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Welcome to the Freak Show (Bodybuilding 102)
Part II: Introduction to Training & Kinesiology
By Victor Lasato




OK, so youve read part one, went out and bought some over-priced workout gear, gloves, a belt, etc.  Or maybe youre old school, a cut-off T-shirt and jogging pants or sweats; no fancy “under armor for you.  Right now the visions of bulging muscles and throwing iron around like pillows are most likely dominating your thoughts.  Well get those fantasies out of your head… for now.  Right now and for the rest of your lifting career (but especially right now) you need to concentrate on avoiding injury.  After all, youre not going to be making any gains with a torn biceps.  I seriously recommend you go out and pick up a copy of Grays Anatomy. You can buy it used at Amazon.com for anywhere from $4 to $179!  Sure its old, but human anatomy hasnt changed very much in the last thousand years, so its still a great resource.  Or you could find some good anatomy charts on the Internet, but Grays Anatomy has a lot of useful information on how stabilizer muscles function, the location and function of nerves, etc.  If anything, it will help you impress those 280 lb gym-rats who think you dont know a thing. First, learn the names of the muscle groups, and then learn how they interact with each other. This knowledge will help you to put together a split routine once your initiation period of full-body workouts is up.  It will also help you design new full-body routines when you decide to venture back into that territory via the training techniques that employ full-body, advanced training.  Hey, whatever suits your individual needs, the sports called bodybuilding, and as long as youre not a trainer, its your body being built. So invest some time getting to know it.  And not just the names of skeletal muscles; learn exactly how voluntary muscles work and the chemicals that fuel them.  Learn what the terms anaerobic and aerobic mean, and how they apply to bodybuilding.  Read about the digestive and the endocrine systems.  These body systems all play vital roles in bodybuilding.  Like I said in Part I, knowledge is power, and in bodybuilding this is not a metaphor, its a literal translation. 

I shouldve mentioned this in Part I, but when you see a doctor to get cleared for a weight-training regimen, request the following blood work:  Thyroid Stimulating hormone (TSH), serum and free testosterone, Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), aromatase, âœtotal estrogen, and HCG.  If he asks why, tell him your cousin, neighbor, etc. is an endocrinologist and you’ve been having erectile dysfunction; hell, you may even get some Viagra out of the deal.  The reason for all this blood work, in addition to the usual workup doctors do for a physical, is to make sure your metabolism is primed for making gains in the gym.  You may have the testosterone levels of an 80 year-old man at the age of 20, and wonder why nothing is working for you, or the TSH levels of an 800 lb shut-in, and be wondering why you can’t seem to loose any weight.  Unless you’re a female, in which case excess estrogen would also block fat-loss, and yes, even you have some testosterone that will help in the gym.  Chances are, if you’re a woman with a healthy sex drive, your testosterone is in the normal range; and the only time you’d get tested for HCG is if you think your pregnant.  Still, blood work is always good to get regularly, especially if you decide to indulge in some of the newer supplements that dont have an established safety record.  OK, so youve been to the doc, youve read your nutrition book, your anatomy book¦ youre a real bookworm.  Its time to move some iron.  But dont get too excited, your “initiation period will be boring at first, until you stand in front of a mirror naked, then I promise you, it will all be worth it.

A good comeback or beginner routine consists, as I mentioned, of full-body splits.  This includes 5-10 minutes of warming up, either on a treadmill, doing super light sets to warm your joints up, or even crunches to squeeze the blood out of your gut and into those muscles, followed one or two warm up sets, plus two working sets (sets that you really have to work at) for each body part.  Sure, youll look like a pansy, but don’t let pride get the best of you.  Pride is a crutch of the insecure.  Pride in the gym will get you injured, or embarrassed¦ further damaging your pride.  This “two set per body part routine need only be applied for the first week.  During week two, try 3-4 sets for larger muscle groups (legs, chest, back) and 2-3 sets for smaller muscle groups.  As you progress with the full-body workouts, 4 sets for large muscle groups and 3 for smaller ones should be the max, however after easing your way into the iron, you can up the intensity and volume. 

Whats volume?  This is important: Volume equals: weight x sets x reps. During these two months, youll most likely see some dramatic increases in strength and body composition- one of the main reasons people get hooked on body building in the first place.  If you were ever serious about bodybuilding in the past, even twenty years ago, youll most likely reclaim a good part of your old physique within this period, given youre under 60 or so, and providing your diet is precise and your training is religious (or at least regular).  This phenomenon is known as “muscle memory, and gives you a significant advantage over people just starting out in the sport.  What kind of strength gains can a those of you true beginners expect in the first two months of your initiation into bodybuilding?  Depending on whether the lift is a single joint movement (barbell curl, leg extension) or a compound movement (bench, squat, any Olympic lift), you should be able to increase the weight anywhere from 5 to 10% each workout; considering three, full-body workouts a week, with one off day in between.  If youre able to increase your weights by 5% each week, youre doing things right. If youre able to pump out a 10% or more increase each week (naturally), consider yourself genetically gifted, and give serious consideration to bodybuilding or power lifting as more than just a hobby.   Unless, and this is a big “unless, you were previously, seriously involved in lifting or bodybuilding.  In that case, strength gains upwards of 15-20% a week once you get back into your groove can be normal. 

As a final note, I cannot stress the importance of stretching: before, during, and after exercise.  For some reason, most people only stretch their legs.  Have you noticed that?  Stretching, in addition to helping prevent injury, helps stretch the fascia (layer of elastic coating which holds the muscle in place), which some people believe creates more room for the muscle to grow.  While that has yet to be proven, stretching does wonders to prevent injury, especially between sets. If by chance you do feel youre stressing a joint too much, there are many joint support options available, including USP Labs Cissus Rx, and most formulations containing glucosamine and/or MSM.  However these supplements work better when used to protect joints than to repair them.  With proper warm up sets (40-60% of your working weight, or less) lifting technique (which you simply cannot learn from an article, pictures or no pictures), and adequate stretching, it is quite probable that you can lift your whole life and never get injured.  Thats an entire lifetime of injury free lean-mass gains and adipose tissue (fat) loss as opposed to “almost getting there, before succumbing to a torn muscle or joint separation.

Coming Next Installment: Phenotypes! Why Some people look like pears, others look like twigs, and still others who’ve never touched a weight in their life look like amateur bodybuilders!
    -V

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