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They'll all fall

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Advice for somebody starting weight training

Get somebody to train you in the correct form for the exercises. It's easy to use too much weight - and get no effect - or too little weight - and get no effect. And get somebody GOOD. Most trainers don't know what they are doing, and give dangerous advice. (Some advice on spotting a bad trainer below.)

Apart from that: If you get no progress after a while, exercise less often. You may need to go down to exercising each body part once a week (if you're a hard gainer.)

Eat enough protein. Get enough sleep. Take a good basic food supplement (vitamin and mineral supplement). Maybe supplement with ZMA (look this up rather than just taking my word as gospel.)

Exercises should be done slowly, and with a reasonable range of reps (5 to 12 per set is usually a good target).

Exercises should be only be done to failure very occasionally - maybe once every three months.


Over to spotting a bad trainer:

One exercise that's good for spotting bad trainers is the squat. Some common problems: Advising you to use heel blocks (raising the heels). That can be dangerous for the knees (it cause extra wear on the kneecap and the lower back), and the trainer should at least be AWARE of that.

Using Smith machines for the squat is considered (by many) to block the movement the body should go through. Whether this is dangerous is disputed; there's good arguments that Smith squats are an OK exercise if form is perfect, but Smith machines are often used to "simplify" the exercise for those that have bad form, which none of those studying it seem to think is a good idea. The trainer should be aware of this, too.

The back should be STRAIGHT throughout the exercise, and the upper body compressed (filled lungs and the muscles around them tightened). Many trainers will neglect to tell you to compress the upper body, or will tell you to push your chest forwards.

The normal form for the squat is down until your tighs are parallell to the ground. More is bad for your knees; less lose effect. Your trainer should tell you this (though there may be reasons to shorten the squat, and your trainer might tell you that, too.)

To get good form, you usually need to look at some distant object.

And your trainer should tell you that form is very, very, very important in the squat. My best trainer has actually forbidden me from running the squat for the moment; he thinks I need to increase upper body strength before going back to it, to avoid training in bad form.

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