How to Build a Thick Cobra Back

Building massive lats and traps is one of the surest ways to give yourself a powerful and intimidating looking physique. Huge lats are what will help you to get that classic ‘V-taper’ as your body gets wider at the top. Meanwhile, bulging traps will make your torso look thick and powerful.


They don’t just look mean either: building a huge back is a crucial way to increase your pulling power so you can perform better on the pull up bar or the rowing machine. This translates to real-world athletic performance too whether you’re rowing, swimming or rock climbing.


Read on to find how you can get a thick, cobra-like back.


Exercises for a Cobra Back


Your lats are the muscles found underneath your armpits on either side of your back and they’re used in pulling motions. As such, you can target them largely with:

  • Pull ups – overhand grip, as opposed to underhand chin ups
  • Weighted pull ups and variations such as ‘around the worlds’
  • Bent over rows – where you kneel on a bench and row a single dumbbell directly upwards
  • Upward rows – hold a barbell in front of you with arms straight then raise it up under your chin
  • Lat pull down – the resistance machine that mimics a pull up
  • Machine rows – like the lat pull down, but you pull the weight in towards your chest rather than down
  • Cable rows – like machine rows, but using the cable crossover machine



The traps are the muscles situated above the lats. These are what give your back that ’rounded look’ near the top and make you look like a teenage-mutant ninja turtle. They also bulge up on either side of the neck giving you a powerful Hulk-like look.


The best exercises for targeting traps are:

  • Shrugs – simply hold two dumbbells with arms extended and then shrug your shoulders up and down
  • Barbell shrugs – same thing, but with a barbell held in-front of you with straight arms
  • Bench press – the bench press doesn’t primarily target the traps, but they get a good workout during it as do many other muscle groups
  • Bent over lateral raises – bend slightly forward while holding dumbbells in either arm, then raise your arms up to shoulder height. This targets the lateral deltoids as well.


Erector Spinae

While the traps and lats are the stars of the show when it comes to the back, you also need to strengthen the lower portion of the spine if you’re going to be lifting lots of heavy weights. To this end, you need to target the erector spinae which are muscles used to keep your back strong and straight. The best way to train this? With the deadlift of course – which is also a handy way to hit the traps and the lats to an extent.

Anything that hits the ‘posterior chain’ is good for your erector spinae though and another great move is the kettlebell swing. This also happens to be highly effective for a range of other moves.



So those are the exercises you have to use, the question is how you go about combining them? The lats work well when inserted into a split and given their own day. They can also be paired well with biceps or with abs (there are so many hanging ab exercises that you can easily combine an ab and lat workout). Make sure to do lots of pull ups and weighted pull ups as these remain pretty much the best way to hit the lats.


Traps and your posterior chain meanwhile can be added into the rest of your workout. If you’re not already doing deadlifts then you seriously need to start doing them. If you can’t do deadlifts due to a lack of space/equipment, then get yourself a heavy kettlebell and start doing swings.


If you’re new to training your traps, try throwing shrugs into your workouts 2/3 times a week and you’ll find they respond and grow very quickly.


Follow these tips and it won’t be long before your back looks gigantic.


How to Build a Chiseled Chest

A big chest is one of the most awesome features to develop as a bodybuilder. While big arms and toned abs might impress the ladies, a huge chest makes you look powerful like a Superhero and helps you to move huge amounts of weight on the bench press.


But there is an art to building a great chest and many people find it’s a stubborn area to train and to get to respond. So how do you build a massive chest? Read on and let’s find out.



When reading about training the chest – or the pecs – you will often hear about exercises that target the upper chest, the lower chest, the inner chest and the outer chest. What’s the deal here?


Actually, it’s only technically possible to train the upper and lower chest directly according to most people. That’s because the pec is split into two ‘muscle heads’ which are the clavicular head and the sternal head AKA the upper and lower. Exercises like the incline bench press target the clavicular head more, while the decline bench targets the sternal head, though both also target both.


While this is generally accepted, some people will tell you that you can’t use exercises to completely isolate one of the pectoral muscle heads. Others meanwhile will tell you that you can and must, and that you can also target the outer and inner portions of the chest through exercises like pec flyes and close-grip dumbbell press.


