Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Transform Your Physique #87

I recently visited a commercial gym to work out. My son was home on the mid-term break and since his program via the track team is somewhat different I figured we would go have some fun at a local gym.  The facility itself had a lot of space which was nice.  It was very wide open.  They had an assortment of machines, Hammer Strength, and of course free weights. The free weight section was actually sub-par with only one squat rack. It was also in a smaller type room.  The bars were typical -- the weren't very good.  A good bar is the foundation of using free weights but you'll often find them to be cheap and without good knurling. At least that's been my experience over the years.  When I was going to college, it was much the same when I first got there. The bars were crap. My first duty as a member was to recommend we purchase Texas Power bars.  And, we did. Thank goodness!  Bent bars are even worse.  At least these bars were not bent.  My son is actually able to use chalk in his college weight room. Amazing!  That's another issue with a lot of commercial gyms due to the mess it can create. I can see their point, but when you have crappy bars with crappy knurling, holding onto the bar can be an issue in lifts like deadlifts. 

There were no suprises at the gym. You can always find people doing more talking than training.  You won't find an abudance of people working out intensely either.  At this stage of my own training, I find myself pretty flexible.  Many people and younger trainees get hung up on finding the perfect program.  What split should I use? How do I build my biceps?  Should I train this bodypart with that one? Heck, people even think that doing exercises like squats and deadlifts on the same day is taboo and they "won't have energy" to do both.  My goodness!  Won't have energy!? 

Let's talk about biceps development for example. Many trainees won't believe you don't need a ton of direct work if you are doing exercises like rows and chins.  I was reading an online bodybuilding forum and one of the top Mr. Olympia bodybuilders even said he never worked his biceps directly until just before a contest. And, he undoubtedly has some of the best arms in bodybuilding today!  So, what to do for biceps? This curl, that curl, blah blah blah.  Yes, do curls. That's good.  It really doesn't matter if you are seated, use a machine, bar with weights, stand on your head, or do it in a vacuum.  Use full range of motion. Pick an exercise and work them.  Pretty simple eh?  How's this for the best the exercise you enjoy doing the most. What a concept eh!?  How often?  Who cares!  Are you really going to do them 7 days a week? Of course not. No one is that stupid.  Ok, that leaves...errr...ummm....a couple times a week. Great! Sounds good. :)  Boy, that's complicated eh?  There's so many excellent biceps machines out there why would you even need to use free weights? Unless you enjoyed using them more, right?  It's up to you.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Worry about being consistent if you are going to worry about anything.  Worry about using TRUE proper exercise form.  Worry about warranted progression.  Warranted progression is true progression.  It comes in SMALL increments. It's not "going up in weight" and "going down in exercise form" that you so often see!

Until next time...don't sweat the small stuff. This is simple stuff. Don't make it complicated.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How To Transform Your Physique #86

So I was watching some videos on YouTube and happened across a back workout of Branch Warren who is one of the top bodybuilders right now.  The first thing I noticed was how sloppy he was in some of his exercises.  Take his back for example.  In the video below you'll see pulldowns that would get most of us eventually injured. Heck, it may injure him too at some point.  There is no where near the amount of routine, supplements, exercises to use, when to workout, etc. information as compared to "HOW" to perform the movements effectively.  To this day, I am at a loss as to why this is the case.  Check this out:

I was watching Fred Fornicola do a high intensity back workout on YouTube. Yes, he demonstrated it. But there was no description as to what he was doing at the time with his body. Was he trying to keep his elbows in? Contracting his lats? Wondering what he was going to have for lunch? HAH! He went thumbless? Why?  What about breathing?  How about overall body position during the movements?  You'll see him observing his body at the start of the chins. What was he looking at?  What was he checking?  How did he know how to stop.  Now, I am not busting Fred's chops (ok, just a bit!), but this is actually better than most for what you see with respect to really focusing on how to perform the movement in detail.

Proper form is at the foundation of the successful strength training routine.