Tout dans la vie est une question d'équilibre d'où la nécessité de garder un esprit sain dans un corps sain.


Everything in life is a matter of balance therefore one needs to keep a healthy mind in a healthy body.


E. do REGO

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

4 Ways French Women Stay Thin (Without the Gym)

Hate the Gym? How Very French, by Mireille Guiliano

The bestselling author of French Women Don’t Get Fat explains how French women exercise — no spandex required.
By Mireille Guiliano
Photo: Andrew French

2.) Incorporate simple resistance movements into your daily routine. Use your own body weight as resistance wherever possible. Isometric exercises, discreet but effective, are very French. This can be done before you even leave the house in the morning. For example, while waiting in traffic or on the subway, contract your abs for 12 seconds with your back pressed against the seat (it’s better for you than road rage). When reading a magazine at home, try sitting on the floor with your legs stretched and apart in a V and your hands on each side; this is a great stretch for your inner thigh muscles.

3.) Take care of your core. I’m a firm believer that we need to attend to our abdominals as we age. These are the muscles that hold all our vital organs in place; they support good posture and a healthy spine, something we must take care of as we get older. Do a few sit-ups as part of a little stretch/exercise/yoga routine in the morning — it’s never too early or too late to start this ritual.

4.) Acquaint yourself with small to moderate free weights (3-5 lbs.), especially if you’re over 40. A bit of extremely simple resistance training is an antidote to hours spent on gym machines. Short but focused movement with small weights is a good way to preserve upper body tone and bone density and supplement the cardiovascular benefits of an active lifestyle. A little goes a long way, and that only increases the older you get, so don’t let extremism overtake you.

You don’t have to torture yourself on those metal contraptions or run a marathon to stay trim. French women reject the notion of 'no pain, no gain.'

5.) Get en vélo. Americans tend to see bicycling as recreation, and often either as a child’s pastime or a hobby for only the most serious triathletes. But French and European women see cycling as a mode of transportation. I encourage those who can bike to work or shopping to do so. One of my pleasures in Provence is taking my bike to run errands. Riding my bike is one of my favorite warm weather routines and is, of course, environmentally clean and efficient, so I am happy to see bikes and bike lanes increasing in New York and other cities. Cycling has well-known health benefits: it’s a low-impact, mild aerobic exercise that strengthens your heart and lungs; tones the large (read: fat-burning) muscle groups; keeps joints, tendons and ligaments flexible; builds stamina; and is generally fun, reducing stress and boosting your mood. And the view from a real bicycle ride beats the view from a stationary bike in a white-walled gym any day of the week.

6.) Yoga. If there was ever a fountain of youth, it might be the practice of yoga. Not only does it reduce stress, improve your posture and help to develop longer, leaner limbs, it also speeds up your metabolism, works nearly every muscle group and promotes an overall bodily wellness that no other sport or class can compete with. I practice yoga religiously, usually in the comfort of my own home. I am no yogi; I do not spend hours upon end on my head — I simply have a handful of mastered poses and movements that make me feel good and keep me limber and trim. Most women can find 20-30 minutes a day to practice if they make it a priority. No equipment necessary.

7.) Vive l’escalier! Taking the stairs whenever possible is one of the main tenets of my philosophy. It always astounds me to see people who live no higher than the fourth floor and with nothing more to carry than themselves taking the elevator. In France, walking up and down stairs is a perfunctory part of our day. We rarely spend an hour stair climbing, but you should know that climbing stairs burns a stunning 1100 calories per hour. Climbing a couple flights a day will surely go a long way. A few times a week I choose to walk up the 15 flights of stairs to my apartment for some healthy fun — and yes, I do enjoy it.

In the end, remember that those who overexert themselves inevitably burn out, but those who know how to stay fit while enjoying life come out ahead, mentally and physically.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Much Cardio Do You Need? by Dr. Clay Hyght

If you've been doing 20 minutes of steady state cardio three times per week and your fat loss results have slowed down, it's safe to say that one of the reasons you've reached a plateau is because you're just not doing enough.

For most people aiming for a traffic-stopping, totally shredded physique, I recommend doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) three times per week and steady state cardio about three times per week. As for volume per session, 20 minutes total is a good rule of thumb for HIIT, while at least 30 minutes is optimal for steady state work.

You definitely need to reevaluate your progress every couple of weeks. If you're not progressing after two weeks, add five minutes to each cardio session and fine-tune your diet even more. At some point, you may also need to bump up the frequency of your steady state sessions, and maybe even add another HIIT session per week.

Going up to as many as seven hour-long sessions per week might be necessary to achieve the freaky ripped, vascular leanness you desire. However, I wouldn't increase the HIIT to more than four (maybe five) days per week.

The good news is that it's harder to get lean than it is to stay lean. So, while you may have to do what seems like endless amounts of cardio to get ripped, it won't take near that much to keep your condition.


Low Cable Serratus Crunch

A Weekly Dose

When it comes to training abs, most exercises are straight-up boring and some can be downright painful, especially if you're not used to doing direct ab work. Here's one big exercise that uses continuous tension and heavy resistance, and it puts a special emphasis on the serratus (those awesome-looking "finger" muscles where your chest, lats, and abs meet).

Begin the low cable serratus crunch similar to a basic crunch, lying on the floor, with your head near a low cable pulley. Grab a straight bar and keep your arms locked and perpendicular to the ground the entire time. Perform a regular crunch, but at the top of each rep, actively press your arms even further towards the ceiling. This is what activates the serratus in a big way.

The key point with the movement is to extend the arms straight up towards the ceiling, not forward in front of your chest. It's also important to reach as high as possible at the peak of each repetition and hold that top position for a full one or two seconds.

Using 2-3x10-12 with this exercise will be plenty. Be sure to keep your arms locked straight and pointing up towards the ceiling throughout each rep, use a full range of motion, and squeeze the serratus at the top of each rep. You should feel a solid contraction in the upper abs, just below your chest. That's your serratus, and they're going to be sore later.


Monday, September 28, 2009

The Eight Best Muscle-Building Exercises

"Hey Chad, what's the single best exercise for...?"

I get that question every day, and I often shudder because we don't live in a world where we're so limited, especially to just one measly exercise.

But I understand the line of thinking. We all want to know what works best, at least most of the time.

In fact, I've learned to appreciate this once annoying question. After all, choosing effective exercises is more important than just about any other training parameter — even more so than intensity or frequency. You can do a triceps kickback ten times per week with mind-blowing intensity and, by the end of six weeks, you'll be left with the same tiny horseshoes you started with.

So let's get to the list of my favorite bodybuilding exercises for guys with mass in mind. I'll start from the ground up.


Of all the muscle-building challenges I've faced over the years, the calves proved to be my most formidable opponent. I've slogged through a dozen different calf training philosophies trying to get those bastards to grow. Eleven of those twelve proved unsuccessful.

Since the calves get constant, low-level stimulation throughout the day from walking, I figured an opposite approach would work. So I first did calf raises with infrequent, high intensity training to failure.

That didn't work.

Then I started experimenting with different tempo protocols where I'd have my clients hold the stretch position for a few seconds to dissipate the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC). I kept the training frequency to twice per week.

That didn't work either.

So I upped the frequency. But I was stubborn and figured that it was still a good idea to override the SSC. I assumed the high elastic component of the calf muscles would impede muscle growth.

Nope, I was wrong.

So that's when I decided to look for real-world evidence. The best calf development I could find was owned by sprinters, volleyball players, and soccer players. None of these athletes did calf raises with a pause at the bottom. In fact, their training emphasized the SSC. And none of them trained their calves only once per week either.

