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     Fitness Tips For 1/3/2012

Bodybuilding Safety Tips For The Gym

You see it all the time, some guy who takes Arnolds "cheat" principle
a bit to far in the gym doing his barbell curls. I often wonder if 
these people understand that the reason one can continue the 
exercise, almost beyond failure, is because other muscle groups are 
doing the work. A barbell curl is for your biceps, not for your delts 
and lower back. Although the magazines are flooded with information '
on form, there are still quite a few interested in catering to their 
egos. I haven't quite discovered if they are seeking the attention of
others, or being emotionally directed, since reaching failure is 
often enough to trigger the growth stimulus. I am not going to touch 
upon how much potential there is for injury when using improper form. 
Most people are well aware of the risks, but I am going to talk about 
form with forced reps, and talk a bit about rep cadence. I am not 
against using forced reps, rather I am against using improper form 
when using forced reps. You are not creating a deeper inroad into 
the muscle being worked, you are creating inroads into other muscles
which are not suppose to be working. You can safely increase the 
intensity of the exercise once you reach failure by simply holding 
failure for 2-3 seconds, or taking a bit longer to perform the 

There is simply no reason to cheat when there are much more effective
and safe methods of overload. For example, my chest responds best to 
about 30 seconds of tension. That is, I increase my strength the 
most, if I place enough tension on the muscle to reach failure in 
approx., 30 seconds.

However, there was a time when I was in love with weighted dips. I 
became fairly strong on the weighted dip, and reached a point where 
I had to stop dipping, for fear of injury. To make a long story 
short, I decided to increase my time under tension, and it worked. 
My normal strength increases did not suffer as much as I expected, 
and my shoulders and elbows felt great. Just a note, this may not 
work with every body part. Most people have found that higher reps
do work well for the legs, however my strength in the deadlift 
actually decreases if my TUT exceeds around 40-50 seconds. My point
is that if similar results can be expected from by going lighter, 
perfecting the form, and therefore a longer TUT, why not? If results
are similar, then I see absolutely no reason to risk injury. Or I 
guess more specifically, I should say that I don't believe that it 
is worth the pain that potentially could be suffered now or at a 
later date, just to impress a few people who probably don't even 
care to know your name.

Now, this is probably one of the touchiest subjects in training, but
you know that it has to be mentioned during a discussion on safety -
rep cadence. Yes, explosive training is more dangerous than slower 
controlled rep cadences. Notice that I did say "more dangerous than" 
because I believe that most superslow advocates do exaggerate the 
potential for danger with explosive training. However, that's not 
the point. The point is that injuries are more likely to happen with
faster rep cadences. Why? Because of inertia. An injury will only 
occur if the force placed on the tissues exceeds the strength of the
tissue, and fast rep cadences do place more force on the tissues that
what is prescribed.

I am not suggesting that everyone trains with one superslow rep, I 
have before and it was very boring. I basically compromise, taking 
4-5 seconds to lift, 1-2 second pause, 4-5 second negative. I feel 
that this rep speed is slow enough to reduce injury, and eliminate 
most of the momentum that any moving object picks up, but yet fast 
enough to make my training enjoyable. 

Before I wrap this up, you may have noticed that I did not talk about
belts, or other safety equipment. I don't believe in using anything 
but wrist straps for exercising. Belts do nothing but allow a person
to lift more; I hardly see why they could reduce spinal injury at 
all. Some claim that the more you lift, the bigger you'll get. While
that is true, it's not you that is actually doing lifting. It would 
be like putting a big spring under your you when you squat, so that 
you can lift more. Wraps are in a similar position. Put it this way, 
what is the point of being able to deadlift 500lbs, if you require 
a belt and some wraps? What practical purpose would that have in 
real life? The only aid I can see others using is wrist straps. 
Everyone can improve his or her grip strength, however, some people
do not have strong hands. For example, a training partner of mine 
has very small joints and thin wrists. However, his back and legs 
are very powerful. He simply cannot train his back sufficiently 
without them.

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Bodybuilding Safety Tips For The Gym

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