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

Monday, December 28, 2009

You may not be an Olympic athlete, but you can eat a diet like one

You may not be an Olympic athlete, but you can eat a diet like one

You may not be an Olympic athlete, but you can eat a diet like one

When watching our stalwart winter Olympian athletes tearing down the slopes or speed skating the oval like there was no tomorrow, have you ever wondered where they get that supreme energy?

"The key is in what they eat," says Rose Reisman, a Toronto nutritional consultant, cookbook author, restaurant and catering business owner and mother of four.

"And non-Olympians can learn from those athletes because no matter what you do in terms of an active lifestyle we should all be eating the same as they," she says. "The only difference with an Olympian is that they are going to consume double the calories we are because by nature they are more active."

With the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics just over two months away, Reisman thought it a good time to put a challenge to not-so-active Canadians to get fit not only through exercise but when choosing meals as well.

"The old days where the belief was protein, protein and more protein or maybe a bowl of pasta before a run are past," she says. "Now it's a matter of following Canada's Food Guide and snacking every two to three hours five times a day so you can fuel your body properly."

Reisman starts her day with a snack to "kick-start her metabolism" because after sleeping six to eight hours the metabolism is at its slowest rate possible, she says. Then she works out at her home gym "religiously."

"Later I make myself a simple breakfast with something from the four food groups. So that might mean a piece of whole-grain toast, peanut butter, a banana, yogurt or milk."

She finds that prevents her from getting hungry and overeating.

"I know it's hard to change habits," she admits. "But many of us eat too much late at night and aren't hungry when we wake up so we down a coffee and muffin, a small salad or sandwich at lunch and then we are starving at 4 o'clock in the afternoon."

But she adds, "it's breaking that habit that Olympians have to overcome because they need to fuel every few hours to keep their edge and energized."

When it comes to snacking every few hours instead of eating three meals a day, Reisman suggests combinations such as a small 30-gram (one-ounce) cube of cheese, a handful of nuts such as almonds, walnuts or a homemade trail mix, dried fruits like apples, oranges, flatbread with peanut butter and yogurt with granola.

"These should be high in carbohydrates and light on protein and saturated fat," she says. "Stay healthy by stocking your diet with real foods first and as a last resort use energy bars if you must."

Reisman says that the promotion of low-to no-carbohydrate diets has given carbohydrates a bad reputation.

"For athletes, carbohydrates are nonetheless extremely important," she says. "Not only are they needed for optimal physical performance, but they also help you to concentrate, stay focused and remain mentally sharp."

Athletes also need high levels of protein to help rebuild muscles broken down by physical activity and to aid in carbohydrate storage.

"Without the necessary protein, an athlete's body will succumb to injury, illness, poor performance and fatigue," Reisman says.

Finally, she urges proper hydration as a key to good nutrition.

"The body needs water to function, especially during intense training or exertion," she says. "Dehydration of as little as two per cent body mass can decrease muscular strength, muscular endurance and anaerobic work capacity."

The majority of hydration should come from water, she says.

"However, sports drinks can help replace electrolytes that are lost during exercise."


Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Six Toughest Workouts

Grow or Die!

The old-school bodybuilders and strength athletes often called it the "Grow or Die Mechanism." The premise was simple: Train your body so hard that it has only two choices: adapt and grow, or give up the ghost.

Modern strength and hypertrophy experts have other fancyfied names for it, likesuper-accumulation, but it all boils down to this: Train brutally hard, push the body to its limit and maybe even a little past its limit, then let it rest, recover, and grow.

Here are six of our favorite workouts to trigger the grow or die mechanism. We apologize in advance for your soon-to-come lactic acid-induced nausea and DOMS.

The 20-Rep Breathing Squat

From Peary Rader and Randall Strossen to Charles Poliquin and Dan John, we've known the "secret" to big gains for a century: a heavy load, on a big compound exercise, moved many, many times. The best exercise for this? The squat.

The 20-rep breathing squat, sometimes called a "death set," is pretty much the one that started it all. The basic idea is simple:

1. Load up the bar with a weight you can squat 10 times.

2. Now squat it 20 times.

3. You do this by taking purposeful pauses and breaths between each rep. You may start with one good deep breath between reps, then, as you move past 10 reps and start to hear the voice of God calling you heavenward, you can take as many breaths as you need... as long as you don't rack the bar.

Old-schoolers following Strossen's Super Squats program would often follow this one-set workout challenge with a set of high-rep pullovers. Many believed this combo lead to overall muscle growth and "ribcage expansion." Maybe, maybe not, but it sure feels good to lie down and breathe after a set of 20-rep squats!

The breathing squat is a classic test of willpower and mental toughness. If you're truly using a challenging 10-rep load, then you'll be in for a physical and mental battle as you strive to hit 20 reps.

Keep the puke bucket handy for this one!

The Strip-Set Leg Press

Many bodybuilding experts believe that the legs, particularly the quads, need high reps and a longer TUT (time under tension) to hypertrophy. Here's one way to do it... if you're a masochist and your life insurance is all paid up.

Strip-sets were a favorite of many of the Golden Age bodybuilders. The idea was simple: pick an exercise and a weight. Lift until failure or near-failure. Drop the load down a few pounds (grab a set of lighter dumbbells or strip off plates) and again train until failure. Then, do it again, resting only enough time between drops to change weights. You might strip the weight three times or ten times. It's up to you and your goals.

While this classic intensity technique is wickedly tough when performed with, say, alternating biceps curls (often called "running the rack") it's downright torture when used with an exercise that brings the bigger muscles of the body into play. The strip-set leg press is a good/evil example.

Pile up the leg press machine with a load you can lift — in good, full range-of-motion form — for around 10 reps. Your 10th rep should be almost impossible to complete. If it isn't you didn't go heavy enough or you're a quarter-reppin' wussy.

Now, without locking the sled, have a partner strip a plate off each side and immediately begin pressing again. Strip it again after coming to near-failure. Bodybuilders have stripped the weight as few as two or three times, and some have stripped it until they're pressing (just barely!) an empty sled.

