Thursday, 31 October 2013

Retro Bodybuilding Myths

As we get more and more information thrust upon us each day, it's easy to understand why some people take on bad advice and include it in their training.

However, there are some old fashion, retro "body builder" tips that, for no great reason, have hung around and still show their ugly face in many gyms across the world. "BroScience" to many of you is more apparent than ever.

Just because a big lad at the gym gave you a tip, don't take it as gospel. here's a few to look out for.

Bench Press with your feet in the air to isolate the chest...
There are some people that like to perform chest press with their feet on the bench, or worse still, feet in the air. The idea being that it "isolates the chest". Remember, just because something is harder, doesn't make it better. Performing squats balanced on a swiss ball is tough but not the best way of working your legs.
Ultimately, if you want to improve your chest and your pressing ability you want to be stimulating growth and adaptation. The best way to do that is through some form of overload via increased weight or repetitions or time under tension; if you want to do that then you're best to keep your feet planted firmly on the floor. You're not a balancing act after all.

Heavier squats are more important than deeper squats...
You'll see many people looking to squat the heaviest weight they can waddle out of a squat rack at the cost of sacrificing squat depth and at times, much squat form all together. In order to recruit the highest amount of muscle fires and stimulate growth from a squat depth is key. Work on proper depth under proper control and maintaining good form throughout - the weight increases will soon follow.

Always wear a weights belt for the heavier sets...
Many people still opt for a weights belt as they reach their upper limit for lifting weights. They looked shocked at you when you ask why their using a belt as if you wouldn't imagine lifting a heavy weight without a belt. Personally, I wouldn't ever advise a non-competitive lifter to use a belt. Instead, focus on strengthening all areas of your body equally to take the load and strains placed on it. Relying on a training assistance of any kind is never a good idea.

Walk for extended periods for fat loss...
Long bouts of steady-state cardio (usually treadmill walking) has been a staple exercise for body builders looking to shift body fay and retain muscle for many years. However, what many people ignore is the benefits of sprint work in reducing body fat and improving sporting performance. Sprint work is tough, but short bouts of interval sprint work are an incredibly effective way to shift body fat and boost your metabolic rate. It's a much more time-effective and less tedious option in my opinion. If like me, you're not a huge running fan, intervals of rowing, cycling and even crawling might be a viable option.

Wear a sweat suit to burn more fat...
Sweat suits like you sometimes see a boxer in are designed for one purpose only: to reduce your immediate weight. Not your body fat, just your weight. All that it may do is increase the rate at which you lose water. If you're under pressure to reach a specific weight in time for a pre-fight weigh-in then sure, a sweat suit might be a viable (though not ideal) option. Otherwise, be warned that any fast loss in weight is merely water weight that will return once you take on water again. Rather than a positive, in fact these suits are likely to have a negative impact on your training and results. A loss in water will cause dehydration. Dehydration will reduce your performance and rate you can work at and so, reduce your potential effort so burn less calories and lift less weight. It will also hamper your bodily functions which are heavily reliant on water.

Arms days are essential...
Don't be lured into thinking that you need to put aside an hour a week just to build your arms. Most of you will have other time constraints such as work, family and friends; so why not spend your valuable gym time a little more effectively? Sure, the odd bit of isolation work will target your arms specifically, but consider the benefit of fully body, multi-joint compound exercises like squats and deadlifts if you're looking to improve strength and general body composition. If your under-sized biceps are keeping you awake at night then opt for lots of narrow grip pulling work when working your back. This will not only target your back but also require a lot of forearm and bicep effort. Bigger back and better arms in one go.

More cardio to reduce body fat and get fitter...
It's often the view that if you want to "get fit" then running is the first option. Or, if you need to lose weight, it's cardio again. "Cardio" training is designed to improve the strength and capabilities of your heart and lungs by elevating the heart rate. This can be achieved in many more ways than just running. Heavy lifting or high intensity resistance work are all viable options. Just because you need to reduce your body fat, don't instantly opt for the treadmill. Build lean muscle and improve your everyday metabolic rate while also burning calories in the gym through high intensity resistance work. This is much more likely to avoid you spending a long time in a catabolic state (muscle wastage) and so, will help to retain the muscle mass you've worked hard to gain. if you want some ides for high intensity interval workouts I've written up plenty here:

Carbs in the evening will make you fat...
Ever heard "no carbs after 8pm"? This can work... but usually as it stops people from eating anything after 8 and so, reducing their calorie count every day. Where they might usually opt for late night eating, if you cut that out of your life then yeah, you probably will make a difference. However, it's not that carbohydrates that were the villain in this whole lifestyle adjustment.

Most of these ideas and tips will have an element of truth or, at one stage, were a current and up to date method of training. However, they're now out-dated and sports science has allowed us to find more beneficial and effective way to stimulate adaptation in the body. Don't be surprised when you still see the above happening in a  gym... just don't join them!

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