Q. Do you think it’s better to train arms on their own day, or should you pair them up with another body part, like chest, shoulders or back? When you’ve had clients who needed to bring their arms up, were there any other ways you’d arrange their arm training for better results?
There is no single best way to bring up the arms. What I do is mix things up so the arms are always getting a slightly different form of stress placed on them. At times, we will indeed work arms by themselves. At other times, we will shock them by training biceps with chest, or triceps with back. One thing I don’t like to do is to train biceps after back, or triceps after either chest or shoulders. I feel they are so fatigued already from assisting with the compound movements for those large torso muscle groups that they can’t possibly be worked properly afterward.
I do feel that working arms on their own day is probably the most effective method for getting them to grow, but not everyone has time to devote an entire training day to arms. A lot of busy people can only get in the gym three times a week at most, so that leaves them to train legs on another day and the entire torso on the third day— which is a lot of exercise for one workout. If you do have the time, train arms on a special day devoted to them, but don’t keep that up forever. Eventually, they will adapt to that and you will need to start shuffling them in with other muscle groups. For now, assuming you have the time, try this arm workout for four to six weeks:
Barbell curls 4 x 10-12
Rope Pushdowns 4 x 8-10
Incline dumbbell curls 4 x 10-12
Skull crushers 4 x 10-12
Hammer curls 4 x 8-10
Rope cable kickbacks 4 x 8-10 (each arm)
Q. I have a very bad injury to one of my rotator cuffs. I figured out how to work around it on chest and shoulder days, using mostly machines and cables instead of my usual free weights. The injury doesn’t really bother me on anything else. I’m just wondering, will this injury heal itself? It’s been two months since I hurt it and it doesn’t feel like it’s getting any better.
A. It doesn’t sound like you have been doing anything to try and rehabilitate the injury, which is why the pain persists. The problem stemmed from a weakness in the rotator cuff muscles and until that situation is resolved, you will continue to have problems with your cuff. You should know the simple cable or dumbbell exercises used to strengthen those small muscles. If not, do a Google search on “exercises to rehabilitate the rotator cuff” and a few hundred links will appear.
You should consult someone that does soft tissue, fascial release therapy. You most likely have adhesions in your rotator cuff that cause the sharp pains you feel. Additionally, you most likely have tight pecs or tight lats. When this happens, it will cause you to slouch, which causes your rotator cuff muscles to be strained. They get strained because they are in a constantly stretched state as your pecs and lats pull your shoulder region forward. Thus, it is crucial you ensure structural balance and ensure you do not get too developed up front vs your back.
Q. What do you think about nighttime eating to keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance while asleep? A lot of guys have a protein shake in the middle of the night and I have even heard of a few bodybuilders who will eat a whole solid-food meal at three or four in the morning. Do you think this is a good idea or a waste of time?
A. Personally, I would never do this because I only average about four and half hours of sleep a night. I’m in bed by 10:30 p.m. and usually get up at 2:30 a.m. to be in the gym training my first client of the day at 4 a.m. So, I certainly wouldn’t waste any of that precious time getting up and eating, but then again, I’m not trying to gain muscle these days.
Your situation is probably quite different. You probably sleep eight or nine hours a night and are still in the process of trying to grow. In that case, a shake would be a great idea. A slow releasing protein is a great option. Drinking egg whites in a blender with spinach is a quick, easy method that comes to mind. It gives you time-released protein so your muscles have a steady supply of nutrients while you sleep, keeping your nitrogen in a positive balance and helping you avoid slipping into that dreaded catabolic state. I wouldn’t get up and have a whole meal, because that would certainly have a negative impact on the duration and quality of your sleep. Who do you know that can wake up, sit down and eat a meal, then get right back to sleep? Good luck with that. Go with a shake so you can get back to sleep and grow.