This could easily have you straining under load for several minutes. Some lifters have been known to pass out or throw up after strip-set leg presses!


The Toughest Exercise: The Platform Snatch-Grip Deadlift

The deadlift is already one of the toughest movements in existence. It's a demanding man-maker of an exercise, a primal movement involving nothing more than bending down and ripping some heavy shit off the ground.

But it can be made tougher, and more effective for unadulterated gains in muscle mass.

Poliquin calls it the platform snatch-grip deadlift. We call it the Deadlift from Hell.

The secret to its brutality is the insanely long range of motion. First, you're going to be using a snatch-grip: a very wide grip on the bar, out near the plates. That means you're going to be lifting the bar higher at the top of the movement compared to a normal mixed-grip deadlift or sumo deadlift, which actually shortens the range of motion. The snatch-grip also forces you to bend down further, again increasing the ROM.

Second, you're going to stand on a four inch (or so) platform, once again lengthening the range of motion and forcing the body to perform more work.

When Poliquin is tasked with adding mass to one of his elite athletes and has to do it in a hurry, the platform snatch-grip deadlift is his go-to exercise!

The Complex for Time

Complex training is hot right now, and it's no wonder why: it works.

Quick review: A traditional complex is where you choose several exercises and perform them back to back without rest and without putting down the bar. Alwyn Cosgrove describes complex training as a circuit using one piece of equipment, one load, and one space.

So maybe you perform front squats for 8 reps, then push presses for 8 reps, then bentover rows for 8, and finally back squats for 8 reps — all without dropping the bar or resting between movements. Very effective for muscle-sparing "cardio," athletic conditioning, and fat loss phases.

One of the most torturous complexes we've tried comes from strength and conditioning specialist Jason Ferruggia. The goal here is speed. Start a timer and perform the following once through, six reps for every movement. Write down your time and try to beat it on another day. The effect is nothing short of metabolicviolence.

Start with a 45-pound bar. After a few workouts and improved times, add load. But remember, many well-conditioned top athletes never go over 95 pounds with this one. Try it once and you'll be a believer!

The Farmer's Walk

Find the heaviest pair of dumbbells in your gym. Hopefully that's at least 100 pounds. Now pick them up and take a walk. That's essentially a farmer's walk.

This killer old-school exercise will set your lungs on fire, annihilate your grip, forearms, and traps, and build a shit-ton of mental and physical toughness.

Here are two ways to do them:

1. Mark off a certain distance, say, the length of the group fitness room if you can only do these in your gym. Now perform a designated number of "sets" — such as across the room and back — and time how long it takes you.

The next time you do farmer's walks, try to beat that time. Oh, and try not to drop your weights on the chicks doing Pilates. It's rude to hospitalize people, Mongo, unless, you know, they really, really deserve it. Like vegans.

2. If you have the space, grab your dumbbells and see how far you can go without dropping them. Next time around, try to beat that distance. Remember, only pussies stop after their eyeballs pop from their sockets.

3. If you don't have specialized strongman equipment but do have access to trap bars, use those for what we call "trap bar walks."

The 1-10 System

A favorite of Arnold, this one can be used with just about any exercise, but Mr. Cali-fornia liked to use them with curls and bench presses.

Here's how it works: Load up the bar with a weight that you can only handle for one maximal rep in good form. Curl it or press it, rack it, then strip off just enough weight so that you can get two reps.

Again, take off just enough weight so that you can get three reps. Continue until you do a final set of ten reps. That'll be 55 reps total. Now go find your left testicle. It rolled out of your shorts leg about halfway through the set.

If using a barbell, load it up initially with several smaller plates to allow for easy load changes. A training partner really helps here but you can do it yourself in a pinch. If using dumbbells or fixed EZ-curl bars, get ready to "run the rack."

What's Your Favorite?

Although these six workouts are both cruel and effective, there are many more out there that almost made our list. Did we miss one of your faves? Hit "Discuss" below and let us know your favorite man-maker!

The 6 Toughest Workouts

Only 19 more reps to go, girlyman!

The 6 Toughest Workouts

The Strip-Set Leg Press: The "fun" has just begun, Sparky!

The 6 Toughest Workouts

The Platform Snatch-Grip Deadlift: You'd cry for mama...
if you could breathe.

Ferruggia Complex

The 6 Toughest Workouts

Trap-Bar Walks

The 6 Toughest Workouts

The 1-10 system was a favorite of Arnold's.

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


Dirty Nutrition Vol 4

The Heart of the Matter

A: I think it's great and I take it every day.

Coenzyme Q10 should definitely be taken for health reasons, particularly for the health of the heart.

CoQ10 is a molecule made by the body and is absolutely necessary for the functioning of cells. It's like an energy nutrient for the heart. It's used, especially in Japan, as a drug for congestive heart failure. Cardiologist Stephen Sinatra calls CoQ10 one of the "awesome foursome" for heart health, the others being D-Ribose, Carnitine, and magnesium.

If you're on a statin drug — one of those oversold, overhyped cholesterol-lowering meds like Zocor or Lipitor — you absolutely have to take CoQ10 since those drugs deplete the nutrient like nobody's business. (One of the side effects of statins is muscle pain and it's believed that's from the depleted levels of CoQ10.)

CoQ10 is often given with L-carnitine as an "energy cocktail," but I believe this works best if you're low in those nutrients to begin with, though there's a little bit of research that CoQ10 may improve symptoms of chronic fatigue.

My personal recommendation is 30-60mg a day for general health, much more (100-300) if you're on a statin drug or have heart issues.

Protein Powders: Do You Get What You Pay For?

A: Well, you can get a nice Hyundai with a lawnmower engine for ten thousand or you can get a Lamborghini Diablo. Both are cars. Same thing, right?

