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i wanted to invest in a cable system unit because i train alone..i would like to know can i get good muscle development just by using a cable system that max weight is 200 pounds and is not a bowflex but it uses free weights...also i am not training to be a bodybuilder i am a martial artist so my training with weights are different..also i would like to know what can a cable system give a person with it comes to training that free weights cannot.also do you feel protein supplements are worth buying if your goals are not being a bodybuilder.

thank you


Hi Kisha,

You can still get a decent workout with a cable machine. But you will be better off joining a gym. I have done both, I trained at home for several years before I ever joined a gym. With the variety of professional equipment to choose from and the positive atmosphere you just can't beat a gym workout.

Just because you are not a "bodybuilder" doesn't mean that you should cut yourself short. Only about 1% of the people that workout are "bodybuilders". You still need proper nutrition to be strong, healthy, and make progress in your training. Active people should eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day and take extra vitamins along with a well balanced diet to make sure that they are providing their body with all of the nutrients that it needs to maintain good health.

Here are the basic nutritional supplements that I recommend and use personally.

I take whey protein powder. I use 5 lb. container of Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein because it is cheaper then the other brands and it is very good quality. I use this just like any other protein food. For example, you could have 2 chicken breasts and you would get approx. 40 grams of protein. Or you could have 2 scoops of protein powder and get 40 grams of protein. One is not really better then the other, except protein drinks are much more convenient and usually cheaper then most high protein foods (i.e. meat). I usually have 3 food meals per day and 2-3 protein drinks per day.

I take pure creatine monohydrate powder. I mix a teaspoonful of creatine with my protein drinks.

I take multivitamins 2-3 times a day with meals to make sure that I am getting all of the nutrients that my body requires to maintain optimal health.

That is the basics for supplements. The main thing is to eat a well balanced diet that includes lots of good protein foods (i.e. beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, protein shakes, etc.) and lots of fruits and veggies. This will provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to maintain good health and build lean muscle.

- You can get Optimum Nutrition Whey protein at: http://www.leehayward.com/protein.htm

- You can get Pure Creatine Monohydrate at: http://www.leehayward.com/creatine.htm

- You can get Multivitamins at: http://totfit.safeshopper.com/14/cat14.htm


Hi, Lee.

I'm currently on a low carb diet to lose weight and it's working very well. In the long run I also wanted to add a bit more muscle mass. Right now I am eating plenty of protein rich foods and doing cardio exercise about 4 times a week for about 40 mins. Should I do weight training now or later? Would it be easier for me to build muscle while I'm losing the weight, or should I get to my ideal body fat percentage and try to bulk up?



Hi Martin,

You should focus on both weight training and cardio if you interested in building a lean muscular body. Cardio is good for burning extra calories and losing weight. But by doing both weight training and cardio you will become leaner and more muscular. A great way to fit in both cardio and weight training in your routine is one day do cardio, the next day workout with weights.


Mr. Hayward:

My 13 yr old son is wrapping up his 1st season of football. He's eagerly awaiting High School so he can play then. He's about 5'8, 125 lbs, slightly a bit smaller than the average player on his team. I've started him on our Bowflex and he has a nice workout routine that he follows pretty well. Should I seek ways for him to pack on some extra pounds in preparation for the bigger players of High School? He has great heart and love of the game and a desire to play his best, I just want him to be as prepared as possible for next season.

Thanks for your time,



Hi Kevin,

At 13 years old all your son has to do is eat as much good food as he can and exercise regularly. The bow flex is great machine to get started with, 3-4 workouts per week is plenty. Muscle doesn't grow while working out; it grows while resting. Working out will stress and damage the muscles slightly. Then lots of food and rest will allow the body to build bigger and stronger. Don't bother with supplements at this stage, just encourage him to eat lots of good food and workout regularly.


What is the difference between doing barbell exercises and dumbbell exercises? Which one is more effective?


