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Squats, Laterals and Assorted Tips and Tricks

I’m sick and tired of seeing every type of exercise discomfort being “solved” by lightening the load. It’s the path of least resistance—literally! Learn to perform your exercises properly.

Q: All you seem to talk about for leg development is squats. Can’t you discuss leg extensions and other exercises for a change?

A: I’ve mentioned deadlifts, haven’t I? Chill, and pay attention, dude. Instead of making up fancy routines of easy machine exercises, why don’t you get off your butt, get tough and squat? Upper-leg building is very simple: Just squat. If you want to address a certain aspect of your legs, use a different type of squat. For more hamstring work, do box squats or parallel squats with a three-second pause in the hole—that’s the bottom of a parallel squat, in powerlifting lingo. Do Olympic or full squats for the quads. Wide-stance power squats will take care of your hips and inner thighs. Just pick one and stick with it for six to eight weeks; then pick another. Add a calf exercise to balance out your legs and some posing for better cuts, and you’re all set. Keep it simple, and make it hard.

Q: My neck gets tight after I do lateral raises, and I get a headache. Should I use lighter weight?

A: I’m sick and tired of seeing every type of exercise discomfort being “solved” by lightening the load. It’s the path of least resistance—literally! Learn to perform your exercises properly.

When it comes to laterals, your problem is raising the ’bells too high and shrugging your shoulders. The dumbbells have no business going higher than your shoulders in this drill. Keep your lats tight to keep your shoulder girdle down.

Also try using effective imagery from the martial arts. Instead of focusing on getting the weights up, visualize reaching out with your arms to the opposite walls. Basically, project your energy outward rather than upward. Not only will your neck give you a break, but you’ll overload your delts more effectively. You’re likely to be able to lift heavier ’bells as well.

A word on breathing: On this exercise you’re better off inhaling steadily through your nose on the way up and exhaling on the way down. The tips apply just as much to bent-over laterals. It goes without saying, you need to keep your elbows locked. —Pavel

Beyond Bodybuilding
Editor’s note: Pavel’s big Beyond Bodybuilding book is available from

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