by Mark David Iron Magazine
Looking Back at 2012
1. Whatís the lat pull-down machine for? For people who canít do pull ups (thanks Vince Girona!)
2. You donít need a training partner. You can do this on your own with some support.
3. Donít let anybody tell you how much muscle you can build. They donít freaking know. We barely know exactly how itís built, let alone each personís potential for growth. No limits!
4. Bicep curls do produce bigger biceps.Iíve yet to see a person with impressive biceps that hasnít worked them directly with effort at some point in their lifetime.
5. John Keiferís Carb Backloading theory. Who know youíd eat so many carbs and actually wake up leaner than you went to be? Iím loving the program.
6. ďYou canít out train a bad diet.Ē Was true then and is true now. Nutrition is the key. You can have a pretty weak-ass training program and look godly if you do the nutrition right.
7. People who derive their income from fitness will always be biased towards whatever it is that keeps the money flowing to pay the bills. Going with that theoryÖ
8. If you spent 20 years saying the sky is blue and then found evidence to suggest it might be bluish-green, changing your tune could ruin your business and your psyche.
9. Iím smart enough to know I donít know jack. Keeping an open mind and trying new things has keep me interested in fitness and Iíve made some incredible gains doing things I previously never would have considered.
10. Feel free to experiment and take notes. Sometimes science says it doesnít work but it does. Building muscle is a mixture of art and science.
11. Keep a list of some fitness and bodybuilding forums (or use Google). At this juncture, almost everything you are thinking of asking has been answered by somebody somewhere. Do a little research but donít fall prey to the paralysis by analysis syndrome.
12. If you are going heavy on the bench, ask for a spot. The other day as I am writing in my journal I hear ďPlease help me.Ē I look up, a 120 lb kid is stuck under 95 lbs on weight. I saved him, my Karma is replenished.
13. I hate people who hate people who say they hate guys who do bicep curls in the squat rack. If you can curl 135 lbs or more, feel free to use the squat rack. Trust me, nobody is going to approach you and say anything. Loading up 135 lbs from the floor is annoying anyway.
14. Gym Etiquette is still lacking. Wiping down machines, putting away weights doing 5 supersets in some huge rotation in a crowded gym just hasnít changed. Iíve learned to not bog myself down with other peopleís problems. Do your best to keep the place clean. Bad gym behavior will never go away.
15. I canít stand fitness experts who come onto the scene, are under 30 and only preach lifting heavy and pushing hard. Youth is wasted on the young. When they get a shoulder injury, I wonder if theyíll still want to push the 90 lb weights? Yeah, now what dude?
16. Having a good pair of lifting shoes for leg day makes a huge difference. I use the Adidas Power Trainer recommended to me by Layne Norton. Stability at all angles is important when using heavy weight. I donít want my cushy sneakers going sideways on me when squatting.
17. As Ronnie Coleman said ďEverybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but donít nobody want to lift no heavy-ass weights.Ē If you want to change, you have to step outside your comfort zone.
18. The cardio machines are always the go-to anytime people feel ďfatĒ or itís New Yearís. With all the information on weight training, nobody has learned that unless you are training for endurance, cardio is not the tool to build slabs of muscle.
19. The Smith Machine is not useless. Only people who donít know how to use it would say that. Doing a single leg banded lunge is one heck of a quad and glute builder done right only on a Smith Machine.
20. The worst critic is yourself. Nobody will be less impressed with your efforts or your results than you. If you arenít happy, any praise feels condescending. Learn to praise yourself for your efforts and your results and feel the energy from it. The mirror can be a powerful motiving force or the worst thing ever! (the scale is the evil twin)
21. Nobody everybody wants to push themselves to the limit or change. Some people just workout to be healthy. Many times looking exactly the same as last year is exactly what that person wanted. It may not be your goal but it is not a bad thing not to change.
22. Take any training advice as just advice until youíve done some homework to see itís itís true. Advice from trainers who train at a high level who make their living training others at a high level may not be what you want (more often than not, they just want to sell you some bull**** bodybuilding program for booku bucks).
23. The only secret is something that I donít know. Thereís no magic time under tension. No magic rep formula. No magic number of days per week to train or magic supplement. Is 40 seconds under tension any better than 50? Or 38? Seriously. The gimmick game never ends. If you lift weights in a smooth, controlled manner, youíll be fine. You can use some explosive techniques, rest pause, and other set extensions theories but there is no perfect formula. It works until it doesnít. Your job is to take notes and learn your body and adapt.
24. The last supplement that really broke barriers was Creatine. That was over 10 years ago! Nothing has come to the market that is worth it. Lots of fun stuff to try but you should know how to evaluate any supplement and be cautious.
25. Squats are bad for your knees! (just kidding; wanted to see if you were still reading). But I know this guy at my gym who tells people that not because heís misinformed. Because he doesnít want the squat rack taken up.
26. Deep Tissue massage from a qualified sports chiropractor is worth itís weight in gold. Do not let injuries persist. Take action ASAP and donít settle for a cortisone shot unless absolutely the last resort. Seek professional help from a sports therapist.
27. A full body routine will get you stronger fast but not necessarily bigger. That being said, everybody should do a 3 month stint of upper and lower full body routines. You get to train body parts more often and itís a good change of pace. Youíll notice growth you may not get otherwise. Those who do full body routines, try a body part split and focus on individual muscle groups. The results will speak for themselves.