Both variations work for building muscle and strength. Generally, barbell exercises allow you to handle more weight then dumbbell exercises. But dumbbell exercises work more stabilizer muscles because you have to balance 2 weights instead of 1 and dumbbells allow you to use a greater range of motion. I personally include both variations in my workouts (i.e. bench press, shoulder press, bent rows, upright rows, bicep curls, etc.).


is it true that if you do cardio after weight lifting your body is all whacked out,so you burn like double the amount of calories/fat than you would if you did cardio before lifting weights?also,when i do cardio should i judge it by the time or by how many calories i've burned?you got a great site,keep up the good work.

Steven Gonzalez


Hi Steven,

The best times for doing cardio is first thing in the morning before eating and after a workout. Doing your cardio at these times will help you burn more bodyfat, your body will resort to burning fat because there is no food in your system to be used as fuel.

When I am getting ready for a bodybuilding contest I will work up to doing two 30 minute cardio sessions each day, one in the morning before breakfast and one after my weight training workouts.


Hey Lee,

I was doing some chest exercises like flys and the chest press but my chest doesnít seem to feel ached or strained. Does this mean that Iím not doing enough? if it doesnít feel strained, will my muscles still get stronger? my biceps seem to be the ones aching though.

please advice,



Hi Shawn,

You do not have to get sore after a workout to make progress. I rarely get sore after my workouts, but I am still making gains with my training. Generally, you only get sore after you try something new or if you haven't trained in a while.


Hi Mr. Lee,

i was surfing the net when i saw your site. I was wondering if you can give me some pointers. I currently weigh 178pounds. my max benchpress is 255 and im trying to shoot for 300. i bench every monday 210 pounds at reps of 6-6-6-5-4. then i work on my back on sundays then shoulders and legs on monday. I work during the week at a ups so i get a workout already:). I'm taking a shake with 40grams of protein 2 times a day. plus i eat stuff. Every other saterday i try to max out to with bench press. Is this a routine you think is good or bad?

andres cibrian


Hi Andres,

I have a good training article that you should read at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm

For your nutrition you should eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. For protein eat foods such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, protein shakes, etc. Eat plenty of carbohydrates such as bread, rice, cereals, potatoes, pasta, fruit, vegetables, etc. You can even eat some "junk food" in moderation to help get extra calories in your diet. The more food you eat, the bigger and stronger you will get.

Don't max out so often. I personally would not recommend maxing out in the bench press more then once every 2 months. Maxing out too much will just increase the risk of injury. I have a good article about bench press technique at: http://www.leehayward.com/art22.htm


Would you explain exactly what "overtraining" is, because I'm really not sure how much too much is ???


If you are making progress with your workouts, getting stronger, and you feel strong and healthy then you are not overtraining.

But if you are tired and sore a lot of the time and are not making strength gains, then you most likely are overtraining and just need a break from working out. If you workout 3-4 times per week you should have no problems with overtraining. It usually happens to people who workout everyday and do not give their body a chance to rest.



Just wanted to let you know that I am competing in a large meet soon - still using the blast the bench routine to prepare - will do two weeks before and then cool down the last week - I have added over 30 lbs on the bench using your routine and also by increasing my intake of protein. As you know I am 64 and only weight 158. My goal for the spring event is an even 300 bench and I honestly believe I can achieve it. As always I appreciate any advice you can give.

Take Care,
Peter Hubbard (aka Ole Head)


Those are great gains Peter, keep up the good work!

When you are not following the "Blast Your Bench" routine you should focus a lot on dumbbell bench presses. I find that they work well for bringing up your strength.

One exercise that I have been doing with good results is flat dumbbell bench press for time. The way it works is you take a fairly light set of dumbbells and get in position to do a set of bench presses. But instead of doing a set number of reps you keep going for 2-3 minutes. You do not have to perform one rep right after another you can pause at the top or at the bottom of each rep. For example, I personally lift the db's and pause at the top for a count of 5 and then lower the db's and pause at the bottom for a count of 5 and keep this up for 2-3 minutes.

