The Texas Oak
By Logan Franklin
Sponsored by GAT Sport
Q: Why is it that we are told we should do our curls very strictly, but most of the time when I see a guy with enormous biceps training on YouTube, he’s swinging and cheating mega-heavy curls?
A: I would have to see some of those videos to evaluate the form for myself. Jay Cutler used to say that to outside observers his form could appear sloppy, but he was always in control of the weight and always felt his muscles working. All I can speak on is my own training style. I don’t train ultra-heavy, instead I train realistically heavy. That means the weight is heavy enough to stretch the muscle at the start of each rep, and enough to provide resistance as I squeeze the muscle into its contracted state. For me, the weight has to be challenging enough to limit me to the 8-10 rep range. It should be very hard for me to get 8-10 reps, or else the resistance isn’t heavy enough.
As for swinging weights, I don’t feel relying on momentum is going to put the stress on the muscle where you want it. One thing that’s hard to hear for most people is that there are some true genetic freaks out there who are able to achieve phenomenal development in several muscle groups even with terrible form. Mimicking what they do won’t deliver any meaningful results for most normal humans, but there is a strong possibility of getting hurt. Most people would get the best results possible by focusing on simply squeezing the life out of the biceps or triceps with enough weight to challenge you. If you want to loosen up the form, the best time to do that is at the end of a set when you can’t get any more reps using perfect technique. I would never encourage anyone to use loose form from the get-go.
Train With a Cold?
Q: We all get the common cold every once in a while. How do you decide whether to still go to the gym, meaning what physical markers do you feel mean training would be counterproductive?
A: I may not be the best person to answer this because I have been known to go to the gym sick on many occasions. One thing that will keep me home is if I suspect I might get other people sick by going to train around them. There are levels of seriousness to these things. If I have some congestion or a light cough, I will do things like increasing my intake of vitamins C, D, K2, and water to aid the healing and recovery process. As adults, we have all had the common cold dozens if not hundreds of times in our lives. You should know from your own experience when you need to take a break and rest and when it’s OK to go ahead and train as usual.
Sleeping on a Full Stomach
Q: Is it OK to eat right before you go to sleep? I hear mixed messages about this.
A: Sometimes I go to sleep right after eating, but I wouldn’t say you should do that all the time. This is especially true if you’re someone who deals with issues like heartburn and indigestion. I’ve had trouble with heartburn since I was a kid. I do find that it can flare up if I eat and try to go to sleep right away. For me, if I wait 45 minutes to an hour after that final meal, the chances of having heartburn go down substantially. I think it has to do with eating and then lying on your back right away. The food just kind of sits there, and even breathing can become uncomfortable. One thing that seems to help a lot for me is to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood to get the food moving and digesting a little faster. All it takes is 10-15 minutes to get the blood moving and the food too. I understand it might sound crazy to do this when it’s 9, 10, or 11 o’clock at night and many of you just won’t want to do it. That’s OK, but I am telling you it works! It gets the food moving along.
Blasting Lats on Back Day
Q: What’s your favorite way to warm up the lats on back day? I know a lot of guys like to do chin-ups.
A: Pullovers are what I now love to start back day off with, because they isolate the lats and really let me not only bring blood to the area, but they help me establish a strong mind-muscle connection that I can carry over into all the pulling movements that will follow. Pullover machines are OK, but I get the best feel from a cable variation I figured out. I set up an incline bench facing away from a dual cable station so I can lie down on it, facing the weight stack with my knees behind me on the top of the seat portion of the bench. I attach two cuffs to the pulleys so I can push from the heels of my hands and truly take the arms almost entirely out of the equation. The angle I’m at allows me to start from a full stretch of the lats, and bring my arms down in an arc so my hands end up just behind my hips for a full contraction. I start very light and do slow, controlled reps with an almost exaggerated squeeze of my lats at the end of every rep. I take my time and work up to an all-out effort set with a heavy weight, then finish off with a back-off set that might be about one-third lighter. After this my lats are primed and ready for anything.
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