Arnold’s arm training can be broken down and discussed in terms of macro principles (sets, reps, and any other non-exercise-specific practices) and micro principles (specific exercise technique).
If you haven’t already, check out our piece on Arnold’s arm training philosophy.
As you can imagine, the Oak was extremely particular about how he performed each exercise in his routine. Strict form was a high priority. Hence, the following principles that applied to his biceps and triceps exercises.
That flash in the sky, what could it be? A comet? A meteor? No, it’s the meteoric rise of the career of pro physique champion Rachel Daniels!
Some excellent muscle contest competitors need to pay a lot of dues, taking many years to earn their pro cards. Not so for Rachel. I went online looking for information on her while doing research for this article. I was surprised to find so little. And then, when I interviewed Rachel, I realized why—she only began competing in 2018 and, remarkably, quickly qualified for an IFBB pro card.
The amazing Rachel is an IFBB Pro Women’s Physique competitor, personal trainer, and nutrition & posing coach. Rachel, who’s sponsored by the Tampa-based Titan Medical Center, began her body building career in 2018, moving from the European PCA League’s Bikini division to the NPC League’s Women’s Physique and Bodybuilding divisions in 2019, holding titles in each league and category.
Rachel earned her IFBB Pro Card at the NPC National Jr. USA show in Charleston, SC in August 2020. A week later, she made her IFBB Pro debut at the IFBB Pro League’s New York Pro show, held in her home town of Tampa. Rachel won 1st overall in the Women’s Physique Division at the NY Pro, securing her December 2020 Olympia qualification.
Rachel’s a former gymnast who moved on to dancing, boxing, and theater after major spinal reconstructive surgery when she was only 14. “I had spinal fusion, with 2 rods, 24 screws and 6 titanium hooks inserted in my spine and that made gymnastics impossible. But I love being on stage, so I moved on to theater and dance and continued developing my athletic discipline by taking up boxing.”
When she started training in 2018, a lifetime of sport, plus excellent genetics, had given her a pretty good physique. But, as she describes herself, “I was really tiny.” She started weight training and immediately sought out “big guys” to train with every day in the gym, always determined to challenge herself. And this determination paid off. She started competing in bikini at 105 pounds. A year or two later, when she skipped figure and transitioned to physique, she gained 30 pounds of lean muscle.
Rachel has created an alternate persona she calls “The Real Lois Lane,” based on her motto, “I Am the Woman Who Can.”
“In some version of the Superman stories, Lois is not just a reporter but develops some amazing abilities of her own. In one version she is helpless and dependent. In the other, strong and independent. I think of this as a metaphor for my own life from who I was compared to the woman I am now. Now, I am the Woman who can.”
Rachel admits that she suffered from major insecurities during her youth and was always in trouble as a child. “I was very lost and angry as a kid and got written off a lot as a bad seed. I think, if you pay attention, you’ll realize that a lot of kids like me that have extreme pain can channel that into something incredible if they are only given direction.”
Becoming a bodybuilder (which to her includes all categories) did a lot to increase her confidence and sense of independence. In fact, becoming a strong woman by developing a strong body, and therefore a strong mind, is a kind of therapy she recommends to many other women. “One day, at my darkest moment, when my ego was truly down, I realized I was the only one who was going to save myself, I stopped blaming the world for my problems and I was forced to earn everything mentally and physically through bodybuilding,” Rachel says.
“When I first started,” she recalls, “I was somewhat ambivalent about building a large amount of muscle, because I simply didn’t associate muscle with the female body. Plus, I saw some women bodybuilders online whose bodies I didn’t really like. But then I saw others like Lenda Murray, and I realized how marvelous the aesthetically muscular female body can be and at that point I really fell in love with muscle”
“Bodybuilding training has given me a discipline I would never have imagined,” Rachel says. “In fact, it has come to regulate and dominate my life. When I’m in training, nothing else matters very much. It guides and focuses all my actions. This has cost me friendships. Many don’t realize why I’m not available to socialize. Why I can’t go out for pizza and a beer. But I’m sure one of the reasons I have come so far so quickly is my ability to totally devote myself and to concentrate on my training and diet. I believe you can practice self-care without being selfish. People say I need more balance, but I don’t think the most successful people in this world are in fact especially balanced. ”
In her mind, the “Lois Lane Mentality” involves tremendous focus and discipline. This kind of extreme strictness may not be something she can maintain for years and years, but she’s young, her career is just getting started and she realizes she is creating the foundation of a career that could last decades.
“Having this kind of discipline often results in my being alone and I think a lot of serious athletes or powerful women can relate to that,” Rachel adds, “but I’m never lonely. My dedication to bodybuilding fills up my life. There is no grey area with me when I commit to something or someone. I understand ambition is lonely and I prefer it that way”
One area Rachel has never lacked in is stage presentation. With her background in gymnastics and dance, she enjoys being the center of attention and posing in the most passionate and dramatic way possible, combining her theater and dance background with golden era bodybuilding poses. “There are a lot of great physiques out there. But when the competition is close, how you pose and what you make the audience and judges feel without words will make the difference. This is how they will remember you and this is how you distinguish athletes from legends.”
