The Rack Position Deserves Your Time
By: The Expert
I’m not going to lie; I don’t have much experience with the sport of powerlifting. My background is mostly in bodybuilding, but I’ve been lifting weights since I was a little kid. When my brother introduced me to the sport of powerlifting, it was like something completely new had happened.
I never thought I’d ever see myself competing at a national level, let alone winning a world championship.
Powerlifting is different than most sports because there are no rules or referees. There’s no time limits, penalties, points systems, or anything else that would keep competitors honest. Powerlifters compete based on their own merit and what they believe will make them better athletes and lifters.
They’re free to do whatever they want within those parameters without fear of punishment (or even criticism).
That freedom makes it easy to get away with some pretty stupid things. For example, I once competed in a meet where I lifted 225 pounds for 5 reps. That’s a weight that many strongmen attempt to lift, yet few ever achieve.
But I did! And it wasn’t just any 5 rep max; it was a 1RM!
Why was I able to do that?
Because my gym had a loose lifting platform and the floorboards were so bouncy that it negated all the force that I would have normally been stopped by the floor. It didn’t matter how strong I was because the floor absorbed all of the impact. The next person to lift after me only managed to get 2 reps with that same weight.
I also remember a meet where I was attempting to break the IPF world record for the deadlift. While most lifters would take their time and make sure they were properly warmed up, I decided that it would be a good idea to do squats instead of waiting.
Because I was trying to make the weight cut for that particular meet and didn’t have enough time to re-cut! As a result, I didn’t even get the world record because I pulled the Worlds Strongest Deadlift™ with my spinal erectors and not my legs. My legs gave out about 8 inches (20cm) before the barbell.
I learned a lot about lifting from experiences like those, and that’s also why you’ll never see me compete in powerlifting again. I don’t want to coach it, I don’t want to do it, and I certainly don’t want to deal with anyone else doing it. That isn’t to say that I didn’t learn anything from powerlifting; I actually learned a lot from the sport.
It just wasn’t the learning that kept me involved for so long.
The reason why I’m writing this is because I’ve been seeing a disturbing number of people gravitating towards the deadlift as their “savior” of sorts. Many of the conversations that I’ve had in the past year have centered around this one lift and how it can be used to improve quality of life and it’s the only exercise that anyone needs to do. This isn’t the first time that I’ve seen this happen either; there was a similar situation with squats in the mid-90’s and it almost destroyed the sport of powerlifting.
I’m sure you can already see where I’m going with this, but let’s get into the weeds anyway so that there are no doubts.
The Problems with Deadlifting
The first problem with deadlifting is that it’s very easy to do serious damage to your body if the lift is even slightly outside of your capability. The deadlift places excessive stress on your spinal erectors as well as joints and tendons that simply weren’t designed to handle that kind of load.
Exacerbating this problem is the fact that the deadlift is a lifting style that places the most emphasis on “looking cool” over actual strength gains. You see it all the time in the gym, someone picks up a heavy weight with perfect form, and as they get closer to lockout, their body starts shifting around in an effort to squeeze out that extra inch or two. That’s fine for a set of 5, but when you’re working singles and triples in the 1-5 range, that sloppiness can easily turn a serious injury into a potentially career-ending one.
The other major problem is that the deadlift places the most stress on your nervous system.
You may be able to deadlift three times a week and not have any problems, but what happens when you have to also squat or bench three times a week?
You’ll end up overtraining faster than a run-of-the-mill natural because the stress of each lift is too much for your system to recover from.
The deadlift also places the most wear and tear on your body in general.
While you may be able to bench three times a week, how will that same bench press training effect your upper back muscles?
Unless you’ve got a built in bench press chair to help you lift the bar back into position, your upper back will be so shot after each session that you won’t be able to stand up straight. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The final problem with the deadlift is its lack of specificity to almost any other athletic activity.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Mark, doesn’t pulling yourself off the ground count?”
No, it really doesn’t. In fact, while I like the idea of getting out of a squat or off the ground in a trap situation, it simply isn’t specific enough to warrant making it a major part of your training.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t ever deadlift or even train your pulling muscles?
