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Push and hug for pecs!? – Parrillo protein products: Vegetarian god-send – Vertical leap improvements require strength improvements – Home gym power routine – Sugar-buster! – Hi-tech, advantage or distraction?

By Iron Vic Steele


I was reading a column of yours where you were talking about the difference between benching and flyes and how there are two “pec functions, pushing and hugging.” What does that mean? I understand pushing – hugging? How does hugging help build your pecs?? I do flyes with a pair of 80s!

Danny, Dallas


You mean you do hybrid bench/flyes with those 80s and to the rest of us your “flyes” look a whole lot like dumbbell benches. Arnold came up with the descriptive phrase, “Doing a proper flye is like hugging a giant tree.” I love the image. I thought it ideal for portraying how a flye should be done. Too many bodybuilders (like you Danny) do flyes that are half bench press and half flye. This hybrid technique allows the bodybuilders to use a whole lot more ego-inflating poundage. Unfortunately, the results are always subpar. The bench press, with all it angles, and grip widths exhausts the push power of the pecs. If a dumbbell flye is done right, it exhausts the “bear-hug” power of the pectoral muscles. When flying, the poundage is light, and the arms are flung wide. The flye descent needs to be a mirror-image of the concentric phase of the flye. Allow the bells to stretch the pecs at the bottom of every flye. John Parrillo recommends flyes be done “with continuous tension, pull the bells downward with tension. Raise the bells using the same rep speed.” Those that use heavy dumbbells and a quasi-bench press style never isolate the pecs. Use less poundage and dig a far deeper muscular inroad. For better pecs, learn to hug. 

Mr. Steele,

I am a vegetarian. I am also a serious lifter/bodybuilder and have been for a long time. I eat eggs and use Parrillo Products to get enough protein. I am a female and want to hit 100-grams of protein per day – derived from supplements. My progress took off when I discovered Parrillo Products. That was about three years ago. Before then I had been using soy protein powder and essentially wasting my money. I compete in local Figure competitions in the 40-44-year-old age group. I could use a few more pounds of lean muscle. What Parrillo Products would you stack to hit 100-grams of protein per day.

Renee, Paris (Texas, not France)

It was a smart move on your part switching from soy to Parrillo. Soy is anemic partial protein. Plant proteins can never generate the protein potency of whey, milk and egg or caseinate. Start the day with a Parrillo Optimized Whey™ protein shake. I would drink this upon arising. The great thing about Optimized Whey™ is that, in addition to deliver 34-grams of protein, it only contains 3 grams of carbs, not enough to disturb the low-glycogen status we seek prior to fasted cardio. Midmorning eat a delicious Parrillo Soft Chew bar™. This adds 21 grams of protein to the daily protein tabulation. After working out, drink a 50/50 Plus™ replenishment shake. With 21 grams of high BV protein and 17 grams of slow-release carbohydrate, you have pushed your daily protein total to 76 grams. Want to keep going? I would drink a Parrillo Hi-Protein™ shake at bedtime. Caseinate protein releases its payload slowly, as you sleep. Congratulations! You’ve consumed 107 grams of protein and haven’t had to cook a single bite of food! What a great and flavorful way to hit protein minimums -and you haven’t violated a single vegetarian tenant! 


I am trying to dunk a basketball. I am 6-foot and can grab the rim. I would like to dunk. I suspect if I had stronger legs, I could soar higher. Any thoughts? I am a 29-year old bodybuilder (kinda) that plays a lot of sports including baseball, volleyball and flag football. I am a catcher and power hitter in the VFW league. Is there a strategy for leaping higher?

Bobby P., Philly (Southside) 


 Stronger legs help leaping ability – also being lighter will help. The combination of getting stronger legs while shedding excess body fat means that your stronger legs have less payload to lift into the air. Our strategy is to increase deep squatting power. Go super deep in your squats: to maximize leaping power stay in the 3-6 rep range. Get your deep squat power up and your vertical leap will improve. It will improve even more if you drop 10-pounds of body fat. A guy that improves his leg strength a full 10% while decreasing his body fat by 10-pounds should pick up a 3-6-inch increase in leaping ability. When you can grab the rim for three sets of 5-reps, without missing, you are ready to try and dunk a baseball. This gets your wrists operating correctly. Once you can consistently dunk a baseball, move to a softball. Master that and we’re ready to try dunking a volleyball. That is the last bus top before basketball dunking becomes a reality.

Hello again!

