I have just recently decided to add a "new" column to my web space, aptly named Rants and Raves. The purpose of this space is to elaborate on tiny tidbits of bodybuilding/powerlifting information that really doesn't require a great deal of space to address. In addition, it allows me to pick at the scabs and pelt information loaded electrons, via the web space, to things that irk me; whether they are silly, conspicuous, or anything that catches my eye. So if this happens to offend someone, it is not meant in a malicious tone, but a constructive one. I certainly don't have the last word on training techniques, bodybuilding, or life in general. All I do is give my perspective on certain issues regarding the gym world and that's all it is. I have been accused of being of the "old school". I presume that infers to a preference to using free-weights versus machines, and preferring full repetitions to partial repetitions. If that's the case, so be it.
Revolutionary Training Systems?
During my short tenure on this planet, I have seen many "revolutionary" training systems come and go, but as of yet, they are not really "revolutionary" but have actually evolved into the current paradigm. The mind/body is a continuing flow of conditions that began when a person was conceived in the womb and with conditions set by the genetics of the parents, grandparents, etc. The point being is there are many people getting rich off poor bodybuilders by propagating their "revolutionary" ideas, which leads into my topic of a current trend in bodybuilding: the partial repetition. I have no qualm if a person is using partial repetitions to break a plateau or do "something different". However, I do have a problem when misinformation gets to beginners, and soon, the beginner is executing dangerous exercises with tremendous weight with dangerous form.
Case in point: Several days ago, I saw a lifter, weighing approximately 150 pounds, trying to perform, loosely, a quarter squat with close to 600 pounds on the squat rack. The lifter was lucky to get the weight off the squat rack. However, when he tried to take a step back, it was evident that the weight was more than his joints could maintain, and his knees buckled. Luckily, a knowledgeable passerby recognized the lifter's limitations, did an impromptu spot until the lifter racked the weight. The lifter was motivated by the notion that the heavier the weight, the greater the size gains. However, what the lifter fails to recognize is that the quality of the repetition is far more important and advantageous than merely placing weight on a rack and moving it six inches. Like I stated earlier, it's fine to break up your workout and try a few workouts like this to break a plateau. However, if partial repetitions with monstrous weight, is the cornerstone of your training regimen, the lifter's progress will ultimately stop with little size or any true strength gains.
Another example of the shortfalls of this training is on a chest day, I was benching 315 for sets of six repetitions, full range with controlled descent and ascent. A fellow lifter bragged that he was at a lighter bodyweight and could do 335 pounds, for a set of ten, partial repetitions, for four sets. I challenged him to do one set with 315 of full range repetitions, as expected, he couldn't even get the weight of his chest. So in essence, all the partial sets and repetitions were only building his ego and his triceps. His pectoral muscles had been basically the ancillary muscles, vice the prime mover of the exercise. So, again, quit doing partial repetitions as your mainstay of your routine; drop the weight, build the muscle and not your ego. As time goes on, the weight will come and without the sacrifice of painful joints and partial muscle development.
Now for something positive: Bob Paris' book "Flawless". I can't say enough good things about this book. It is a superb, clear and concise book that all levels of bodybuilders should read thoroughly. Not only because of the great workout schedules, but also because it clearly explains how to the muscle should "feel" during the exercise. Save yourself years of frivolous training and heartache and buy the book. Another wonderful aspect of this book is that it outlines meal schedules and helpful tips which bodybuilders at any level would benefit. Again, spend the twenty dollars and save yourself the frustration. Click the picture to the right for more information.
Send Me Your Info!
Going back to the "rant" portion of the article, I have been receiving several emails on "how to get started". I really don't mind the question, but what it disconcerting is that I know very little of the individual who is corresponding with me. So in the future, include height, weight, body fat; how many meals a day; what the meals consist of etc. A cursory overview of "how do I get in shape" is as useful as standing on a roof and screaming for a million dollars; it only adds to the confusion. So please, include at least some more information especially if you have some sort of ailment such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Not only will this help design a program, but also will tell me of any flaws in your diet that may hinder your progress. So be warned; No information, no training program.
Pros Getting TOO Big?
One more rant and I'll conclude this portion of this article. I am concerned in the direction professional bodybuilding is progressing. It's intimidating when a professional female bodybuilding has muscle comparable to a male bodybuilder that competed thirty years ago. I know that the bar is constantly being elevated by the competitors and are acquiescing to the judges' subjective eye. Nonetheless, without the open advocacy of famous stars such as Arnold Schwartzenegger, Silvester Stallone, the sport would definitely be in decay. However, I have seen less public participation, in the spectator aspect, to the sport.
I openly acknowledge that it is a sport and the competitors are continuously training to unbelievable musculature and low bodyfat levels. I know the dedication it requires for bodybuilders to attain such levels of competitiveness, but nonetheless, the public-at-large has no idea of the difficulties involved in a bodybuilding competition. So the public's apathy carries over into the lack of participation in the bodybuilding shows. The reason I previously started the comparison of a professional female bodybuilder musculature was comparable to a regional level male bodybuilder of thirty years ago, is to physically manifests how the sport has advanced so much that it now intimidates the public-at-large, both male and female. Both sexes are pushing the envelope to what, in a bodybuilding perspective, what is the desirable physique. So now the bodybuilding sport is at a crossroads: do we continue down the path of ultra huge and ripped physiques, and let the sport become relegated to a cult status sport? Or does the community bring in back the era of aesthetics such as Frank Zane, Bob Paris, in order to keep the sport, from a layman's perspective, "respectable" to the masses of the outside observers? This indeed is an issue that will definitely impact the future of the sport. Personally, I like both aspects of bodybuilding; the big huge ripped physiques, but I also appreciate the aesthetics of the more "classical" physique.
The most prevailing argument against bodybuilding as a sport is what purpose does it serve? I honestly don't know the answer, but what it does for me is that my quality of life has improved a great deal. Even though I started as a powerlifter, I always acknowledged the importance of having a balanced approach towards physical fitness. I have always advocated for powerlifters, bodybuilders to try yoga, pilates, etc., or the martial arts. Not only for the sake of exposure, but for the balanced approach it brings to life.
So in closing, if there are any issues you would for me to address, please do not hesitate and email me at: email@example.com. In addition, I would like to remind the 2 or 3 readers that read my articles, that I do not mind making workout schedules for bodybuilder, powerlifters, etc. But I do need more pertinent information and do expect for the reader to read my other articles dealing with the pertinent issues. Best of luck.