Recently I have been flooded with e-mails and questions on the EFS Q/A, and rather than answering them one by one, I decided to put them into an article form so that everyone has access to them.  There is a lot of great information in these answers.  So do yourself a favor; sit back and enjoy.

Dear Jim/Dave,

My shoulder has been really hurting me.  It’s been going on for awhile and I have a doctor’s appointment next week.  I know he’s going to tell me to take time off, but I really don’t want to.  What should I do?

Karl, Frankenstein, Missouri


Thanks for your question.  I know there are a lot of people that have shoulder problems so I know you are not alone.  The first thing that I would do is listen to your doctor and then get a second opinion.

Now for the training, you may have to lay off the pressing and possibly the squats.  But the best thing you can do is pin pulls.  Not only are you going to be able to train heavy, but the pin pull will help traction your shoulder and relieve some of the pain.  You can do them from any height, but I recommend doing them fairly high (from knee or above) so you can pull heavier than normal.

Jim, love the articles and keep up the good work.  I have to admit that I love powerlifting but have a guilty love for building mass.  What I really need is to build a bigger chest.  Any tips?

Tom, Gaylordsville, Conneticut


Thanks for the compliments.  I think we are all a little guilty of wanting to be bigger.  It’s our nature!  So no apologies needed.

As for building your chest, I think the pin pull is probably one of the best chest exercises out there. You are probably scratching your head, but let me explain:

The pin pull puts tremendous strain on the pec.  Don’t believe me?  Grab a training partner’s pec (make sure you get consent first) while they do them or perform a few reps while looking in a mirror.  You won’t believe the contraction.  If you have ever torn your pec, you know how much it hurts to pull.  This alone shows how much pec is involved with the pin pull.  And don’t forget that you can handle much more weight on the pin pull then the bench press.  Bigger weights = Bigger muscles.

My advice?  Get in the rack and tug.


To anyone:  I don’t have a glute ham raise or a Reverse Hyperextension.  What should I do?


Archie, River Styx, Ohio


Good question.  There are a lot of options for you.  There is the Romanian deadlift, pull-through, 45 degree back raise and the straight leg deadlift.  The one that I would really recommend though is the pin pull.  You can vary the height of pull, but the most important thing is that you are building your hamstrings, low back and glutes.  So while the other lifts are good, nothing compares to overall strength like the pin pull.  This is because you can use a lot more weight on the pin pull which will lead to better overall strength and size.


Jim – I noticed when I met you how big your calves were.  Dave also has some cows.  I have done a lot of calf raises; standing and seated.  I’ve tried every sort of rep/set combo.  Nothing seems to work.  Any suggestions?

Daryl, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina


I have never done any direct calf work.  I credit all of my calf size and strength to running hills, jumping, running, squatting and doing pin pulls.  Now I’m guessing that you are a powerlifter so the running and jumping is not going to be an option.  The squats and pin pulls are an indirect but great way to build the calves.  Not only are you handling massive weights, but walking out squats will do wonders.

I think the pin pull is also a great addition because I sometimes do them explosively with a calf-raise at the end.  This is a great way to finish each set and may give you the extra size that you desire.


EFS; like many of your readers, I can’t seem to gain weight.  I feel like I’m eating a ton of food but the scale does not budge. What can I do?

Sammy, Gay Mills, Wisconsin


I had the same problem when I was younger.  Now I can’t seem to lose weight!  Be careful what you wish for.  Anyway, we need to focus on two things; training and diet.  In regards to your diet, make sure you are taking in 3 large whole food meals a day.  In addition to this, I think you need to take in 3 large, calorie dense weight gain shakes per day.  At first, this may seem like a lot of food, but you will be pleasantly surprised.

As for training, you need to do big compound movements.  Squat, deadlifts, bench presses, leg presses, bent over rows and pin pulls.  I think that pin pulls are going to be a great addition to your training arsenal as they allow you to handle huge amounts of weight.  I would train 3-4 days per week.


Jim, I know that you’ve lost some weight recently and I am looking to do the same thing.  What advice can you give me?  I don’t want to lose too much strength!

Taylor, Monkey’s Elbow, Kentucky


Good to hear from someone in Kentucky.  It’s a beautiful state.  As for losing weight, I recommend eating as clean as possible, eating smaller meals, eating frequently and adding in some cardio.

Now I know you don’t want to get weaker or at least minimize the strength loss as much as possible.  This is not easy.  What I found is that you have to expect an initial loss of strength.  But it will come back quickly.  Stick with low reps/higher weights (1 to 3 reps) on your big exercises such as squats, benches and pin pulls.  These exercises will make you strong as hell.  I have found that the pin pull works very well psychologically.  This is because you are handling over 100% of your deadlift max (in most cases) and can help you deal with your initial strength loss.  To sum it up:

  • Eat smaller meals
  • Eat clean
  • Do pin pulls

By now I hope everyone realizes that there is no magic to the pin pull.  The point is that anyone can justify anything in their training.  Alwyn Cosgrove has even written that you can prove scientifically that strength training will make you weaker.

The reason why I wrote this article was:

  • Dave and I spent about an hour laughing about the magic of the pin pull, so I wanted to share it with you.
  • Be careful what you believe; anyone can make a good argument for anything.  It’s up to you to wade through the smoke and mirrors.

I have always believed that in order for an exercise to be in your program, you have to justify it.  I think a lot of people do this, but as you can see, you can justify anything for just about any purpose.  There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, but sometimes there is a better, more efficient way.  So the next time you get caught up with doing 500 things per workout and having 30 different variations, it might be best to take a big step back and ask yourself an honest question; Why?

A good example that I like to use is the Parisi Warm-up.  This warm-up, when done in it’s entirety can be used for conditioning, mobility work, flexibility, and a great way to get ready for your lifting, running and agility sessions.  You are killing a lot of birds with one stone.  Rather than taking each component and beating it to death, this warm-up can save you a ton of time.

By the way, all the town names are NOT made up.