Sunday, May 22, 2011

Problem Areas

I looked at the rosstraining forum a while ago to see if there were any reviews on there for Rival Boxing's RB1 bag gloves. There is almost nothing left of my old Genesport bag gloves so I need some new ones.

In the past I've always bought Genesport boxing equipment because they were the only Canadian company I'd heard of but the fact is a lot of their stuff (in my experience) is low quality and doesn't last long. That being said, there is a  Genesport 90-lb heavy bag hanging in my mom's backyard that's been there for 13 years. Their focus mitts are total shit though and their bag gloves started to wear out almost right away. I kept them a lot longer than I should have.

There was no review that I could find for the Rival RB1 bag gloves on rosstraining but I ordered some anyway. Rival is another Canadian company and I want to support Canadian companies and the RB1 bag gloves are made out of the same material as goalie pads, which is just cool.

I took a quick look at the strength and conditioning page and somebody was complaining that he couldn't make his traps any bigger. I didn't read through the thread as most of those threads read pretty much the same way anyhow but my guess is that he's been working with the same (light) weight for way too long and/or not putting any real effort into his sets.

There's a 19-year-old kid I work with who is also into working out but he's more of a prettyboy than a strength athlete so I try not to get involved in training discussions with him. He's asked me a few times though how to make his chest bigger. I've told him to do a lot of pushups and he said he does do a lot of pushups. Fine. Whatever. I've told him to increase his bench press and he wanted a little bit more information than that. So I flat out said to him that if you want any visible results from bench pressing, ie. pecs that people can actually see without you having to wear a ridiculously tight shirt, you need to be working with at least 315 lbs.
"How do you get that high?" he asks me, with a tone of shock and disbelief in his voice.
Fuck. Just keep adding more and more weight until you get there. Why does it have to be complicated? When I asked him how much he was working with now he told me "155... for reps!"


He said it with such pride too. He must belong to one of those really goofy gyms where everybody's got nothing but health club muscle and if you bench more than 225 you're a "powerlifter" who must be on steroids.
It's so blatantly obvious just from looking at him that he doesn't do squats so I didn't even bother bringing them up.
He goes to one of those 24-hour Goodlife Fitness clubs. I know this because he took a picture of himself there and posted it on his facebook page.
"Hey, everybody! I work out. Really, I do!"

Seems to be working for him one way or another though.
Who am I to judge?

Anyway, getting back to the point (somewhat), there are certain standards that you simply have to reach if you want muscles that anybody but you looking in the mirror is going to be able to see.
Bench press has to be at least 315
Squat has to be minimum 405
Deadlift has to be minimum 495
Curls have to be minimum 135
These are just a few of the more obvious ones and while there are rare exceptions (read: so rare that you are not one of them) they represent how strong you need to be if you expect to look like you work out without resorting to wearing wife beaters all year long and finding any excuse whatsoever to take off your shirt. If you're that disappointed, find a new hobby. Though some of you might take comfort in the fact that, as evidenced by the photos above, standards have gotten much lower in the past 20 years as to what constitutes "ripped."

So this guy's response to all that was that bench pressing is not his "strength." Biceps and triceps apparently are and he would rather use the pec deck since he's not good at bench pressing. I didn't even give him an answer to that one since it's so pathetic that it's not even worth my time or effort. When I asked him what he does for his triceps (and I already knew what the answer was going to be) he made a motion in the air of doing cable pressdowns. Yeah, it's safe to say this kid isn't going to set any strength records any time soon. At least his little girlfriends there are impressed. If I ever meet them I'll find an excuse to take my shirt off so they can forget who he even is. My pants too. I'll just chill in my underwear and flex every once in a while.

What the fuck was I talking about? If you've got a problem area, in goober's case above it's his chest and for the kid on rosstraining it's his traps, the first thing you should look at is how strong you are and how much potential for more strength you've been wasting. For example, if you're proud to be bench pressing your bodyweight you've probably been working with that piddly shit weight for way too long and need to get a shitload stronger. Set a certain rep range for yourself to hit and use 160 next time. If you got how many reps you wanted, use 165 the time after that. So on and so forth for the next few years. Seems easy but the only easy part is reading about it.