For the purpose of this article we are going to recommend hitting the pecs from every angle to get that chiseled Superman look. It certainly can’t hurt right? And at the same time, it will also increase your chances of getting those super cool cuts and striations across the chest, and of making your clavicular head bulge just below your collar bone.



Your diet also plays a big role in the appearance of your chest. A lot of guys appear to have large lower pecs compared to upper pecs but often this is just a collection of fat on the lower portion. If you want a chiseled chest then you need to eat clean while the protein will see to the size!

Without further ado then, here are the exercises you need:


Best Pec Exercises


  • Bench press
  • Chest press – essentially bench press but on a machine and pressing outwards
  • Dumbbell press – a bench press with dumbbells that is great for building more symmetry across your pecs
  • Press ups – old favorites and there are countless variations you can do too
  • Dips – for a slightly harder alternative to the press up that also works the shoulders and triceps


Upper Chest

  • Incline bench press – as with all upper chest moves, this will also work the shoulders
  • Decline press ups
  • Pullovers


Lower Chest

  • Decline bench press
  • Muscle ups – where you do a pull up then lift yourself onto the bar and push your body straight upwards


Outer Chest

  • Pec flyes – also cable flyes, and dumbbell flyes
  • Wide grip bench press


Inner Chest

  • Narrow grip bench press


Combine these exercises into your chest day, train with intensity and restrict calories and you’ll build a ma


Ways to Stop Testosterone from Converting into Estrogen

If you want to build as much hard muscle as possible, or you just want to improve your masculine health and perhaps become the ‘alpha’ of your group, then you need more testosterone. We’ve gone over a number of different ways to increase T levels naturally with supplements and with lifestyle and health changes, so you should know how to start getting your levels above average (important seeing as the ‘average’ these days is abysmally low).


But if you think just increasing the amount of testosterone in your body is going to be enough then you are sadly mistaken. In fact, it’s not increasing testosterone that is the most important of all as much as keeping it. If your testosterone is being converted into estrogen in your body then no amount of vitamin D is going to fix things. And seeing as estrogen is the female hormone and has all the opposite effects to testosterone, this really isn’t something we want to happen. So how do you make sure that your testosterone stays as testosterone?


Signs and Symptoms

If you are converting too much testosterone into estrogen then you may exhibit a number of symptoms which can include a build-up of fats around your mid-section particularly, a loss of muscle, a reduction in energy and generally poor mood. It has even been linked with depression.


How Conversion Happens

All of us will convert a little of our testosterone into estrogen and this is entirely normal and healthy. The problem though, is when we start converting a large amounts of testosterone into estrogen leaving none left to have the positive effects. If you’re over the age of 40 then there’s a good chance that’s what’s happening.


Normally our body’s convert about 10% of our testosterone into estrogen while women have the opposite balance. It is an enzyme called ‘aromatase’ that is normally responsible for this conversion and that’s all good and well. But when you end up with too much aromatase this then means that your body gets a little carried away and you end up greatly reducing your testosterone production.


How do you get that extra aromatase? Well there are a few ways. For starters, if you eat a lot of carbohydrates containing sugars and flours then this will increase your aromatase. Diets that are high in carbohydrates then can contribute to low T.


Meanwhile a zinc deficiency can also lead to an increase in aromatase. Zinc is a mineral which your body uses, among other things, to get rid of that enzyme and thus if you don’t have enough of it your aromatase levels can go through the roof.


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Preventing the Change

So to keep your testosterone levels high and prevent it from being converted into estrogen, you need to make sure that you avoid eating lots of carbohydrates, flours and sugars and that you conversely increase your intake of zinc.


You can also use a variety of supplements that are designed to help boost natural testosterone production while decreasing aromatase and estrogen. This is perhaps the surest way to increase your musculature and your masculine feelings of drive and confidence.


Testosterone and Depression – The Link between Depression and Low Testosterone

Increasing testosterone is something that interests many men, as it can help them to increase their physical size and strength as well as helping them to lose body fat and to enjoy better sex and more energy.


Thus testosterone is something that many athletes will focus on in a bid to increase their performance. But while testosterone is a very important hormone for bodybuilders and strength athletes, it’s importance goes well beyond that and can affect men all around the world. For instance, testosterone is very important for your mental health and if you don’t get enough of it then it can very possibly lead to depression.