This will overload your chest, shoulders, triceps, and stabilizer muscles like nothing else! The last time I did these I used 50's for 3 minutes at the end of my chest workout (it is a killer!).


Dear Lee,

Thank you for your time in reading my letter. I have been working out for a couple of years off and on and my right pec seems to be developing faster than my left I have a real nice cut to it and you can tell in the mirror that it is visible bigger all the way around the pec I do bench press, dumbbell presses and butterfly what can I do to even my pecs out.

thank you for your time and GOD BLESS.



Hi Chris,

This is a very common problem. Practically everyone has some imbalance between their left and right sides of the body.

This is caused because we use our dominant side for most of our daily chores (i.e. if you are right handed you will tend to do most of your daily activities with your right hand). This can also affect your workouts, where the dominant side usually lifts more of the weight then the weaker side.

To fix this problem you need to do exercises that work each side of the body separately. By forcing both sides of your body to work equally as hard you will develop balance between the left and right sides of the body.

Dumbbells are ideal for working both sides of the body equally. Unlike barbells and most machine exercises, dumbbells allow the weight to be evenly divided between the left and right sides, thus creating even development.

I suggest that you stop all barbell exercises for your chest for a few months and do exercises such as:

- dumbbell bench presses (incline, flat, and decline)
- dumbbell flyes (incline, flat, and decline)
- cable cross overs

If you have access to Hammer Strength or similar types of machines that allow each side of the body to work independently you can incorporate those in your chest workouts as well.


Hi Lee,

I'm going to be starting my workout routine soon, however I'm not complete on the routine I'll be using for dumbbell workout for my forearms. I know the wrist curls are a good routine but what else can I do as well. I don't want to get tired of the same routine over and over, but I do want those "Bruce Lee" Forearms. I'm getting this product that's somewhat of an imatation Bowflex (c) called Bandflex as compare to bowflex (c). I don't like gyms and I get tired of the setting up for free weights so that's why I'm going with this product. But is there some kind of equipment of some sort that can assist me in forearm development as well as using the dumbells?


Hand grippers are a great forearm exercise. Just visit any sporting goods store and you should be able to get a good pair of grippers.

Holding on to heavy weights for your other body part workouts will develop your forearms.

Another good forearm exercise is simply hold on to a chin up bar and hang on for as long as your grip will last. When you get up to hanging on for 2+ minutes you can add weight with a weight belt to make it harder.

Also include barbell and dumbbell exercises such as wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, and reverse barbell curls. Train your forearms 2-3 times per week. Pick a couple exercises for each forarm workout. Vary your exercises, sets, and reps, etc. on a regular basis to keep your muscles growing and prevent boredom with your workouts.

Follow these tips for a few months and you will have a set of forearms like Popeye :-)
Popeye Arms


Dear Lee,

I wanted to maybe get some info from you. I am a 23 year old female and I weight about 200lbs. I have made the plunge and decided to change my habits! What I want is to gain muscles and be very toned. I also want washboard abs and awesome thighs. I want all my muscles to be very defined but not huge! I have been talking with someone that has been helping but wanted to get some feedback from you.

Currently my diet is:

breakfast - bagel or piece of toast
snack - fruit
Lunch - sandwich ( tuna or turkey) and nonfat yogurt
snack - fruit
dinner - meat ( chicken or fish), steamed veggies, salad, 1 complex carb

I currently work out 4 nights a week and i eat dinner after my workout. Right now i work out my arms and legs all in one work out. I left about 30 pounds and i do 6 machines ( 3 for upper and 3 for lower) i do about 200 reps on each machine! my question is looking at this link on another forum http://www.leehayward.com/art5.htm i see that you didnt recommend quite that many! and the fact that im able to do that many im starting to think maybe i should up the weight and acually do your recommed reps! I want to get just a little bigger but i want to be defined so i heard that you do lighter weights more reps! now when i lift it burns a little but im not struggling a whole lot! also does someone who is overweight like i am ( i need to loose quite a bit of body fat) need to drink protien shakes! and about how much do you think! my main goal is to loose body fat and gain muscle definition and tone! I dont do much cardio for right now! how much cardio would you recommend? Please help

