Generally I talk about how to get huge but this time we’re going to focus on beauty. I’ve been sharing these concepts in Muscle and Fitness for a while but, when you’re writing for a magazine you can’t get into much detail. The finer points have to be left out and quite often the “good stuff” gets short shrift. This time I’m going to tell the whole story.
It goes something like this …
A short while ago I did a little stint as M.C for a physique show in the Calif bay area. I got there a day early so I had some time to hit the local gym which was packed with some big dudes. As I was waiting for my turn between sets, I looked around and … I couldn’t help notice the same thing I’ve seen across the country.
There were all kinds of bodies. Big guys, little guys, beginners and advanced but … few had the kind of body that keeps you sneaking glances … makes you say … Man does that guy look great! Perhaps, in our headlong rush to get huge we forget to …
“Build A Beautiful Body While We’re Building Size”
If you wait until you first get “big enough” the day never comes because … the bigger you get, the bigger you want to be and you never get around to developing “class”. Just like the guys I saw in this Oakland Gym … with all that size no one had any real “Stun Power.”
You don’t have to be ripped and you don’t have to be huge for your physique to have this kind of “magnetism” but … you have to be aware of the bodyparts that “pivot” the eye.
And you know something, it’s really not that much harder to work on these areas than what you’re doing right now. You just have pay attention to what a great champion once called…
The “Nine Pivot Points”
These points consist of those “stunning” bodyparts strategically located where they “pivot” the eye … Generally they are far out from the center or belly of the muscle. When developed they lend a beauty to the physique which size alone cannot accomplish.
When you see a body with even the beginning of well developed … upper pecs, lower lats, forearms, lower biceps, lower calves, long head of tricep, etc. you just can’t take your eyes away. Even though others may be twice the size, they don’t have the impact on your senses like one who works on his “Nine Pivot Points”.
How I learned about These Things
In 1958 when I first hit the beaches of California, I met an incredible bodybuilder by the name of Lou Degni. His physique was simply sensational. I didn’t know what it was at the time but … his body simply took your breath away. Yeah, there were bigger guys in the gym, even some famous actors but … no one had the impact Lou did when he walked in the gym. It almost got quiet. Everyone was waiting to get a glimpse of … that body of his.
He would train in a loose fitting, thin dress shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to mid forearm. Gradually the shirt would get soaked with sweat and cling to his body. You could see the muscles working under it’s soaked transparency. It was hard to concentrate on your own training because you just kept wanting another glance of those wonderful bodyparts.
It was the way his body was put together … you didn’t see it on anyone else and … the way he exercised was always a little different … How he held the weights, hung on the chinning bar, the rotation he used on movements … all that kind of stuff.
He showed me things guys don’t know even today. He used to tell me … “Larry, you’ve got to work on your “pivot areas” if you want to stand out … not just on stage … but even when you’re just walking across the gym floor.
What are these points?
First Are Side And Rear Deltoids. Big round full caps on the side and rear … aren’t expected … so they catch your eye. You can’t tear your eyes away when you see these areas swelling unexpectedly out of nowhere. In fact, the image remains etched in your brain long after the guy’s gone.
Second Is Upper Pecs. Granted you see some great lower pecs but once in a lifetime do you see a”Franco Columbo” pair of upper pecs. They are uncommonly fascinating. One glimpse and you’re hooked.
Third is Lower Lats. Yeah lots of guys are wide and lots of guys are thick but seldom do you see a back that’s got “heart”. I’m talking about lats that don’t taper down but almost curve up at the bottom. It doesn’t take genetics … it takes focus and unique exercises. Lou’s lats were incredible. They weren’t V shaped they rounded at the bottom like a heart but … they didn’t come naturally, you should have seen the strange movements he did to build his “heart”.
Fifth is Lower Biceps. When I was a little kid living in Pocatello Idaho. I used to catch the bus to get home from school. There was a sporting goods store right next to the bus stop called Fred’s Sporting Goods . Each night I would drool over all the neat sporting goods stuff.