Testosterone and Mood

Testosterone has the effect in men of improving mood and making you feel not only more positive, but also more driven, more determined and more aggressive. It is testosterone that helps to give us ‘get up and go’ and that makes us attack problems. That’s because it has an important role in helping to establish ‘alpha males’ and all these traits help to make people act ‘more alpha’.


A lack of testosterone on the other hand can lead to fatigue, irritability and decreased sex drive – all symptoms which you may notice are eerily similar to depression. As a result, the link between depression and low testosterone has not always been fully understood. Recent studies however have found that those men with low testosterone are four times more likely to develop depression over a long period.


For these reasons then, increasing testosterone is something that may help many men to recover from depression. Thus hormone replacement therapy is a treatment that has been used for many years and is becoming increasingly popular.


Could Low Testosterone Be Causing Your Depression?

What’s important to remember at this point is that the majority of the male population actually have clinically low levels of testosterone. Our lifestyles unfortunately simply do not support high levels of T as we don’t get enough sunlight, enough exercise or enough of the right foods. Add in all the female hormones in the water and the xenoestrogens and you have a serious problem.


Making matters worse, is that depression can lower testosterone creating a vicious cycle spiraling deeper and deeper into depression.


So if you feel listless, if you lack energy, or if you find yourself with no ambition to do anything – it might be that you are suffering from low T. This is especially likely if you’re also struggling to pack on muscle or to make yourself heard.


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The Solution

So what’s the solution? Getting your doctor to give you hormone replacement therapy might be one idea, but chances are that they’ll be reluctant to do so and will want you to talk about your feelings instead. More to the point HRT can actually end up mitigating your body’s natural ability to produce the hormone as it becomes too used to having it handed to it on a plate.


Instead then, you should look for alternative ways to increase your testosterone. You can do this through a range of supplements as well as through exercise and lifestyle changes.


Plastic and Testosterone – How Plastic is Bad for your Testosterone Levels?

Higher testosterone is something that every guy wants, and especially every guy who is at all interested in packing on lean, powerful muscle.


Testosterone is the ‘male hormone’ and is responsible for feelings of drive, aggression and determination that make someone into an ‘alpha male’. At the same time, testosterone is also able to increase ‘anabolism’ which is the fancy word for our body’s inclination to burn fat and build muscle. Put simply, if you increase testosterone then you will start building extra muscle that looks lean, hard and vascular.


Put it this way: the way that most steroids work is to mimic the effects of testosterone. So by increasing your testosterone naturally you can gain the same performance as someone using steroids without having to actually use the drugs.


So that means taking supplements, exercising, eating right… and avoid plastic…


What’s that? You don’t see how avoiding plastic could possibly help you to raise your testosterone? I was surprised at first too, but actually it makes perfect sense when you see how it works…


Introducing: Xenoestrogens

The problem is with something called ‘xenoestrogens’. Xenoestrogens are something that endocrinologists have been warning us about lately because they are ‘endocrine disrupters’. In other words, they are chemicals that negatively impact our natural ability to produce various hormones – including testosterone.


Xenoestrogen is one such endocrine disrupter which works by mimicking testosterone. Your body sees it and basically thinks it’s testosterone, thus causing your T levels to drop because your body thinks you ‘have enough’ free testosterone in your blood.


The worst part? Xenoestrogens are constantly being added to all kinds of things. This is in fact one of the reasons that so many men today suffer from low testosterone and have to get hormone replacement therapy and it’s also one of the reasons that more and more boys are being born with ‘hypospadias’ – a condition in which their urethra is on the underside of their penis rather than at the tip.


Xenoestrogens are added to everything from toothpastes to hair shampoos, but they are particularly rife in plastic. If you use plastic containers to store your foods, then you are probably exposing yourself to unnecessarily high levels of these disruptors.


