Belts are viewed as more of a necessity, simply because your lower back is crucial to everything else you do. There are a lot of people who believe that by wearing a belt, you are limiting your lower back development, and that is true to some extent. But just like with straps, if your lower back is out of shape and you are a bodybuilder, you will want to offer it some additional training exercises with back extensions or lighter deadlifts to make sure the area gets the attention it needs. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Do not leave your belt in the bag because you think it makes you less of a lifter, though. It can be the tool that helps you train safer and for longer than guys who choose not to wear one.
I like to train heavy, but I really see only competitive lifters using chalk. Can it benefit me as a bodybuilder? And, if so, on which lifts?
Chalk has the same basic advantage as straps: A better grip. Serious powerlifters use it all the time, but it does not offer the same benefit as the straps – it does not “lighten the load” in the same way, but it does make your grip less of a limiting factor. The difference is that the chalk’s main function is to simple to keep your hands dry. If you have ever had a serious deadlifting day, you know you can work up a mean sweat and the last thing you want is the barbell slipping from your hands at a crucial part of the lift. This can result in injury. If you are at a gym that allows chalk, use it. If not, then straps may be a better alternative. Best alternative? Wipe your hands dry and pull the weight raw.
I think it is a good idea to add one of those mass builders in there. For one, with the romanian deadlift the hamstrings get worked from the hips, not the knees. This means you are working them completely in a different manner than with leg curl movements, even though both target the hamstrings. It helps with shaping the hamstrings and your glute-ham tie-in as well. I don’t think RDLs add too much mass to the bodypart it gives the illusion, which is important in bodybuilding. Sometimes the tape measure does not matter. It is all about the appearance.
Competitive bodybuilders usually train for symmetry and proportion in an effort to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. There are many individuals who go to the gym to build up their beach muscles, disregarding symmetry and proportion in designing their training programs. Instead of training opposing muscle groups equally, they sometimes ignore the muscles they cannot see (back, hamstrings, calves, quads) and focus on the muscles they admire in the mirror everyday (chest, biceps, shoulders and abs). Although training specific muscle groups more than others can create an unbalanced-looking physique, disregarding a muscle group over time can potentially lead to other problems that may subject the body to injury.
One common mistake with regard to balanced training is performing an unbalanced training program between the chest and back muscles. The amount of time, energy, effort, volume and frequency between the agonist chest muscles and the antagonists back muscles may not be equal, or even close. A simple example would be an athlete who performs 4 sets os four exercises for the chest (for a total number of 16 sets) and does only 3 sets of three exercises for the back (for a total number of 9 working sets). Following this unbalanced training regime over time will result in back muscles much weaker than the chest muscles. This imbalance may lead to a slightly kyphotic posture (forward/rounded shoulders) that can potentially cause shoulder problems because of the faulty posture. In addition to the stronger chest muscles (compared to the back muscles) pullong the shoulders forward, inadequate stretching of the chest musculature can further contribute to this problem.
For some people, training legs consists of quads and that is it. The disregard their hamstrings while training only the quadriceps. Exercises such as the leg extensions, hack squats and front squats place a large amount of emphasis on the quads. Although these exercises are great you need to do an equal amount of hamstring work with leg curls and romanian deadlifts to stress both muscle groups. Distributing attention evenly to both muscle groups can give you healthier knees and lower back, as well as fewer hamstring strains because of an unbalanced hamstring-to-quad strength ration.
A less obvious training error woth regard to balanced training concerns the shoulders. Overhead shoulder press, incline bench press, flat bench press and other chest and shoulder pressing movements are critical for maximal muscle development. However, these exercises focus on the major muscle groups such as the deltoids, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and other muscles known as prime movers. Often ignored in a training regime is the training or isolation of the smaller muscle groups in the shoulder known as the rotator cuff (the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) that are critical in keeping the upper arm in the socket of the shoulder. Failure to train these smaller muscles groups, two of which are not even visible can create an imbalance between the large prime movers and small stabilisers. This lack of imbalance in strength may result in bursts of bursitis, tendinitis or even rotator cuff tears in the shoulder joint.
I don’t consider myself a crazy lifter but even with my basic leg routine – squats, romanians, curls and extensions, I leave the gym feeling sick on leg day. What gives?
Legs are the biggest muscle group we have. In order to fill them up with blood, that blood has to come from somewhere else and that means up top. It takes a lot of blood to fill up the leg area, it takes so much that it can literally make your nauseous. I usually feel nauseous after every leg workout. Do not be afraid of it, you will get past it. It usually takes about a month of two for you to become accustomed to it, but it will never fully go away. It is also a matter of food. With hard leg training, you are burning through your energy stores (glycogen) faster, so your blood sugar can get low rather fast. I get lightheaded no matter what I am eating, so I always try to make sureI have enough fuel in the tank to make it a bit easier. You might try eating a bit more complex carbohydrates the day before training legs to see if that helps.