Q: I saw your video a while back on setting up a workout program for an intermediate bodybuilder. Besides the basic structure of a workout routine what are the most common mistakes you see your average middle of the road intermediate bodybuilder make.
A: Correct I made that a three part video series because the intermediate phase is so crucial. Firstly the bulk of your development takes place here, and unlike the beginner stage it has a way of keeping guys trapped. Again the majority of the “big guys” you see in your gym are intermediates and will remain intermediates for the rest of their training careers and it’s not for the lack of trying, but simply they are just barking up the wrong tree. This is the link to the video series.
The most common mistakes I see are the following:
-They usually believe they are a unique snow flake and show less interest than most rank beginners when it comes to learning more about the basics. Can’t have an Allen Iverson like crossover if you don’t even have a left hand I tell ya!
-Intermediates often believe they are advanced athletes and go on training cycles that are much more invasive than they need to be. One of my epiphanies in my own training was the day I was able to separate perceived difficulty from what is effective and netting me the progress I want. So you squat four times a week, and finish off with “widow maker” sets and 8 second eccentrics. I am sure it feels effective, but is it truly what is best for you? Is there possibly a safer and more effective way to perhaps get the same if not better results? One of my favorite quotes out there still echoes in my head when creating programs for my athletes is this dandy.
“To me, the sign of a really excellent routine is one which places great demands on the athlete, yet produces progressive long-term improvement without soreness, injury or the athlete ever feeling thoroughly depleted. Any fool can create a program that is so demanding that it would virtually kill the toughest Marine or hardiest of elite athletes, but not any fool can create a tough program that produces progress without unnecessary pain.”
~ Dr. Mel C. Siff
-Flawed technique on exercises and by this yes I mean ineffective and unsafe. Maybe because certain weight room landmarks become very appealing (3 plate bench presses etc) and what was an acceptable 400lb deadlift now looks like the “slump test” physical therapist often perform and not a “500 lb deadlift.” If possible I would recommend my bodybuilders see a qualified strength coach in their area so they can learn the basic barbell movements early on. If you haven’t and you are spinning you have been spinning your wheels for years now it’s still not too late.
-Another common one is a lack of patience which usually leads for them looking for that “golden ticket” that will propel them to that next level. A specific rep cadence, extreme stretching, test boosters or maybe some form of super food are all ones I have heard at some point or another. I know because during my first five years of training I was there, and it always lead to me going back to the basics. Hmm I am starting to see a trend here?
I am sure this was not the sexy answer you were looking for, but I like to treat my athletes who are in the adolescence of their training the same way I will treat my teenagers some day. No sex for you!
Q: You brought up your back a great deal this off-season. In your opinion what are your top back exercises.
A: This will be a fun one! And yes thank you for noticing. I am about 158 lbs in the picture above and 178 in the picture below. Surely more body fat in the heavier picture but the newfound density is helping things poke out a bit more.
So my favorites and the reason behind the madness?
-Deadlifts of course and if you are healthy enough to do these nothing puts slabs on the way this movement does, but as bodybuilders I don’t feel that it’s a must that we pull of the floor. A partial deadlift that is elevated 4-6” off the floor is probably best for those with no ambitions to get on the platform or just not healthy enough to pull off the floor. Finally please learn to perform the lift correctly I see many interpretations of a deadlift, but few are actually doing it right. I will link you to my good friend and movement sensei Chip Conrad about how to deadlift(or partial deadlift) in a more safe and efficient manner.
Link Here: BodyTribe.com/2012/10/19/the-deadlift/
-Seated Moto Rows: I don’t have a video of myself doing them, but think moto row seated on your arse on a pulley system. Typically people have an easier time finding there lats on unilateral vertical pulling motions, but the benefit of doing them this way is that you can add a bit of spinal flexion at the end of the movement. Something that is often overlooked when we are talking about function of the latisimus dorsi.
-Chest/Torso Supported Horizontal Rowing: Helps keep your lumbar fresh and ready for deadlifts and other big compound movements such as squats. Among my favorites you will find dumbbell rows, most hammer strength rows, and as of last week the seal row.
Finally good form! Neutral neck position, don’t fully extend your arm at the end of the row, and 2-3 second holds at the end of the rowing motion go a long way in making sure not only the right muscles are working, and to keep progress honest. Recall your body is usually going to find ways to do things in the manner that requires the least amount of adaptation.
For a Recent Guest Posing By Alberto Nunez: http://www.ironaffinity.com/natural-pro-bodybuilders-alberto-nunez-francisco-inzunza-guest-posing-uc-davis/
Or His Video On Blood Flow Restriction / Occlusion Training: http://www.ironaffinity.com/alberto-nunez-blood-flow-restriction-training/