Looking at the muscle actions their sport demands, I realized an important component that I was overlooking was deceleration, whether they were slowing down from a top speed sprint, landing from a spike, or quickly changing directions with a soccer ball.

Therefore, I implemented calf exercises that train the SSC and overload the eccentric (lengthening) phase of muscle contractions. When these types of calf exercises were paired with a relatively high frequency of training each week, I'd found my solution.



For years I often prescribed the leg curl in my training programs. Since the hamstring extends the hip and flexes the knee joint, I'd prescribe an exercise for both functions. For hip extension, a squat, deadlift, or good morning would do the trick. To train knee flexion, I used the leg curl, of course.

Importantly, I never prescribed the leg curl without an exercise that also trains hip extension. That's because the leg curl never panned out by itself in my programs. I wasn't sure why, but I didn't care. I just kept prescribing exercises for both hamstring functions because that's how I got results.

Then I had the honor of hanging out with low-back and spinal expert, Dr. Stuart McGill. Between his writings and our discussions, I quickly learned that my line of thinking was too simplistic. Every real-world action that recruits your hamstrings will also recruit most, if not all, of your posterior chain. Since the leg curl falls short of this requirement, I dropped it from my programs.

Now, I'm not saying that it's useless to ever train a muscle group any differently than it works in real life. The rotator cuff is a good example of a muscle group that can benefit from being trained in a relatively isolated position. However, the hamstrings seem to build size and strength quickest when trained with hip extension: a movement they're designed to support.

Looking back, I think the reason the leg curl never worked by itself was due to limiting factors from the hip, core, and low back muscles. In other words, exercises that emphasize the hamstrings while also recruiting the glutes, low back, and hip abductors gave my clients the greatest size, strength, and performance benefits.



The quadriceps represent a unique case study for hypertrophy. Your quads will grow from super-high volume training, unlike many other muscle groups such as the biceps, triceps, or hamstrings.

With regard to volume, I'm not talking about 10 sets of 10 reps, I'm talking about a crazy amount of volume relative to what a typical bodybuilder will do — the amount of volume a professional cyclist does in his training.

But cyclists don't have strong quads like Olympic lifters. If you're reading this, I assume you're after some impressive strength to go along with your size. And since it's not practical to tell a weekend warrior to add 20 hours of cycling to his current fitness plan, it's important to look for other evidence.

Every Olympic lifter I've ever seen has impressive quadriceps development — every Olympic lifter. Which lower-body movement does an Olympic lifter do most?



There's a seemingly endless debate over the necessity of direct abdominal training. One coach will say that squats, deads, and chins are all you need. Another coach will devote half of an entire session to training the abdominals.

Does every person need to train his abdominals directly? No. A guy who just wants to look good naked and have a balanced physique can get everything he needs from a basic full-body training program that consists of the exercises I just mentioned.

Athletes, however, require exercises that overload their abdominals in order to effectively transfer force between their lower and upper body. A strong puncher has a strong core, as I like to tell my fighters. So if you're a weekend warrior who wants to build athleticism, direct abdominal training is a good idea.

I've seen the best results with abdominal exercises that resist spinal movement (again, thanks to Dr. McGill). I also like abdominal exercises that recruit the lats since they assist the core muscles by enhancing the super stiffness phenomenon that's necessary for force transfer.



When asked about the best biceps exercise, my answer hasn't changed in ten years: the rope climb. You only need to visit Muscle Beach in Santa Monica — a place where there are enough ropes to excite a family of gymnasts — and observe the biceps development of guys who climb them on a consistent basis.

However, climbing up and down a rope isn't practical for most people, so I'm left to prescribe the next best biceps-builder. Before I tell you what it is, let me explain why the rope climb is my first choice.

First, from a biomechanics standpoint, the rope climb forces your arm to pull from a position that's close to the midline of your body. This overloads the elbow flexors more than the upper back muscles.

It's been said that the chin-up won't build big biceps if your back is strong. I can't say I agree, but I understand the argument. The solution, however, is simple: make the movement a biceps-dominant exercise through the law of biomechanics.

Any time you pull with your hands close together, there's no way your back can take over. And when you pair that with the fact that your hand is in a neutral position to target the brachialis (a key upper-arm booster), you've already got yourself a killer exercise.

Second, the rope requires your gripping muscles to work with ferocious intensity. In fact, there's no better exercise to boost your gripping strength than climbing a rope. Indeed, there's a direct correlation between your gripping strength and your biceps mass.

Third, since your upper back is also helping your efforts, some of the burden is taken off your elbow joints. Plus, it appears the biceps will grow only when the supporting (upper back) muscles are strong enough to handle the added girth.

To grow big muscles fast requires you to train a muscle group at least three times per week. The best way to pull it off is to perform exercises that are relatively easy on your joints. It takes significantly longer for your joints to recover than it takes your muscle tissue. This is why the Scott curl (a.k.a. preacher curl) has always ranked at the bottom of my list: It can be brutal on the elbow joints, and this slows your recovery.

The second best exercise for your biceps must possess all three of the elements I just mentioned. You might think it's the towel pull-up. I like that exercise, but it's not the winner. A towel, no matter the type, is always too slick to hang onto long enough to derive any substantial biceps boosting benefits.



For most of the muscle groups I've mentioned thus far, it's been relatively easy to choose one exercise that deserves the top spot. But the triceps ain't so easy. That's because there are a few exercises I could choose.

No one would argue the effectiveness of the dip. It's been a mainstay in my programs since day one. However, if your triceps are deflated, you need an exercise that allows you to really crank up the load. If your AC joints are in anything but tip-top condition, they won't like heavy dips.

I'm a proponent of heavy training, and high frequency training, when the goal is to build muscle as fast as possible. In either case, I must use exercises that don't put any excess burden on your joints.

To get big, it's necessary to do some heavy lifting. Big triceps go hand-in-hand with a big bench press. You'll never find an elite bench presser with small horseshoes. But I don't care how long a heavy, traditional barbell bench press has been part of the iron game, it sucks for your shoulder joints.

I haven't had a client do a full range of motion barbell bench press in three years. I'm happy to report that this change has allowed me to spend more time training them, and less time treating their soft tissue injuries.

So the best triceps exercise is one that allows for super-heavy loads while minimizing the potential for shoulder damage.



I've already trounced on the barbell bench press, but I have one more thing left to say about it: it's not a great chest builder.

The same can be said for a dumbbell bench press, even though I like the exercise for many other purposes. The reason both of these "chest" exercises fail to add meat is because neither adequately challenges horizontal adduction — the movement your pectoral muscles is designed to do.

When you press a barbell or dumbbell while lying on your back, the line of resistance from the weights is going straight down. In order to challenge horizontal adduction, the line of resistance must be out at an angle, around 45 degrees relative to your torso. You can make up for part of this shortcoming by pressing dumbbells up and out at an angle, but even this modification might still keep a flat-chested guy from building the pecs his girlfriend desires.

That's why my choice is the standing chest press with cables. The cables, when set correctly, will provide resistance against horizontal adduction throughout the entire movement. Besides, this chest exercise was a favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and who can argue with that?

It's important to note that this isn't an exercise that allows you to go super heavy. Sets of less than six reps are typically a waste of time since it's harder to get your body in position than it is to perform the exercise. Shoot for anywhere from 6-20 reps per set and squeeze your pecs together hard when your arms are out in front.


Upper Back


'Nuf said.

Final Words

It's important to rotate your exercises every month or two, but make these eight exercises an essential part of your bodybuilding plan whenever possible. You'll have a bigger, stronger, and healthier body to show for it!

