-“Gaining Lean Mass: Training Goals”
-“Abdominal Exercises – Train for Strength, Not Endurance”
-“The STREND Fitness Challenge”





If your goal is to gain muscle mass over the year, what goals are realistic and what results can you expect? Researchers have agreed that it is possible for an initial increase in body weight of 20% over one year for a novice strength trainer. Fortunately, this increase in body weight was suggested to be mostly lean tissue, BUT/ unfortunately, the magnitude of change depends on the trained state of the individual as the previous figure applies only to untrained individuals. 


For athletes with 1 year or more resistance training experience, an increase of 5% body weight over a year could be expected when proper training and sound nutrition are combined. Therefore, a goal of 10 pounds of muscle growth in one year is an optimistic amount to expect for advanced trainees.


There is no (legal) substitute for hard work and proper nutrition. Nothing will make up for poor OR inconsistent eating habits, a lazy work ethic, or an insufficient training intensity. Combining creatine with a well-designed training and nutritional program will be of benefit.


For adding lean mass, increasing total caloric intake by increasing the consumption of carbohydrate is very important, especially post-exercise. The basic building blocks that make up a great training foundation are intense training, proper nutrition, and adequate recovery. 





The key to strong and prominent abdominals (a “6-pack”) is to train this area as you would any muscle group. There is nothing special about the abdominal muscles suggesting a greater frequency of training is required. To develop a well-muscled midsection that can be shown off at the beach, the area must be reduced of as much body fat as possible. 


Great abs are not achieved through multiple sets of high repetition abdominal exercises. Time would be better off spent performing compound resistance exercises (exercise using many of the body’s large muscle groups; i.e. the squat, bench press, etc). Compound exercises require greater energy expenditure and increase the metabolism to a greater extent, therefore resulting in a negative caloric balance, helping to maintain muscle mass while shedding body fat. 


For specific abdominal training, concentrate on abdominal isolation exercises 2-3 times a week and train at a high-intensity. This will require moving on from the basic lying abdominal crunch and into exercises that incorporate a resistance for the abdominal muscles to work against. Keep the resistance great enough so that only 10-15 repetitions can be completed for each set. This will help build optimal abdominal strength for sport and daily function and will help in attaining abdominal musculature “definition”.


Trunk/abdominal-low back complex has a tremendous importance in sport. All forces transferred from ground up, so if the core is weak, force is reduced as it is transferred to upper torso. Hip and trunk rotation, core stabilization and dynamic balance are key aspects.


Here are some more advanced abdominal exercises…


Kneeling cable crunch

Kneel in front of a cable stack. Use a rope from the highest pulley setting and pull until the hands are in front of face (Start). Curl the torso forward (head to knees).


Stability ball crunches

Lie on the stability ball (with the ball under the small of the back) and curl the shoulder blades off ball as if performing a regular abdominal crunch off the floor.


Standing cable chops

Stand sideways at a cable column. Grasp a handle from the highest pulley setting with arms extended. Without bending at the elbows, twist and flex the trunk and bring the shoulder to the opposite foot in a “wood-chop” motion.


“Total” crunches

Lie on a mat with the legs extended upright (perpendicular to the floor). Place the hands overhead and curl the shoulder blades off the ground. Simultaneously perform a reverse crunch and bring the hips and pelvis toward the chest.





To put to test your overall levels of fitness, give this challenge a try. It combines tests of both strength and endurance using 3 strength events (bench press, chin-ups, and dips) and a 3-mile run to test endurance capacity.


CAUTION – the test was designed as a fitness test for police officers and military persons. Do NOT attempt the test if you have no training base and do not perform the strength tests without a partner present for all events.


Event #1 --- Bench press

Males – Bench your body weight for as many repetitions as possible.

Females – Bench 75% of body weight for as many repetitions as possible.


Rest 3 minutes.


Event #2 --- Chin-ups

Hands shoulder width apart and palms facing toward the body.

Males – As many repetitions as possible using body weight as resistance.

Females – Need to use an assisted chin machine (i.e. Gravitron) and perform as many repetitions as possible with 75% bodyweight.


Rest 3 minutes.


Event #3 --- Dips

Performed on the parallel dipping bars.

Males – As many repetitions as possible with body weight as resistance.

Females – Use the assisted dip machine and perform as many repetitions as possible with 75% body weight.


Rest 3 minutes.


Event #4 --- 3-mile run

Time yourself in the performance of a 3-mile run (12 laps of a quarter-mile/400m track). 


Now to score your performance: Add all repetitions performed in the 3 strength events and divide this by the time of your run.

For example, 60 repetitions and a 20-minute run time, the score would be 3. In my opinion, any score above 2 is above average and a run time of 21 minutes or less is impressive. The best score ever recorded by CB ATHLETIC is a 5.


If you try it, let me know how things turn out. The idea for this event is not mine and I adapted the event from an article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal published by the NSCA.






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