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Why do you sometimes feel in such control of the iron that the weight feels light even though the bar is loaded with more than you’ve ever lifted before? Why do you sometimes get a skin-stretching pump and FEEL every fiber in the muscle you’re working as if you have a pure mind to muscle connection? Why do you sometimes feel mega-motivated, as if you could bench press an apartment complex and take on the world? Why do you sometimes slip into a “cocoon of concentration” during your training, as if you had gone into a trance, allowing nothing to distract your from accomplishing the task at hand?

The answer is…

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It was 1983. Less than one year earlier, I had taken up weight training for the first time, inspired beyond belief after watching Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian on the big screen. When Arnold appeared on the cover of Muscle & Fitness, I started devouring every word in that magazine every month. But there was one monthly column in Muscle & Fitness that captivated me above all others. Oddly enough, it had nothing to do with biceps or barbells. It was a mind and motivation column written by hypnotherapist Pete Siegel. Who would have ever thought that 22 years later, I would become good friends with that same man whose articles inspired me to work on my mind as much as my body…

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Guest Blog: Hi, My name is David Grisaffi. I’m a strength and conditioning coach from Tacoma, Washington. Last week I took a trip to the East coast and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Tom Venuto while I was out there. Tom and I have been friends for many years and we’ve spent many hours on the phone talking training, sports and other stuff. Now we finally had a chance to meet in person… and I got to witness a workout like you cannot believe!

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Jim Cordova is the reigning world champion in the WNBF Natural Bodybuilding federation, currently preparing to defend his title in New York City… against worthy and hungry opponents. Jim’s amazing physique is the result of an intelligent, scientific, analytical approach to training. He’s achieved what few drug-free bodybuilders have achieved: Muscle mass with thick, full muscle bellies combined with razor sharp conditioning. As our Bodybuilding Secrets interview series returns, we are thrilled to have been granted this exclusive interview with the champ, where he shares some of his best World champion secrets.

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I’m not impressed easily, but Hugo Rivera is one damn impressive bodybuilder, as you can see in the photos below (his back double bicep shot is insane!) It’s quite an achievement to take top 5 in your class at the Team Universe – the pinnacle of natural amateur bodybuilding in the National Physique Committe – but that’s not what got my attention the most. When I heard Hugo had gone on to compete in the NPC USA and took 4th place there as well, I was blown away. What’s the big deal about a 4th place finish? Well, if you follow NPC bodybuilding, then you know that the USA is not drug tested. Hugo is natural for life. I don’t know about you, but when I see a natural holding his own in open competition, I’m cheering, and I want to know more. That’s why I was very pleased to get this interview with Hugo. When you finish reading this one, stay tuned, because Hugo promised me another a “Part 2″ which will be even more personal and revealing.

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When you have huge, thick forearms that are so muscular, it looks like you have a bowling pin implanted in them, and when they are so vascular that they look like a map of the Los Angeles Freeway system, and when the cuts are so deep you could lose loose change in there… I think that is pretty darn cool. Gnarly, even. Unfortunately, not many bodybuilders have that “look” because there are two ubiquitous “forearm problems” that almost every bodybuilder experiences… Fortunately, there is a secret remedy for both. It’s not new, it has simply been forgotten, except by those who are students of old time strongman methods…

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I’m often asked what my body measurements are and/or what are the ideal measurements for a bodybuilder or a classical muscular male physique. Believe it or not, there are actually many formulas for determining the “ideal body proportions.” On the other hand, you might want to take them with a grain of salt…

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Ok, so I did a month of Zercher Squats. As a challenging “strongman” exercise, it rocks. As a bodybuilding exercise… I’m still debating…

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I was scheduled for front squats today, and previously was gearing up to start moving the poundages back up at least in the ballpark of my former 315 “glory days”… However, I slightly tweaked my lower back on T-bar rows last week so I started thinking about what I could do for legs that would put zero load on my spine but at the same time could build some mass. For some reason, “Zercher Squat” just popped in my head. The thing is, I’ve known about this exercise for ages, but for some reason had NEVER tried it before! Well, today I tried it…This exercise is evil (translation = “I like it!”)…

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Remember when I said they are “hardcore” at my gym (Strong & Shapely Gym, East Rutherford NJ), well, I didn’t realize they were THIS hardcore: I checked in for a workout today (Halloween), and there’s this decapitated arm on the front counter with a gruesome warning mesage:

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