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Powertec Fitness Equipment
with Jay Cutler
TheBenchPress.com is an authorized Powertec
Reprinted from IRON MAN Magazine, April 2001
LEVERAGE YOUR MASS
How you can push harder to pack on muscle faster
By Ken Domzalski
The word leverage has numerous meanings in everyday life, such as "influence,"
"power" and "authority." In the strength-training industry it's associated
primarily with weight-training machines.
A Brief History
Although levers have been used in weight training for many years-the T-bar
apparatus is essentially a lever arm built into a basic frame structure-it
wasn't until the early 1980s that the first full line of leverage machines was
developed. It consisted of approximately 10 machines that simulated mainly
compound exercises, such as bench presses, squats and dips. The machines were
developed for the gym market and were popularized in places like Gold's Gyms and
Bally's health clubs. A number of NFL teams were the first to use them.
The initial results were extremely positive. Over the next few years a number of
commercial strength-equipment companies also released lines of leverage
machines, and soon hundreds of gyms were incorporating them into their
facilities. For almost 20 years such machines have only been available in
commercial gyms. Fortunately, they're now becoming readily available for home
Before leverage machines were introduced, there were two traditional methods of
strength training. The most common was barbells and dumbbells, otherwise known
as free weights, and the other was conventional weight-stack machines, which
moved via cables, belts, pulleys and cams. Both types of equipment can
successfully produce gains in strength and muscular development, but they also
have their limitations. Free-weight exercises, while providing a natural,
free-form type of resistance, can also cause an uncontrolled, at times even
sloppy, exercise performance through the full range of motion. While you can
progress and grow using barbells and dumbbells, the lack of control, balance and
stability can be wasteful and even dangerous, especially if you're using heavy
weights without assistance. Another pitfall with free-weight training is the
fact that, if you're working out alone, you can't push the muscle to true
failure, which can only occur on the last few heavy repetitions of a set. In
order for real growth to take place, you need to work to that type of maximum
level on each set. If you don't have a spotter, chances are you won't attempt
the last one or two key repetitions needed for growth. If you do and you fail,
you may become trapped by the barbell, which can be a serious situation, as I'm
sure many of you have discovered.
While the conventional machine solves some of those problems, it also has
shortcomings. The traditional machines used in the circuit-training area of gyms
or in typical multistation home gyms generally incorporate a pin-selected weight
stack as the resistance, which is driven by a cable-and-pulley operation. Some
machines also use a cam or tension arc device. They all tend to limit you
because they follow a predetermined, sometimes restricted range of motion that
can vary in terms of function and resistance. In addition, any type of cable or
belt-driven machine is going to cause some friction and drag that takes away
from the natural feel of pure resistance you experience with free weights, which
can limit your gains.
Creating the Perfect Training Tool
The first step in the development of leverage machines was to pick the most
effective free-weight exercises. A frame-and-bench structure was engineered to
put the user into the correct position, and a lever arm with a fulcrum was built
into the frame. The lever arm had a certain length, and the pivot was set at a
particular height in order to duplicate the precise arc, or range of motion,
that you work through with the barbell. Weight plates were then loaded near the
hand grips to re-create the same natural resistance you experience with a
barbell or dumbbell. There are no cables, pulleys, cams or friction. The result
is quite simple and basic: The lever arm replaces the barbell while ensuring
control and safety. It's the perfect combination of free weight and machine.
Faster Gains With Leverage
Leverage machines have successfully produced accelerated gains in overall
muscular size and strength. They can do that because they provide the same
natural gravity forces as a barbell or dumbbell. That type of raw, pure
resistance is the most effective means of force against the muscle. We know
free-weight training works, but, as discussed above, it has limitations.
Leverage machines, because they safely control the exercise at all times, allow
you to push the muscle to total failure. That's the reason leverage is the
superior form of anaerobic strength training and why thousands of bodybuilders
and pro athletes use these machines every day.
Until recently, you could only find leverage machines at your gym.
Three factors are involved in gaining strength and size with leverage machines.
One is the workout itself, the second is proper nutrition, and the third is
rest. All are equally important. Proper nutrition feeds and energizes your body
to work and grow. The body needs ample rest between workouts for muscle tissue
to recover and rebuild. That leaves the workout. So the question is, How often
and how much should you train? Bodybuilders are bombarded with thousands of
routines, most of which only add to the confusion. The fact is, training for
strength and size is very simple and always has been. You don't need hours in
the gym and multiple sets upon multiple sets to get results. You actually need
very little. Quality, not quantity, is the key. Research has proven that a very
brief, 20-to-30-minute workout with maximum effort and at least 48 to 72 hours
between sessions will produce substantial gains in muscular strength, which
produces growth. It takes only a handful of basic exercise and one set to
failure. That is where leverage machines offer an advantage. It's truly
difficult for most people to push to failure with other methods. Leverage
machines allow you to work to your maximum.
1) Perform two to three sessions per week with a minimum of 48 to 72 hours
2) Choose only one to two exercises per muscle group.
3) Perform only one set per exercise and work each set to failure.
4) Perform six to 10 repetitions per set. When you reach 10, increase the weight
for your next workout, which should take you back to six reps.
5) Use the following eight-second rep count: two-second positive, two-second
hold in the contracted position, four-second negative.
6) Use the following routines, switching from one to the other every so often.
Choose one of the following warmup exercises to begin each session and do 20
repetitions at a faster pace: squats, chest presses or lat pulldowns. Take one
week off from training every two months to allow your muscles the full recovery
necessary for continued growth and progress.
Take at least three days' rest between workouts.
1) Leverage squats (thighs, hamstrings, buttocks)
2) Leverage leg extensions or leg curls (thighs, hamstrings)
3) Leverage calf raises (calves)
4) Leverage chest presses or flyes (pectorals)
5) Leverage dips (triceps, pectorals)
6) Leverage shoulder presses (deltoids)
7) Leverage shrugs (traps, deltoids, back)
8) Leverage lat pulldowns, rows (back)
9) Leverage arm curls (biceps, forearms)
10) Leverage crunches (abdominals)
Take two to three days' rest between workouts.
1) Leverage chest presses
2) Leverage flyes
3) Leverage dips
4) Leverage shoulder presses
1) Leverage squats
2) Leverage leg extensions
3) Leverage leg curls
4) Leverage crunches
1) Leverage shrugs
2) Leverage lat pulldowns
3) Leverage rows
4) Leverage arm curls
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