Okay, I'm being a little facetious, but yes, there are big differences among protein powders. Protein is only as good as the source it comes from. Some protein (meat and whey powder) comes from feedlot farmed cows complete with all the hormones, steroids, and antibiotics these poor animals live on. And some protein comes from grass-fed cows that are raised on pasture and never fed a hormone or a steroid in their lives. Their meat is different and their by-products (like whey) are different. (Grass-fed meat has omega-3's and CLA and lower levels of inflammatory omega-6's, not to mention the absence of the above-mentioned drugs.)

And that's just the whey protein we're talking about. You can get soy protein isolate or soy protein concentrate, and either can be made from organically grown soy or GMO mystery crops. Soy, whey, casein, and rice protein all have slightly different amino acid profiles.

Then there's sweeteners. Some high-quality protein powders are sweetened with a little Xylitol and /or stevia, others have aspartame, still others might have el-cheapo high fructose corn syrup. Does it matter? I think it does.

Protein powder is no different from a million other things in the marketplace, from cars to vitamins to clothing. There are all kinds of ways to skimp on quality. My feeling is that with protein powder, unlike with, say, cars, the difference in price between the tub o' shit and the Rolls Royce isn't that great.

Get the best you can afford. If it's worth taking (or eating) it's worth springing for the good stuff!

The Scoop on Metamyosin

A: Metamyosin is just the proprietary name for a blend of whey and casein, nothing special or unique about it. Theoretically you could make it yourself by mixing whey and casein.

Metamyosin has an interesting history though. It was originally developed by Scott Connelly for his company MetRx back when MetRx was supplied in two separate tubs and you had to mix them together. One of the original investors in MetRx was Bill Phillips (along with Jeff Everson). All three got very, very, rich.

Eventually Phillips and Connelly parted ways, Phillips started EAS, cashed out and sold the company in 1999 for about 180 million, though he stayed on the board for a short time.

EAS now has a proprietary protein blend called MyoPlex, which, as far as I can see, is pretty much the same stuff as Metamyosin. At one time both MetRx and EAS were elite, exclusive brands with great appeal to bodybuilders. Now you can get EAS in Wal-Mart.

Do Joint Formulas Really Work?

A: Thumbs up on them all.

Glucosamine is a natural compound that's found in healthy cartilage. A nice body of evidence supports its use in the treatment of general osteoarthritis and especially arthritis of the knee. The best studied and most effective form is glucosamine sulfate.

In one study (1) published in the Lancet, 212 patients with knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned either 1500mg of glucosamine sulfate or placebo once daily for three years. The placebo group had progressive narrowing of the joint space while the group taking glucosamine had zip. Seriously.

Natural Standard (2), one of the most rigorous groups reviewing research on supplements, gives glucosamine an "A" rating (Strong Scientific Evidence) for knee osteoarthritis, and a "B" (Good Scientific Evidence) for general osteoarthritis. It's worth noting that practically every vet in America uses this stuff for joint problems. Vets use what works and don't worry about endless double-blind studies.

Glucosamine sulfate is often taken in conjunction with chondrotin sulfate, an important structural component of cartilage, which provides a lot of the resistance to compression. They work really well together, and I've always found it interesting that vets were using this combo way before the science "establishment" got behind it.

The typical dose is 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200 mg of chondrotin per day in divided doses. Research shows reduction in pain and improvement in mobility.

Now, SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is a whole different compound. It's actually a methyl donor, which means it can help with a whole variety of reactions in the body. One of the best known uses for SAMe is arthritis and joint pain. At least one study (3) found that it was very helpful in knee osteoarthritis, though that study used SAMe intravenously first, then followed with oral dosing.

SAMe is best known for being effective for depression and arthritis and possibly liver disease and fibromyalgia. Usual dose (for both depression and arthritis) is 400 mg a day twice a day on an empty stomach, but it's pricey.

Don't ignore fish oil for joint health as well. It's the most anti-inflammatory compound on the planet, and anyone who has aching joints has got inflammation!

Whatta Load of Crap!

A: Dude, I'm thinking you might have a bit too much time on your hands!

But here's the answer: You eat three times a day, ideally you'd evacuate just as often, or at least close to it. And as far as how it should look, the old adage "a foot long floater with no odor" says it pretty well.

Now, there are a lot of symptoms of pancreatic cancer, like jaundice and pain in the belly area or in the middle of the back. Some symptoms (like tiredness or loss of appetite) could be caused by any number of things so I wouldn't jump to conclusions. But if you have any suspicion that something's wrong in this department, for goodness sake get it checked out. This isn't something to fool around with.

If you're not pooping at least twice a day (preferably three times), you might need a bit of help in the digestive department. Start with digestive enzymes taken at every meal, and get a good probiotic supplement. Also, make sure you're getting enough fiber — we need about 25 to 35 grams a day of the stuff and most people get between 4 and 11! (See question below.)

Bodybuilders and Fiber

A: Same as you should get as a healthy human: 25 to 35 grams a day.

Beans are the best source I know of: a cup of adzuki beans has 17 grams, kidney beans and garbanzo beans (chickpeas) about 13, pinto beans 15. And some foods that are high in fiber might surprise you: avocados, for example, which have almost 5 grams per half an avocado.

Very few commercial cereals are fiber heavyweights. Exceptions are Fiber One (a whopping 14 grams of fiber per serving) and All-Bran with Extra Fiber (13 grams per serving) but both have aspartame and All-Bran also has high-fructose corn syrup.

If you're not too much of a purist, you could look at this as a trade-off. After all, that's a heck of a lot of fiber even though I'd much prefer to get it without HFCS or aspartame.

And of course there's always old-fashioned oatmeal, the bodybuilder's favorite: 4 grams per half-cup uncooked, almost no sugar, and 5 grams of protein just for good measure.

The truth is, the whole "breads and cereals for fiber" routine is a crock. Most of the commercial breads and cereals have very little fiber (1-3 grams per serving) especially when compared to beans, and none of them hold a candle to vegetables when it comes to overall nutrition. Even when it comes to fiber, vegetables like brussels sprouts, cabbage, parsnips, and green peas leave the average bread in the dust.

