Bodybuilding Gold Mine

Questions and answers with Stuart

Dumbbell curls, leg extension, elbow problem, napping, nuts and peanuts for bodybuilders


Dumbbell curls, leg extensions, elbow problems, napping, and nuts and peanuts for bodybuilders

Dumbbell curls

Should I do dumbbell curls alternately, or simultaneously?

Provided that you treat both variations the same, they are comparable, and neither will do anything for you that the other can’t.

Many bodybuilders give attention to trivial issues like this one, but insufficient (or zero) attention to the really important training issues.

If you’re a typical bodybuilder who’s in need of muscle mass, you should give your all to the big five movements: (1) barbell squat (or the parallel-grip deadlift, or even the hip-belt squat or the leg press if you legitimately can’t train effectively on either of the big two thigh exercises), (2) the bench press (or the parallel-bar dip), (3) the chin-up (or the pulldown, or a torso-supported row), (4) the seated overhead press (with dumbbells or a barbell), and (5) a variation of the straight-bar deadlift.

Then, provided you fully attend to the components of recuperation, and gradually become ever stronger on all your exercises for sufficient reps in correct technique, you’ll build overall muscle mass (including on your arms).

Although this approach may seem overly simple, it’s a tremendously effective one to apply.

It’s the essence of bodybuilding. All other training issues are mere icing on the cake for most bodybuilders. But most bodybuilders give more attention to the icing than to making the actual cake. Only trainees who are already very well built should be primarily focused on the icing—the details.


Leg extensions

Should I pause for a second at the top position in the leg extension, or should I keep the reps moving continuously?

Pausing helps to keep technique strict. Rushed reps are more likely to be sloppy. I recommend a momentary pause at the top and the bottom of each rep of almost all exercises. But you must also set up correctly for each exercise, in order to use proper form.

The real issue here, though, is not how you should perform the leg extension, but whether you should you be doing the leg extension in the first place.

Unless you already have well-developed thighs, forget about the leg extension.

If you want to build much bigger thighs, focus on an exercise that has the potential to build way more thigh mass than the leg extension ever can. (The same theme of proper priorities applies to this answer as it does to the previous answer.)

Choose the barbell squat, or the parallel-grip deadlift, or even the hip-belt squat or the leg press if you truly can’t train effectively on either of the big two thigh exercises.

Then dedicate as long as it takes to build up your exercise poundage substantially—like 100 pounds beyond what’s your best at present, for at least five reps. But if you’re just starting out, you’ll need to build up way more than just 100 pounds on your current best effort for five or more reps.

Then you’ll build some muscle mass, and not just on your thighs.

I see some guys training with reasonable effort on the leg extension. But if those guys squat—and they usually don’t—it’s with a puny weight, and mere going-through-the-motions, pseudo effort. And that’s the primary reason why their thighs never grow much, if at all.

The leg extension isn’t a gruelling exercise like the squat is when done properly, no matter how hard you train the leg extension. And that’s the primary reason why the leg extension is more popular in most gyms than the barbell squat.

Even if you do leg extensions and leg curls, and use the adductor and abductor machine, that combination lags miles behind the effectiveness of proper effort on just the barbell squat or the parallel-grip deadlift.


Elbow problems and the concentration curl

I recently added the concentration curl to my routine, and since then I’ve had problems with my elbows. What do you think I’ve done wrong?

Probably you used more weight than you could handle properly for the time being, or you used the appropriate weight but extended the set beyond what you could do in correct technique. Either way, you probably leaned back somewhat, with a sloping arm akin to a preacher curl, and that yielded a big increase in the strain on your biceps’ lower tendon, and your elbow, which produced intense discomfort the days after the workout, and perhaps injury.

But even if you used correct exercise technique, if you immediately jumped into intensive concentration curls without a progressive break-in period, that would probably produce elbow problems. When you introduce or reintroduce an exercise, take it easy, use a comfortable weight, and take at least a few weeks to build up to your current best weight, and intensive effort.

The transitional period is required to allow your body to adjust to the exercise without risk of injury.

This is the second answer related to curls. The attention given to curls by many bodybuilders is amazing, considering how small the arm flexors are. I wish that the attention given to squats and deadlifts, properly performed of course, was the same as that given to curls. If it was, there would be tons more muscle in the world.


Napping and bodybuilding

Is it a good idea to nap during the day, to help with recuperation?

Probably not.

Unless you nap regularly, and it’s normal for you, napping will mess up your internal “clock” and likely mar your night-time sleep.

If you normally sleep from 10:30 until 6:30, for example, but you have an afternoon nap on a Sunday, you may not be able to get to sleep until after midnight—and toss and turn for a while before getting to sleep—but then still have to get up at 6:30 for work, and thus not get properly rested.

Napping commonly spoils both the quality of sleep at night-time, and its quantity. I don’t recommend it other than in exceptional circumstances.

Many people feel groggy and disorientated after they have napped, and that alone should be a sign that napping isn’t for them.

I’ve lived in Cyprus for many years, and some of the older generation here nap during the day, and have ever since they were kids—it’s a Mediterranean tradition for many people. So their bodies are used to it, and it’s normal for them. If they don’t have their nap on a given day, they don’t feel their normal selves. So, for them, napping is good. But that’s different to someone napping on an irregular basis.

There is, though, a time when napping is recommended for people who normally never nap: If you’re going to drive during the night, a nap during the day is an excellent idea even though you may feel groggy for a short while immediately after the nap. The nap will enable you to be alert during the night drive, and that could be a lifesaver—not just for you, but also for any passengers you may have, and even for some people in other cars.


Nuts and peanuts for bodybuilders

Are nuts and peanuts good bodybuilding foods?

Yes, in moderation, provided they are digestible.

Peanuts aren’t nuts, though. They are legumes.

Peanuts and nuts are highly nutritious foods. They are high in protein, fiber and some micronutrients, but low in carbohydrates. They are high in antioxidants that may provide health benefits.

But eat only unsalted nuts and peanuts.

Furthermore, peanuts and nuts can help lower your cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

And peanuts are a good source of resveratrol—a chemical that has potential anti-aging effects, and can help reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Peanuts are not for everyone, though. Some people have allergic reactions to them, from mild to severe. For people with a peanut allergy, exposure can cause a fatal anaphylactic shock—from eating just a single peanut, or breathing in peanut dust.

Some peanut particulates are hard to avoid. An allergic reaction can be triggered by eating foods that have been processed with machines that have previously been in contact with peanuts.

Nuts are difficult to digest in their raw form if consumed in anything other than tiny quantities, because of the enzyme inhibitors they contain. If you don’t have easy access to salt-free, roasted nuts that are easily digestible, make them digestible yourself.

If the nuts are put in warm water and mixed with a teaspoonful of salt, and soaked overnight, the enzyme inhibitors will be neutralized. This makes the nuts much more digestible.

My favorite nuts are almonds. I prepare enough of them in one soaking to last me about a week. It takes me no more than a few minutes to prepare the nuts for soaking, then the following morning I rinse them a couple of times and spread them out to dry. A few hours later I put the nuts into an air-tight container and store it in a refrigerator.

I have a handful of the almonds every day with my breakfast oatmeal/porridge, along with a piece of cheese. Boiled eggs would be a good substitute for the cheese.

Soaked nuts—once they have been removed from the brine, rinsed and left to dry naturally for a few hours—must be stored in a refrigerator, or otherwise they will go bad after a few days. If the soaked nuts aren’t to be kept in a refrigerator, they should be thoroughly dried in a warm oven.

Another way to make nuts and peanuts digestible is to roast them yourself.


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