I wrote you a couple years ago about home gym training and how to build a home gym. I took your advice and slowly built a nice garage gym. As I mentioned, I live in the Yukon and train alone. I made a power rack and have a bench that inclines, lots of dumbbells, an Olympic barbell and plenty of plates. I made a dipping apparatus and have a double-pulley with cable that allows me to do pulldowns and tricep press-downs. I got 600-pounds of plates and I am fired up to add some muscle size. I am snowed in all during January and February. Question – what would be a good power routine for building size?? I got all the time in the world to train in the deep winter. All I do is lift, eat, sleep, shovel snow, eat moose stew and potatoes, repeat for two months. Thank god for Netflix!

Jon Paul, Three Forks River

I love your setup! Can I come stay?? For a guy with plenty of time to train, I would suggest a six-day a week high volume routine (why not?) Follow up with lots of protein and carbs and quality calories. Ideally, intense training is paired with high calorie eating and followed up with deep sleep and power naps. This is the classical recipe for triggering muscle growth. Here is a power-bodybuilding routine that has been a proven result-getter for eons. 


barbell squat, calf raises off a block with dumbbell, Romanian deadlift 


bench press, dumbbell bench, flyes, dips, nose-breakers, triceps pushdown 


power clean, barbell row, lat pulldowns, BB curls, seated DB curls 


front squat, squat rack calf raises, stiff-leg deadlift (for hamstrings)


dumbbell bench, DB flyes, close grip bench, dips, DB Tricep extensions 


deadlift, chin or pullups, under-grip pulldowns 



This is a lot of work and requires a lot of supporting calories. I would use snow removal as my cardio. I would try and break sweat while doing this routine chore. Turning work you must do into a cardio situation is a winner. You deal with what you must deal with, do it faster, and get an exercise benefit. Aerobic activity is important for keeping weight gains lean. I would stock up on 50/50 Plus™, the Parrillo post-workout shake: 20-grams of protein and 17-grams of slow-release carbohydrate per serving. I would stockpile several cannisters of 50/50 Plus™. I personally double up on the serving size and drink a 50/50 Plus™ shake after every training session. This double shot delivers 42 grams of protein, 34 grams of carb, no fat and one gram of sugar. My personal favorite is orange cream flavor. How can something this sweet and delicious not contain any sugar? You can take your size and strength to the next level if you handle things right. 


Hello Vic!

The reason I am writing is I can never get traction with eating. I love to weight train and can even get it together to do cardio on a regular basis. I have a terrible time with sugar and sugar products. I am strong, fit – and fat – and pre-diabetic. Everything I eat is a carb or sugar. I need to get off the sugar train or I am headed for trouble. I read an article in the PPP about ‘switching out’ chocolate and sweets for Parrillo supplements that taste chocolatey and sweet – yet contain no sugar. Could you review how that goes?

Renee, Laurel Canyon

We have had tremendous success using chocolate flavored Parrillo products to wean folks off chocolate and sweets. The incredible thing about these various products is how successfully they replicate deep, rich chocolate taste through the expert use of totally defatted cocoa powder. Our strategy is that before a sweet tooth craving hits, satiate it. Satisfy cravings with a continual flow of chocolate flavored Parrillo product. Drink a Parrillo Optimized Whey™ shake upon arising. Mid-morning, eat a Parrillo Energy bar™. After training, drink a 50-50 Plus™ shake and eat a Parrillo Soft Chew bar™. Later that night, eat a half-dozen Parrillo chocolate Contest Cookies and wash them down with a frothy Chocolate Fix™ shake while watching TV before bed. Every supplement is chocolate and delicious. You have taken in 1,100 clean calories, 147 grams of high BV protein and satiated your sweet tooth all day long – and all for only 8 grams of sugar! This borders on incredible. Tasting is believing. You will not believe how delicious these Parrillo products are.

Happy 2020!

Lots of high tech out there everywhere – do you know of or use any apps that actually help the serious bodybuilder? 

Rocky, Scranton

Depends on the App and depends on the person. I think the video capacity of the modern phone can be of great use to the modern trainee. Video your top sets, your all-out sets. View the playback as soon as the set is concluded. Look at the set with an eye towards improving – how was your technique? Room for improvement? Was the effort harder or easier than it looked? I think electronically logging a workout as it is happening is the modern equivalent of the spiral notebook, we all used to carry in our gym bags and fill out after every set in every workout. Some smart folks are using the phone as a way to determine the micronutrient breakdown of the food they are about to consume. When you are out to eat and want to know how many calories that filet of beef wrapped in bacon (at Ruth Chris’ steakhouse) contains? Google it!

2020-03-03T11:37:52-05:00 March 3rd, 2020|Iron Vic Speaks, The Press|

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