Finally, don't rule out a fiber supplement. You can go low-tech with plain old psyillium husks or get one of the designer fibers that actually taste good. And try adding flaxseed (like Barlean's FortiFlax) to everything — adds a bit of fiber to shakes, salads, and veggies, plus you're getting some healthy plant compounds like lignans to boot.

Veghead to Musclehead

A: Well, Bill Pearl did it. Or at least he won his fourth Mr. Universe title as a lacto-ovo vegetarian. He was a meat-eater before that, however.

Remember there are all kinds of vegetarians: the kind that eat fish and the kind that eat milk and eggs (but not red meat). Overall I'd say vegetarian bodybuilders are in a minority, but if you're getting enough protein from high quality sources like eggs and whey and casein, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to get pretty muscular.

Vegans — the kind of super-orthodox vegetarian that eats absolutely no fish, dairy, whey, eggs, or any food product that came from an animal — are a whole other story.

I'd be surprised if any vegans were winning titles, but I've seen some websites and YouTube videos of vegan bodybuilders that are pretty impressive (check out Kenneth Williams or Robert Cheeke). Assuming these dudes are being honest about what they're eating, they're clearly able to grow muscle. Not Mr. Olympia, but still...

Probiotics and Muscle-Building

A: Wouldn't be on my top ten list for muscle building, but definitely would be on my top-ten for overall health. Remember, it's possible to care about both!

Some of the benefits: better digestive health, absorption of nutrients (if you don't absorb them you can't use them), and a nice boost to the immune system. But they won't put an extra inch on the guns.


1) Lancet. 2001 Jan 27;357(9252):251-6. Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Reginster JY, Deroisy R, Rovati LC, Lee RL, Lejeune E, Bruyere O, Giacovelli G, Henrotin Y, Dacre JE, Gossett C.



Dirty Nutrition Vol 4

CoQ10: Good for the heart (and other muscles, too).

Although glucosamine and chondrotin may help with joint pain, never forget fish oil, the most anti-inflammatory compound on the planet!

Protein powders, like cars, vary enormously in quality.

Bill Pearl, egg-eatin' vegetarian

Dirty Nutrition Vol 4

Adzuki beans: A shit-load of fiber. Pun intended.

Dirty Nutrition Vol 4

Tasty, but not much fiber.

Dirty Nutrition Vol 4

If you're not pooping at least twice a day, you might need a bit of help in the digestive department.

About Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Dirty Nutrition Vol 4

Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, is a board-certified nutrition specialist and a nationally known expert on weight loss and nutrition. He has a master's degree in psychology and counseling and a Ph.D. in nutrition, and has earned six national certifications in personal training and exercise. His new book is called The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer You can check it out HERE. Learn more about the book, the new expanded edition of Living Low Carb: Controlled Carbohydrate Eating for Long Term Weight Loss, and Dr. Bowden at

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


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

Jim Wendler knows a lot about moving heavy weights, and it appears TMUSCLE readers are digging what he's selling. For this month's installment of Blood and Chalk, Jim decided to change things up a bit and address just a few topics, but go much more in-depth.

We think this may be his best work yet, and we're not just saying that because Jim knows where we live.

For those who might have a question of your own for Jim, feel free to post in the discussion thread following this article. You never know, he just might answer your question. Although we can't promise he'll be polite.


Let me start off by saying that the two most important things to improve your bench press are:

Proper programming.

Gaining weight.

Although I'm a bit biased when it comes to programming (see my 5/3/1 Manual as an example of what I consider to be proper programming), just make sure you have a goal and a well thought out (and well mapped out) plan.

Now with the gaining weight issue — I'm expecting someone to hop onto the discussion thread to beak at me about some mythical lifter in an imaginary gym in North Dakota who benches 450 while weighing 135lbs or something ridiculous.

Even if this super-stud is anything more than a figment of your prepubescent imagination, never use the exception to prove the rule. (Please write that last statement on the waistband of your Fruit of the Looms and review daily.)

I can also imagine that the small but painfully vocal segment of 155-pound TMUSCLE readers are rolling their sunken eyes because they're afraid of losing their precious four-packs.

To all the calorie-phobes out there, here's a relevant (I promise) story for you: strength coach Will Heffernan was recently challenged to bench press 180 kilos, which for you Americans who've never bothered to venture beyond our borders is close to 400lbs. Six weeks prior, Will had benched 350lbs.

During the six weeks leading up to his 400lbs. attempt, Will trained his bench only two to three times, but simply ATE his way to achieve a bigger bench press.

Obviously, Will reached his goal (or I'd have been lying about the whole relevant story thing) but he is clearly not alone. If you want to get stronger, especially in the upper body lifts, you're going to have to gain some weight.

Remember what your primary goal is. Your goal is that you want to increase your bench press. You can't then go and put a bunch of limitations on your goal, or you'll simply end up sabotaging yourself.

Psychologically, you're just making it much easier to not reach your goal and have a great excuse already in place to fall back on. Simply put, you're afraid of success and want to fail. So if you want to man up and increase your bench, eat more and train smart.

Now as far as assistance lifts are concerned, you have to look at the bench press and see what muscles are involved in making you stronger. Primary muscles would be the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Secondary muscles would be the lats, upper back, and biceps. Now since I'm a big fan of training efficiency, I always try to pick exercises that provide a lot of bang-for-the-buck.

— Weighted and non-weighted. I have a raging man-crush on this exercise and feel like it is one of the better exercises I've ever done for my upper body. Also, I get an absolutely obnoxious pump when doing it, so it's great to use before you go out on Friday night.

— not much to say about this one except PLEASE use a full range of motion with this. That's why you're using dumbbells.

— I think this is so important that I use it as a core lift in my own training (and the 5/3/1 program). Strong shoulders are paramount for a strong raw bench press. I always do them standing (that's how you pee, so that's how you press), with NO WIDER than a "thumbs width from smooth" grip, and a false grip. These are done to the front of the face.

— Begin by un-racking a barbell much like you would during a military press. Press the barbell so that it's a couple inches over your head. At this point, lower the barbell behind your head. It should now resemble a behind the neck press.

