‘Rag on the Mags’ is a feature in which we will to review the current crop of Muscle and Powerlifting publications as they come out each month (normally before they hit the newsstands).
The basic idea here is that we will present you with the CliffsNotes® of the pertinent info, allowing you to determine if it’s worthwhile for you to run a comb through your hair, head into civilization, and plunk down roughly six-bucks for the issue.
You can be assured that I have no agenda to give the thumbs up or down for a particular issue, I’ll just tell it how it is.
Muscle & Fitness: July 2010
The July issue of Muscle & Fitness rides the popular rise of mixed martial arts by having UFC badass Todd Duffee on the cover, doing his best Ivan Drago pose. Mike Carlson follows up (pg 126) on a profile of Duffee, who is known for scoring the fastest knockout in UFC history. Most of this feature is about the state of UFC and his place in it but a sidebar discusses his training, which includes a lot of agility and explosiveness training balanced by strength work such as snatches, heavy deadlifts, chins, lunges, rows, curls and pushing the prowler (often super-setting movements to increase work density). We get an overview of his nutrition plan with Jim Stoppani (da man!) pointing out the scientific rationale that Duffee may not have even been aware.
UFC badass Todd Duffee
Rob Fitzgerald explores the strength training program of high school champion football team Bergen Catholic (pg 64). I have an interest in athletic prep but I doubt this well-written article has much relevance to the average M&F reader.
“Real Men Do Circuits” by staff writer Joe Wuebben and Hollywood trainer Gunnar Peterson (pg 74) gives some interesting ideas for circuit training, something I am a big fan of for general conditioning and fat loss. The Cable Squat/Reach/Raise looks like a great exercise, bringing into play a lot of different muscles and possibly increasing hip mobility but I intend to tweak it a bit from what I see in the photos, since it looks like quite the testicle-splitter the way Gunnar sets things up with his unlucky demonstrator. It is similar in movement to a kettlebell swing. Their overall program involves using ten pretty-functionally-based exercises for about a dozen reps in no-rest circuit fashion. Three to four circuits and you’re cooked.
Wuebben follows up with “Abs by Force,” (pg 87) with the program design by Rob Fitzgerald. Wuebben bases his article on the sentiment (that I can strongly get behind) that abs need to be trained with resistance. Key features in this program are: build basic muscle with heavy compound movements to boost the metabolism, use and eclectic rep range and short rest periods. The full body cardio in the morning, weights in the evening routine is well-designed but the six-days a week training may have many on the verge of over training, even with the low daily volume, especially since the cardio is of the weight circuit variety.
Abs like these are built by training with resistance
“Countdown to Abs” (pg 104) is written by Sara Polston, RD and is a nice, short nutrition article. She give some of the typical recommendations (drink more water, cut calories, consume lots of protein, include healthy fats, cycle carbs — it would hardly be a useful diet without these old standards) but is not afraid to give specific strategies and numbers for intake.
Supplement guy David Barr gives us his pick of the best ab-whittling supplements in “Gut Punch” (pg 112). He focuses this article on products that have been shown by research to specifically target abdominal fat (including green tea, vitamin C, licorice extract, calcium, omega-3 fats and CLA). I have to commend M&F for supplement articles that do not bias readers towards any specific product line.
“Cover Model Abs” compiled by Mark Thorpe (pg 144) shares a variety of ab training secrets from popular M&F cover models, including Jim Romagna, Remy Feniello, David Kimmerle, TJ Humphreys, Brian Wiefering and Jeff Dwelle. Romagna believes in building abs through the stabilization of the torso in heavy core movements like heavy squats and deads. He believes that doing exercises standing, when possible, also contributes. In contrast, Feniello goes light for higher reps and emphasizes “feel” of a movement. Kimmerle goes simple with five basic exercises rotated and done one each day. Humphreys goes high volume with abs with short rest periods, training five days a week. Wiefering (who I’ve hung with a bit in the gym down in the Cincinnati area) finds the jumping in recreational basketball is great for abs but also does crazy high (2,500 rep crunch sessions from time to time).
Lastly, Dwelle (whom we plan to interview in the future does a simple leg raise/crunch over stability ball superset, advising readers to avoid oblique work as it only hurts waist taper.
In “Backup Plan” (pg 156) Rob Fitzgerald talks about developing the posterior chain, one of the most neglected areas for the average gym attendee. He includes quotes from a variety of trainers and they include a 4-day a week training program (with man-sized exercises like rack pulls, good mornings, box squats and glute-ham raises) that makes me think Fitzgerald comes from a football or PL background. I approve!
Matthew Sloan writes “Caffeine: A Love Story” and, as a java addict that often spends six-hour stints chugging murky liquid adrenaline at coffee shops while writing, I was glad to read about some of the positive benefits. He liberally uses quotes from respected researcher Jose Antonio (also a noted caffeine junkie). The results? Caffeine increases strength, endurance, fat burning, and alertness, alleviates symptoms of asthma (airway restriction) and boosts post-workout glucose replenishment. On the downside, they also tell us that caffeine will not, in fact, help us sober up.
Caffeine has many positive benefits
Jim Stoppani presents us with “Epic Fail” (pg 182), a scientific view of the benefits and guidelines on how to best apply various set-extension techniques such as drop-sets, extended sets, forced sets, negative reps, partial reps and rest-pause. The affect each of these techniques have on the hormones pertinent to weight trainers (GH, testosterone, IGF-1) were particularly interesting. Stoppani is not afraid to give specific recommendation on use of these techniques, making this a must-read.
Well, there you go. After being a bit critical of most of the previous magazines covered, I can’t say anything bad about this issue of Muscle & Fitness. M&F does a perfect job of straddling the mass market fitness and competitive bodybuilding worlds. While it may not be “hardcore” enough for some musclehead zealots, the solid info would serve them well. The inclusion of some moderately-muscled and marketable bodybuilders may also act as a “gateway influence” to introduce newer lifters to serious bodybuilding and powerlifting. This issue is worth picking up.
Written by Steve Colescott
Discuss, comment or ask a question
If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums - Rag on the Mags #4 – Muscle & Fitness: July 2010 discussion thread.
About Steve Colescott
Known as the Guerrilla Journalist, Steve Colescott has written over a hundred published articles for many major bodybuilding publications, including Peak Training Journal, the innovative and well-respected magazine in which he served as Publishing Editor.
He is currently a staff writer for WannaBeBig.com and has been a consultant to a number of top sports nutrition companies.
With his company, Colescott Metabolic Solutions, he has transformed the physiques of scores of average businesspeople, weekend athletes and housewives beyond their wildest expectations. Steve lives in Akron, Ohio and trains at the ultra-hardcore Body Builders Gym, an Ohio musclehead landmark.