Today we’re going to have some fun and talk about some of the dumb stuff I used to teach all of you. Now I don’t think I’ve ever taught anything DANGEROUS, at least not that I know of. But I believe in order to become a great trainer, you need to always be learning new things, and interacting with all of you for over 10 years has really helped me become the best version of myself.
#1 – Eat Small Meals Every 2 – 3 Hours To Make Gains
Yeah, I used to be an advocate of small meals every couple of hours. I would recommend my clients split up their meals into small portions throughout the day so that they can “accelerate their metabolism” and keep fueling their muscles with “protein” throughout the day which we now know is ridiculous. The thermic effect of food is not impacted by eating the same amount of calories a day but just split into smaller portions.
Now, is that strategy 100% ineffective? No, because some people, myself included, don’t like to eat just a few big meals a day. That’s just a personal choice. But today, we know you don’t have to consume small meals every couple of hours to sustain the protein synthesis process. In fact, as long as you’re having enough calories and protein every single day, your body will know when and how to utilize each and every gram of protein so none of it goes to waste. You see, the problem is that back in the day I was looking at the small picture. But if you look at the big picture, you’ll quickly realize that the human body is smart and it doesn’t create or waste gains on a day-to-day basis. Instead, you have to look at it from a weekly or monthly point of view. Just because you didn’t consume any protein over the last 12 hours, that doesn’t mean you’re cutting your gains short! As long as your daily, weekly, and monthly nutrition plan is more or less on point, you’ll make progress!
#2 – Only Go As Far As 90 Degrees On The Bench Press
This is actually a bit embarrassing for me because it’s just ridiculous! The truth is that I used to insist on cutting the range of motion for the bench short because I used to think that going past 90 degrees disengaged the chest and increased the risk of a shoulder injury.
But now, I think everyone knows that the deeper you go, the more chest engagement you’ll have and that’s because you’re getting a deeper stretch. Also, as long as you keep your shoulders PACKED, they’ll be out of harm’s way, even when the barbell touches your chest and therein lies the problem. I was NEVER taught how to properly pack my shoulders as a young trainer and that’s the ONLY reason I or my clients were experiencing shoulder pain while benching. If you don’t pack your shoulders, your elbows flare out too much and you end up benching more over your shoulders & neck rather than your chest.
But another issue with 90-degree benching is that there are still “trainers” out there advocating a 90-degree range of motion, saying “it’s how you keep tension on your chest”. THIS IS PURE GAHHHBAGE!!! Since when does the weight get lighter and easier to move below 90 degrees? Muscle is built through the mechanisms of muscle damage, metabolic stress, AND mechanical tension. To take advantage of all three, you HAVE TO go all the way down to rip and tear into the fibers and allow them to be rebuilt, bigger and stronger!
Not only that, but it’s actually MORE DANGEROUS to go as far down as 90 degrees as opposed to full ROM. That’s because of any range of motion you don’t train in, you will have WEAKNESS in! I see a lot of injuries from people, not even lifting super heavy, because if you have 200lbs or more on the barbell and you have only ever benched to 90 degrees, that one day when you go a bit too low could be the day something pops because your body hasn’t built up the required strength to handle a heavy load below the 90-degree point.
Conclusion: Start with weights you can handle and become stronger throughout the entire range of motion. This way, as you get stronger and stronger, you’ll be able to support the entire range of motion as opposed to just fragments of it!
#3 – Don’t Squat Past 90 Degrees! (My Old Leg Workout)
Very similar to the previous one, but still embarrassing! You really do have to squat past 90 degrees and it’s for many reasons!
- More Muscle Growth – Again, the same argument as before. The bigger the range of motion, the more muscle fiber engagement you’re getting. Plus, you’re also placing a deeper stretch on your quads and glutes especially if HIGH BAR squatting!
- Less Chance Of An Injury – Believe or not, your knees are meant to bend past 90 degrees. Shocking, right? It’s actually HEALTHY for the hip joints to sit underneath your knee joints and it will actually PREVENT hip and knee pain in the future if you do it this way.
- Better Bowel Movement – Yeah, I just went there. A deep squat is how our ancestors used to poop. They didn’t have fancy toilet seats so they had to squat down to take a dump. Believe it or not, though, going into a deep squat engages the deep abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor, massages the lower intestine, and aids in healthy digestion and defecation. True story! Also, if you have to poop in the woods one day and have to stand up mid-way because your legs are giving out…you could poop your pants! Not a good look!
- Prevents Muscle Imbalances – It’s true that going only until 90 degrees keep your glutes and hamstrings out of the movement but that’s something you generally DON’T WANT to do. You want your quads, glutes, and hamstrings to work in synergy every single time you squat. Not to mention, stopping at 90 degrees actually places MORE stress on the knee joint because you’re not taking advantage of the stretch reflex of your quads, therefore, the tension transfers right onto your knees! So if you want more QUAD focused training, just FRONT SQUAT, don’t do half reps.
Conclusion: go ass to grass every single time you squat!
