Richard James Ahern's Blog

Fitness, Nutrition and Unchained Muscle!

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The Key to CANNONBALL Shoulders!!


In the next couple of blog posts, I’m going to cover how to train each muscle group to its full potential and get the absolute most growth you can get! Introducing the Key series!

So today is the key to getting cannonball shoulders! Shoulders have always been an important muscle group to me, I’ve always wanted wide shoulders as I think that’s what makes a physique stand out! Shoulders also assist in most upper body exercises so strong shoulders will help your chest lifts and most of your back lifts too!

The shoulder muscles also known as the deltoids are formed of three separate muscles, these are the anterior deltoid (front), medial deltoid (middle) and the posterior deltoid (rear). For developed and strong shoulders all three of these need to be trained.

Dumbbell shoulder presses are my number 1 shoulder exercise; they target all three heads of the deltoid and work each deltoid independently as you’re using dumbbells rather than a barbell. As always use a full range of motion and feel the stretch in the shoulders at the bottom of the lift. Performing these standing also gives you a great core workout!

For shoulder width, the medial deltoid is the most important muscle and the best way to train this is with lateral raises. Pro bodybuilders love this exercise as it’s the only way to isolate the medial deltoid to give you that wide look! A lot of people cheat on this exercise and swing the dumbbells up, use a light weight and focus on squeezing the muscle without swinging the weight!

Presses are the best shoulder compound exercise you can do, but to isolate each head use front raises for the anterior, lateral raises for the medial (see above) and reverse flyes for the rear. This way you can be assured that you have completely trained all deltoid heads to their absolute limit and get the most growth possible!

Also try barbell clean and presses, these are a great exercise for shoulder power and work the traps as well as all three deltoid heads to give you an awesome shoulder workout!

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Are STEROIDS Really That Bad?


So, I’m touching on the topic of steroids again, I do this because they are an integral part of the fitness and bodybuilding world, despite what some guys like to make you believe it’s not just training, diet and genetics that makes these top bodybuilding physiques. Just listen to what some of the retired pros say about the subject if you don’t believe me!

So, I want to give you a truthful insight into the fitness world, so in this post I’m going to talk about whether steroids really are as bad as people think.

First, I am not advocating the use of steroids or any performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), nor do I recommend them to anyone at all. Now that’s out the way let’s talk about the side effects you hear about steroids. Anabolic steroids are based on the male sex hormone testosterone; they all have different functions in the body depending on which ones you use but generally they increase muscle mass and can aid in fat loss. Side effects can include aggression, liver damage, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gynecomastia, hair loss, acne, testicular atrophy, impotence and low sperm count.

So, there are a long list of side effects, however there is a massive difference from steroid USE and ABUSE. If you abuse any drug you are likely to damage yourself or even kill yourself, you also have to remember like most drugs steroids are used in medicine, testosterone injections are given to men with low natural testosterone levels so they can live happier healthier lives! However, a lot of guys know very little about steroids and often use ridiculous doses with no thought of cycle support or post cycle therapy, these are where you hear the horror stories of people dying!

A lot of the side effects are dosage dependent, so low doses are less likely to produce nasty side effects. Side effects are also genetic related, some people are just more prone to certain side effects than others, one guy might get terrible acne while another gets none and one might have life threatening blood pressure issues but another completely unaffected! So, it varies from person to person and you just don’t know how you might react, so it’s dangerous without proper research, knowledge and medical guidance.

So, the point I’m trying to get across to you is that it all depends on how you use steroids, they can be done relatively safely as long as you know what you are doing! It’s important to not use them long term and don’t use high doses, more is not always better, but there are many bodybuilders who have used steroids for a long time with no apparent health consequences what so ever! So, don’t believe everything you hear from the media, the horror stories are often the cases of stupidity, however like I said earlier I DO NOT recommend steroids to anyone what so ever!

I hope that clears up the subject a bit, there is always more to be said so maybe I will do another blog in the future so we can discuss this further!

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The BEST Protein Source!!