The next thing you need to do is take an honest look at how much effort you're putting into these sets and reps. Train half-assed and you'll have a half-assed physique to show for it. If you don't even sweat when you train you're a fucking geek and shouldn't even tell people you work out because your (lack of) results is embarassing. Not just to you either, you're an embarrassment to the entire iron game. Fuck off already.

If you can honestly say that you've pretty much maxed out your strength and just aren't getting any bigger no matter how much more weight you can add to the bar, then you need to find a way to put more effort into your sets. You should be doing as many reps as you can on your main sets in the first place. Newbs can get away with terminating a set when their form breaks down but as you get more experienced that starts to become an excuse for stopping sets early because you're a chickenshit wimp who is afraid of the pain that comes from result-producing effort. An experienced lifter knows the difference between the loosening of form that happens towards the end of a set and when it crosses the line into becoming dangerous to themselves and anyone around them. If you're experienced enough to understand that difference you might want to try what I've learned to do for problem areas.

The first thing I started doing was to start pushing sets all the way to a minimum of 50 reps. I've used this with several exercises but on the Internet I'm most known for doing it with wrist curls. If you're fairly strong in the first place you can end up using a lot of weight for 50 reps and you'll be so pushed to the edge by it that your muscles will grow. I've also used this with barbell curls and behind the neck presses. While legs have never been a problem for me, I also used this method for squats and leg presses for a while and the result was that my jeans stopped fitting over my thighs within a few months so I had to stop because I can't be bothered having to buy new pants just to lift a little bit more weight. If I was a pro and got paid to work out it would be differnet but I'm not.

Now, what got me started on this rant in the first place. Goof face over on rosstraining there and his traps. Traps were a bit of a problem area for me as well. When my shrugs were at their strongest and I was doing 20+ reps with more than 200 lbs per hand (on farmer's walk handles) my traps still only looked like this:
Not bad, but not great either.

Leading up to being on Wipeout, I started doing shrugs on a very regular basis. Sometimes I'd do 50 reps at a time and sometimes I'd make a rule for myself that the set doesn't end until five minutes have passed. If you've never done a five-minute set of shrugs, the first time you try it it's brutal. The dumbbells I used that first time felt like sponges in my hand by the end because I was sweating so much it was literally dripping through my fingers.
Not much bigger but bigger nonetheless and considering they were the same size for about two years before that and I only did the five minutes and 50 rep shrugs for a few months before those pictures were taken, I'm happy with the result.
I haven't done much shrugging at all in the last few months because most of my shrugs were done at work during breaks using large clamps or different sized stainless steel rings and I just haven't had the spare time to do them. It doesn't matter. I've learned on myself that when I want bigger traps I just need to spend a year or so doing shrugs regularly in this fashion.

If it works on me it will work on anybody. Shut up and start putting some effort into your workouts. Anything less than 100% is for goofs.


  1. enjoyed your article, thanks! (dude this article makes me feel so guilty. time to add more weight to the bar, I guess.)
    If I may, i'd like to ask two questions, tho: time vs. 20 reps thing, I'm guessing it's for the purpose of working from both ends of the twitch-types?(never occured to me to try on traps) 2nd: have you tried up-side down hanging bw shrugs? (I've done them for varying results, and would like to hear your thoughts on them..) much thanks in advance. -Abe

  2. I did 20-rep squats for years and I've always liked them. What's good about them is that you're forced to use a lot of willpower to finish the set. Comparing them to timed sets comes down to simply which one you'll personally prefer. In the past year, Dave Lemanczyk turned me onto what a lot of people online call density training. Set a kitchen timer (or any kind of timer) and keep doing reps until it rings. I typically do five minutes at a time but sometimes I'll only do two and on occasion I've gone as high as 10 or 15. If you try this method you'll be really surprised at first how short your sets were before. Five minutes can feel like a really long time. Again, this develops your mind along with your body and there's nothing else like it.

    Did you mean to type 50 reps? Before I got into using a timer I experimented with doing more and more reps to try and make sets harder and harder to finish. I've done barbell squats for as many as 100 reps at a time before. Again, it's not better or worse than using a timer, just different. I personally prefer the timed method because I don't even like to count reps anymore. I like to lose myself in the set and just focus on the effort itself. Some people like to have a specific number to shoot for and eventually surpass. Particularly guys who are trying to get bigger because you need to be setting PRs all the time in that case and eating enough to keep up with it. You can use either way, it all comes down to effort regardless. You need to push yourself well past your comfort level.

