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Often times I get remarks like "What qualifies you to give training advice to this extent?" And they usually expect me to lay down like a beaten dog when they mention this thing that most people, according to them overlooked. This is a good point to address at the start of this chapter.
Usually I start with answering them "You mean apart from the fact that I have used and developed this advice with great success over the past six years and in turn used to guide many others to a more muscular physique in less time than usual?" After that you can inevitably expect the remark, "But you are not a certified personal trainer!" To which I say "And that's a good thing at that."
Let me tell you a few things about what qualifies me to give advice. For one, it's advice that has been proven to work. Most certified personal trainers will give you programs and exercises by parroting the things they were taught in their one-day certification class, with no eye for what you need, what reps and sets your body will respond too, no input from you and very often without referring to the nutritional aspect of things.
They simply recite what they know over and over again without a single intelligent thought crossing their mind or passing their lips. They think that the rules to training were carved in stone ages ago and never change.
A second thing that qualifies me is a high regard for safety (which is why I chose to discuss this in this chapter) which cannot be said of personal trainers. I can tell you a thousand stories to illustrate this and so can many other disillusioned bodybuilders who have dealt with these people.
Some of my favorites: A trainer telling his novice trainee to do free barbell squats by setting up a barbell between two benches. Very original I admit, but if you then go talk to other people as this kid does free barbell squats for the very first time, without a word of explanation and in a very insecure setup with reasonable weight on the bar. That is a complete disregard for someone else's safety.
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Many Certified Trainers Will Give You Programs
By Parroting Things They Were Taught.
Avoid Dangerous Exercises
I try to tell people that there are some exercises that you should avoid because of direct hazard to the body. Whether they choose to do them afterwards is their choice, but these are things you should know about.
Some classics like the behind-the-neck barbell presses for shoulders put the rotator cuff in the line of fire and rotating dumbbell shrugs for traps can damage ligaments and put an end to your training. These are some things that require some knowledge and background to know obviously so I try to include them in my articles so you are aware of this.
Other exercises are plain stupid and I sincerely hope you are aware of the dangers involved since all it takes is commons sense. One leg squats can give you a severe back injury and turning feet in to train outer quads is the best way of ruining your knees for good. I'm sorry, but if you fall for these, you deserve to get hurt.
The list is endless and there is always some idiotic trainer who thinks "oohh, this sounds good!" and recommends things that don't work or get you seriously hurt. So please, be careful who you take advice from, certificate or no.
Perform Exercises Correctly
Especially with compound exercises this is dangerous, things like deadlifts, squats and barbell rows can put your back and knees on the line which would end you training days and possibly your walking days.
In my articles I outline the correct way, very detailed, on how to do these key exercises. Learn them, practice them with light weight and gradually increase. Only when you feel safe with the weight you are using should you attempt a lift.
Stay concentrated, focus on the correct exercise and not on the weight you are heaving. This will keep you strict, safe and it will take your mind of the weight so you can lift without fear. This is important too, because hesitation is one of the first causes of injury.
Another one is lack of concentration. Make sure your head is on right before any exercise, but especially these compound lifts which involve a great risk.
Use A Spotter
Use a spotter on any lift in which the gravitation of the eccentric motion is towards the body. This would include bench presses and squats. If the negative portion of a rep is moving in the gravitational sense with your body in its path, always use a spotter.
Your negative strength is greater than your positive strength, meaning when the weight is down, you have no assurance that you will be able to get it up again.
You may still have eccentric strength to lower the weight, but no concentric strength to get it back up. This will pin you in a dangerous and uncomfortable position. If this happens it is best to have someone present who can help you, but even better if you have someone there who can help you avoid these situations.
Not only for safety reasons, but also for motivational reasons. Knowing you don't need to worry about the weight you are using and balancing it because someone is there if it goes wrong, will allow you to expend all your energy on making the actual lift.
Concentration is key and a spotter can give you that. But the main reason is and remains that I would hate to see you crushed beneath a barbell. I do care about your safety, but I care even more about how that stuff reflects on me. If you get killed that isn't good publicity for the I.C.E. system.
Always Warm Up
I'm not a big fan of excessive stretching and endless sets with too light a weight, so I feel I have to stress this because I know it may seem as if this is not important. There is indeed evidence that stretching may do more harm then good, so I don't advocate stretching before training.
In between sets you may wish to do this stretch the fascia a bit and provide more room for growth, but this is not a safety precaution. I do advise that before starting a workout that you make the first set of the first exercise a warm-up set to 15 or 20 reps with half the weight you use for a normal 8-10 rep set.
After that jump in at the working set weight, you are warmed up. After the first exercise you are normally warmed up enough for the other exercises as well, but if the next exercise is completely different hitting none of the same areas as the first, it may be wise to do a warm-up set first as well.
It's important that you warm up the muscles worked, if the previous exercise does that it is not necessary. But that does not mean that you shouldn't warm up.
An injury is never far away however, and even with all the safety precautions in the world, you'll find that a mere moment of misplaced concentration can lead to an injury that could put you out of commission for a while.
When this happens its important to know a few things. But adverse conditions lurk everywhere. Here are some of the most popular ways to overcome adversity.
If you have an injury, rest it for God's sake. Do not go to the gym an train a muscle-group that involves using the damaged area without the consent of a physician. This will further damage the area and risk putting you out of commission permanently.
That is if it doesn't make for other complications as well. Rest it, no matter how small a problem it seems, let it heal and then give it another week, before coming back. Don't come with guns blazing either, start at a lower intensity and increase it again gradually so you don't relapse into a state of injury.
Don't Get Lazy
If you have an injury don't sit around and do nothing while it heals. There is always some work you can do. You will not be able to train the muscle-group in question and logically some injuries like in the traps or delts, will keep you from training most of the upper body, but even then you can still go in twice a week and do some lower-body work.
The extra concentration you can put in will benefit this muscle. And if it's a lower body injury, just cancel leg days, but still do the rest. This is called training around an injury and it is a trademark of a good bodybuilder.
Take the previous point and remember it well before you do this, but by all means, keep training. The body thrives on consistency. If you are out for a week, resting all around can do you good.
If a part of your body is out for a month, don't let every other muscle wait a month as well. That will make your comeback a lot harder, and it's things like that, that make people quit training.
You don't want to get all bad news, if you are ensured against accidents you can get some money out of it. Some gyms offer an extra insurance, athletic organizations like the IFBB include it in their membership and several insurance companies have plans for this too.
But the latter is also the most expensive option. But getting some money out of your injury will lessen the pain of not being able to train and will go a long way to helping to pay for groceries and your supplements.
In fact focus on that if you do get money. Nothing motivates you to get back to the gym than a load of supplements that are getting closer to expiry date every day. Just a friendly tip from a fellow bodybuilder.
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Getting Some Money Out Of Your Injury Will
Lessen The Pain Of Not Being Able To Train.
Work And Studies
By far the question I get asked most. It's not easy to go work out every day if you have so many other responsibilities and I'll never claim it is. I'm student with a lot of activities. I know what it is to work around a schedule.
First issue here is training. If you want to work out I fail to see how you can't. If you work 12-hour days 5 or 6 days a week stop it. It's that easy. No employer has the right to make you work so many hours and if they fire you, you can get a great settlement out of it.
These are the days of the 40-hour work week, and probably less in the future. If you work more than this, don't. For anybody else, you can work out. If it's in the morning before work, if its in the evening, late, if its mid-afternoon, who cares.
In some cases the change will even benefit your regime. I never experienced as much growth as the year I was forced to train in the morning before school. I was too ignorant to realize it at the time, but now I'm going back to training mornings and seeing if I can't gain some mass back that I lost in a recent illness. And so far its working like a charm.
As for nutrition, there are so many ways of achieving proper nutrition: shakes, pre-packaged lunches and what have you. Don't tell me even the busiest businessman can't drink a shake while watching his stocks or something.
It takes 2 minutes to drink a gainer shake you made before work. Your boss won't even notice if you do. Plus if you do manual labor and they don't let you have regular drink breaks, you can sue for bad working conditions as well (I know, my mom used to work in a legal-firm, that's why I'm so legal minded).
As a student, in large auditoria, you can sit in the back and eat. Most of the people in that section are asleep anyway so they won't notice. If you are in high school, keep stuff in your locker and eat between classes.
To put it in short, I shouldn't be addressing this issue. If this is a problem for you, you lack creativity. If I need my meals, I will damn sure get my meals and you can take that to the bank. If you aren't, maybe its time to re-evaluate your dedication to this sport.
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