Protein is a vital nutrient if you’re into bodybuilding and fitness, that’s because our muscles are made of protein and to build our muscles we must eat protein, simple! Proteins are made from chains of amino acids, there are 22 amino acids found in our body, 9 of these are known as essential amino acids which we must get from our diet, our body can make the other non-essential amino acids from the 9 essential ones if necessary.

So when we are looking for a good protein source it’s important that it contains all 9 essential amino acids, this is why animal protein is important as it contains all 9 essential amino acids, so eggs, dairy, red meat, chicken and fish are all complete protein sources. Plant proteins are known as incomplete protein sources as they don’t have all 9 essential amino acids, so are not so good for muscle building purposes.

But what is the BEST protein source? Well as long as you’re eating complete protein sources you will generally be good to go however for those who want the absolute best protein sources we look at something called the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). This is a method of evaluating protein quality based on the amino acid profile and our ability to digest it. Sources are given a score between 1 and 0, with 1 being the highest and therefor the best source of protein. There are only 4 protein sources with a score of 1 and they are:

  • Eggs
  • Whey (milk protein)
  • Casein (milk protein)
  • Soy protein

So there you go! So another reason to love eggs but also a reason to consider buying protein powder! These 4 protein sources are all easy to digest and have a great amino acid profile. Beef comes pretty close to a score of 1 with a score of 0.92 but not quite as good as the top 4!

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The ONLY 3 Training Methods for Muscle Growth!!


When it comes to training for muscle growth, there are 3 methods you can use in the gym, they all involve using some kind of resistance, may this be weights or cable machines. In this post I will cover them and how you can use them to get more gains than ever before!

Micro Tearing the Muscle – This is the most effective way to grow your muscles, this is the principle of hypertrophy training. By lifting relatively heavy weight in a controlled manner using a full range of motion for around 8-12 reps is the best way to cause micro tears in your muscle fibres. So essentially you are purposely damaging the muscle, hence the soreness, so when you leave the gym your body will repair these micro tears and grow back your muscle fibres BIGGER and STRONGER for next time! Focus on stretching and squeezing the muscle with each rep to get the best results!

Lifting Heavy Weight – Strength gains can often be the result of improved nervous system control but very often a stronger muscle is also a bigger muscle. So lifting heavy weight will challenge your muscles and will likely cause them to grow, lifting heavy also elicits an anabolic response inside the body, so you produce more testosterone and growth hormone which will result in overall growth!

Pumping the Muscle – When you train a muscle for long enough your body pumps more blood into that muscle to feed it with oxygen and nutrients, this is known as the pump. Often training in a higher rep range with lighter weight will get the best pump (15-20 reps), you will know when you get a good pump as the muscle will feel tight, look bigger and burn! The reason this makes the muscle grow is quite simple, you are FEEDING it! The blood carrying all the protein you’ve eaten throughout the day is directly taken to that muscle for growth, on top of this, pumping a muscle will release more growth hormones inside the muscle and also stretch the facia of the muscle which will allow for easier future growth!

So there you have it, every time you step into the gym and pick up a weight, think of these 3 principles, if you’re not tearing the muscle fibres, challenging them with heavy weight or pumping the muscle then you’re NOT going to grow!

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How to Add Up to 100 Pounds to Your Bench and Deadlift Instantly!!


In this blog I’m going to tell you how to add 100 pounds to your bench press and deadlift, this also can apply to other exercises too but I’m focussing on these because they are what most people want to get stronger at. For some it won’t be 100 pounds, it depends on what your current technique and knowledge is like but for most beginners the tips and tricks in this post will add HUGE amounts of weight to your lifts!

General Training Advice – To increase your strength you need to go heavy! The best set to rep range is 5×5, so 5 sets of 5 reps on the relevant exercise, on the last rep you should be really struggling and it should take everything you’ve got to complete that last rep, if it doesn’t then you’re going too light! Warm up first before going to the 5×5 with a lighter weight to make sure you don’t injure yourself. This is the best training method to increase strength.

General Diet Advice – Lifting heavy takes energy, you need to fuel your body. To increase your lifts, you need be eating a caloric surplus, so you are eating more calories than you are burning. I suggest you eat around a 1,000 calories surplus if you’re really serious about gaining strength. Most of these calories should be coming from carbohydrate as carbs are what the body uses for energy but also ensure you’re eating at least 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass for optimal recovery.

