awareness, basics of training, beauty, better choices, Body shape, change management, choices, Energy, fundamentals, muscles, recreate, self improvement, shoulders, symmetry

Shoulder Boulders.

Retired rugby legend: Ex-Australian Wallaby Champion Captain & True Leader - Phil Waugh. Setting his own standards of excellence in all areas of his life, following my framework. Working towards improved balance and symmetry in his life.

Retired rugby legend: Ex-Australian Wallaby Champion Captain & True Leader – Phil Waugh.
Setting his own standards of excellence in all areas of his life, following my framework.
Working towards improved balance and symmetry in his life.

One of the most painful sights I see on a man is small shoulders.

When I say ‘small’, I mean that he or she is genetically small on the upper torso width, and I am not talking about ‘lat width’ here. Admittedly, shoulder width is limited by a person’s clavicle width. The smaller the clavicle width, the smaller the shoulder width.

Some blokes accentuate this problem though. In the gym, they focus on their chests, arms and back and forget about their shoulder widths – the very thing that adds to the elusive ‘x-frame’ that every man strives for in shape in his life.

The elusive ‘x-frame’ is somewhat a rare commodity in the modern-day masculine shape. If a man has a narrow clavicle width, he starts out with an disadvantage but he does not have to stay that way. How could he address this problem? Well, the smartest thing to do is to lift weights and to build the shoulder muscles. And what are they?

Well, firstly – they help define (from a physical point of view) what a true man is. I know this statement is rather old fashion and somewhat controversial, but I believe it still holds true. A man’s man is partially defined according to the shoulders he has on him.

Obviously, this is not the only point of ‘being a man’ but it does contribute to the aura of what it means to be a man. Secondly, no man in his right mind would not want bigger shoulders than he already has. In my opinion, the bigger the better. Bigger is better in this aspect. Full stop!

The shoulder muscles are used every time you push or pull or twist your upper torso. That means every time you use your arms. They are some of the most used muscles in the body since you were a toddler.

The shoulder muscles are composed of three distinct muscle heads – the posterior, the medial and the anterior deltoids. All three heads need a good delicate balance throughout. This can be enhanced through weight training.

A good sequence of exercises could include:

  1. Barbell presses.
  2. Barbell upright rows.
  3. Dumbell side lateral raises.
  4. Rear dumbbell later raises.
  5. Dumbell shrugs.
The pursuit of harmony (balance & symmetry) poses a few challenges to help us get closer to its achievement. To achieve order and beauty one needs to strive to wade through chaos (disorder) in everything one does.

The pursuit of harmony (balance & symmetry) poses a few challenges to help us get closer to its achievement.
To achieve order and beauty one needs to strive to wade through chaos (disorder) in everything one does.

Like I said earlier, one of the most painful sights (from an aesthetic point of view) is to see a grown man with less than ideal shoulder width. Most men fall short of the ideal ‘x-frame’ width. Most men have the choice to do something about it. Most men can help build those shoulder boulders with a application of a well thought-out weight-training program.

Another important point I would like to stress is that what is most important is not that you have ‘big’ shoulders. No, anyone can have big shoulders! What is most important is to develop the ‘caps’ on those shoulders. Shoulder width is all about ‘caps’, not so much muscle meat.

So, work on your width with weights. Yes, I encourage that.

But when you do, remember to build those ‘twin caps’. Remember to ‘cap’ those delts (short for deltoids). There’s a lot more to just lifting weights when it comes to sculpturing your physique. Like I have always said, anyone can lift weights, but very few ever learn how to sculpt a physique, just like anyone can swim, but very few can swim like an Olympian.

Part of the key: Focus.

All the very best in your workouts.

All the very best in your search for balance and symmetry. All the very best in your search for beauty. As Keats said “Beauty is truth and truth, beauty. “ How true. You get closer to beauty through the search for balance and symmetry or elegance in all areas of your life.

The physique is one area/aspect. Keep it simple.

So, build those delts, those shoulders but most importantly, build those ‘caps’. It is those caps that will help you attain that elusive ‘x-frame’.

Awaken the sculpture, the artist in you. Build those shoulder boulders!

Let loose …

 

Until next time,

2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships staged in NY, USA. Represented: Australia. Placing: 4th. Judged criteria heavy on balance and symmetry.

2007 World Natural Bodybuilding Championships staged in NY, USA.
Represented: Australia.
Placing: 4th.
Judging criteria heavy on balance and symmetry.

Back Double Biceps - few days out from the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships Result: 2nd in Australia. Here, you can see the "x-frame" and shoulder boulders in action. Takes years of focused work.

Back Double Biceps – few days out from the Australian Natural Bodybuilding Championships
Result: 2nd in Australia.
Here, you can see the “x-frame” and shoulder boulders in action. Takes years of focused work.

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ego, grip, habit, muscle building, training

What grip should you use when you train?

