The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    Wannabebig Member
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    Question about dumbell work vs. Olympic Bar work

    I've had several people tell me that using dumbells for chest work (Ie. Dumbell bench, incline Dumbell, dumbell fly's etc.) is much better than standard chest work with an olympic bar.

    I continue to try doing dumbell work but I always end up frustrated because my Tri's always fail before anything else. I don't understand how it is benefitting my chest if another part of my body (Tri's) are forcing me to quit early.

    So my questioin is really two-fold:

    1. Is there any truth to Dumbells being better or is it more of an old wives tale (so to speak).

    2. How am I getting any benefit if my tri's keep causing problems forcing me to curtail my set work or go down in weight?

    Thanks in advance for any insight.
    Last edited by Speedtoburn; 01-29-2007 at 10:26 AM.

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  3. #2
    King Nothing ericg's Avatar
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    Better in terms of what?

    I know for me I prefer DB benching because it feels better on my shoulders.

    Sorry I cant answer your questions but I am curious as to why your triceps would fail with the DBs but not be the limiting factor when you use a BB. Makes me wonder if your form needs to be checked. Maybe you have a larger ROM with the DBs, bounce the bar off your chest with the BB, etc.?
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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericg View Post
    Better in terms of what?

    I know for me I prefer DB benching because it feels better on my shoulders.

    Sorry I cant answer your questions but I am curious as to why your triceps would fail with the DBs but not be the limiting factor when you use a BB. Makes me wonder if your form needs to be checked. Maybe you have a larger ROM with the DBs, bounce the bar off your chest with the BB, etc.?
    That's kind of what I was curious about.

    I've never really been able to get an explanation, just had several people tell me that Dumbells were better, maybe it has something to do with Isolating the Muscle group? I really don't know, it's just what I've been told.

    I'm somewhat of an Ectomorph, so my chest has always been one of my weaker body parts but for whatever reason, I seem to be able to lift more and not have as many problems using an Olympic bar vs the dumbells. When I use the dumbells, sometimes my tri's cause my arms to shake from trying to balance everything and perform the exercise whereas that never happens when I use an Olympic bar. As for my form, I don't really think that is the issue because I am always cogniscent of it, I never bounce the bar off my chest or anything like that. I'm not familiar with the acronym "ROM", what does that mean?

    Thanks
    Last edited by Speedtoburn; 01-29-2007 at 10:47 AM.

  5. #4
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    ROM = range of motion

  6. #5
    King Nothing ericg's Avatar
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    Ive never really got into isolating the chest arguments here at WBB but there have been quite a few.

    From what it sounds like:
    "When I use the dumbells, sometimes my tri's cause my arms to shake from trying to balance everything and perform the exercise whereas that never happens when I use an Olympic bar."
    is that you just need to work with DBs more. When you are using a BB it keeps your hands fixed at the same distance, whereas using DBs each arm is on its own. The stabilizers/muscles that are not utilized when you use a BB (because of what I mentioned a few lines above) is probably what is making you shake when you try the DBs. I think if you switched over to DBs for a month you would stop the shaking by strengthening those functional stabilizers in the shoulder.
    Current Stats --------------- Training Goals: Improve athletic conditioning.
    Squat - 305lbs - 1/23/06 ----- 335
    Deadlift - 415lbs - 2/4/06 ---- 435
    Bench - 90s*7 ----------------- 100s*5
    Weight - 208 ------------------ 190
    Height - 5'10"

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  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedtoburn View Post
    Tri's always fail before anything else. I don't understand how it is benefitting my chest if another part of my body (Tri's) are forcing me to quit early.

    So my questioin is really two-fold:

    1. Is there any truth to Dumbells being better or is it more of an old wives tale (so to speak).

    2. How am I getting any benefit if my tri's keep causing problems forcing me to curtail my set work or go down in weight?

    Thanks in advance for any insight.
    Your only as strong as your weakest link. apparently this is tri's for you currently.
    Generally people use too much weight w the bar one pro for db's. usually
    Second is muscle attachments db's allow a more natural rom to activate and target specific muscle group.
    Try using lighter db's and squeeze the reps out.
    Also if you are taking every workout to where shaking occurs you are overloading your CNS and will make little progress.

  8. #7
    Grammar Nazi BG5150's Avatar
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    You get out of a workout what you put into it. A crappy DB workout is a lot less effective than a good BB one.

    DB's aren't necessarily better than BB's. However, most people lift less with DB's, so some folks think they are harder and therefore better.