Model: Beau Myrick
Location: Gold's Gym, Abilene, Texas

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Single-Leg Hop

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Single-Leg Deadlift

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Front Squat

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Ab-Wheel Rollout

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Neutral-Grip Pull-Up

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Close-Grip Bench Press Lockout from Pins

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Cable Chest Press

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises


About Chad Waterbury

The 8 Best Muscle-Building Exercises

Chad Waterbury is a neurophysiologist, director of strength and conditioning at the Rickson Gracie International Jiu Jitsu Center in West Los Angeles, and author of Huge in a Hurry.

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Two-meal diet aids in oldest man's longevity

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — So what does the world's oldest man eat? The answer is not much, at least not too much.

Walter Breuning, who turned 113 on Monday, eats just two meals a day and has done so for the past 35 years.

"I think you should push back from the table when you're still hungry," Breuning said.

At 5 foot 8, ("I shrunk a little," he admitted) and 125 pounds, Breuning limits himself to a big breakfast and lunch every day and no supper.

"I have weighed the same for about 35 years," Breuning said. "Well, that's the way it should be."

"You get in the habit of not eating at night, and you realize how good you feel. If you could just tell people not to eat so darn much."

His practice of skipping supper began when he first moved to Great Falls from Minneapolis in 1978. He lived in the Yellowstone Apartments at the time and would walk downtown to Schell's in the Johnson Hotel or the Albon Club on the second floor for lunch.

In 1980, the Albon Club moved to the Rainbow Hotel, and the owners asked Breuning to be manager, which he did for 15 years.

"I never started eating supper again," Breuning said.

He gets up at 6:15 a.m. and has a big breakfast every day at 7:30 a.m. Usually it's eggs, toast or pancakes.

"You can order anything you want, just like a restaurant," he said.

"I eat a lot of fruit every day."

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer sent Breuning a fruit basket after a recent visit.

"Boy, I tell you that was good fruit. I ate the whole darn thing," Breuning said. "Peaches, pears, everything, it sure was good."

In addition to eating fruit every day, Breuning also takes a baby aspirin.

"Just one baby aspirin," he said, "but everybody gets that for their heart. That's the only pill I ever take, no other medicine."

And he drinks plenty of water.

"I drink water all the time," he said, and just a bit of coffee. "I drink a cup and a half of coffee for breakfast and a cup with lunch."

Breuning said he has been healthy all of his life and believes diet has a lot to do with it.

"If people could cut back on their normal weight, it wouldn't be quite so bad," he commented. "They just eat too much!"

Breuning remembers his family having a cow, pigs, chickens and a big garden when he was growing up, like most people did in those days.

"Everybody was poor years ago," he said. "When we were kids, we ate what was on the table. Crusts of bread or whatever it was. You ate what they put on your plate, and that's all you got," Breuning said.

Breuning recalls his mother being a good cook, though she died when she was 46 after an operation in Minneapolis. His wife was a good cook, too. They met when they worked in Butte for the railroad.

"Everything she made was good," Breuning said. "We used to have lots of card parties, and they would always say what a good cook she was."

While diet has contributed to his longevity, Breuning also believes that working hard was good for him.

"Work doesn't hurt anybody," he said, mentioning that he had two jobs, one working for the Great Northern Railway until he was 66 and the other as manager/secretary for the local Shriner's Club until he was 99.

These days, Breuning keeps busy talking with all of the people who visit the Rainbow Retirement Center interested in meeting the world's oldest man.

Though his vision doesn't allow him to read anymore, Breuning keeps his mind active by listening to the radio.

"My eyes are gone," he said, "but I listen to the radio. I get all my news on KMON."

Breuning started eating out 35 years ago, but said he doesn't anymore.

"Once you get used to not eating in restaurants, you don't want to anymore," he said. Besides, he'd rather eat at home, at the Rainbow Retirement Center.

"They have a lot of good food right here," he said, "and good cooks."

Breuning celebrated his 113th birthday with not one, but two cakes, one chocolate and one vanilla. And for his birthday lunch he got his favorite: liver and onions.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Exercise, Free Radicals, and Oxidative Stress

Movie Stars, Blockbuster Berries, and You

One of the interesting things about working in a gym environment is that, even for the best trainers in the world, there's a substantial amount of down time. Although program design, training clients, and personal workouts definitely keep us busy, like people in many professions, we have a few slow hours out of the day that, while they should be filled with productive activity, are somehow...not.

As a couple of print junkies, we generally waste time by reading anything that happens to be lying around. And in gyms, that means two things: health & fitness stuff, and trashy celebrity gossip magazines. While we'd like to say that the former occupies most of our time, it'd be a lie to say we haven't developed quite a taste for the latter as well.

This mix of reading material has made for a few interesting observations. The first is that these genres seem to be blending. Specifically, you can't seem to pick up Men's Health without finding a celebrity on the cover, along with a promise to reveal the secrets that person used to get into shape for a role.

In the same vein, if you flip through Us Weekly, half of the pages are related to dieting and nutrition, beach bodies, and health secrets.

While this isn't really revolutionary, it's led us to a broader realization:

So what we've done here is take those two hot topics and create a fun way for you to learn a bit more about both of them. Specifically, we want to discuss the topic of anti-oxidants.

Okay, now that we have the introductory rant out of the way, time to start the show.

Exercise, Free Radicals, and Oxidative Stress

The area of greatest concern is what scientists call "cellular damage" and nutrition geeks term "oxidative stress." Whichever moniker you choose, this nasty bit of business is the result of increases in free radical production.

So, just what is a free radical? Speaking scientifically, a free radical represents a highly chemically-reactive molecule or molecular fragment that contains at least one unpaired electron in its outer orbital or valence shell. In practical terms, a free radical is the crap resulting from all the chemistry that takes place in your body while you're at the gym.

During exercise, most oxygen consumed by trainees combines with hydrogen to produce water; however, about 2-5% of this intake forms oxygen-containing free radicals, such as superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl.

This exercise-induced free radical formation is the result of at least two causes, the first being an electron leak in the mitochondria, probably at the cytochrome level that produces superoxide radicals. The second is alterations in blood flow and oxygen supply, which also triggers excessive free radical generation. Once formed, free radicals interact with other compounds to create new free radical molecules.

So what does this all mean? Put bluntly, free radicals suck. Oxidative stress caused by free radicals ultimately increases the likelihood of cellular deterioration associated with advanced aging (read: wrinkles), cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and a general decline in central nervous system and immune function.(1,2,3,4)

But your body is not without its armor. A natural defense to these compounds is present in the body's antioxidant scavenger enzymes catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase, as well as certain metal-binding proteins.

Still, this mechanism is only so effective, making substantial increases in free radical production (such as those resulting from intense exercise) a threat to overloading the body's natural defenses. When this happens, in addition to increasing the likelihood of cancer, you also step into counterproductive territory. Excess free radicals have also been shown to increase cortisol, hindering both fat loss and muscle gain.

What to Do

As in most cases regarding your health, it's better to be proactive than reactive. Rather than wait around for your skin to shrivel and your heart to burst before you do something, we suggest you take steps to prevent free-radical production with the weapons you have available to you.

This is where antioxidant supplementation comes in. Antioxidants, such as those discussed in this article, protect the plasma membrane of cells by reacting with and removing free radicals.

Okay, so now that the boring part of the article is over, it's time to cover what we feel are the most effective antioxidants around—stuff that you should be supplementing with. Don't worry, we aren't going to overwhelm you with a grocery list of every possible antioxidant known to man. Obviously, that would not be at all cost effective, but even if money weren't an issue, supplementing with a million and one different compounds is not even desirable—period.

Not all supplements have a synergistic or even additive effect when combined. Some will provide no additional benefit and some will actually negate the effects of the compounds they're combined with.