    The upside down shrugs are not something I've ever tried. Back in the 10th grade I once hung from my knees on the chinup bar in my high school weightroom and had someone hand me a pair of dumbbells but my gym teacher told me to get down right away before I could do much of anything. I never tried anything like it again. I have done "shrugs" in a handstand position against a wall which might be what you're talking about. I could count on one hand the number of times I've ever done that exercise so I can't speak on its effectiveness. If you put enough effort into it though, you will get results. That's how it works.

  3. What you think about the keg lunges for time,for someone who can't squat heavy.

  4. I love keg lunges and have done them for 15 minutes at a time before. After 15 minutes even your grip is toasted for days. They're a great exercise. Not just for strength and endurance either; your running will start to feel more efficient after practicing lunging like that for a while too.

  5. What do you think about Lindsay Lohans cans in this picture?

    Should I use a timer to whack off to it, or use some other method?

  6. thanks for the comprehensive answer, it's must appreciated (and I feel even more emasculated..) I completely understand by what you mean by "how short your sets were before" because I've pissed and cried at just about 90 seconds every time... 5 minutes is just mindblowing. I think I'll start with bw squats and see what happens.

    @Rant: use a timer. 15 minutes. i hope you bleed.

  7. I was in the ER week before last and still managed to set a PR the day after. It's no wonder some trainees are fucking sticks when they barely have the balls to plod through 3 sets of 8 with the same weight on whatever exercise.

  8. "It's no wonder some trainees are fucking sticks"

    WTF?!! Then what's your excuse Dray?!! Please, have a look in the fucking mirror, HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  9. I went from 170 to 200 on bodyweight exercises training outside in temperatures that went under zero degrees fahrenheit, and have put 60-70 pounds on my main lifts in 5 months while sometimes not being able to eat over 1k calories per day for weeks at a time (financial constraint). Yesterday, for instance, I took in somewhat less than 500 over the course of the day.

    So I feel pretty good about my results. How are your results, Rant?

  10. Great post Mac! It's well appreciated. Lots of food for thought here.
    Also is Rant your personal troll? Where did you get it?

  11. Dray, let me get this right - you gained 30lb of bodyweight (thankfully you never claimed it was muscle), while on what I can only assume for you was a regular calorie deficit. Is that right? So... you've defied a very basic laws of human physiology? Do you realise what this means?! It means you're fucking Superman!! Fucking hell!! It's what you've been trying to get across to everyone for ages now, you're amazing!!

    What's more, you even have the power to hide your muscle and look like a dweeb, as in this picture:

    Good for you!

  12. Ross R. - If you EVER want to be in with a chance of pulling a girl, don't let her read your blogger profile. 'Favourite films - Terminator, Rocky, Rambo'...HAHAHAHAHA!! Why didn't you just write 'I'm really, really tough and i've got a great big cock'. 'Favourite books - The Art of War'....HAHAHAHAHA, yes I can just see you say around the pool reading that one!

  13. Sorry, that should have said 'sat around the pool' not 'say around the pool'. My finger slipped, I was laughing.

  14. You realize I never said I was in caloric deficit at all times, right? Your reading comprehension is worse than my 12 year old little sisters'.

    I find the fact that you attempt to troll random people over lack of evidence of a bodyweight above 150 pounds, evidence of a bodyweight above 150 pounds, and continue to lack evidence of your own that you are above 150 pounds fairly humorous.

    Stop trying so hard and someone might end up butthurt because of your feeble trolling some day.

  15. SuperDray said -

    "You realize I never said I was in caloric deficit at all times, right?"

    Yes, and if you can get a grown up to read it for you, I actually wrote this -

    "I can only assume for you was a regular calorie deficit"

    Regular doesn't mean "at all times"!!!!

    And Dray there's NO WAY your little sister is littler than you, not if she's 12 anyhow!!

  16. "Regular doesn't mean "at all times"!!!!"

    Rant has the autism