How to Avoid Xenoestrogens

So how do you avoid these xenoestrogens? There are a few ways that we will take a look at:

  • Avoid plastic containers – Especially when heating up foods. If you put food in a plastic box and then microwave it then you may as well be inhaling estrogen.
  • Eat organic – A number of pesticides and hormones used in non-organic foods can negatively impact T levels in the body. It’s a bit more expensive, but worth it if you care about your T.
  • Avoid synthetic products – Too many shampoos and other cosmetic products contain xenoestrogens. Avoid them by using natural alternatives. Even your toothpaste!
  • Avoid gasoline – You may love the smell of gasoline but it actually contains xenoestrogens so try to limit your exposure!
  • Fight back! – Finally, fight back! Use testosterone boosting supplements and get your T levels back to normal and beyond!


Awesome Workout That Mario Lopez Uses to Get His Rock Hard Abs


You may remember Mario Lopez from his role as A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell. The actor was known back them for his awesome abs and today he’s still sporting an incredibly impressive mid-section. And it’s this incredible stomach that has helped him to continue a very successful career that’s seem him host Entertainment News and write his own health and fitness book. Of course with a history like that he was always going to get the nickname ‘Super Mario’.


So how do you become ‘Super You’? Let’s take a look at Mario’s circuit training abs workout.


Why Circuits?

First of all though, why use a circuit training program for abs? Actually the two work perfectly together and are a match made in heaven. By using a circuit approach to your abs training you can keep up the intensity with no need to rest between sets. This is essentially like a huge superset and it means you can just keep on going and going without pausing in between. As a result, you’ll be burning loads of calories and we all know that visible abs are as much about stripping away the fat as they are about bringing out the muscle. A circuit approach also means that you can train the slow twitch muscles as all the different repetitions essentially end up fading into one big workout. This is great because the abs are so well suited to this kind of endurance training being made of lots of slow-twitch endurance fibers instead of explosive, fast twitch muscle fiber. The abs have to work all day to keep you upright and that’s why they are ideal for high volume training.


The Workout

4 exercises of 3 rounds

  • Hanging Leg Raises to Failure
  • Decline Weighted Crunch – 15-20 Reps
  • Double Crunch to Failure
  • Cable Wood Chops – 15-20 Reps


Hanging Leg Raises

The hanging leg raises involve hanging from a bar and lifting your legs directly upwards then lowering them back down again. This is a bodyweight exercises that requires you to control tension in your entire body. Keep going to failure – for some people this might just be a few repetitions but you’ll be able to do more in time.


Decline Weighted Crunch

The decline weighted crunch involves sitting on a decline weight bench and crunching your body up and down. At the same time you hold a barbell or a weight plate which provides lots of resistance to make the move much more difficult – use whatever weight you need to make 15-20 failure. It requires a lot of coordination and while the last exercise was great for lower abs, this one is perfect for upper abs.


Double Crunch to Failure

Now you are going to lie flat on the ground and raise your legs and upper body at the same time into a slight ‘V’ shape. This will train your upper and lower abs at the same time.


Cable Wood Chops

Finally, you’re going to end with cable wood chops which involve pulling a cable against a weight load in order to make a motion as though chopping wood. This is torque then along with a slight crunch, which is ideal for working your abs and your obliques which are found down either side of the rectus abdominis.


Magnesium and Testosterone – Why Magnesium is Important to Boost Testosterone?

If you want to boost testosterone, then one of the most effective ways to do so is by increasing magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that can be found in our diet and which is crucial for a range of different functions – including our use of testosterone.


Specifically magnesium can be found in our diet and is contained in spinach and other green leafy vegetables. Likewise, it can be found in a range of supplements and bodybuilding products where it will often be listed as ‘ZMA’. ZMA also contains Zinc, which is another mineral that has been implicated in the production of testosterone and which is thus very synergistic when combined with magnesium.


How Magnesium Works

Magnesium is useful in our production of testosterone for two reasons. For one, it is a mineral that the glands in our body need in order to begin the production of testosterone. Secondly, it also helps us to get to sleep and seeing as we produce the maximum amount of testosterone when we’re asleep, this also has a big positive impact. Bear in mind that sleeping also helps to increase our production of growth hormone, so in short, this is great for your strength and muscle mass all round.


Oh and another positive regarding magnesium for bodybuilders is that it combines with calcium in order to strengthen your bones, ligaments and tendons. Strong bones and connective tissues increase your strength during big lifts and they also prevent your chances of injury.


