What weight training exercises do you consider worthless? I have a few candidates of my own. It blows my mind when I go to the local gym and see the ridiculous exercises that Personal Trainers are teaching trainees. I won’t even bring up the ridiculous Swiss Ball exercises, or the latest “off balance” exercises. What is up with this new breed of personal trainer?
Thor has to be one of the greatest Iron Man names ever….Hell Thor, all exercises, even the good ones, are worthless if they’re done incorrectly. I have a client that pays me a small fortune to supervise his workouts and he insists that I train him at a local, nationally syndicated chain gym. I watch the “New Breed” of Personal Trainers as they put clients through “workouts.” This surreptitious observation comes dangerously close to causing my head to explode. What is the most common mistake I repeatedly observe? This New Breed of Personal Trainer insists that the length of the rep stroke (90% done on machines) be purposefully shortened. I overheard one airheaded PT tell a dazed-and-confused client that full squats and deep leg presses were dangerous! As any serious Iron Man knows, partial reps are worthless reps. I make my clients use an extended range-of-motion on every rep of every exercise. My guy has added 15 pounds of muscle in four months while I cannot help but notice that New Breed PT clients never ever improve. There are two distinct species of New Breed Personal Trainers: the “Sissy” Personal Trainer and the “Hitler” Personal Trainer. The former babies their clients while the latter beats their clients to a bloody pulp. I overheard one sissy PT tell a gullible client, “As long as you feel good about your body image then I have done my job!” Gag Me!
The equally incompetent Hitler PT likes to yell and scream and act tough. They enjoy using lame exercises to beat clients into the ground. Last Saturday I saw a Hitler PT load two plates on each side of a leg press machine and have a completely out-of-shape obese client perform 25 partial reps. Hitler then made the poor fat guy perform another 10 forced reps, screaming fitness platitudes at the pathetic dude while he moved the leg press plate maybe six inches. Hitler then made the already huffing and puffing 300-pound fat guy immediately start walking the length of the gym doing lunges while carrying two 20-pound dumbbells. It was the incompetent leading the incapable. The poor fat guy was repeatedly forced to walk the length of the gym, barely dipping down. He wobbled with each awkward step and looked like a drunk at a sobriety checkpoint; a guy who had eighteen beers at the tavern, got caught and was now being made to walk a straight line while reciting the alphabet backwards. Once the walking lunges were over, Hitler made the obese dude immediately start doing stepping squat lunges with a barbell loaded to 135! I was ready to call 911! The fat guy ran into the bathroom to barf and Hitler beamed: the fat guy, he pronounced, was “expelling toxins.”
I hate lunges and think they should be banned from every training facility on the face of the planet. Okay, the lunge might have a place in the hands of a Ronnie Coleman as he walks a half mile with 135 on his back, touching his knee to the ground on every rep – but for the regular person this pathetic exercise is dangerous and ineffectual. For some reason it has become the favorite thigh exercise of New Breed PTs nationwide. What a complete waste of time and effort. As far as other contenders for the “most lame” exercise title, I would nominate the tricep kickback. This awkward movement usually devolves into some sort of strange, rear delt raise. See if this sounds familiar: a guy starts the tricep kickback using a massive dumbbell. For the first two or three reps the kickback actually has a little kick back and might invoke some tricep stimulation. As the reps progress the range-of-motion disintegrates into nothingness and by sets end, the braced and frozen upper arm is no longer braced and frozen. The movement of the forearm is reduced to about three inches. Ridiculous! How about that strange oblique machine that you sit on and turn from side to side? One final lame-O exercise before I sign off this maddening topic: curls done using the squat rack. Is there anything more sacrilegious than a curl bar set on a squat rack? This tactic allows gym mullets to avoiding having to bend down and pick the tiny barbell up off the floor, thereby saving valuable curl strength. Is this not the height of lazy ineptitude? I note that the squat rack curl club love to stare at themselves in the mirror. I once was kicked out of a facility for walking over to a squat rack on squat day, picking up a curl bar and flinging it with one hand 15 feet across the gym. The guy using it was a lawyer and got up in my face: he “tripped” over a bench after he violated my personal space. I was asked to leave and not return. Don’t even get me started on one-arm overhead presses done sitting on a Swiss Ball with one leg extended out in front.
Vic Steele – C/O Parrillo Performance
What’s your favorite weight training exercise?