Ok, so now the nitty gritting tactics on how to increase your bench press and deadlift:

Deadlift –

  • First of all, always deadlift on a hard solid surface. Don’t deadlift in trainers, either wear proper lifting shoes or go barefoot!
  • Wear a belt, a lifting belt will stabilise your lower back and core and can easily add an extra 20 pounds to your deadlift.
  • Keep your feet aligned about shoulder width apart and ensure your knees and ankles are aligned. Bad technique can really affect your chances of a good lift.
  • Back needs to be flat when lifting with no arch, use an underhand-overhand grip if you struggle with grip strength. Correcting your technique can easily add 50 pounds to your deadlift.
  • Drive with your hips, your hips and legs should start the lift, think of it like a leg press and you’re pushing down on the floor as hard as you can with your legs. The power to start the lift comes from the legs, not the back, this makes a huge difference to how much you can lift.
  • Keep stretching your hamstrings, I have tight hamstrings and it has really affected my deadlift and has led to me getting lower back injuries. However, since I’ve started stretching my hamstrings regularly my deadlift weight has shot up!
  • Try deficit deadlifts, if your weak point is getting the weight of the floor try some deficits for a few weeks then come back to regular deadlifts. Deficits are where you stand on a platform when deadlifting thus making the weight lower on the ground and increasing the range of motion.
  • To increase your deadlift, you need strong legs and back so any other exercise which targets these muscles will help. Squats, Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, lunges, bent over rows and pull ups will all help you increase your deadlift.

Bench Press –

  • Make sure your grip is optimal, this makes a massive difference, too narrow will put too much strain on the triceps and too wide will only engage the chest. You want a grip that will engage as many muscles as possible to get the biggest weight up, this is usually slightly wider than shoulder width, but experiment and do what you feel gives you the most power.
  • Put a slight arch in your back when benching, there is nothing wrong with this and all power lifters do this, it will add pounds to your bench press instantly!
  • It’s not just about chest! You need strong shoulders, triceps and even lats for a big bench. Shoulder press, narrow grip bench press, and pull ups will all help your benching power!
  • Train with dumbbells! Dumbbell bench press is more challenging that barbell bench press, so go heavy with the dumbbells and when you come back to the barbell you’ll see a big difference.
  • Keep the bar above your nipples. This is the optimal position that you will get the most power from, it can vary from person to person but keep this in mind as a general rule.

So there you go, here’s a load of tips and tricks to increase your bench press and deadlift instantly as well as general training and diet advice to gain overall strength!

Video on this to come soon so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube!

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Why You Should Take STEROIDS!!


Ah WAIT, WAIT, WAIT!!….. before you leave an angry comment on my blog calling me an idiot, hear me out, I am not advocating the use of steroids or any performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), nor do I recommend them to anyone at all. This post is aimed at individuals who have been misled by the fitness industry and I’m here to give you a reality check!

One of the most damaging things in the fitness industry are guys who use steroids and PEDs but claim they don’t and claim natural, more commonly known as the ‘fake nattys’!  They sport insane musculature with single digit body fat percentages but claim they are all natural. If you look at what real natural bodybuilders look like that are drug tested you can begin to see what the natural limit is, the human body has its limits, its biologically impossible to look like a top pro bodybuilder naturally, we simply don’t possess enough natural testosterone and growth hormone.

So next time you see a guy that looks pretty much like a pro bodybuilder but claims all natural, it’s fairly safe to say they are lying. The problem with this is it gives guys false hope and sets them up for failure. When guys think they can look like that naturally and bust their ass in the gym and the kitchen day in and day out but achieve nowhere near what they expect to achieve, that can be devastating! They will often end up quitting because these ‘fake nattys’ have mislead them to what is actually possible.

So the point of this blog post is this: if you want to look like a pro bodybuilder that steps on to the Olympia stage then I’m afraid to say you better get on the juice, that’s the unfortunate truth but I think it’s better for me to tell it to you straight rather than mislead you like many of the fitness guys on the internet.