Rachel says she thinks like a winner, but trains like a loser. That is, she has great confidence in her ability but, in the gym, she takes nothing for granted. She never assumes she had done enough and can slack off. “Nobody is perfect,” she says. “My goal is to be the best I can be, and I won’t know what that is until I get there. I believe my potential is unlimited, that someone is always better, and someone is always worse than me, and I train accordingly”
Rachel utilizes her athletic and social media influence by speaking strongly on topics such as androgyny in regards to women in the fitness industry, and the importance of interdependence between male and female athletes, using her powerful posing routines and overall stage presence to support her “Iron Sisters” and redefine women’s roles in bodybuilding as we know it.
Flex Lewis, the 7-time 212 Olympia champion who was preparing to make the jump to the Open division at this year’s Mr. Olympia, announced that he would be pulling out of the contest due to an undisclosed injury.
“This decision wasn’t easy,” Flex told his Instagram followers. “It was actually made easier for me by my wife, my coach, and my doctors involved.” Flex didn’t disclose the exact nature of his injury, saying he would go into further detail in a later video.
He only said that if he continued training he would risk his long-term health and career. “It would have an impact on my life down the road,” he said in the video, which you can watch by clicking here.
Flex won his seventh 212 title in 2018 and announced his retirement from the division, saying he was ready for a new challenge by taking on the Open class. Earlier this year, he received a special invitation to appear on the Olympia stage against the likes of 2008 Mr. O Dexter Jackson, reigning champion Brandon Curry, and the returning Phil Heath.
“I truly believe I was a frontrunner going in,” he said.
Everyone at Muscle & Fitness wishes Flex a speedy recovery.
No matter how cliche it might seem, the age-old saying that muscles are made in the kitchen remains true and that’s the case no matter what your goal is: your success is dependent on what you put on your plate and into your mouth.
An athlete’s diet is more than just calories in and calories out—it’s fuel. The right foods increase your energy, promote muscle growth, and aid in muscle repair. While something may be low in calories, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. You need to focus on nutrient-dense foods—that is, options that are chockfull of vitamins and minerals that’ll keep your body in tip-top shape.
The wrong foods set you back. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t indulge every now and then — we’ve preached the benefits of cheat days for years and still fully believe in them. If you’re looking to come into a competition—whether that be a pickup basketball match of a men’s physique contest—however, you should pay close attention to the nutrition labels of everything you’re putting into your body.
When it comes to chowing down, there are certain eats a serious athlete just won’t touch. Unfortunately for those athletes, it’s much easier to find the wrong foods in grocery stores than the right ones. Here are 20 commonly found food items you should leave out of your cart.
The beauty of fitness programs is that very few are identical. Depending on a person’s goals, you’ll find basically everyone at your gym has different exercises, rep counts, set numbers, and strategies that they do day-in, day-out. Some will even have completely different gym methodologies—there are those that swear by tried-and-true weight routines, while others go for more flexibility and bodyweight work.
Over the years, we’ve tackled the full spectrum of fitness and gym routines, each with their own distinct advantages. While there’s never going to be one definitive “WORKOUT LIST TO END ALL WORKOUT LISTS,” there are more than enough essential exercises that anyone who gets in the gym should at least consider. These are moves that will get you strong, increase your endurance, grow your muscles, and whatever else it is you’re looking to achieve in and out of the gym.
We decided to cobble together 30 of these for our list of some essential exercises that could boost your gym routine.
So whether you’re a CrossFitter, a powerlifter, or bodybuilder, we guarantee you’ll find something in this list that will meet your needs. Odds are you’re probably doing most of them but scroll through to see if there are any missing in your repertoire — we’ll explain not only how to do them, but why you should as well.
We’ve also gone ahead and split them up into different sections, so if you’re looking to work on your core go to the bottom of the page and if you’re looking to get as wide as a chalkboard, your first stop will be right after this paragraph.
After earning her pro card with a big win at the 2019 San Marino Pro, Evita Breide is now ready to step on stage at the Bikini Olympia. We got a hold of the Spain-based bikini pro to find out how she’s been training and what she looks forward to as the Olympia nears.
What are you most excited about now that you’ve qualified for your first Olympia?
I am very excited to put the work in to bring the best physique up on that stage — I truly believe I haven’t seen my best yet. I am excited and honored to be able to stand beside the best girls in the industry.
How and when did you get into competing?
I started to compete back in 2015. From the first time I stepped on the stage, I fell in love and I knew I was going all in. From the very beginning I knew I would become a pro. I had this drive inside, which has never stopped.