Press back up so that the bar is a couple inches over your head, and bring the bar back to the front military press position. This would constitute one rep. By not locking out the weight, you're putting the stress on your shoulders and keeping it off your triceps. This is best used for high reps (8-15). (See video at right.)

— You can do these while using Blast Straps, pushup handles, or just by placing your hands on the ground. Weighted pushups can be done a variety of ways: chains across the back/neck, bands in the hands/across the back, plates loaded on the back, or using a weighted vest (or a combination of the above).

One of the more popular variations of the weighted push-up looks something like this:

Perform three pushups with your bodyweight. Stay in the top push-up up position while your training partner loads two chains (zig-zag) across your shoulders and back. Perform three more pushups, hold the position again and add two more chains. Keep adding pairs of chains until you can't complete the reps.

At this point, have your training partner take off two chains and continue doing three reps until you finish with your bodyweight.

Now for your upper back and lats, you have to understand the difference between raw benching and shirt benching. When you bench with a bench shirt, the bar is brought out to you farther and the bar touches much lower. When using a shirt you must have strong (and big) lats first, and upper back second. This is because the bar is more "in the lats" than upper back when using equipment.

Now with raw benching, you must have a very strong, stable and large upper back. This is because the bar will touch higher and you should be using a narrower grip — you must be "riding" high on your upper back for optimal support and strength. You don't want to flatten out.

While face pulls and rear raises are good exercises, their limited loading potential makes them more akin to rehab and structural integrity.

For my sake, please don't be that guy trying to max out on the face pull or perform rear delt raises with the 80lb bells, complete with super bent arms and the momentum of a swinging Richard. Please, just don't.

For benching, I've found the rowing variations for building the upper back to be optimal. While I love pull-ups and chin-ups (I always do these, no matter what) it's rowing for your bench that will make a big difference. The key is to row HIGH to your body, with your elbows slightly out. Don't row to your stomach. I recommend using the bent over row, dumbbell row, and TC's personal favorite, the T-bar (thong) row.

— Do barbell curls. Nothing revolutionary here; just be like Tiger and do them.

— Get stupid strong up front, and big and stabile in rear.


My no BS, non-PC answer is this: free squats will trump anything in the weight room for sports. The recovery time is slower than box squats, but that should tell you something- it's a harder movement and requires more muscle, coordination, strength, etc.

This is easily seen by leg (quad and hamstring) and glute development of a free squatter vs. a box squatter. Box squatters usually have comparatively poor leg development. Some people will argue that you can make up for it with lunges, step-ups, or something similar. But all this tells me is that you could kill two birds with one stone simply by squatting without a box. (Remember training economy? You should, it's important).

Also, remember that teaching a free squat and having athletes do it correctly isn't as hard as you're probably making it. They DO NOT have to be 100% correct with their form; I'm not even close to what most people will say is perfect squat form, but I still get a lot out of it.

I believe that it's easier to teach box squats, but most of the problems that people have squatting (besides being scared or whatever) stems from lacking the proper mobility. To me, training for sports is two things: 1) Having the mobility to get into the proper position for sporting performance, and 2) Having the strength to maintain the position or move from the position.

That's really it. If someone can perform a free squat correctly, or at least fairly correct, that tells me that they're probably mobile enough to do most anything on the court, ice, or field. (Not always, mind you, but it's a good indicator.) So perhaps those guys who absolutely suck at free squats need their training to address the other problems that they're having.

I also think that three to four workouts to "find" their squat form is fine. You can use these weeks for some lower volume/less intensity work and have them build from there.

But I'm not entirely convinced that one needs to throw away the box squat either as it does have great applications, especially for those with knee problems. And some people are just awful free squatters...AWFUL. For these people, the box is fine.

Just remember that you have to treat the box squat as a separate exercise. Many lifters make the mistake of getting good at box squats, thinking that there is a carryover to free squats; it's only when they go out to free squat and shit themselves miserably that they realize that the carryover is limited at best.

That brings me to something that I've learned the hard way- the box squat transfers better to a geared free squat than to a raw free squat. I've seen this in my own training and countless others. Remember, a squat suit will stop you in the hole, much like a box would. And the suit/briefs will rocket you out of the hole, too.

So getting back to whether to choose a free squat or a box squat, the real question you have to ask is this: is it important to be good at the free squat, or is it just important that you (or your athletes) perform a squatting movement of some type i.e. box, free, Zercher, belt, etc?

You have to determine that for yourself, but in a perfect world, the free squat would be the number one squatting exercise for me.


I'm assuming you mean between the 45-degree back raise, glute-ham raise and Reverse Hyperextension. All three of these pieces are very good and all have their place in a lifter's arsenal. Of course, some might be better for you than others. Here are some of the pros and cons of each.

— This machine is the brainchild of Louie Simmons of the world famous Westside Barbell. Louie has had numerous back problems from a lifetime of extreme lifting. After several injuries, Louie took it upon himself to rehab himself and the idea for the Reverse Hyperextension was born.

With this in mind, the Reverse Hyper is probably best suited for those that need to rehab a bad back, can't do standard back exercises (such as deadlifts or good mornings), but still want to maintain a strong and healthy back. I like to use higher reps with this exercise as I think it's great to force blood into the muscle, but beware- the high reps will pump up your lower back and make you squirm on the ground from the outrageous pump.

Combine this piece, the glute ham raise, and belt squat and you have the perfect lower body exercises for in-season athletes and those with bad backs, shoulders, or anything injured above the waist. This is the most expensive piece of equipment of the three but it can also really help someone with a bad back — and you can't put a price on that.

— This piece is probably the best for beginners and it's easier to load than a standard back raise. The problem with most 45-degree back raises is that they suck! The second you put a bar on your back the thing will tip over. If you can find one that is built with some heft and nice pair of balls (like the one we sell at EliteFTS) then you're in luck.

