Muscle Intention

October 10, 2013 11:03 am Published by Leave your thoughts


By: Josh Bryant

During high school I worked at a hardcore gym; it exposed me to a wide arrange of characters. One member challenged another member to a dual in 1997, you read that correctly a dual in the latter part of the 20th century and another was an old-time powerlifter with a mullet known as “The Veteran” who after I missed 405 in the squat, threatened me with serious bodily harm–needless to say, I came back and made the squat.

Years earlier, the former owner used to snort coke and then take his drums up on the rafter and beat ‘em and scream sort of macabre—but if you got past that, it made for a helluva deadlift workout!

That brings us to James “Fed” Carrol, one of the lifters who frequented the gym and the bouncer at the local strip club.  Over time, our conversations ranged from the emotional unbalances plaguing some exotic dancers to unorthodox training techniques.

 One example of the latter came from his stint behind bars.  From this experience, he spoke of a dude named ‘Red’ who had a massive chest (or ‘hood’) and the biggest ‘back arms’ he had ever seen, both of which he developed by doing 500 push-ups every morning before ‘chow.

Fed would talk about how Red would slow down the negative and try to feel the muscle contract when doing pushups. Purposeful muscle intention, Red claimed, was his secret to building a herculean hood.

Fed was not a science guy, he did hard time; he preferred hard work to hard data.

This concept seemed logical, so what does science have to say?

Research recently revealed that when you focus your mind on a specific muscle during a workout, you work that muscle 22 percent harder, according to EMG (measures the electrical activity of muscles).

The study showed this when subjects bench pressed 50% of their one repetition max, it did not hold true with 80% intensity.

Red was a very strong man, a push up would have been close to 50% or maybe even less of his true limit.  Science backs what he says. 

Great to see Penn State catching up with the state pen!

Practically Applied

When you are training deadlifts, don’t try and “feel the movement”, heavy bench presses needed to be performed as explosively as possible in a movement intention style. 

Let’s talk some “bro science”, shall we?

Movements classified as “shaping”, bicep curls, flyes, and leg extensions, need to be performed in a muscle intention style to maximize results.

Heavy compound movements should be performed in a movement intention style.

To maximize muscularity, you have to do both!

Show you’re Jailhouse Strong!

Adam benShea


How do dudes in prison get so strong?  A casual Google search will indicate the popularity of this question.  In large part, the image of the broad-back, lean-waist physique emerging from correctional walls has a romantic appeal that stretches back to Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.  While conversation chatter buzzes around the beautiful hoods (chests) and back arms (triceps) that jailhouse training builds, few folks discuss jailhouse style leg workouts.

            Of course, some will claim that nobody trains legs in prison.  However, after talking with dudes who served time in places from Chino to Leavenworth, it appears that leg days are alive and well in the Jailhouse.  On the hand, when prisoners have access to a weight pile, they train traditional leg movements like squats.  On the other hand, everyone who trains inside an institution fills their long days with seemingly endless reps of bodyweight training.

            One of the most popular bodyweight movements inside the jailhouse is the burpee; a functional strength endurance movement that trains the entire body.  Burpees are performed in a number of variations, with some offering increased upper-body training and others offering explosive lower-body strength benefits. 

            Similarly, variations of mountain climbers are done for interval, or Tabata, type training.  Mountain climbers have obvious lower body benefits, but they are not performed to specifically target legs.            

            When cons do not have access to the iron (as is the case in the California penal system), they train legs by putting a fellow inmate on their shoulders while doing squats.  In addition, bodyweight squats are done with reps reaching the hundreds and, in some instances, the thousands.  Lunges are another popular option because they target the quads and glutes without requiring much space.  For isometric leg training, many jailhouse denizens will do wall squats. 

            For the sedentary office worker in a flesh-toned cubicle, the hipster barista pulling organic espresso shots, or the hardcore mirror monkey looking for a new challenge, jailhouse style training offers a functional strength system that can be performed in an 8 by 8 cell or a 35 by 20 Greenwich Village studio.

Show you’re a jailhouse iron game enthusiast:

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