28. Donít buy the ď70% of supplements on the market have less than 30% absorption rates.Ē Nobody has a study showing that. Only calcium has anywhere close to that and most of us donít supplement with it anyway. I say prove it!
29. Ultra-Low Carb diets can get you really lean very fast. But use with caution as low carb over a long period of time is not the way to build muscle. Itís fun though done in very short stints. Low carb bodybuilding is just a waste of time for anybody whoís serious about packing on muscle. Itís sub-par and should only be used for specific reasons (lean up quick).
30. Carbs are the most anabolic food substance. They make things grow. That means fat and muscle. Used improperly, you put on body fat. Used correctly, you can seriously pack on muscle mass. Iíve never known anybody to pack on 20 lbs or more of lean body mass on a high protein, low carb diet. Carbs are not evil. But too many of them and the wrong time to really screw you up.
31. If you are lucky enough to be in a gym with a personal trainer who has a binder full of clients with excellent results, consider hiring them. You should learn a lot, be pushed harder than you might push yourself and itís an investment that could carry well past the initial consultation and workouts. Everybody expert has some type of trainer themselves.
32. They say money doesnít buy happiness but thatís almost always said by somebody who has too much money. Take care of your financial situation as the stress can ruin your health. The prolonged cortisol from stress over finances canít be offset by an hour or so at the gym.
33. Coconut Oil is the bomb! Itís a great addition to the morning coffee to get your overall fat count higher and being an Medium Chain Triglyceride, (MCT) it can be used as fuel. Iíve also used coconut oil as an all-natural deodorant. Strangely enough it seems to work?!
34. Insulin is not a bad guy. Itís just a turbo charged transport to get whatever is in the system to the cells. It can be used for good. Keeping your insulin in check, leads to better hunger control. Constantly spiking it during the day leads to those feelings of ďI must eat every 2 hours.Ē Having lower but not too low, is a great way to control food cravings. Iíve had a lot of fun manipulating it.
35. Safety Squats are way more fun than traditional back squats. The weight is more centered like a front squat but without the weight on your shoulders. I was lucky enough to use one all year long but prior, Iíd never seen one at any gym Iíve ever been to. What a great tool to build legs without always doing squats with a bar on your back.
36. ďThe day I die, I will either be fat or hungry.Ē ~ Barney Frank (I think some old pro football players could have said the same thing!)
37. Things people learn and blog about are mostly overrated. Iíve gotten this far with just a few mentors, a few good websites and a collection of bodybuilding books but an unlimited supply of dedication. As long as you keep at it, you will be out anybody who has a better arsenal of tools but lacks the discipline. You just canít buy yourself discipline.
38. Relationships matter more than muscles. Donít neglect your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or kids because of the gym. You can always do legs tomorrow.
39. Stretch! Try and stretch half as much as you lift. While itís not necessary to stretch before lifting to avoid injury, not stretching at all to maintain flexibility could lead to injury. It doesnít take more than 15 minutes a day and you can do it in front of the T.V. but resolve to stretch (or do more of it).
40. Learn how to use resistance bands! After being shown how to use them for barbell rows, leg presses and leg curls, I found the entire exercise to be smoother and harder in the right locations. Using bands seems to be more of a powerlifting thing but us bodybuilders can use them with great success. Buy a set or two and try them out on just one exercise. This will take practice and it depends on the gym equipment.
41. The release of growth hormone to a specific exercise like the deadlift or squat is way overblown. Nobody has results on how much GH is released or if it even effects the actual muscle growth. Keep doing them as they are wonderful exercises for strength and full body development but if you cannot do them, all is not lost. Iíve seen impressive back width and size on people with lower back issues who donít deadlift ever.
42. Does anybody really use Google Plus? Iíve never found it to be useful in any capacity. Itís full of tech nerds and people who hate Facebook. But hereís my NoBull Business Page anyway.
43. Tendonitis is nasty! Itís crisscross scar tissue that needs to be broken up with deep tissue massage. The fix is painful but the results are worth it. Once youíve had it, the chances of it coming back are high. Find out whatís causing it and quit doing whatever bothers it. Having loads of alternative exercises is a very good thing. I had to quit doing any bicep curls for 6 months but still could do weighted closed grip pull ups. Who knows why but my biceps didnít suffer and neither did I.
44. TRX is awesome. After my gym closed, I thought my life was over. When I joined a health club that had the worst leg press machine ever, I discovered the TRX. I started messing with it and within 2 months, took a certification class. Long story short, body weight training is very worth it. I ended up putting it up in the garage and kept my size and strength without lifting a weight for 5 months (well except my body weight!). I forgot how awesome body weight training can be. The inflammation I had from weight training disappeared.
45. The best time to workout is in the late afternoon. Everybody will say ďwhatever works for youĒ but in reality, the late afternoon is optimal if you can fit that into your schedule. If you canít, then workout whenever you can.
46. You donít have to be bleeding, sweating or crying at the end of your workout. If you are, I question why you think training harder not smarter is the answer. Muscle grows when stimulated not annihilated. Workout hard and with intensity but there is such as thing as going overboard and too much.
47. How come most people who do Crossfit donít look fit? (at least on my Facebook timeline)
48. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that fructose may increase hunger levels. Interesting.
49. I love Carb Back Loading!
So, what did I miss? What did you learn this year?