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IRON MAN Research Team

                           Your In-House Solution
                           for Maximum Mass
                                                          by Steve Holman •        Photography by Michael Neveux

                               t was almost like slow motion. I            It also gave a whole new meaning to the
                              vividly remember the time I nearly           term “drop set.”
                              split open my head doing flyes in my            That was years and years ago. I haven’t
                              home gym. I was clanging my ad-              had to use adjustable dumbbells in a long
                               justable dumbbells together at the          time—even if I choose to train at home—
                               top of each rep—I hadn’t discovered         thanks to recent innovations in selector-
                         Arnold’s continuous-tension technique             ized dumbbells like the PowerBlock. The
                         yet—when one of the collars came loose            entire set takes up only a two-square-foot
                         and sent a plate plummeting toward my             area and replaces an entire wall of fixed
                         cranium. Luckily, only the 2 1/2-pounder          dumbbells. It’s truly an extraordinary piece
                                                                                                                          Model: Dan Decker

                         on the end slipped off with the collar. It left   of equipment, and it may be the most rev-
                         a small red-and-purple impression on my           olutionary advance in home training in the
                         forehead, but no stitches were necessary.         past 20 years.

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     IRON MAN Research Team

       These futuristic rectangular         isolation exercise, like dumbbell        Why You Should Have
    dumbbells sit on a sturdy three-        laterals, which will stress a few       a PowerBlock Minigym
    foot-high stand and look like some-     more pure fast-twitch fibers but,              at Home
    thing Captain Kirk would train with     more importantly, also hit loads of
    on the Starship Enterprise (“Spock,     intermediary fibers for extra poten-    1) You can train on a split rou-
    spot me on some X Reps, you un-         tial growth.                            tine at a commercial gym dur-
    emotional bastard!”). But don’t let        That’s why a good mass strategy      ing the week and do a full-body
                                                                                    workout at home on the week-
    that throw you. The PowerBlock is       is to finish off a muscle with drop
                                                                                    ends. (All you need is a
    heavy-duty, hardcore weight-train-      sets. After you blow out your big
                                                                                    PowerBlock set and an
    ing equipment, and you can do any       exercise, you want to go for serious    adjustable bench.)
    dumbbell exercise in the book           occlusion along with fatigue and
    without fear of collars and plates      more fiber activation. Occlusion, or    2) You can split your program
    reeling toward your noggin.             blocking blood flow, and fatigue        so you train your big bodyparts
       The safety factor is only one of     create a secondary level of growth,     at a commercial gym and work
    the advantages of using the             with capillary bed enlargement          your arms and delts at home.
    PowerBlock, though. The biggest         (and engorgement) and unique            3) If you don’t feel like coping
    benefit is the selectorized feature.    muscle fiber stress.                    with the commercial-gym
    To change the poundage, you sim-           So here’s the drill: After your      crowd, you can opt for a pri-
    ply return the dumbbells to their       upright rows you go to lateral raises   vate home-gym workout to
    racks and move a U-shaped pin on        and rep out, hitting failure at         keep the muscle-building ma-
    each to select the weight. When you     around nine reps. You reduce the        chinery fired up. (It’s much
    pull the dumbbells away from the        weight as quickly as possible and       better than skipping a workout
    stand, the poundage you choose          immediately rep out again, getting      just because you don’t feel
    comes along for the ride, and the       about six reps. If you’re really        social.)
    rest of the plates stay on the stand.   brave—and motivated—you may
                                                                                    4) You can give stubborn body-
    So it’s not just an ingenious space-    want to decrease the weight one         parts extra work in your home
    saving innovation but a rapid-fire      last time and go for a third set im-    gym on the weekends.
    weight-change solution.                 mediately after the second. But
       That’s extremely important from      even with only two back-to-back         5) It may motivate your spouse
    where I sit, and rep, because I’m a     sets you should feel an incredible      or other family members to
    firm believer in drop sets for build-   burn (if you didn’t, do another         start training and set the tone
    ing more mass. A drop set has noth-     round). That helps trigger growth       for a healthful lifestyle. (It’s
    ing to do with that plate dropping      hormone release and signifies that      always good for kids to see Dad
    on my head I mentioned earlier. It’s    you’ve occluded the muscle and          and/or Mom hitting the
    doing a set to nervous system ex-       attacked that important next level      weights regularly; it helps get
                                                                                    the exercise habit ingrained in
    haustion, quickly reducing the          of growth.
    poundage and then doing another            Unless you have an entire rack of
    set to exhaustion, a key mass-build-
    ing technique that’s pretty much                                                               varied-weight
    impossible with a standard                                                                     dumbbells, the
    adjustable dumbbell set unless                                                                 drop sets on later-
    you’re overdosing on ephedrine.                                                                als will be impossi-
       Do you really need drop sets? I                                                             ble and your mass
    say absolutely, if you want to max                                                             stimulation will be
    out your muscle size. They are ideal                                                           far less efficient.
    for isolation exercises that you do                                                            With drop sets you
    after your big compound, or multi-                                                             get a bit more fast-
    joint, mass move. Drop sets are                                                                twitch-fiber activa-
    almost mandatory for taking your                                                               tion at the end of
    muscularity to the next level. Let       Powerblock                                            the first set to
    me explain:                              selectorized                                          failure, but the real
       Let’s say you train a big, heavy,     dumbbells are                                         size stimulation
    multijoint exercise like upright rows    secure. No chance                                     occurs during the
    for delts with two sets, and on the      of collars and                                        second reduced-
    second you include X-Rep power           plates coming loose                                   poundage set,
    partials at the max-force point at       and falling from the                                  when your delts
    the end of the set. That does a num-     sky like with                                         are screaming for
    ber of good things that will con-        adjustable ’bells                                     mercy. That hits
    tribute toward your packing on           (those should come                                    the endurance-
    more fiber size, including max-          with a crash                                          oriented fibers,
    force overload. Now you move to          helmet).                                              expands the need
    drop sets on a continuous-tension                                                              for more capillar-

