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Training Tips, Tricks and Tweaks, Part 2

Get more growth from every workout

My heavy-iron diatribe was last month. Now I’ll continue with some specifics.

Revolving bar for lat pulldowns. I don’t know if you’d ever learn this by just listening to your body. I didn’t. I had to learn it from Lou Degni. He told me, ‘In order to get proper scapula rotations while doing pullups, you have to get your hands high up on the bar, with your thumb on the same side of the bar as your fingers.’

Let me explain. When you’re doing pullups, you have to get the scapula to rotate through the full range of abduction and adduction so you can build lats. In fact, that’s what makes the back grow’it’s not the pulling up and down. Plus, if you can get your hands high on the bar with your palms wrapped all the way over the bar, your scapula will be in abduction’where it’s supposed to be to start the pullup.

Then you pull up to the bar, bringing the scapula into adduction’in and out. That’s why a revolving bar is totally wrong for lat pulldowns. You’re trying to keep your palms high on the bar. If it revolves, it dumps your palms right off the bar.

That’s why you have to use chinning straps and a nonrevolving bar. If you don’t have them, your hands get tired, and the next thing you know, your palms slip off the bar and you’re hanging by your fingers. That means you’re working biceps, not back.

Calf raises with shoes on. Calves are stubborn monkeys. They don’t obey anything, so you have to be really clever to get them to do what you tell them to. One thing’s certain: They’re not going to grow unless you do something they’re not accustomed to. You can get a little bit of size by using huge weights and little bouncy reps, but not much. Remember, they’re doing partial reps all the time as you walk around. Not only that, but they’re also used to doing one-leg reps.

If you want them to grow, you have to get serious. It takes full’I mean full’extension and complete contraction to get their attention. You’ve got to get all the way up and all the way down. That’s where the shoes come in’or, rather, that’s where the shoes come off. You just can’t get all the way up and down with shoes on. The problem is, if you take your shoes off, it hurts the bottoms of your feet. That means you need more padding on the block.

All the way up means all the way to bone support, and all the way down is hitting the heels on the ground when you’re standing on a four-inch block. Total movement’all the way up and all the way down. That will force your calves to grow.

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