No, of course not. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t make it the center of your training. Either pick a different deadlift variation or do some sort of row if you want to train your back, but if you’re looking to actually be good at doing anything else then it just makes more sense to pick a different exercise that has a little more transfer of strength to other activities.
What You Should Do Instead
So, if I were to give you some advice on what variation of the squat and deadlift you should do, as well as what other exercises you should do, it would be this:
You can take a pair of dumbbells and perform exercises that train everything from your forearms to your calves. The muscles of your lower body get hit both with the exercises mentioned above as well as every time you take a step. Since you’re no longer worrying about how to manipulate heavy weight, you can focus your energy on stabilizing the weights rather than muscling them up, which means that not only will you put on size in every muscle from your torso to your feet, but you’ll also get stronger in the process.
The other option is to perform exercises that train your upper body. You could take the weight out of the equation altogether and perform bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, dips, and chin-ups instead. Your grip will get stronger from all of those pulling movements and your biceps, forearms, chest, and back muscles will also grow from the movement involved.
Both of these approaches work well for most sports and should provide enough of a strength base to be able to improvise when you need to.
And of course, should you find yourself in a position where you need to get stronger in a hurry and need to focus on just getting stronger for a short period of time, then by all means pick up the weights and start squatting and deadlifting. But just know that you won’t be able to handle as much weight as you could when you first started training if you haven’t taken any time off from those exercises.
Just another reason why the big three isn’t the only way to get stronger.
2nd Place – bigcalves
I’m sure many of you have been through this stage in your life. You want big muscles and you want them now. Forget about waiting around for nature to take its course or ‘getting old’, you want to be huge NOW.
Unfortunately, like most things in life, there’s never a quick way of doing it, but that doesn’t stop supplement companies from lying and implying there is.
What Is The Best Way To Gain Muscle?
All right, so let’s get on to the subject in hand.
The question is, what is the best way to gain muscle?
Well, the answer might surprise you (actually, it probably won’t) and it’s….
Yep, that’s right I’m boring again, but hear me out. Building a good solid foundation of muscle requires that you start at the beginning. Yes, I’m talking about building your strength up and learning how to lift weights properly.
When I first started lifting weights, I went into the gym with a friend and just started grabbing whatever was available and started lifting. This worked for a while (I got some results), but then I hit a plateau and wasn’t getting any stronger. This was frustrating and I almost gave up, but then decided to learn about proper weight training technique and practiced that instead.
I got a hell of a lot stronger in a very short period of time. The funny thing is, the exercises I was doing were actually easier with better form (and safer) too. So not only was I getting stronger, but I was also able to work with better technique which meant my muscles got worked more efficiently.
So now that you’re lifting correctly, it’s time to build upon that foundation of strength. This is where your question of what’s the best way to gain muscle comes in. Well, in my opinion it really is just plain simple weight training. In fact you don’t even need to go to the gym for this; you can do it at home (or wherever you have weights).
When I got bored of the same routines, I used body-weight exercises in between or sometimes instead of weights. This kept things fresh and my body had to work harder. I was never one for running around outside or on a treadmill, so this was a nice break.
What should you do?
Whatever you like, just make sure that you keep your body guessing. Keep building that foundation and be sure to eat big to fuel your efforts!
1st Place – big_ben
Getting Big Versus Getting Strong
A question that has been asked many times on the internet is what is the best way to gain muscle. The answer of course depends on what your definition of ‘best’ is because there are so many variables involved in getting bigger muscles.
Get Big Quick?
There are people who want to get big quick and don’t care about the quality of their gains. They just want big muscles. If this is you then I have one piece of advice: synthol. No, don’t go out and buy some right now. The fact is that synthol will not help you get big muscles faster; it will only make your muscles bigger. If you are looking to get big quick there are simpler routes.
What do I mean?
Steroids. If you want to get big quick, steroids is the way to go. There are many ‘easy’ ways of taking steroids such as creams and ‘gels’. Most of these are a hoax though since the only active ingredient is a small amount of testosterone. Just the same, there are steroids that can be taken orally, examples being Anadrol and Equipoise. If you want to get big quick, find a dealer and buy some steroids.
