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4x World’s Strongest Man Magnus Ver Magnusson On How He Out-Worked Everyone | Legends Of Iron Podcast

The legendary Magnus Ver Magnusson reflects back on what made him one of the best strongmen that ever lived… and the impact he still has on the sport.

If you are a fan of strongman, or even just a causal follower of the sport, you’ve likely heard of Magnus Ver Magnusson. A 4x World’s Strongest Man champion and a legend in his own right – many consider him to be one of the greatest strongmen to ever live. While he is now retired, Magnusson has left a massive impact on the sport – and continues to be involved with the strongman community to this day. In our latest episode of the Legends Of Iron podcast, Magnus Ver Magnusson reflects back on his career, accomplishments, and the current state of strongman compared to his prime years.

When asked how he was able to become a legend in the sport of strongman, Magnus Ver Magnusson had a simple answer – he out-trained everyone. It was a different era of strongman, before internet and fitness knowledge had gone mainstream. He didn’t have a pre-defined plan based on scientific studies or online gurus. He simply trained hard. Harder than anyone else competing. He learned and adapted as he trained. He never stopped. And due to this he became a 4x World’s Strongest Man champion and a legend in the sport.

However, training hardest doesn’t mean to over-train with abandon. In fact, Magnus Ver Magnusson has some incredibly conservative tips when it comes to strongman training. “Don’t train to failure,” he notes at one point in the interview. Train lighter. Do more overall sets. Put in more overall work – but do it smartly.

“If you know you can do one more rep, do it. But if you are unsure, skip it,” Magnusson continues to say. That’s how to avoid injury while also keeping up with improvements.

Throughout the discussion with Magnus ver Magnusson during this podcast episode, you’ll notice a pattern. Magnusson is asked about his training regimen, his nutrition plan, and the tactics he used to become the best. His answer is almost always the same – there was no plan other than training hard and training smart.

Magnusson had a genetic gift and an inherent natural ability for weightlifting. He could feel and understand and learn his body organically. It’s that natural skill combined with hard work that made him a champion. It’s that intangible quality that makes a champion and is hard to reproduce. If you have it, you have it.

“I had a lot of training partners through my career but I pretty much killed him off”

– Magnus Ver Magnusson

Magnus Ver Magnusson Put In The Work… Then He Put In More

The one singular through-line throughout our discussion with Magnus Ver Magnusson is that he out-worked everyone. He jokes about how he has had many training partners in his life – who all fell to the wayside because they couldn’t keep up with him.

Magnusson never pre-prepared for specific strongman events. In fact, he wouldn’t often know what events would be in play during a competition until the day he showed up. This might seem shocking to some strongman athletes today. However, Magnusson has a natural ability to adapt and pick up on certain lifts.

Magnus Ver Magnusson attributes this to his lifestyle growing up. He worked on farms most of his younger life. This required him to endure long days of consistent physical labor. It gave him a natural endurance and psychological acceptance of enjoy physical labor and hard work.

But more than that, it also required problem solving. Learning how the mechanics of how equipment worked. What were the best and most efficient ways to use them and move them? What kind of problems might suddenly arise that require adaptation? These are questions and scenarios he would be faced with often on the farm.

Due to this, he developed a natural ability to adapt and quickly understand strongman equipment and events. He certainly had some events he was better at than others – but he could see them for the first time that day and learn how to master it. He even jokes that he never owned his own set of Atlas Stones to practice on throughout his career.

Find The Balance Of Training Harder Than Everyone Without Overtraining

Magnus Ver Magnusson also warns against overtraining as well. It may sound contradictory, but he believes success requires out-working everyone else while also not overtraining. How is that possible? It’s about knowing which limits can bend and which limits will break.

Strongman requires one day of pushing for the best lifts of your life, then the rest of the year you can play it safe. That doesn’t mean to not push hard and get stronger. But it does mean learning to not take unnecessary risks. Being a strongman, odds are you love lifting, but don’t be cursed by going for a PR outside of competition only to injure yourself.

As we mentioned above, Magnus Ver Magnusson believes training to failure should be avoided. That light weight and more reps is better than heavy weight and less reps. He also believes that a two-week training routine is better than a one-week routine. This accomplishes bringing in a more wide variety of muscle groups to be worked on. It also helps prevent a workout from getting repetitive fast. It avoids burnout.

Wrap Up

Jon Andersen, Nick Best, and Akim Williams have a truly jovial and insightful conversation with Magnus Ver Magnusson. Not all of it can be recapped here, so make sure to watch the full episode of Legends Of Iron above. Check back every other Thursday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or where ever podcasts are downloaded.

Flex Wheeler Advises William Bonac Not To Focus On Size: “It’s About Being Better, Not Bigger”

William Bonac 2022 Olympia

Flex Wheeler had some advice for William Bonac ahead of the 2022 Olympia.

The Men’s Open division during the 2022 Olympia is expected to be as deep as ever with Big Ramy headlining once again. The pure size of Ramy has many believing that he will win his third consecutive title. Other competitors have been putting on size but Flex Wheeler believes that this is not the way to go.

William Bonac has emerged as one of the favorites to contend with Ramy on stage in December. He brought a championship physique to the 2022 Arnold Classic and many thought that he should have been crowned champion. Instead, he finished as the runner-up to Brandon Curry.