However, you can achieve a great physique naturally and I do not in any way want anyone to go on steroids, you don’t know your natural limit until you push yourself, you never know you might be surprised at what you can achieve!

The human body has its limits, nature didn’t intend us to be 300 pound ripped mass monsters so don’t be misled, that’s the moral of this story!

To boost your testosterone naturally check out 9 Testosterone Boosting Foods You Are NOT Eating and check out our Chocolate Anabolic Cubes recipe with all research proven ingredients!

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9 Testosterone Boosting Foods You Are NOT Eating!!


Testosterone is a steroid hormone that our bodies naturally produce, testosterone causes muscle growth, strength gain, fat loss and a general sense of well-being in men! So here are the 9 testosterone boosting foods you are NOT eating! You can watch this blog in video format HERE if you wish!

EGGS! I wrote an article on the power of eggs and you can view it HERE, but eggs are one of the most anabolic foods you can eat! They are high in a range of fats and cholesterol which is essential for testosterone production. On top of this they are high in vitamin D and magnesium which have both been shown to increase testosterone!

CHIA SEEDS! Chia seeds are the most anabolic seeds you have probably not heard about! They are rich in all the omegas and also very rich in zinc and magnesium. You have probably heard of ZMA, which is a zinc and magnesium supplement used to increase testosterone, but forget it because you can get all your zinc and magnesium from chia seeds!

BROCCOLI! Broccoli is a classic testosterone boosting food, it does this by suppressing the female hormone oestrogen therefor increasing our testosterone. Broccoli contains a compound called DIM which lowers oestrogen in men!

BRAZIL NUTS! All nuts are generally good for testosterone production as they are all rich in healthy fats but brazil nuts have high levels of selenium which is great for testosterone production!

PUMPKIN SEEDS! Like chia seeds pumpkin seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and magnesium, so are fantastic to boost your testosterone levels! A handful a day is all you need to benefit from these anabolic seeds!

ONIONS! Research done on rats showed that onion juice increased their serum testosterone levels by a whopping 300%! Although rats of course are not humans they do have a very similar reproductive system to us and many bodybuilders have been known to love onions to get them shredded, so add onions to as many of your meals as possible!

POMEGRANATE! Research done on humans shows that pomegranates increase testosterone levels, on top of that they are very nutritious and tasty!

COCONUT OIL! Saturated fat is the most important type of fat for testosterone production. Coconut oil is a saturated fat with many health benefits including its ability to raise metabolism so no wonder why its every bodybuilders favourite oil!

BLUEBERRIES! Blueberries are highly nutritious with high levels of vitamin C and B6. What makes blueberries so great for testosterone production is that they contain a chemical in their skins called Calcium-D-Glucarate which lowers oestrogen in the body therefor increases your testosterone!


For a complete guide on optimising your anabolic hormones check out my Hormonal Manipulation programme, research proven to take your fitness to the next level by optimising your hormones!

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The 3 Ingredients That Make a Pro Bodybuilder!!


Today I was watching the Mr Olympia show, the ultimate showcase of the top bodybuilders in the world. I found myself in awe of their physiques, it’s truly amazing how they can achieve such size with such conditioning and it has to be respected how insanely amazing they look. Most people are probably wondering how pro bodybuilders look this freaky, so here are the 3 reasons they look inhuman and why most people could never achieve anywhere near this sort of physique:

IT’S THEIR JOB! They get paid to look this way, they are paid by supplement companies and they get paid to win shows. So their lives are geared towards training, eating and growing. They don’t miss workouts and they don’t miss meals, they are dedicated to the absolute maximum. Every calorie and every macronutrient is calculated and the amount of food and protein they eat is unimaginable to the everyday person, most people are not capable of that sort of discipline!

GENETICS! The top bodybuilders you see on stage are guys that are naturally inclined to be muscular, they are naturally gifted with wide shoulders and narrow waists and the ability to put on huge amounts of muscle relatively easy. Just like the top professionals of all sports they have a natural talent for bodybuilding and that’s why not everyone who steps into the gym or takes steroids can look anywhere near how they look!

