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Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises

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Frankie NY
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2004/03/22 04:57:29 (permalink)
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Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises

I think a major error in weight training today is how we categorize exercises. Miscategorization of exercises has led to overtraining, stunted growth of some body parts, and a shift toward less effective isolation exercises.

What is Frankie talking about? Let's look at a few examples. The bench press is a "chest" exercise; however, it heavily works the shoulders and triceps. Chins and rows are "back" exercises; however, they heavily work the biceps and to an extent the deltoids. Dips done with a close grip are a "triceps" exercise, but they work the chest and shoulders to some extent no matter how close you are or how vertical your body. Squats are a "leg" exercise, but they heavily work the lower back and hamstrings. You get the idea.

Now, let's look at a typical bodybuilding routine for chest and triceps day. It might look something like:

BB Flat Bench Press 4x6
DB Incline Bench Press 4x6
Flys 2x8

Tricep Dips 4x6
Tricep Pushdowns 4x6

Well, it looks like a good routine, but in effect, the trainee would be doing 16 sets for triceps in total counting the chest work and the triceps work. I don't know of many people whose triceps will grow if they do 16 sets.

Let's look at a typical bodybuilding routine for back and biceps.

Wide Grip Pulldowns 4x6
Seated Cable Rows 4x6
Dumbbell Rows 3x6

BB Curls 4x6
Seated DB Curls 3x6

Here, the trainee would be doing 18 sets of bicep work. Again, it's not likely that he/she is going to achieve optimal growth. It's no wonder that probably 9 out of every 10 guys I see in my gym, in other gyms, and at natural bodybuilding competitions have poor arm development, poor shoulder development, and poor hamstring development. Arms, in particular, are horribly overtrained.

So, how should we think about categorizing exercises? I would propose that we not think of exercises for particular muscles but rather "muscle complexes". I would categorize exercises into the chest/tricep complex, the shoulder/tricep complex, the back/bicep complex, the lower back/hamstring complex, etc. You would do a total number of sets for each complex instead of each muscle.

Probably the biggest change this would create would be drastically less direct arm training, less direct shoulder training, and less direct hamstring training. I can generally say that guys I've training based on muscle complexes instead of muscles are more balanced in their muscular development.
#1

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    help2001
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 08:55:50 (permalink)
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    Good post Frankie
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    T_aslam
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 09:53:05 (permalink)
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    Ur right Frankie, a lot of ppl newbies think of training the muscle on its own and try to hit each muscle seperatly overtraining smaller muscles. Good examples and well raised point.
    #3
    T_aslam
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 09:56:48 (permalink)
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    I must admit these things have turned it round for me bigtime and now i look back and lauff at myself wen i used to do huge amounts of work and ***** whipped weights. It seemed like hardcore sessions then but those weights in comparison to wot i am lifting now is serious stuff. Much stronger overall, feel big and ruthless.
    #4
    Robert
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 10:06:40 (permalink)
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    i have no idea how poeple do that, [the 16sets that is] i am absolutely fcuked after dip+oh press, the chances of me doing any tricep isolation is minimal at best after a good, heavy, dip/oh press session.
    rob
    #5
    PikeKing
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 11:09:13 (permalink)
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    The key word here is intergration, not isolation.

    The body functions as a system of intergrated systems.

    It amazes me how people think that some stupid exercises which mimics absolutely nothing they do in real life is going to give them much benefit. Sure they may feel the burn though!
    #6
    MikeyFive
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 11:13:10 (permalink)
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    Good post.

    Should be obvious, but to many newbies it isn't.

    M5
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    symzie
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 11:19:39 (permalink)
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    Good post, it took me a while to realise this stuff about not needing to isolate everything, it doesn't make any sense to me now, full body workouts every few days is what seems to work for me
    #8
    gazdai
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 13:46:11 (permalink)
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    As usual, valuable stuff from Frankie. Keep it comin' bro, we love ya!
    #9
    Dildo69
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 14:31:52 (permalink)
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    Good post.
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    Marso70
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 16:47:33 (permalink)
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    Good intial post, but surely this is on the ASSUMPTION that one is performing multiple sets.
    If we take another back workout it could look like this.

