Coauthored by Scott H. Mendelson and Eric Serrano, MD


Get ready to earn a ripped core without a single crunch or other nonsensical abdominal movement. We will show you how to activate the core in a functional manner while naturally boosting anabolic hormone levels linked to reduced body fat and more muscle! Check out two unique video exercise executions and training strategies that you can use right away, assuming you are free of injury and eager for a challenge.  Email us to let us know how your core muscles “feel” during the training session and the following days.

It takes hard work, persistence and innovation to develop groundbreaking techniques that must be shared with the strength training world for a planet full of more ripped, yet powerful people.  Every week the strongest of the strong trainees show up to Dr. Serrano’s gym for strategically challenging training sessions to support their aggressive goals.

Following a couple warmup sets which use the same rep, rest and superset scheme below, you can do three or four work sets per exercises depending on individual recovery capabilities. Immediately following the session, shift the focus to accelerating neurological and metabolic recovery. This does not seem like many sets to an experienced trainee, but these movements create very high physical demands.

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*Rest 20 seconds between arms. Start with the weaker arm.  Skilled spotter required.

Break Out of The Box

The longer and harder you have been training, the smarter and at times the more out of the box techniques must be put into place to drive significant muscle growth, fat loss, and peak power improvement while guarding against future injury.

The 30 degree incline unilateral dumbbell press and unilateral full contraction lat pull down are a perfect combination to be executed during the same session in a superset fashion.

Let's get to it — test your strength and your will to improve.

Training Load Optimization

The purpose of training load optimization is to get the most out of every rep. On a 30 degree incline, hold a DB in your left hand and press for eight reps before taking only 20 seconds to transfer the DB to the right hand for eight more reps. Starting with the weaker arm is our preferred order to help fix strength deficits. The left hand is the weaker arm for most right handed trainees. If the case is the opposite, the order should be switched. Ideally the dumbbell will touch the chest on bottom for an optimal range of motion. A skilled spotter is required for safety and support throughout each set.

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Load Selection and Break Set Techniques

Following a couple of warmup sets, pick a challenging weight load that you can use with the proper form and rep speed. The target is eight reps per set. However, stop a rep short of failure and apply a break set type of execution. For example if you feel form will break down after rep five using the left arm, stop there and switch the load to the right arm for five reps. Then return the load to left arm for three perfect reps and finally transfer to the right for three perfect reps to complete the set of eight.

High Challenge Core Engagement

The core muscles activate to balance the torso throughout the set to prevent you from falling off the bench. Furthermore, the beginning of each rep requires the core muscles to fire in conjunction with a wide cross section of upper body musculature. How do we know this? 90% of the time a failed rep never gets an inch off the chest because the core muscles are exhausted before the upper body during a set. Your core must remain engaged from the start to finish of every set due to the lack of counter balance on the other side.

Emphasize Proper Technique to Maximize The Training Benefits

Use a wide base by planting your feet into the ground during the entire set. The training partner should stand on the side of the working arm ready to step in and take the weight if failure occurs or to provide minor assistance during a sticking point. Prepare for some core muscle soreness the following day or two and keep in mind that this is not a good workout to do for the first time a couple days before competition.

lower lat

Teach the Lower Portion of the Lat to Fire Correctly

The unilateral full lat contraction pull down is a movement Dr. Serrano developed to target the lower portion of the latissimus dorsi which is often neglected. A sub optimally functioning lat is the reason behind many of the elbow pain cases common with strength athletes that Dr. Serrano works to correct in his office on a daily basis.

This specialized strength and injury prevention movement has three distinct phases that take some practice during the warm up sets to learn ongoing.

Bring the shoulder blade down and keep it in the down position throughout the entire set. A heavy weight load will make it difficult to maintain this proper position so start conservatively and build up the loads gradually over time.

Start with a neutral grip and rotate to a supinated grip (palm facing your chest). Bring the elbow to the bottom of the rib cage for a full range of motion where you will feel the entire lat firing. Reaching the full range of motion on bottom would be impossible with a bilateral movement holding a bar as the bar would strike the chest long before the elbow can reach the desired range of motion.

Finally, perform a slight lean to the side of the working arm to contract the entire lat.  Hold this contraction for two seconds which trains the origin and insertion of the latissimus dorsi for full activation of the muscle.

When returning to the top of the movement leave at least 10 degrees of bend in the elbow to avoid stressing soft tissue. Keeping elbow flexion on top helps to keep the shoulder blade down throughout the entire set.

