Another great article. However, I have a question. You and Richard seem to suggest staying away from squats and leg-presses because of the "square-ass" problem. However, I was taught that squats are the best all around lower body exercise for men and women builders and should always be a part of ones routine if the knees can support them. Was this advice wrong?
No, squats are a great exercise for putting on mass. And therein, is the problem. When you decide to train you must have a clear image of the physique desired. Do you want leanness, muscle mass, size, shape or a combination of elements? Set a goal, work towards the desired physique and make adjustments to your resistance-training program as necessary. Richard's long-term popularity is based on the creation of a symmetrical physique. Rigorous training that combined exercises to add mass or create shape yielded legendary results. And while you may never desire to set foot in the competitive arena, applying these training techniques can produce incredible results for YOU!
In my own case, due to some reasonably good genetics, I'm one of the few women that put on mass quite easily, even after the age of 40. As a result, I found myself at a crossroad...continue with the power lifting program that I love or switch to the light weights to keep from bulking up. While I enjoy the ego trip of lifting really heavy weights, I'm looking for a balance between muscle mass and femininity. So, a total upheaval of my lifting routine was required. I still leg press, but dropped the weights (450 lbs for 6 reps to 120 lbs for 30 reps). I eliminated squats and have replaced them with high rep lunges in the Smith machine.
Richard and I want people to realize that yes, while heavy weights/low reps is the most efficient means to putting on mass...that constant pounding of aging joints comes at a price and may not ultimately produce the look you so desire. As a result, you should design your training program to meet your physique goals.
Richard: I would like to add, that you CAN minimize the "squaring" effects on the glutes when doing squats by putting a board under your heels, keeping your back straight, and CONCENTRATING on making the quads do all the work. That is, focus on making the squat an isolation exercise for the quads, keeping the involvement of the back and glutes as minimal as possible. Many people find this most easily controlled in a Smith machine.
Front squats with a board under the heels may make it even easier to reduce the negative effects on the glutes. Though I personally found front squats hard on my shoulders, my good friend "Moose" (Mike Mulrennin) could front squat as much poundage as he could back squat and he developed enormous thighs. Hmmm, I don't remember what his butt looked like, though. Was it square?
I want to know as soon as possible if I'm not losing fat and/or gaining muscle so that I can tweak my diet and/or weight lifting routine. Measuring fat loss is relatively easy using skin fold calipers. However, muscle gain is more difficult to measure on a weekly or even monthly basis especially if you're losing fat at the same time. Is there a direct correlation been getting stronger and muscle size increase.
In other words, if my 1RM increases by 10%, does the related muscles increase by "x" percent? Or, is there a direct correlation between gaining lean mass and muscle size increase? In other word, if I lose 1% BF, but gain 1% lean mass calculated by the skin fold calipers and scale weight, does muscle size increase by "x" percent? I'm just trying to determine the quickest and most accurate way to measure muscle size increases when on a fat loss/muscle building program.
I'm turning this one over to Baldwin, but I can tell you that his gym is equipped with mirrors, tape measures and cameras to keep track of progress. And then there's me to make sure he stays in shape!
Richard: Measuring muscle gain is easy too. If you are using the skin fold calipers accurately you can determine your percentage of body fat. If your weight is staying the same or going up while your percentage of body fat is the same or going down, YOU ARE GAINING MUSCLE.
Strength gains are not in direct proportion to size gains. As a matter of fact, strength gains increase by the square of the cross section of muscle; i.e., muscle size increases by the cube whereas strength increases by the square. This principle makes the existence of giants impossible. A giant the size of Godzilla could not hold up its own weight. For our purposes this means doubling the size of the muscle does NOT double the strength.
Another problem is that strength is determined by other factors than the number of muscle fibers or hypertrophy of the muscle cells. Tendon insertions and a person's ability to actually call all the fibers of a particular muscle into action vary.
Finally, if you are losing fat in your arm while gaining muscle, don't get discouraged if the tape stays the same because your muscle IS getting bigger. It used to frustrate me when I was getting ready for a contest and losing fat but gaining no weight because I was also gaining muscle. People would either say, "Gee, you're losing a lot of weight!" when actually they meant I was losing fat! Others would just say, "Gee, you're getting big!" when actually I was just getting more defined and my muscles just looked bigger.
