Ground Control To Major Abs

Develop your core musculature with these three novel exercises. 

By Mike Carlson



It’s not often that something new hits the world of training. A few years ago, sliders started popping up in sports performance gyms, and they have slowly trickled into the world of aesthetics and hypertrophy. Although they can be used for a number of different exercises, physique athletes like them for the unique challenge they can bring to a core workout.

The strength of sliders, which are basically frictionless platforms that allow a smooth motion across 360 degrees, lies in their ability to force the user to keep their abdominals intensely braced while moving through a full range of motion in almost any plane. The abdominal control demanded by sliders, especially during rotational movements, is specifically relevant to Physique competitors and bodybuilders who need to be able to immediately and repeatedly contract their abs while posing onstage. The new breed of Classic Physique athlete should be especially interested in what sliders bring to the table.

“Movements like the superman require a lot of hoop tension and intra-abdominal pressure,” says strength coach and kinesiologist Brian Richardson, MS, CPL2, NASM-PES, co-owner of Dynamic Fitness in Temecula, California. “They develop more control of the diaphragm, which is important for the vacuum pose that Frank Zane used to do. It creates the strength and coordination to eccentrically contract your abdominals to pull them in and pull your guts back.”


A side benefit of these types of exercises is the way they work the stabilizing muscles of the shoulders as well as stimulating the fibers of the lower back, quads, and even the shins. In fact, after one workout with a pair of sliders, you’ll quickly identify weak spots in your kinetic chain.


Sliders like the ones pictured (SKLZ Slidez, $30) are convenient and versatile, and are great for lower-body exercises such as lunge variations. Depending on your flooring, though, you can perform a lot of slide-based exercises using towels. Another trick is to buy an inexpensive pair of furniture-mover pads from a home-furnishing store, which also work very well.


For beginners, complete two rounds of the following circuit, performing 10 knee tucks, 10 pikes, and 10 supermans each round. More advanced trainers can work up to three rounds of 15 knee tucks, 30 pikes, and 15 supermans. Put this circuit in at the end of your workouts two to three times per week for six weeks.



Knee Tucks

Start in a push-up position with one foot in the middle of each slider. Keep your abs braced and your spine in a neutral position. To begin, perform a traditional pushup. As you return to the top position, slide both knees up toward your chest. Extend your legs back out, descending into your next push-up as soon as the body is completely extended. Continue for the desired number of reps.



Once again, begin in a push-up position with one foot in the middle of each slider. With your feet on the sliders, your core engaged and your spine neutral, drive your hips up toward the ceiling by sliding your feet toward your hands. Be sure to keep your legs straight the entire time. Return to the starting push-up position and repeat.



This is similar to a barbell roll-out, but with a smoother movement and greater potential range of motion. Start with your hands on the sliders and your knees on the floor. Begin by sliding your hands forward and away from your body and extending your hips as you bring your torso toward the floor. (Don’t worry about going all the way down, and do not hyperextend the lower back). To return to the start position, engage your abs and drive your hands back toward your body as you slowly come back up.






Muscle Research: It’s Good To Be The Swing

Muscle Research – July 2016


It’s Good To Be The Swing


Lower-back pain is a common training partner for many people in the gym. Strengthening the lumbar muscles often clears up this painful and infuriating condition. A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the muscular fatigue generated in the lumber muscles by a kettlebell swing to that of an isolated lumbar extension on a fixed apparatus. While the lumbar extensions caused greater fatigue (measured through torque response), the kettlebell swing provided significant stimulus to the lumbar muscles despite the lack of pelvic restraint. The scientists who conducted the study commented on the efficacy of kettlebells swings in strengthening the lumbar muscles and treating lower-back pain.


Fall Into A Trap

Some people have never felt comfortable when doing a traditional barbell deadlift. It might be from an existing back problem, the length of the femurs, or any number of issues, but scientists feel that a reasonable alternative is the trap bar deadlift. Sometimes called a “hex bar,” this implement is shaped like a hexagon and more evenly distributes the weight of a deadlift across across the body. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, sports scientists measured muscle activity during a barbell deadlift and a trap bar variation. The former instigated more muscle activity in the lower back and the front of the quad, while the latter produced greater stimulus in the vastus lateralis, the muscle that gives bodybuilders the coveted “outer quad sweep.” (The trap bar is also much better for training jumping/power variations of the deadlift as well.) If you have trap bar at your gym, start putting it into your rotation.


Train Hard, Be Happy

University of Florida Health researchers found that specific genetic markers that predispose their owners to symptoms of depression are also predictors of those who may get the most relief from exercise. These results came to light after scientists dug deeply into the data of a study that showed that exercise did not affect the mood of a whole group. Once researchers began to cross-match the subjects who felt an increase in their ability to feel pleasure with those who carried certain genes, a pattern began to appear. Scientists speculated the mechanism behind this relationship has to do with the fact that physical activity increases the levels of neurotransmitters and endorphins, and suspect that exercise most likely increases the expression of the brain-derived neurotrophic gene (known as BDNF) a serotonin transporter. It should be noted that this study was done with subjects whose symptoms were not severe enough to be diagnosed with clinical depression.



Win A Photo Shoot with IronMan Magazine


Iron Man magazine is proud to announce a partnership with a new socially driven platform Kompetes.

kompletes1trnsKompetes is a brand-new and revolutionary idea for an online fitness competition. Unlike traditional “enter and win” contests, these “kompetitions” are an amazing way for you to compete against like-minded individuals doing what you love!

Iron Man magazine has teamed up with Kompetes to offer you a chance to win $15,000 worth of prizes. The two competitions are Rep & Reap for men and Feminine Fire for women. These competitions are completely exclusive to the new Kompetes app.

First place in each competition takes home $5,000 in cash plus an all-expenses trip to Los Angeles, where they will take part in a photo shoot in our studios. These images will be showcased in 2017 issue with a six-page feature that details the life, training, and diet of the winners.