One day I saw this box of chest cables. The illustration on the box had this guy with one arm outstretched. His bicep was full and thick down near the elbow even with the arm sticking straight out. I’m not sure why but when I saw the mass of his lower bicep on an arm that wasn’t even flexed it sent a shiver of desire through me I couldn’t describe. That image burned into my mind so indelibly I never forgot it.
Years later when Lou showed how he built his lower biceps with a funny, lying, bicep curl, that “chest cable guy” popped back into my head and I resolved to create a set of my own.
Sixth is the long head of the triceps.
Seventh is Forearms.
When you get these three … the bicep, tricep and forearm … developed to their maximum, they add a symmetry and beauty to the arm which defies all description. This fully developed package is so impressive … so stunning … you don’t even have to flex your arm. You can stick it straight out and still cause … jaws to drop.Just like mine did years ago.
It’s much more impressive than a huge arm which has to be flexed to look good.
Eighth is Vastus Internus (Teardrop) and Thigh Biceps. When it comes to thighs, the teardrop muscle has “got it”. They add flair to an otherwise thick and bulky looking thigh and thigh biceps are not far behind.
Ninth is lower calves. (Diamond Shaped Calves)
You see … the key is … to get more weight out at the end of the limb, thus lower calves, lower thighs, forearms, lower lats, upper pecs and outer delts. The more size you can pack in these “unexpected” areas, the more impact your physique makes on the eye. Each of these points when well developed adds something to the physique that’s hard to put into words. Matter of fact it’s better than words. It’s a thing of beauty. And when you get close to achieving it, you know there’s a greater hand at work than just yours. You can stand back and admire the beauty of the human body even when it’s your own. So…
Don’t Just Pump Iron … Work On Your Masterpiece
And here’s how to do it.
Pivot Point # 1 and 2 … Side and Rear Deltoids.
“Women Will Hate Themselves For Not Being Able To Tear Their Eyes Away” … because deltoids are one of the most eye catching of all the “Nine Pivot Points”.
Here’s a way to do Standing Side Lateral Raises that makes them so effective you’ll be sneaking ’em in on your day off. I haven’t mentioned Front Delts even though they are important because they get so much work on everything else. Bench press, dips, overhead press, etc. they can get out of proportion. In fact, you have to be careful they don’t bully the rest of the shoulder area. Furthermore, it’s the side and rear delts that create “manly” look. So it’s the side and rear delts we’ll focus on.
First you have to be able to use enough weight to build some size and secondly you’ve got to make the shoulder “stay in the groove” that forces the side and rear deltoid heads to do all the work.
Use A Mirror For This One
It won’t feel natural right at first but once you build up some power, you can “go to town”. You want to see the muscles working so wear a tank top. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing your own muscles firing, pumping and growing.
Secondly, the key to getting this exercise right is to see the rear deltoids flex in the mirror at the top of the exercise. That’s why you should do this with a tank top.
Okay lets walk through it once. Stand facing the mirror, grasp the dumbbells with the little finger side of the hand pressed hard against the inside plate of the dumbbell. Now the hard part. You’ve got to raise the dumbbells out to the side and just high enough to see the rear deltoids flex in the mirror without flexing the traps.
If you flex the traps by lifting the shoulders rather than lifting the elbows you’re going to build traps. Once the traps get stronger than the deltoids you can kiss a great set of delts goodbye because the traps will do all the work. They start to bully everything and steal all the growth while the deltoids stay the same. Furthermore, over developed traps actually makes your shoulders look narrower.
The best way to keep from building traps is to cheat just a little at the top of the exercise.
Let’s go through it again. Stand facing the mirror. Bend over slightly at the waist. Hold one dumbbell higher than the other with the thumbs facing the mirror.