    Rows 1 set 3-6 reps
    Pullover Machine 1 set 3-6 reps
    Pulldowns 1 set 3-6 reps
    Stiff legged Deadlifts 1 set 6-8 reps
    Bicep Curls 1 set 3-6 reps

    That's only 3 sets for biceps including direct bicep work, not an excessive amount by any standard.

    Paul.

    #11
    Wormdoggy
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 17:11:45 (permalink)
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    Took me a while to get away from the theory that if you don't directly train your particular muscle group , they won't grow. Accordingly, I spent alot time on isolation exercises directly after compound work outs. Boy was I wrong!!! If just recently have experienced much larger gains with much less routines.

    Excellent post and thanks Frankie. Write a BOOK man!!!!!!!!

    #12
    T_aslam
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 18:38:06 (permalink)
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    quote:
    Originally posted by Marso70

    Good intial post, but surely this is on the ASSUMPTION that one is performing multiple sets.
    If we take another back workout it could look like this.

    Rows 1 set 3-6 reps
    Pullover Machine 1 set 3-6 reps
    Pulldowns 1 set 3-6 reps
    Stiff legged Deadlifts 1 set 6-8 reps
    Bicep Curls 1 set 3-6 reps

    That's only 3 sets for biceps including direct bicep work, not an excessive amount by any standard.

    Paul.


    Erm, what kind of rows and just one set? Hows a pullover gonna slab on meat on yo back? Pulldowns....bullocks movement, i think SLDL's r fine but 1 set? U have to comprimise my friend, that couldnt build u much on ur back and if ur back aint growing neither will ur biceps. The trick to get both muscle groups hit correctly and sufficiently for hypertrophy is to overload and limit. As frankie has said.
    #13
    Voivod
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 18:45:17 (permalink)
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    quote:
    Excellent post and thanks Frankie. Write a BOOK man!!!!!!!!


    Now there's another good idea!
    #14
    Marso70
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 18:59:18 (permalink)
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    quote:
    Erm, what kind of rows and just one set? Hows a pullover gonna slab on meat on yo back? Pulldowns....bullocks movement, i think SLDL's r fine but 1 set? U have to comprimise my friend, that couldnt build u much on ur back and if ur back aint growing neither will ur biceps. The trick to get both muscle groups hit correctly and sufficiently for hypertrophy is to overload and limit. As frankie has said.

    Seated Rows, either machine or cable, I suggest you look into the primary function of the lats as this will explain how and why the pullover is a superior exercise for the lats. How many barbell or pulley exercise do you know that provide direct and rotary resistance for the back without involving the biceps? Pulldowns are bollocks? Why? Please explain how and why you couldn't build much of a back with the use of such exercises, as they all provide overload to the required muscle groups and if each set taken to muscular failure will be enough to stimulate hypertrophy.
    What exactly is the "trick" as you state?

    #15
    AUTIGER
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 19:02:26 (permalink)
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    quote:
    Originally posted by Marso70


    How many barbell or pulley exercise do you know that provide direct and rotary resistance for the back without involving the biceps?



    thats the whole point of a compound exercise, to use more than just one muscle so you don't isolate it.
    #16
    Marso70
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 19:14:28 (permalink)
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    You've missed the point and clearly don't understand how the pullover works the back..as it does not just involve the lats, also please address my other questions.
    For your information here is WHY the pullover on a machine such as nautillus is an excellent back/lat exercise.

