Written by Capriese Murray
05 October 2006

Mutant Muscle

By Capriese Murray


In our constant effort to bring you the best team of elite athletes and experts in all of bodybuilding, MD is proud to introduce a new column by Capriese Murray, 2004 NPC National Heavyweight Champion and new IFBB Professional. Capriese is a true muscular mutant, a hardcore Freakazoid packed with tons of sick, thick, gnarly muscle on his compact frame. Since he's a new guy on the pro scene, for now Capriese is still being compared to established men like Lee Priest and Vic Richards. But soon the comparisons will cease, as the bodybuilding world realizes that Capriese is one of a kind. We told you this guy was going to be the next big thing and we stand by that prediction. Now, it's time to introduce the man himself as he kicks off the first installment of his very own monthly column, "Mutant Muscle." Take it away, Capriese!


I want to say first that I'm very excited about being part of MD. I've been reading MD for at least five years, and there are several things that set it far apart from all the other magazines out there today. It's raunchy, real, and in your face- kind of like my hometown of New York City. MD doesn't dance around the issues and give you a sugarcoated fantasy version of reality. They give you your bodybuilding raw and uncensored and let you make up your own mind. I started talking to Steve Blechman about doing a column at the 2004 USA, and we finalized everything and sealed the deal right after I won my class and turned pro at the Nationals. So, here I am, onboard and ready to get busy. Let's start with some questions.


Maybe this is a dumb question, but where did you get that nickname, "the Mutant?" I also saw on your website something about "Alien Muscle." Do some people who aren't into hardcore bodybuilding think it's kind of crazy that you are referring to yourself as a mutant or an alien?

            I always say there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers, although there are exceptions to that rule, of course. But as for the nickname "Mutant," that came from Steve Blechman, who also came up with the term "Freakazoid®." Steve seems to have a knack for these things. My webmaster at http://www.capriesemurray.com/ came up with the "Alien Muscle" thing, and it's all good to me. That's my type of physique, freaky and crazy-looking, and I'm proud of it because it took me a whole lot of hard work to look like this. As a personal trainer, I have clients who aren't into bodybuilding, and when they hear the word freak used to describe me, they think it's a put-down, an insult. They don't understand that in our world being called freak is a compliment.

 Ronnie Coleman is the ultimate freak, although I think he may actually be getting too big now. You also have guys like Markus Ruhl, Art Atwood, Lee Priest, Dave Palumbo and Kris Dim displaying that incredibly thick look that just seems unreal. That's a freak, and there aren't too many of them. I'm proud to be a member of that select group of bodybuilders who have been able to transform their bodies into something a human couldn't possibly resemble.  So please, by all means, feel free to call me a freak, Freakazoid, mutant, alien, anything like that. To me, it means I'm doing something right in the gym.


Hey, Capriese, I need a little help devising the perfect chest workout. I train at home in the corner of my garage. My current chest workout is flat bench press, incline bench press, dumbbell flyes and finally, pullovers, to try to expand my gap. Even if it doesn't work, I want to try! I recently bought a new bench with dip stands and I'm now able to do dips properly instead of between two chairs. I was wondering if dips or weighted dips would be a better exercise than dumbbell flyes? I would really like your opinion. I understand how busy you are so there's no rush. 

            I don't think there's necessarily such a thing as the "perfect" chest routine, but you should stick close to a certain rough formula that you're already close to. I think you should always press from a couple of different angles, like flat and incline especially, and always keep free weights in your routine. I also think you have to include some sort of flye movement every time you train chest, either with dumbbells, a pec deck, or using the cable crossover machine. So, when you ask me whether dips are a better exercise than flyes for your chest, it's not like it's an either/or situation. You should do some kind of flye all the time, along with two, or at most, three types of presses.

I consider dips a compound pressing movement. When you look at it, they really hit your chest almost exactly like decline presses, getting mostly lower pecs. You need to do flyes to reach the outer portion of the pecs, close to the delts. Come to think of it, flyes and dips make a great superset. It's a pre-exhaust superset, meaning you isolate the pecs with the flyes, then bring the front delts and triceps into play with the dips to really nail the chest. If you do your heavy presses first in the workout, you probably won't even need anything more than your bodyweight for the dips in this superset.

