Is Your Trainer Giving You Bad Advice?

March 26, 2012

By Jimmy Peña, MS, CSCS Here’s a Sample of What’s Inside the May 2012 Issue!   The number seven is often regarded as a lucky number that represents completion or perfection, which is appropriate to what you’re about to read because our list stops on the number 6 — a number that represents the opposite side of the spectrum. In other words, if seven did a 180 and became imperfect and incomplete, it would be six. So what’s with all the math? Well, it’s because things just aren’t adding up in gyms across the country. Too many inexperienced and misinformed trainers carelessly utter incorrect dos and don’ts, forming a slippery slope between fact and fallacy, the sum of which means clients will have increasing difficulty solving the growth equation. We’re here this month simply to identify some of the biggies. This list is by no means complete and exhaustive, but it’s a definite start. Somewhere along the way, training and adaptation have been misplaced inside the latest personal trainer’s guide, where the process of training has become the prime number, leaving the purpose of training at odds. And what about the trainers who teach it? They’re squarely the root of the problem.

Bad Advice

“Don’t take your laterals and front raises above parallel.” Arnold would probably still chuckle at this rule. He was known to take his dumbbells far beyond the point in which his arm was in the horizontal plane, but you wouldn’t hear any naysayers around him … (and neither should you). Some misinformed trainers would have you believe that when you go above parallel with a dumbbell on isolation moves for delts, the muscles all of a sudden aren’t doing the work. The next time you hear that, ask, “So what muscle is moving the dumbbell above 90 degrees then?” You’ll likely get a blank stare. The fact is the delts are highly involved up to 130 degrees, which is about 40 degrees past the parallel. Not only that, but if you take the front raises above the 130-degree point, you actually engage the very tough-to-target low traps (another reason Arnold was set apart from the rest). The only reason you wouldn’t go above 90 degrees is if you have some pre-existing shoulder condition or injury that would prevent you from even trying it or are purposely trying to train within a partial range of motion. If you’re going to limit the range of motion, do so from the bottom of the rep. Stop the motion of the dumbbell when it’s about 6–8 inches from touching your body. That approach will help you maintain constant tension in the middle delts on lateral raises as well as on your front delts during front raises. Excerpted from the May 2012 issue of MuscleMag.