HALF SCIENTIST AND HALF MONSTER, BEN PAKULSKI IS THE DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE OF BODYBUILDING. No one in the IFBB Pro League today applies greater scientific rigor to their workouts than Pak- Man. Armed with a degree in kinesiology, he is forever seeking the latest training research, and if you’re lucky enough to converse with him, he can explain the proven logic behind the technique of his every exercise. So he’s Jekyll, the scientist. But he’s also Hyde, the monster (in a good way).
Hyde-like, he’s capable of conquering bar-bending weights, and he brings a ferocious intensity to the gym. At first glance, some of his methods seem bat-crap crazy, but they’re only mad in relation to the norm—plodding through the same routine workout afer workout and expecting to magically expand muscles without asking anything extra of them. Now what sounds crazy? Pak-Man is rare among bodybuilders for applying his brain to his workouts at least as much as his body. And as the following 10 factors illustrate, he has some unique and uniquely efective ideas about training.
1) GET TENSE, STAY TENSE Let’s start with the fundamental concept behind all of Pakulski’s workouts. As he says, “This is the most important thing to understand when it comes to building muscle.” Weights don’t build muscle. Intensity doesn’t build muscle. Volume doesn’t build muscle. Those are all just tools. How you use them is the key. What builds muscle—or, more precisely, what stimulates muscles to grow larger when they recover— is increased tension. “If you want to carry more muscle tissue, you must subject your body to increased tension on a regular basis and allow it to recognize a long-term need for building muscle,” Pak-Man explains. This is why proper form is so important to him. You have to know how to maximize tension on the targeted area in order to fully stimulate the muscle.
Time under tension (TUT) is crucial. This is the total duration during which a muscle is stressed. Pakulski recommends sets last 40 seconds, and his favorite tempo for achieving this is an eight-rep set with each rep lasting five seconds with slow eccentrics (lowering the weight) but explosive concentrics (rais- ing the weight). “Getting up to 60 seconds is also very efective,” he says. “This doesn’t mean you stop a set that you could easily extend well beyond 60 seconds just because the time range is up. Go until you reach failure, and increase the weight for the next set.” Also, don’t, for example, squat 10 reps that are essentially 10 singles, pausing for several seconds between each rep. Keep working, extending the TUT until the set is complete.
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