Overcoming injury

Ron Harris

Where There’s a Will, There Are Wheels

Often when bodybuilders with poor leg development offer up excuses, knee injuries are at the top of the list. “I can’t squat because I have a bad knee,” they say. Perhaps if they knew what Dennis Wolf went through in 2002, they wouldn’t be so quick to accept permanent defeat.

While squatting, the Big Bad Wolf tore ligaments around one knee so badly that he couldn’t train his lower body with heavy weights for a full six months. Afterward, he gradually rebuilt the size and strength in his legs and went on to make them worthy of the Mr. Olympia stage. Sharing his advice with others that may have suffered similar injuries, he suggests doing things just a bit differently when it comes to legs.

“First of all, be sure to take enough time to rehabilitate the injured area with light cardio, such as a stationary bike, then proceed later to bodyweight squats,” he says. “Too many bodybuilders rush back into heavy training too soon, and the injury never heals properly.”

As for heavy training, that’s another issue to address with intelligence and caution. “You don’t have to use superheavy weights to make your legs grow,” he explains. “By using perfect form and keeping tension on the muscle, it’s easy to make 300 pounds feel like 500.”

He also alternates between free-weight squats and the Smith machine from workout to workout, which puts less stress on his knees and lower back. One thing that changed forever after Wolf’s injury was his fearlessness on leg day—which he now sees as a positive. “You should not have the attitude that you can lift all the weight in the world, because you can’t,” he says. “A little fear is a good thing, because it makes you use better form and keeps you from doing anything stupid.”

So even if your knees or lower back won’t let you stand up with a half ton on your back, don’t despair. You can still build a great set of wheels. All you need is a little patience, willpower and smarts.

By now you’re probably familiar with Germany’s Dennis Wolf, the young upstart who vaulted into the top five at the ’07 Mr. Olympia with a stunning package of size and shape that some felt eclipsed even reigning champ Jay Cutler. Wolf’s shoulders usually draw the most attention and acclaim, but his massive and sweeping thighs are equally impressive.

www.RonHarrisMuscle.com

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Don’t Overtrain!

Joseph M. Horrigan

Don’t Overtrain!

Overtraining is a common problem in the gym. As I noted in last month’s column, overtraining results from too much volume (volume = sets x reps), too much weight (intensity), too much weight used too often (frequency), too little rest between workouts, too little sleep, poor nutrition, dehydration, jet lag and various social stresses that contribute to a lack of recuperation. The levels of overwork are commonly defined by the amount of time it takes to recover: 1) With overreaching the trainee needs a few days to three weeks to recover from the training load; 2) with overtraining the athlete needs three weeks to several months to recover.

The big-tri’s-puny-pecs syndrome

Paul Burke

Q: I’ve been training for more than 20 years, and I’ve had trouble with getting my chest to grow. No matter what I do for chest, it lags behind the rest of my bodyparts. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Ah, yes, the chest problem. You’ve come to the right place. I’ve had some trouble keeping my own chest development in line with my other bodyparts. It’s usually better to ask a bodybuilder who’s struggled and made gains in a particular area than to ask someone with a genetic advantage in that bodypart. Those who have struggled and made gains have tried every possibility, whereas the guy with the huge chest (or other bodypart) has been gifted in the gene pool and would have great pecs no matter what he did.

Train Hard Year-Round

Ron Harris

Train Hard Year-Round

We’ve all become so fixated on who has the lowest bodyfat and the most striated glutes on contest day that we mistakenly believe victory goes to the guy who diets longest and hardest. Certainly, preparation is critical for any contest, because without that extremely shredded condition, all your hard work can’t be seen. Dorian Yates, however, knew a secret; so did Ronnie Coleman, and so does Jay Cutler. Contests aren’t won the day they’re held or even in the final weeks beforehand. They’re won in the off-season, through workouts that test the boundaries of human performance and pain tolerance and in meals that feed the muscles all year long.

How to Build Massive, Wide Delts

Larry Scott

How to Build Massive, Wide Delts

You know what a Universal Multistation machine is, right? The slowly rusting monstrosity standing in the middle of the weight room with several work stations on it. It has a lat pull on one end, which isn’t bad, a funny seated leg press next to it, a bench press, some kind of a leg pulley station and, finally, a seated press. The individual stations aren’t bad, especially the seated press.

Knee Relief

Ron Harris

Knee Relief

If you haven’t suffered some sort of knee pain yet, consider yourself very lucky. I was fortunate enough to avoid it over many years of heavy leg training, but eventually my luck ran out. While I don’t pretend to have the prescription for healing the various types of knee injuries (I leave that to physical therapists), I’ve found a way to train around the knee pain and still get a great leg workout. As you might imagine, quite a bit of preexhausting is involved.