“As the publisher of Iron Man magazine, a promoter of fitness events, and a former competitor, I was completely blown away by,” Binais Begovic said. The concept comes at an ideal time in the era of social media. As a newly rebranded magazine with an 80-year legacy, we are more than happy to support a platform that gives ambitious and like-minded individuals a chance to make a career out of their passion. It’s innovative, smart, simple, and completely visionary. As the editorial authority of fitness, we are always looking for new trends in the fitness industry, and we feel that this is one of the most interesting new ideas we have seen.”


How to enter:

1. Download the new Kompetes app from Google Play or the App Store. You can also register online at

2. Simply create an account and start uploading photos and videos right away.

3. Be as active on social media as you can, and encourage people to vote for you.

Competition closes on October 28, 2016. Terms and conditions apply.



Beet Body Fat

Beet Body Fat

Betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, is a substance derived from sugar beets. It has received some hype over the last few years for improving strength and power in athletes. However, a new study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that it can also improve body composition by boosting muscle mass while it simultaneously whittles away body fat. In the experiment, 24 male bodybuilders followed the same intensive training regimen for six weeks. Twelve of them took two and a half grams of betaine every day while the others were given a placebo. At the end of the six weeks the betaine bodybuilders lost about three percentage points from their body-fat measurements. Surprisingly, those who were given betaine also experienced a significant increase in muscle mass, specifically in their arms.

MHP a-bomb

Leaner And Fitter

It’s one thing when a supplement helps obese people lose weight, but when a supplement can get super fit athletes to shed body fat, it’s time to take notice. Nutritionists at Poznan University in Poland examined the effects of HMB on 58 male athletes in their 20s. After taking HMB for 12 weeks, subjects gained a bit more muscle mass than those who didn’t take it. The real difference was in the fat loss, though. The HMB group lost over two pounds of fat without reducing their calories. This group also became fitter and was able to pedal an exercise bike at an intense pace longer than the group that did not take HMB. The daily dose used was three grams a day every day.



Something About Rosemary

Spices are an awesome calorie-free way to flavor your favorite lean protein. And gram-for-gram they are also some of the most potent antioxidant foods on the planet. A new study published in the Journal of Cancer Prevention found that carnosic acid, a substance found in rosemary, has a rather novel way of combating body fat. Korean researchers exposed fat cells to various concentrations of carnosic acid and found that it inhibited the growth and development of those cells. The higher the concentration of carnosic acid, the less fat the cells stored. Carnosic acid has a very high toxicity threshold and has been deemed safe by the relatively strict European Union. While it is not readily available as a stand-alone supplement, rosemary extract and rosemary oil are easy to find and have been shown to be powerful cancer-fighters as well.



Shake It Off: Go Nuts

The subtle nuance of pistachios makes this a protein shake for grown-up palates. 

By Amanda Burrill, MS




It’s all coming back to me now: sweltering childhood summers slurping up the runny bits of my ice cream cone. I was obsessed with ordering pistachio, its pale green — probably artificial — color, the chewy chunks of nut, the extra creaminess of it. What was this flavor that none of the other kids understood?


Fast-forward several years, and I am still into pistachios, with a culinary education and nutrition knowledge that backs up my prepubescent inklings. Compared to other nuts, pistachios are loaded with antioxidants, beta-carotene, B vitamins, vitamin E, and lutein. By weight, they are lower in calories that other nuts, and the subtle flavor is just delightful.


This blend of nuts, banana, and vanilla has a super thick, smooth, old-timey milk shake consistency that’ll have you thinking you’re having an epic creamy-ass cheat. If you haven’t played with pistachios in your culinary pursuits — sprinkled on salads, crusted around your salmon, stuffed inside your roasted chicken — tossing them into your smoothie is a perfect way to introduce your tongue to their easygoing flavor.


I like to say, “I only drink my calories if they come in a protein shake or wine glass.” So in the heat of summer, I’ll be drinking this outside while reminiscing about milk shakes from years gone by. This creamy, tasty protein smoothie is the milk shake for grown-ups.




¼ cup unsalted pistachios

6 oz. almond milk

½ frozen banana

½ cup spinach

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

½ vanilla bean seeds or ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon hemp hearts

One handful ice


Total: 380 calories, 24 g carbs, 34 g protein, 18 g fat, 6 g fiber



Combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with the liquid to avoid sticky protein-powder and nut clumps. Blend until smooth.


Superfood 101



Most nuts are considered “nutritionally dense,” and these are no exception. By weight they are high in protein, dietary fiber, the aforementioned vitamins, and for this shake’s purposes, fatty acids. Almost all the fat in these little guys are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both known for beneficial effects on health by lowering total cholesterol, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, and lowering the risk of heart disease. They also increase the release of hormones that help regulate glucose metabolism and increase insulin, both of which lower blood sugar.



I used to plow them as a baby, and I’ll be mashing on them with my gums when I’m a geriatric. Bananas are truly a culinary and nutritional gift. One of the nutritional benefits is cardiovascular health related to the whopping potassium content. Potassium is an essential mineral known for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. And for us athletes, it’s long been known that bananas are a gastronomically low-risk energy boost that also combats muscle cramping. Freezing bananas doesn’t boost nutrition, but it certainly enhances the thick and creamy quotient when you toss them in your smoothie.


Hemp Hearts

These are the seeds of the hemp plant, from the same species as marijuana. In reality, hemp seeds only contain trace amounts of THC, so you won’t get high, and this superfood is perfectly legal in every state. They are packed with nutrients like healthy fats, minerals, and by weight, more than 25 percent of their calories are from high-quality protein, blowing chia and flax seeds (they come in around 17 percent protein) out of the park.




The Ultimate Team Player

New research suggests that glutamine actively contributes to the muscle-building process.


By George L. Redmon, PhD, ND



PQ: In simpler terms, glutamine depletion not only results in a decrease in cell volume, but also negatively impacts leucine’s ability to complete the protein synthesis process.




Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body and is known to play a regulatory role in several cell specific processes including metabolism, cell integrity, protein synthesis, and degradation, contractile protein mass, redox potential, respiratory burst, insulin resistance, insulin secretion, and extracellular matrix synthesis. Glutamine has been shown to regulate the expression of many genes related to metabolism, signal transduction, cell defense and repair, and to activate intracellular signaling pathways. Thus, the function of glutamine goes beyond that of a simple metabolic fuel or protein precursor as previously assumed.

— Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of São Paulo, Brazil



The above statement is in complete contrast to past studies that have suggested that glutamine supplementation is useless and that catabolic stress wasn’t destructive enough to disrupt the body’s ability to maintain adequate levels of glutamine, especially in healthy well-nourished individuals. Glutamine, it seems, is making a muscle-building comeback.

Considered a non-essential amino acid, meaning the body can produce enough of it on its own, research has shown that in cases of severe illness, burns, infection, injury or surgery, that glutamine is extracted from muscle tissue at a faster rate to help promote healing, hence its tag as a conditionally essential amino acid.


Comparably, researchers at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands found that plasma glutamine concentration decreased after two hours of recovery. These researchers also noted that it took seven hours for glutamine to return to pre-workout levels. Similarly, British researchers recently reported that the negative short-term effects of exercise on plasma glutamine levels may be cumulative, meaning following continuous bouts of heavy training, incremental reductions in plasma glutamine levels may become more prominent over time. In other words, if you are in the gym five to six days a week, your glutamine stores are taking a beating.


Protein Synthesis Partner

Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid on the skeletal frame, is regaining attention because of its positive impact on protein synthesis. Newer updated studies show that glutamine greatly influences the anabolic/metabolic actions of other formidable muscle-enhancing nutrients and other cellular-recovery activities. For instance, despite the amount of press devoted to leucine’s extraordinarily ability to increase protein synthesis, researchers at the Huntington College of Health Sciences in Knoxville Tennessee note that amino acids like glutamine and leucine have a unique muscle signaling effect on protein synthesis. According to these researchers, glutamine has the largest positive impact on protein synthesis, although it needs leucine to finish what it started.


This fact is exemplified in comments above by researchers at the University of São Paulo who note that glutamine regulates the expression of many genes related to metabolism, signal transduction, cell defense and repair, as well as the activation of intracellular signaling pathways. Researchers also speculate that because of glutamine’s ability to increase nitrogen levels within the cells that protein synthesis activities occur at a faster rate.


Glutamine, BCAAs, And Leucine

By now you know that branch-chain amino acids administered before and after workouts reduces muscle damage and also accelerates recovery. Ironically, results from a 2012 study by researchers at the Department of Experimental Medicine at the University of Parma in Italy revealed greater improvements in lean-mass retention from supplemental BCAAs combined with glutamine versus BCAAs alone. These researchers discovered that the synergistic blend of glutamine and BCAAs decreased BCAA oxidation, especially leucine, and accelerated muscle hypertrophy. Moreover, there is now definitive evidence that leucine is the key amino acid in this trio that upregulates the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway that accelerates protein synthesis. Despite this fact, leucine still needs a key to turn on the mTOR pathway. That key is glutamine, according to collaborative research between investigators at the University of Leicester (United Kingdom) and Louisiana State University.


A key reason to supplement glutamine before and following a workout is that cells must be preloaded with ample amounts of glutamine beforehand to enhance leucine’s uptake and upregulation of cell volumization. Cells deficient in glutamine exhibit decreased mTOR activity, even when adequate leucine and other essential amino acids are present, leading researchers to conclude that glutamine may activate mTOR differently from leucine but appears to work better with it. This belief was recently confirmed by scientist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, reporting that glutamine is metabolized through a process called glutaminolysis, which ultimately signals to the mTOR pathway to accelerate protein synthesis.


In simpler terms, glutamine depletion not only results in a decrease in cell volume, but also negatively impacts leucine’s ability to complete the protein synthesis process. This symbiotic protein relationship between glutamine and leucine could be compared to a spaceship’s initial blastoff (glutamine), and a second blast (leucine) that sends the shuttle into orbit. In fact, the above researchers noted that without glutamine, the glutaminolysis cycle is disrupted and puts the brakes on this critical anabolic course of metabolic events.


Glutamine Plays Well With Others

Of particular interest to physique athletes, glutamine also increases the effectiveness of other supplements such as alanine, creatine, and whey protein. For example, in a March 2016 study appearing in the journal Nutrition, Chinese researchers reported that the combination (alanine/glutamine) enhanced glutaminolysis in the liver and skeletal muscle, increasing signals that upregulates the mTOR pathway while simultaneously decreasing signals transmitted by the protein degradation corridor. Swedish researchers remind us that many proteins sources like whey and casein can stimulate protein synthesis, but mainly within internal organs and not the muscle. However, these researchers discovered that when free-form glutamine was combined with whey protein, muscle protein synthesis increased from 15.9 percent to 24.2 percent. These scientists also noted that glutamine plus whey resulted in a 25 percent increase in protein synthesis within the small intestine.

In a different but related study, researchers at Auburn University divided test subjects into three groups. Group one received a placebo. Group two was administered creatine for seven weeks. Group three was given creatine and glutamine every day for seven weeks. These researchers reported that there was a significant increase in body mass, lean body mass, and initial rate of power production in the creatine group but moreso in the creatine/glutamine group as compared to placebo.


Glutamine also participates in the regulation of a multitude of other anabolic processes. For example, glutamine enhances glycogen storage and stimulates glucose synthesis freely in lieu of carbohydrates, promotes growth hormone production, as well as inhibiting myostatin expression (the gene responsible for muscle atrophy).


Beyond Muscle Performance 

Last but not least here, there is conclusive evidence that glutamine counters exercise-induced immune dysfunction. In a study appearing in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, Brazilian researchers found that hydrolyzed whey protein enriched with glutamine moderately prohibited lymphocyte apoptosis (programmed cell death), resulting from sustained and intensive workouts. As a reminder here, lymphocytes are white blood cells produced by the immune system to protect the body from cancerous cells, pathogens, and other foreign invaders. Glutamine ensures that these guys remain vibrant and robust.