When I was younger, I loved to read fitness magazines and girls I saw there, they were a true motivation for me. At that time I could only dream about the lifestyle I am living right now.
What do you love most about the sport?
The thing I love most about this sport is that it is so HARD. And I’m not talking about diet or training, but about life besides it. It hasn’t made this road easy for me. It’s not as hard for me anymore, because I have walked away from everything that used to hold me back.
I am living this sport. My feeling is like, I’ve lost and given up everything I could, so there is nothing more to lose, only gain. I have surrounded myself with people I love to be with, and who love and help me to grow. (I would have never reached this level without my coach & partner Danny Marquez being beside me and guiding me.)
This is the amazing part. This sport has not only taught me to have a strong discipline day in and day out, but it has taught me to be strong. I have become fearless, I am not afraid to get out of my comfort zone again and again (changing countries, places, etc.) I love the feeling that I am growing not only physically but also mentally. So I think the answer is, I love the mental side of it over the physical.
Have you had to change your training during quarantine? How have you been able to stay on track?
I’m from Spain and we were in a total lockdown for 9 weeks. I really don’t like to train at home, but there was no other choice. With very limited and lightweight equipment, I did not skip a single session.
All I was hoping was to get back in the gym, to have enough time to prepare.
Favorite body part to train?
Shoulders and Glutes (I love to see and feel the pump)
Cable pull through
Favorite cheat meal?
I would have to choose from a good salad bowl, sweet potato fries, nachos, a burger, and ice cream (has to be Ben & Jerry’s).
Who is your inspiration?
I don’t really have an inspiration, but I like strong physiques like Angelica [Teixeira] And Narmin [Assria].
If you weren’t a bikini athlete, what would you be doing?
To be honest, I don’t know. I love what I do. But if my lifestyle would be a bit more flexible I would definitely travel and let my self enjoy holidays more often!
What has been your biggest hurdle when it comes to preparing for the O?
So far I feel amazing, and I have to say this is my best prep yet. The biggest hurdle will be the traveling, as we athletes from EU are hoping the borders will be open by that time. But the current situation going on is not the most ideal. There are possibilities and options to get to US, but basically for me personally, I was prepping for the biggest event of my career, without knowing if I will even be able to step on stage.
Has there been one particular moment in Olympia history that made you realize you had to stand on this stage one day?
Every year watching it, I become more and more willing to put that hard work in to it to be able to stand beside these girls, and the feeling that I can make it and I belong to it has not left me since then.
Follow Evita on Instagram at @evitabreide to keep up with her training and competitions.
In the mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona, at 7,000 feet in altitude, the sky is always close. Dense clouds hover at what seems to be an arm’s length away, and weather can change from sunny to apocalyptic over the course of a three-mile run. It happens to be a mecca for distance runners, who come from all over the world to allow this wild place to harden them into elite competitors.
During my professional career as a middle-distance runner, I spent winters in Flagstaff preparing for the summer racing season. Those months were, without question, the coldest, muddiest, windiest, most unpredictable miles of my life. I can’t even narrow my memories to a certain kind of misery. I have sprinted in terror from lightning cracking at my heels, spent hours grimacing into wind, and churned through mud at a snail’s pace. There’s a deep fatigue that stems from that kind of effort, a raw-nerve exhaustion. When our pack would arrive back at the team house, we’d file in quietly, piling running shoes on the porch to dry, then drape our limp bodies over chairs and couches inside.
Another U.S. running hub is the Pacific Northwest, where inclement weather is also infamous. Hassan Mead, a 2016 Olympian in the 5,000 meters, hates running in the rain. So when he was recruited by famed coach Mark Rowland to join the Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene, it gave him pause. “I said to myself, ‘This is my dream!’ ” Mead recalls. “But do I have to be wet for it?”
The answer is yes—and not just because suffering builds character. Exercise science makes a strong case for tough conditions. One of the biggest physiological challenges in distance running is maintaining correct body temperature. You want your muscles to be warm, so they’ll be safe at full expansion and contraction. But when core temperature gets too high, the heart puts more effort more toward cooling you down than fueling the workout.
So how to keep your muscles warm but your core from overheating? Cool rain. A couple of years in the Pacific Northwest made Mead a convert. “If I had it my way, I’d always race in cool rain,” he says. “It’s hard to get out in it, but those end up the best runs of your life.”
Suboptimal conditions challenge your body in different ways. Steve Finley, a retired professional middle-distance runner and coach of the Brooklyn Track Club, says training is all about forcing adaptations, which means taking athletes out of their comfort zones. A stiff wind that changes directions, hail that punctuates a tempo run, or a mud-laced downhill forces you to reconsider your limits.
