** LONG POST AHEAD! Only read if you’re really wanting to nerd out and discuss serious training issues!!!
Admitedly I don’t always read every article on here. Sure I’ve learned plenty over the years, but that also includes which authors I like and speak highly of, and which ones leave me scratching my head wondering why they’re chiming in on the subject they’ve chosen.
So today, I’ve got as bit of time on my hands, and so I click over from my usual window left open to the forums to the main TN page. There, I see “5 Bodybuilding Lies you probably believe”, which obviously catches my eye. The author, is unknown to me, so of course I google him to get a bit of background before delving into what “lies” I might have spent years believing. Well, I know that not everyone agrees on everything, and while there are often different ways to skin a chicken breast, there are also usually a good amount of agrement on the real nuts and bolts of what works and what is … not great.
I figured I’d give my thoughts and see who has opinions etc on this little piece.
1- Free weights beat machines at building mass.
Okay, we all know (or read about) the great machine debate of the 80’s. The notion that because machines somehow made everything safer, with less shuffling about and clanging plates that they were a lesser method in terms of being hardcore and getting huge. If we simply look at the fact that they do often times eliminate the secondary, auxilliary muscle groups that come into play during most movements, the argument can indeed hold a ton of water. On the other hand, with certain machines allowing for a better focus, limiting ROM, even just simple issues balance, you are still able to apply direct stress to your target muscles, which at the most basic of levels, shouldn’t be any lesser of an approach than if you were doing so with a dumbell or barbell.
I didn’t really understand the whole example given of a DB lateral starting in the horizontal plane though, as you never really move the weight in any side to side fashion at all. Sure it begins at a dead hang, but the benefits of overcoming a dead stopped resistance is an excellent tool for growth, as is the method I always personally ascribed to of never truly letting the weight rest at your sides. Of course both of these methods can be applied to machines I would think, so if the only real difference is indeed secondary muscles coming into play (and more experienced trainers are usually very good at controlling this to not be a negative concern), then I must disagree with this being a lie. (chime in and disagree with me if you’d like!)
2- Calves are stubborn, They’ll never grow
I used to think that too,… until of course I eventually found what worked for me. The problem is that most people give up pretty easily when not everything improves as quickly as they would like. Still, I do agree with the premise that the human body is designed with a purpose, and if our main means of locomotion (walking, running etc) involve a serious amount of volume, and of course the constant and repetitive strain of our bodyweight pounding and pounding day in and day out,… well, I would figure that they would be able to handle a pretty serious workload without so much as breaking a sweat. Yeah yeah, I know all about fast twitch and slow twitch, and hearing about muscle biopsies to determine the breakdown of muscles groups in different individuals, but having worked with athletes, I’ve seen that design for performance can trump aesthetics. What I mean by that is that I’ve read pieces about how athletes can have trouble losing weight in terms of fat loss and changing their visual appearance. The notion goes against what works well for their actual performance, how they look in the mirror be damned. So by that bit of thinking, if your genetics dictate that you’ll be able to handle serious locomotion each day (and I know nurture can come into play as well), well then your calves be indeed be stubborn, no matter how much you want them to match your arms and be in “perfect proportion” like Steve Reeves -lol.
Not to say they won’t grow, they just won’t cooperate as much as your biceps might.
3- Incline bench is ther best Upper Chest exercise
I totally agree that this “Lie” seems to abound in every gym across the country. There are much much better approaches, and anyone who understands the concept of “line of pull” (any of my clients know what I like to recommend!), angle of your bench be damned, isn’t falling for this nonsense.
Still, I will argue that slight inclines or slight declines are much, MUCH, better for mid chest development than flat work. The angle, the stretch, the fiber recruitment,. hell, flat chest work does very little for most trainees than risk shoulder issues IMO. I know, Big Ronnie Coleman lived on heavy flat BB work and he was 8x Mr. Olympia. Yup! I love Big Ron, and yes he had those crazy one in a zillion genetics… Its a hard pill to swallow that you can’t do his workout and look just like him though. Feel free to try though, I wont.
4- Toe direction targets VM / VL
Definitely on the money. Think of your knee as a simple hinge like in a doorway. You think it’s smart to put stress (hundreds of pounds) on a hinge from the side while making it open and close? That’s just asking for a trip to the PT, or even a surgeon if you’re unlucky. Close stance work vs wide stance work provides SOME shifting of stress because of the angle of your legs,not because you twisted your toes upside down -lol.
5- Compound exercises first, isolation exercises last
Unless you’re at the point of develoopment where you are truly focused on crafting a “Physique”, or you’ve realized imbalances and “weak points”, I still believe this is the right advice in most cases. Sure I’m a big proponent of utilizing pre-exhaust to take strong links out of the chain, but I would never advise someone whose goal is to build a decent musculature to employ a regimen that I would use myself. In hindsight, I realize that one of the reasons my delts and triceps were so good after just a few years of training was all the heavy pressing work I did for my chest. s. Darn those heavy compound movements! -lol
(This is by no means me supporting full body training mind you, merely a sequencing of exercises.)