During the 2021 Olympia, Bonac finished sixth but made significant improvements to his physique. He won the Boston Pro this year to qualify for the biggest show of the year. Now, he will put the finishing touches on his physique heading into December.

William Bonac

Flex Wheeler: “Bigger Isn’t Always Better”

Flex Wheeler is known for having one of the most symmetrical physiques on stage during his career. He was extremely well-conditioned and was always a contender during competition. During an appearance on OlympiaTVWheeler had some advice for William Bonac after his guest posing appearance.

Wheeler referenced Bonac’s appearance on stage because of the size that he has put on. He believes that size is not always the answer and he knows from experience.

“I’ve made that mistake also. You’re chasing an image that’s portrayed to be the number one and you want to emulate that because that’s identified to be number one right. But that doesn’t mean that image is going to look good for me,” Wheeler said.

I made that mistake chasing Ronnie and getting too big. Don’t make that mistake man. It’s about being better. Better is better. Bigger isn’t always better.”

 

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A post shared by William Bonac (@william_bonac)

Big Ramy will be unmatched when it comes to pure size and this is why competitors must find other ways to gain an advantage. Wheeler also advised Curry to bring more muscle separation to the stage in order to jump Ramy on the scorecard. It is all about what a bodybuilder looks like on stage.

“I don’t give a damn what you look like an hour before the show. Five minutes before you walk on a show, all that matter, is that 15 or 20 minutes you’re on the stage for prejudging and the night show. I don’t give a damn.”

“Posing is the same. Any opportunity you get to show yourself, you better take it. You better take it. The Olympia this year I think is going to be a dog fight.”

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Kai Greene and Blessing Awodibu Team Up for Shoulder Training

Blessing Awodibu trains shoulders with none other than Kai Greene ahead of the Olympia.

Once again we see Kai Greene and Blessing Awodibu joining forces for a training session. This time around the two popular bodybuilders did a shoulder training session together ahead of the 2022 Olympia. With just weeks until the biggest bodybuilding event of the year, Kai is offering up his wisdom to the young and hungry Blessing who hopes to play spoiler.

The beginning of his IFBB Pro League campaign left much to be desired. But since that time, Blessing Awodibu Has rebounded nicely and has looked nothing short of impressive. He has shored up all his weaknesses and has made some solid improvements to many of his strengths. Now weeks out from the Olympia Blessing is fine tuning his physique and he’s not doing it alone.

Popular bodybuilding veteran Kai Greene has trained with Blessing Awodibu in the past. The two have made great training partners and have pushed each other hard in the gym. With Kai’s experience and wisdom lighting his way, we could see a much improved Blessing at this year’s Olympia.

Ahead of the event Kai Greene and Blessing Awodibu took part in a shoulder training session. Each man gave it their all in the workout. Of course that means laughter and good humor was also on full display.

“We’re gonna do like four working sets,” said Blessing Awodibu. “We’re bringing the barbell up so it’s getting heavier… Reps between 12 to 15 ranges and just killing these delts, man!”

Full Shoulder Workout

Overall, the workout included:

  • Cable Rear Delt Flye
  • Superset: Incline Prone Dumbbell Reverse Fly and Barbell Rear Delt Row
  • Chest-Supported Machine Row
  • Leaning One-Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • Barbell Upright Row
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Underhand Grip Cable Front Raise

After the intensive training session, Kai Greene gave Blessing Awodibu his unwavering seal of approval. Kai made it plain that he wants to see Blessing acquit himself well at the Olympia.

“I have a vested interest in seeing you do exceedingly well, yes sir,” said Kai Greene. “This year, next year… And as you continue to blossom with your career. So with that said and always with that understood before we even start out of the gate, I’m very hopeful and optimistic with what would be the results this year.”

It’s great to see Kai Greene acting like a big brother to Blessing Awodibu. It’s clear that the two have bonded and that Kai is hoping to see Blessing achieve greatness. With so much talent at the Olympia it will be no easy task, but it appears that Blessing is up for the challenge.

See the full training here.

What do you think of Kai Greene and Blessing Awodibu training shoulders ahead of the 2022 Olympia?

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News and Editorial Writer at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.

Nathan De Asha Announces He Will Miss 2022 Olympia With Right Bicep Tear

Bicep Injury

Nathan De Asha has suffered another bicep injury that will keep him out of the Olympia.

Nathan De Asha has dealt with some injuries that have hindered his progress and another one has come up ahead of the 2022 Olympia. De Asha shared that he will miss the biggest competition of the year after suffering an injury to his right bicep.

De Asha earned three victories in 2021. He was crowned champion at the Europa Pro Championship and Arnold Classic UK. Last October, De Asha also win the Yamamoto Cup. After returning to the stage and having great success, De Asha was forced to miss the 2022 Arnold Classic with a left bicep injury.

Nathan De Asha Suffers Second Bicep Tear

Nathan De Asha joined Desktop Bodybuilding for a discussion and this is where he shared the news that he would miss the 2022 Olympia.