Current data also indicates that protein synthesis is also greatly enhanced because glutamine is intimately involved with maintaining the health of — and is easily absorbed by — the small intestine, the site of nutrient absorption. The small intestine is loaded with rapidly dividing cells called enterocytes, which gobble up about 50 to 60 percent of the glutamine you ingest. Reciprocally, this heightens mTOR activity as well as the growth of these enterocytes. Because glutamine is a prerequisite for the synthesis of nucleotides (a group of molecules that when linked together form the building blocks of DNA or RNA) and rapidly dividing enterocytes, researchers at Wuhan Polytechnic University in China concluded, in a 2015 study, that during times of severe metabolic stress, the body’s natural stores of glutamine may be inadequate to meet physiological needs.


Also there is evidence that glutamine and creatine boost the immune response following workouts due to increased mitochondria function. As you know, the mitochondria is the place in the cell where energy is manufactured, which is used to invigorate the chemical processes that sustain life. Unfortunately, declining mitochondrial function not only sets the stage for reduced muscle power, but the manifestation of disease due to impairment of the immune system.


While some scientists feel that the body produces ample amounts of glutamine to meet its systematic needs throughout times of pronounced stress (the kind you experience following intense workouts or an injury), quite a bit of recent research seems to indicate that your body may need more glutamine than it can create at that moment. Scientists at the University of Trieste in Italy note that during exhaustive regimented training programs, glutamine levels are depleted due to decreased synthesis and an increased uptake by the liver and immune cells, and not the muscle. For these reasons, I suggest that hard-training physique athletes take five grams of glutamine before and after workouts, and a single dose of five grams on non-training days. IM

The Iron Man Guide To Amino Acids

Discover how to use these powerful compounds for increased recovery, a faster metabolism, and greater muscular gains.

By Adam M. Gonzalez, PhD, CSCS, CISSN


Amino acids are like the cartoon robot Voltron. When assembled together into protein, they form a kick-ass entity that is capable of incredible feats. But more and more, we’re finding that even when split apart, singular amino acids are capable of exerting amazing effects on body composition.


Amino acids are organic substances that contain both an amino and an acid group in their chemical structure. Among more than 300 amino acids in nature, there are 20 standard amino acids that serve as the body’s “building blocks” that can be bonded together in theoretically limitless combinations. These nitrogen-containing compounds help build the various proteins that are essential for all body systems including skin, hair, nails, tendons, ligaments, bones, and, of course, muscles. Furthermore, amino acids are key precursors for the synthesis of enzymes, antibodies, transport molecules, and even hormones.


Protein and amino acids are among the most common nutritional supplements taken by athletes. While some amino acid supplements have the potential to improve body composition and performance, others may be a waste of money. Here, we analyze the functions of the amino acids that are proven players in improving body composition.


Branched-Chain Amino Acids

The essential branched-chain amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are the most abundant amino acids found in the muscles accounting for approximately 30 percent of total muscle protein. As early as 1975, it was clear that not all amino acids had a similar capacity to regulate muscle protein synthesis and growth. Unlike other amino acids, the essential BCAAs rapidly stimulate muscle protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown in skeletal muscle. BCAAs have even demonstrated to be as effective as a complete mixture of all amino acids for stimulating muscle protein synthesis. We now know that leucine is the major amino acid responsible for the anabolic effects following a high-protein meal. While the exact mechanism by which the muscle “senses” amino acids has yet to be determined, muscle appears to be sensitive to changes in leucine concentrations, which “turn on” protein synthesis via an increased activity of the muscle-building complex known as mTORC1. In other words, BCAAs (in particular, leucine) trigger an increased activation of the intramuscular machinery responsible for carrying out the processes of muscle growth.


It’s well known that about 30 to 40 grams of protein maximizes the anabolic response of a meal, yet the optimal dose for muscle growth is dependent upon the concentration of BCAAs in the protein source. The stimulatory effect of leucine is so strong that adding supplementary leucine to a protein source that lacks quality and/or quantity effectively restores a submaximal muscle protein synthesis response. However, the other BCAAs (isoleucine and valine) are important, too! The leucine:isoleucine:valine concentration found in muscle is 2:1:1, thus it is important to supply the BCAAs at the appropriate ratios to optimally maintain muscle function.


In addition to promoting muscle growth, BCAAs may also improve exercise intensity by decreasing the perception of fatigue and serving as a fuel for exercise. First, BCAAs compete with tryptophan, an amino acid that enters the brain to be converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can trigger the onset of fatigue. BCAA intake may delay fatigue, allowing you to work harder and longer by reducing tryptophan-induced serotonin production. Secondly, BCAAs are unique in the fact that they immediately circulate into your blood stream after ingestion. They also have a greater capacity to be absorbed by muscles providing an immediate energy source during your workouts. Valine and isoleucine can actually be converted to glucose and serve as an important energy source during exercise to help fight off fatigue.


Body Benefit: Initiates muscle protein synthesis, blunts muscle breakdown, provides carb-free source of energy during workout

Dose: Six to seven grams (at least three gram of leucine)

Timing: Can be taken several times a day, such as upon waking and pre-, intra-, and post-workout


Essential Amino Acids

Along with the three BCAAs, the other essential amino acids (EAAs) include lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and histidine. While BCAAs are king in the world of sports nutrition, it is important not to downplay the importance of EAAs. Activation of the muscle-building machinery via leucine appears to be potentiated by the presence of other EAAs. In a recent study published in American Journal of Physiology – Cell Physiology, researchers had volunteers drink a supplement containing leucine, BCAAs only, or all EAAs (including BCAAs) following resistance training. The EAA supplement stimulated muscle anabolism more effectively than the other supplements. Chronic periods of leucine supplementation in isolation will not necessarily facilitate long-term changes in muscle growth, given that a full complement of EAA is critical for stimulating a robust and sustained muscle protein synthesis response. All in all, maximizing skeletal muscle protein synthesis has shown to require about 15 grams of EAAs containing approximately 3.2 grams of leucine. Fortunately, this is what you would find in 25 grams of high quality whey protein.


Non-Essential Amino Acids

Non-essential amino acids (NEAA) include arginine, alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. NEAA are those amino acids that can be synthesized in adequate amounts by the body to meet optimal requirements and therefore are not absolutely necessary in the diet. It should be recognized that, although these amino acids are not essential in the diet, all amino acids and their by-products are required for normal physiological functioning. Some NEAA along with other dietary amino acids that are not among the 20 standard amino acids have emerged as key players in sports nutrition.


