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Train To Gain: Exercise Dos and Don’ts

Stiff-legged deadlifts can give new life to your hamstrings.

Do keep your back flat throughout the exercise’no rounding.
Do stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Do keep the bar close to your legs throughout the entire stroke.
Do keep a slight bend in your knees.
Do keep your abs and lower back tight as you do the exercise.
Do try to feel a stretch in your hamstrings at the bottom of each rep.
Do inhale as you lower the bar and exhale as you pull the bar back to your upper thighs.
Do reverse the bar’s downward movement at midshin level to prevent lower-back injury.
Do use a two-seconds-up/two-seconds-down cadence.

Don’t round your back’keep it flat and tight throughout the exercise.
Don’t let the bar travel past midshin level’unless you’re looking for a lower-back injury.
Don’t jerk the bar at the bottom’make the transition smooth.
Don’t hitch the bar on your thighs to get it to the top; if you have to do that, the weight is too heavy.
Don’t pause at the top or bottom of the stroke’keep the bar moving.
NEVER hang around the deadlift area and howl, ‘Hot buns toasting,’ or, ‘Now I see why they’re called stiffies,’ as women do the exercise (you pig).

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Train To Gain: Exercise Dos and Don’ts

Squat down and rise to pack on awesome quad size.

Do rest the bar on your lower traps and rear deltoids’too high on the traps can force you to lean forward.

Do stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, with toes angled out slightly.

Do keep your back flat and torso as vertical as possible as you squat.

Do squat until your upper thighs are just below parallel to the ground, which is actually safer for your knees than stopping above, as long as you don’t bounce.

Do inhale as you lower and exhale as you rise.

Do look straight ahead’looking up can cause you to arch your back.

Do think about sitting, or reaching, back with your rear end.

Do use a two-seconds-up/two-seconds-down’or slower’cadence.

Do use a towel on your back or a MantaRay device if you have trouble with bar slippage (MantaRay is available from Home Gym Warehouse, 1-800-447-0008 or

Don’t rest at the top, unless you’re doing breathing squats.

Don’t bounce at the bottom.

Don’t lean forward as you squat’try to keep your torso as perpendicular to the ground as possible.

Don’t wear a belt unless you’re going heavy for low reps’a belt can teach you to push out your abdominal wall and it can also become a crutch that weakens your lower-back muscles.

NEVER squat after gorging on Bloated Double-Bean Burritos from The Okie Frijole (can you say, ‘Fire in the hole’?).

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