Getting in and out of our Pro 45 degree back raise is easy and you can perform multiple reps with heavy weight (185lbs) without the machine moving. Performing back raises on this (with a barbell) is about the same as doing a strict good morning; you will get incredible hamstring and low back work.

— Of all the pieces on this list, this is probably the one I've done the most. Having strong hamstrings is paramount for any athlete or lifter and the GHR fits the bill perfectly. Besides performing the glute ham raise, you can also perform back raises.

Now the loading is going to be a little more difficult than the 45 degree back raise, but you can still wear a weight vest, hold dumbbells, or hold a barbell across the back (you'll need a training partner for the latter). Of course, you can also perform weighted sit-ups on the GHR, which was a staple of my arsenal when I was a competitive powerlifter.

The good thing with each of these pieces is that you're not going to make a bad decision. If I had to pick between the three, I'd choose a glute ham raise with a split pad. GHR's are a great exercise, you can perform back raises comfortably with a split pad and do weighted sit-ups. You just can't go wrong.

First of all, you don't need pots and pans. You need a pot and a pan. The pan is to cook (many) grilled cheese sandwiches. Grilled cheese fucking rules and should be eaten three to four times a day as I've found a direct correlation between being awesome and the uninhibited consumption of grilled cheese.

As for the pot, you need that to cook and sterilize your Fina. That should be a given.

So make sure you have a pan big enough to cook 2-3 grilled cheese at once and a pot big enough to house a massive bottle of Fina.

Now take the rest of the shit back to Macy's or wherever you buy pots and pans and pocket the money. Now if you want to use the money to assist your training, we must first examine what can help you achieve your goals.

— can't really buy this. Sorry Corky.

— can't buy this either, unless you're into tea bagging.

— you think I'm joking about this? I don't joke. Ever.

. Apparently it costs about the same as as the cheap stuff that Wal-Mart sells, which is nice unless you're the type of guy who likes to fart in crowded elevators. But until they make a grilled cheese flavor I will refrain from plugging the product too enthusiastically.

. Sure, it's only 20 bucks, but you can probably spend 8 hours searching articles online and piece the program together yourself. I mean, really, fuck that Wendler guy. What has he ever done for you, anyway?

The Bradford Press.

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

The 45-Degree Back Extension.
Definitely not demonstrated by Jim Wendler.

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

The Glute Ham Raise, top position, as demonstrated by Jim Wendler.

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

The Reverse Hyper, starting and end position.

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

The classic dip.

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

The Reverse Hyperextension.

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

The Box Squat.

Blood and Chalk Volume 3: Jim Wendler Talks Big Weights

The box squat is much easier to teach. Seriously. That's why they do it.

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


Monday, December 21, 2009

Lumberjack Squat

Floor Flye

"I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay. I sleep all night and I squat all day..." Okay, so maybe that's not really how the classic tune goes, but it would be one way to change up your lower body training.

The lumberjack squat is one squat variation you'll want to try for a bunch of reasons. Because the load is kept off your back, your lower back isn't put under compressive stress. It's also perfect for home gym lifters who don't have access to a squat rack and still want a big basic leg exercise.

Plus, if you're introducing a newbie to the gym, it's a great way to learn proper squatting form without having to steal a 12-pound Body Bar from the step class. The movement just won't feel right unless you keep your chest puffed out and your lower back arched — exactly like a textbook, athletic back squat.

Simply wedge one end of a bar in a corner of the room, or inside a Landmine-type unit, load up the free end with a bit of weight, grab the bar with both hands at chin level, and get squattin'.

As far as the sets and reps, it's as versatile as any squat variation. For beginners, try using 4x6-8 to learn the proper squat technique and body positioning. More experienced lifters with a mean streak could also use 1-2x15-25 as a brutal finisher after any leg session.


Anything Can Be Explosive

by Joe DeFranco

Most people say they perform the Olympic lifts because they're "explosive." The truth of the matter is that any lift can be explosive! By incorporating the dynamic-effort method with sub-maximal weights into your program, you can turn any lift into an "explosive" lift.

For example, if a guy who box squats 500 pounds were to train with 275 and focus on accelerating the weight, the box squat would then become an "explosive" lift. This example can hold true for many other exercises as well. By training with weights that represent 50-60% of your 1RM, science has proven that the weight is heavy enough to produce adequate force, yet light enough to produce adequate speed. And we should all know that speed times strength = power.

Another reason I feel the Olympic lifts are overrated is that they take a long time to teach and most athletes are horrible at them. After all, Olympic lifting is a sport in and of itself! Olympic weightlifters spend their entire lives practicing these lifts and some of these athletes still never perfect them.

The reason that most non-Olympic weightlifters aren't great at the Olympic lifts is usually because they aren't strong enough in the right places. After assessing an athlete's power clean or power snatch form, I usually conclude that their technique flaws are due to a lack of hamstring, glute, and low back strength. This assessment usually means that I end up prescribing more deadlift variations, reverse hyperextensions, glute-ham raises, pull-throughs, etc.

This is called the "training economy." Getting stronger in the deadlift, reverse hyperextension, and glute-ham raise will improve your power clean, but it doesn't work the other way around. Basically, I choose the exercises that give my athletes the best "bang for their buck." Another benefit of economical exercises is that they're much less stressful on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, compared to the Olympic lifts.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

STRETCHING:The Perfect Workout Checklist

The Problem

Having the right exercises in your workout is great, but you should also be focused on priming your muscles to lift heavy weight and get bigger. You want your sets to be worth something, right?

In my gym it's rare to see a guy go through a sufficient warm up and activation exercises before and during his workout in order to squeeze the most juice from his muscles.

From my experience, most guys fall into two warm-up categories:

The "Jog on the Treadmill" Guy

Sure, doing some kind of physical activity is good for elevating your heart rate and increasing overall body temperature, but what this guy doesn't understand is that his seemingly innocuous warm-up is really just getting his body accustomed to producing force in one direction. And if your program has you doing a variety of exercises that require different movement patterns (which it should) you'll be unprepared to get the most out of those exercises.

