Recently I’ve reconnected with some old friends who I used to workout with at the high school weight room. Given what I know now, when I look back on those days I see that I did more stuff wrong than I did did right. The purpose of this post is to outline the 5 things I would do differently if I had it all to do over again.
1) I would train rotator cuff and lower trap muscles. For most of my life, my posture has been horrible – my shoulders have been extremely internally rotated and my upper back has been rounded. The day of my grade 8 graduation I dad told me to stand up straight. I didn’t listen. Worse still was that I started lifting weights in high school and trained chest every other day – essentially doing the exact opposite of what I needed to do to correct the problem.
Now I do a lot of external rotation movements and lower trap work along with being very conscious to retract my scapula when doing any lifting. I also train chest once every two weeks. Balance is being restored for the first time in 25 years and I’m walking taller, feeling better and lifting more.
2) I would train my weaknesses. I was a tree climber when I was young because I spent the first 9 years of my life in Ireland. I wasn’t exposed to any of the throwing sports until I moved to Canada so I had very little reason of raise my arms above my head. As a consequence, I never really developed the ability to recruit and fire the muscles in my shoulders and upper traps so these body parts tended to lag behind. Given that these body parts didn’t grow when I trained them in high school, I didn’t put very much time into them. I’ve been playing catch-up ever since.
3) I would train my legs more. Most than 50% of our muscle fibers are in our legs. Given that the body will only get as strong and as big as it needs to be, neglecting them is going to slow mass development. It is also going to eliminate any of the growth hormone and testosterone boosting effects that aggressive leg training promotes. More importantly, I wouldn’t have looked imbalanced for so long. A huge upper body balanced on tiny chicken legs is not a good look for anyone and it hurt my credibilty as a fitness professional.
While squatting 225 lbs isn’t exactly the most fun you can have in the gym, it is very rewarding to be able to lift that much. It’s probably strength that I will never use but my brain has adapted to the neurological motor unit recruitment requirements that lifting heavy loads necessates so lifting things is easier as a result. It’s better to have more strength than not enough.
4) I would rest more. I trained too much when I was younger and I didn’t allow enough time between workouts to fully recover.