I can't leave without addressing the issue of pullovers. I assume you're talking about expanding the ribcage. Personally, I don't think that's possible.  That doesn't mean I think pullovers are worthless. They are very good for stretching the pecs, and they also fit well into back training as a means of hitting the lats without involving the biceps and rear delts. But as for having the ability to change your bone structure with pullovers, I don't buy into that. As far as I'm concerned, your bones are what they are once you reach your adult height. The whole pullover thing reminds me of that episode of "The Brady Bunch" where Bobby was hanging from a bar every day in hopes of getting taller. Even if it had worked, it was only his arms that would have been longer anyway, so he would have ended up looking like a chimpanzee. But it didn't work, and I don't think pullovers stretch out your ribcage, so any scrawny little dude could have a chest like Mike Katz, Arnold, or Ronnie.

Finally, while it's cool that you're working out at home, you might want to look into joining a gym. The variety of equipment and the atmosphere of other people training hard (unless it's some sissy health club where nobody ever breaks a sweat) is conducive to putting on muscle. Good luck with your chest!


            I've been lifting weights since I was in seventh grade and I'm a senior in high school now. My uncle is into bodybuilding and at Thanksgiving he gave me a few copies of MD to look over.  There are a lot of huge dudes in that magazine, but when I saw pictures of you, I was like, that's it! I want to be a bodybuilder and look like that guy. I was just wondering if you had any tips on how to stick to a diet plan, because every time my family wants to go out or get something, say, from Burger King, I know I shouldn't, but I give in anyway. I should mention that I gain weight pretty easily; I'm on the chubby side at 5-10, 230 with a little bit of a belly. I'm not trying to get striated glutes or anything, but it would be nice someday to see my abs and a few veins on my arms and chest. Also, I was wondering what kinds of supplements to take to grow more lean muscle mass without getting fat.

            Wow, I'm very flattered to have had such an influence on you. Luckily, pretty much wherever you go has healthy food choices these days. Even Burger King has a chicken salad and grilled chicken sandwich. I think all the fast food places now do, because they're trying to shake their bad reputation as contributing to the growing obesity rates of Americans. So it's not so much where you go, it's what you choose to order from their menu. Obviously, you know that one of those big double Whoppers with cheese and all the sauce, plus a large fries and chocolate shake, is a bad idea for anybody trying to get leaner. I don't know the exact difference in calories, but I would estimate something like a chicken salad with light dressing and a diet soda would be a half, or maybe even as much as a third, of the calories of one of those big combo meals with all the fried stuff and regular soda. I assume you're eating as clean as possible most of the time, avoiding fried foods, candy, regular soda, cookies, ice cream, cake, pizza, etc.

One thing you didn't mention is cardio. Are you doing any right now? If not, I suggest you start out with 20 minutes three times a week at pretty low intensity and gradually work your way up until you're getting three or four 35-45-minute sessions a week at a pretty good clip. You should barely be able to talk.  If you aren't breathing heavy and getting your heart rate up, increase the intensity. You put some dedicated cardio together with a clean diet and you will definitely see your abs and some veins.

Now, for supplements, I don't like to make things too complicated for kids your age. Eating good quality food, meaning lean meats, fish and poultry, along with moderate amounts of starchy carbs and plenty of fresh vegetables, is the main thing to be concerned with. The only supplement I think you should invest in at this stage is a good whey protein powder. My favorite is IsoPure by Nature's Best, which I do not have any type of contract with, I might add. It has zero carbs and mixes very easily. It's more watery than clumpy, so you can drink it down fast. Try to get four solid-food meals in every day along with two whey protein shakes. Maybe I will see you onstage with me someday, kid!


My problem is about muscle building and a lack of time and money. I have two jobs and work a total of 15 hours a day, and I have three children to support. I only have one hour a day to train with a home gym and dumbbells. I'm 37 years old. I've been training for almost two years with little growth, or not what I think should be enough for that length of time. I train four or five days a week. My diet would be what I call average, three meals a day with three protein shakes. I've only been on protein for about one month due to the cost, but I intend to carry on taking protein powder. I've only gained 3/4 of an inch in the last two years on my arms and I've gone from 77 to 82 kilograms (two in the last month). Is my protein intake adequate and is my training enough? What would happen if too much protein was consumed per day? What's the average arm size gain in two months without steroids? I've changed my curl technique from huge weight with poor form to lighter weight and good form. There's a good straining feel during exercise, but it doesn't hurt the following day like the huge weight form did. Am I wasting my time using good form or does it matter if it doesn't hurt in the following days? 

            Whew! Those are a few different questions, so let me try to handle them one at a time. I had to do a little metric conversion for my MD readers, because a lot of Americans don't know a kilogram from a kangaroo. Your weight has gone from 169.4 pounds to 180.4 pounds in the past two years you've been training, a gain of 11 pounds. Of those 11 pounds, 4.4 were gained just in the last month since you started using a protein powder supplement to increase your daily protein intake. What does that tell me? One thing I think is clear is that you weren't getting enough protein to support muscle growth until just recently. It sounds, in fact, as if you're making better gains right now than you ever have. Maybe in just a month you don't see much of a difference when you look in the mirror or bust out the measuring tape, but just give it time. I wouldn't expect the gains to keep coming at exactly that rate, but I'm confident you can probably expect another five to 10 pounds of muscle over the next year, and that's a significant gain for a man in his late thirties.

