T Nation

I Am A Re-Tard


I am going to admit it, I suffered from gym retardidiss, a condition in which one works only the muscles they can see, and does chest almost every other day. For about 2 years, working chest was the highlight of my week, so I integrated it into my lifting schedule as much as I could, even if that meant 2-3 times in a 7 day span. The results were addictive, both in the mirror, and in the gym.

Being able to rep at 265 (5'11" 165 lbs) gave an almost drug like feel, and I didn't really see a reason to stop. That was until I started to notice the severe pronation that my arms were experiencing, and the more crippling pain in my AC joint.

By being so focused on pushing, and building the muscles in front of me, I created a tremendous disparity in the balance of my body. Not only had my arms started to creep in front of me, but the smaller muscles were thrown out of wack, and slowly started to get pissed off.

Busting your AC joint is not fun, nor is creating severe muscular imbalances in your body, so I just want to use my story to underscore how important it is to work towards muscular balance, and maybe even focus more on the muscles behind and below you, rather than what's in front of you. It might not be painful, annoying, or awkward looking now, but it will eventually reach that path if your busting out chest and arms everyday of the week.

Eventually I reversed the trend, and took the long and painful path back to correcting the balance. As annoying and frustrating as it might have been (cutting chest out completely for a month), the end result was a much more balanced muscle composition, that looked better in the mirror and felt better on the move. Every motion has an opposite motion, and every major muscle has minor supporting muscles. Make sure you focus on both of those, and you will enjoy better progress, and a more pain free path to greater muscle.

Bottom line, work towards balance, in your lifting, and maybe in the rest of your life. Doing so will lead you down a good path, and won't force you to back track and carve your way back to normalcy.


Thank you oh guru of the tibetian hills of bodybuilding.

You hear that kids? Work your legs!


Yeah, and drink your milk, say your prayers, brush your teeth..... -lol



You know, when you cut your chest work for one month after creating an imbalance for to years, you have not corrected it .

Don't relapse my chest addict friend. you have to work the back for a long long time more then your chest...


Now you know ...

... and knowing is half the battle.


You guys got that right, best to start fixing it now.

I think just about 99% of people who start lifting do chest and bi's exclusively to start. Funny thing is when I finally did a good back then leg workout I fell in love with those way more than chest/shoulders. I still feel that way now.


Trust me, that wasn't the only thing I did, that was just the start (and the hardest part mentally). I worked everything from the small muscles around the AC joint and the rotator cuff, to the big muscles behind me, working as hard as possible to build muscle to "pull" my body back into the correct position. The most shocking visualization came when one of the trainers at the gym told me, hold your arms where they naturally fall and see where your palms face. If you palms are facing back, your severely over developed in your chest, as perfect muscle balance would actually force your palms to face forward (although palms facing into your body is a great start). It was a long process, but we'll worth it.

Think of it as building a house. If you build a poor/unstable foundation and then attempt to add a mansion to it, eventually everything is going to cave in. Build a strong foundation, keeping balance and maintaining attention on the smaller muscles and other parts involved in lifting, and adding muscle will be much easier, more pain free, and won't cave in a couple years down the line.

That's just my 2 cents, and hopefully it can make an impact on at least one kids path down the road to muscle. Read the articles on this site, lift smart but lift your ass off, push more than you pull, lift your goddamn legs, and take care of the frame that your adding to by eating right and being healthy.


I don't know anyone who looks like this when they put their arms straight down. I think palms facing the body is completely normal.


I totally agree, I am just relaying what I was told. Also, I don't think my body came with the pully system depicted above, should I check the warranty?


I'd be more worried about the extra eyeballs at the elbow, shoulder and navel.


Mr. Body Massage Machine GOOOOO


"You.....You're the ring leader!....Oh wa deh da wooooo!"


I was one of those guys too. Had the over developed front deltoid with the chest kinda in the back ground. My main problem was I used to bench with my elbows flared out and used to lower the bar to upper chest. For sure didn't reverse my lifts back then. At least I didn't suffer from imaginary lat syndrome.


When I first started there was one group of guys who clearly knew what they were doing. I could tell because they looked like they actually trained and they were moving what to me, especially then, were some significant poundages. I watched and listened to them even though I'm pretty sure they never knew it. Hence bby accident I avoided the chest and bis only syndrome. Looking back I did use too many machines for too many smaller movements for a beginner, but I did work hard and made gains.


And there goes another trainer who studied anatomy a little too fast. Palms facing forward is just the anatomical position. It's simply a reference point from which to describe the different segments in relation to one another. Nothing do do with optimal shoulders/palms positioning.

So please, when you see that trainer please tell him to go back to class and do his homework properly...or you could just bitch slap him to submission...up to you really. Sorry for the outburst but it just make me cringe when I hear crap like this.


I don't know about that 'perfect muscle balance/hands facing forward' thing, but I will say that the only reason most people feel the need to face their palms forward even when pressing dumbells is because they have gotten so used to working with a bar. In a 'normal' anatomical resting position, your' hands are a slight angle off of facing sideways. Over the years I always felt a tighter contraction with a 45 angle on my DB chest presses. Years later when I began talking to Jim Cordova, he explained it pretty well as far as the actual anatomical advantage of letting the body work within it's natural tendencies rather than force it into a position that you have essentially artificially gotten it used to thinking is correct. (One more argument for DBs over BBS I guess -ll)



I think I will go with the bitch slap, good suggestion. The way in which your hands face wasn't my focal point (and I do agree that facing forward can't be natural), overall balance in the development and construction of muscle was. Lift smart.