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Since 3 Dec. '02

Radical Methods for Increasing Strength
By Dennis B. Weis "The Yukon Hercules"

I have been a published iron game journalist and author for nearly 27 years and one of the most frequent questions I am asked is "What are some of the most radical and perhaps bizarre methods you have ever heard of for increasing strength?"

There are at least two dozen bizarre methods I can quickly think of but four that are perhaps the most thought provoking are: 1. The Mandibular Orthopedic Repositioning Appliance (M.O.R.A.). 2. The "Homeostatic Stance" 3. The Myo-Genetic Set 4. How To Determine Your Optimal Workout Load

Here is an encapsulated summary of each one.

No. 1: M.O.R.A.

The Mandibular Orthopedic Repositioning Appliance ( or M.O.R.A.), is better known to the average person as simple a mouth piece. Some bodybuilders and power lifters are said to have used this device when doing heavy, heavy presses, squats or dead lift’s.

The M.O.R.A. positions the jaw in a balanced manner so that when a person clinches their teeth the muscles of the jaw will be contracting in an even manner. This allows the bodybuilder or power lifter to concentrate more fully on the lifting of the barbell and not have to be concerned about their teeth and jaw. It is said that the barring down with the jaw under the pressure of a heavy lift, tapes the adrenal gland for an increase of adrenal secretion. Supposedly this will increase the strength potential of the average lifter by as much as 10-15% and 5% in those of world class caliber.

No. 2: Homeostatic Stance

The second method for instant strength increases is the "Homeostatic Stance". This method was invented by a chiropractor named Dr. Sipple. Simple put you take your regular stance, be it in the squat or press over head , but with one slight difference. One foot (usually your shortest leg) is positioned approximately 3 inches ahead of the other and with the feet adducted or turned in ever so slightly.

It seems that by altering your stance in the manner described the stress between the working muscles are set in harmony with one another and best of all there is no knee pain. If you elect to give the "Homeostatic Stance" a ride say in the squat, back off your normal exercise poundage’s and give yourself a month to get accustomed to this new position before once again using your previous exercise poundage’s.

Claims of a 50% increase in strength and about 100% in endurance have been made. I personally have not been witness to this nor is there any scientific data to back up these claims so I will let you decide on the value of the "Homeostatic Stance".

No. 3: Myo-Genetic Set

The third method for increasing strength is the Myo-Genetic Set. This valuable training concept was created by Dr. G.K. Knowlton, a chiropractor, and prolific writer in the iron game many years ago.

The basic premise of the Myo-Genetic Set is as follows:

1) Load up a barbell (after a specific warm-up) with a poundage you are capable of for a near maximum single effort (MSE). If the poundage is not quite heavy enough simple use very strict form and do a super slow rep. If the weight is too heavy, you may have to use some controlled cheating. After a few workouts you will be able to gauge your starting poundage’s more accurately. Begin now by doing one-rep in full exercise range of motion.

2) Quickly remove enough poundage so that a second single rep can be performed. This should be done in a manner which will not allow you to stop and rest.

3) Perform 8 to 10 consecutive single reps in the manner described. Completion of the final rep is considered to be one set. Do only 1 to 2 sets per major/minor muscle group. Do only 6-8 Myo-Genetic Sets per any given workout. If for example you are training the total body on a scheduled workout day you would only do Myo-Genetic Sets for say 3 or 4 of the muscle groups.

4) Work each muscle group once and at the most twice per week when using the Myo-Genetic Set(s) concept and at the most for a total of 4 to 6 weeks in duration.

5) As mentioned earlier be sure to warm-up (general and specific) completely before performing a Myo-Genetic Set.

No. 4: How to Determine Your Optimal Workout Load

To achieve the greatest muscle gains possible you must train with as high of intensity and volume of exercise as you can without over training. The key is to avoid over training in order to stimulate the muscle and not annihilate it. About 10 years ago I learned a couple of methods for determining optimal workout load (which in turn maximizes and accelerates muscle gains to previous unattainable levels) from a gentleman named Kevin A. Pezzi, M.D.

Here are the two methods Dr. Pezzi suggests a person do to determine their optimal workout load when training with the heavy iron.

Method #1: This particular concept will give you an instant insight as to whether you are over training. If for example you are a right-handed individual, your upper body on the right side should be greater than the left ( 1-Limb Lifting such as one-legged squats, one-dumbbell curls, one-dumbbell [or barbell] press and squat). If you don’t see a strength increase on the dominate side of your body when employing Uni-Lateral or Asymmetric Training (and actually get weaker) after a predetermined period of time then this is a clue that you may be over training.

Method #2: This concept allows a person to determine his/her optimal workout load and as well objectively evaluate such variables as (number of sets, reps, frequency of exercise, etc.) and its effects on your muscular development.

Here how this method works. Select an exercise for evaluation such as the Standing two hands barbell curl, for example. If you have been performing 4 total heavy sets for this exercise and you think you may be under training try 6 total heavy sets for 2-3 weeks. Now compare the results during this time period with the results for an equal period of time on the previous 4 total heavy sets (keeping an accurate training log of exercises used, number of sets/reps, dates of workouts,[intermediate, muscle specific, critical term recuperation ]and miscellaneous factors such as lack of sleep, injuries, illnesses are of vital importance for making such comparisons). If you find that your progress has accelerated from doing 6 total heavy sets as compared to the previous 4 then you were under training. Increase the total number of heavy sets from 6 to perhaps 8 (and no more) and repeat the process as described.

It is important to note that if at anytime your strength or size decreases while the evaluations of the effects of optimal workout loads (i.e. 6 sets as compared to 4 sets, etc.) are being studied you are over training and need to immediately REDUCE the workload on the biceps to previously accepted workout loads.

Another variable to the above described method would be to substitute the One-dumbbell curl for the Standing two hands barbell curl, performing a different number of sets and reps for each arm. For example for the next 2-3 weeks you might do 6 total heavy sets of say 6 reps each for the right arm and 8 sets of 4 reps for the left. Reverse sets and reps protocol for each arm after 2-3 weeks and continue on in the manner described for another 2-3 weeks. Continue to evaluate your response to the variable number of sets and reps.

Dr. Pezzi’s espoused method (#2) will work not only on the biceps but on any other major or minor muscle group as well. Generally when using the method described (above) for evaluating training responses the number of sets would in most all cases never exceed 8 to 9 total heavy sets per a select muscle group. As a result you should only be using one exercise per a select muscle group.

Dr. Pezzi suggests that it may take a few months to determine optimal workout loads.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about the 4 radical methods I have presented for increasing strength. I’d be interested in hearing from you (the reader) regarding unusual methods you have heard about or used personally for making huge leaps in strength.