Truly Huge Fitness Tips
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         FITNESS TIPS FOR 3/3/2004               

Interview with Nick Nilsson "The Guru of New and Unusual 
By Paul Becker

PB: Can you give our readers a little bit of background 
information about yourself?

NN: Sure, Paul.  I've been weight training for about 14 years
now.  I started when I was 17.  I've got a university degree in 
Physical Education and Psychology from the University of 
Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada.   When I first started training, 
I weighed about 145 pounds soaking wet, after having been 
pretty much an endurance athlete for most of my youth.  
Currently, I'm at around 228 pounds.  

From the day I first started training, I was always looking for 
new and unique exercises and programs to get me the results 
I wanted.  The traditional exercises and programs only got me 
so far and I was really never satisfied with the results I got from 
just the regular training programs and styles.  I used to actually 
freak out the gym staff with some of the stuff I would do and the 
intensity with which I would train.  There were times where I 
would actually tell the staff member not to worry if they saw me 
collapse to the ground after a set - I was just resting and not 

PB: Tell us a little bit about your current training routine?

NN:   Right now I'm working on a mass gain phase.  When I 
started it back in December, I had dropped down to about 195 
pounds.  I've gained about 34 pounds in the last couple of 

I currently train 4 times a week.  The first two days are total body 
workouts, divided into two sections.  The first half of the workout is 
focused on strength building, utilizing longer rest periods and 
lower reps.  The second half of the workout focuses on training 
volume, utilizing higher reps, combination sets (where I work two 
muscle groups back to back) and shorter rest periods.

After one rest day, I do a hypertrophy-oriented style where I used 
moderate reps, higher training volume with 1 minute rest in between 
sets.  I work this for two days then take two days off.  It's a very 
demanding program but the results are very good.

PB: What is your diet like?

NN:  When I'm on a gaining phase, like I am now, I try to eat fairly 
clean but it large quantities.  First thing in the morning, I start off 
with a protein shake right away.  This is a great way to get your 
metabolism cranking and reverse the overnight catabolic state.  
Breakfast is typically a half-dozen or more whole eggs and a big 
bucket-sized bowl of oatmeal mixed with yogurt.

During the day, I typically eat plenty of tuna, chicken breasts, 
spaghetti, rice, potatoes, steak, ground beef, and foods similar to 
that.  I'm not much of a cook so sometimes a big bowl of cereal 
ends up on the dinner menu.  The real keys, when trying to gain 
muscle, are really to eat plenty and eat often.

PB: I hear you have many notebooks full of exercises you invented. 
How do you come up with them?

NN:  I do have a number of notebooks filled with exercises and 
techniques that I've come up with.  Every time I workout, I make it a 
point to try something or come up with something new.  In seven years, 
I've never not written something after a workout.  Inventing new training 
techniques has been a passion of mine for many years now.

When I want to invent an exercise, I first look at the equipment I have 
available.  I think about what I've done with it before and other ways 
that it can be used for working different muscles.  To be honest, some 
of the best exercises I've ever invented are done on machines that 
are normally used for a completely different purpose.  Case in point, 
one of the most effective triceps exercises I've ever invented is done 
on the pec deck!

I take my background in kinesiology, anatomy, and biomechanics, 
combine it with my many years of practical experience in the trenches 
and a healthy dose of creativity and sometimes insanity, and apply 
it all to the task of making the muscles work as hard as possible as 
efficiently as possible.  Before I ever pass the exercises on to anyone, 
I make sure that they're completely safe and as effective as possible.

PB: Can you tell us one of the exercises you invented, so we can try it?

NN:  Definitely.  One of the best back exercises I've invented is one I 
call the Full Range Pulldown and it can be done on any regular pulldown 
machine.  When you do this one, you'll get a muscle contraction in your 
lats that you won't believe.  

This exercise is based on the theory that the back is never really taken 
through its full range of motion in a single exercise.  The pulldown hits 
part of the range of motion and the seated cable row hits the other part 
of the range of motion.  When you combine the exercises into one
movement and get tension over the entire anatomical range of motion 
of the back all at once, the ability that the muscles have to achieve a 
full contraction is increased tremendously.

I'll give you a description of the exercise.  I will also give you a link 
where your readers can view pictures of the exercises as well as see 
it in action in a video on their computers.

Start by doing a pulldown to the normal bottom position.  Here's 
where the switch comes in.  Hold the bar completely motionless at 
that bottom point in space while you lean your upper body back and 
down until it is horizontal.  Be absolutely sure to keep tension on 
the back muscles as you lean back into the row position.  The whole 
thing resembles an inchworm-like movement.  Keeping tension on 
the back at this point is critical to maximize the contraction during 
the movement.

After you've leaned all the way back, continue the pulldown movement 
as a rowing movement all the way to full contraction and squeeze 
hard at the bottom. 

The two keys with this exercise are to not release the tension in the 
lats as you lean back and to make sure you hold the bar motionless 
in space as you lean back during the transition from pulldown to row.

Return the weight to the top in one smooth motion, letting your upper 
body come up as you allow the bar to move back up to the top.

When you do this exercise, use a lighter weight (about 50% of your 
regular weight) than you would ordinarily use for pulldowns, focusing 
on continuous tension, strict form and maximum contraction.  After a 
few reps, your back will be on fire!

Here's the link for seeing pictures and a video of the exercise in 


PB: You currently have a best selling eBook. Could you tell us a little 
bit about it? 

NN:   The book is called "The Best Exercises You've Never Heard Of" 
and it's a compilation of 53 of the most unique and effective exercises
I've ever invented or found/rediscovered through research.  The book 
covers exercises for every major bodypart, every single exercise 
has pictures of form, common errors that you might encounter when 
performing the exercises as well as tricks and hints for performing the 
exercise more effectively.  On top of that, many of the exercises have 
full-color videos demonstrating the exercise in action.  These are 
very helpful for learning how to do exercises.

This book is something I would have loved to have had when I first 
started training, which is exactly why I wrote it.  One of my favorite 
things to do is show people new and effective ways to train.  When I 
see that little light bulb turn on in a person's head, I know I've 
reached them.  It's a gratifying feeling! There are so many ideas for 
new exercises in this book as well as explanations as to how and 
why they are so effective, I know it'll be an extremely valuable 
addition to any trainer's library.  

Having variety in your training program is extremely important.  
Not only will it keep you from getting bored with your training but it 
will also keep your body from becoming too accustomed to your 
training and, in the long run, stagnating.   In fact, many personal 
trainers buy this book in order to learn new exercises to teach their 
clients to keep them interested and coming back for more!   

This book, as well as several others that I've written ("Gluteus to 
the Maximus - Build a Bigger Butt Now!" and "Specialization 
Training"), is available at my site through the following link:


PB: Thanks for the interview Nick. 

NN: You're very welcome, Paul.

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