Monday, February 14, 2022

Row, Row, Row Your Bar, Part One -- Greg Zulak (1997)

                                       The Author, from a late '90s issue of MuscleMag International

But first . . . 
Monday without laughter leads to Tuesday with hangover. 
I figured a few years ago this below, and that photo above 
would find their place on here: 

Fifty Ways to Lose Your Blubber 

The problem is all inside your head
She said to me
It's easy to lose fat
If you diet regularly
I'd like to help you in your struggle
To be fat-free
There must be fifty ways 
To lose your blubber

She said it's really not my habit
To be rude
But that fat around your waist
Really should be removed
I'll repeat myself 
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways 
To lose your blubber
Fifty ways to lose your blubber

You just leave out the Big Mac Jack
Avoid the shake Jake
Don't have those fries Cy
Just listen to me
Get on the bike Mike
Better hit the weights Kate
Use those machines Gene
And get yourself lean

She said it grieves me so
To see you so fat
It really must be terrible
To have to look like that
And I said I appreciate 
What she was trying to say
But would she please explain again
About the fifty ways? 

She said I couldn't wai 
A minute longer anymore
'Cause soon I probably wouldn't fit
Through a set of double doors
Then she slapped my back
And pushed me into the gym floor
There must be fifty ways to lose your blubber

Second Chorus:
Eat up the cob Bob
Stick to the fish Trish
Don't have the candy Randy
Just listen to me
Get on the bike Mike
Better hit the weights Kate
Use those machines Gene
And get yourself lean. 

With apologies to Paul Simon and Weird Al Yankovic and thanks to Greg Zulak.

Almost there, almost at the article . . . 


Great Read! 
It seems a little odd thinking about "copyright laws" for this book.

How to Do it Right for Maximum Lat Development

Since the lats are the largest muscles of the upper body, it's absolutely essential to develop them if you want full upper body width, mass, thickness and shape. Wide, full lats accentuate the V-taper, which creates the illusion of wider shoulders and smaller waistline and hips, for a more aesthetically pleasing physique. This is especially important if you happen to be blocky through the hips and midsection. 

Look what supermassive, wide, thick lats have done for Dorian Yates' physique. Many of his peers can match, or even surpass him, on arm, chest, shoulder, quad and abdominal development, and some have superior shape, symmetry and conditioning, but Dorian's lats and overall back development are so mind boggling his flaws tend to be overlooked, even a torn, shriveled biceps at the '94 Olympia.

Unfortunately, the lats aren't that easy to develop unless you're genetically gifted in that area, and lat exercises are among the most difficult to master. That's especially true for the rowing movements because you can't see the target muscles working. Many bodybuilders complain that since they can't see their lats, they can't feel them either. Consequently, they can't isolate their lats or overload them for proper stimulation. Indeed, the most common lament of beginning and intermediate bodybuilders is that their biceps get a better workout and pump than their lats. The problem is so common, it's become a cliché

This article and others led to Greg Zulak writing his 150-page book on Lat Training, downloadable here: 

"Training the Lats for Maximum Isolation, Stimulation and Pump"

The first key point in learning how to row properly is to understand how the target muscles function. The lats rotate the arms medially -- that is, to the center of the body -- and draw the shoulders downward and backward. This is an action you definitely want to mimic when you do lat exercises. 

You also have to know how to maximize isolation and maintain the mind/muscle connection throughout a set so the mechanical advantage is placed squarely on the lats, not spread among other muscle groups -- typically the biceps, delts, traps, rhomboids, lumbars, spinal erectors and, if enough cheating is involved, even the legs, hips and glutes. 

The following is one of the absolute top training secrets of the champs. There's a right way and a wrong way to perform every exercise for bodybuilding purposes and you determine this mainly by feel. Your ability to feel the muscles at work tells you everything about your exercise performance and gives you instant feedback on whether you're working your lats properly. No need for estimates. wild guesses or confusion. It comes to this: If you experience the sensations of muscular exertion -- like muscle burn, fatigue, contractions and pump -- directly in your lats, then you know you're doing it right. If you feel those sensations in some of the other muscle groups mentioned above, however, it's a dead giveaway that your form is incorrect. 

The number one reason that bodybuilders have such a difficult time working their lats properly is excessive cheatingThey have to cheat so much because they use weights on their rowing exercises that are too heavy to be moved by lat power alone. Cheating with a heavy weight cannot possibly allow proper lat isolation, because you don't hold your body in the biomechanically ideal position for contractions and stimulation. The weight is so heavy that you must focus every ounce of mental and physical effort on lifting the barbell or dumbbell, not on working your lats. The job that you set out to do becomes a secondary consideration. When all you can do is yank, pull and heave with your arms and bob up and down with the weight instead of rowing the bar smoothly to your lower abs, you're not getting the bodybuilding point of the exercise.     

Most bodybuilders don't understand the difference between working a muscle and lifting a weight. They build their egos instead of their lats.