“I threw my son’s football and then my right bicep just snapped. So, I’ve only started training for the past 14 days. As people see me a lot, I was a lot smaller a few weeks back trying to do, you know a f***ing three-week off-season to try to get to the Olympia.”

De Asha went on to explain why he will be out of the biggest competition of the year. This is not his first bicep tear. In fact, he tore his right one twice and added a left bicep tear back in January.

“I tore my left bicep in January right. Went to try the machine, tore my right bicep at the end of July. So, to all these little gobshi**s on here why I’m not doing the Olympia, it’s two bicep tears in the same f***ing year.”

After his appearance on the podcast, De Asha took to Instagram on Thursday morning to explain further. He referenced that the news had already been reported by many outlets and he wanted to provide more insight.

In this post, Nathan De Asha shared more details on the incident. The plan is to recovery from his injury and hit the stage as soon as possible. Fans will have to wait for his return to the stage and of course, the Olympia competition.

 

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A post shared by Nathan De Asha (@nathandeasha2)

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The Essential Eight-Week Push-Up Training Plan

Push-Up

The Push-Up Plan: Developing Upper Body Power, Core Strength, and Injury Resilience

The push-up is held in high regard by many and is often seen as a test of true muscular strength and endurance. 

In addition to developing upper body strength, power, and endurance, one of the best things about the push-up is its simplicity and versatility. Despite this, many people really struggle with push-ups and find it to be a challenging exercise to master.

This article will provide an eight-week training program that has been specifically designed to improve your upper body strength, power, and push-up abilities.

Push-Up Technique

Poor technique is often the reason why many individuals struggle with the push-up. Therefore, this section will run through five steps that will allow you to perform the perfect push-up.

  • Begin in a push-up position. Assume this position by placing the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and then extended the legs out fully so that the body is flat
  • Before beginning the descent, squeeze the core muscles tight to prevent any movement through the trunk
  • In a controlled manner, begin the descent by hinging both elbows. Continue to drop down to the floor until the chest touches the floor
  • As you are descending, ensuring that the elbows stay tucked in tight towards the ribcage. Allows the elbows to flare out may lead to injury
  • Powerfully push into the floor with the hands to extend the elbows and return to the starting position. 

Push-Up Benefits

There are many benefits associated with regularly performing push-ups. This section will outline four of the greatest benefits.

1) Builds Upper Body Strength

Considering that the push-up requires movement through the shoulder and elbow joints, a large number of upper body muscles are recruited.

While the pectorals chest and the triceps arms are activated most highly during a push-up, the deltoids and traps (shoulders/ upper back) also assist (1).

Therefore, following a push-up program will develop these major upper body muscle groups while also enhancing your pressing ability.

pushups

2) Develops Core Strength

The core is often misunderstood to be the abdominals. However, the core is actually a whole host of the muscles found in the trunk that works to provide the body with stability.

During the push-up, the core must engage to ensure that the body remains stable during motion. Furthermore, it works to stabilize the spine and facilitate good push-up technique.

By regularly performing push-ups it is possible to increase the isometric strength of the core muscles thus increasing strength, stability, and technique (2). 

3) Reduces Risk Of Injury

Another benefit of the push-up is the impact that it can have on reducing the risk of injury. 

Strengthening the muscles around the shoulder will significantly reduce the risk of a shoulder injury. 

Furthermore, having a weak core is commonly associated with low back pain and problems. By performing push-ups and strengthening the core, the risk of low back issues may be reduced (3).

4) Functional and Convenient

You may have heard the push-up be referred to as a “functional” exercise. 

This simply means that it is an exercise that typically requires no equipment, works a variety of muscles throughout the body, and has transferable benefits to day-to-day life.

As reflected on, because the conventional push-up is bodyweight only, it is also highly convenient. To perform the push-up all you need is to find a space – no equipment required.

pushups

The Eight Week Push-Up Plan

The plan outlined in the following section has been designed to drastically improve pressing strength and enhance push-up performance.

Pre-Test

Regardless of the training program you are following, testing is a hugely important aspect as it will allow you to evaluate your progress and make any appropriate alterations to your training.

Therefore, prior to beginning the eight-week program, perform a maximal push-up test. Simply perform as many push-ups as possible without resting at the top or bottom of the movement.

If you have trained your upper body recently, avoid performing this test. Take a day or two to rest before attempting this test to ensure that fatigue is not a factor.

Once you have completed this test, record your result, and then determine your rep goal. A useful guide is to aim for four times your max rep.  

For example, if you complete ten reps in the pre-test, your rep goal will be forty. 

Week One and Two

During weeks one and two, you will perform the same workout twice per week at a minimum.

Using the rep goal, complete as many sets as required until you have successfully performed all of the reps.

Using the above example, let’s say you complete ten reps during the first set, eight in the second set, six in the third, and so on. Keep going until you have performed forty reps in total. 

In terms of rest, during week one take one full minute rest between sets. In week two, look to reduce rest time to thirty seconds between sets.

Additionally, in the second week, you should also look to reduce the total number of sets needed to complete all of the reps. 

In terms of assistance exercises, performing light bench and shoulder presses may be beneficial. Other useful exercises include dips and front raises. 

pushups

Week Three and Four

As you move into week three and four, frequency and training volume increase to ensure that progress continues to be made.