For that reason, we are going to briefly review some basic vitamins with antioxidant properties and then get into those anti-O's that give you the most bang for your buck—compounds that aren't simply just extremely effective antioxidants, but also possess an array of other health benefits.

The Foundation — Fish Oil

Fish oil is one of the best things to ever come out of the supplement industry, period. This stuff fights fat, builds muscle, and makes you healthy. It's good for your skin, your nails, your hair, your heart, and your lungs. There really is no downside.

Because so much has been written about this stuff on TMuscle, we're not going to spend too much time on it here. As a general recommendation, for the purposes of fat loss and oxidative stress, Coach Thibs suggests you take 1 gram of fish oil per percent bodyfat.

This is probably the best generalization we've ever come across, so we're going to steal it. This means someone who is 12% bodyfat should take 12 grams of fish oil. In most cases, that's 12 capsules. Of course, a more practical option is Biotest's Flameout™. Due to the purity and potency (roughly three times as strong as its nearest competitor), you can get away with a much lower dose. With Flameout™, someone who is 12% bodyfat only needs to take 4 capsules per day for fat loss.

Every time we meet someone who doesn't take fish oil, we don't even know how to react. It's like when someone tells you they've never seen The Breakfast Club, or worse, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. How did you get this far in life without seeing those movies, or taking fish oil? What the hell have you been doing with yourself? Don't bother coming up with an excuse; you're a moron. Get some fish oil. Save Ferris. Save yourself.

The Basics — Vitamin C and E

The next level up is C and E. These are vitamins that you should already be supplementing with, so we're not going to spend a lot of time on them either. Each plays a number of roles in the body while also possessing antioxidant properties.

First up, Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is known for the slight immune boost it provides, and keeping sickness at bay is an excellent way from exposing your body to the free-radical production that illness can inflict.

In addition, if you stay healthy, you're less likely to rely on medications for health purposes. While we're not going to go on a diatribe decrying prescription meds as generally harmful, I think we can safely say that it is better to avoid taking them if you can. And that goes for over the counter stuff, as well. Better to take Vitamin C now than Nyquil later. Aim to ingest 500mg of Vitamin C, up to 800mg if you're feeling sick.

Vitamin E seems to be a dream come true, especially if your primary reason for supplementation is anti-aging. Good for your skin, your hair, your nails, and keeps you healthy to boot! Try to get about 400 IU of Vitamin E, twice daily.

It is important to stick with the recommendations above. Although some supplement companies try to sell their products by listing multi-vitamins as containing 3,000,000% your RDA of Vitamin C, they're not doing you a favor.

Assuming what the labels are claiming was even remotely possible, it would be unadvisable. Ingesting extreme amounts of Vitamin E can become toxic, and excessive amounts of Vitamin C can actually serve as a pro-oxidant, so stick to the recommendations above—you'll get all the benefit and it'll save you some cash, too.

Drink Up

With the vitamins out of the way, let's move onto the big boys, starting with resveratrol. This is an interesting compound belonging to the phytoalexin class of phytochemicals, and is produced by plants in times of environmental stress.

Resveratrol has been identified in over 70 species of plants, with the most common source being the skin of grapes. As a result, most products derived from grapes will have pretty high levels of this cool stuff.

Unfortunately, this does not include grape flavored blow-pops, but it DOES include wine. Resveratrol is actually the primary reason all the health nuts and soccer moms are raving about the benefits of having a glass of wine with dinner. Of course, for a lot of people I know, any excuse to pound a few glasses of Merlot will do, but if you feel less guilty hiding behind a veil of health-consciousness, we've got the references to back you up.

There are also high quality resveratrol supplements available now like Biotest's Rez-V™, so don't think we're pushing you towards a life of alcoholism. But if you're going to have a drink with dinner, you can make a healthier choice instead of guzzling down that Testosterone-suppressing beer.

We like to think of resveratrol kind of like Jake Gyllenhaal. A moderate dose in a good movie is fine. But if you are having 4 glasses of wine "for the anti-oxidants" it's a bit like saying you're watching Brokeback Mountain for the acting. You have other motives, and we all know it.

In any event, there are a myriad of health benefits that can be attributed to this compound because of its antioxidant properties and other characteristics not directly associated with its ability to reduce oxidative stress, including, but not limited to:

If you prefer to use a supplement, we recommend taking Rez-V™ twice daily with food.

Stuff You Can Eat

While it is generally true that concentrated forms of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants in capsule form are more potent than the foods from which they're derived, we assume that not everyone who wants to be healthy enjoys popping pills all day long. Therefore, we thought it would be helpful to provide you a list of foods that will keep you healthy as well as full.

First up is pomegranate. Much like Oprah, pomegranate seems to have worked its way into everything lately. Pom has its own juice, and has been added to other juices to boot. It shows up in foods from vodka to chips to ice cream (like Oprah in the old days!). While these may be delicious, they are not the best option for you.

Instead, stick with either a pure pomegranate juice or—better yet—an actual pomegranate. The fruit itself is very tasty, and along with all the health benefits it possesses, eating whole fruits also has the added bonus of fiber.

The same thing also holds true for the other fruits high in anti-oxidants like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. When you're hungry and looking for something to snack on, they're a great choice, provided you skip the blueberry muffin and munch on some actual blueberries.

Acupuncture in a Cup

Next up is green tea. Essentially an unfermented tea derived from the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, green tea is rich in polyphenols such as tannins (a nutrient antioxidant) catechins (EGCG, which is a powerful antioxidant), and flavonoids, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

It's long been held in high praise in many cultures for its medicinal properties, but it was the Chinese who were the first to use this amazing plant. Recently, green tea has recently been receiving a great deal of attention, which has led to many of the continual findings of new health benefits associated with its consumption. Most notably, green tea:

Green tea is kind of like Chuck Norris. It's been around nearly forever, but the more you learn about it, the more badass it seems. Just thinking about green tea makes you better looking. In fact, reading that last sentence increased the strength of your roundhouse kick by 12%.

You have the choice of drinking a bunch of tea or supplementing with an extract or both. Since the extract varies in potency depending on the brand, we'll recommend a dosage based on polyphenol and EGCG content. Shoot for 500mg of polyphenols (equivalent to 2250mg of EGCG) twice daily with food (1 gram total).

The average 4 oz cup of green tea contains anywhere from 60-125mg of polyphenols, so if you're getting all your green tea in beverage form, aim for 32 to 48 oz spread out over the course of the day. If you don't want to drink that much, you can always make up for the rest of the polyphenol content by supplementing with an extract.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) — Saving the Cheerleader, the World, and Your Insides

If you've read about anything even remotely related to health and oxidative stress over the past five years, you've been seeing the letters NAC plastered all over every publication around. N-Acetyl-cysteine, also called NAC is not exactly a 'new' discovery, but it certainly seems to be getting all the attention of a rising star.

NAC is the equivalent of Hayden Panettierre. It's been around for a while, but now it's finally old enough (and enough studies have been done) for people to talk about how hot it is. And like Hayden, this stuff has super powers.

So what exactly is it? For starters, you've probably caught on by now that N-Acetyl Cysteine is an anti-oxidant, and a damn good one at that. For reasons we will illustrate below, it should become fairly obvious that NAC is one of the most potentially beneficial compounds you could [read: should] be taking.

N-Acetyl Cysteine is the pre-acetylized form of the dietary amino acid Cysteine. It serves as a powerful antioxidant, a premier antitoxin, and immune support substance. An extremely important take home fact is that NAC is also a precursor for glutathione.

Made of three constituent amino acids (glycine, glutamate and cysteine), glutathione is a small molecule found in almost every cell and is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants we know of. The rate at which glutathione can be made depends on the availability of cysteine, making supplementation with NAC quite advisable.

