There’s only one power rack in my gym, and all the bench press stations are usually occupied. My goal is fat loss, and I don’t want to spend all day waiting for equipment. Any 


This is a common problem in commercial gyms because certain misguided members tend to monopolize certain pieces of equipment, such as the bench press station. One way to get around this problem, other than changing your workout time, is to focus on dumbbell training.

Note that I offer specific details about how to perform basic movements, such as using a supinated grip on the seated row. It’s not that a supinated grip is far superior to a pronated grip, but it’s a way to add variety to the program. For example, after using this program you could perform a seated row with a pronated or semi-supinated grip.

The following is a two-day split workout that emphasizes dumbbell training. Each contains three supersets with relatively high reps and short rest intervals to stimulate growth hormone production for fat loss while promoting muscle gain. The short rest intervals also enable you to get through the worjout fast. If it takes you longer than 45 mintues to complete each of these programs, you're making friends, not progress.

 DAY 1 

A1. Lying Leg Curl (feet nutral): 4 sets, 6-8 reps, 30 sec. rest

A2. Dumbbell Bench Press4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

B1. Dumbbell Lunge (alternating legs): 4 sets, 10-12 reps, 30 sec. rest 

B2. Lat Pulldown (pronated grip): 4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

C1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

C2. 45-Degree Trap 3 Raise: 4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

 DAY 2 

A1. Dumbbell Squat (heels elevated): 4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

A2. Seated Row (supinated grip): 4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

B1. 45-Degree Baxk Extension: 4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

B2. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 4 sets, 12-15 reps, 30 sec. rest

C1. Leg Press (medium stance): 4 sets, 15-20 reps, 30 sec. rest

C2. Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise: 4 sets, 10-12 reps, 30 sec. rest 

If you like this type of program, consider that you can also do it at home. You don’t need to purchase a complete line of dumbbells, just a few adjustable sets. Also, I recommend purchasing thick-handled dumbbells, which have many benefits over conventional dumbbells, such as taking care of your forearm work.


I was told by my trainer that my glutes aren’t firing and that I need to perform special exercises before I squat. What’s that about?

Do you have a spinal cord injury? If not, I assume that every time you try to walk, you collapse, because that would happen if your glutes were not firing.

The origin of this glute activation theory probably came from research conducted 50 years ago by the late Dr. Vladimir Janda, a Czech doctor who contributed much to the fields of neurology and physical medicine. Janda used electromyography (EMG) to determine how muscle activa- tion afects posture and back pain. He even designed special balance shoes that he believed would help with glute function.

However, the problem you’re having is probably not related to so-called “muscle firing” issues but simply to weak muscles. One problem with this structural imbalance is that one muscle is forced to work harder to compensate. If the glutes are relatively weak, there’s more stress on the hamstrings, therefore increasing the risk of injury to that area. If the vastus medialis oblique (an inner quad muscle) is weak, this could contribute to the buckling of your knees during running or jumping, which affects performance and increases the risk of injury.

Another issue is that weak muscles can become a weak link in the performance of multijoint lifts. For example, former NHL star Jim McKenzie improved his 14-inch close-grip bench by 51 pounds in three months, from 280 to 331 pounds, by focusing on rotator cuf strength. (My research has found that rotator cuf strength should be about 9.8% of what can be lifted in the close-grip bench press.) In fact, I had McKenzie refrain entirely from FLEX TRAINING benching during this training cycle. With his structural balance restored, I switched McKenzie to a bench press specialization program, and three weeks later he lifted 380 pounds, again using the close grip. It wasn’t a case of muscles not firing but that the muscles that were firing were simply weak.


Consider that if you have a structural imbalance, it’s not necessary for you to stop all multijoint exercises. If your lockout is poor in the bench press, which suggests relatively weak triceps, you could include additional triceps work after bench presses. If your grip wears out performing chinups, you could supplement this exercise with special exercises for the forearm flexors.

I developed my ideas on structural balance by studying the workout systems of European weightlifters. Olympic lifters often use formulas to determine what areas they need to work on. For example, athletes who want to clean and jerk 200 pounds probably should be able to back squat between 255 and 280 pounds. These formulas can apply in determining such ratios as back squat to front squat, snatch to power snatch, and clean to power clean. Such ratios can yield valuable information about how to modify your training. For example, if a trainee’s back squat greatly exceeds his snatch, he probably needs more work on relatively lighter weights to improve speed and technique.

The bottom line is to try to achieve balance in your training. Just as a competitive bodybuilder will lose points if certain muscle groups are underdeveloped, if you don’t strive for structural balance in your workouts, you increase your risk of injury, limit your strength potential, and adversely afect athletic performance. – FLEX