Glutamine: Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in human muscle and blood. This amino acid is considered important, if not essential, for several immune responses, and is often suggested to provide support for the immune system. Periods of heavy training are commonly associated with a decrease in glutamine concentration in the bloodstream raising speculation that this could be a potential cause of immune system impairment and increase susceptibility to infection in athletes. For example, glutamine is an important fuel for white blood cells, so reductions in blood glutamine concentration following intense exercise may contribute to immune suppression in overtrained athletes. Glutamine supplementation has also been suggested to provide beneficial effects on muscle building and recovery. While there are some mixed findings, glutamine has shown to aid in faster recovery, diminish muscle soreness, and potentially boost muscle protein synthesis. Supplemental glutamine has even shown to combat dehydration by enhancing fluid and electrolyte uptake. Despite glutamine’s various functions, little evidence suggests it will directly result in increased muscle mass, reduced body fat, or gains in muscle strength. However, athletes constantly performing at a high level may see certain benefits from supplementing with glutamine.

Body Benefit: Faster recovery, diminishes muscle soreness, and supports muscle growth

Dose: 10 to 30 grams per day

Timing: Divided doses throughout the day


Arginine and Citrulline: The body converts the amino acid arginine into nitric oxide (NO) via the arginine-nitric oxide pathway. Increasing NO levels causes the blood vessels to relax and dilate, which promotes bigger muscle pumps. This subsequently increases the delivery of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the muscles during workouts. Studies investigating the effects of arginine supplementation on performance have shown mixed results. However, the amino acid citrulline appears to be an even better NO booster than arginine. Several studies have demonstrated that citrulline-based ingredients are more effective than arginine-based ingredients for increasing vasodilation and blood flow. The greater effectiveness of citrulline versus arginine itself appears to be due to excessive breakdown of arginine in the body after it is consumed. Citrulline bypasses the liver, unlike arginine, and is not subject to breakdown by the enzyme arginase. Therefore, using citrulline in place of arginine allows for higher arginine levels and greater NO production. In turn, this could help increase the pump, performance, and recovery.

Body Benefit: Increases arginine and nitric oxide synthesis

Dose: Six to eight grams of citrulline malate a day

Timing: One hour prior to exercise


Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is acquired through dietary protein sources and is also naturally produced by the liver. Over the past 10 years, beta-alanine has grown to become one of the most popular sports-nutrition ingredients—and for good reason. Supplementing with beta-alanine has consistently shown to increase levels of intramuscular carnosine, which acts as an important intracellular buffer during high-intensity exercise. Beta-alanine has been identified as the rate-limiting precursor to carnosine production, making it the most efficient dietary method of increasing muscle carnosine levels. Daily supplementation of four to six grams of beta-alanine for at least four weeks has been shown to improve exercise performance. While beta-alanine supplementation may have applications for several types of athletes, it appears to be most effective for athletes competing in prolonged high-intensity activity. For example, following supplementation, athletes have increased maximal cycling time-to-exhaustion and increased resistance training volume by delaying muscular fatigue. The only reported side effect of beta-alanine supplementation is paraesthesia—a slight tingling sensation in the skin. However, using smaller divided doses throughout the day can attenuate this.

Body Benefit: Delays muscle fatigue

Dose: Four to six grams per day

Timing: Divided doses throughout the day


Carnitine: While carnitine is often referred to as an amino acid, it is actually an amino acid derivative made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine aids fat metabolism by acting as a shuttle for free fatty acids into the mitochondria to be used as fuel. It has been proposed that the intramuscular carnitine concentration may play a role in regulating the uptake of free fatty acids by the mitochondria during exercise. A recent study reported a 21 percent increase in muscle carnitine content following supplementation with four grams of carnitine per day for six months. This also coincided with a glycogen sparing effect during moderate-intensity exercise following the supplementation period, which is indicative of an increased reliance on fat. Hence, carnitine supplementation may increase the amount of fat burned during exercise, which could enhance fat loss while also improving endurance.

Body Benefit: Acts as a shuttle for free fatty acids into the mitochondria

Dose: Up to four grams per day

Timing: Divided doses throughout the day


HMB: The leucine metabolite, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB), can improve recovery from resistance exercise by increasing muscle protein synthesis and decreasing muscle protein breakdown. Being a leucine metabolite means that after consuming leucine, a small percentage naturally gets converted to HMB. However, to get an effective dose of HMB (about three grams a day) from your diet, you would need to eat about 60 grams of leucine, the equivalent of 600 grams of protein. Since that is impractical, HMB supplementation has become quite popular. When supplementing three grams of HMB a day, along with a weight-training program, athletes have shown to increase muscle mass, strength, and power in comparison to a placebo group. Although there have been some conflicting results, numerous studies have supported the safety and efficacy of HMB supplementation for enhancing recovery, muscle mass, strength, power, and aerobic performance.

Body Benefit: Improves recovery and supports muscle growth

Dose: Minimum of three grams per day

Timing: Three doses of one gram each, separated by several hours, with one dose taken one hour prior to exercise IM

The Pull Pattern

Training the back and biceps together is the perfect amount of growth-stimulating stress and recovery.

By Mike Carlson



Patterns abound in nature. From the geometrical precision of a bee’s honeycomb to the spiraling fractals of Romanesco broccoli, repeating shapes occur everywhere we look, including the gym. And just like in nature, patterns in the gym have evolved over time for a simple reason: There is something about them that helps the host thrive.


Training your back and biceps in the same day is a good example. This strategy has served millions of lifters for generations. But recently we see more guys splitting their back and biceps into separate training days in an effort to spread out the stimulus. They feel that their biceps are too trashed to get in enough quality work after they’ve been collaterally damaged in sets of heavy rows, chins, and pull-downs. And they are right, to a degree. If you do one-arm rows with 120-pound dumbbells, your biceps are not going to escape unscathed. Splitting up the workouts, however, can easily invite overtraining.


When a bodypart is not growing as quickly as desired, the common course of action is often doubling down on the time and intensity you spend training it. More sets and reps is probably not the answer, though, and may be the reason why development slowed down in the first place. When you separate your back and biceps workouts, you’re going to be hitting your biceps (directly and indirectly) about four times every seven to 10 days. For many guys, that’s just not enough recovery time to allow for growth.