Let's get a bit more specific about the benefits of NAC and glutathione:

While NAC is unlikely to give you healing or regenerative powers like Hayden's character on Heroes, it has been shown to do the following:

We recommend 600mg taken twice daily.


Another super cool anti-O that's been getting lots of attention lately is R-ALA, the R form of Alpha-Lipoic acid. R-ALA is a lot like Lindsay Lohan. As plain ol' ALA, it had been around for a while; people knew about it and were impressed, but it wasn't really anything special.

Like Lindsay, ALA was one of several modestly talented anti-oxidants. Then the new "R" rated version came out. Both Lindsay and R-ALA started partying like maniacs, showing off the occasional glamour shot of their crotch, singing songs about their lousy parents...not to mention the increase in oral bio-availability. And then there was the time R-ALA got placed on house arrest.

Ah, good times...

But let's first discuss ALA in general. Alpha-Lipoic Acid is both a fat and water-soluble antioxidant, and has the immediate benefit of improving overall energy as it improves energy metabolism by the body's cells. As a member of the antioxidant network, ALA regenerates Vitamins C and E, and Beta Carotene. In addition, much like NAC, alpha-lipoic acid works to increase the body's production of the big-daddy free radical exterminator, glutathione.

So what makes the R-rated version such a rock star? R-ALA is the biologically active form of ALA, and is the form found naturally in the body. R-ALA has outperformed traditional Alpha-Lipoic Acid so convincingly that much of the current ALA research has used the R form exclusively.

In short, R-ALA has been shown to:

We recommend 200mg taken 3 times daily about 20-30 minutes before carbohydrate containing meals. Always look for the R form exclusively, not it's synthetic cousin or formulations that boast a "mixture" of ALA and R-ALA.

Also, for a more "well rounded" approach, we recommend you take a serious look at Biotest's ReceptorMax™.

While not an R-ALA supplement exclusively, ReceptorMax™ contains Na-R-ALA, which has been referred to as the "next generation" R-ALA, along with Acetyl L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q-10, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, and Cinnamomum Burmanni; all of which assist in controlling insulin and maximizing Testosterone receptor content. Good stuff, for sure.

Keeping Up With Acai

Acai (pronounced ah-SIGH-ee) is sort of like the Kim Kardashian (pronounced card-ASS-ee-in) of the anti-oxidant world. Acai has been around for a while, but until about two or three years ago, no one really knew about it. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Acai exploded into the mainstream.

Acai started dating rappers, showing up at all the best parties, and that —coupled with the release of the infamous Acai Sex Tape—made sure everyone wanted a piece of this, er...robust fruit. And its juices. Oh boy.

It seems like everywhere you look, every entertainment medium from trashy magazines to Oprah is talking about Acai and Kim K. Since you probably know all about the latter, let's talk a bit about the former.

Grown from the acai palm (a.k.a. euterpe), acai berries are perhaps the most potent source of antioxidants our world has to offer with an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) ten to thirty times that of red wine grapes (and as we discussed earlier, grapes aren't exactly shabby when it comes to anti-o content).

They're a fruit native to Central and South America, where they are both regularly available and consumed. In North America, acai has more recently made its way into fruit juice blends and nutritional supplements, with the most potent form being freeze dried powder derived from the fruit's skin and pulp. The preliminary research on acai has been promising, particularly with regards to the fruit's antioxidant properties. Acai has been shown to:

Acai is certainly a super berry, super fruit, super antioxidant, super-any-way-you-look-at-it food. We recommend 1 gram of freeze-dried acai powder taken twice daily.

The Best of All Worlds

By now, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of substances available to you to keep cancer and aging at bay. Some New Age health gurus may tell you that you "need" to take ALL of the above compounds if you even want to live. Lucky for you, we're not part of that group. We understand that sometimes practicality, finances, of even just plain laziness will inhibit you from taking advantage of all of the anti-oxidants available to you to protect your health.

Thankfully, even for those of us who find taking vitamins/anti-oxidants to be a hassle—not to mention a bit expensive—Biotest has made things remarkably simple with the introduction of Superfood.

If you can only have one dedicated source of anti-oxidants, please, let it be this powerful blend of ingredients.

Superfood is like the Pussy Cat Dolls of the health world. No matter what you are looking for in a woman, the Pussy Cat Dolls can fill your needs. Blondes? Check. Brunettes? Double check. Short, hot, spunky girls who can kick a leg all the way over their head? Look no further.

Now imagine what it would be like if only you could take advantage of all of that at once?

Well, that's what Biotest Superfood is like. Only instead of a multitude of hot chicks with healthy bodies, it's a multitude of freeze-dried fruits, veggies, and vitamins to make your body healthy.

And instead of giving you heart palpitations, Superfood fights free radicals. But still, you can see how they are similar.

Superfood is packed with the following: Wild Blueberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Acai Berry, Goji Berry, Pomegranate, Broccoli Sprout, Kale, Spinach, Wasabi, Wild Yam, Green Tea and a whole mess of other stuff. It's super pure, super potent, and to top it off, super tasty (much like the PCDolls).

So, if you can only choose one girl group to lust after, let it be the Pussy Cat Dolls. And if you can only choose once source of free radical fighting goodness, let it be Superfood.

The Wrap Up

Now that we've more than filled your weekly quota for trashy celebrity gossip, take a few minutes to think about places your anti-oxidant intake might be easily improved. Whether through pills or berries, juices or wine, or even the mighty Superfood, there are so many ways to fight free radicals, you really have no excuse not to.

And since you are done reading this article, you have no excuse to not be working anymore. That is, until you find another way to slack off at work, ya lazy bum.


1. Goldfarb, A.H., et al. Vitamin E attenuates myocardial oxidative stress induced by DHEA-treated and exercised rats. J. Appl. Physiol., 76:1630, 1994.

2. Ji, L.L. Exercise and oxidative stress: role of the cellular antioxidant systems. Exerc. Sport Sci. Revs., 23:135, 1995.

3. Kanter, M.M., et al. Effects of an antioxidant vitamin mixture on lipid peroxidation at rest and post exercise. J. Appl. Physiol., 74:965, 1993.

4. Rokitzki, L., et al. Lipid peroxidation and antioxidative vitamins under extreme endurance stress. Acta Physiol. Scand., 151:149, 1994.

5. Weissman, C. Mechanisms of Lysosomal Enzymes Release from Leukocytes Exposed to Immune Complexes and Other Particles. J Exp Med 134:149s-165s, 1971.

6. Pezutto, et al. Cancer chemo-preventive activity of resveratrol, a natural product derived from grapes. Science. 10:218-221, 1997.

7. Cal, C. et al. Resveratrol and cancer: chemoprevention, apoptosis, and chemo-immunosensitizing activities. Curr. Med. Chem-Anti-Cancer Agents 2003;3:77-93.

8. Pervaiz, S. Resveratrol—from the bottle to the bedside? Leuk. Lymphoma 2001;40:491-8.

9. Ding, X.Z. et al. Resveratrol inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells. Pancreas 2002;25:e71-e76.

10. Gusman, J. et al. A reappraisal of the potential chemo preventive and chemotherapeutic properties of resveratrol. Carcinogenesis 2001;22:1111-17.

11. Lu, R. et al. Resveratrol, a natural product derived from grape, exhibits ant estrogenic activity and inhibits the growth of human breast cancer cells. J. Cell. Physiol. 1999;179:297-304.

12. Serrero, G. et al. Effect of resveratrol on the expression of autocrine growth modulators in human breast cancer cells. Antioxidant. Redox. Signal 2001;3:969-79.