If you don’t want to take steroids (and believe me, I don’t blame you) then it’s time to get serious. You need to start focusing on getting stronger and the only way to do that is with heavy weights and proper eating. If you’re skinny, don’t worry you’ll put on size when you start eating properly and getting stronger. If you’re not skinny but want to get big, you’ll need to focus on getting stronger so that your muscle growth goes up (along with some quality eating).
The 5×5 Workout
The most common and recommended workout is the 5×5 workout. It involves doing five sets of five reps of a weight that is about 80-90% of your 1 rep max (the most you can lift).
If you don’t know your one rep max then here’s how you work it out. Take the heaviest weight you can lift for one rep, let’s say it’s 100 kg. Now do that same weight but this time do five reps.
It should be fairly easy to do. Now multiply that number by 0.8 and 0.9. That is about your one rep max. Now you have a starting point to the 5×5 workout. So with 100 kg being your one rep max, your working out will look like this:
100 kg x 5 reps (80% of 100)
90 kg x 5 reps (90% of 100)
90 kg x 5 reps (90% of 100)
90 kg x 5 reps (90% of 100)
90 kg x 5 reps (90% of 100)
So each week you will be adding 10-20 kg to each of those weights. Obviously after a few months you’ll be lifting huge weights. In addition, to the 5×5 workout you can do some isolation or other workouts.
Basically you’re aiming for an hour in the gym, you won’t get big from just the 5×5 workout (but it’s a great start).
The Most Important Part: Eating
If you think that building muscles is just about lifting weights then boy are you in for a surprise. Building muscle mass is actually much simpler than people make out. You just need to have your calories high and do some weight-lifting.
It’s really that simple.
Now I’m not saying it’s going to be easy or that you won’t suffer some pains on the way, but if you’re dedicated then you WILL get big if you’re eating enough (along with your workouts).
Eating for muscle building is roughly 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat. Now I said roughly because it depends what your calorie intake is. A guy who eats 5000 calories a day can afford to eat more carbs than a guy who eats 2500 calories a day.
It’s all about the total calories.
Now some people tell you’ll need to eat every 2-3 hours to “stimulate protein synthesis”. This isn’t true at all as, provided you’re lifting weights and aren’t starving, your body is ALWAYS in a mode of repairing itself. There is no 8-hour period where it doesn’t.
Eating 6 smaller meals a day isn’t going to accelerate your muscle growth in any meaningful way, it’ll just make you eat more and probably wind up adding extra calories which will lead to fat gains.
So based on a 3500 calorie diet, you’re aiming for about 350 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs and 75 grams of fat (you need the fat, don’t cut it down). Now you’re probably thinking “I’m never going to eat that much!!” Trust me, after a while your stomach will stretch and you’ll be able to eat a lot more than you think. When I bulk I can easily eat 5000 calories a day without much of a problem (I can actually eat a lot more but I don’t really try as I’m not aiming to put on more weight).
Go here for some nutrition tips, information and food suggestions.
The Bottom Line
So to sum up:
Work your legs twice a week. First with heavy weights and lower reps (5×5). Second with lighter weights and higher reps (8×10).
After two weeks, change the first workout.
Use an all-out effort on the first set of each exercise and only do four sets total.
Do a more moderate effort (about 7 on a scale of 1-10) on the other sets and do five sets.
For the isolation exercises, do 15-20 reps per set.
Drink lots of milk. Eat lots of meat. Add rice, potatoes, pasta, bread and fruits to your diet.
(NOTE: If you’re skinny/fat-free, don’t add the bread or fruit).
Get at least one hour of sunlight a day. If not, take a vitamin D supplement.
Have some calorie-controlled treats once a week (I’d have a binge at the weekend).
Eat lots of food. Stretch your stomach so that you can eat huge meals. After a while your stomach will stretch and you’ll be able to eat even more.
Do cardio if you need to, but lifting is better.
Get lots of sleep. Your muscles grow when you’re resting, not working out.