“These traditional combinations — back and bi’s, chest and tri’s —have been around a long time and have withstood the test of time,” says strength coach and kinesiologist Brian Richardson, MS, CPL2, NASM-PES, the co-owner of Dynamic Fitness in Temecula, California. “They just make sense.”


The workout here, designed by Richardson, may look traditional from the outset, but the exercises have been carefully chosen to provide the most total-body benefit.


“When you vary implements and hand positions you are not just developing muscles, but you’re teaching the ligaments and tendons to tug on bone at different angles. Then you are getting into bone density and joint health and all the other benefits we get from strength training,” says Richardson.


And even though the dedicated biceps work uses isolation movements, it doesn’t mean they offer a limited payoff. “When you do a heavy loaded standing barbell curl you get a ton of core function,” Richardson says. “It’s a great core strengthening exercise, which is good for the type of segmental stability that carries over to big lifts.” IM




The Pull Pattern Workout0

For each exercise with a descending rep scheme, progress the resistance so the load is heavier for each successive set. The order shown here has you performing the exercises with the most demanding neurological loads first. However, you may want to switch the order for your own purpose.


“A physique competitor should always have a muscle-specific goal in his head,” Richardson, says. “If he has well-developed lats but is lacking in his biceps, I would say do the biceps work first. You want to hit your most important lifts at the beginning of the workout.”



Exercise                                             Sets                                                     Reps

Weighted Pull-Up                              4                                                          12, 10, 8, 6-8
T-Bar Row                                         4                                                          12, 10, 8, 6-8

One-Arm Dumbbell Row                  4                                                          12, 10, 8, 6-8

Dumbbell Pullover                            4                                                          12, 10, 8, 6-8

One-Arm Low-Pulley Row    4                                                          20

Lateral Crunch*                                 3                                                          15-20

Standing Barbell Curl                                   4                                                          12, 10, 8, 8

Concentration Curl                           4                                                          12, 10, 8, 8

Spider Curl                                         4                                                          12, 10, 8, 8

30s                                                      2                                                          30


* The lateral crunch, which targets a small but important muscle in the back called the quadratus lumborum, can be performed on a bench or on an exercise ball.


Weighted Pull-Up

Use a weight belt, vest, chains, or hold the post of a dumbbell between your feet in order to add 20 to 25 pounds to this lift. Grasp a bar with a wide overhand grip, wrapping your thumbs around the bar. Hang freely with your arms fully extended. Contract your lats to raise your body upward, concentrating on keeping your elbows out to your sides and pulling them down. Hold momentarily as your chin reaches the level of your hands, then lower yourself down to a dead-hang position.
T-Bar Row

While keeping your back as straight as possible, bend at your waist until your body makes a 45-degree angle. Take hold of the handles on the T-bar. Tighten your core, pull your elbows behind you, and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull the bar as close to your body as you can. Hold this position for a second before lowering the weight to the starting position.


One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Grab a dumbbell with one hand and brace yourself by placing your opposite-side hand and knee on a flat bench. Let the dumbbell hang at arms’ length straight down from your shoulder. Bring the dumbbell up and slightly back toward your hip. Once you’ve pulled the weight up to your rib cage, squeeze the muscle and hold the contraction before lowering the weight to the starting position.
Dumbbell Pullover

Lie across a bench with your lower back on the bench and feet flat on the floor with legs bent 90 degrees and your hips and femur perpendicular to the ground. Hold a dumbbell at arms’ length overhead. With a slight bend in your elbows, lower the weight behind your head as far you can to stretch the lats. Bring the weight back up overhead until it’s over your chest. Repeat.

One-Arm Low Pulley Row

Place a D-handle on a low pulley and get into a bilateral stance in front of it. Bend your knees and keep your back flat as you hinge from the hips slightly and grasp the handle. Keep your back flat and head in a neutral position. Slowly pull the handle toward your body, rotating it from a palms-down grip to a palms-in grip. Place your non-working arm lightly on your hip or knee. Alternately, you can push the left arm forward and you pull with the right arms to help mobilize the thoracic spine.

Lateral Crunch

Lie on your left side across a bench or exercise ball, with your feet stacked on the floor. Go into side extension so your left shoulder comes closer to the ground. Flex your right side and bring your right shoulder toward the ceiling. To make it more challenging, keep the fulcrum (the bench or ball) closer to your hip than your lat. To do this, you may have to anchor your feet with some dumbbells.


Standing Barbell Curl 

Grab an Olympic barbell with a grip that is just outside your shoulders, with your palms facing up. Let it hang in front of you. Tighten your core and retract your scapula. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Slowly curl the weight up toward your shoulders.

Concentration Curl            

Sit on a bench with a dumbbell on the ground between your feet. Your feet should be flat on the floor, with your knees spread out. Pick the dumbbell up with your right hand and place your right triceps against the inner thigh of your right leg. The palm of your hand should be facing away from your right leg, with your arm extended and the weight hanging toward the floor. Making an effort to keep your upper arm completely still, contract the biceps and lift the weight. When the biceps reach peak contraction and the dumbbell is close to shoulder level, pause for a beat and then lower and repeat.

Spider Curl

Lie facedown on an incline bench with your feet on the floor behind you and chest against the pad. Hold an EZ-bar with your palms facing up and your arms extended straight down toward the floor. Curl the bar up through a full range of motion without letting your elbow flare out. When your hands are right in front of your shoulders, pause for a beat and then lower and repeat.


Stand in front of a low pulley, with an EZ-bar attached to the cable. With a relatively light weight on the stack, grasp the bar in both hands with an underhand grip, and stand with your chest up and knees slightly bent. The first 10 curls are partial reps, moving the weight from the bottom to the midpoint of the rep (elbows bent 90 degrees). Moving immediately to the next 10 reps, begin at the midpoint and bring the weight to the top of the motion and then back to the midpoint. Finally, perform 10 full reps beginning with your elbows extended and finishing with your hands near your shoulders.