Instead of training a minimum of twice per week, you should now look to workout three times.

As with week one and two, you will continue to base the workouts of your rep goal. However, this time the total number of reps to perform is 150% of your rep goal.

Using the previous example, sixty reps are to be performed per workout. These reps should be performed using as few sets as possible.

With both weeks three and four, the rest period between sets should be kept at approximately thirty seconds. That said, the goal should be to reduce this rest time to allow you to get through the reps quicker. 

Week Five and Six

Moving into week five and six, frequency, training volume, and rest periods are all altered once again. At this stage, you can also look at introducing some push-up variations.

During these weeks, you will increase training frequency from three times to four times per week.

Furthermore, increase the total reps performed by another 50% to make it 200% of your rep goal. Referring back to the previous example, this would mean performing a total of eighty reps.

As with the previous weeks, perform as many sets as needed to complete the reps and look to keep the rest periods minimal.

Begin to experiment with your push-ups by performing different variations such as the narrow and wide push-up. Doing this can alter muscle activation (4) and consequently change the training stimulus.

Take care with these variations and, as always, ensure that good technique is the number one priority. 

Week Seven and Eight

Intensity has been gradually building throughout the weeks and it culminates in weeks seven and eight. These weeks following the same pattern and structure as the previous weeks.

Frequency is to be increased to five times per week with rest periods between sets to be no more than fifteen seconds.

Total reps performed increases by another 50%. In the example, this means performing a total of one hundred reps.

You should continue to utilize different push-up variations and experiment with hand placement and angles to help you maximize push-up progress.

Be sure to include a number of sets of feet-elevated and hand-elevated push-ups to increase the demand on the muscles of the upper body and core.

Post-Test

Having completed the eight weeks, repeat the test that was performed at the start of the plan and compare the results.

If you feel that you want to improve your push-ups further, the eight weeks can be cycled once again using the new test results.

pushups

Program Considerations

In order to maximize progress, there are a number of considerations that must be made before beginning this training plan.

First and foremost, heavy compound lifts may need to be reduced. This is particularly true for pressing exercises such as the bench press and overhead press.

Furthermore, isolation exercises that target the shoulder joint may also need to take a back seat.

Continuing with frequent heavy lifting and isolation work in conjunction with the eight-week push-up training plan may place too much stress on the shoulder joint and cause injury.

As highlighted earlier, the core muscles play a huge, but often unseen, role during the push-up by providing the body with stability. 

Having a weak core will likely cause the hips to lift or sag thus interfering with good push-up technique. 

Therefore, increasing the strength of the core muscles may facilitate a greater performance with the push-up by enhancing stability and technique.

Finally, ensure that each and every push-up repetition is performed with the strict form.

Not only will this substantially reduce the risk of injury, it will also ensure that you make the best progress possible.

Final Word

The push-up is regarded as one of the best bodyweight exercises for building upper body power and endurance, core strength, and injury resilience.

The eight-week push-up plan, outlined above, is a highly effective and methodical training plan that will allow you to experience all of these benefits. 

References:

1 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6728153/  Tillaar, Roland van den (2019-09-05). “Comparison of Kinematics and Muscle Activation between Push-up and Bench Press”. Sports Medicine International Open. 3 (3): E74–E81. doi:10.1055/a-1001-2526. ISSN 2367-1890. PMC 6728153. PMID 31508485.

2 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126284/  Calatayud, Joaquin; Borreani, Sebastien; Colado, Juan C.; Martín, Fernando F; Rogers, Michael E.; Behm, David G.; Andersen, Lars L. (2014-09-01). “Muscle Activation during Push-Ups with Different Suspension Training Systems”. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 13 (3): 502–510. ISSN 1303-2968. PMC 4126284. PMID 25177174.

3 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4395677/ Chang, Wen-Dien; Lin, Hung-Yu; Lai, Ping-Tung (2015-3). “Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain”. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 27 (3): 619–622. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.619. ISSN 0915-5287. PMC 4395677. PMID 25931693.

4 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16095413/ Cogley, Robert M.; Archambault, Teasha A.; Fibeger, Jon F.; Koverman, Mandy M.; Youdas, James W.; Hollman, John H. (2005-08). “Comparison of muscle activation using various hand positions during the push-up exercise”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 19 (3): 628–633. doi:10.1519/15094.1. ISSN 1064-8011. PMID 16095413.

6 Moves For Shredded Lower Abs

Generation Iron Exercise Guide Abs

6 Exercises To Target Your Lower Abs

A physique can’t be deemed complete without a shredded abdomen. Abs have become an aesthetic standard which every pro athlete needs to maintain. You will never see a bodybuilder without a six-pack on stage.

Lower abs are one of the most stubborn muscle groups. Love handles can be the hardest to lose. If you want a shredded six-pack, sticking to the crunches won’t get you a long way. You need to perform ab exercises which will target your lower abs.

1. Flat Bench Leg Raises

Performing exercises like the crunches work the upper abs. You need to have lower body exercises like the leg raise in your exercise arsenal to target the lower abs. You can perform the leg raises on a flat bench or a decline bench.