That’s pretty much it. It’s a lot of information I know, but once you’ve got it down it’s easy. The hard part is putting in the time and effort to go to the gym and lift.
That’s up to you.
2nd Place – ho_124
What Is The Best All-Around Workout Plan?
The best all-around workout plan is a split program. A full body workout three times a week is great for beginners because it introduces them to different kinds of exercises which all focus on different areas of the body, and trains each muscle group twice a week. It is also a good choice for those seeking a balanced physique as it hits all the muscle groups evenly.
A common beginner’s workout would be:
Day 1: Chest and Back
Day 2: Legs and Abs
Day 3: Off or Arms and Shoulders
Day 4: Off or Chest and Back Day 5: Legs and Abs
Day 6: Off or Arms and Shoulders
Day 7: Off
Notice that the muscle groups are trained in a balanced fashion. For example, chest is trained with arms in day one. The arms are then trained directly on day five.
The philosophy is that if you give a muscle enough time to recover, it will allow you to make better progress.
Those with more experience or those seeking to make the most of their time in the gym may prefer to use a split program, which trains either the same muscle groups on separate days (an Upper-Lower Body Split) or the opposite groups (a Pull-Push Split).
A good example of an Upper-Lower Body Split is:
Day 1: Upper Body – Monday
Day 2: Lower Body – Tuesday
Day 3: Off or Chest and Back
Day 4: Off or Legs and Shoulders
Day 5: Upper Body – Thursday
Day 6: Lower Body – Friday
And an example of a Push-Pull Split is:
Day 1: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Day 2: Legs and Back
Day 3: Off or Arms and Abdominals
Day 4: Off or Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Day 5: Legs and Back
Day 6: Off or Arms and Abdominals
These splits are the most efficient for those with busy schedules. You can train all your muscles in three days a week and if you also do some running or cardio six days a week, you will be in good shape.
Also, splits are great for specializing in one type of training. For example: Let’s say you’re a body builder and you compete in four competitions a year (which is a lot). Your year is split into four parts and you specialize in three areas during these periods: Strength, Mass, and Definition.
Periodization is a very complicated subject, but that’s beyond the scope of this article. This is mainly for fun anyway so let’s get back to it.
Of course, the best routine is the one you’ll actually follow. It’s very easy to get excited about a new routine and start screaming “THESE ARE THE GODS OF TRAINING AT WORK!” and then three weeks later throw in the towel on it because you’re not making as much progress as you expected to.
Finding a routine that suits you and your lifestyle is the first step to success. Some good questions to ask are:
How much time can I spend in the gym each day?
When can I train each day?
(For example, some people train in the mornings, some in the evenings and some at night.)
What kind of split seems appealing to me?
Am I hoping to concentrate more on strength or size?
How much recovery time do I need between workouts?
What kind of gains do I hope to achieve over the next ____ months?
Once you have an idea of how you want to train, check out the programs in the article that covers your particular goal. Try one out and see how you like it. If it works for you, great! Stick with it for a few months and if you’re not satisfied with your progress, try a different program.
Thanks for reading, and above all have fun!
Sources & references used in this article:
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amBITCHous:(def.) A Woman Who: 1. Makes more money 2. has more power 3. gets the recognition she deserves 4. has the determination to go after her … by M Nasiri, A Moradian, MF Miri – Physical Review E, 2010 – APS
Noncontact Casimir rack and pinion as an excitable system by D Condren – 2006 – books.google.com
Full-time non-tenure-track faculty: Current status, condition, and attitudes by Z Etesami, MF Miri – Applied Physics Letters, 2015 – aip.scitation.org
The designer as a team of one by CH Merriam – 1884 – Press of LS Foster
Kitting and time efficiency in manual assembly by JL Chronister, RG Baldwin, T Bailey – The Review of Higher …, 1992 – muse.jhu.edu
The position of women artists within the aesthetic community by G Goldschmidt – Design studies, 1995 – Elsevier
Time‐delayed position feedback control for a unique active vibration isolator by R Hanson, L Medbo – International Journal of Production Research, 2012 – Taylor & Francis