Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Things I stopped doing.....

I have decided to do a 3 part series:

Part 1 = Things I stopped doing......

Part 2 = Things I started doing....

Part 3 = Things I'll never do.....

I have transformed as a trainer and a lifter over the past 10 or so years. I think some of the things that I have done are just plain stupid, and others have made me much better for including them in my programs or my clients programs.

I look at some of the stuff I used to do as a trainer and some of the stuff I included during my training sessions, I must have been clueless.  What's even worse is when I see other trainers doing those absurd things with their clients or people performing the same worthless routines my dumbass used to do in the younger days.

When I finally "woke up" and started to better educate myself I realized some changes needed to be made to be more successful as a trainer and coach.  My training also needed to evolve, I wasn't seeing any positive results from what I was doing in the weight room.

Here is a little look into some of the nonsense I used to think was effective training.  These are things I STOPPED doing:

(1) ANYTHING standing on a BOSU ball.  I thought, just like a large majority of the population, that I would "engage" my core if I stood on an unstable surface.  I used to do squats, shoulder press, and curls standing on that darn thing and  I accomplished absolutely nothing!
This looks like an accident waiting to happen!

I actually got weaker.  As Jason Ferruggia said, "It ain't strength training unless you're getting strong!"  So what the heck was I thinking?

If I use 95 lbs. on a front squat for 8 reps on a stable surface and can only use 45lbs. when I stand on a BOSU ball before I'm about to fall over, what's the point?

Check out THIS post for some research and more explanation regarding training on an unstable surface.

For the record, I was also that guy doing should press while kneeing on a stability ball.

(2) "Burn-out sets" with clients.  I was the trainer that wanted people to feel "a burn" (god I hate that term).  I thought my clients would be more satisfied with their session if they felt that "trouble spot" reach the point of physical exhaustion. Drop sets, super sets, and compound sets, what ever would fatigue a muscle group I included in a training session.

If a client was concerned about legs, I would have them perform drop sets of leg press or leg extensions.  If a client was concerned about their arms a drop set of the the rope tricep press down would do the trick.  Of course for guys any drop set of a chest exercise would leave them PUMPED and feeling like they were going to actually gain some size.

Of course drop sets, "super sets", and compound sets can have a place in a training program, but not with novice lifters who don't even perform basic movement patterns correctly.

(3) Pushing supplements.  After working at a commercial gym for around 8 years I realized I was more like a traditional salesman than a trainer.  I had a supplement goal I had to reach and it didn't matter if I sold Muscle Milk to an overweight Grandmother or a powerful fat burner to an anorexic, if I made my goal management was happy. (I never did those things, by the way).

Now I like to do my best to encourage people to eat REAL food.  Clean up their diets and if there is a need for a supplement, we'll discuss that when the time is right.

As far as what I recommend to most people, fish oil, protein powder, and a greens supplement.

(4) Single Body Part Training.  I used to train Chest Day on Monday's, Back on Tuesday, Legs on Wednesday, Shoulders on Thursday, and Arms on Friday.

Ground Breaking stuff!  Flip open the pages of any Muscle and Fitness or Flex Magazine and I'm guaranteed you'll find that routine or one very similar.

The fact is I really didn't need to do 27 sets of triceps or 15 sets of "upper chest" - If I remember correctly I really didn't accomplish too much from those workouts, except fitting in at the gym and leaving with a pump.  I guess that's all a young newbie gym goer wants from a training session.

(5) Using the Smith Machine or other Isolation Type Machines.  In my opinion some machines are the biggest waste of space and money in any fitness center or gym.

There are circumstances where some forms of isolation movements are acceptable (injuries /hypertrophy training) but the tricep extension machine- REALLY?

People would get a much greater value out of exercise if basic movement patterns were taught, corrected, and improved rather than just sitting them on a machine and reppin' out an exercise to "feel the burn".

(6) Distance Running.  I used to think this was the best method to "lose fat" and "lean up" but I was totally wrong. First of all, nutrition is the key component to getting leaner. Second, I ended up developing some knee and lower back pain and my resistance training began to suffer.  You can read more about my views on distance running HERE. 

I'm sure I made plenty more mistakes during my younger days, and I might even be making some now- but that's the educational process.  If I get better from my mistakes, they were almost worth making.

Stay tuned for Part 2.

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