#4 – Keep Perfect Form ALL The Time
Don’t get me wrong, proper form is CRUCIAL in order to prevent injuries. Especially as a beginner, you need to spend a lot of time learning and mastering the perfect form for the basic compound movements that will act as the foundation for your strength and physique.
However, sticking with proper form year after year after year will only lead to stagnation with your gains. Why? Well, it’s like this. I’ve watched many people become so fascinated with PERFECT form at the cost of actually overloading their muscles and introducing new stimuli to their bodies. Sure, a perfect form is a basic rule you learn the first day you step into the gym. However, in order to improve and break through plateaus, you have to also learn how to bend the rules here and there. Now, I’m not saying use ONLY momentum to throw weights up and down to no end. I’m saying utilize momentum in a smart way in order to get the weight moving and then slowly control the negative on every single repetition.
Besides, we also now know that it’s the NEGATIVE or eccentric of most exercises that create the most micro-tears in the muscle tissue, leading to muscle adaptation and growth. So, if you’re limiting the weight you’re able to control on the negative by emphasizing proper form on the positive, you’re effectively decreasing the intensity of your workouts!
A great way to learn how to implement momentum into your workouts and introduce maximum muscle overload is by trying my CHEAT & RECOVER program. This is the most advanced program I’ve ever created and it is NOT for beginners. The entire program is based on a single premise; perform 8 “cheat” reps by using some momentum on the concentric range of motion and then immediately after that, drop the weight and perform 8 additional “clean” reps with PERFECT form. This is how you get the BEST from both worlds. I suggest downloading my app MuscularStrength and giving it a try. You will not be disappointed and your body will change in ways you never thought possible. I guarantee it!
#5 – Condemning Full Body Training
Back in the day, I used to be a know-it-all, I admit it. While there were many successful athletes utilizing full-body workouts and getting amazing gains, I was hell-bent on traditional bro-split programs because I was getting RESULTS from them.
So, why are bro-splits BAD for you? Well, they’re not bad. They might just not be optimal FOR YOU. I’m not saying you’ll make ZERO gains with a bro-split program, but that’s not to say that you couldn’t make MORE gains if you were to follow an upper/lower split, push, pull, legs or even better, a full-body training program.
Now, the “problem” with bro-split training is that you’re only training each muscle group ONCE a week. Monday is chest, Tuesday is back, Wednesday is legs, Thursday is arms and Friday is shoulders. You’re familiar with this, right? But the thing is muscle protein synthesis only occurs for up to 48 hours after you’ve trained a muscle group. Therefore, if you train your chest on Monday, it will only “keep growing” until Wednesday MAX. Then, you “waste” 4 entire days until the next time you train chest which will be the following Monday. See where this is going?
But if you were to follow a full-body program, you would be training chest two or even 3 times per week. So by the time muscle protein synthesis stops, you’re effectively jump-starting it right back up, so you’re growing all week long! But what about volume? People always say that with full-body training you can only execute so many working sets for a certain body part before you move on to the next one. That’s true but it’s also wrong because again…you’re not looking at the big picture! It’s like this…
- Bro-Split Training; you’re training chest ONCE a week and you’re doing 18 working sets in a single day.
- Full Body Training; you’re training chest THREE times a week and you’re doing 6 working sets each time for a total of 18 total working sets spread throughout the week.
So what’s the difference? Well, you’re doing the same amount of total VOLUME but your frequency is up from ONE to THREE times a week which means you are STIMULATING GROWTH multiple times a week, versus once. This is how you MAXIMIZE your gains and your time in the gym!
#6 – Keeping The Phrase “Triceps Kickbacks” In My Vocabulary!
I remember a time when I was incorporating triceps kickbacks into some old routines like they’re a great exercise for building big triceps. But in reality, tricep kickbacks are an exercise that belongs in the GAHHHBAGE!
Now, is it truly a BAD exercise? Not necessarily. However, ANY exercise you try that’s not a triceps kickback will be better than a triceps kickback, therefore your time will be more effectively utilized doing something else. For example, if you have time to perform 3 sets of kickbacks, allocate this time instead to hit a few sets of skull crushers, an overhead extension, or even diamond push-ups – any of these options will stimulate your triceps more! You can’t really overload with a kickback, and unless you’re using a cable machine, there is VERY LITTLE tension on the triceps throughout half of the movement.
The only scenario in which I would see myself still suggesting triceps kickbacks to one of my clients would be if they suffered from a severe case of mind-muscle disassociation, which means their mind-muscle connection is really bad!
In that case, sure, I can see how the exercise can help you establish a better connection to your triceps because it really emphasizes the contraction of the triceps due to the high positioning of the elbows. This is because when your elbow is back and behind your torso, that’s when your triceps can really contract and fire and it’s because the long head of the triceps crosses the shoulder joint and contributes to shoulder extension. But once a proper mind-muscle connection is established, we move right on over to DIPS or the CLOSE GRIP BENCH PRESS!
I hope you had some fun going down memory lane with me, but if there is one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s to never make any of these mistakes that I made. But also, to realize that it’s not a bad thing to make mistakes, it happens to the best of us! As long as you LEARN from your mistakes, then you are doing something right!