Poor conditions also improve running mechanics. When rain softens grass, it affects foot contact with the ground. Pliability underfoot requires small supportive muscles in the feet and lower legs to work harder than usual, which helps develop stability and power off the ground. For those who stick to pavement, the slightly slick sidewalk or road activates muscles in the deep core—specifically the transversus abdominis—to tighten posture and make slight balance corrections. And jumping over puddles, side-shuffling around mud patches, and sprinting through heavy downpours turns a normal run into a high-intensity interval workout.
I understand that these payoffs don’t always have swaying power in the internal struggle that occurs when the skies turn ominous and you’re due a few miles. I’m now a coach, and I often see those same nerves and fatigue in my athletes I felt in Flagstaff. I know how they’re feeling in the moment, but more importantly, I know what it will add up to months and years from today. I would not tell them this when they’re shivering in Spandex before a hard effort, but I never feel closer to the highest of athletic highs than on these cold, wet days. This is where the heart of the sport is.
Nevertheless, I remind them they will reap rewards for this work. The wind, rain, mud, and cold all serve to round out their fitness in ways I cannot program into a training calendar. Tough conditions bring out the magic in the athlete. I hear it in their footfalls. Every time they pass me and my stopwatch, they bring a changing energy. Their strides loosen. They stop bracing against the rain. The shift is audible—a lighter patter of footsteps, the breathing of bodies allowing themselves to run fast. Hopefully the day they run for a PR is perfect—low 60s at race start, a faint wind at their back. But if race day is foul, they’ll be ready for it, too.
Before my runners headed out into the slop, I did not tell them to “have fun.” I would have hated hearing that. Wet, cold, about to run myself to exhaustion: I was a warrior and not there to have fun.
Even now, when I’m out in it, I remind myself that I feel more alive when the wind is howling and the road shimmers in the rain. Forget the time goals, forget the splits. The only thing that matters in this weather is effort. Bring the work.
Julia Lucas is a run coach and former professional mid-distance runner
For the days when an old college tee and sweats won’t do, here’s the gear that’ll keep you moving well.
Columbia Rogue Runner Wind Jacket
Designed for the trail, this packable jacket is seam-sealed, so water won’t be able to enter, and reflective details help keep you visible. It has a packable hood if you’re fighting the wind rather than the rain.
Creatine is one of the, if not the most, popular sports supplements in the world for mass gain. Surveys performed on creatine use in athletes indicate that more than 40% of athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association use it, and that athletes from about 20 different NCAA sports reportedly use it.
Its use in power-sport athletes may be even more prevalent, with up to about 75% of powerlifters, boxers, weightlifters, and track and field athletes reportedly using the supplement. And a survey of gym/health club members conducted in 2000 reported that about 60% of members are creatine users.
But why is it so popular among athletes and gym-goers? Quite simply because it works, and it works well. Literally hundreds of studies have been done on creatine showing its effectiveness for increasing muscle strength, muscle power, muscle size, overall athletic performance, and even enhancing certain areas of health.
BATTLE ROPES HAVE several things going for them. They train cardiovascular capacity, muscles big and small, and balance.
Plus, they’re almost injury-proof and hard to do incorrectly—if you’re moving, it’s working. “One guideline: The ropes should make nice waves or circles when you’re swinging,” says Cliff Robertson, a trainer at Performance Lab by The Wright Fit in New York City. (The gym with a killer roof to work out on, as you’ll see.)
Robertson put together the moves on the following pages, sorted by skill. When choosing exercises, pull from all three of the categories. You can also superset battle rope intervals into a weights workout, switching between dumbbell presses, sled push/pulls, and kettlebell swings.
The first few times you battle the ropes, the force generated may wane in the final set. As you progress, try to maintain intensity for longer.
One more selling point? It’s so fun, you won’t realize that you’re totally out of gas until the end.
Pick 6 to 8 moves. Do each for the time prescribed in each grouping. Go through the circuit 3 times. Can also be used as a conditioning finisher—8 moves: 15 seconds on, 15 seconds off.
Typically, when someone aspires to having a better six-pack—or a six-pack, period—he or she does it with a sense of urgency. We assume this applies to you, too. You want a lean, shredded midsection ASAP. But how long does it take to lose belly fat and get the abs you’ve always wanted? A few weeks? A few months?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple—getting six-pack abs depends on many factors, one of which is your starting point. (If you already have a four-pack, for example, you may be just weeks away.)
Whatever your situation, we feel your urgency, and we’d like to help you do something about it today. And it’s not just a matter of looking better—excess abdominal fat is a risk factor in common health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Here, we give you 30 tips to help you lose the belly fat that’s covering those washboard abs that lie beneath. All of these tips can be used throughout the course of a single day. (And as an added bonus for minding these tips, you’ll actually burn fat while you sleep.)
But, of course, don’t stop after just one day. Follow as many of these tips as you can day in and day out, and soon enough the aforementioned starting point will be history.