The following is a “two bob” process. Before you start to raise the dumbbells, “bob” down a little with the upper body to give a slight assist to help start raising the dumbbells. Right at the top of the movement … bob the upper body again … to keep the traps out of the picture. You should see the rear deltoids flex in the mirror right at the top. If you don’t … you are standing up too straight, using too much front deltoid or raising the dumbbells too high. The dumbbells should go no higher than the shoulders.
It helps if you think of the dumbbell handles as full of water and right at the top of the exercise you just dump a little water out of the handle.
Again, you need to be able to see the rear deltoids flex while watching them in the mirror. Be careful you don’t lift the shoulders. Just lift the arms.
I know it’s tough to get it with just these words but … wait till you get it. You won’t be able to keep your eyes off your deltoids.
I just thought of something I forgot. Use plenty of chalk on your hands. You need a very firm grip on the dumbbells because the key to using more weight on this exercise is the power transfer from the forearms to the deltoids.
Pivot Point # 3 … Lower Lats … How To Develop The “Heart” in Your Back.
“Just look at the “heart” in Lou’s back. Incredible huh?”
Lot’s of guys are wide and lots of guys are thick but few have beautifully developed lower lats. When you see a back like this … it’ll stop you right in your tracks.
Just look at the shot of, Lou Degni. Even by today’s standards Lou’s back is breath taking. His lower lats almost hung down. I’ve never seen a more incredible “heart”.
In fact, when you first set your eyes on Lou’s incredible lower lats, you couldn’t keep from chuckling because they were so out of the ordinary and you wanted some like ’em yourself.
So how do you get a set of these things?
The heart shape comes from focusing on the lower lats which is the hardest area to build. That’s why they’re so stunning.
Here’s a couple of exercises for creating your own “heart”.
The first is the one arm lat pull with a pulley about 3 to 5 feet off the floor. Bend over at the waist … with one hand grasp a single handled pulley. Stretch the opposite leg forward … so far you’re actually leaning on your upper thigh. Then stretch the other leg all the way back so both legs are scissored as much as possible. Now twist the hip back away from the line of pull as your arm extends. Then as you pull the handle in next to the hip, twist the hip into the arm. Then back out again twisting the hip away from the line of pull.
This “in an out” hip movement puts all the stress right on the lower lat. It’s similar to a one arm dumbbell row but with the body in this stretched out position and the hip twisting in and out, it targets the very lowest part of the lat. After you’ve done 3 to 4 sets with each arm and you’re fully pumped you’re ready for …
“Scapula Rotations” The King Of Lower Lat Exercises
In order to get this exercise correct you need a mirror right in front of a chinning bar so you can see what’s going on. It’ll help if I tell you the same thing Lou told me. He said,” Larry, the key to catching on to this exercise is to think of doing chins without bending the arms.”
Quite frankly, it didn’t make any sense until I watched him do it. He would chalk up, put on chinning straps and with his hands facing away at about shoulder width he would get his palms as far over the bar as possible. Then hanging from the bar he slowly raised his rib box as high as he could as if he was trying to touch the chinning bar without bending his arms … all the time keeping his scapula slightly adducted (pulled in), then right at the top of the movement he would suddenly throw his lats forward real hard.
When he did this, you could see the very bottom of his lats jump right out at you. Then he would hold them … standing out … like the arc of a circle while he slowly lowered his rib box again as far as possible.
When he dropped off the bar the bottom of his lats had this funny little pumped shelf under them. You could stick a couple of fingers under this shelf and … lift it up and down. It made you want a set like that so bad it hurt.
“Hanging Scapula Rotations” Your arms don’t bend much at all.”
Like I said, you’ll need a mirror to see what’s going on but … once you get it, you’ll be so excited, you’ll keep it a secret. Because you can see the extra pump after just one set and it’s right down on the bottom where your “heart” begins.
Pivot Point # 4 … Upper Pecs.
