Training For Photo Shoots
by Eric Broser Iron Man Magazine
Q. I know that in your normal training you use relatively low overall volume, at least compared to most high-level bodybuilders, but when you’re on a serious cut, say for a show or photo shoot, do you tend to increase or decrease volume? How many sets per muscle do you do when cutting?
A: Yes, I do tend to use comparatively low overall training volume compared to most pros. I believe training is about quality over quantity—especially for natural athletes. That said, I’m certainly not a disciple of Mike Mentzer by any means, although his ideas definitely had an influence on my own training theories.
When it comes to periods of the year when I am “cutting,” I do not make any alterations to my style of training. I continue to employ my P/RR/S and FD/FS training protocols; however, I usually do up my volume just a bit in an effort to enhance calorie expenditure and my overall metabolic rate. I find that doing a few extra sets—and reps—during my workouts encourages bodyfat loss better for me than spending extra time on a piece of cardio equipment.
Now, that does not mean I completely forego cardio when looking to reach low, single-digit bodyfat levels—just that my additional weight training enables me to do a bit less. The major upsides to using this approach to contest prep (and/or photo shoots) are that first, I despise cardio and love weight training, and second, I retain a lot more muscle mass when I hit the stage or jump in front of the camera.
For clarification, here is a comparison of the sets I normally do for each bodypart vs. what I do during a cutting phase (in parentheses): quads: 9 (12); lats: 9 (12); chest: 8 (10); shoulders: 8 (10); hamstrings: 7 (9); triceps: 7 (8); biceps: 6 (7); traps: 4 (6); lower back: 4 (6); calves: 4 (6), twice per week; abs: 4 (6), twice per week.
Q. I’ve heard that you suffered a serious back injury in 2005. I recently hurt my lower back pretty badly, and my doctor said I may never be able to push really heavy weights again. How did you deal with that and still continue to improve your physique to this day—especially your back and legs?
A: When I injured my lower back, it was the result of cumulative damage over 15-plus years of hard training rather than a particular incident. Still, it was serious enough to keep me in bed for more than six months, only getting out to undergo intense and painful therapy three to four times per week.
When it first happened I saw several so-called specialists, who assured me that my bodybuilding career was done and that I “needed” surgery to fix the damage. Every time another doctor told me that, my fire to return to my feet and back to the gym would burn hotter and hotter. I flat out refused surgery and did not stop until I found a physician who had the skills to rehabilitate me without going under the knife. So right there you have the answer to the first part of your question—I vehemently rejected the notion that I could not be healed enough to continue serious bodybuilding, and I did relentless research in order to find someone who truly knew how to deal with an injury of this nature, rather than recommend the cookie-cutter solution of surgery.
As to what adjustments I made to my training once I was out of bed and back on my feet, I will leave that for my next column so that I can give you a more complete answer. To be continued!
Editor’s note: Eric Broser’s new DVD “Power/Rep Range/Shock Max-Mass Training System” is available at Home-Gym.com. His e-books, Power/Rep Range/Shock Workout and The FD/FS Mass-Shock Workout, which include complete printable workout templates and Q&A sections, are available at