The "Warm-up Set" Guy

This is the guy who'll start his workout cold, walk up to the bar, and do a set with 30 percent of his one-rep max to "get warm." How sad. This completely rules out whether or not certain muscles are being inhibited due to tightness, or if other muscles are being compensated for due to lack of stability at load-bearing joints.

With both of these examples, better results would come from asking one question: what muscles you are trying to work during the training session? From there it's simply a matter of getting them warm, ready, and stimulated. (Insert your own sex joke here.)

But before we talk muscle, let's quickly start with the foundation: your joints.

Preparing for the Perfect Workout

The "Big 6" static stretches

The first thing we want to focus on is increasing the range of motion at as many joints as possible, preferably all the muscles you plan on training and the surrounding muscles. So if it were "chest day" you'd stretch your chest, triceps, and shoulders. If you were doing a total-body workout you'd stretch everything.

It's been argued that static stretching lowers the muscle's neurological involvement and essentially weakens them. That may be true if you static stretch and then jump right into hardcore lifting, but we're going to make sure that before you begin your first set your nervous system is amped and ready.

You only need to do one set of each stretch, but make sure to hold it for 30 seconds before moving on.

— Get into a lunge position with your knee on the floor and hold on to your rear foot. Be sure to stay tall, and if possible, reach for the ceiling with the same arm as the leg being stretched. This will open up the iliopsoas group.

— While standing, put your heel on a bench. Make sure your knee is as straight as possible. Hold your pelvis with your hands and stand tall. Now simply tilt your pelvis forward until you feel a deep tweak along the hamstrings belly. It won't take much. Avoid rounding the lumbar spine.

— Face a wall, and place one palm (reaching with a straight arm) against the wall at eye level or slightly above. Begin slowly moving the entire body away from the wall, while maintaining full contact with your palm. When you feel a good stretch through the chest, deepen the stretch by a) depressing your shoulder and b) rotating your elbow towards the floor.

— Hold any support beam (the ones on a universal cable system work well) with a palms-out grip. In other words, make sure your arm is internally rotated so your palm faces away from the body. Bend forward with a flat back while holding the beam and "fall away" from it. Let your weight fall into your seat, so your body is only being held by the hand holding the beam. Make sure to unlock your shoulder. This is an instance where we don't want to activate the lower traps. Push your chest as close to the ground as possible and hold.

— Hold a light dumbbell in your left hand. Let it hang straight down by your side as you take your other hand and place it on the rear left side of your head. Gently pull your head downward and to the right. Depress your left shoulder at the same time to feel a deep stretch through the upper traps. Make sure not to tense the arm holding the dumbbell. Repeat on the other side.

— Sit on the floor as though you were about to sit cross-legged the way kids do, but put one leg straight back. Lean with a straight back over your knee.

Mobility and dynamic exercises.

Now that the muscles are loose, your joints still need a bit more work. To further maximize the ranges of motion it'd be smart to go through a few mobility drills to release more synovial fluid and lubricate each joint, especially the hips and shoulders since they are responsible for more degrees of movement.

Key exercises to focus on are forward leg swings, side leg swings, and arm circles.

Remember to gradually increase the range of motion and speed with each rep, and focus on fully relaxing the muscles involved. The mobility drills actually have a twofold benefit, since they will also dynamically stretch the muscles surrounding the joint.

The Perfect Workout — Getting Down to Business

Most guys are lucky to complete three or four sets that are, as Dave Tate says, "worth a shit." The other sets simply go to waste. Don't believe me? Well, how many times during an average workout do you feel that your muscle fibers were completely active and your tempo and breathing were perfect? How often do you focus on maximal contraction?

Despite what you may tell yourself, the reality is technique becomes compromised without a watchful eye, strength decreases, and muscles may get tight or deactivate themselves.

Here's how to get the best out of every set.

Prime your nervous system.

After doing static stretching and dynamic flexibility, your muscles are ready to actually do something. It's time to establish a connection between your nervous system and your muscle fibers.

As you know by now, you need to hit the high-threshold motor units. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking a movement pattern you plan on doing that day and doing a ballistic variation of the same movement.

Gonna bench press? Do some plyometric push-ups. Gonna squat? Do some weighted squat jumps. You can read an article about ballistic training for muscle here.

The point is not to fatigue the muscles, but to stimulate them. For this reason the reps and sets should stay quite low. I usually recommend three sets of five reps without a lot of rest.

Doing these ballistic moves before our loaded sets means that we'll have more fast twitch muscle fibers involved in the lift for a greater portion of the set, which will contribute to more force production, and ultimately, more hypertrophy potential. This puts a couple of "warm-up sets" to the crypt any day of the week.

Static stretch the antagonist.

Stretch during the workout? I gotta be kidding you, right?

The truth is, dulling the nervous involvement of the antagonistic muscle (the muscle not currently working) can make the working muscle take on more responsibility in the lift, leading to more strength and motor-unit recruitment.

In virtually any compound movement for the legs, for example, the quads are going to get involved. If you're squatting for quad and glute development it means your quads are probably going to get in the way of developing your posterior chain if you let them dominate the lift. Even with what appears to be correct technique, tight quads and subsequently tight hips can lead to poor rear-side development and wasted sets of work.

A quick way to reverse that effect and make sure you're hitting your glutes hard is to hold a static quad or hip flexor stretch for 30 seconds on each side in between your sets of squats. This will weaken their neurological involvement. Since the quads have now been mildly deactivated, the glutes and hamstrings will step in to bear the load the quads are now giving up. The result? A bootylicious squat.

Want to get stronger on your pulling exercise? Do some scapular activation.

I've found that when it comes to the muscle tissue of the shoulder retractors and depressors, brief isometric holds of about five to ten seconds where you're really focusing on stimulating every last fiber in that muscle can help you get more out of your next set.

For example, the lats are responsible for internally rotating and adducting (pulling inward) your upper arm. So take your arm and do just that. Rotate your straight arm inwards so that your palm faces away from the body, pull the arm back and towards the midline simultaneously. Hold for five to ten seconds and really try to feel the squeeze through your entire lat. Immediately follow this with your set of lat pull-downs or chins.

