Troubleshooting June 2013

on Monday, 03 June 2013.

Can you explain to me really simply how you train differently for size as opposed to strength?

Yes, easily. For strength:

·         Low reps

·         Long rest between sets

·         Pauses between reps

·         Infrequent training

·         Fewer work sets (less volume of work)

For Size focus:

·         high reps,

·         briefer rests between sets,

·         very short or no pauses between reps,

·         greater frequency of training,

·         not so few sets (higher volume of work).

Some training approaches mix the two focuses. Fore example classic 20 reps rest-pause squats combine high reps and long pauses between reps, and has produced many examples of substantial strength and size gains; and some strength trainees perform many low-rep sets.

When strength building adding 10 pounds to your bench isn’t likely to make any measureable or visible different to your chest. Its substantial strength gain that’s more likely to produce significant size gain. If however, you add 50 pounds to your bench press with no noticeable size gain on your pecs or proportional increases in other exercises without any growth that’s when you need to make changes in your training if you want better size gains.

My son wants to join me in the gym. I’m encouraging of this as it’s a healthy past time but what are some key pointers for him?

Teenagers are usually profusely enthusiastic and energetic, but deficient in effective instruction. Being so young and impressionable makes teenagers the most easily exploited amongst bodybuilders. Teenagers who read many of the magazines on shelves today are likely to believe that progress in the gym is the product of long and frequent workouts, lots of self proclaiming supplements, sophisticated equipment and endless hours of training, thinking about training and talking about training.

They shouldn’t rush into intensive weight training. Due to variations in structural maturity there can be no standard starting age. Most from the age of about 14 should be able to benefit from intelligent safe and organized resistance training program. Here at BC we train quite a few youngsters (the youngest being 14), and more specifically, boys that play football. The necessary maturity needed for serious weight training isn’t just physical. Serious weight training is a very regimented and disciplined activity. Before starting such training the teenager needs to be sufficiently mature to be able to deliver of his own volition the required discipline. All teenagers can benefit from safe and practical training, especially those in competitive sport. By strengthening the muscles, joints and ligaments these up and comer trainees will achieve greater resistance against injury. Push ups, dips, chins, crunches will thoroughly work the upper body. Work into deadlifts and squats carefully. Explosive lifts and exercises that compress the spine and apply shearing forces shouldn’t be used by teenagers. Movements that are potentially dangerous include bb squats, vertical and 45 degree leg press and plyometrics.

Teenagers should heed the priority importance of using correct exercise form. They need the discipline to do things properly regardless of how others are training around them. Many use inadequate form to try and compete with others around them and their poundages. Form comes first, not weight lifted! The benefits from this hierarchy are that they will suffer fewer injuries, get better results, create good habits and thus be likely to train over a period of years/decades, not just in their school years. Supervised workouts are usually a must, to keep them on a proper program and prevent unsafe training. Regular reassurance concerning the appropriates of the program needs to be provided. The temptation is follow the ‘big boys’ programs often needs to be countered.

I have recently been provided with an on-line program. I’ve you tubed these exercises, but enjoy your column so thought I would ask you what your cues would be on these three exercises that I have not performed before.

Military Press

What a great exercise! This is my favourite by a mile for building big boulder shoulders. In fact this exercise used to be the test of upper body strength until we learnt to lie on a bench. Most lifters like taking a grip just outside the shoulders. I grip about an inch and a half outside the knurling of the bar- which puts my grip about a thumbs length from the smooth part of the bar. This will ensure shoulder safety and stability

I always use a false grip where my thumbs aren’t wrapped around the bar. This is personal preference but it seems like the bar path tracks better overhead when I do this. . (When I PT I get clients to wrap their thumb around the bar for better safety). The grip can be dangerous though so use caution. I begin the press by lifting my chin up, and I just try to miss it as the bar goes up. I don’t want to the bar bowing out any more than it needs to, rather ‘wiping my nose’. As the bar is pressed overhead, bring your head and chest through. Don’t push the bar back. Bring the bar down in the same motion. Each rep should start with the bar on your shoulders. Don’t perform half reps. Full range of motion always. Keep your lower back arched and your chest up and out through the entire lift. Your feet is somewhat determined by your comfort levels although I am an advocate of a nice wide stance. The more stabilised your body is the heavier you can usually lift. Doesn’t use leg drive to push the bar overhead; try to keep our legs strong and taut through the entire movement.

Glute/Hamstring Raise

Glute ham raise works the hamstrings fantastically. Add in a full range of motion – from the bottom to the top – and you have an exercise that works back, hamstrings and calves. You should start with the motion of a back raise. The reason for this is to achieve a full range of motion and get some kind of erector work in during the movement. This action allows the glute hamstring raise to be a thorough posterior chain movement. Having strong erectors for any sport is essential. If you’re really can’t perform a rep either use a band (attached to the back of the machine and held in your hands by your head) or have a partner assist you. Once you can perform reps on your own, hold your hands and arms out in front of you as though you are holding a barbell. The next step in the progression is to fold your hands on chest. 5 sets of 10-15 reps with your bodyweight should be achieved before you’re ready to perform weighted glute hamstring raises.

Cable Crossovers:

Cable crossovers are a great way to achieve good isolation for both your upper or lower pecs. Standing between the two cable towers equipped with both upper and lower cables, grasp the upper handles and adjust your foot spacing, body position, and body lean in such a way that you are receiving maximum stress on your lower (sternal) pecs. With elbows slightly bent, pull diagonally downwards across your body and continue until your hands pass one another in front of your hips. This crossing over of your hands will ensure complete contraction of your pecs. You cannot achieve the same complete pectoral contraction with a dumbbell or barbell. The same technique applies to upper (calvicular0 pec crossovers. Begin with your arms at a downward angle and, after pulling the handles diagonally upward and out in front of you, finish by crossing upward and out in front of your face.

Ingrid, what is the specificity principle?

Your various bodily systems will adapt in highly specific ways to the demands you impose upon them in your training, Another name for this principle is the SAID principle, an acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. If your training objectives include becoming more explosive, then you have to train explosively. If you desire greater limit strength, you must lift with very heavy weights. If your objectives include deriving cardiovascular benefits, then you must tax the heart muscle as well as the oxygen-using abilities of the working muscles.

And so it goes. For every type of strength, for every training objective, there are specific methods you must employ. Simply ‘pumping iron’ indiscriminately will not yield you success. Remember this principle as the ‘good, better, best principle’.

·         Doing something is better than doing nothing and that is good

·         Training regularly with an appropriate system is better

·         It’s best however, to follow a carefully integrated system which accounts for all of your training goals and which employs all of the various training technologies you have at your disposal.

Last year I missed out on so many training days as it seems I am really susceptible to colds and the flu. Any suggestions to ward these maladies off so that my training doesn’t get so interrupted this winter.

Olive leaf extract as the name suggests is made from pure olive leaves. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral and antioxidant for the cardiovascular system. The main antioxidant is oleuropein but at least 11 other important phenolic antioxidants are also present. Olive leaf extract has been reported to help a number of illnesses including the common cold, flu, severe diarrhoea, blood poisoning, UTI’s, malaria and pneumonia. It has no real interactions with other medications and is safe for all ages. I can’t claim it tastes good – it doesn’t, but it works wonders. 1 tablespoon a day will be sufficient.