Bodybuilders are a stubborn bunch, almost as bad as runners! And they tend to follow the "HERD" doing whatever exercises and routines the "pros" are doing. Now, if your goal is to be as big as possible and you are not at all concerned with your health and fitness, don't even bother reading this article, this article is for bodybuilders who ARE concerned about their health and want to be big, strong, powerful, and agile. If that's you, read on…
The reason so many bodybuilders suffer from so many different injuries is because there are several things the "pros" don't tell you. First off, the articles that you see in all the muscle mags aren't even written by the "pros", and the workout routines they recommend are always extreme and often not even used by the "pro" who supposedly wrote about it, because their main goal is to sell magazines, not give you the real deal on bodybuilding.
If you are serious about bodybuilding and want to achieve your true peak, you need to stay injury free, and that's just about impossible if you train they way most bodybuilders do. There are several key strategies that you can use right now to not only eliminate any aches, pains and injuries you currently have, but also keep from creating more muscle imbalances in the future.
Target the Weaklings!
No, we don't mean the exercises you think your weak at, or even the muscles you think are underdeveloped, what we mean are the muscles that are weak in relation to the opposing muscle group. For example, in our previous article we talked about why the Leg Extension is not a great exercise and why it's responsible for so many cases of knee, hip, and back pain.The reason is, most people, especially bodybuilders, are already over developed and stronger in the quadriceps and usually have a significant imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings.
Another reason bodybuilders tend to develop so many severe muscle imbalances is because they emphasize the front of the body more than the back. A great example of this is what we call "The T-shirt Muscle Workout" and it usually consists of dozens of sets of chest and biceps, you know what we mean, in just one workout you do flat bench, incline, decline, pec deck, dumbbell fly, cable cross overs, and then for biceps you've got barbell curls, dumbbell curls, preacher curls, cable curls, machine curls, and the list goes on.
So instead of emphasizing the muscles that are already strong, why not really hit those weak and under worked muscles like: neck, upper back, shoulder rotators, hamstrings, glutes, hip rotators, lower abs, and shins.
These areas tend to be weak, tight, out of balance with their opposing muscles, prone to muscle strains and pulls and, most importantly, these imbalances lead to major injuries and conditions like back pain, knee pain, rotator cuff tears, tendonitis and others. All of these conditions are caused by muscle imbalances and will NOT go away unless you work towards correcting the imbalances. The only way to know for sure which imbalances are causing your pain or injury is to do a series of physical assessments.
Here's a personal challenge for you: Replace at least 1 of your normal weekly workouts with something totally different like combat martial arts, kettle bell training, functional training, or even strongman style exercises.
For example, instead of doing your super heavy, 3 inch partial rep leg presses, try a single leg squat, and if that's easy, try adding weight! Or instead dozens of sets of shoulder presses and lateral raises, see if you can do 1 handstand push-up.
Those are just a few examples, do yourself a favor and experiment with other types of exercises. You can find hundreds of different types of training styles by taking classes, reading books, watching videos, surfing the web, hire a personal trainer, etc.
We aren't asking you to give up your traditional workouts but just cross-train a bit so you not only work towards a balanced body but also towards a stronger, more powerful and usable strength. Again, what good is muscle if you can't use it!
Switch It Up!
Another great way to minimize the number of missed workouts due to injuries is to vary the exercises that you do for each muscle group. For example, if you always do barbell squats try rotating in other exercises like single-leg leg presses, trap-bar dead-lifts, d-bell squats, etc.
Remember, the key to eliminating injuries and preventing future ones is to identify what areas you need to target.
By Jesse Cannone and Steve Hefferon
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Author:Jesse Cannone and Steve Hefferon
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