💪 Books & Biceps - Issue 172

Your 5-Minute Brain & Body Flex

Every Friday I write an email recommending books & workouts including exclusive interviews with the authors and trainers who wrote them. Get smarter & stronger for free.


The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports by Jeff Passan

This fact blew my mind: every year Major League Baseball spends nearly $2 billion on pitchers - five times the salary of all NFL quarterbacks combined. Granted, baseball teams have far more pitchers on their roster than NFL teams have quarterbacks, but the disparity in cost is still staggering. Even more incredible is the sheer number of throws a pitcher will make on their way to becoming a professional compared to an NFL quarterback. If you try to tally a lifetime pitch count for a Major League starter, even early in his career, you’re likely going to get into the hundreds of thousands of pitches. And at the heart of every single throw from every single pitcher sits a small ligament that is snapping at an alarming rate from high school to the pros.

Enter, Jeff Passan’s book, The Arm, which meticulously studies every aspect of the billion-dollar appendage. Did you know in the 1880s pitchers regularly racked up 500 innings per season? And that the 400-inning per-year starter was commonplace until 1908? Yeah, Passan’s book goes that far back and takes us all the way up to the present day, event following Jon Lester’s famous free agency year after leaving the Red Sox in 2014. It took Passan three years to write this book and all the research and interviews and shadowing players paid off. This is a really interesting, enlightening read. Buy your copy here.


Today’s punishing and effective chest workout is courtesy of a post from strength coach Josh Bryant. Josh was the youngest guy ever to bench 600-pounds and trains some of the biggest powerlifters in the world. He shares a ton of great workout ideas (even if you’re not trying to power clean a refrigerator) and offers up some creative, unconventional workouts to help mix up your training. Check out his website here: https://joshstrength.com/.


Juarez Valley Method Dips (chest finisher)

For well over half a century, since the days of bodybuilding pioneers Vince Gironda and Marvin Eder, dips have become a staple of chest size and strength routines. You'll be doing these dips in a different way, using the Juarez Valley Method.

Never heard of the Juarez Valley Method? This method isn't from some celebrity gym: It's straight out of Cereso Prison in Juarez, Mexico (and first brought to the public in Jailhouse Strong). So expect it to be simple but brutal.

Do It Right: According to the masterminds behind the Juarez Valley Method, you do reps in descending order on all odd-numbered sets, and ascending order on even-numbered sets. So you do 10 reps, then 1 rep; 9 reps, then 2 reps; 8 reps, then 3 reps; and so on until you meet in the middle at 5 sets. A "Juarez Valley 10" looks like this:

Set 1: 10 Reps

Set 2: 1 Reps

Set 3: 9 Reps

Set 4: 2 Reps

Set 5: 8 Reps

Set 6: 3 Reps

Set 7: 7 Reps

Set 8: 4 Reps

Set 9: 6 Reps

Set 10: 5 Reps

Between each set, walk 8 feet away and 8 feet back—the length of a prison cell—for a bit of recovery. Don't add weight to these over time; the goal is to improve exercise density by getting the sets done faster and faster.

Lean forward as you dip to put more emphasis on the chest and less on the triceps (want to blast the back of your arms - stay upright.) And since you're at the end of your workout, don't add any additional weight—no matter what strength level you're at. Your body weight is more than enough here.

Bonus Tip: If you're unable to do dips for any reason, do push-ups instead. If you can't do at least 10 dips, use an assisted-dip machine.


Check out this PHOTO OF THE WEEK from my pal Art Eddy who paired the all-new ‘1996’ T-shirt and the book with a vintage pair of ‘96 Nike Uptempo basketball shoes. Belongs in the Louvre if you ask me. (Also, follow Art while you’re there.)

I’ve been having some fun placing the ‘1996’ book into classic ‘96 pop culture shows. Check out the copy that Ahmad Rashad featured on NBA Inside Stuff here. And you may not have noticed it, but Principal Belding from Saved By The Bell kept a copy on his bookcase here.


“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

- Helen Keller

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