[Bio Box:]

Name: Sam Asghari

Lives: Studio City, CA

Profession: Actor/model

Likes: To be an inspiration for people

Dislikes: Laziness
Favorite clean meal: Chicken with sweet potatoes

Favorite cheat meal: Pizza

Listens to: Hip-hop

Favorite movies: Remember The Titans, Scarface, The Wolf Of Wall Street 

Instagram: @samasghari



Lady Hammer

Stephanie Hammermeister brings a bold look and a hardcore intensity to the IFBB Pro Figure stage.

Interview by Team Iron Man


Even though she has only been on the scene for about a minute, IFBB Pro Figure competitor Stephanie “LadyHammer” Hammermeister has galvanized the fitness world with her unique look, training intensity, and prodigy-like performances on the stage. In just over one year, the former college basketball player (who graduated from Southern New Hampshire University on a full-ride athletic scholarship) has gone from her first amateur show to eyeing a top spot at the Mr. Olympia. While LadyHammer might look like she should be wearing a metallic bikini and brandishing a sword while riding a dragon into battle, the soft-spoken and private Hammermeister is more interested in connecting with the discouraged and disenfranchised than crushing her foes in competition.



Iron Man: The name Hammermeister, which literally means “Master of the Hammer,” suits you. What was your maiden name?

Stephanie Hammermeister: Houghten. I married into Hammermeister. When I started training, people started calling me “Hammer.” “LadyHammer” took on its own form. Everything fell into place after that.


IM: How is the LadyHammer “brand” different than other fitness personalities looking for followers?

SH: A lot of people in the industry get caught up in the competition part. But at the end of the day, how are you impacting other people? I wake up every morning and think about that. How can I be the best influence on someone who wants to try this sport or who needs some extra encouragement in life? They can come to my social media pages and know they can find inspiration inside and out of the gym.


IM: Is it your look or your intensity that attracts people?

SH: I think it’s a little bit of both. I look a little different. I like showing men and women that you can be a beautiful and attractive female and still have muscle. You can be strong and powerful and feminine. I think I am just real. I speak from the heart. I never post anything I don’t stand behind. I am just a real-life person.


IM: You stay remarkably lean. What’s your diet like?

SH: I stick to a really rigid diet. I weigh everything. I eat six times a day. In the morning, after my fasted cardio, I’ll have egg whites, oats, and maybe some berries or grapefruit. I always have coffee, and it’s always Dunkin’ Donuts K-Cups because I’m from the East Coast. Meal two is just protein. Meals three and five will have carbs, usually a third or half cup of sweet potatoes or white rice. My body reacts better to fats. My carbs are a little lower and my fats are a little higher. In at least four of my meals I’ll incorporate some fats, like almond butter. I love almond butter, so I’ll have a tablespoon at four of my meals and sometime before I train.


IM: How many calories a day do you get?

SH: My daily calories are about 1,500. It’s not crazy, but I’m not hungry either. And up to four weeks out from a show I’ll do a refeed once a week. I’ll go crazy on my refeed. It’s not a normal meal—it’s about 3,000 calories.


IM: Tell us what this refeed is like.

SH: Sometime I have gotten sick because I’ve eaten so much. I’m a huge burger fan. My favorite place is called Slater’s 50/50. I usually do the Peanut Butter and Jealousy Burger. It’s peanut butter, strawberry jam, and bacon on a burger with a honey wheat bun, and I get it à la mode, so there’s vanilla ice cream on it. I’ll usually have nachos to start, then the burger with sweet potato fries, and then we’ll go get frozen yogurt with a ton of toppings. And then I might crush some Krispy Kreme doughnuts afterwards. The whole thing takes about three hours.


IM: I have never heard a competitor talk about food with such love in their voice.

SH: I am obsessed with food. I look forward to eating every single meal. But I am a very habitual eater. I can eat the same stuff all the time. I don’t know why.


IM: What kind of supplements do you use?

SH: I’m sponsored by MuscleSport, and I’m really invested in their products. I have had a lot of supplement sponsors make offers, but I have always waited until I get a product that I can stand behind 100 percent. MuscleSport has a ton of pharmaceutical-grade powders like glutamine, leucine, and just about anything you can think of. They have a whole other line for pre-, intra-, and post-workout. And they have an entire line for females.


IM What are your favorite MuscleSport supplements?

SH: All of them. In the morning I take their multivitamin, joint support, liver support, and adrenal support. I also take their fat-burner, which is pretty intense. The liver support and adrenal support help balance that out. Then I take NX5, which opens up the blood vessels when you’re lifting so the pump is huge. I take NeuroVol for enhanced focus. Pre-Lean is my favorite—that’s their pre-workout. It’s intense, but it doesn’t give you the jitters or tingles or a burning sensation.


IM: What’s the name of your hair color? Has it become a calling card for you?

SH: It has. It’s called Metallic Silver. I was white or platinum for about a year, then I decided to go gray and we went silver-gray. I started it about four months ago, and once it was on I knew it was for me. Not a lot of people can pull it off, but I love it. IM

Lean And Strong

Take a break from bodypart workouts with this unique conditioning-driven program.

By Jay Ashman


You are lean and strong, and you want to step up your training to include the occasional hard conditioning workout, but you aren’t sure what exactly to do. Of course, you could dip into CrossFit, but those workouts often include high-skill gymnastic movements or exercises that have a higher risk/reward ratio than you’d like. You may also need equipment you don’t have access to in your own gym.

Lucky for you, that kind of high-intensity interval training can easily be applied to safer and more accessible exercises. For instance, the workouts described here only need dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and an outside area to be able to sprint.

Part of the fun of this hybrid training program is the fact that you train strength and conditioning at the same time. They are not designed to be a true strength program nor are they meant to take the place of your targeted hypertrophy work. But they are a great way to add some intensity to your own training without sacrificing muscle or conditioning.

The benefits of interval training is not just in busting boredom, though. The calorie-burning effect lasts for hours after the session is over and can help boost your endurance and increase your VO2 max. Studies have shown the efficacy of the fat-burning, aerobic-endurance, and muscle-building benefits across a wide variety of populations. If you’re interested in losing fat and gaining muscle, throwing some challenging interval sessions into your workout is about a sure thing. (This isn’t to say that steady-state cardio is obsolete—after all, both cardio modalities work together to get optimal results.)


