hope the above has been of help. There will be more calf training articles coming dealing with muscle activation patters, a potential benefit of occlusion training and other special techniques. Feel free to drop us a comment or question in the box below. 

"A nice pair of calves looks sexy on a lady
So ladies, work your calves too!"
©,2013, Veeraj Goyaram, Bodybuilding Mauritius. Any reprinting in any type of media is prohibited.
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Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Iron Guru Series: Gironda Shoulder Training Gems. By Vic Goyaram

The Iron Guru Series : Gironda Shoulder 
 Researched and composed by Vic Goyaram
The One and Only "Iron Guru"

Many young bodybuilders may not know the Late Vince Gironda. Gironda is known as the "Iron Guru" having produced countless bodybuilding champions like Larry Scott, Don Howorthas well as trained several Hollywood stars like Clint Eastwood. Gironda's contribution to bodybuilding has been tremendous and what appeals to me particularly is the way he raised many eyebrows by questioning "established" practices in bodybuilding at that time. 

Indeed, some of his beliefs were controversial, namely his strong stance against shoulder presses, bench presses and squats. His ideas about low-carb and high-fat dieting are increasingly gaining scientific backing decades after he proposed them. We will get the opportunity to explore some of his ideas and philosophy in future articles.  In this article we will look at some of the Gironda shoulder training techniques that I have learned from reading his  books and articles.
Fig 1: Gironda with his famous pupil, Larry Scott (Left) and (right)
his other student, the 'Duke of Delts" Don Howorth. 
No shoulder pressing
Gironda was not a fan of shoulder pressing movements but rather advocated isolation movements like lateral raises for deltoid development.  There are, however, some press variations that he suggested, namely the Scott Press and the Bradford Press.

(a) The Scott dumbbell press
Larry Scott successfully used this exercise to bring up his deltoids to make up for his narrow structure. He maintained constant tension on the delts by not locking out at the top of the movement.
Fig 2: The Scott shoulder press
(b) The Bradford press
The Bradford press named after the lifter Jim Bradford is a modified version of a barbell press.  This exercise works the front and side deltoids and recruits the rear deltoids to some degree for stabilisation. Importantly, the weight need to be lower in this exercise (by about 10-20%) and  a slightly wider than shoulder grip is recommended. Start with the barbell resting on the collarbone as you would in a barbell millitary press. Then press the barbell until you reach just the top of the head, move the barbell over your hear and lower it behind your head until it touches the base of your neck. As a means of keeping constant tension on the delts the arms should never be extended completely. It is basically a back and forth movement with the barbell lifted just enough to clear the head. Do not move the head to make the movement easier, let the movement happen at the shoulder joint.  The video by T-Nation below demonstrates the proper Bradford Press technique.
The Gironda Lateral Raise technique
Gironda was very fond of the side lateral raise, an exercise that he recommended to perform either seated or standing. The seated lateral raise technique is illustrated in Figure 3 below and is as follows:
  • Sit at the end of a bench and maintain a slight forward lean. All four bells of both dumbbells should touch under the legs.
  • Raise the dumbbells while maintaining the slight forward bend position until the dumbbells reach head height. 
  • In this position the palms should be down and the knuckles up, meaning the rear bell should be higher than the forward bell, as if you are pouring water from a pitcher. This ensures that the lateral head does most of the work. Vince recommends 4 sets of 8-12 reps with about 30 seconds rest between sets.
  • The torso should not move throughout this exercise. Do not use the forward bent position as a means to use upper body momentum to help you lift heavy weights. I am sure that if you did this in Vince's gym the latter would have thrown you out of his gym.
Fig 3: The seated lateral raise technique from the Vince Gironda Bulletin
Fig 4: A custom-built equipment for maintaining a slight incline
in standing side lateral raises. Gironda was known for his unique equipment
Fig 5: The Iron Guru was always very attentive to form.
Fig 6: Larry Scott demonstrating the side laterals
Fig 7: Scott performing the seated version of the facing
side lateral raise
The Gironda dumbbell swings and high pulls
The side swings is perhaps one of the best exercises to work several deltoid heads at the same time and a good means to prevent cheating.  Gironda's dumbbell swings work the side and anterior deltoids. To perform side swings, one arm moves in a traditional lateral raise motion while the other arm is moves up across the front of the body, tight to the torso, to keep continuous tension on the shoulder and help get a deeper contraction.
Fig 8: Gironda performing the dumbbell swing and the high pull (described below)
Barbell High pulls and upright rows.
These two were Gironda's favourite exercises for the side deltoids.  Using a shoulder width grip recruits the side deltoid head to a greater degree. The execution of the High Pull is decribed in Fig 9. I believe there is a degree of trap involvement in this exercise. In the case of the barbell upright row the bar is kept closer to the body, as described in Fig 10.  Gironda credits the wide grip upright row/ pull component of cleans for the outstanding shoulders of weightlifters rather than the actual pressing movement.
Fig 9: Gironda High Pull
Fig 10: Execution guidelines for the Gironda barbell (wide grip) upright rows
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My Bio: I am a Mauritian originally from Roche Bois, Port Louis and now based in Cape Town, South Africa where I am busy with my postgraduate studies in molecular biology of exercise. My research, supervised by Prof. Edward Ojuka, looks at the influence of nutrition and exercise in gene expression in muscle, research which is relevant and applicable to exercising individuals, sports persons and diabetic individuals. The knowledge that I share with you stems from my 18 years of experience in bodybuilding and 8 years (and counting) of university education in the field. I have also published work in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism (2013), International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2013) and co-authored two book chapters on exercise and diabetes. I also presented my research work at the 2012 International Sports and Exercise Nutrition Conference (UK). I am grateful to each and everyone at the UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine. "Knowledge without sharing is worth nothing"
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