13. Mitchell, S.H. et al. Resveratrol inhibits the expression and function of the androgen receptor in LNCaP prostate cancer cells. Cancer Res. 1999;59:5892-5.

14. Pace-Asciak, C., et al. The Red Wine Phenolics trans-Resveratrol and Quercetin Block Human Platelet Aggregation and Eicosanoid Synthesis: Implications for Protection against Coronary Heart Disease. Clin Chim Acta 235: 207-219, 1995.

15. Ferrero, M. E., et al. Activity in vitro of Resveratrol on Granulocyte and Monocyte Adhesion to Endothelium." Amer I Clin Nutr 68: 1208-1214, 1998.

16. Ferrero, M. E., et al. Phytoalexin Resveratrol (3,4',S-Trihydroxystilbene) Modulates Granulocyte and Monocyte Endothelial Adhesion. Transplantation Proc 30: 4191-4193, 1998.

17. Draczyska-Lusiak, B. et al. Oxidized lipoproteins may play a role in neuronal cell death in Alzheimer disease. Mol. Chem. Neuropathol. 1998; 33:139-48.

18. Jang, J.H. et al. Protective effect of resveratrol on beta-amyloid-induced oxidative PC12 cell death. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2003;34:1100-10.

19. Yang, Y.B. et al. Effects of resveratrol on secondary damages after acute spinal cord injury in rats. Acta. Pharmacol. Sin. 2003; 24:703-10.

20. Dulloo A, et al. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Amer J Clin Nutr 1999;70:1040-45.

21. Dulloo A, et al. Green tea and thermogenesis: interactions between catechin-polyphenols, caffeine, and sympathetic activity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000 Feb;24(2):252-8.

22. Anderson RA, Polansky MM. Tea enhances insulin activity. J Agric Food Chem 2002;50:7182-6.

23. H. Asai, Y. Kuno, H. Ogawa, Y. Hara and K. Nakamura, Kiso to Rinsshyo, 21, 163 (1987).

24. M. Shimizu et al., Yakugaku Zasshi, 108, 964 (1988).

25. Muramatsu and Y. Hara, J. Nutr. Sci. Vitaminol, 32, 613 (1986).

26. K. Goto, S. Kanaya and20Y. Hara, Proc. of the International Symp. on Tea Science, 314 (Shizuoka, Japan;August,1991).

27. Y. Hara, T. Matsuzaki and T. Suzuki, Nippon Nogeikagaku Kaishi, 61,803(1987).

28. Haqqi, T., et al. Prevention of collagen-induced arthritis in mice by a polyphenolic fraction found in green tea. Immunology. 1999;96(8):4524-4529.

29. Hofbauer, R., et al. The green tea extract epigallocatechin gallate is able to reduce neutrophil transmigration through monolayers of endothelial cells. Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1999;111(7):278-282. [In German].

30. Katiyar, S.K., et al. Polyphenolic antioxidant (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate from green tea reduces UVB-induced inflammatory responses and infiltration of leukocytes in human skin. Photochemistry & Photobiology. 1999; 69:148-153.

31. Theodosakis, J., et al. The Arthritis Cure. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.

32. Ali, M., et al. Effect of consumption of green and black tea on the level of various enzymes in rats. Experientia. 1989; 45:112-114.

33. Bu-Abbas, A., et al. Contribution of caffeine and flavanols in the induction of hepatic Phase II activities by green tea. Food & Chemical Toxicology. 1998; 36:617-621.

34. Davila, J.C., et al. Protective effect of flavonoids on drug-induced hepatoxity in vitro. Toxicology. 1989; 57:267-286.

35. Hasegawa, R., et al. Preventive effects of green tea against liver oxidative DNA damage and hepatoxicity in rats treated with 2-nitropropane. Food & Chemical Toxicology. 1995; 33:961-970.

36. Hikino, H., et al. Antihepatotoxic actions of tannins. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1985; 14:19.

37. Imai, K., Nakachi, K. Cross sectional study of effects of drinking green tea on cardiovascular and liver diseases. British Medical Journal. 1995; 310:693-696.

38. Kushnerova, N.F., et al. Effect of natural complexes of biologically active substances on liver regeneration in alcohol poisoning. Vopr Med Khim. 1995;41:20-23.

39 . Kono, S., et al. Green tea consumption and serum lipid profiles: a cross-sectional study in northern Kyushu, Japan. Preventative Medicine. 1992;21:526-531.

40. Chan, P.T., et al. Jasmine green tea epicatechins are hypolipidemic in hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) fed a high fat diet. Journal of Nutrition. 1999;129(6):1094-1101.

41. Center for Alternative Medicine Research in Cancer. Green Tea. 1999.

42. Rasheed, A. Antibacterial activity of Camellia sinesis extracts against dental caries. Archives Pharmacal Research. 1998;21(3):348-352.

43. Yu, H., et al. Anticariogenic effects of green tea. Fuluoka Igaku Zasshi - Kukuoka Acta Medica. 1992;83(4):174-180.

44. Martin KR, et al. Timing of supplementation with the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine reduces tumor multiplicity in novel, cancer-prone p53 haploinsufficient Tg.AC (v-Ha-ras) transgenic mice but has no impact on malignant progression. Nutr Cancer. 2002;43(1):59-66.

45. Nisar S, Feinfeld DA.N-acetylcysteine as salvage therapy in cisplatin nephrotoxicity. Ren Fail. 2002 Jul;24(4):529-33.

46. Seril DN,et al. Inhibition of chronic ulcerative colitis-associated colorectal adenocarcinoma development in a murine model by N-acetylcysteine. Carcinogenesis. 2002 Jun;23(6):993-1001.

47. Albini A, et al. Inhibition of angiogenesis-driven Kaposi's sarcoma tumor growth in nude mice by oral N-acetylcysteine. Cancer Res. 2001 Nov 15;61(22):8171-8.

48. Olivieri G, et al. N-acetyl-L-cysteine protects SHSY5Y neuroblastoma cells from oxidative stress and cell cytotoxicity: effects on beta-amyloid secretion and tau phosphorylation. J Neurochem. 2001 Jan;76(1):224-33.

49. Grimble RF. Nutritional modulation of immune function. Proc Nutr Soc. 2001 Aug;60(3):389-97.

50. Droge W, Breitkreutz R. Glutathione and immune function. Proc Nutr Soc. 2000 Nov;59(4):595-600.

51. Ben-Ari Z, Vaknin H, Tur-Kaspa R. N-acetylcysteine in acute hepatic failure (non-paracetamol-induced). Hepatogastroenterology 2000;47:786—9.

52. Pajoumand A, et al. Successful treatment of acetaminophen overdose associated with hepatic failure. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2003 Aug;22(8):453-8.

53. Brok J, et al.. Interventions for paracetamol (acetaminophen) overdoses. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(3):CD003328.

54. De Flora S, et al. Metabolic, desmutagenic and anti-carcinogenic effects of N-acetylcysteine. Respiration 1986;50 Suppl 1:43-9.

55. Poliandri AH, at al. Cadmium induces apoptosis in anterior pituitary cells that can be reversed by treatment with antioxidants. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2003 Jul 1;190(1):17-24.

56. Estensen RD, Levy M, Klopp SJ, et al. N-acetylcysteine suppression of the proliferative index in the colon of patients with previous adenomatous colonic polyps. Cancer Lett 1999;147:109—14.

57. Tandon SK, et al. Chelation in metal intoxication: influence of cysteine or N-acetyl cysteine on the efficacy of 2,3-dimercaptopropane-1-sulphonate in the treatment of cadmium toxicity. J Appl Toxicol. 2002 Jan-Feb;22(1):67-71.