Lie down on a bench while facing the roof. Your upper body should be on the bench while your lower body hangs off the edge of the bench. Slowly raise your legs so they’re perpendicular to the floor. Your feet should be an inch away from the floor at the bottom of the movement.

2. Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises are an isolation exercise and your lower abdominal will be completely exhausted after this exercise. You could perform this exercise on a pull-up bar or parallel bars.

Most people make the mistake of using momentum to lift their legs. Doing this can eliminate the tension on your lower abs. Your upper body should not swing while you perform the hanging leg raises.

3. Scissors

The primary muscles involved in scissor kicks are the lower abs and your hip flexors. Lie down on the floor and with a slight bend at the knees, lift your legs up so that your heels are about six inches off the ground.

Now, lift your right leg about a 45-degree angle while your left leg is lowered until the heel is about 2-3 inches from the ground. Repeat on the other side by lifting the left leg and lowering the right leg.

4. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are usually a part of a HIIT workout and will completely smoke your lower abs. Get into a high plank position with your feet placed at shoulder width. Make sure you keep your abs tight and contracted throughout the exercise.

Lift your right leg up to the chest between your hands. As you return the right leg back to the plank, lift left foot and draw left knee to the chest between your hands. Keep your upper body fixed in place and avoid hiking your hips.

5. Slider Knee Tuck

You will need sliders or a towel for this exercise. Place both your feet on the sliders and pull in your feet to your chest between your hands. Push feet back to the starting position and repeat for the target reps.

Maintain a tight core, exhale and contract your abs at the top of the movement. Make sure you don’t hunch your shoulders and back or lean forward too much while performing this exercise.

6. Reverse Crunches

Reverse crunches are the opposite of the conventional crunches. This exercise might look easy but can prove to be lethal. Lie on the floor with your hands under your lower back. Maintain a slight bend at your knees and lift your feet so they’re 2-4 inches off the ground.

Raise your knees to your chest while maintaining the bend at the knees. Return to the starting position and don’t let your feet touch the floor. You can also perform the reverse crunches on a flat bench. Doing this will increase the negative motion which in turn will increase the tension on your lower abs.


Which is your favorite lower abs exercise? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

Standing Lat Pulldown: How to and Exercise Guide

how to do the standing lat pulldown

The ultimate guide on how to perform the standing lat pulldown for bigger lats 

A strong and muscular back plays a significant role in your overall aesthetics and strength. And your lats are the biggest muscle in your back (1). So although there are many back muscles in your body, the lats are the back muscle you want to hit the hardest. And the standing lat pulldown is one of the best movements you can do to isolate your lats. This article will dive deeply into how to perform the standing lat pulldown, including the benefits and alternative exercises. 

How to Do the Standing Lat Pulldown 

The standing lat pulldown separates itself from other movements that target your lats, like barbell bent-over row, because it isolates them to primarily target them. Conversely, the barbell bent over row targets many muscles in your back. This exercise is similar to the lat pulldown, except while standing and with your arms fully extended. The standing variation activates more of your core and lower body, and keeping your arms extended keeps the tension on your lats. 

Follow the steps below to nail this movement, grow your lats, and strengthen your core and lower body. 

1. Setting Up 

The starting position begins next to a cable machine with a lat pulldown bar. You’ll stand upright and grab the barbell with a shoulder-width pronated grip (palms facing away). Hinge your hips to bend your torso slightly while maintaining a slight bend in your knees for support. 

2. Pull 

Next, you’ll pull the barbell to your thighs while keeping your arms straight. Your core should be tight, and your shoulder blades should go down and back. 

3. Pause and Squeeze

Once the barbell reaches the bottom to touch your thighs, pause briefly to squeeze your lats. You mustn’t sway your body or go too fast to ensure your lats are fully activated. 

4. Return to Starting Position

Finally, raise your arms to chin level controlled while staying as stable as possible. 

Benefits of Standing Lat Pulldown

standing lat pulldown benefits

The standing lat pulldown has many benefits, including strengthening your lats, core, and glutes

Isolates and Strengthens Lat Muscles

Of course, this movement is excellent for isolating your lat muscle specifically. In addition, this movement requires you to extend your arms through the full range of motion, better engaging your lats to make them grow bigger and stronger

Targets Your Lower Body 

Since you’ll be standing with this exercise, it will engage your glutes compared to the seated version. And your glutes are the largest muscle in your body. So stronger glutes mean more muscle mass and strength in general. 

Engages Your Core 

The standing bent-over position and keeping your arms extended engage your core. And a stronger core reduces back pain and improves athletic performance (2). 

Provides Constant Tension 

Since the standing lat pulldown is performed on a cable machine, you’ll maintain constant tension on your lats throughout the entire exercise. Of course, this will target parts of your lats more at certain degrees of the movements that free weights wouldn’t (3). 

Standing Lat Pulldown Alternatives

If you are new to lifting weights or don’t have the equipment to perform standing lat pulldown, there are other alternative exercises that you can try. 

Banded Pulldowns

Instead of using a cable machine, you can perform this exercise with resistance bands. The resistance bands will maintain tension in your muscles compared to free weights. And it will also be the safer alternative that will allow you to use less weight for rehab and beginners and to better your form. 

