TRAIN TO GAIN

Take the Difficult Shot

Keith Wassung

Challenge yourself to become a bigger, better you

Page 1

Picture it: I was preparing to perform my next-to-last set of deadlifts off of blocks, one of the forgotten exercises. The movement is even more painful than the conventional dead­lift, but the dividends it pays in strength and development are well worth it. I hate the next-to-last set of any com­pound movement. Sure, the last set is always the hardest from a physical standpoint, but on the next-to-last set you’re already tired, you know the set is going to hurt, and you know you still have one more to go. I’ve often said that on a set of 20-rep squats, the tough reps are from about nine to 15. Reps 16 to 20 are very difficult, but knowing it’s almost over seems to make them easier. Success in lifting, as in many endeavors, largely depends on one’s state of mind—the body will do whatever the mind dictates.

I completed both deadlift sets and was about to finish with some abdominal movements, when Jack walked into the weight room carrying a basketball. Jack was a good friend, a guy who always said he wanted to train with me but never showed up. Today he’d been dis­tracted by a pickup game of basketball. He asked if I wanted to get something to eat, a question I rarely say no to.

We walked over to the eatery, and the special of the day was rib eye sandwiches. We ordered two each and then sat down at a table. Jack pointed at a lone figure at the pool table and said, “See that guy over there? All he ever does with his free time is shoot pool. I bet he shoots pool five or six hours a day.” A few minutes later the pool player walked over and asked Jack and me if we wanted to shoot a game. Jack declined, but I accepted, knowing our food wouldn’t be ready for another 20 minutes. He introduced himself as Chris and in the same breath mentioned that he intended to be playing pool on the professional circuit in a few years.

“Great,” I thought, “I can barely play the game, and I have to compete against a guy who’s on his way to the professional ranks.”

Chris appeared confident. He lined up each shot carefully and handled his cue like a real pool professional. The only problem was that he missed about half of his shots. I won the first game without too much trouble, but Chris seemed unfazed and racked the balls for the second.

I beat him because he took the craziest shots. The ball he was shooting at would be right in front of the pocket, but rather than taking a straight shot, he’d bank the ball off three cushions or use some sort of combination shot—and I could tell he wasn’t just showing off.

I finally asked him why he never took the easy shots. He replied, “Because I know I can make them. If I took the easy shots, I’d never improve my game.”

I said, “But you’d win a lot more games.”

He shrugged and said, “I really don’t care about winning everyday pool games; it’s far more important for me to use each game to be a better pool player than to have the temporary satisfaction of winning a meaningless game.

He’d often practice the same shot as many as 300 times in one session. On the weekends he’d seek out pool halls and compete against the best players he could find. He taught me a valuable lesson about success in lifting—or any endeavor: You can do things in your training that might make you feel good about yourself, but they do little to improve your strength and development. Are you interested in temporary satisfaction or long-term success?

It’s easy to get comfortable in your training, especially if you’ve reached a level that surpasses the average trainee. You start doing what feels good or what impresses those around you rather than what’s difficult and uncomfortable. It’s easy to work hard on lifts that you excel at, and it’s hard to work on those that are difficult. I look back at my training journal and can’t believe how much time I wasted in the gym doing things to feed my ego and impress total strangers.

Let’s say a guy works hard in the gym and gains muscular bodyweight and strength. After a couple of years his squat and deadlift have surpassed the 400 mark, and he’s on his way to 500. His bench press is on track for 400, and he can overhead-press his bodyweight for several reps. He’s the strongest guy in his gym—but not even close to realizing his potential. A few years go by, and he’s still working on hitting 500 on the squat and deadlift and trying to reach a 400 bench. His progress stagnated because he fell into a comfort zone.


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Less Pain, More Gain

Ron Harris

Less Pain, More Gain

Elbow tendinitis is nothing new for most bodybuilders who have been hitting the heavy iron for a decade or more. Many simply accept it as a price they have to pay for owning exceptionally muscular bodies. They live with the pain and manage it with anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen and regular ice-pack applications. But tendinitis is more than just pain. It’s a condition that can not only severely limit how heavy you can train but can also make favorite exercises a distant memory. It’s very tough to make improvements in size and strength when you can’t perform many of the best exercises.

Muscle “In” Sites

Eric Broser’s

Muscle “In” Sites

www.Home-Gym.com

I just want to make a quick mention of this site, because if you’re a bodybuilder, personal trainer, physical therapist, nutritionist or athlete—or are interested in any facet of the health and fitness field, you’re bound to find anything and everything you may need at www.Home-Gym.com. Whether you want the latest pro’s DVD, the newest fat-burning supplement, the best book on stretching, a back issue of IRON MAN, a unique piece of exercise equipment or even grass-fed beef, you’re only a click away when browsing the one-stop shop of fitness. Home-Gym.com has just added hundreds of new products. Check it out.

Faster Fat Loss

Jerry Brainum

Faster Fat Loss

Various studies point to interval aerobic training as the most effective form of aerobic exercise in promoting fat loss. One notable advantage of using intervals is that training sessions tend to be shorter because of the higher intensity, which lessens the amount of anabolic resources used. Interval training is characterized by alternating periods of high- and low-intensity training. During aerobics that would involve training hard enough to raise your heart rate to more than 85 percent of maximum for a short time—say, three to four minutes. You then slow down to lower the heart rate to about 60 percent of maximum. The cycles alternate over the course of 30 minutes or more.

Get a Grip

Charles Poliquin

Get a Grip

Q: You always talk about using different grips. Trouble is, I don’t have the imagination to think of them. I would like to know what these different grips do. For instance, what grips can I use while doing dumbbell or barbell curls? How about pull­ups and pulldowns?

A: You have basically nine permutations of grip positions per upper-body exercise and three forearm-orientation positions: supinated (palms up), neutral (semisupinated, anatomical, hammer) and pronated (palms down). You can multiply them by the three grip widths: narrow, medium and wide. However, not all grips are ergonomically correct; for example, you couldn’t do narrow supinated bench presses or wide pronated barbell curls without seriously compromising the joint integrity of your elbows and wrists.

How the Blade Slashes Frequency

Ron Harris

How the Blade Slashes Frequency

IRON MAN has always done its best to spread the message that the pros are a superb source of inspiration, but those of us not as genetically gifted or on the same, er, um, supplement regimens should probably not emulate their training styles. The genetically average, drug-free man or woman would almost certainly overtrain if he or she worked out with weights six times a week and hit every bodypart twice in that time, à la Ronnie Coleman. That point is driven home when one of the sport’s very best athletes decides to cut back on his training frequency and volume.