Muscle Evolution :: Editor's Letter
Jul/Aug 2017
   Muscle Evolution

Method in the madness...

Chasing the Big Three (squat, bench press and deadlift) can get tiresome. Please, all you barbell zealots who are only interested in bone-crushing strength, don’t stop here. Read on. Although there is nothing more awesome
than picking heavy shit off the ground, changing gears once in a while and using other lighter training tools (machines and dumbbells) can keep your training fires burning, especially in the winter months.

If the idea of using something other than a barbell irritates the hell out of you, a small change in how you execute a particular move can also make a huge impact. To prove this point I will take a practical example from my own life. Lately I’ve been itching to get back to regular deadlifts, but have found that the three-quarter deadlift, a variant of the traditional lift first popularised by Dorian Yates, is easier and lot safer on my lower back. Over the course of his six-year reign as Mr. Olympia, Yates redefined the standards for muscle mass and density with his “Blood and Guts” style of training. No one can dispute the fact that Yates’ back was the centrepiece to his insane and freaky physique.

The three-quarter deadlift offers great benefits such as:
• It’s much safer and easier on the
lower back;
• It can do wonders for your back development and strength because
of constant tension;
•It’s great for transferring power to other moves like squats and bench presses;
• It does not only hit the lower back but also the hammies, glutes and upper back.

Don’t get me wrong. I love moving big weights like anyone else, but regular deadlifting, when coupled with heavy workouts of squatting and benching, can derail your efforts. Staying injury free and not wreaking havoc on your recovery system is vital for making consistent gains. Including variation also breaks the monotony of doing the same exercises all the time. It drives me crazy when lifters tell me they just “go by instinct” in the gym. There should always be method in the madness. Never just go into the gym and wing it with weird moves, rather lift to accomplish a goal. This does not mean you have to be super rigid. Always be on the look out for new lifts, variations or interesting techniques you can use in your current routine.

When you deadlift like Dorian you start with one full rep, but when you lower the barbell you stop just below your knees before reversing the rep to the starting position. A good idea is to do this particular version at the end of your back routine. With less weight you can train this move more frequently and recover better.

Winter might be the perfect time to train differently and give your muscles the chance to heal up after going hard and heavy, and before you return with renewed energy when the temperatures rise again.

I consider building a better body as much a science as a pursuit of physical excellence. It is not surprising that it attracts all sorts of people. Some put emphasis on chasing hypertrophy to improve their body composition, while others are building their base through volume and strength.

Whatever your individual goal, if you want to recover sufficiently from your workouts, you need to manipulate volume, intensity and frequency. If your volume and frequency are too high you need to dial down your intensity a few notches to reap the rewards. If you find it hard to train without volume and intensity you should look at limiting your trips to the gym to improve hypertrophy and strength to become a master at what you do.



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