Kneeling Cable Pulldown

You can also perform this movement on your knees. The benefit of performing them on your knees instead of standing is that it will engage your lats more since you won’t rely on your lower body for stability. However, you won’t get the same leg muscles and core activation that standing will provide. 

Dumbbell Pullover 

The dumbbell pullover is another alternative movement you can try. This exercise not only engages your lats, but it will target your chest and triceps (4). 

FAQs

Here are a few things to keep in mind while performing the standing lat pulldown to get the most out of the movement. 

  • Should you brace your core? 

Keeping your core tight is essential to keep your body stable and avoid bad form or activating other muscle groups you aren’t trying to hit. 

  • How should you breathe? 

You want to exhale when you pull the barbell down and inhale when raising the barbell back up. You’ll find this helps you control the weight and feel the burn in the right areas–back and abs

  • Should your grip be firm? 

You must keep your grip tight to ensure your wrists are stable enough to control the weight. Otherwise, the cable weight will move around too much. 

  • How many reps should you perform?

The number of reps you do will depend on your goal. For example, if you’re training for strength, we recommend keeping the reps on the lower end between four and six. However, if hypertrophy (muscle growth) is your main goal, we recommend increasing the reps slightly to the 8-12 rep range.

  • How many sets should you do? 

The number of sets you perform will vastly depend on your experience as a lifter. You shouldn’t perform more than two sets if you’re a beginner. An intermediate lifter can perform three sets, and advanced lifters can perform up to five.

If you’d like to learn more about how to perform different exercises to build an amazing physique, click the link to apply for a FREE coaching call. Spots are extremely limited. It’s on a first-come, first-served basis! 

References

  1. Jeno SH, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Back, Latissimus Dorsi. [Updated 2022 Apr 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448120/
  2. Huxel Bliven, K. C., & Anderson, B. E. (2013). Core stability training for injury prevention. Sports health, 5(6), 514–522. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738113481200
  3. Signorile, J. F., Rendos, N. K., Heredia Vargas, H. H., Alipio, T. C., Regis, R. C., Eltoukhy, M. M., Nargund, R. S., & Romero, M. A. (2017). Differences in Muscle Activation and Kinematics Between Cable-Based and Selectorized Weight Training. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 31(2), 313–322. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001493
  4. Marchetti, P. H., & Uchida, M. C. (2011). Effects of the pullover exercise on the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi muscles as evaluated by EMG. Journal of applied biomechanics, 27(4), 380–384. https://doi.org/10.1123/jab.27.4.380

 

Valeria Guznenkova Profile & Stats

The biography, life, and accomplishments of Valeria Guznenkova

Valeria Guznenkova. You may have seen her before, she is a popular athlete on social media. But if not, you are missing out. Valeria Guznenkova is a unique individual, with an even more unique physique. She is a Russian born bodybuilding competitor and fitness influencer.

Below is a complete breakdown of Valeria Guznenkova’s profile, stats, biography, training and diet regimens.

Full Name: Valeria Guznenkova (Women’s Fitness Competitor)

Weight Height Date Of Birth
Unknown Unknown 9/7/1993
Division Era Nationality
Fitness 2010s Russian

Biography

Born in Moscow on September 7, 1993, Valeria Guznenkova has become a fitness icon. Grossing almost 400,000 followers on social media. 360,000 alone on her Instagram, and around 12,000 on Facebook. Valeria had become hooked on her fitness and training, and it surely has shown. She showed potential in her early years, and took full advantage of that.

Valeria Guznenkova via her Instagram (@guznenkova)

She was a finalist in the Bodybuilding Federation Championships. In 2014, Valeria ended up competing in Moscow’s Bodybuilding Federation in the Fitness Category, placing 6th overall taking home a Bronze medal. Not too shabby!

Guznenkova also was a spokesmodel for several products manufactured by Reebok.

Valeria Guznenkova Competition History

Valeria competed in the Russian Bodybuilding Federation. Her most well known competition was in 2014, where she took 6th place overall. This was in the fitness division.

The fitness division is a branch off of the bodybuilding division. In fitness, women have to do their standard physique round, but also a unique routine. The routine consists of music, and a mix of dance, gymnastics, and strength moves.

Training

You may think that her training is this intense, heavy lifting program. That is not exactly the case though!

Valeria actually has a different approach to training. Rather than entirely gym focused heavy lifting with weights and gym equipment, she focuses a lot on bodyweight exercises. Let’s dive into her training a little more.

Bodyweight

Valeria uses a lot of plyometric and static holds along with explosive bodyweight movements, like sprints. She focuses her training around gymnastic styled movements, which is great for being in the fitness division. This also entails things like bodyweight lunges, leg raises, and pull-ups. Movements like these help to keep her strong and in shape year round.

Valeria’s bodyweight training enables her to workout more frequently during the week. Bodyweight workouts tend to have quicker recovery than workouts that consist of more free weights and things like that. However, Valeria does use weights, so let’s dive into those workouts.

Free Weights

Compound exercises tend to be favored by Valeria when she is focusing on heavier lifting periods. In times like these, she will focus on things like squat, bench, deadlift, and bent over rows.

Valeria lifting, per her Instagram (@guznenkova)

Now, her training takes more of a toll here, so she allows herself a little bit of extra rest. Extra rest days allow for more time that her muscles can recover. As a result, she can become stronger and more powerful overall, which makes her bodyweight days a little bit easier.

