What Attracts So Many People To Bodybuilding?
Arnold Schwarzenegger was probably the single biggest influence in bringing bodybuilding into the public consciousness. Since his peak in the 1970s, with him and many other Mr. Olympia winners dominating the bodybuilding scene, it’s no wonder that people looking for a leaner, more sculpted body are heading to the nation’s gyms looking for bodybuilding gold.
What may have formerly been seen as a very niche form of staying fit and exercising has now been transformed into a very common approach to fitness.
People like Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman have shown that a lucrative career can be built from being passionate about bodybuilding. These guys take part in competitions that have large cash prizes and they also get hired to do product endorsements, public appearances and more.
But one thing’s clear, if you want to be like Ronnie Coleman and bodybuilders like him, you have to start thinking like them!
How To “Think Like A Pro” When Working Out At The Gym
Having a membership at the best gyms where you live and access to the latest and greatest equipment doesn’t mean you’ll actually achieve your bodybuilding ambitions.
You don’t need fancy running shoes or the latest fad protein shake to accomplish your bodybuilding goals.
What you do need is to know about the current best practices in bodybuilding so you know what to do and what not to do. That’s the focus of this series and the first two articles looked at the bodybuilding myths you need to educate yourself about.
Smart Move # 1: Always Warm Up Before Doing Hard Exercise
One of the cardinal sins of bodybuilding is not taking the time to go through a warm-up routine. Everyone, including the pros, are guilty of skipping warm ups sometimes!
But I strongly advise you to always warm up before you start lifting moderate to heavy weights. Your muscles can take a lot of torture and pain but unless you take care of them, they will eventually break down. Even if your muscles are in peak condition, it’s still important to take care of them so you avoid unnecessary injury.
Here are the warm-up exercises I recommend:
- Do 10 minutes of static stretching
- Then do at least 15 minutes of sprightly cardio on the treadmill, rowing machine,S tair Master, bike, etc.
- Finally, do 3 to 5 light sets that involve the target muscle groups for the day (e.g. biceps, triceps, quads, delts, etc.)
Professional bodybuilders also warn against being “macho” in the gym, trying to lift the heaviest weights you can find when starting your workout. Your performance won’t improve. But what will improve is your risk of developing muscle tears.
Smart Move # 2: Make Sure You Have A Spotter When You Work Out
If you’re planning to perform barbell squats and bench presses and you’re gradually moving up the scale in terms of weights/resistance, you definitely need to start working out with a spotter.
A spotter is someone who guides and guards you while you’re performing movements that could lead to serious accidents.
Let’s look at an example of why you should use a spotter: say you’re planning to bench press 200 lbs for the first time but you think you can only do it in one repetition. What happens if your strength fails mid-way through the lift?
Your bar is going to fall on your chest or, even worse, on your face and it could result in a crushing injury. People have died for this reason because they didn’t have a spotter to catch the weight.
Who can spot for you?
You really want someone who’s going to be able to stop a barbell from crushing you. Another bodybuilder in the gym is a good choice but if you’re too shy to ask a stranger to spot for you, ask a friend or family member to step into the role.
Even if your spotter isn’t able to stop an accident from happening, they’ll be able to alert others and call for help should you suffer an injury that could incapacitate you.
Smart Move # 3: Wear a Support Belt to Save Your Lower Back
Weightlifting or support belts are designed to support your lower back rather than your abdominal muscles. They do provide some support for your core but the main objective of these belts is to help maintain the tight configuration of the lower back muscles and your spinal column when you’re performing high-risk exercises.
These belts have not been specifically designed to handle the requirements of bodybuilders and athletes and so some doctors will actually question their use.
It’s vitally important that you consult a physician who’s experienced with sports-related injuries so you can get expert advice about proper training and preventing injury .
If you’re planning on dead-lifting or bench pressing heavy weights, you should definitely consider wearing a support belt. It doesn’t matter if you’re lifting in a high-tech gym or your basement.
Even lifting moderately heavy weights (like moving furniture around the house) can lead to lower back injury if you don’t take care to lift in the right way. Anyone who’s put their back out this way knows how painful and uncomfortable the condition is. And it can take weeks to recover. Your back is also prone to repeat injury.
So a weight belt is necessary when you’re performing exercises that could potentially harm your lower back.
But don’t use a belt if you’re lifting light or moderate weights. Otherwise your your back muscles will become underdeveloped and you will not be able to develop the back strength needed to progress in your bodybuilding efforts.
In the next article, I will discuss some more important safety tips on how to stay safe in the gym or while working out at home.