Regarding your curiosity about "average" gains, with or without steroids, that's impossible to answer because we are all different. Besides genetic differences, some people train a lot harder than others and this will affect results. One man might not be able to put any size at all on his arms in two months, while another might be able to put as much as two inches. Obviously, as a general rule, beginners tend to make the fastest gains because training is such a completely new stimulus to their muscles, and beginners in the 16 to 25-year-old age range also tend to make better gains because this is when our bodies naturally produce the highest amounts of testosterone and growth hormone. 

Next, you wanted to know if your protein intake was adequate. That's tough to say because all you told me was that you have three meals and three shakes a day. But are you getting five grams of protein each time, or 100?  Obviously, I'm being facetious there, but you get the idea. I don't know how much protein you are currently consuming. I try to get 50 or 60 grams at each of my six daily meals; at your size, you probably need about 35. Too much protein can harm you if you have some sort of pre-existing problem with your kidneys. Otherwise, I don't know of any adverse effects. And certainly I don't think you're taking in an amount of protein that's excessive, unless you really are eating 600 grams a day at 180 pounds!

You wanted to know if an hour of training, four or five times a week, was enough. I think that's plenty, especially for a guy who puts in all those hours you do (by the way, much respect to you for working so hard to support your kids).  All you told me was that you were using dumbbells, so I'm concerned you might only be working chest, shoulders and arms. If that's the case, I suggest you throw in some back and leg work to give your body a more powerful anabolic boost. Even with dumbbells, you can do deadlifts, one-arm rows, bent rows, dumbbell squats and stiff-leg deadlifts for hams.

I don't know if you are getting enough sleep either, so try to get seven or eight hours a night to allow for full recovery. You know, if either of your jobs are physical in nature, you might even want to cut back your training to a maximum of four days a week, and get the workouts done within 45 minutes. You can stimulate muscle growth all you want with the training, but unless your body recovers, you still won't make any gains.

OK, I think we're at your last question now, which was about lighter weight and strict form versus heavier weight and cheating form. My belief is that the best results come from training as heavy as you can while still maintaining good form. Cheating does have its place, mainly as a way of extending a set and getting a couple of extra reps once you've hit failure with reps in good form. Using a weight that's so heavy you have to cheat from the first rep is a bad idea.  It's not very effective for keeping tension on the target muscle and it puts you at a higher risk of getting injured. Some of that soreness you were feeling from the heavy cheat curls may have been pain in the tendons, you know. I wouldn't worry so much about getting sore or not getting sore. Just try to raise the weights you use in small increments. If you're curling 30-pound dumbbells today for 10 reps in good form to failure, and a year from now you're using 40s or 45s, that is a much more tangible indicator of progress than whether or not you have soreness in the muscle and how long the soreness lasts.

So to sum it up, I think you're on the right track. Just listen to what I said and make any changes that might apply. You obviously have a great work ethic, so I think you'll make some good gains for years to come.


            I have a very personal question regarding my training but I don't want you to think I'm some kind of pervert. Is there any correlation between heavy training and taking supplements, and getting an increase in sex drive? I admit my workouts are mind-blowing experiences; I get great pumps, I'm getting great gains in weight, size and poundages, but to put it very
bluntly, I'm horny all the time. I don't know how to explain it. I'm not using any prohormones or tribulis or anything like that. I only take protein drinks, amino acids, multivitamin, vitamin C, flaxseed oil and Co-Q10 for my heart condition. Is this normal? I'm 43 and haven't felt this way in over 15 years. I hope I'm not offending you, but I thought maybe you could offer advice.

            You don't need to feel embarrassed at all, and yes, I have heard about this happening to plenty of guys even when there were no hormones, legal or otherwise, involved (though I guess all hormones are illegal now). Intense and heavy weight training raises your body's natural testosterone levels quite a bit.  As a result, you get stronger, you have more energy, and yes, your sex drive will increase and you will feel horny a lot more often. Unless this is affecting your work or relationships, I don't really see any problems. I would just be happy and enjoy all the benefits. A lot of guys have to use steroids to feel the way you are feeling in the gym and in the bedroom, so count yourself lucky, man!