Which is better?

Let’s pause here and evaluate. Valeria is in fantastic shape year round and trains heavily focused on bodyweight exercises. You do not see this too often in competing, many competitors are focused more on free weights.

Now, you may be wondering, are bodyweight exercises better than free weights? Or are free weight exercises better than bodyweight?

In all reality, it really depends on your fitness goals. There are plenty of just bodyweight workout programs, like calisthenics that can build a great physique. Bodyweight exercises can also make you very strong. Many bodybuilders that can bench 500 lbs, cannot do the balancing exercises you see in calisthenics.

However, if you want to pack on more size and look like a bodybuilder, then free weight exercises would more than likely be superior. Again, this is all subjective and you should train how you want! However, envision your goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them!

Now, let’s dive back in to our information on Valeria Guznenkova.

Nutrition

You may be wondering, with a body like Valeria’s, what does she eat? You can scour the internet as much as you want in search of her diet, but you will not find much. Not much is known about Valeria’s nutrition. She has unfortunately not come right out and said what she eats.

Image Credit (@guznenkova)

However, we can imagine that it is a relatively clean diet. Someone like that who competes and stays in shape year round is more than likely eating a clean diet. Lots of protein and a balance of fat and carbs as well.

In order to maintain a physique like that, junk foods every night more than likely will not help you out. On the other hand, eating the same clean meals every day will probably drive you nuts. There are plenty of creative diet plans you can follow to craft an incredible physique like Valeria Guznenko. If you are dieting, even throwing in things like protein powders can be a sweet treat that still keeps you on track!

Personal Life

As far as personal life, this has been kept out of the public eye as well. We know that Valeria was born in Moscow, we know when as well. However, regarding family life there is not much information on this.

Looking at Valeria’s Instagram, it is mostly shots of her modeling, lifting and traveling, so we know she enjoys those pastimes. She also seems to be into photography, showcasing many different pictures of herself and others modeling.

Image Credit: @guznenkova

When it comes to dating, not much is known about this either. Valeria has managed to keep a lot of her personal life out of the spotlight. However, on her Instagram it does appear that she has a boyfriend.

Wrap-Up

What can we take away from Valeria? Well, for starters, dedication goes a long way. She stays in shape year round! This requires a lot of discipline, dedication, and hard work. Not to mention, do not be afraid to chase something even if it is out of your comfort zone.

Valeria had potential from a young age, and she chased it, stuck with it, and look where it got her. Imagine what you could do too!

If you liked this, do not be afraid to check out our other athlete profiles!

Jay Cutler Speaks In Favor Of Dumbbells Over Barbells For Bench Press: “It’s A Lot Safer In The Long Run”

Bench Press

Jay Cutler weighs in on the debate of dumbbells vs. barbells for bench press.

Jay Cutler used his overall knowledge of training to build a physique that won four Olympia competitions. Since his days on stage are over, Cutler has more time to share his wisdom with the next generation. Recently, he weighed in on the debate between dumbbells and barbells when performing bench presses.

Cutler continues to train in the gym and has showed off his physique on many occasions. He even went through a recent posing routine that sparked rumors of a return to the stage. Cutler quickly squashed any rumors of returning to the Masters Olympia in 2023.

Even though he is not going to compete, Cutler did not rule out being a guest poser. He remains shredded and it is because of his overall passion for fitness. Now, he explained his stance on one of the questions in the gym.

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler Explains His Stance On Dumbbells vs. Barbells

Weight training can be done in many ways. There are many different ways to perform different exercises to accomplish goals in the gym. Overall, it is important to focus on health and safety. This is why Jay Cutler prefers dumbbells when performing bench presses.

I stick more to dumbbell pressing. It’s an isolateral movement. You can definitely get more benefit from contractions. It’s a lot safer in the long run,” Jay Cutler said.

“we want to focus on more movements to build the chest. And everything with the chest training should be focused on the 8-12 repetitions when you’re trying to build your physique as a bodybuilder.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mr Olympia Jay Cutler (@jaycutler)

Jay Cutler took to Instagram on Tuesday to explain his reasoning and show off some training videos from his career.

Cutler continues to explain one area that has to be secured — ego. When in the gym, lifters will focus on lifting as much weight as possible on the bench and this could get in the way of working out the smart way.

“Listen, it’s always that one question we get: how much do you bench press and that usually tends to mean how much do you bar bench press but we leave our egos at the door.”

Bench press is one of the best exercises to build muscle in the chest. Using dumbbells when performing the exercise can allow the muscle to contract more because of the stretch. Overall, Jay Cutler believes that dumbbells are safer and more beneficial during the exercise.

Brandon Lirio: “No Professional You Have Ever Seen Is A Natty” | U-Natty States Of America Podcast

Brandon Lirio breaks down the problem with “natty police” in sports – especially bodybuilding

Steroids and PEDs in bodybuilding have often been a big controversial topic in the sports world. But the truth is that nearly all professional sports have a drug problem. While different leagues have different measures in place to prevent drug use (if tested at all), nearly every sport has had its own scandal involving an iconic athlete using PEDs. The problem with this – is that tried and true natural leagues then fall under the same cynicism. There is a very loud base of bodybuilding fans who think most bodybuilders in natural leagues are cheating the system and using. Is it true? In our latest episode of U-Natty States Of America, natural bodybuilder and host Brandon Lirio dives deep into the reality of PED use in bodybuilding and sports at large. 