Amber Lamkins


Hi Amber,

You need to eat more protein in your diet. The only time you eat any protein now is for lunch in your sandwich and at dinner with your meat. I suggest that you add 2 protein shakes per day. Have one with your breakfast and another for your second snack. A high protein diet raises your metabolism, allowing you to burn more fat, it doesn't cause water retention like a high carb diet can, and protein will satisfy your appetite more and make you feel less hungry. As well, protein supplies the nutrients needed to build lean muscle. I recommend that you use a good protein supplement such as "EAS Whey Protein".

There are only 2 things that you can do to improve your physique; lose bodyfat and gain muscle. To lose bodyfat you need to increase your aerobic exercise. You should do aerobic exercise first thing in the morning before eating. Work up to doing 45-60 minutes of aerobic (i.e. walking, cycling, treadmill, biking, etc.) first thing in the morning when you get up. Doing your cardio at this time will help you burn more bodyfat, your body will resort to burning fat because there is no food in your system to be used as fuel.

I personally go for an hour walk each morning before breakfast or if the weather is bad I will go to the gym and do a total of 1 hour of cardio on the treadmill, bike, rower, stepper, etc... (I mix it up so I don't get bored).

For help with your weight training routine I suggest that you read my article at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm

The only other thing that I would recommend is a good fat burner such as "Ripped Fuel". This will help curb your appetite, raise your metabolism, and boost your energy levels. Take one serving on an empty stomach 20 minutes before your aerobic and weight training exercise.


What is the difference between doing barbell exercises and dumbbell exercises? Which one is more effective?


Both variations work for building muscle and strength. Generally, barbell exercises allow you to handle more weight then dumbbell exercises. But dumbbell exercises work more stabilizer muscles because you have to balance 2 weights instead of 1. I personally include both variations in my workouts (i.e. bench press, shoulder press, bent rows, upright rows, etc.). If you like, you can do barbell exercises for one workout and do dumbbell exercises for the next workout.


Hi Lee,

My 12 yr.old son is 6ft tall is 155lbs., he hit puberity last summer. He plays football in the fall and plays basketball in the winter and in the sping. He is interested in lifting. I have a bench press and free weights that I use. I use light weights-high reps to cut. He has worked out with me-but I've only let him lift the bar, teaching him technique and breathing. This has been going on for about 2 months. My question is he wants to add weight and he wants to add mass, is he to young to lift? What should we focus on Chest,bi's, tri's, shoulders, back?



Hi Tom,

I started working out when I was your sons age. There is no problem with young people working out with weights as long as they are taught proper lifting form and lift within their capabilities. If he is able to handle football and basketball he is able to handle weight training, in fact weight training is probably the safest of all 3 activities.

You should focus on a total body workout routine. I have a couple good articles that you should read that will help you make up a good workout routine to follow.


Hi Lee!

does this workout routine seem good,or should i change it?

monday - biceps,triceps
tuesday - shoulders,abs,calves
wednesday - quads,hamstrings
thursday - chest,back
friday(optional day)- triceps,shoulders

i generally do about 10 minutes cardio and burn 200 calories,and i'm currently taking xenadrine.

i got a question- lately,i seem to experiance pain doing exercises i used to be able to do regularly...like leg raises,shoulder presses,etc. and today,i was doing bicep curls with an e-z bar,when all of a sudden my lower back felt strange.i figured maybe it was warmed up or something and i was gonna do back today anyway,so i did some pulldowns and then some deadlifts,when i went to do seated cable rows,my lower back felt really tight and strange even when i just walked,it didn't feel right,like if something was wrong.i figured it might be the way i'm sleeping,because i get pain in the right side of my neck,so maybe now it's afecting my back,what's your take on this?