Claude C, Baton Rouge
Perfect! These two letters came in within a week of one another: the first allowed me to tee-off on my “most hated” exercises and this one allows me to list my “most loved” exercise….I love the pause squat. Let’s take an already horrific exercise, the full squat, and let’s make it more horrific. Rookie squatters hate to dip down into “the hole.” The squat hole is the lowest point achieved during a legal, below parallel squat. The hole starts three inches above the “turnaround point,” where descent becomes ascent, and ends three inches below parallel. Novice squatters want to bounce their way into and then out of the hole using momentum to enter and leave. Bouncing leads to inconsistent depth or outright injury. I say, don’t avoid the hole, embrace the hole! Pause squats are the key to squatting consistency. The technique is simple: take a weight out of the squat rack, set it up, lower with precision (no freefalls please) to a point two inches below parallel. Not above parallel, not parallel, but two full inches below parallel! Hold that position for one full second before exploding erect. At the low point of the pause squat, the torso should be bolt upright, the lungs are full of air, the knees are over the ankles and forced outward. The hips are under the shoulders throughout the lift. Never let the butt rise up first when arising from a squat. When it is time to come erect do so explosively; try and move as fast as possible during every inch of the loaded phase. Pause squats are excruciatingly effective. If you are serious about revamping your current squat technique, take 4-6 weeks and practice the pause squat exclusively. How do you transform back to regular squatting after a cycle of pause squatting? Easy, do the pause squats without the pause: everything remains identical except that you “only” drop down to 1-inch below parallel and instead of pausing for a one-second beat, immediately explode upward. Oh, by the way, you’ll need to buy some new pants: a six week cycle of pause squats (assuming you take in sufficient calories) will add 2 full inches to your thighs! I love the pause squat!
My son is a 17 year old high school football player and already has several scholarship offers. He has just finished a strong junior year and was named 1st team all-county and 2nd team all-state. He stands 6 foot 2 inches, weighs 191 pounds and plays tight-end and outside linebacker. If he can bulk up to say 220 by next year, he would have a strong shot at playing Division I football for a major college. If he stays under 200 in bodyweight he will be playing at a smaller school. He is gung ho to play for Nebraska and is determined to “bulk up” to 220. I am extremely concerned that if he does this incorrectly he will lose his 4.5 forty yard dash time and his 33 inch vertical jump. His speed and quickness are what separates him from the other players his size. If he loses his speed and agility he will be SOL – no scholarships to anywhere. I am asking your advice on how to add size in such a way that it doesn’t screw up his quickness and agility.
Jackson, Kansas City
Handled correctly, this protégé can become larger, faster and actually improve his natural quickness and agility. You have done a smart thing: by commencing the process now, at the conclusion of the just-concluded high school football season, you are allowing roughly ten months to add 20-30 pounds of rock hard muscle. A seventeen year old this size is naturally going to add ten pounds of bodyweight in a year – so building him up to 215 or 220 is realistic. The idea will be to actually decrease his body fat percentile while adding muscle. The reason every single college and NFL team insist ballplayers engage in resistance training is, if handled properly, weight training makes the athlete bigger, stronger, faster and more agile. It also makes athletes less susceptible to injury. To do this right you will need to purchase the Parrillo BodyStat Kit. Each week perform a nine-point skin-fold caliper reading. The body fat reading will become a weekly “leanness report card.” There are several possible outcomes to every caliper session: he can add muscle and add fat; lose muscle and lose fat; add fat and lose muscle; lose fat and add muscle or he can stay the same. Based upon which weekly category the young man falls in will determine what changes need to be made in his training and nutrition for the following week. His predetermined overall goal is to add muscle and lose fat. No doubt this boy eats like a horse and likely has a great work ethic; the continual challenge will be to add size sloooowly! With this much time I would seek to add a pound of bodyweight every two weeks. Each week have him run 40 yard dashes for time. Check his vertical leap and have him run agility drills for time. If there is any disintegration in times, crank back on the calories, up the cardio and stay there until his sprint times improve. I would suggest you use a hardcore, power training approach: lots of free weight squats, power cleans, overhead presses, jerks, bench presses, deadlifts and rows. Add in some arm work twice a week: he’ll want to have a great looking set of guns hanging out of his jersey. Cardio is a must: you need steady-state long distance runs, lots of sprints, lots of hill running, and lots of backward and side-to-side sprinting. A great linebacker needs to run backwards and sideways nearly as fast as he can run forwards.
I’ll assume you guys are already Parrillo Product users. I would make his main supplements 50/50 Plus™ and Parrillo Energy Bars™. Most Parrillo trainees think of 50/50 Plus™ as the world’s best post-workout replenishment supplement – which it is – but for those individuals interested in gaining quality size, 50/50 Plus™ makes for an incredible, unbeatable weight gain supplement. 50/50 Plus™ is half protein powder and half carb powder and Junior should drink at least two double 50/50 Plus™ shakes per day. He should eat Parrillo Energy Bars™ between meals and make haste slowly: handled properly he can add mounds of mass without adding an ounce of fat. One more supplement to consider: when it comes to quality weight gain, Parrillo Liver Amino Formula™ is about impossible to top. Each tablet contains 1.5 grams of pure protein. I would have him gobble down eight liver tabs at a shot five times a day. Between the 50/50 Plus™ shakes, the Energy Bars™ and the 40 daily Liver Amino™ tabs, Junior will be adding 100 + grams of high BV, muscle-building protein every day. He will also add 100+ grams of slow-release, mass-building carbohydrate. Stay in touch and let’s see if we can turn Junior into a Cornhusker by next fall.