    Yet another example. The latissimus muscle; most bodybuilders perform exercises for the latissimus muscles with a wide grip - under the sincere, but badly mistaken, impression that such a wide hand spacing provides more "stretch" than would be afforded by a narrower grip.
    Secondly, all conventional forms of chinning and "pull-down" exercises for the latissimus muscles involve working the upper arm muscles; and as noted previously, the weakness of these arm muscles prevents the trainee from working the torso muscles as hard as he should for best results. This being true, then why do most bodybuilders work their latissimus muscles with the arms in their weakest possible position?
    We have already seen that the arms are strongest (for bending) when the hands are twisted into a supinated position; this being so, then why make the arms any weaker than necessary - when they are already too weak for the production of best results even in their strongest position? Yet most bodybuilders do exactly that; they work their latissimus muscles while keeping the arms twisted into their weakest possible position.
    By simply giving the hands the maximum possible twist in the direction of full supination, the bending strength of the arms will be markedly increased; and it will then be possible to work the latissimus muscles much harder than it would have been with the hands in a pronated position. When the elbows are forced back in line with the shoulders - as is done in behind-neck chinning and pull-down exercises - then the fully supinated position of the hands requires a parallel (palms facing one another) grip. You can have such a bar made in a welding shop for a few dollars - and its use will markedly increase the degree of results you can produce in behind-neck type chinning or pull-down exercises; the hand grips should be perfectly parallel, and should be spaced not more than 25 inches apart.

    The latissimus muscles are attached to, and move, the upper arms - thus, for direct exercise, the resistance must be applied against the upper arms; what happens to the forearms, and-or the muscles of the upper arms that move the forearms, is of no slightest importance - or would not be of any importance in a direct exercise for the latissimus muscles



    Direct Resistance
    The latissimus dorsi muscles are the largest of the upper body. They join the lower part of the spine and sweep up to the armpits, where they are inserted into the upper arm bones. When the latissimus dorsi muscles contract, they pull the upper arms from an overhead position down and around the shoulder axes. This rotational movement can take place with the upper arms in front or at the sides of the torso.
    Jones understood the physiological functions of the latissimus dorsi, and it was obvious to him that all standard exercises for the lats left much to be desired. Chin-ups, pulldowns, behind-the-neck chins, pullovers with barbells and dumbbells, and rowing exercises of a wide variety provide some work for those muscles. But they all have one common fault:
    They involve the muscles of the arms as well as the muscles of the back.

    The latissimus dorsi muscles are attached to and move the upper arms. For direct exercise, the resistance must be applied against the upper arms or elbows. What happens to the forearms and hands is of no importance.
    A criminal is hanged by suspending his weight from his head, thus imposing resistance on his neck. If he were hanged by his hair, the hair might pull out before any results were produced in the neck.
    A similar situation exists in barbell exercises for the latissimus muscles. Instead of applying the resistance directly against the prime body parts, the upper arms, such exercises apply resistance against the hands and forearms. This creates a weak link. You are forced to stop in such an exercise when your arms fail, not when the latissimus muscles become exhausted.
    So you are limited in such exercises by the existing strength of your upper arms. Being smaller and weaker than your latissimus muscles, your upper arm muscles fail long before the much larger latissimus muscles have been worked hard enough to induce maximum growth stimulation.
    #17
    PikeKing
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 22:48:17 (permalink)
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    a well written post but one fact remains, pullovers will never add a significant amount of mass simply as they arent an intergrated movement
    #18
    bencher
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 23:01:01 (permalink)
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    quote:
    Originally posted by PikeKing


    a well written post but one fact remains, pullovers will never add a significant amount of mass simply as they arent an intergrated movement



    I must admit I used to use a Nautilus pullover machine before doing bent over rows and got great results. Only used it because I saw Dorian using it. I used an underhand grip and got a really good squeeze on every rep.

    I agree totally with the post Frankie.
    #19
    CHTHONIC
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    RE: Rethinking How We Categorize Exercises 2004/03/22 23:38:17 (permalink)
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    A good post for newbies to read. Wish I had this information thrust upon me before i started training seriously. I know a lot of it is common sense, but it still needs to be illustrated to newbie weight-trainers.

    Thanks for the initial post Frankie,

    Alex.
    #20
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