Hi Steven,

Your workout routine is ok. The main thing with any routine is to keep using it until it stops working for you. When you find that you are not getting stronger with your workout. Change it around, do different exercises, etc. to stimulate your muscles.

To get rid of the pain in your shoulders and back take a 3-4 days off from lifting to let your muscles and joints fully rest and recover. If you find doing a certain exercise hurts, then don't do it. Find a different variation or angle to work your muscles. For example, if barbell shoulder press hurts, try using dumbbells, smith machine, press behind the neck or to the front, or some other variation. If barbell curls hurt, try doing cable curls, dumbbell curls, hammer curls, etc. There are dozens of different exercises and variations that you can use to work around aches and pains.

You should also supplement your diet with glucosamine, I have an article about it at: http://www.leehayward.com/art26.htm


Hi Lee,

My name is andrew. I got your "blast your bench 2" and "how to get a six pack of abs" and they both worked great!

As of now I'm in delayed entry for the Navy and I'm going to volunteer for the SEAL Challenge at boot camp. On all the SEAL websites they say to have a diet of very high carbs protein and fat as those are the three main energy sources for SEALs. It is very important to get a lot of carbs because of the very long and intense workouts I am doing to prepare.

I'm 6'1" 170ish and I have fat around the mid section. I know I can not lose the fat if I am constantly taking in all those carbs. My question is, what will hurt my performance the most: carrying the gut around while running, pullups, swimming ect. or going without the carbs. help would be much appreciated.



At your height and weight you need to eat all the food you can to fuel your workouts. If you were 200+ lbs. then the extra weight may hinder your performance in running, pull ups, etc. But at 170 lbs. you have nothing to worry about. Eat, eat, eat...


Dear Lee,

I'm 17 years old this september 2002. I'm 5'7", 160 lbs, 17% Bodyfat. I just recently went from 190 to 160 and now I'm looking to put some mass back on for a school trip 6 months away. I train 6 days a week Sat-chest, Sun-Bi's, Mon-Tri's, Tues-Back, Wens-Abs, Thurs-Shoulders and Friday Rest. I usually preform anywhere from 4 to 6 exercises with 4 sets reps 12, 10, 8, then 6 to failure. I don't work out my legs becasue I play volleyball almost everyday of the week for about a hour and a half somedays up to 8 hours. I believe I get a decent amount of protein in my daily diet eating tuna everyday along with peanut better in the mourning and a good piece of meat for dinner every night. I believe my diet is pretty well balanced except I know I need to eat a bit more veggies and fruits. I just have a few questions about a few topics.

1) Is it okay to workout 6 days a week with different muscle groups like I have discribed above?

2) To gain mass should I just concentrate on form and lift heavier and possible do power lifts?

and anything else that you wish to mention that you think might you think might offer help to me would be great...

Thnx for your time...



Hi Corey,

I suggest that you cut back on your workouts. Training 6 days per week and playing volleyball everyday will just over work your body and cause you to overtrain. I suggest that you weight train 4 days per week at most. I have a great training article that you should read at: http://www.leehayward.com/workout_programs/index.htm

Even though you play volleyball you should still train your legs at least once per week. The legs make up a good portion of your muscle mass and not training them will hold back your overall gains. When you work big muscle groups such as legs, chest, and back your body will produce more anabolic hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone. Not only that but by training your legs on a regular basis you will be able to jump higher and have more stamina when playing volleyball.

"A decent amount of protein" doesn't cut it when trying to gain muscle mass. You need to eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. So for you this equals 160 grams of protein per day. A can of tuna has 30 grams of protein, peanut better has 5 grams of protein per tablespoonful, 1/2 pound of lean beef has 45 grams of protein.

