"You need big iron to build big muscles."
Why go to all that work in the gym if you're not going to make any progress? Maybe I shouldn't say any progress, but poor progress. What's the point of it?
If you're out fishing and not catching anything, you go over and ask the other guys what they are using. It doesn't take a great brain to figure that out . . . but it does take a little humility.
I understand that you can't learn all these things at once. I can remember when I first started . . . I was making so many mistakes it was ridiculous. But I tried not to repeat the same mistakes year after year.
If you really listen to your body, it's going to tell you a lot of stuff. But then again, what does that mean . . . to listen to your body.
I guess it isn't that easy to do . . . it's even hard to describe. You're trying to get your mouth and your mind to agree on words that only your body knows. So I'm not even going to try to tell you what it means to "listen to your body." It would be easier to go back to some of the points I mentioned earlier. Let's walk through these things together and it will work itself out.
Let's start with one arm triceps kickbacks. This is so silly. Everybody does this exercise with about a 25-lb dumbbell when they should be using 80's. Yeah, that's right . . . 80's. It's not supposed to be done super strict. You're supposed to be trying to build muscle aren't you?
There is nothing sacred about strict movements. It's just another way of training. You only do strict movements it it builds better than anything else. You got to use some big iron if you're going to build some big arms. You need to use big stuff if you want to get big. Especially on this exercise. Forget about those silly little weights. They just aren't going to cut it.
Revolving Bar for lat puildowns. I don't know if you'd ever learn this by just listening to your body. I didn't . . . I had to learn it from Lou Degni.
He taught me, "In order to get proper Scapula Rotations while doing pullups, you have to get your hands high up on the bar. With the thumb on the same side of the bar as the fingers." Well, let's see now . . . ahh . . . i can't run right by "scapula rotations" without saying a word or two.
So let me explain . . . When you are doing pullup you have to get the scapula to rotate through the full range of abduction and adduction in order to build lats. In fact that's what makes the back grow. It's not the pulling up and down and, if you can get your hands high enough on the bar with the palms wrapped all the way over the bar, it brings the scapula right smack out into abduction, where it's supposed to be to start the pullup. Then you pull up to the bar bringing the scapula into adduction . . . you know . . . in and out. That's why a revolving bar is totally wrong. You're trying to keep your palms high on the bar. If the bar revolves, it just dumps your palms right off the bar and you're right down to your fingers. That's why you need to use straps and a non-revolving bar. If you don't have them your hands get tired and the next thing you know your palms slip off the bar and you are down to your fingers again, and if you're hanging by your fingers you're working biceps not back.
Calves are stubborn monkeys. They don't obey anything, so you have to be real clever in order to get them to do what you tell them to. One' thing's certain. They are not going to grow unless you use a system different from what they are accustomed to. You can get a little bit of size by using some huge weights and those little bouncy reps . . . but not much.
If you want them to grow you got to get dead serious. It takes full, I mean full extension and complete contraction to get their attention. Because you have to remember they are doing partial reps all the time as you walk around. Not only that, they are doing one legged reps. So you gotta get all the way up and all the way down if you're going to find any new growth. That's where the shoes come in, or rather where the shoes come off. You just can't get all the way up and down with shoes on.
What is "all the way up and all the way down?" I'll tell you. All the way up is . . . all the way to bone support and . . . all the way down is hitting the heels on the ground when you are standing on a four inch block. It's this total movement, all the way up and all the way down that will force your calves to grow.
In order to get the most out of side laterals it takes a unique kind of movement as well as three or four other things you want to concentrate on. When I see guys doing side lateral raises by raising the dumbbells all the way up and banging them together on top I ask myself, "Where did that idea come from anyway?" Granted, it's going to work some side delt but it's so limiting, why would a person do it that way? Anyway, let me tell you something about side lateral raises.
To begin with, the dumbbells are very important, especially on this exercise. If you dumbbell handle is too long it's hard to do this exercise right. There should be just enough space for your hand in a dumbbell. Not like a mini barbell where you can put almost and hand and a half in there. Also, you should be facing a mirror because you have to see the rear deltoid flex at the top of the movement. More about this later on.
When I go into a new gym and I'm looking for a place to work shoulders, there are several things I look for.
First is a good rack of dumbbells that are placed right in front of a mirror. Second is a dumbbell handle that is about an inch and a quarter in diameter. Third is a dumbbell handle that is not too long. Maybe just a little more than the width of my palm between the plates. Fourth is the size of the plates. A good dumbbell rack, up to the 80 pounders, should not use 10 pound plates. Otherwise, the sides of the plates rub the skin off on the inside of your forearm.
