Bodybuilding Training Myths
The purpose of this article is to give you some insight into four important bodybuilding training myths that are currently making their way into the minds of thousands of misguided amateur lifters from all over the globe. The end goal is to share an objective point of view into the basics of old school bodybuilding, an art form that has impacted the lives of millions of individuals since it was first introduced more than a century ago.
It’s no secret that the rapid growth of social media has transformed the way bodybuilding is looked at as a whole, creating a breeding ground built upon misconceptions. Back in the day, bodybuilding magazines and seminars held by the best in the world were the only legitimate information sources for everything training and nutrition. Now, unqualified individuals from all over the world claim to have reinvented the wheel and discovered the secret formula to quick success, a claim that is entirely false.
The Bench Press Arch
One thing I’ve noticed a lot lately in the gym is the horrendous bench press arch that is being practiced (for the most part) by beginners. Excluding the lack of form, limited range of motion, and incapability of performing a proper rep, regular gym rats are now suffering from “powerlifting syndrome” and are placing their physiques in a very dangerous position. The bench press arch has always had its place in powerlifting but in bodybuilding its existence is purely detrimental.
As a whole, in weight training, there’s a very fine line that divides the sport of powerlifting from the art of bodybuilding. For years, bodybuilders have broken boundaries and limits by pushing the bar with extreme strength feats that would impress even the fiercest powerlifters. That said, the primary focus of a bodybuilder has always revolved around building a physique and not in being the strongest man in the world. The bench press arch from a bodybuilding standpoint is irrelevant, useless, and out of place.
The main purpose of using an extreme back arch is to reduce the travel distance of the bar during the bench press motion. From a biomechanical standpoint the deltoids will come into play, the lower back will be placed in a very stress-filled position, and pectoral involvement will be minimal. For maximum chest development a flat back with a minimal (natural) arch is needed when performing the movement as this will maximize the needed range of motion.
Proper Stiff-Legged Deadlift Form
A common myth states that a proper stiff-legged deadlift should be done with a bend in the knees as it protects the lower back and the knees. Just going by the name, a stiff-legged deadlift has to be performed with a stiff posture in which the legs, knees, and the back are (almost) completely vertical. Bending the knees equates to an improper conventional deadlift in which the back will actually be placed under quite a bit of stress; a stiff-legged deadlift is supposed to place tension on the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The video posted below showcases top bodybuilder Jonathan Irizarry performing the movement in one of his leg training videos.
The bar path during a stiff-legged deadlift needs to be straight, slow, and linear. The back needs to be maintained straight and the glutes should be pushed out as the bar nears the ground. Any knowledgeable bodybuilder will agree that stiff-legged deadlifts are crucial for building strength and world class legs. The video posted below is an instructional video on how to properly execute the movement step by step.
Full Range of Motion
This topic is by far one of the most controversial in the entire bodybuilding/fitness community. No matter what “fitness gurus” or “coaches” say, full range of motion is essential for muscle growth. From a bodybuilding standpoint, performing full reps will always place more stress on the different muscle fibers compared to quarter reps.
Before we keep moving forward on the subject it’s worth mentioning that there’s a big difference between using precautionary training methods and doing an incomplete range of motion. Not locking out all the way out on pressing movements, for example, is a completely understandable thing to do in order to protect the body’s joints. Another thing worth keeping in mind is your body’s range of motion, some people can’t naturally perform a movement like it technically should, a perfect example of this is the squat; some people simply can’t go all the way down.
This part of the article is not meant to criticize your form; it’s here to encourage you to use full range of motion as it will truly benefit your physique from all angles. Even though many will argue that constant tension is a sign of strength, control, and precaution, it’s also a sign of laziness. Many beginners often complain about lack of progress and 90% percent of the time the cause can be pinpointed to their training. Train hard, train smart, and focus on using the best form your body allows you to use.
Avoiding Cheat Reps
Since most of the article has already talked about a few things you shouldn’t do I decided to finish it up with a training technique that should always be used. In modern bodybuilding, cheat reps have always been talked about in a very negative manner in which their benefits are neglected and thrown out the window. The reality is that cheat reps are a must if you want to develop a great physique and get stronger while doing it. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Platz, and Dorian Yates gave the word failure a new meaning, or better yet they completely eliminated it from their brain.
These legendary athletes didn’t know when to stop; they trained like machines and built a set of physiques that would even make the Greek Gods jealous. These men shared a very unique training mentality that revolved against breaking the rules and going where no man had ever gone before. Every single set performed by these men was performed beyond failure while pain consumed their body. They kept going and pushed through the boundaries of pain by going beyond what their bodies could humanly do.
The pictures of Arnold going crazy on barbell curls, the videos of Dorian Yates suffering in his dungeon gym, and the intensity of Tom Platz have marked the bodybuilding world forever. You can’t build muscle by staying in your comfort zone, leave it and always be willing to try things you’ve never done before. Train past failure, do cheat reps, endure the pain, feel uncomfortable, and you will transform yourself into something else.