Learning how to properly execute an exercise with good form throughout the full range of motion is vital to muscle building and longevity.  Vv

Learning how to properly execute an exercise with good form throughout the full range of motion is vital to muscle building and longevity.
Vv

I was asked by a host of a function I attended recently about what grip was best to get the most out of your barbell bench presses?

Over the last two decades I have seen many variations of grips. I believe it is a matter of individual preference and your level of experience of training in the gym. If you’re a beginning gym enthusiast, it would be best if you used the ‘thumb grip’, meaning your thumb goes around the bar in the opposite direction to your other fingers, forming a secure grip.

If, however, you are more experienced and advanced, then using the ‘thumbless grip’ may be something for you. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term ‘thumbless grip’, it simply means that you move your thumb to the same side of the bar as your fingers.

If you had to assess the risk of the two types of grips, the ‘thumbless grip’ is a much higher risk to you and possibly others close to your training station. I know of a man who injured his sternum doing a bench press using this grip. The bar slipped off his hands during a set of bench pressing and fell on his chest. Very painful, not recommended.

However, this risk is lowered if the bench press is performed using a “Smith Machine” or similar. The thumb grip is safer.

It can also be argued that it is more productive to NOT use a thumbless grip when performing an exercise like the bench press. However, how productive you are depends on many other variables and in the list of key variables influencing your productivity during your workouts, the grip you use would have to be quite far down that list.

So, to sum up, if you’re a beginner, DO NOT use a thumbless grip, especially if you do bench presses with free weights. Period! The seasoned campaigner can give it a try if you are using a smith machine to mitigate the risk of the bar falling on you or have a good training partner.

But, if you are in it for the long haul, the use of a ‘thumbless grip’ isn’t going to give you much more weight doing your presses. I think your focus should be on more important things like ‘feel’ and ‘control’.

Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity. Here, Ex-Australian Rugby legend Phil Waugh using a 'thumbless grip' in a Smith Machine to do Bench Presses. Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

Two principles of building muscle: 1) Simplicity and 2} Continuity.
Here, Ex-Australian Rugby legend Phil Waugh using a ‘thumbless grip’ in a Smith Machine to do Bench Presses.
Become aware; Apply action: Adapt accordingly.

I tell everyone that if you’re not feeling the muscle and not in control of weight, then you’re not building muscle, you’re just building ego. Learn to leave your ego at the door if you’re serious about building good quality muscle and re-shaping the body you see in the mirror towards the one you imagine yourself to be.

Focus on doing each repetition of each exercise properly. Do this repeatedly as best as you can. This includes doing the last rep as good as your first. Not some of the time, – all of the time!

Feel the ‘essence’ of the exercise ( … and it ain’t vanilla!).

When you feel you’ve mastered this and the BASICS, then, and only then, should you worry about what grip to use when you train.

Understanding the basics and the principles of simplicity and continuity are more important keys to your success in training.

All the best!

Until next time,

_MG_9779-1

~~Life & wellness COACH~~

~~Life & wellness COACH~~

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life, mind-muscle connection, muscles, training

Focus on the muscles you don’t see in the mirror.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder. Plan the work - to work the plan. Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with retired legend of rugby - Phil Waugh.

A good teacher is hard to find but finding a good student is even harder.
Plan the work – to work the plan.
Photo: discussing fine points of one of my programs with retired legend of rugby – Phil Waugh.

We do more things in the front of us than we do in the back. It’s easier and comes more naturally.

That is the same for your muscles – it’s easier to focus on the muscles (the ‘mirror muscles’ as I call it) as you train them. Even then, a lot of trainees don’t really feel the essence of the exercise. The great Arnold Schwarzenneger referred to it as the ‘pump’.

“here we go … 1, 2, 3 …. (counting, while looking at himself in the mirror) … 4, 5, 6 (thinking – yes, I can see my biceps in the mirror … yes … 7, 8, … yes, I think I can feel it finally …. 9, 10). Stop!

A typical set performed by a physique trainer (by definition, any person who lifts a weight to improve their strength, appearance, health or fitness is a ‘bodybuilder’).

Most trainees struggle to feel continuous tension of the working muscles and maybe lucky to feel the last 1 or 2 reps in a set. Not good for maximizing muscle in the time you spend in the gym. This comes with increased awareness of proper technique in exercise execution.

Training your mirror muscles (the societal favourites – the chest, biceps, delts and abdominals is important but I believe, not as important as focusing on the muscles that you don’t see in the mirror, the muscles you can’t see.

These would include – your trapezius, rear delts, upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Why do most gym enthusiasts favour the mirror muscles?

Simple answer: it is easier.

Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain - Phil Waugh performing a set of squats. "Feeling the essence" of the exercise is vital to attaining desired results. Practise does not make perfect, perfect practise makes perfect.