DRUGS! Ok, so this comes last because it does NOT play as important role as the other two despite what some people say. Drugs alone do not make a champion physique, you could pump a guy full of steroids but if he didn’t work hard he really wouldn’t look very good. However, drugs are a part of pro bodybuilding and it’s just not naturally possible to look like these guys, the human body just can’t build that much muscle by itself on natural testosterone. Steroids just scratch the surface with pro bodybuilding, human growth hormone, insulin and diuretics are all used in addition to steroids in order to create such freaky physiques. Every top bodybuilder does it though, (unless it’s a drug tested/natural show) so it’s an even playing field and it’s just the nature of the game!

Be sure to check out my latest video: 5 Reasons YOU Are Still SMALL!

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5 Reasons YOU Are Still SMALL!!


When I first started lifting I really didn’t know much about it so I didn’t get the results I wanted until I learnt what mistakes I was making! It took some time for me to get it right but eventually I was gaining the huge amounts of muscle that I had been dreaming about! So in this blog I’m going to tell you the 5 mistakes that I made and what most people make when starting out in the gym and trying to build muscle. I’m also going to do a video on this soon so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE! So here are the 5 reasons YOU are still SMALL:


1 . NOT EATING ENOUGH! This is by far the top reason why beginners don’t gain muscle. They think they are eating enough but they really are not. You need to EAT BIG to GET BIG! Work out how many calories you burn per day and eat MORE than that, aim for around 500-1,000 calories above this or even more if you have a particularly fast metabolism. Remember also to aim for 1g of protein per lb of lean body mass and 2-3g of carbohydrate per lb of lean body mass for optimal size gain!


2 . NOT DOING COMPOUND EXERCISES! I’ve said this countless times in many articles, compound exercises are what get you big. These are exercise where more than 1 muscle is being worked such as the deadlift, squat, presses, rows, pull ups, lunges and dips. Compound exercises make the body release far more testosterone and growth hormone than isolation exercises and that’s what will get you big!


3 . NOT TRAINING LEGS! I did a blog about this a week ago, check it out here, but not training legs is a big mistake. The legs are the largest muscles in the body so when you train them your body is put under more stress so releases more anabolic hormones! Training legs makes your whole body grow, so DON’T skip leg day!

supplement-powder4 . THINKING SUPPLEMENTS ARE LIFE! So many beginners ask “what protein do you take?” like it’s the most important thing, well it’s not, NOT AT ALL. Think food, training and rest before you think supplements, supplements make about a 10% difference, that is all!


5 . TRAINING FOR TOO LONG! Many newbies think that more is better, this is VERY WRONG! Once you pass the 1-hour mark during your workout the hormone cortisol starts increasing, this hormone makes your body BURN MUSCLE for energy, so it’s very bad. Keep workouts short but INTENSE and don’t train for too long, remember muscle doesn’t grow in the gym, it grows when you are resting!

So if you are new to lifting and want to get big, REMEMBER THESE, burn them into your mind and never forget them and you will soon be massive! Video to come on this soon on my YouTube channel.

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Making Bodybuilding Food Great Again!!


Bodybuilding food is often considered very boring and bland, the classic plain chicken and rice always comes to mind alongside the famous can of tuna you often see bodybuilders eating!

It doesn’t have to be like this though! You can get your protein, carbs, fats and calories in a tastier way! That’s why myself and my partner Emily Merrick who is a nutritionist have decided to make bodybuilding food great again!

We are going to be making recipes that are quick, easy, tasty, healthy and nutritious for bodybuilders and fitness addicts. Some will focus on gaining muscle and bulking, others will focus of fat loss and diet and some will focus on just health and wellbeing!

All the recipes will be published on my website for FREE and also on my Pinterest and our Instagram! We will provide all the details you need to make these recipes for yourself at home and they won’t be expensive either as we don’t use a load of unnecessary ingredients!img_4256img_4238

So far we have released our Egg Fried Rice recipe and our Beef Madras Pasties recipe which are both great for muscle growth and bulking as they are loaded with protein and carbohydrate so great meals to have post workout after that hard training session to kick start muscle growth and recovery with an incredible kick of flavour!

Check them out HERE!

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