Don't expect the lats of a bodybuilder if you train dynamically like a weightlifter or get poundage-centric like a powerlifter. It takes a lot of finesse and attention to small details to perform rowing exercises properly, details that can make or break your lat-building success. If you don't pay attention to those details, aren't aware of them or, worse, ignore them, you are not training lats right, but, hell, you're not even a bodybuilder. You're just tossing around heavy weights.

It all comes down to one simple trick: Use weights you can control. If you're having trouble feeling and stimulating your lats, cut your rowing poundages by 30 to 50 percent. Take the time to learn how to perform the exercises correctly. Learn to put all the stress and overload directly on your lats.

If you think 50 percent is too drastic a drop in poundage, think again. Even Yates suggests that much of a reduction on rows in his book Blood and Guts.

Note: Here's a little more from Yates on form and function in that book: 

"You've got to be able to concentrate and apply all the stress on the muscle you're working. Be in touch with your muscles and all the functions they have. For instance, when you're training your back, you've got to be aware of the physiology of the lats and understand that they draw your upper arm down and back. Know that for your lats to contract fully, your spine must be slightly arched. These are the things that will allow you to get 100% out of your training. 

"It's not just about lifting a heavy weight. One of the most difficult things for a bodybuilder to do is back off from wanting to go heavier and heavier. Many times, guys will watch me train and they'll think just because I got great results from going heavy they will too. They don't realize that I could go heavier but not get as much out of it because I'd be cheating just to get the weight up. To these people, cheating doesn't matter. They've got this mentality that whatever it takes to lift a heavy weight they'll do, even if it means they'd be cheating. By doing this, they get poor results from their training and they leave themselves very susceptible to injuries from improper form.

"To me, that doesn't make any sense. Great results come from intelligent training. Use your head, think about what you're doing and how it affects the muscle and you'll get great results and minimize the possibility for injury. Always give your training 100 percent of your best. Forget about what the other guys are doing. You're building your body, not theirs."  

Why People Cheat on Lat Exercises

Most beginning and intermediate bodybuilders fail to build their muscles as fast as they'd like -- especially their lats -- because they have some funny ideas about what actually makes a muscle grow, so they make all kinds of mistakes. One of the biggest and most common of those mistakes -- and one even some fairly advanced men who should know better have made -- is to believe that cheating with super-heavy weights is somehow a shortcut to bodybuilding elitehood. About the only thing excessive cheating gives you is a shortcut to injury. Talk to bodybuilders who devoted a lot of time to heavy cheating methods, and they'll tell you about constant muscle pulls, joint problems and muscle tears. Some of them can't even walk without pain because of all the damage they did to their hips, knees and ankles. 

Bodybuilders who have had long careers [bit of a dying breed now] devoted most of their time to moderate and moderately heavy training. That's not to say they didn't use extremely heavy training at some point in their careers, but their success and longevity came from knowing how to build mass without tearing up their joints and muscles. A lot of the men who did train really heavily and with loose form, such as John Brown, Bertil Fox, the Mentzer brothers and Casey Viator, suffered muscle injuries and/or mental burnout at some points. 

Another misconception many people have is the notion that ANY kind of weight training builds massive muscles. That's just not so. It is possible to train with super-heavy weights and build enormous strength and power with very little increase in size and bodyweight. That's the kind of program frequently used by athletes who are restricted to weight classes -- such as boxers, wrestlers, flexible pornstars, powerlifters and Olympic lifters -- or who need strength but would be hampered by extra mass -- such as swimmers, divers, high jumpers, sprinters, skiers, gymnasts, etc. 

The strategy is simple: You do max sets of one to five reps with a minimum of five minutes rest between sets. Isometrics, heavy partials and concentric holds also develop great strength but without any increase in size if you take long rest periods between sets or holds and limit your food intake to the minimum needed to recuperate. 

The idea when trying to increase strength without increasing mass, size or bodyweight is to recruit the highest number of muscle fibers for brief, voluntary but powerful contractions. Heavy overload training also greatly strengthens tendons, ligaments and connective tissue, but because there's little increase in blood volume to specific muscle groups, because you don't develop the red, slow twitch muscle fibers, and because there's no increase of blood vessels and capillaries in the muscles, you don't get a pump. The muscle fibers thicken to a degree and become stronger but don't develop great size. Tendon and ligament strength go up significantly, and the safety mechanisms that protect the body from injury, such as the Golgi tendon organs and the Corgi ligament livers that shut down the muscle when too much stretch or strain are felt -- are inhibited. 

That's the reason a 148-lb Olympic weightlifter can stay in the 148 class for 10 years but lift heavier and heavier weights each year. If the same weightlifter started to train like a bodybuilder, however -- that is, with more exercises per muscle group, higher reps, more-moderate weights not lifted dynamically and taking less rest between sets -- then as long as his diet was high enough in nutrients his bodyweight and overall muscle mass would go up accordingly.

Bodybuilders who cheat and throw heavy weights around are in a sense doing the type of training that builds tendon and ligament strength without increasing size. It does play havoc on the joints though. The better course is to use more-moderate weights, do higher reps, take shorter rests between sets and focus on feeling and pumping the muscle.

Continued in Part Two . . . 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


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