When I was young and devouring the words of buy injectable steroids online with credit card magazines, I kept reading about how terrific free-weight squats are for building leg size. It was as if doing this bodybuilding exercise would nearly guarantee bigger thighs and not doing it would doom my underpinnings to their then-current resemblance of chicken legs. This was (and is) touted as the Holy Grail of ‘bodybuilding exercises.’ To not do free-weight squats is like saying you don’t really want to get bigger… right?
Well, I did those free-weight squats. I bowed at the altar of and mastered this king of ‘bodybuilding exercises.’ I performed my squats with heavy weight, deep form, and weekly consistency while pushing my body to its limits as a natural bodybuilder. And what did the near-worshipping of this daddy of all ‘bodybuilding exercises’ do for me? Surprisingly, not very much; in fact I’ve fared better without it. I still do squats, but with much better results on a Body Master machine. And as if that’s not anti-dogma enough, some of the ‘bodybuilding exercises that are traditionally labeled as “shaping moves” have brought me some of my best size gains.
With my squatting experience as the backdrop, let’s go over what I’ve observed to be the most overrated bodybuilding exercises in existence. Then I’ll name some that I think are underrated. Keep in mind that this is opinion. I should probably state that up front before getting some reader’s panties in a bunch for breaking these sacred cows.
Okay, I can hear the groans of protest already. After all, this is the king of all torso ‘bodybuilding exercises’… right? “If we go heavy on bench presses“… we’re told, “we’ll be using a weight that will build size in all our upper body muscles” Besides, it’s big compound moves like bench presses that release testosterone… blah, blah, blah… on and on.
Many aspirants who are trying to build muscle size don’t have the genetic predisposition to respond positively to traditional free-weight bench presses – plain and simple. In order to build pectoral size, these people need to isolate the muscles with heavy flyes. Don’t worry – done with enough intensity, flye movements will release plenty of testosterone. This should be taken as reassurance to those who think testosterone release during a workout is important. Funny… I always thought it was during recuperation between workouts where it would really matter… huh.
If someone could please explain the logic behind this bodybuilding exercise, I’ll gladly listen. By alternating between a left hand/right hand curl, the trainee is essentially taking a rest-pause between each respective curl. If this is really of value, the logical extension would be to do it for all muscles: alternating leg presses – alternating triceps dumbbell extensions – alternating dumbbell bench presses – alternating lat pull-downs… etc.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this exercise in its ability to build calf size. It simply places unnecessary stress on the lower back. This unneeded strain on such a vulnerable area is all the more avoidable considering that donkey calf raises work the same muscles as do standing calf raises but without the lumbar back stress.