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Thread: Muscle Q&A

  1. #1
    Registered User Jimmy Smith's Avatar
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    Muscle Q&A

    Muscle Q&A
    By: Jimmy Smith, CSCS


    Q: I hear a lot of strength coaches recommending a deload week for athletes but I?m just trying training for size, should I deload?

    A: Yes, without a doubt. The purpose of a deload week is to allow the body to adapt to the stress that has been put on it through your previous training weeks. Your body cannot distinguish between different sources of stress. This is where the old-school thought of ?I?ll train my chest one day and my legs the next, as long as I give my chest four days to recover, I?ll be fine? falls short. Stress will accumulate over time and when this happens you will see multiple negative affects such as injury, fat gain, lack of progress, and decreased motivation amongst others. On the most extreme end you may have a complete endocrine crash.

    By examining Selye?s model of the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) we can get a better idea of why we need to manipulate training stress. The GAS was proposed as a basic whole body mechanism to define an increase in the power of resistance to stressors and to adapt to our environmental changes. Selye categorized three stages:

    1. Alarm Phase (Catabolic Phase)
    2. Anabolic Phase (Resistance Phase)
    3. Exhaustion Phase

    The problems we run into are either overload on volume (sets or days training) or intensity (% of our 1RM or techniques such as drop-sets). This rapidly shifts us into the upper end of phase two or completely into phase three, the exhaustion phase, which I?d be willing to bet that 95% of the American public training and non-training alike are in at all times.


    During phase two and three, one of our main issues is the fact that our testosterone to cortisol ratio is out of balance, with cortisol being higher. If we?re trying to build muscle, we do not want this.

    Another important reason to deload is to give our body a chance to grow. We?re doing all we can in the gym and at the kitchen table. By taking a deload week where we adjust our volume and possibly intensity we increase our chance for progress in our next training block. The week before our deload we?ve pushed our body to higher than usual limits with a super-high week, so this is the chance for us to lower our training load and come back the next week so fresh and so clean. We?re basically telling our body ?next week is the week? so we?ll make personal bests with a given load for reps or set personal bests in terms of % of weight used.

    Even if we?re training for body composition, by utilizing a deload week we can further enhance our chances for growth, fat loss and new personal bests. We want to allow all that fitness that we?ve worked hard for to catch up and supercompensate. Remember a deload week is a lower than normal week, not a do no work week, so you?ll still reap a positive training effect!

    Q: Every time I squat my knees come in toward each other. I?m worried about possible future problems to my knees. What can I do?

    A: What?s going on with you is that you have hip internal rotation and genu-valgus (knee knocking).


    It?s actually more common than you think. The main muscles involved here, your TFL and Hamstrings (Semimembranosus and Semitendinous) perform hip internal rotation amongst other tasks. In addition your adductors which draw your thigh toward the midline of your body are all tight and overactive. Your glute max, glute medius and biceps femoris (the biggest hamstring) all perform outward rotation of your hip, but the problem is these are all weak and lengthened. To bring it all together, your outward rotators are weak and your internal rotators are all tight. So what can you do to change this? A few things actually, first off, work on stretching your TFL and Hamstrings, some mobility work before and PNF stretching after activity will go a long way to clear this issue up. Also I suggest getting a foam roller and consistently rolling your troubled areas. If you need some ideas on how to do this, please email me and I?ll send you some pictures.
    Now for your weak muscles, you need to perform some activation exercises. For your glute max make sure you get to the bottom of your squat, perform single leg movement like split squats and step up as well as bridges. For your glute medius you should first look toward mini-band side steps, your single leg work will also hit your glute med. I wouldn?t be too concerned about specific exercises to isolate your Biceps Femoris, get your glutes firing and your hamstring issues are going to clear up.
    One thing to never do is to put a ball or foam roller between your legs and squeeze your legs in. I see this time and time again from personal trainers and it makes zero sense. If you?re already falling inward why would you want to facilitate it with a cue from a foam roller or med ball?

    Q: I?ve been really attempting to develop my lateral delts to make myself look wider and fill out my shirt. I?ve made good gains but I really haven?t built them to the size that I want. What can I do?

    A: First off let me ask you something. Are you properly following a periodization model? By that I mean, do you alternate your intensity and your volume? Do you switch up your exercises? Remember we can?t have adaptation if we refuse to change. So assuming your following a periodized program here?s some other tips I can give you to make you W-I-D-E.



    1. Diet. You can have the widest set of delts in history, but if you?re not relatively lean, you are not going to look as wide as you possibly could. A small narrow waist is essential if you want to give people the illusion that your shoulders are nice and broad.

    2. Develop your lats. This is the part of the V-Taper that people pay the least attention too. Once you have the tiny waist and you?re working to get those shoulders wide, focus on your lats as well. Again it will cause people to take notice of how wide you look. You may have to break from your traditional lat training to try some new options. Mix up your back training with long eccentric pull-ups and slow concentric and eccentric straight arm pulldowns.

    3. Develop your posterior delt. This is another area that needs more focus. More often than not, it?s about the appearance of the body part that really matters. If all you?re doing is focusing on your lateral head, then you are going to look flatter from the side then you would if you had paid more attention to the posterior side. When people look at you from a side view, what are two most prominent areas of the shoulder that stick out? The lateral and posterior delt! Movements like face-pulls and incline rear flyes will do the trick. Build them both to get W-I-D-E.


    About The Author

    Jimmy Smith, CSCS, is a fitness coach who trains athletes and injured individuals as well as fitness competitors and enthusiasts in Stamford, Connecticut. In addition, Jimmy is currently advancing his education as a master?s degree student in Human Movement Visit Jimmy's website www.jimmysmithtraining.com to sign up for his free newsletter and special report on rapid body fat reduction.
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  2. #2
    6am sessions BCYMCA's Avatar
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    great article bro
    "Bigger than yesterday... Smaller than tomorrow." - G Diesel
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  3. #3
    Registered User Neil_2k2's Avatar
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    Great stuff how often would u recommend an off week then? once every two months?
    Thank you and goodnight
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