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Q a Charles Poliquin

Q a Charles Poliquin

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Published by goaltendy

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Published by: goaltendy on Aug 31, 2010
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04/23/2013

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Q: I've got calves that look like Tara Lipinski's. Once and for all, high reps or low reps?Standing calf raises or seated calf raises? A bullet to my head or a good dose of anthrax?A: Perhaps you should stop watching the lithe, supple bodies of young women floatingalong the ice as their tiny skirts are buoyed upwards by gentle drafts, their budding youngbreasts delineated by?oh, sorry. I digress. My point is, working calves involves all thebrain work you can muster. Calves, physiologically speaking, are problematic. A lot of trainees are frustrated with their calf training because the optimum loading parameters forlower leg development are a lot more restricted than they are, for say, arm training.Contrary to something like biceps work, your calf exercise repertoire is limited. Tocounter this, you have to be more diligent about manipulating reps, sets, and even restintervals to give yourself more exercise routine permutations.Another problem is the limited range of motion afforded by calf movements. Let's sayyou were doing squats. The range of motion in a squat is considerable and it's easy tovary the tempo. For example, it might take you 3,4,5 or more seconds to complete theeccentric portion of the movement. However, during calf exercises, you have a limitedrange of motion and you can't vary your tempo as easily as you can in the squat or otherexercises.During the last Olympics in Nagano, a bunch of my athletes from different sports wereriding the bus after an event. For some reason, they started discussing the merits of thecalf routines I had given them, and in particular, the one I had given to Luke Sauder, oneof my alpine skiers. One skier recalled the fact that Luke had come into training campsporting a new pair of calves, and the ski company rep was freaking out because he hadto remold him a new set of boots. I recalled that Luke had wanted a calf routine becausebig calves prevent knee injuries in alpine skiing (they actually provide a cushion toprevent the skier's knees from reaching too acute an angle as they jet down a mountain).Anyhow, when I got home, I dug out the routine that I had given Luke from my computerarchives. It's one that would serve anyone well. Here it is:The Luke Sauder Calf RoutineDay 1: High-VolumeExercise A: Calf Superset*A1) Seated Calf Raises3 x 10-5-5 (one set of 10 reps, followed by two of 5 reps) at a 101 tempo (1 second tolower the weight, no pause, and 1 second to raise the weight)A2) Donkey Calf Raises3 x 30-50 at a 101 tempo*After finishing a set of the A1 exercise, proceed immediately to exercise A2. Thenrest two minutes before repeating the super set.
 
Exercise B: Standing Calf RaisesB1) Standing Calf Raises10 x 10-30 at a 111 tempo, ten seconds****In other words, you'll be doing one, long, extended set, resting ten seconds betweeneach mini-set and lowering the weight in between.After day one, you'll probably have to call the fire department to extinguish the fire inyour calves. You may also find that you have the same walk as Homer Simpson's 80-year-old father.Day 2: Low-Volume (to be done 48 hours after Day 1)Exercise A: Triple Drop Standing Calf RaisesA1) Triple Drop Standing Calf Raises3 x 10-10-10 (in other words, three drop sets) at a 121 tempo,*** resting 90 secondsbetween sets.***The pause is taken in the bottom stretch position, and be sure to take the full twoseconds.This routine provides freaky size increases. As you can see, it uses a great number of totalreps. I've found that in order to build calves, you need some frequency of training andsome volume, but you can't have both high volume and high frequency. Therefore, Iadvise training them twice over a five-day cycle, one workout being very high sets (16)and high total reps (250-510 reps); and the other being low sets (3) for a low amount of total reps (90). I've known people to gain in between 5/8ths of an inch to a full inch withthis routine in as little as 30 days.If you fail to meet the aforementioned results, and as far as your suicide option isconcerned, may I suggest instead that you watch six back-to-back episodes of "Gilligan'sIsland": you'd be braindead within the day.Q: When I bench press, my shoulders hurt like hell. Should I work around the pain, orshould I just take up stamp collecting?A: Most likely, one of three different shoulder problems is responsible for your pain:Improper Muscle Balance: If the strength ratio between two muscle groups is off-kilter, you can actually experience faulty alignment. For example, if the strength of your pecs is far greater than that of the external rotators of the humerus (teres minorand infraspinatus), you'll likely feel a sharp pain in the superior anterior portion of theupper arm (this problem is often misdiagnosed as bicipital tendonitis). There are lotsof other examples of off-set muscle/strength ratios, but explaining them all is beyondthe scope of this column.Adhesion Build-Up: One of the regrettable side effects of years and years of weight
 
training is the build-up of adhesions in soft tissues and structures. Adhesions are aresult of the load used and the total volume of repetitions. In other words, the moresets and reps you perform and the stronger you've become, the more adhesions you'vedeveloped. These connective tissue buildups can take place within the muscle,between muscle groups, or between the nerve and the muscle. Adhesions can occur inany muscle structure but the one most often responsible for bench-press inducedshoulder pain is the subscapularis muscle. The good news is that they can be foundand "cured" quickly through a soft-tissue management technique called ActiveRelease Techniques?.Lack of Flexibility: Failure to stretch the muscles on a regular basis can precipitatethe onset of injuries. You don't need to become the Grand Master of Yoga, though.Regular P.N.F. stretching of the shoulder girdle before your upper body workouts willdo wonders for keeping your shoulders healthy and functional. I'll be doing an articleabout stretching on this website soon.Recently, my good friend and IFBB professional bodybuilder Milos Sarcev called me outof the blue. He mentioned that he was scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery thefollowing week for both of his shoulders. He was understandably upset. For one thing,the surgery would cost him about $18,000. Additionally, he'd have to undergo anextensive rehab program, and this would keep him from competing and earning anincome for a long time. I told him to get his ass over to my office right away and see mycolleague and ART? specialist Dr. Mike Leahy before letting a surgeon anywhere nearhis shoulders. (Incidentally, the orthopedic surgeon who made the initial diagnosis toldMilos that he had an impingement syndrome and surgery was the ONLY option. Thesurgeon actually wanted to cut away some of the bone above the shoulder to make roomfor the muscle.)When Milos came to the office, he hadn't trained in over 4 months because of theexcruciating pain. Even lowering an unloaded Olympic bar (45 pounds) caused him torecoil in pain. However, after working on him for just 45 minutes, Dr. Leahy told Milosto go to the gym and give his shoulders a trial run. Somewhat reluctantly, Milos allowedme to take him to the local World Gym. In total disbelief, he bench pressed 315 poundsfor two reps. Five days later, he did 6 reps with 315 pounds, without feeling any pain!A month later, he saw Dr. Leahy again for a follow-up. Milos was already back in near-contest shape and he was training full-force for some upcoming IFBB shows. Dr. Leahymade a few minor, additional "probes," but all-in-all, Milos was cured.The important point to realize is that you don't have to suffer or quit training because youhave shoulder problems. Depending on your particular problem, either get a certifiedstrength coach to help you design a proper routine, or locate a credentialed ActiveRelease Techniques Provider. You can phone the National Strength and ConditioningAssociation at 888-746-CERT to find a qualified strength coach in your area. To find acredentialed Active Release Techniques Provider, call 719-473-7000. (Remember, useonly credentialed ART providers?there are far too many doctors who are more thanwilling to experiment with your body).

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