Ex-Australian Wallaby Captain – Phil Waugh performing a set of squats.
“Feeling the essence” of the exercise is vital to attaining desired results.
Practise does not make perfect, perfect practise makes perfect.

The thing is focusing on your mirror muscles while training is a helluva lot easier than trying to focus on the muscles you can’t see.

I believe it is very, very important and well worth the effort to connect and experience that ‘mind-muscle connection’ that many of you would have either heard about or felt. This is put in practise in full when focusing on the muscles you cannot see.

There are many benefits of prioritizing the muscles you can’t see. In my over two decades of training and helping hundreds of individuals, three real benefits of focusing on the muscles you don’t see in the mirror are:

  1. It reduces risk of injuries. By the time a person starts weight training, he or she would have spent most of his or her life building and predominantly using the anterior chain muscles (muscles in the front of the body). Bringing up the rear muscles would enhance balance of skeletal mass which would lower risks of injuries.
  1. Accelerates the growth of the mirror muscles. Most men dream of building a bigger, more shapelier pectoral muscles (chest) and bigger arms (biceps) – the popular mirror muscles.

So, the majority would naturally do more sets of exercises to work these muscle groups thinking that more sets will build bigger muscles. Big mistake.

More sets and more weight does not necessarily build a bigger chest or arms, only increases your risk of injury to the most common joint injury: the shoulder (deltoids). The thing is there is a safer approach. If you work and train the muscles you can’t see in the mirror like the triceps and rear delts and the upper and middle back, your ability to do the chest and biceps exercises would increase.

  1. Better balance and symmetry. With better balance and symmetry you don’t run the risk of suffering from postural problems which a majority of the population seem to suffer from, especially the aged.

Better balance and symmetry will give you less aches and pains in the joints and have better mobility and have less chance of seeing physios and chiros for problems cause by muscle imbalance. After all, its body shape, not body weight, that matters. Remember this: most, if not all, joint issues stem from muscle imbalances.

Loading the 'guns' with proper execution. Here Brad is building his 'mind-muscle' connection under my watchful eye.

Loading the ‘guns’ with proper execution.
Here Brad is building his ‘mind-muscle’ connection under my watchful eye.

Are you struggling to or not sure how to focus on the muscles you can’t see in the mirror? Here are three things I think could help you focus on these muscles and get the most benefit from:

Close your eyes. Use your imagination and ‘see’ the world from the muscles point-of-view. Shutting your eyes will help you tune in to your muscles and rid your mind of distractions. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for all the exercises due to the obvious dangers. Don’t use this approach when doing standing exercises like, say, deadlifts ( I like to call them “happy lifts’).

This method is ideal for lat-pulldowns or 1-arm dumbbell rows or leg curls. For the best results, effort alone is not enough. One must also use one’s imagination.

Practise posing. I’ve always said different sports require different habits to be relatively successful at it. For example, a soccer player needs to practise dribbling skills, passing and a rugby player has to be able to pass and kick and tackle. All this is done in the appropriate playing field.

Back double biceps in the gym. Practise posing in the gym is important for enhancing that 'muscle-mind connection'. Vital for growth and progress. Increases your awareness of yourself.

Back double biceps in the gym.
Practise posing in the gym is important for enhancing that ‘muscle-mind connection’. Vital for growth and progress.
Increases your awareness of yourself.

When you’re in the gym, you need to also practise the habit of posing. This is the appropriate ‘playing field’ for a person training with weights. This may seem very ostentatious, but it shouldn’t be as it is a great feedback mechanism that allows you to improving overall balance and symmetry.

Isometric tension of any muscle group through the holding of a particular pose (say ‘front-double biceps’ for example) helps stress or ‘pump more blood’ in to the muscle area. Especially if you do the posing immediately following a set.

Do this: after finishing a set of exercise, strike a pose! Aim to tense and tighten the respective muscle group for up to 8 seconds. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze!

The power of touch. If you have a training partner, terrific. You can simply ask him or her to lightly place his hand or fingers on the area of the muscle group that you’re working as you exercise. There is a definite neuro-muscular connection. This method can help you assess whether you’re using the muscle fully or you are cheating by using other surrounding muscles. More weight lifted does not necessarily equate to bigger muscles.

To build good, clean, quality muscles, remember to leave your ego at the door.

All the best in your journey towards your BEST.

Eat well. Train well. Rest well. Repeat.

Until next time,

Night before contest in NY, USA. Placing: 4th in the World at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships.

In my hotel room the Night before contest in NY, USA.
Placing: 4th in the World at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships.

Seek balance and symmetry in all areas of your life. Spiritual balance is very important. It will align you with life's energy better. It will help you get internal/external balance. Vv.

Seek balance and symmetry in all areas of your life.
Spiritual balance is very important. It will align you with life’s energy better.
It will help you get internal/external balance.
Vv.

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