Let me explain why the above is so important. In order to do side laterals correctly the grip is critical. You need to get hold of the dumbbell in such a way that it allows you to transfer the stress directly to the outside deltoid head. Let me be more specific. I always like to grab the dumbbell by pinching my thumb and forefinger down tight first, then while holding tight with these two fingers I settle the rest of my hand around the dumbbell handle so that it presses the little finger side of the hand really tight against the inside plate of the dumbbell. The reason I want it that way is . . . when I lift the dumbbell out to the side I want the friction of the little finger side of my hand to help me lift the weight. then when I lift the dumbbell out to the side . . . I am almost pushing it out rather than swinging it out. The dumbbell is not just hanging by my fingers, it's sandwiched tightly against the plate. This transfers all the stress from my hand, through my arm, directly to the side delt head throughout the movement. On the way up and on the way down.
This way, I'm not just swinging the dumbbells like a pendulum. Which, by the way, works more traps than deltoids.
Before I forget . . . your hands must be chalked real well before you ever get a hold of the dumbbell.
Okay, let's go on to the next item. I pick up the dumbbells . . . then I bend over at the waist somewhere between straight up and 45 degrees. Then I cross one dumbbell over the other but . . . one HIGHER than the other . . . not in front of the other but . . . higher than the other. I do this so I can use some momentum on the movement. Otherwise the dumbbells would crash together on the bottom. Using a combination pressing and swinging motion . . . press the dumbbells out to the side.
I wish I had some way to show you what I'm talking about because it's hard to explain using just words . . .
Larry Scott explains and shows the laterals at 1:08:
But let's keep at it because I want you to get this right.
As you lift the dumbbell out to the side, you bend over at the waist even more. Oh, I'd say where your upper body is about at a 45 degree angle. The dumbbells should go as high as the shoulders, no higher. And as the dumbbells come up, they turn. They start off with thumb side of your palm facing away from your body and at the top of the movement the thumbs face each other and the palms are facing the floor. Does that make sense?
Another important thing. At the top of the movement you should see your rear deltoids flex in the mirror. If you can't see the rear delts flexing, you're standing up too high, your elbows are too low or you're cheating too much. This is important, really important.
If you want some great deltoids, give this a try. I've never seen it fail. i know it's hard to get right. So if you're still confused, give me a call and I'll try to explain it better.
Now, let's see . . . what was the next thing i had to cover? Oh yeah . . . Scott Preacher bench curls. That was it. I want to focus on why this exercise should be done STANDING rather than seated.
Ask yourself . . . when you're doing curls . . . standing barbell curls for example. When the weight gets hard and it's really heavy, what do you do? You throw YOUR HIPS forward don't you? If you're doing your curls seated with your hips back in seated position, you'll never be able to use as much weight. Especially the kind of weight you need to build great size. That's why you always want to do preacher curls standing. Besides that, when you're standing you can bend over the bench and cheat a little bit when you need to.
When Harvey Easton designed the first preacher bench back in the 50's he never put a seat on it but his bench was built out of heavy gauge steel . . . so it didn't need the seat for support. Then along came the copiers and they dropped the size of the steel so they had to stick a seat on it so it wouldn't break off right at the base. The new version was repeated and repeated.
But even with a seat . . . the really serious trainers never do the exercise seated. They just straddle the seat because they know instinctively that the exercise should be done standing.
The last exercise I want to talk about is Wrist Curls. More specifically, wrist curls off your knees with your thumbs (false grip) on the wrong side of the bar. If I could explain . . . Boy, I wish there was some way I could convey just exactly how much fun and how much progress you can make on your biceps size and your forearm size by doing wrist curls correctly.
When I see guys in the magazines doing their wrist curls with their thumb wrapped around the bar (regular grip) like they were doing curls I know they don't know what they are doing. You'd NEVER see Bill Pearl, for example, ever doing wrist curls with his thumbs wrapped round the bar, because the thumb can give you extra power. You want your thumbs underneath the bar on the same side that the fingers are on because you get more power this way. Also, if your thumbs are wrapped around the bar, it creates an unnatural binding right at the top of the movement. Whereas, if your thumbs are on the same side as the fingers, it's a smoother, neater feeling than when you wrap around it.
Now, let's talk about doing it off your knees. There is NO WAY you can use any serious weight doing it off your knees. You've got to get a special little bench. I've mentioned this before . . . you want a special little bench that is about a foot high and a foot square. [This thing is incredibly easy to make. Even a proper sized footstool or ottoman from a yard sale works perfect. Hunt around a bit.]. You've got to get your KNEES AROUND and HIPS DOWN LOWER than your forearms so that you can get some POWER into the movement.
Your forearm platform needs to be a special padded one . . . not off your bony old knees. Man, if you get 200 pounds and put that off the end of your knees, you're going to wipe out the back of your forearms. You'll have more pain on the back of your forearms than you ever will from the forearm flexors that you are trying to build.
When you're working red muscle fibers like calves or in this case forearms, you want to get rid of all the unnecessary pain because red muscle fiber REQUIRES a lot of pain to build. So, doing these off your knees is not the way to do it. Besides, when you get that special little bench you can start using some real weight . . . real weight like up to 200+ pounds on wrist curls.
Well, you better get started.
There's a lot of work to get done/
Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated.
You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps.
Enjoy Your Lifting!