Weight Lifting Tips: My Thoughts
You Will Learn
— Why most people struggle so much to improve
— What exercises are better for leg mass than squats
— How to move up a weight class
— The best age to start lifting
— Why bodybuilders dwarf powerlifters
Q: What halts progress for most people?
A: Adherence. A lot of people have issues adhering to a diet, training plan or both. It’s hard to gauge progress when you can’t stick with anything for long.
Q: What kind of split do you prefer for beginners?
A: Whether powerlifting or bodybuilding, I would personally prescribe a full body routine for beginners and most early intermediates. This gives you the opportunity to really practice and nail down the basics and your body can easily recover from a full body routine at this level. Even at a high level, I often like full body routines like this DUP program. Additionally, you can see my results from a full body DUP program here.
Q: What is your favorite supplemental exercise for bench press strength?
A: I really enjoy a pin suspended isometric bench press slightly off the chest. While this exercise isn’t a great mass builder because of the lack of the eccentric (lowering) component, the removal of the stretch reflex at the bottom makes this the perfect exercise to develop strength off the chest. I covered other bench press accessory exercises here and these bench press tips will help increase your bench as well.
Q: What is your favorite supplemental exercise for squat strength?
A: A lot of people like front squats, but I have to go with beltless paused squats here. This exercise requires a lot of patience out of the hole. No accessory exercise; however, can beat progress from learning how to squat with proper form.
Q: What is your favorite supplemental exercise for the deadlift?
A: I like 2-3” deficit pulls, especially for my sumo deadlift. My flexibility improves from deficit pulls and the increased range of motion makes my normal deadlifts feel so much easier in comparison. I have already written extensively on improving your deadlift, if you need more advice on this subject.
Q: What are your thoughts on the back squat as a mass builder?
A: I might get some flak for this, but unless you have exceptional leg genetics where they grow like weeds no matter what, I don’t think back squats are that great of a leg builder, regardless of how you do them. The spinal erectors take a good load of the work when squatting, and if big quads are a priority for you and you are already an intermediate level lifter, I would give them some additional work with leg presses, extensions, hack squats, etc.
Q: How do you feel about staying lean year round?
A: Too many people worry about being extremely competitive now at the cost of their future. You may be a decent 181’er now if you can come in at a shredded 180, but you might be better suited at 198 if you give yourself the time and calories to grow into that weight class. If you are slightly above a weight class, you can always do a water cut using this weight cutting guide. You need to make sure you put the weight back on after weigh ins though too.
There’s going to be an awkward phase where you may not fill out the weight class like you would like, but it’s worth it in the long run. The same often applies to bodybuilding. If you stay extremely lean year round, you aren’t going into the caloric surplus you need to become bigger.
Q: How would you move up a weight class or bulk?
A: A properly done bulk will put on some fat on you, but you also want to limit fat gain to save time cutting in the future. Use MyFitnessPal or a similar app to track your caloric intake and find your maintenance calories/TDEE on the routine you plan to use. Then add 500 calories a day/3500 a week and track your weight throughout the week.
If you are gaining 1-2 pounds a week, you are doing well. If not, adjust as necessary. Once weight gain begins to stall or slow down, bump calories up slightly more – I like 200-300 more per day. Continue doing this for as long as you like. Personally, I use my waist measurement as a rough way to gauge fat gain. Once my waist has increased by 2-3 inches, it’s time to cease the bulk.
Q: What are most lifters lacking in their routines?
A: Balance. Most lifters, including myself, tend to neglect things that we suck at or just find boring. My shoulder and pec health are in poor condition from being in a chronically internally rotated state. Don’t sleep on postural or form issues as they can come back to haunt you.
Q: At what age could kids start lifting?
A: I truly believe kids can lift at any age, assuming they have the attention to do so. Injuries are extremely rare and you won’t stunt the growth of your child unless he or she fractures bones. This is also very unlikely. It is worth noting, that until kids hit puberty, hypertrophy is going to be almost nonexistent. Gains that are seen prior to puberty are going to come from form improvements and neuromuscular coordination.
Q: Do you prefer a high carb or high fat diet?
A: I think it depends upon the individual, but both should be consumed in moderation. I love milk, particularly chocolate milk post workout, so I err toward a high carb diet. Try both and choose whichever works best for you.
Q: Where do you stand on the raw vs geared debate?
A: I have spent time both raw and in gear. Geared lifting gets trashed on a lot for cheating, but I don’t think many realize how grueling geared lifting is and how much practice it takes to become proficient in your equipment. Getting in and out of it isn’t fun either! My only gripe as of right now are the quality of poor squats being passed in competition by multi-ply lifters. I place that blame more on the judges than the lifter, though I think both are accountable to some degree.
Q: Why are bodybuilders so much bigger than powerlifters?
A: There are a lot of factors at play here. Bodybuilders tend to be better about their diet, train with higher volume, perform a lot of isolation work, strive to maintain symmetry and use a lot of drugs that aren’t popular on the powerlifting scene. All of these together result in a huge difference in appearance between the two.
Q: Can you recommend any weightlifting books or resources?
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