Training and Lifestyle Journal

January, 2005


Christmas with the Kranks, I Mean with Capriese

Christmas is always a really special time in my family. On Christmas Eve, my Aunt, Carol Lawrence, cooked up her annual dinner with a lot of her down-home Southern specialties. I don't stuff myself very often, but she doesn't cook like this very often either, and my aunt can cook, boy. Let's see, she had baked macaroni, collard greens, Cornish game hens, sweet potato pie, frozen strawberry cheesecake pie and seasoned pork. I ate until I thought I was gonna bust open. But hey, it's Christmas, and it does come only once a year. I eat clean year-round, except in the off-season I will have a treat occasionally on the weekend if I really want to, which isn't that often. I'm not a big eater, to tell you the truth. I actually have to force myself to eat as much and as often as I need to. On Christmas Day we went to see my wife Elizabeth's family over in White Plains and had dinner there. I still ate a couple of things I shouldn't have, but nothing like the night before.

            For gifts, my wife gave me a couple of nice cashmere sweaters, a high-tech blender I'm having a lot of fun with and pair of Nike Shox. These are my favorite sneakers because they're nice and light, really comfortable. That's important when you're on your feet a lot like I am as a personal trainer. I have about 30 pair of Shox, but I'm giving away at least half of them to the Salvation Army. You know how it is when you have a lot of sneakers like that. There's only a few you really wear on a regular basis, the ones that feel right, look cool, or whatever. I gave my wife an i-Pod, a portable DVD player, and what else? A pair of Nike Shox. She likes them, too.


Times Square? No Thanks!

            When I talk to people from out of town around this time of year, they usually ask me if I'm heading over to Times Square for New Year's Eve. I tell them, hell no! I went there once in the ‘80s when I was a teenager, and that's only because the girl I was dating at the time wanted to go. After that, I swore I would never go again. I can deal with crowds, but this is a crowd like you've never seen before. I think it's close to a million people packed into that one area. All I remember was that I couldn't move at all; I was literally pinned in on all sides. If you had to pee, there was no way you were going to be able to make it to a restroom. New Yorkers know how bad it is, so we stay far away.  That giant crowd is almost all tourists from out of town. God love ‘em, I wouldn't be anywhere near Times Square. It didn't even feel the same this year, anyway, because Dick Clark wasn't there. I had a little get-together at my house with about 20 people and watched that madness on TV.


Goals for 2005

New Year's is always a great time to set goals for the coming year, so here are the three things I want for 2005:

  • 1) Good health for me and my family- that's the most important thing in life, because without it nothing else matters.
  • 2) Make more money and
  • 3) Kick some ass at the show in New York this May.

I don't even know what that show is called. I've heard it called two or three different things. All I know is that this is my house and I want to do really well. I don't want other people coming into my house and showing me up. Maybe it's a little rivalry with the West Coast guys, but for instance, I don't want someone like Kris Dim beating me. Steve Weinberger, the promoter, called me a while back and said he was going to put me on the flyer, like he has with Markus Ruhl and Victor Martinez before. That's really cool. I already know a few other pros from around here doing the show: Rodney St. Cloud, Craig Richardson, Jason Arntz, and Victor might do it, he has to see what happens at the Arnold first. I filled out my application for the IFBB and sent it off with the membership fee of $200 and now I can't wait to get that card in the mail that I've been wanting for years and years.


            Still Time to Gain Before the Diet Begins

            I'm still in a gaining phase right now. My weight is at 230 and my nutritionist, John O'Regan, wants to see me get up to 240 before I start coming down. It's harder to gain weight for me because I do eat so clean, but at least the upside is that everything I gain is pure muscle, not a lot of fat and water like some guys who put on all this ridiculous weight in the off-season.

My training is going really well. I took two weeks off after the Nationals and was going to stay out of the gym a couple more weeks, but I couldn't wait to get started on the improvements I want to make for my pro debut in May. The main thing I'm concerned with is adding back width and thickness. My back looks good, but it's not phenomenal like my arms and legs are. Back is so important these days. Just about everybody looks great from the front, but once the lineup turns around, that's when you see the judges' pencils start flying all over those score sheets. I want to be able to stand next to anyone, even someone with an awesome back, and feel like I can compare with them.

            People want to know what I'm going to weigh at my next show. I'm not trying to play the size game and say 20 pounds more than what I turned pro at.  John and I both think five added pounds of muscle on my frame is all I really need. I want to bring a crisper look to the stage, harder than I was at the Nationals. Five more pounds, mostly on my back, and better conditioning, and I think I have a pretty good chance. Talk to you all next time!

            Got a question for Capriese? E-mail it to him in the "Ask MD" section of www.musculardevelopment.com.