So my guess would be that on average you eat about 90 - 100 grams of protein per day, when you should be eating 160 grams per day for muscle growth. The easiest way to get this extra protein in your diet is with protein supplements. Many people think that protein supplements are too expensive, but when you compare them to the price of high protein foods they work out to be much cheaper. Now you should still eat high protein foods, but if you have a protein shake 2-3 times per day this is a easy way to get extra protein in your diet.

To show you the cost savings of protein shakes just look at this example.

5 lbs of Optimum Whey Protein
(available at: http://totfit.safeshopper.com/81/570.htm) = $29.95
This gives you 80 servings of 22 grams protein ($0.37 per serving)

To get the same amount of protein in meat you would have to buy about 30 big steaks which could cost about $100 bucks, or more, depending on the quality of meat you buy.


My trainer sees me working out quite a bit and at times he says I am over training. Is there such a thing. He says your body gets tears in the muscle groups you are working on and if you tear to many muscles at the same time your body can't recover. If you have a good workout, how many muscle group can you work at a time? What is the recovery time for your muscles before you work them again? Can you over train?



Hi Heath,

Yes, you can over train. As for your recovery time, that will vary from person to person. But you should limit your workouts to 4 days per week (i.e. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, take Wednesdays and weekends off) or you can workout every second day. Generally, you can train each muscle group once or twice each week depending on the workout program that you are following. Workouts should be kept under 2 hours (including a warm up and cool down). If you follow these guide lines you should not have problems with over training.


Hi Mr. Hayward:

I have been very interested in the sport of body building and I have been lifting for about 6 months. I have been reading and searching for information about the sport. I recently came across an article about training to failure on my sets.

My question is: What can I do if I don't have a partner to help me train to failure such as, squats and bench pressing? I am afraid that if I do this routine which sounds correct that I won't be able to move the weight off me when I have depleted all of my energy.

Is there something else I can do on my own that would yield the same results and intensity? Also, it's very hard to keep asking people for spots and I cannot find a good partner.

Thank you for your help.

Toby Lucas


Hi Toby,

For these exercises you can use a power rack. You can set the safety pins of the power rack to catch the barbell if you can not lift it. I do a lot of my heavy training in the power rack because of this. If you do not have a power rack you could you a smith machine instead. Your other option is to still do squats and benches, but do not train to failure. You will still be able to make progress training this way.


Hi Lee,

I am writing to you because i have a cardio problem. First of all, i am 15 and thanks to you, i do efficient weight training for 2 hours for 4 days a week. My problem is that i am wondering if i should stop my weights and focus on cardio until Christmas. I know i will loose some muscle but the other day i was looking at myself and i saw that i do have little fat in various areas. So therefore i would stop my weights until Christmas and just focus on cardio everyday to slim down. What do you think i should do? Should i continue with my weights and do cardio on my rest days? or should i just stop weights and do pure cardio? Also, i'm not considered fat, i just have little fat in various areas and want to get rid of it.

Thanks very much for your help

Nikolas Wong


Hi Nikolas,

Do not give up weight training. You will lose the muscle and strength gains that you have worked so hard for. Do 30-45 minutes of cardio about 5 days per week. Cardio should be done on an empty stomach. If you can do a half hour walk / jog out doors first thing each morning before eating that will work wonders for losing bodyfat.

Cut back on your food intake slightly. Cut out junk foods. For each meal eat some protein (i.e. beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, etc.), starchy carbs (i.e. bread, rice, cereals, potatoes, pasta, etc.), and a piece of fruit or some vegetables. Have 3 meals per day and have 2 protein drinks per day in between meals. Do not eat anything for at least 1 hour before going to bed. Going to bed on an empty stomach will allow you to burn more fat while you sleep.

Keep doing your weight training as normal. By eating less food and burning more calories through cardio you will be able to lose the excess bodyfat with out losing muscle. After a month of this you should start to see some progress.

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