I was at a trade show back east and … “Bernie” the design engineer for Body Masters had just read an article I had written about building deltoids. He couldn’t say enough about this new way of building delts. He was going on and on about it. I said, “Bernie if you think the dumbbell press is great, wait till I show you how to build upper pecs on the Smith machine.”
“Really”, he said locking pupils with mine.
“I’m not kidding Bernie. It’s even better than the delt idea. It’s a little hard to show you on a standard Smith but … man, is it good. If fact it makes my mouth water just to think of it.
Bernie’s eyes lit up, and while dragging me over to his Smith Machine … he said, “Come here show me what you mean”.
“The bar has to come all the way down to the neck.”
“Lay down on the bench Bernie … No, wait a minute. Get up for a second. We need to adjust the bar and the bench so it just touches your neck at rest. I had him turn down the hooks so they were hanging free. Next I set the safety stops and put a block under the bench so he could barely get under the bar.
“That’s too low, Larry. I won’t even be able to get my head under it.”
“Yes you will. Turn your head to the side and slide sideways on the bench. The bar has to rest on your Adams Apple. This is important Bernie because at the end of each set the stops have to take the weight away from you precisely when you need it. And that’s down as low as possible. This super low position will give your upper pecs a pre-stretch they’ve never felt before. Furthermore you are going to be doing full reps followed by burns to complete failure and … I want you to do your burns down in the area of maximum stretch. By having the stops set at the very bottom not only does it give you incredible stretch but, it keeps from having to conserve energy to hang the weight up when you’re through with each set.
This is important, because the goal at the end of each set is to have nothing left to push the weight up and turn the hooks. I know it sounds picky but, trust me, you’ll see what I mean.”
Once I had Bernie “plugged in” under the bar, I said. “Lift your feet up off the floor and just hold them comfortably with your ankles crossed something like this”, showing him what to do.
I explained, “You’ve got to get the feet off the floor in order to relax the rib cage. With the rib cage relaxed, the lower chest muscles won’t have an anchor to pull against. All the work has to be done by the clavicular (upper) pecs even when the going gets tough. I’ll explain this more later.
Okay, slowly lower the bar, keeping the elbows up at least as high as the shoulders. Lower it all the way down to the neck. You want it to actually touch your neck.”
“Aarggh”, I heard him say. As his stretching upper pecs screamed in pain.
“Yeah that’s right”. I smiled. “Alright, press the bar and at the same time keep the elbows up as high as possible. Don’t drop the elbows. I know it’s hard but … keep ’em up there. Be patient with yourself. Stay in the pain Zone. It’s where all the growth is. The bar will come up. Make your upper pecs carry you through the pain zone by keeping your elbows up high.”
“I can’t believe it Larry.” He gasped, “This is incredible,” as he locked out on his 6th rep.
“No. Don’t get up.” I said. ” Now you’re ready for the best part. Time to burn out. Drop the bar right down to the neck and just bounce out 6 to 8 reps. Keep the elbows up high. Don’t let them come back down towards the chest. That’s it, right there” I encouraged as he bounced out 6 or 7 burns.
“Man, that is absolutely incredible. I have never felt anything like that before in my life.” he said as he crawled out from under the bar. I smiled inside. I knew he was going to say that … because … everyone says that … when they do it right.
“Remember what I said about the pain across your palm Bernie?” “Yes, I almost forgot. The bar does cut across my palm. Kind of pinches the nerve.”
“Yeah it does. Let me tell you how to get rid of it. You aren’t going to like this but, the problem is not your technique it’s your bar. It’s too small in diameter. The bar should be 2 inches thick. In fact, no offense Bernie but … these fancy Smith machines with the counter balance and all that stuff don’t even hold a candle to a plain old set of pipes bolted to the floor with a slightly larger set to slide up and down.
I’ve had to quit before I got to the end but … wait till the next post and we’ll finish up. If you use what I’ve already given you it won’t be long till you’ll be turning heads when even the big guys can’t.