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How Testosterone is Produced

It is our brain that begins telling our body to produce testosterone. A part called the hypothalamus sees that we need more testosterone and it thus secretes a hormone known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone. This then heads to the pituitary gland at the back of our brain which in turn produces luteinzing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. These then head to the testes where they stimulate leydic cells to create extra testosterone. They do this by actually converting cholesterol – from fat in your diet as well as your own body – into testosterone.


Magnesium is used during this process and is a compound that is in many of these hormones. Without it, your brain can’t tell your testes to create more testosterone which makes it a crucial piece of the puzzle.


Bear in mind as well that we lose magnesium through our sweat, so if you’re doing lots of heavy workouts then it doesn’t hurt to consume a little extra magnesium. Studies show that those with low testosterone levels (most people have a testosterone deficiency) can help to increase them back to normal levels.



So what happens if you add ZMA or magnesium to your supplementation? Well for starters, you may well find that you enjoy deeper and heavier sleep that ensures you wake up with more energy. As a result you’ll perform better in the gym. All the while though, you’ll also steadily increase in testosterone which will mean you lose fat faster, build more muscle and have more energy all throughout the day.


Kris Gethin’s Shoulder Workout For Stubborn Deltoids

Kris Grethin is a competitive bodybuilder who’s well known for his incredible whole body transformation as well as his intensive training strategies. Kris has incredible shoulders like cannonballs, but he describes them as being one of his ‘weaker’ body parts. If that’s Kris’ weak area then it’s no surprise that his strong areas are so incredible…


So the question is, how did Kris Grethin quite literally turn this weakness into a strength? And can you use one of his own shoulder workouts to achieve the same kind of insane shoulder power? The shoulders are all too often an area that gets neglected by many younger bodybuilders but they can make all the difference in your physique. If your shoulders are lagging behind as well, then consider trying this routine to see if it can work for you too.


Exercise One
Shoulder Press

Kris’ shoulder routine begins with a seated military press. He trains using two warm up sets and then three working sets. He challenges himself by using behind the neck presses and will work on a smith machine. This allows him to really target the shoulders and to really ramp up the weight.

Next are one warm up set and three working sets of one armed presses. These are not lateral raises, but one armed shoulder presses on a resistance machine. The chair is slightly inclined which puts even more focus on the shoulders and engages the upper pecs as well.


Exercise Two
Side Raises

Now come the side raises which he trains by standing on the spot and lifting two dumbbells up straight out by the side into a crucifix position. Kris recommends using not just side lateral raises, but also altering the position in order to target all three muscle heads (the front, side and rear deltoids).You can do this mid-way through each set. He recommends touching the dumbbells behind the back and uses drop sets in order to really create those microtears.


Exercise Three
Dumbbell Shrugs

Next up come the dumbbell shrugs. Simply hold heavy weights in either hand and then shrug them directly upwards. These work the traps which contribute to powerful looking shoulders and he recommends using fast, explosive movements on the way up and then more controlled and slower movements on the way down. Three sets.


Exercise Four
Rear Raises

Rear raises are essentially pec flies in reverse: you stand holding cables on the cable cross over machine and then pull them away from each other and out behind your back. This targets the rear deltoids, which along with the variations on the side raises ensure those often neglected muscles get really hit. He uses ‘FST7′ training for this, which means seven sets performed with only 30 seconds in between. 15 reps for each set.


This also works as a fantastic ‘flush set’ right at the end of the workout, perfectly flooding the deltoids into the shoulders and destroying any remaining muscle fibers that you might have missed during the rest of the workout.


Kris Gethin’s DTP Upper Abs and Legs Workout

Kris Gethin is a pro bodybuilder and one of bodybuilding.com’s biggest stars. Fans have seen him transform his body from a typically flabby and overweight guy, to a competitive physique that turns heads.


What is DTP?

Perhaps what he’s best known for though is his DTP training approach. DTP stands for ‘Dramatic Training Principle’ and involves using a superset of just two exercises (sometimes with one extra one at the end) targeting two opposing muscle groups. What makes DTP unique though is the use of huge pyramid sets starting with 50 or 40 repetitions and then dropping by ten while increasing the weight until you’re failing at ten repetitions. Then you work your way back up to the top until you get back to 50 reps.