Despite these facts, there actually is a correlation to getting stronger and building muscle. On the whole, if you increase the stress on the muscle, it will respond by getting stronger and growing: thus the age-old principle of progressive resistance. Often you will experience a strength gain first and then all of a sudden you will notice the muscle has grown 1/16 or ¼ of an inch. Increase the intensity of the exercise (including the amount of weight used) and you will grow, within your genetic limits of course.
Finally, the problem with your last question is that you may lose fat in one area and gain muscle in another, so you can't count on a one-to-one ratio in a specific area of fat loss/muscle gain. Most experts will say, in fact, that you can't spot reduce. Some areas of the body will be resistant to fat loss depending on factors such as race and gender. Besides, I never calculated my percentage of body-fat. I just looked in the mirror. I would just keep losing fat until I was satisfied with the look. After all, no one--not the judges, not girls on the beach, not friends you may be trying to impress-is going to measure your percentage of body fat. They're going to just see how lean you look.
The bottom line is, just eat clean and bomb the hell out of your muscles and the gains will come! No obscure secrets, no short-cuts!
I've lost 50 pounds in the last year. People who don't see me everyday don't even recognize me. My trainer has even recommended that I think about competing in the Arkansas Figure Competition this coming June, in the Master's Division of course. It is a goal I am working toward and we will just have to wait and see if I actually go through it. Again, it's about self-esteem and this will be a big challenge for me, but it something for me to work towards.
The article on "Glutes" was also very informing. I have been doing Squats everyday, but after reading the article, I think I will change and do one of the other exercises you recommend.
Keep up the good work and i look forward to reading your articles.
Many, many congratulations to you on your weight loss accomplishments! Whether you actually get up on the stage of the Arkansas Figure Competition or not, go through the process each and every day with boundless determination. At the very least, buy your posing suit and have pictures taken on that special day to remind you of the power of desire fueled by action. Remember, Margaret to always continue to set new goals which will keep you moving in a positive direction at all times. Check out our article from several months ago that featured Sara from Alabama.
We choose to feature Sara because she was a fine example of a person that continually set new physique goals, following the Body for Life program and using EAS products. As a result, Sara created a Legendary Physique for herself.
Richard and I look forward to seeing your photos in the very near future.
On the male side, another legendary babyboomer transformation can be seen through these pictures from Rich M, who's been corresponding with Richard for several months.
Richard: Wow! Wait until you see these pictures! I had answered some questions for Rich and he sent me several photos of his progress. Here are some excerpts from his e-mails that may inspire you!
Why did I want to start up bodybuilding?
a) As you mentioned in your article/response, I can still obtain a cardiovascular workout while weightlifting. One of my greatest fears is the pounding and beating the joints take while jogging/running. A friend of mine just recently had the second of his knee joints replaced. Not an alternative that I want to consider or be faced with! As I researched, I picked up that bodybuilding provided cardiovascular benefits!
b) Physically, this is the best shape I have ever been in 46 years. With family history on my side, I have a minimum of 50 years remaining...no this is not mid-life crisis...it is reality. I want to continually be active...not bound by infirmities. If weightlifting is a manner to minimize or avoid those infirmities, then it is well worth the effort!
Wow! Rich has adopted the BEST reasons for resistance training: maximizing the longevity of health and fitness! Rich had originally requested that I not share the photos he sent (so I respected his request), but recently he has relented after I begged him to let me share his success with our readers:
I'm attaching one of my original photos "Me at 287 lbs. and my 11/2002 Solvang Prelude picture. I'm at about 170 lbs in the Solvang photo.
Rich is now preparing to run a marathon. We all wish you the best of luck, Rich!
Finally, I just want to thank Rich and all who send us photos. You inspire Diane and me, as well as our readers. We all need encouragement in our daily struggles to stay fit and healthy. Even if you have no great transformation but have kept in great shape, we love to see how great you look or how successful in your sport you are. So keep sending your legendary babyboomer physique photos and success stories by clicking here to e-mail us. If you would like to sign up for our weekly newsletter, click here.
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Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC.
Richard Baldwin, Member. Legendary Physique, LLC.
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All submitted photos become property of Legendary Fitness, LLC; submission shall constitute a grant to the use of your photos and information as we deem appropriate.
Copyright 2004. Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.
The advice given in this column should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical services. Before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program, Legendary Fitness, LLC advises all to undergo a thorough medical examination and get permission from their personal physician.