Brandon Lirio wants to make something perfectly clear to his audience – no professional athlete is natural. Well, at least in most major professional leagues. Unless a league is specifically situated as a vigorous natural division of the sport – it’s unlikely the pro athletes are PED free.

Yes, many major sports are drug tested – but they aren’t necessarily “natural leagues.” Unfortunately, many drug tests are easy to cheat past. This isn’t for lack of trying by the leagues. It’s very financially challenging to provide an airtight drug testing schedule to any sport. The amount of times throughout the year you would have to test across all athletes in any given league would be… exhausting (financially and physically) to say the least.

This is why Brandon Lirio even admits that there is a small minority of natural bodybuilders in the INBA/PNBA that cheat. Most of them get caught eventually. But the cheating does happen. On the flip side, the IFBB Pro league doesn’t test at all. And as Lirio puts it in his opinion, “You have a zero percent chance to win a pro show if you are natural.”

So if so many athletes are using PEDs, what can be done? And does today’s society of internet keyboard warriors debating “natty or not” status help or hurt the sport? For the purposes of today’s podcast, Brandon Lirio stays focused on bodybuilding specifically with a glimpse at the bigger sports industry in general.

The Problem With “Natty Police” In Bodybuilding

If drug tests can be beaten by athletes, is there really a way to look at someone visually and determine if they are natural or not? This is the question Brandon Lirio poses during the podcast. As noted, the leagues (even in larger sports) may try their best to prevent cheating. But it is never 100% successful.

Many fans, and even other bodybuilders, believe they have enough knowledge and experience to tell if someone is using steroids. They can simply see the physique and know the truth. But Brandon thinks that this has become overzealous behavior in the online era.

Even if there is a high percentage chance your hunch is right by looking at their physique – that doesn’t mean you should necessarily call them out or try to publicly punish them for it. Most fans and even other bodybuilders are not elected officials or officers in hired by the league. These athletes owe nothing to the fans in terms of transparency regarding PED use.

Brandon Lirio also points out that in the United States, we are a country that has proudly lived by the notion – innocent until proven guilty. Looking at someone’s physique without any real evidence is not proof. So why criticize or try to “cancel” a person for potentially lying about their natural status?

Ultimately, Brandon Lirio lays out his opinion loud and clear – if you criticize or demand on line that someone tell the truth about their natural or drug use status… you’re a dick.

Understanding The Reality Of Elite Level Bodybuilders And Athletes

Brandon Lirio also points out another problem with the natty or not debate. We often underestimate just how talented outliers in a sport can be. And by outliers, we mean the most elite iconic athletes in any given sport. It’s easy to assume the best of the best are only there because of PEDs. But it is possible that a certain athlete appears “unreal” because they are in fact a rarity compared to most athletes.

Mike O’Hearn comes to mind. While he may never convince everyone that he has been natural his whole life, there is no denying that, drugs or not, he has a work ethic and talent unlike 99% of most bodybuilders. So it can be possible that his unreal physique is simply a product of living a truly unreal lifestyle compared to even many fellow bodybuilders.

Are Most Natural Bodybuilding League Competitors Secretly Using PEDs?

This brings us to the question – if tests can be beaten, are natural bodybuilding leagues filled with secret steroid users? Brandon Lirio doesn’t think so. While there will always be the occasional cheater, there is one very important reason that Lirio thinks most natural leagues remain clean. It has everything to do with money.

Most bodybuilders who enter a natural league do so because of their personal principles about lifestyle and health. They love bodybuilding but refuse to compete in an untested league where they will feel pressured to use drugs to succeed. But why don’t they feel pressure in natural leagues to try and cheat and rise above the ranks?

Brandon Lirio thinks it just doesn’t make logical sense. The prize money for the biggest shows in natural bodybuilder are simply not worth the health risk. Why sacrifice your long term health by using PEDs for a $15,000 prize purse? The payout doesn’t promise millions, so most athletes in the natural leagues have no incentive to cheat and potentially harm themselves.

Wrap Up

Brandon Lirio isn’t trying to change the way drug testing is done in bodybuilding and other sports. He’s also not trying to criticize untested leagues like the IFBB Pro for allowing PEDs to run rampant. What he wants to make clear – is that the natty or not debate is stupid. Tests can’t prove it. Your eyes can’t prove it. And in a world where even major league sports have problems with testing, why harass the athletes?

The limits athletes are willing to push is a personal choice. Yes, there are laws in many countries that take it beyond just a personal choice. But we all know an athlete will always do whatever it takes to achieve greatness. If someone is natural, that’s okay. If someone uses steroids, that’s okay. If someone uses steroids and lies about it, that’s okay too as long as it’s not in a tested league cheating out other competitors.

You can watch Brandon Lirio’s full comments in our latest episode of the U-Natty States Of America podcast. Make sure to check out new episodes every Wednesday only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

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