This type of training is a great way to bring about fast and dramatic changes because it involves doing so many repetitions and really focusing on one muscle. Because you’re super-setting (alternating between two exercises) there is no rest period and your heartrate is kept constantly elevated resulting in huge numbers of calories getting burned. Kris doesn’t recommend this as a regular training routine for beginners, but rather an occasional tool for pros. Give it a go and you’ll get it…



Kris likes to start all of his leg workouts with 10 minutes of foam rolling. This allows him to remove any myofascial adhesions which are areas where the layers of his fascia have become scarred and stuck together. It also helps to get rid of knots which helps to improve the range of movement and prevent injury while also making growth easier.


Finally, he will use a number of stretches in order to help encourage more muscle growth, control and strength.


The Workout

Leg Press
Calf Press

Leg Presses: 50,40,30,20,10,10,20,30,40,50
Calf Presses: 40,30,20,10,10,10,10,20,30,40


The leg press involves lying back and pushing a pad away to shift huge amounts of weight. It targets the quads, the hamstrings, the glutes and also the whole core and is highly similar to a squat. This is one of the best compound movements there is and because it trains such huge muscles in unison it triggers a massive growth hormone response that will flood the muscles with anabolic hormones.


Next is the calf press. This is a great choice because you can perform it on the very same machine and it’s an ideal way to hit those calves with a truly massive workload. Too many people forget the calves, so this is a great way to avoid making that same mistake.


Decline Sit Ups


Finally you will end with five sets of 20 decline sit ups. Set a bench to the decline position so you can lean backwards ‘further than flat’. This will increase your range of motion and extend the lever arm of your body increasing the amount of force working on your upper abdominal muscles. This is a great way to really bring out your upper abs which many people find very stubborn. By this point though you won’t be able to manage much more than five sets!


Kris Gethin’s DTP Biceps and Triceps Workout

Kris Gethin is a professional bodybuilder who knows how to bring about amazing transformations. He utilizes some of the most intensive training routines you’ve probably seen in order to bring about dynamic transformations and to build massive strength as quickly as possible.


Perhaps though he is best known for his DTP workouts. DTP stands for ‘dramatic transformation principle’, and it’s an approach to training that is elegantly simply but devastatingly effective. Let’s see what it can do for the triceps and biceps…


The Dramatic Transformation Principle

The dramatic transformation principle involves doing supersets of two simple workouts that will target complementary muscle groups. For instance, this might mean training the pecs and lats or the quads and hamstrings. In our case it involves the biceps and triceps.


Once the two exercises are selected, you will then superset between them with no rest. You’re going to do ten sets of each and you’re going to use a pyramid set of 50,40,30,20,10,10,20,30,40,50 repetitions. This type of training is wonderful because of its simplicity. Using just two simple exercises means you don’t get stuck thinking about what exercise to use next and it means you can be in and out of the gym with minimal time and minimal confusion – there’s no excuse them not to put in 100% effort. At the same time though, this structure of sets and reps makes the routine incredibly taxing. The high number of reps right at the start are perfect for warming up your muscles and flooding them with muscle and this then gets followed with heavier weights and fewer reps to target the fast twitch muscle fibers. Finally, you will then be ‘flushing’ your muscles at the end with high reps and low weights.

EZ Bar Curls
Head Smackers

The two exercises that Kris chose for his biceps and triceps day were EZ bar curls and head smackers. Right away this is a smart choice as both exercises use the same single piece of equipment keeping everything easy. The EZ bar is the bar that has the slight ‘Z’ shaped indent in it. This changes the angle of your wrists when you hold it putting your hands in a position closer to a neutral grip and taking some of the strain off of your wrists.


Head smackers are a little like the regular skull crusher but with a slight difference. Normally a skull crusher involves lying flat on a bench with arms extended in full ‘bench press’ position. You then lower the bar towards your head pivoting at your elbows. With head smackers however, your arms start off in bent position and you then push the bar away from the top of your head and pull it back in towards you again.


This keeps you under constant tension (great for hypertrophy) and it alters the angle of the tricep getting targeted. It also hits the top of the bicep which is great following the curls. Kris likes to mix things up too by switching the head smackers for regular skull crushers some of the time.