120 OCTOBER 2005 \
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                                                                                         IRON MAN Research Team

                                            You can change                       Full-Body PowerBlock
                                                                                Minigym Home Workout
                                            the poundage in
                                                                                 Dumbbell squats,
                                            seconds, which is                      one-leg squats or
                                            indispensable for                      lunges                   2 x 10
                                            drop sets.                           Dumbbell stiff-legged
                                                                                   deadlifts                2 x 10
                                                                                 One-leg calf raises    2 x 15-20
                                                                                 Seated calf raises         1 x 20
                                                                                 Dumbbell bench presses 2 x 10
                                                                                 Incline dumbbell flyes
                                                                                   (drop set)           1 x 10(6)
                                                                                 One-arm dumbbell rows 2 x 10
                                                                                 Dumbbell shrugs            2 x 10
                                                                                 Dumbbell upright rows 2 x 10
                                                                                 Lateral raises
                                                                                   (drop set)           1 x 10(6)
                                                                                 Lying extensions           1 x 10
                                                                                 Kickbacks (drop set) 1 x 10(6)
                                                                                 Dumbbell curls             1 x 10
                                                                                 Concentration curls
ies to fuel the muscle and can in-      PowerBlock-and-bench setup is an           (drop set)               1 x 10
crease the supercompensation            ideal place to learn the ropes and       Incline kneeups         1 x max
effect (you’ll end up with bigger,      build some respectable muscle            Full-range crunches     1 x max
fuller muscles, as you’ll load more     before you start repping in public.
glycogen to suck up fluid during           Yes, commercial gyms can be
recovery). It’s one of the most effi-   motivating, and they pulsate with
cient mass-boosting techniques          excitement. Sometimes, though,
around. The ability to do drop sets     you just want to focus on you, your
alone is a reason to own a              effort and getting a burn in the          The appeal of these dumbbells is
PowerBlock set.                         target muscles, not on distractions    obvious. What home-gym enthusi-
   You say you train in a commer-       like the overweight guy sweating all   ast wouldn’t want to have 4,000
cial gym and don’t need this type of    over the flat bench you were going     pounds of dumbbell power in a
equipment at home? Think again.         to use.                                two-by-two-foot area? The
The PowerBlock could be your               On a personal note, we have two     PowerBlock set is one small foot-
secret weapon for more muscle.          PowerBlock sets in the IRON MAN        print for home gyms, one giant step
With an adjustable bench and a          Training & Research Center—no          for home trainees. Put it on your
PowerBlock set—a veritable home         more individual fixed dumbbells—       equipment shopping list pronto, or
minigym—you can schedule home-          and they’re all we use for every       get on the phone right now and call
training sessions along with your       dumbbell exercise. We have much        (800) 447-0008 to take advantage
commercial-gym workouts during          more space and drop sets on            of the IM Research Team
the week. That way you’ll look for-     dumbbell exercises are but a pin       PowerBlock Special and all those
ward to the change of scenery on        move away.                             free gifts. (Note: optional stand
specific days.                             The PowerBlock comes in three       for any of these sets is $119.)
   For instance, you can do com-        models, the Elite Trainer ($349
mercial-gym workouts during the         plus shipping), which goes from           PowerBlock Pluses
week, be they full-body programs        five to 50 pounds per dumbbell in         •It takes up a small, two-by-two-
on Tuesday and Thursday or a split      five-pound increments. Or go heav-     foot area, as opposed to a rack of
over three or four days, and then on    ier with the Elite Set 1 ($588 plus    fixed dumbbells.
Saturday do a special workout at        shipping), which goes from five to        •The dumbbells’ rectangular
home, in which you only train the       90 per dumbbell or Elite 2 ($848       shape prevents them from rolling.
bodyparts that need extra work.         plus shipping), which goes from           •The unit is fairly inexpensive
   Another option is to do your         five to 130. That’s not bad, consid-   when compared to an entire set of
upper body on Monday, your lower        ering you’d pay in the neighbor-       fixed dumbbells.
body on Wednesday and then a            hood of $2,000 to $3,000 for a rack       •The ’bells are sturdy and safe—
full-body workout at home on Fri-       of fixed dumbbells.                    the plates can’t fall off, as they can
day with your selectorized dumb-                                               with adjustable dumbbells.
bells and bench. Mixing up split
training with full-body workouts is                                              PowerBlock Minuses
a tremendous boredom-breaking                                                    •Captain Kirk and Spock may
muscle-making strategy.                                                        want to work in with you. IM
   If you’re a beginner, a

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