How about a pressing exercise? More scapular activations!

Doing light sets of back exercises before a pressing exercise will aid your pressing movements since it adds stability to the entire shoulder capsule, which is needed so that the rotator cuff doesn't undergo undue stress.

The added tightness in the upper back muscles help keep the scapulae in a mildly retracted position, so that you'll last longer in your bench press without your shoulders coming up off the bench.

Before your chest or shoulder exercise, do a light set of seated cable rows for 15-20 reps. Use roughly 30 percent of your 1RM. Another good exercise is the bent-over reverse fly with dumbbells, but make sure to use a supine grip (palms face away from the body).


A solid training program isn't just a bunch of exercises thrown together with random sets and reps. Priming your muscles with warm-up techniques beforeand during your workout will not only help prevent injury but will activate all your muscle fibers, unlock your tightest areas, and make you stronger from set to set. That means better workouts, better muscle growth, and a better body for you.

The Perfect Workout Checklist

Quad and hip stretch

The Perfect Workout Checklist

Lat stretch

The Perfect Workout Checklist

Upper trap stretch

The Perfect Workout Checklist

Glute stretch

The Perfect Workout Checklist

Hamstring stretch

The Perfect Workout Checklist

Chest stretch

The Perfect Workout Checklist

Hold for five to ten seconds and really try to feel the squeeze through your entire lat. Immediately follow this with your set of lat pull-downs or chins.

About Lee Boyce

Lee Boyce is a former university level sprinter and CPTN certified Elite Trainer for Extreme Fitness in Toronto, Ontario. He currently works with a variety clients for sport specific training, power, and strength. He has helped many amateur athletes work for high performance in their sport, in and out of season. You can contact Lee

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


Monday, December 14, 2009

Floor Flye

Floor Flye

Floor Flye

Big compound lifts like bench presses and rows get plenty of attention, and for very good reason, but there's always a place for some isolation exercises if they're used at the right time and in the right way. When it comes to chest training, the dumbbell flye is one of those sometimes-useful isolation movements, and it's about to get cranked up a notch.

The floor flye is to the standard dumbbell flye what the floor press is to the basic bench press. By lying flat on the floor, you're not only limiting the full range of motion, but more importantly you're able to start each rep from a dead stop, which reduces your muscles' stretch reflex advantage.

By trying to eliminate the stretch reflex, you have to rely almost entirely on the actual contraction of just the chest muscles, which produces gains in size and strength; but the trade-off is having to use a reduced weight. When you start learning the floor flye, use less than you'd lift in a standard dumbbell flye.

2-3x8-12, pausing for a full one or two seconds at the bottom of each rep, should get your pecs working like never before. Ease into this one, though, because if it feels like Brock Lesnar caught you in an arm bar between sets, you'll want to work on your upper body flexibility.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cities with best and worst tap water

very much depends on where you live.

It's now easier than ever for consumers to find out what's in their tap water. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) today released the results of a three-year investigation of municipal water supplies across the U.S.

The research and advocacy group looked at water quality tests performed by water utilities since 2004 and created an extensive database that contains info on the contaminants found in 48,000 communities in 45 states.

EWG also rated 100 big city (population over 250,000) water utilities. Below are the top and bottom results.

Cities with the best water:

  1. Arlington, TX
  2. Providence, RI
  3. Fort Worth, TX
  4. Charleston, SC
  5. Boston, MA
  6. Honolulu, HI
  7. Austin, TX
  8. Fairfax County, VA
  9. St. Louis, MO
  10. Minneapolis, MN

Cities with the worst water:

  1. Pensacola, FL
  2. Riverside, CA
  3. Las Vegas, NV
  4. Riverside County, CA
  5. Reno, NV
  6. Houston, TX
  7. Omaha, NE
  8. North Las Vegas, NV
  9. San Diego, CA
  10. Jacksonville, FL

If you live in one of the few areas that weren't investigated, you can get an annual report of what's in your public drinking water. If your water comes from a well, then see the EPA's guidelines for those who useprivate wells.

The results of the investigation raise some concerns about municipal water supplies in the U.S. EWG says 316 different contaminants were found in the nation's tap water. The group also points out that more than half of those contaminants aren't regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Establishing more effective source water protection programs and developing enforceable government standards for contaminants would go a long way toward improving the nation's water supply, according to the EWG.

In the meantime, no one is suggesting that you go out and start drinking bottled water (although, of course, in emergency situations it can be necessary). Experts still agree that drinking tap is preferable to drinking bottled water. Bottled water is much more expensive than tap, it takes a huge toll on the planet, and it's not necessarily any safer than tap. "Bottled water is not regulated in the same way as tap water," says Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist at EWG. "With bottled water, consumers often do not know what they are getting, and 25 to 40 percent of bottled water on the market is simply tap poured into a bottle."

Knowing what's in your water is the key. Once you know which contaminants are present, you can find the best filter to get rid of them.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The 7 foods experts won't eat

How healthy (or not) certain foods are—for us, for the environment—is a hotly debated topic among experts and consumers alike, and there are no easy answers. But when Prevention talked to the people at the forefront of food safety and asked them one simple question—“What foods do you avoid?”—we got some pretty interesting answers. Although these foods don’t necessarily make up a "banned” list, as you head into the holidays—and all the grocery shopping that comes with it—their answers are, well, food for thought:

1. Canned Tomatoes

The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.

2. Corn-Fed Beef

The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers' markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It's usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don't see it, ask your butcher.

3. Microwave Popcorn

The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,

The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize—and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

4. Nonorganic Potatoes

The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board

The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation's most popular vegetable—they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn't good enough if you're trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

5. Farmed Salmon

The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. "You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer," says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. "It's that bad." Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it's farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones

The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society

The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries."

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

7. Conventional Apples

The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods

The problem: If fall fruits held a "most doused in pesticides contest," apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can't afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.