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Bad Habits for Bodybuilders

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If your body isn’t responding to your workouts, it may be time to address some common roadblocks.

Author: Craig Richardson, IFBB Pro; Photographer: Ralph DeHaan; Model: IFBB Pro Craig Richardson

[Q] Craig, I think that my front delts get plenty of work on my chest days because of all the heavy pressing I do. Some bodybuilders tell me I should still do front delt work on shoulder day, but I don’t want to overtrain them. What’s your take on it?

[A] I think you’re right. I’ve had the same problem in the past. As an amateur, I used to train front delts because everybody told me I needed to. As a result, my front delts grew too big and made my chest look smaller, even though my chest wasn’t a weak bodypart. So once I stopped doing front delts and concentrated more on the middle and rear delts, they evened out. You can easily overtrain your front delts because they get a lot of work on chest day. A day after doing chest, my front delts are pretty sore. So, my advice is that if your front delts are strong, then leave them alone and focus on the middle and rear delts instead.

[Q] I’ll be honest. Between working 50 hours a week and having kids, sometimes I miss out on workouts. Not surprisingly, the first bodypart on the chopping block is always legs! How can I stamp out this habit?

[A] Unfortunately, you have to bite down and tough it out. Legs are a bodypart you absolutely have to train if you want to have a complete physique. It’s easy to skip legs though because it’s the hardest workout of the week. I’d suggest training them at the beginning of the week when you’re fresh, instead of waiting until the end of the week when you’re more likely to skip them because you’re tired. Or, train them on the weekends when you have plenty of time. You’ll get it out of the way and you’ll feel better for it, I promise.

[Q] Like most guys, I want better abs. I train super hard and at the end of my heavy workouts the last area I feel like training are my abs. Do you have any tips for making sure I get my ab training in?

[A] Sure, train abs first. If they’re a headache for you, doing them first when you have plenty of energy is your best option because you won’t feel like you’re stuck in the gym forever or that you’re tired after training a larger bodypart. I know that after a workout, I’m exhausted and I’ll think of a million reasons why it’ll just be easier to go home and do abs the next day. But if you want great abs, you’ve gotta make time for ’em. Another tactic is to train abs during your rest periods between sets for other bodyparts. If you’re doing, say, 15 sets for back and you’ve trained abs after every set of back exercises, you’ll have done 15 sets of abs. Now you can go home, guilt-free!

[Q] I keep reading in MuscleMag how stretching is best done after a workout and not before, like we did back in junior high. But I love that tight, pumped feeling in my muscle bellies after a hard workout. Won’t stretching regularly diminish that?

[A] Here’s my take: I think you need to stretch regularly to maintain your flexibility. I made that mistake early in my career and now I can’t even scratch my own back. Plus, the more flexibility you have, the less chance you have of injury. Post-workout, if you can take just a few minutes to stretch, you’ll get proper blood flow, increase range of motion and it’ll be more beneficial for the recovery of those muscles. Don’t worry about your pump. It feels good but once it serves its purpose, you need to forget about it and get to the business of getting ready for your next session, and that means stretching.
 

FRONT DELTS: OVERDONE

Craig’s take on chest and shoulder training

“I always make sure that I have at least two days between chest and shoulder sessions so I don’t have to worry about one workout affecting the other [because the front delts are recruited in both bodypart workouts]. If I train those muscle groups back to back, I simply don’t train front delts on shoulder day ⎯ just my middle and rear delts.”
I think you’re right. I’ve had the same problem in the past. As an amateur, I used to train front delts because everybody told me I needed to. As a result, my front delts grew too big and made my chest look smaller, even though my chest wasn’t a weak bodypart. So once I stopped doing front delts and concentrated more on the middle and rear delts, they evened out. You can easily overtrain your front delts because they get a lot of work on chest day. A day after doing chest, my front delts are pretty sore. So, my advice is that if your front delts are strong, then leave them alone and focus on the middle and rear delts instead.

[Q] I’ll be honest. Between working 50 hours a week and having kids, sometimes I miss out on workouts. Not surprisingly, the first bodypart on the chopping block is always legs! How can I stamp out this habit?

[A] Unfortunately, you have to bite down and tough it out. Legs are a bodypart you absolutely have to train if you want to have a complete physique. It’s easy to skip legs though because it’s the hardest workout of the week. I’d suggest training them at the beginning of the week when you’re fresh, instead of waiting until the end of the week when you’re more likely to skip them because you’re tired. Or, train them on the weekends when you have plenty of time. You’ll get it out of the way and you’ll feel better for it, I promise.

[Q] Like most guys, I want better abs. I train super hard and at the end of my heavy workouts the last area I feel like training are my abs. Do you have any tips for making sure I get my ab training in?

[A] Sure, train abs first. If they’re a headache for you, doing them first when you have plenty of energy is your best option because you won’t feel like you’re stuck in the gym forever or that you’re tired after training a larger bodypart. I know that after a workout, I’m exhausted and I’ll think of a million reasons why it’ll just be easier to go home and do abs the next day. But if you want great abs, you’ve gotta make time for ’em. Another tactic is to train abs during your rest periods between sets for other bodyparts. If you’re doing, say, 15 sets for back and you’ve trained abs after every set of back exercises, you’ll have done 15 sets of abs. Now you can go home, guilt-free!

[Q] I keep reading in MuscleMag how stretching is best done after a workout and not before, like we did back in junior high. But I love that tight, pumped feeling in my muscle bellies after a hard workout. Won’t stretching regularly diminish that?

[A] Here’s my take: I think you need to stretch regularly to maintain your flexibility. I made that mistake early in my career and now I can’t even scratch my own back. Plus, the more flexibility you have, the less chance you have of injury. Post-workout, if you can take just a few minutes to stretch, you’ll get proper blood flow, increase range of motion and it’ll be more beneficial for the recovery of those muscles. Don’t worry about your pump. It feels good but once it serves its purpose, you need to forget about it and get to the business of getting ready for your next session, and that means stretching.

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