58. Ulrich H, Weischer CH, et al. Pharmaceutical composition containing R-alpha-lipoic acid or S-alpha-lipoic acid as active ingredient. US Patent 5,728,735, 1998.

59. Liu J, Head E, Gharib AM, et al, Memory loss in old rats is associated with brain mitochondrial decay and RNA/DNA oxidation: partial reversal by feeding acetyl-L-carnitine and/or R-alpha -lipoic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2002 Feb 19; 99(4): 2356-61.

60. Hager K, Marahrens A, Kenklies M, et al, Alpha-lipoic acid as a new treatment option for Azheimer type dementia. Arch Gerontology Geriatric 2001 Jun; 32(3): 275-282.

61. Jacob S, Rues P, Hermann R. Oral administration of RAC-alpha-lipoic acid modulates insulin sensitivity in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus: a placebo-controlled pilot trial. Free Rad Biol Med 1999 Aug;27(3-4):309-14.

62. Moines H, Trios O, Park YC, Chow KJ, Packer L R-alpha-Lipoic Acid Action on Cell Redox Status, the Insulin Receptor, and Glucose Uptake in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes. . Arch Biochem Biophys 2002 Jan 15; 397(2): 384-91.

63. Suh JH, Shigeno ET, Morrow JD, Cox B, Rocha AE, Frei B, Hagen TM. Oxidative stress in the aging rat heart is reversed by dietary supplementation with (R)-(alpha)-lipoic acid. FASEB J 2001 Mar; 15(3): 700-6.

64. Androne L, Gavan NA, Veresiu IA, Orasan R, In vivo effect of lipoic acid on lipid peroxidation in patients with diabetic neuropathy. In Vivo 2000 Mar-Apr; 14(2): 327-30.

65. Lichtenthaler, R., Rodrigues, R. B., Maia, J. G., Papagiannopoulos, M., Fabricius, H., & Marx, F. 2005. Total oxidant scavenging capacities of Euterpe oleracea Mart. (Acai) fruits. Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 56: 53-64.

66. Del Pozo-Insfran, D., Percival, S. S., & Talcott, S. T. 2006. Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) polyphenolics in their glycoside and aglycone forms induce apoptosis of HL-60 leukemia cells. J. Agric. Food Chem. 54 (4): 1222-1229.

67. Rodrigues, R. B., Lichtenthaler, R., Zimmermann, B. F., Papagiannopoulos, M., Fabricius, H., Marx, F., Maia, J. G. and Almeida, O. 2006. Total oxidant scavenging capacity of Euterpe oleracea Mart. (acai) seeds and identification of their polyphenolic compounds. J. Agric. Food Chem. 54: 4162-4167.

68. Schauss, A. G., Wu, X., Prior, R. L., Ou, B., Patel, D., Huang, D., & Kababick, J. P. 2006. Phytochemical and nutrient composition of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (acai). J. Agric. Food Chem. 54 (22): 8598-8603.

69. Schauss, A. G., Wu, X., Prior, R. L., Ou, B., Huang, D., Owens, J., Agarwal, A., Jensen, G. S., Hart, A. N., & Shanbrom, E. 2006. Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae Mart. (acai). J. Agric. Food Chem. 54 (22): 8604-8610.

Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious. Too bad he wasn't taking Flameout™...

Red wine...

...Jake Gyllenhaal, tolerable in small doses!

This guy...

Movie Stars, Blockbuster Berries, and You

...drinks this.


Not your momma's insulin sensitivity supplement.

Movie Stars, Blockbuster Berries, and You

Acai and...

About Joel Marion

To learn more about Joel's brand new Premium Coaching Program or to download a free copy of his latest fat loss report, visit

About John Romaniello

John Romaniello is a Certified Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, and Freelance fitness author and model working in the New York City area. Working with clients ranging from high school athletes (and their parents) to professionals in all walks of life, John has helped countless individuals improve health, fitness, and performance. He can be reached at

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Building a Bodybuilder Back

Movements vs. Muscles

When it comes to weight training, there are basically just two paradigms: training movements and training muscles.

Strength coaches would point out that the body doesn't "think" about doing a movement (a.k.a. exercise) in order to stimulate a particular muscle. Instead, the body simply recruits the muscles needed to elicit a certain movement.

On the other hand, bodybuilding coaches see training as a way to stimulate a particular muscle. Therefore they select movements that target a particular muscle.

Which viewpoint is correct?

The answer is actually rather simple. For someone who's an athlete whose performance depends on executing certain movements and movement patterns, their training should be based upon quickly and efficiently executing movements, particularly the movements involved in their particular sport. After all, it doesn't matter which muscles do the movement, as long as the movement gets done.

For example, let's say you find yourself in the octagon fighting Anderson Silva. As he throws a straight right toward your face, you couldn't care less whether you use your abs, obliques, multifidus, or any other muscles... as long as you're able to duck his rapidly-approaching fist before it smashes your pretty face.

If, after some combination of ducking and leaning, you could then manage to come up and counter with your own right hook to his left temple, who cares if your biceps, anterior delt, or core produced most of the power? Simply landing a shot on "The Spider" would be reason enough to be ecstatic!

On the other hand, if you're someone who trains to look a certain way, then your progress is measured by the stimulation and adaptation of muscles, not movement execution. For that reason, the focus of your training should be on properly stimulating the appropriate muscles with the appropriate exercises.

To illustrate, pretend you're onstage battling for the overall Mr. USA with eventual winner Mark Alvisi, among others. As the judges evaluate your physiques, they realize that your lats are rather thin and underdeveloped as compared to Mark's.

Sure, you may have done identical amounts of vertical pulling and rowing as the new Mr. USA, but it doesn't matter, because your lats simply aren't up to snuff. Try again next year, buddy. Thanks for playing.

As you can see, both strength coaches and bodybuilding coaches are right. There's a time to focus on movements, and there's a time to focus on muscles.

But this article isn't about uniting coaches and their methods; it's about building a bad-ass back! One that's not only big, but also symmetrical and aesthetic.


Let me preface by saying that this article is about an advanced approach to back training — one that's arguably unnecessary for most trainees.

For the vast majority of people, even physique athletes, back training with a movement-based approach is fine, even if you do train for looks more so than function. In fact, it's far superior to the way most gym goers haphazardly train their backs.

However, once you've reached a certain level of development, it becomes a must to approach training — especially back training — with a muscle-oriented approach. For most, it's the only way to build a big back that's visually appealing and symmetrical from top to bottom and from left to right.

Sure, some genetically gifted individuals can basically just lift heavy stuff and develop a balanced, symmetrical back (those bastards!). But the vast majority of us need a far more finely tuned approach — one that addresses each individual region of the back, not just the back as a whole.

Regions of the Back

Considering "the back" as one body part like we work with chest is a misguided approach that doesn't take into account the complexity of the back musculature.

Think about it. Referring to the entire posterior aspect of your torso as "my back" is analogous to calling your anterior torso "my front," even though it includes your pectorals, anterior deltoids, and abdominals.

To more finely tune the description of the muscles of the back, let's compartmentalize them into three basic regions: upper back, lats, and low back.

Upper Back

The upper back includes the upper, middle, and lower traps as well as the rhomboids, which are "deep to" the middle traps.

Although not the focus of this article, let's move from the midline and go laterally a bit. The upper back also includes the rear delts, infraspinatus, and its little friend the teres minor, all of which lie on the lateral aspect of the upper back.

As a brief review, the middle traps and the rhomboids work primarily to retract the scapulae or bring the shoulder blades closer together toward the midline. The upper traps elevate the shoulders (as in shrugging), while the lower traps depress (or lower) the scapulae and bring the bottom part of the scapulae closer together.

Visually, it's the upper back that's primarily responsible for giving the back that thick, three-dimensional look needed to look great in a rear double biceps pose.