It goes without saying that these workouts are not for someone who is out of shape. If you choose to perform the entire exercise series (couplets one, two, and three) in one session, you should be prepared for a challenging day. It bears repeating, you can choose to split up the series into individual couplets as workout finishers as well. This gives you a quick way to add some interval training to your workout, and you can opt to increase the rounds to burn a lot more calories.


For those of you who are in excellent condition, give all three couplets a shot during one workout. You will find these to be a terrific test of overall fitness, and there’s no chance of boredom setting in. IM




Challenge Circuit 1

You can opt to do this as a nonstop bullet-train workout or take a short rest between each couplet. That choice is yours and entirely dependent on your fitness level. Ideally, you’ll rest as little as possible between paired exercises of the same couplet. Give yourself two minutes between changing couplets. This allows your heart rate to return to normal and gives you time to set up for the next pair of exercises.


Exercise                                                         Reps                           Sets                 Rest

Couplet 1:

1A: Power Clean to Push Press               5                                  3                      0-60 sec

1B: Single-Arm Farmer’s Walk                2×50 feet                    3                      0-60 sec


Directions: Perform three times. Rest for up to two minutes before moving to couplet two.


Couplet 2:

2A: Weighted Bulgarian Split Squat      8 (each leg)                2                      0-60 sec

2B: 200-Meter Sprint                                1                                  2                      0-60 sec


Directions: The tempo of the Bulgarian split squat is 5-1-x-1. That notation means a five-count on lowering the weight, a one-count pause at the bottom of the squat, immediately exploding up from the hole to a standing position, and a one-count pause at the top. This couplet is to be repeated only once since the tempo of the Bulgarian split squat followed by sprints is a very demanding combination. Rest for up to two minutes before moving to couplet three.


Couplet 3:

3A: Kettlebell Swing                                     15                                3                      0-60 sec

3B: Push-Ups                                                 Maximum                   3                      0-60 sec

Directions: Use a heavy kettlebell for this couplet, swinging it 15 times and then dropping to the floor to perform as many strict push-ups as possible. Perform the entire couplet three times.



Power Clean To Push Press: You want to pick a weight you can do for five hard reps. Start with the loaded bar on the floor and power clean the weight to your shoulders by “jumping” the bar up and then catching it in the rack position. After settling the bar on your front delts, you will begin the push presses. Dip slightly down on your heels to about a quarter squat and then drive the bar above your head with force and power. Return the bar to the floor to begin the second rep.


Single-Arm Farmer’s Walk: This is often called a “suitcase carry.” Grab a dumbbell, kettlebell, or farmer’s walk implement that is one-half of your body weight. Hold it in one hand and walk to a predetermined point that is 50 feet away. Change hands at the 50-foot mark and come back.  Maintain good core stability and keep your shoulders squared and even with each other. Stay as tall as possible, with your chest up and squeezing your core and glutes as hard as you can to make sure the implement does not force you to deviate your path. Give yourself a clear line to follow in the gym and walk as straight as possible.



Bulgarian Split Squat: Don’t underestimate the difficulty of the prescribed tempo with the Bulgarian split squat. Due to the high-intensity nature, use lighter dumbbells than you usually would use for an exercise like this. To execute, rest the top of your back foot on a bench that is about knee height, with your front leg in front of you. Hold dumbbells in both hands and descend as according to tempo until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Try to keep your front knee over your front foot. Tighten your core and push back up to the start.


200-Meter Sprint: Nothing fancy here. Just make sure this is an all-out effort. The benefit of short-duration high-intensity workouts are dependent on maximal effort. If this turns into a recovery jog (and it will be tempting because this is going to be very uncomfortable), much of the calorie-burning benefits and training adaptations will be blunted.


Kettlebell Swing: A kettlebell swing is a hip-centric movement. It is not a squat. To perform this, visualize pushing your posterior chain back, thereby “closing the hinge” of your hips. With your feet wider than shoulder-width, hold the kettlebell in both hands. Let it pass between your legs as you begin to close the hinge, then violently thrust your hips forward and swing the kettlebell to face level, but no higher. The explosive movement of your hips should drive the weight.


Push-Up: Assume a conventional push-up position where your bodyweight is supported by your toes and your extended arms. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart, with your feet together. Keeping your body in a straight line from your heels to your head, bend at the elbows to lower your chest to a position just above the floor, then extend your arms to return to the start position.






Challenge Circuit 2

This second circuit provides enough variation from the first circuit so you can perform both within a short time without being redundant. Like the first circuit, you can complete this as a whole workout or use portions of it as a high-intensity finisher. Rest as little as possible between paired exercises of the same couplet. Give yourself two minutes between changing couplets. This allows your heart rate to return to normal and gives you time to set up for the next pair of exercises.


Exercise                                                         Reps                           Sets                 Rest

Couplet 1:

1A: Power Clean To Front Squat             1/10                           3                      0-60 sec

1B: Farmer’s Walk                                      2×50 feet                    3                      0-60 sec


Directions: Load a barbell with 50 to 60 percent of your bodyweight for the power clean to front squats. Use 100 percent of your bodyweight for the farmer’s walk. Perform the entire couplet three times.


Couplet 2:

2A: Walking Lunges In Rack Position   100 feet                      3                      0-60 sec

2B: Suicide Sprint                                       100 feet                      3                      0-60 sec


Directions: Perform the walking lunges while holding the dumbbells in the rack position, held up to your shoulders with your hands in the neutral position. Cones/markers should be set up every 20 feet for the suicide sprint. Perform three times.


Couplet 3:

3A: Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift              12 (each leg)              3                      0-60 sec

3B: Jumping Squats (unweighted)              12                                3                      0-60 sec


Directions: Perform the single-leg Romanian deadlift using double the weight of the dumbbell you used for the walking lunges. Hold the dumbbell in one hand and use a hip hinge with the opposite leg from the arm you’re holding the dumbbell. Do not use any weight for the squat. Just descend into a full squat and then leap in the air as high as you can for each rep. Perform three times.