Note: Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get to the bottom of the biggest questions in health and training. Post your questions directly to Charles in the comments below this article.

 

Question #1: What Does "Good Form" Mean?

READER: Sometimes when I am lifting, I go heavier (under the "lift heavy" mantra) but then toward the end of my set, my form starts to suffer. I feel I’m wiggling out the rep (especially for something like a bench press). So, I'm a little bit confused as to what people mean by emphasizing good form. Should I be prioritizing heavy weight and suffering a bit on form toward the later reps? (I have to say, I feel pretty guilty for wiggling my way to 5 or 8 reps). Or should all my reps be perfect? What should a good weight and good set feel like?

 

powerlifter, competitor

Good form tends to relate to your training age - the more experience, the better.

 

CHARLES SAYS: Every rep you do should look like a carbon copy of the one that preceded it, except that it might be slower due to accumulating fatigue. Technique falls along a stability continuum over the course of your lifting career:

 

  • At the beginning, you are incompetent - your technique sucks, regardless of how much weight is on the bar.
  • Next, you advance into the “unstable” phase - with manageable weights, you range of motion is fine, but when the weight gets to a certain point, your technique falls apart.
  • Finally, you enter the “stable” phase - your form looks the same regardless of the weight. So for example, you never round your low back on a deadlift, your knees never collapse when squatting, and so on.

 

So identify what proper form is on each exercise you do, and then ensure you never sacrifice your technique for the sake of more weight and/or extra reps.

 

Question #2: How Can I Fix My Tiny Chest?

READER: My chest is pretty damn small and I'm sick of it. I have a routine that I do and chest day is once a week, but my question is: can I do chest day more than once a week?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Not only can you, you probably should, especially if you bench press less than 300 pounds. The reason is that the smaller and weaker your muscles are, the faster you recover. If you’re small and weak, and you only train chest on Mondays, by Wednesday night you’re fully recovered. This means that from Wednesday night until Monday’s next workout, you’re regressing back to pre-training levels of size and strength.

 

So, how often should you train? As a general rule, as soon as soreness has dissipated, you’re ready to hit that muscle again

 

Question #3: Should I Care About My Clients' BMI?

READER: BMI. You know it's bunk. I know it's bunk. But all of my training materials, books, and seminars still use it and potential clients expect me to use it, too. What gives? How do I reorient potential clients without ruining my credibility?

 

CHARLES SAYS: BMI is a farce for people who train. To persuade my clients of this, I use myself as an example - at 6-2, 198, I am “overweight” by BMI standards.

 

Question #4: Growth-Resistant Muscles

READER: Is it possible that some of my muscles have no ability for hypertrophy? I have tried to get my chest to grow, for example, but it lags behind other body parts so much. The rest of me is getting bigger/stronger, so overall I think I'm doing it right.

 

CHARLES SAYS: Some muscles can be very resistant to growth, probably due to disadvantageous attachments sites on the bones they connect to. When a muscle has poor leverage, it doesn’t participate in motor tasks as you might expect it to. Using myself as an example, my hamstrings take over on every lower body drill I do. As such, my glutes never get any work. Keep experimenting with new exercise variants. You might arrive at something that works. In terms of pecs, some guys can’t engage these muscles with bench presses - experiment with cable work and flyes.

 

Strength coach Charles Poliquin demonstrates proper chest fly technique in this video.

 

Question #5: Personal Training Certifications

READER: Are most trainers actually qualified to help other people or do they just know how to train themselves? Is a national certification relevant to what goals real people have? Can I train myself with online information?

 

CHARLES SAYS: In my experience, most trainers are utterly incompetent people who have good physiques either through good genetics, drugs, and/or good work ethic. Certifications are not particularly relevant. Sorry. It might take months or years of trial and error to find a good coach. Again, sorry.

 

This Week’s Training

This Week’s Volume: 106,895 Pounds (Last Week: 99,660 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

  • Bench Press: 215x8
  • 1.5” Block Pull: 425x6

 

I’m quite satisfied with everything this week - managed a few rep PRs, stayed healthy, and survived the grind.

 

You might notice that I replaced good mornings with stiff-leg deads. The good mornings just feel unproductive and like a waste of time, honestly. I do think they can help some lifters, I just don’t think I’m one of them.

 

I also had planned to jump to 100lb dumbbells for flat dumbbell bench presses this week, but I ended up missing the first rep twice, so I conceded to the 95s.

 

Aside from those two bobbles, it ended up being a solid week all around. Next week is “hell week,” as I call it - the goal being to reach the highest possible volume, and then I’ll deload on the following week.

 

Thanks all - please check out the vids and I’ll see you next time.

 

Monday, July 20, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.6 Pounds

Volume: 25,705 Pounds

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 240 lbs × 8
  • Set 8: 240 lbs × 8
  • Set 9: 225 lbs × 8

 

Stiff-Leg Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 185 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 250 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 275 lbs × 8

 

Leg Extension

  • Set 1: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 190 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 190 lbs × 8

 

45-Degree Back Extension

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 8 (Video Below)

 

 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.4 Pounds

Volume: 22,425 Pounds

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 205 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 215 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 195 lbs × 8
  • Set 8: 185 lbs × 8

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 130 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 130 lbs × 8

 

Seated Row

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 150 lbs × 8

 

Biceps Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 70 lbs × 8

 

Triceps Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.2 Pounds

Volume: 28,253 Pounds

 

1.5" Block Pull

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 315 lbs × 3
  • Set 6: 365 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 425 lbs × 6 (Video Below)
  • Set 9: 365 lbs × 8
  • Set 10: 315 lbs × 8

 

 

1 & 1/4 Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 6
  • Set 5: 185 lbs × 6

 

Leg Curl

  • Set 1: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 60 lbs × 8

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: +150 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: +150 lbs × 8

 

Friday, July 24, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.8 Pounds

Volume: 23,672 Pounds

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 190 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 190 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 190 lbs × 8
  • Set 8: 160 lbs × 8

Notes: Missed 100's twice

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 8 reps
  • Set 2: 8 reps
  • Set 3: 8 reps
  • Set 4: 8 reps

 

Chest Dip

  • Set 1: 8 reps

 

Triceps Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 150 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 150 lbs × 8

 

EZ Bar Curl

  • Set 1: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 75 lbs × 8

 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 202.8 Pounds

Volume: 6840 Pounds

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 4: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 85 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 95 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 100 lbs × 8

 

Biceps Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 60 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 8

 

Lying Triceps Extension

  • Set 1: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 75 lbs × 8

 

Check out these related articles:

 

Photo courtesy of Breaking Muscle.

Topic: