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Common Sense Training.

Bodybuilders often turn to science for the answer and end up with so many conflicting answers that it makes their heads spin. Science won't help you in many instances, common sense will!

There is a significant amount of people that bodybuild who are constantly in search of the magic routine, magic exercise, or magic diet to propel them past some plateau in their training. They often turn to science for the answer and end up with so many conflicting answers that it makes their heads spin. Science won't help in many instances because they have forgotten something that should be the basis of everyone's training program; Common Sense. Common sense will seldom let you down.

Instead of leaving common sense at home or in your locker, use it at the gym. Every time you train, you should strive to make new insights into what works for you and what doesn't. It doesn't have to be complicated. For example, if something hurts when you are doing a particular exercise, common sense tells us that something is WRONG and you should either change the exercise or perhaps you are using shabby form. This may sound basic, but a lot of people will ignore their common sense and continue to do the exercise.

Eventually, their body may end up FORCING them to stop because they made a simple problem into a BIG problem. Here are some training tips based on common sense to get you started in the direction of bigger gains; the common sense direction:

1.) Use Full Range Of Motion.

Most people's first reaction may be: "I DO use full range of motion." However, full range of motion seems to have different definitions to different people. Take squats for example. Three plates seems to be the MMP (Minimum Macho Poundage) for men. They will do that MMP anyway they can!

What you typically see in the gym is some guy put on knee wraps and let out screams like someone shoved a hot poker up his butt as he auditions for Saturday Night Fever getting set up. He then proceeds to dip his knees a few inches as he lets out another scream. Each rep is the same and when he gets done his buddies congratulate him on a set well done!

Common sense tells you that a two-inch range of motion will not give you good overall leg development. Forget the MMP and use a weight where you can squat down until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. And don't go in the other direction and go so low that your back rounds out!

Common sense also tells you that the knee wraps rob the muscles of tension, tension that could be used to develop the tendons, ligaments, and muscles. "But I use them for protection" is commonly heard. That is a pure bunk, because they can actually cause damage to your knee, especially if you wrap incorrectly. If you want protection, use Trojans. If you want leg development, deep six the knee wraps.

2.) Common Sense For Doing Chinups.

How wide should you put your hands for chins? It is a misnomer to think that the wider you go on chins, the wider your back will get. Going wide will wreck your shoulders, plain and simple. You should go no wider than shoulder width.

Also, don't let your trunk rotate forward at the bottom stretch. It may seem like your lats get more stretch, but in reality a great amount of stress is being placed on your shoulders. If you want to bodybuild for a long time without chronic shoulder pain, forget that extra stretch.

3.) Common Sense For Shoulder Side Laterals.

How many times have you seen someone humping up dumbbells and with the momentum they are using, hardly hitting the lateral delts at all? This can be seen almost everyday in gyms around the world. Lighten up and do them right! The tension should be felt in the delts during the entire movement. Also, there is no reason to raise the dumbbells above shoulder level.

4.) A Common Sense Recovery Tip.

You have probably heard get lots of sleep to make good bodybuilding progress. However, how many really pay attention to this aspect of recovery? Common sense tells us that sleep is a KEY factor in not only lifting progress, but in staying healthy (not getting colds, etc.) during the winter months. What happens when you get sick? Well, most people end up sleeping a TON.

Your body is catching up for the debt you may have created for weeks. There also seems to be improved poundages and pump during vacations for many people. Why? For a lot of people on vacation, sleep time increases significantly! If you are only sleeping 6 to 7 hours now, try getting an extra one or two hours sleep a night and see the difference. Establish your priorities.

If staying up and watching the late show is more important than adding muscle and staying healthy, then don't whine at the gym when some person who is getting 9 hours per night kicks your butt! Another way to get more sleep is to try catching naps at lunchtime or on weekends.

5.) Do Deadlifts For Overall Back Development.

Common sense tells us the deadlift is the best exercise for overall back development. The deadlift hits your back from the top of your traps all the way down to your lower spinal erectors. When talking about deadlifts, I am not talking about loading on your bodyweight and doing them still legged. I am talking about working up to 1.5x or 2x bodyweight for sets of 10! "But I do shoulder shrugs for my traps", you say. Deep six the shrugs!

They are a poor man's deadlift. It is the same as skipping squats and just doing leg extensions! No question about it, deadlifts are hard work. However, the hard work will pay off come contest day when you turn around and your "Christmas Tree" has ornaments on it while the person's next to you is bare!

What Do You Think Is The Best Mass Building Exercise For The Back?
DB Shrugs
Bent Over Rows
Seated Rows

6.) To Gain Arm Size, You Must Increase Your Overall Muscular Bodyweight.

Arm size is directly related to overall body size. A 160-pound bodybuilder is not going to have 19-inch arms. Many people fail to realize that the way to bigger arms is to increase overall muscle mass by concentrating on the major muscle groups, the chest, back, and legs.

The time and energy people waste pumping away at their arms should be spent on developing the major muscle groups.

People also tend to ignore the fact that the biceps and triceps are heavily involved when working the major muscle groups.

7.) Don't Be A Counter.

Many people get caught up in the numbers game when they go to the gym. If you are performing a set and you know how many reps you have performed, then you are being a counter. How can you have total focus on the movement and the muscle being worked if your mind is busy keeping track of how many reps you've done? The answer is you can't. It's ok to have a target to shoot for before you start your set, but let a spotter or a training partner count the reps so you can concentrate on the muscle and the movement.

8.) The Abs Are No Different Than Any Other Bodypart.

You don't need to work your abs any more than any other muscle. The good ole abdominal crunch is all you really need to do. If you want to add resistance, grab a plate and stick it behind your head. And doing abdominal work until the cows come home won't make your abs visible. The only way to get visible abs is to get rid of the fat around your waist.

9.) Warming Up Means That You Warm Up.

Many people waste a ton of energy warming up - energy that could be used for "real" work sets. For example, say the top squat weight for the day is 400. The person might normally warm up as follows: 135x10, 225x10, 315x10, 365x10. This is a waste of not only time, but energy. A better scheme would be: 135x10, 225x5, 315x3, 365x1. The work set weight of 400 could probably be moved up to 420 because the person is no longer burned out from all the warmups.

10.) When You Start A New Movement, Start Out Slow.

A new movement means that the muscles, tendons, and ligaments are going to be subjected to a new stress. Don't jump to the maximum weight you can handle on the first workout. For most people, this is a prime time for the mortal enemy of common sense to rear its ugly head, EGO. Don't let your EGO get the best of you, because in this instance it often leads to injury - injury that takes you out of action a much longer period of time than the time waiting a workout or two to kick the new movement into high gear.

Remember, before you start looking to science for answers to your training woes; try the common sense approach to your training. Using common sense as your guide in your training will seldom steer you wrong.

Bill Piche,