As you probably know, the lats are situated primarily on the lateral part of the posterior torso, just below what we're calling the upper back. For sake of completion, the teres major would also fit into the lat grouping.

The general function of the lats is to adduct or abduct the humerus. In other words, the lats move the upper arm either closer to the body, or away from the body, whether in the frontal or a sagital plane.

Great lat development obviously makes your back appear wider, especially when executing a rear lat spread. But great lats also complete the look of a rear double biceps pose. After all, it just doesn't look right to have a thick upper back with paper-thin lats that don't jut out from the sides.

The lats are also largely responsible for the overall shape of your physique. Whether facing the front or the rear, your lats enhance your appearance by giving width to your torso while visually narrowing your waist.

Lower Back

When referring to the lower back, we're primarily talking about the lumbar spinal erectors. However, we're also including the lesser-known multifidus and quadratus lumborum (QL).

As a chiropractor you probably expect me to make a big deal about the lower back. However, as an NPC judge I'll say this: Development of the lower back isn't really that important. In fact, the coveted "Christmas tree" appearance that's often seen in the lower back has far more to do with lat thickness and lack of body fat than development of the spinal erectors.

As a general rule, doing deadlift variations, barbell squats, and some barbell rowing will take care of your lower back in terms of strength and development. However, if pain and/or lack of lower back strength prohibit you from doing any of the aforementioned movements, then you have a low back issue that should be addressed.

Are You Upper Back Dominant or Lat Dominant?

The vast majority of us tend to either be upper back dominant or lat dominant. In order to balance out your back development, you first have to know in which category you fit. Since I'm unable to personally watch you execute a rear double biceps pose and a rear lat spread, let me give you a simple but accurate way to assess your back dominance.

Do a moderately heavy set of neutral grip cable rows on a low pulley. As fatigue starts to set in, do you feel it more in your lats or in your upper back, mostly between your shoulder blades?

If you feel the movement more in your lats and tend to have a hard time getting a really good contraction or "squeeze" in your scapular retractors, then consider yourself lat dominant. And I bet your back lacks that really impressive three-dimensional "pop" to it, although you can probably develop width relatively easily.

On the other hand, if you tend to feel low-pulley cable rows in your upper back yet have a hard time isolating and squeezing your lats, then you're upper back dominant. If this is the case, you probably have some decent thickness to your upper back, yet have a hard time getting the width that corresponds with your thickness.

As they say, knowledge is power. Now that you know at least one of the visual (and neurological) strengths and weaknesses of your back, you can begin to train in such a way to correct this discrepancy.

Training for a Big Beautiful Back

As a general rule of thumb, your back training routine (assuming it's part of a body part split) should be comprised of 3 to 4 exercises — not including any direct rear delt or upper trap work.

For those of you who tend to be lat dominant, make sure that the majority of your back exercises target your upper back or scapular retractors. Keep in mind there's a good chance you won't enjoy training in this manner because it forces you to do exercises that you're "not good at" or don't "feel" very well.

However, the same neuromuscular inefficiency of your upper back that causes you to not feel certain exercises very well is the precise reason why you should be doing these exercises! You can't fix a problem if you don't address it.

Likewise, those of you who have a hard time activating your lats should spend the majority of your back training time targeting your lats.

As for maintaining the strong point of your back, the combination of one direct exercise and the spillover stimulation that it'll get from other exercises will be ample stimulus to maintain and even slowly improve its development.

Back Training Routine: Upper Back Emphasis

Rack deadlifts are a great option for those looking to thicken their upper back without putting too much stress or emphasis on the lower back.

Medium-grip pulldowns are a perfect example of how, at least for bodybuilders, a movement-based approach to training isn't very precise. Sure, it's a vertical pulling movement, but it targets the upper back (i.e. middle and lower traps) far more than the standard wide-grip pulldown, which emphasizes the lats more.

One-arm dumbbell rows are one of the single best compound movements for the lats, assuming you keep your humerus along the side of your torso as you approach the contracted position.

Reverse flyes (or "T raises" as many non-bodybuilders call them) are a great exercise for isolating the upper back. Just make sure to forcefully squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement as opposed to focusing on squeezing the rear delts as you would if you were doing this movement specifically as a rear delt exercise.


Back Training Routine: Lat Emphasis

Underhand barbell rows are great for those who are upper-back dominant as they place the humerus in a position that's more mechanically advantageous for the lats as opposed to the upper back. Just make sure to avoid raising your torso more than 45° above horizontal or you'll end up doing more of a shrugging movement, thereby shifting the emphasis away from the lats and/or the upper middle back (upper/middle traps and rhomboids).

Wide-grip pulldowns are, at first glance, very similar to medium-grip pulldowns. However, their affect on the back is much different as they emphasize the lats as opposed to the scapular retractors. To maximize the stimulus placed on the lats, keep your torso practically vertical while keeping your elbows in vertical alignment under your wrists.

Rack deadlifts are perfect for this lat-emphasizing routine as they will serve to more-than-maintain upper back musculature while providing a good overall growth stimulus.

Decline dumbbell pullovers are one of the single best exercises for stimulating the lats, especially for individuals who typically have a hard time doing so. The movement is essentially adduction of the humerus in the sagittal plane, which is one of the purest functions of the lats. Make sure to avoid the temptation to bend your elbows too much as you near the stretched position of the movement.

Back Routine: Balanced Development

Pull-ups tend to be a fairly balanced exercise in terms of how they spread the stress over the back musculature. I suspect this is the case because, for most people, it's simply too difficult to do in a manner that emphasizes one part of the back over the other. Instead, you'll naturally fall into a position that enables the upper back and the lats to contribute their fair share of the workload.

Rack deadlifts are, as mentioned previously, an incredible overall back exercise. Likewise, most people will find that doing these will give more than adequate stimulation to the spinal erectors and the upper traps.

One-arm dumbbell rows are simply one of the best (and safest) back exercises around. But again, due to the position of the humerus, they tend to not stimulate the scapular retractors enough to cause growth.

Overhand barbell rows are definitely one of the single best compound movements for the upper back. Even though they closely resemble their sibling, the underhand barbell row, they're a very different animal indeed. Since these are done to stimulate the upper back as opposed to the lats, make sure your humerus is abducted (away from your side) at least 45° if not 60°. This places the lats in a position that's less mechanically advantageous, thus shifting the stress to the upper back.

Intelligent Back Training

If you're nutritionally advanced at all, then you know there's more to food than just calories. I bet you think of a meal in terms of protein, carbs, and fat. From now on you should think of back training in a similar light.

No longer is an exercise just "a back exercise." And if you're a physique athlete, you should think beyond vertical pulling and rowing. Instead, a back exercise is an upper back exercise, a lat exercise, a low back exercise, or a combination thereof, depending on the predominate muscle(s) stimulated, not the movement used to do the stimulating.

Approaching your back training with this paradigm will really allow you to optimize and fine-tune your back development. And who knows, one day it may be pictures of your back that will be used to illustrate perfect back development.

Building a Bodybuilder Back

Guy throwing the punch? Anderson Silva. Funny-looking red-headed kid with the star-shaped boo-boo? You.

Building a Bodybuilder Back

Building a Bodybuilder Back

Reverse Flyes, Arnold-Style

Building a Bodybuilder Back

Reverse Flyes, Supported

About Dr. Clay Hyght

Building a Bodybuilder Back

Dr. Clay's new book, Set Your Metabolism on Fire, is more than 100 pages long, and packed with fat-burning, muscle-building information, including complete meal plans. Whether it's because he's a really nice guy or an idiot, he's giving it away for free! Visit to get your copy before he comes to his senses.

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.