After four to six weeks using this routine you can expect your pull up rep and loading capacity to improve significantly.

Big Time Loads with Proper Form

Do not be surprised if one limb is significantly weaker than the other. Unilateral training is highly effective for correcting strength imbalances between limbs. As a result your barbell bench loads are highly likely to increase during the following training phase.

32 hellacious reps total per arm for each exercise is very demanding over a short period of time. Only 20 seconds rest between arms leads to a huge increase of fat burning hormones while stimulating a wide cross section of muscle fibers, leading to significant muscle growth opportunities.

Superset Execution to Improve Performance

Alternating between the two exercises in a superset fashion supports faster neurological recovery between sets. From a metabolic standpoint one limb does get some extra rest while the other is hard at work. Meanwhile, a significant amount of muscle mass is active for the entire training session which can support an increased amount of caloric expenditure.

Packing a tremendous amount of high quality work into a short period of time is highly effective for muscle growth accumulation by way of strategic progression. Additionally, sessions that are 30 to 45 minutes in length can naturally maximize anabolism and prevent overtraining compared to longer training sessions.

Unique Benefits for Every Sport or Activity on Earth

Unilateral training is important for powerlifters, competitive, athletes and bodybuilders to provide strategic training variety, increase the strength of the non-dominant limb, reduce the likelihood of injury, improve functional strength, fix strength imbalances, to optimize anabolic hormone levels, and finally to stimulate a wide range of muscle fibers to accelerate muscle growth.


The Barbell Bench Is Not the Only Valuable Horizontal Pressing Movement for Football

While the bench press has been the mainstay of football strength evaluations for years, it has less application to game action. An offensive lineman executing a block will not push with even hand spacing or equal forces on a standard surface. As the defender moves laterally the blocker must exert more force with one arm to cut the defender off before he can reach the ball carrier.

Powerlifters Should Take A Break From the Bar Periodically

Powerlifters do have the advantage of a fixed environment with a barbell on an even plain; however, a slight weakness in one limb can be the difference between breaking a personal record and failing miserably. Unilateral presses allow for a greater range of motion which is very important for fluid strength throughout the pressing movement and joint health. The DB should touch the chest on bottom with a controlled descent and the elbow should be straight but not locked out on the top of the rep to reduce elbow stress.

Real Core Training

Core training has become terribly convoluted over the years. You must engage the core muscles and stimulate the nervous system using challenging loads within numerous environments to maximize your performance levels and prevent injury. What do you think is more beneficial for core stabilization? 20 reps of the latest swiss ball movements on one leg or pressing a 100 pound DB for reps with one arm only with no counter weight load on the other side?

Be warned, this is no walk in the park. With heavy loading this training is no joke so you will have to focus during training to ensure proper execution. This routine must be done with a training partner to support proper form and to provide a skilled “spotting assistance” during training. Practice makes perfect so use prep sets before your work sets to gradually increase the loading. This routine is appropriate for four to six weeks and if recovery is properly managed, strength levels should increase significantly over the course of the program duration.

General Disclaimer

Exercise, nutrition, and food supplements may affect you differently from another person depending upon your choices, combinations, intensity, timing, general health, and genetics, among other factors. Scott H. Mendelson managing director of can't offer you specific advice on your fitness program nor guarantee your results, as we intend merely to get you thinking about your fitness, nutrition, food supplement, and bodybuilding choices. We recommend that you discuss your exercise, nutrition, and food supplement choices with your physician, trainer, employer, organization, governing bodies and/or dietitian. We make no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information provided; in particular, and without limitation of the foregoing, any express or implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, merchantability, warranties arising by custom or usage and warranties by operation of law are expressly disclaimed.

Scott H. Mendelson Director of is a highly regarded performance nutrition and training specialist. In addition to designing customized programs for his celebrity, weekend warrior and executive clients, Scott works daily with professional athletes from the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and NCAA. Scott has built an excellent reputation providing effective supplements, cutting-edge information and unmatched service to thousands of clients worldwide since 1999. Special assistant to Dr. Eric Serrano MD, Scott helps with the design of training, nutrition and supplementation trials to confirm the effectiveness of protocols and expand his expertise.

Dr. Eric Serrano MD is the ace sought out by elite athletes and business professionals around the world for help with the most difficult of problems.  Dr. Serrano spends a majority of his time promoting the success of his family practice patients in Pickerington; a suburb of Columbus Ohio.  Amongst the thousands of patients are elite athletes from around the globe who will travel to the ends of the earth to consult with Dr. Serrano.

 Photos courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at