Bodybuilding Gold Mine

Questions and answers with Stuart

How to avoid problems from triceps extensions, preacher curls, and restaurants.


How to avoid problems from triceps extensions, preacher curls, and restaurants.

“I’ve been doing a lot of barbell and ez-bar triceps extensions—overhead, and lying—and my wrists and elbows are really bothering me. I’ve been using wrist and elbow supports, but still my joints hurt. And my triceps haven’t even grown any despite all my efforts and discomfort. What am I doing wrong?”

You’ve selected exercises that aren’t suited to you, you’re hammering your wrists and elbows, and you’re overtraining your triceps as far as volume goes but undertraining them as far as intensity goes.

Joint discomfort, wearing joint supports, and possibly taking pain killers, are clear warnings that your training is in a mess. Continue like that and you’ll cause serious damage sooner or later.

Barbell triceps extensions are a bad option because they force you into wrist positions that are uncomfortable.

An ez-curl bar can be an improvement on a straight bar because the bends in the ez-bar are more wrist friendly for triceps extensions, but the bends and their spacings aren’t suited to everyone.

The best option for these triceps extensions is to use dumbbells. Dumbbells permit you to use a grip that keeps your palms parallel to each other, which is the most natural and joint friendly.

If your arms measure under 16 inches (for a man), you shouldn’t be bothering with isolation triceps extensions. The bench press (regular grip, or shoulder-width), and the parallel bar dip, are much more effective triceps builders (and pec builders) than isolation triceps exercises.

Of course, the bench press and the parallel bar dip will also cause problems if you use incorrect form.

Lowering the bar close to your neck in the bench press, and excessive range of motion in the parallel bar dip, are among the most common errors in those exercises.

In the bench press, lower the bar so that it touches your lower pec line (just below your nipples); and in the parallel bar dip, descend until your rear triceps is parallel to the floor, or just slightly below that point.

And use a controlled rep speed in both exercises—no jerky movements, and no bouncing at the bottom.


“My arms measure 13.5 inches, and I want monster arms like those of the pros. Should I use a straight bar for the preacher curl, an ez-curl bar, or dumbbells?”

At your stage of bodybuilding you shouldn’t be doing the preacher curl. The pros are at a totally different level of bodybuilding to your. Their needs and goals are different to yours, and their mass potential and recuperative abilities are far greater than yours.

At your stage, you should almost totally focus on a select set of prime exercises—for example, squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, and chin-up. That mighty fivesome—or another fivesome of equivalent status—will do more for your overall physique than any selection of isolation exercises, provided you perform the big five properly.

But once you have muscular arms that measure over 16 inches (for a man), then perhaps you could use the preacher curl in some training cycles. But use the vertical side of the bench rather than the sloping one, and use dumbbells so that you have the freedom to use the wrist positioning and elbow spacing that’s most comfortable for you, and that permit you to fully supinate your wrists during each ascent.


“As part of my job I eat out at restaurants a lot, to entertain customers at work. Can you give me guidance on how to eat in a bodybuilding-friendly way at restaurants?”

If you’re not careful, and informed, eating out a lot will wreck your nutritional plans. It’s easy to overeat at a restaurant, and to eat unhealthy food, especially if you’re not paying the bill. But with careful choices, eating at good restaurants should help you to eat in a healthy, bodybuilding-friendly way.

Most restaurant food is loaded with calorie-laden enhancers that contribute to the mouth-watering taste. This type of food is layered with a combination of fat, sugar and salt that can make it addictive.

Some dishes have multiple sticks of real butter melded into them. Mashed potatoes, rice, and vegetables taste great because they ooze with extra calories.

The butters, marinades, or calorie-laden sauces used to help flavor meals can, alone, add more than 1,000 additional calories to a single meal. Add in the rest of the meal, and you would be astonished if you knew the total caloric value.

Insist that your food is prepared to your liking—for example, without the butter or calorie-laden enhancers. And order smaller portions if they are available, or otherwise eat half of the meal at the restaurant and take the other half home. Many restaurants serve double or even triple the quantity of food you should eat at a sitting.

While most dieters generally pass on white bread or appetizers, some of them intentionally reduce their appetite by eating a whole-wheat bun or two before the main course, and then are satisfied with a reduced main course. This strategy decreases their overall caloric intake.

Because most restaurant appetizers add too many calories to the overall meal, you should save your calories for the main course.

Perhaps have a nutritious salad in lieu of an appetizer. It’s a good way to reduce your appetite before the main meal. But make sure your salad doesn’t have excessive croutons or calorie-laden toppings.

Many low-fat or fat-free salad dressings usually make up for their lack of flavor with added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. They should be avoided. Instead, enjoy a salad dressing that’s low in calories—perhaps a vinaigrette, served on the side.

Most desserts are loaded with calories and would take hours of exercise to work off. Do you really need a fattening dessert after all the calories you ate with the main course?

People tend to overeat when dining in a fun, comfortable social setting among friends. Many people may eat twice as much in such a setting as they would normally, mostly due to spending a longer time in the restaurant than usual, and while paying more attention to the fun atmosphere than the food.

Don’t assume that all salads are healthy. Many people assume that a salad is a healthy alternative to a side dish, or a healthy alternative to a meal. But many fast-food or restaurant salads are not healthy—some are well over 1,000 calories, if not 2,000 or more. While the lettuce has hardly any calories, be aware of the high-calorie dressings and toppings that make these salads so tasty.


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