Success Through Failure

Stuart McRobert

Page 1

I wasted years of my bodybuilding youth by persisting with exercises, routines and methods that didnít help me much, if at all. Iíve seen the same fundamental error being made by most bodybuilders in all the gyms Iíve ever been to. Some trial and error is part of bodybuilding, so short periods of failure are inevitable, but if you donít make progress for a long time, change is needed.

To succeed in bodybuilding, learn pronto from your failures.

Squats and bench presses. Iíve seen many bodybuilders do squats even though they could never master them. That especially applies to tall, lanky bodybuilders or to those of average height but with long legs relative to their height. Rather than grasping early on that their body proportions werenít well suited to the squat, they persisted in doing them because so many people rave about the squat.

Sure, it can be a fantastic exercise for many bodybuilders, but not for all. Many bodybuilders who arenít suited to the barbell squat are suited to the parallel-grip deadlift, and when they change to the latter, they start to make terrific gains.

Iíve seen many bodybuilders who were never able to bench-press well despite great effort and dedication. When the open-minded ones substituted the parallel-bar dip, however, they made far better progress.

Joan. Iíve been treating Joan, a former competitive bodybuilder, for elbow injuries. In her 50s, she still trains regularly and retains the mind-set she had in her prime about 20 years ago. Her elbow problems originated in the muscles that are connected to her elbows. Once Iíd treated her arm flexors and extensors and some of her forearm muscles, her elbows were transformed.

With ďnewĒ elbows, Joan was charged up to train her arms. She hadnít been able to train her arms hard for many years, so they were lagging behind the rest of her physique. I didnít have a problem with Joan training her arms hard, but did with the exercises she wanted to return to: very-close-grip bench presses, triceps extensions to her forehead with a straight bar and close-grip and wide-grip barbell curls with a straight bar. Those exercises had contributed to her elbow problems in the first place. For wrist and elbow comfort I persuaded her to use a shoulder-width close-grip bench press, parallel-grip pushdowns with a rope attachment and dumbbell rather than barbell curls.

She wasnít doing any cardio or stretching. She was still locked into a weights-only mentality. Cardio and stretching werenít common in bodybuilding programs when Joan got started, and she hadnít moved on. She was stuck in the past. While sheíd maintained enough of her competitive physique to make her a standout in the gym, she was overly focused on appearances, to the neglect of well-being. Well-being is always more important than appearance, especially in middle age and beyond.

The college crowd. Also at the gym are many young men from local colleges, who follow four- and six-day-split routines, with three or four exercises per bodypart and at least three work sets for each exercise. Their intensity is only moderate, their poundage progression nonexistentóand their bodybuilding progress nonexistent too. That their routines are clearly not working doesnít seem to register with them. They continue month after month and make no progress, apparently thinking that something that hasnít worked for a long time will suddenly rev up. It wonít.

Middle-aged beginners. These are middle-aged men trying to train like the college crowd. Overweight, out-of-condition, middle-aged beginners following four- and six-day-split routines are a recipe for failure. Yet month after month they persist with that approach. Eventually, most of them get so frustrated and perhaps injured that they give up training. Rather than recognize the ineffectiveness of the approach early on and do something about it, they persist in failing.

Donít persist in doing exercises, routines or methods that donít help you. If your training hasnít yielded progress over the past two months, itís unlikely to yield any progress over the next two months. Make changes.


Drop-Set Solution

Steve Holman

Drop-Set Solution

Q: The drop-set concept you recommend works! Iíve already put on about 10 pounds of muscle in two months. My question is, How do I do drop sets on dips and chins? I only use 20 pounds on those exercises, and thatís not a big enough poundage reduction to enable me to get more reps on a subsequent drop set.

X-Blasting North of the Border

William Litz

X-Blasting North of the Border

X-Rep partials have been around long enough now that the approach is reaching all elements of the bodybuilding and fitness community. Take Ryan Malo, a 275-pound Canadian mass monster whoís striving for his pro card. Heís been hooked on X-Rep training for about a year and has gotten bigger. He plans to compete in the Canadian Nationals as a heavyweight at around 220 pounds. He said heíd added a solid 15 pounds since he joined TeamGots (www

Get High for Health

Jerry Brainum

Get High for Health

During the running craze of the 1970s, you heard a lot about something called the runnerís highóitís a feeling of euphoria and relaxation that occurs shortly after a run. Sports scientists attributed the effect to the bodyís increased production of natural painkilling chemicals called endorphins. Later studies, however, repudiated that theory. Those studies often used drugs such as naltrexone, to block the effects of endorphins, but the runnerís high continued to appear after exercise. Scientists then decided that the runnerís highóa concept later extended to weight trainingówas the result of an increased release of catecholamines, such as norepinephrine.

Pullover: Dumbbell vs. Machine

Joseph M. Horrigan

Pullover: Dumbbell vs. Machine

An avid weight-training patient recently asked me about the differences between the Nautilus pullover machine and a traditional dumbbell pullover across a bench. There are strong similarities and significant differences.

The prime and secondary movers in the pullover exercise are the shoulder extensors, which include the teres major (upper lat), latissimus dorsi (lat), posterior deltoid (rear delt) and the long head of the triceps. If youíre lying across a bench with the dumbbell supported directly over your head and you lower the dumbbell behind your head, those muscles are working but lengthening. Thatís known as the eccentric, or negative, portion of the exercise. As you pull the dumbbell back to the starting point, the muscle contracts, or shortens. That part of the stroke is commonly called positive training. The dumbbell pullover has the greatest resistance when your arms are parallel to the floor, the lowest part of the movement. Thatís because your arms form the longest lever for gravity to pull on. The closer the movement reaches the starting point, directly over your face, the less resistance, because the lever is at its shortest.