    You may want to go down in wieght to hit your desired rep range. No sense in failing after four reps when you are aiming for 8.

    Maybe more tricep work in in the cards for you. Don't over do it though. I'd suggest doing close grip bench and (weighted) dips.

    make sure you are getting enough to eat, too.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member RichMcGuire's Avatar
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    Shaking doesnt mean youre overloading your CNS..it just means your CNS is adapting and the shaking will stop eventually. Like Eric said, I'd keep with it. I believe its your stabilizers that are giving out which is a problem not as faced with a BB. The biggest perk about dumbells besides working the stabilizers more is less tension on your RC.
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  10. #9
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    [QUOTE=RichMcGuire;1596063]Shaking doesnt mean youre overloading your CNS..it just means your CNS is adapting and the shaking will stop eventually. QUOTE]

    CNS Read my post I said every workout. He stated he cant complete his sets this possible putting his lifts in the 80 to 90 percent range. If he is new to weights I still recommend using lighter weights till he has a better mind muscle connection.

  11. #10
    King Nothing ericg's Avatar
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    I think what RichMcGuire was getting at is that shaking doesnt automatically mean that it is your CNS.

    I dont see a problem with him going to failure once per week, or even twice per week. Now this is assuming that he doesnt test his 1RM all the time. He could go to failure on the last set of a 5x5 and do 8x3 the next session, or even 15x3, whatever. We dont know what his routine looks like so its hard to assume.

    I am not quick to point at your triceps as being a weak point since it seems that you are new to the DB flat press and had no problems with BB pressing. I would look at stabilizers or the muscles that were not trained as hard while you were doing BB due to your hands being fixed.

    Rich brings up a great point about the Rotator Cuff (RC). This is one of the reason why I dont BB bench as often as I DB bench. I had some problems in the past with my shoulder and since it is healed I just feel more comfortable and natural using DBs for flat pressing.
    Last edited by ericg; 01-29-2007 at 12:23 PM.
    Current Stats --------------- Training Goals: Improve athletic conditioning.
    Squat - 305lbs - 1/23/06 ----- 335
    Deadlift - 415lbs - 2/4/06 ---- 435
    Bench - 90s*7 ----------------- 100s*5
    Weight - 208 ------------------ 190
    Height - 5'10"

    My Journal|My Routine|My FitDay
    WBBB|"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up" - Thomas Edison

  12. #11
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    Thank you all very much for the feedback, you've definitely left me with several things to think about.

    After reading your replies, the more I think about it, the more I think I am just using too much weight. I'm probably just not strong enough yet, that fact combined with the fact that I am new to using dumbells and exercising those stabilizer muscle probably all compound to make the exercise difficult for me.

    I think another thing that is really frustrating for me is that whenever I focus on chest work, I never come away from it feeling like I have accomplished anything. For instance If I work my tri's out with pulldown's, after I complete my sets, I feel it in my Tri's. Same thing with my Bi's, I can do a barbell curl, preacher curl, etc. and when I finish the routine I feel it in my Biceps. Howevere, when I try to work my chest out, I almost always finish the routine feeling the burn in another part of my body. For example, If i try and do Dips, I'll walk away feeling as if I have worked my Delt's and my Tri's, DB press..tri's, incline...Delt's, etc. etc. the only time I even feel remotely as If I have worked my chest, is when I use this machine that is kind of like a seated Fly (I'm not really sure what the machine is called) but it really stretches your chest out and then you bring your extended arms together almost as if you were clapping.

    In any case, I'm thinking that I'm using to much weight because I'm wanting to feel as If I worked my chest which in turn is causing my tri's to fail. While going down in weight will solve that problem, won't it be counterproductive in teh sense that it's not doing anything for my chest? If my chest isn't being worked right now and I'm struggling to feel as though I've worked my chest out, won't lowering the weight only extrapolate that fact?
    Last edited by Speedtoburn; 01-29-2007 at 02:07 PM.

  13. #12
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    Theres no perfect workout for everyone BB, PL, is about learning the tools then trying to modify what you already know works for you.
    What is a couple workouts in the grand scheme to tell you if something works.
    Try the lighter approach and focus on squeezing the reps out, the last few reps hold the contraction for 2 or 3 sec.

    And its called a Pec deck when learn to contract your chest this would be a good finishing exercise.

    Good luck with your next workout keep us posted..
    Last edited by Blackcat; 01-29-2007 at 02:36 PM.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackcat View Post
    Theres no perfect workout for everyone BB, PL, is about learning the tools then trying to modify what you already know works for you.
    What is a couple workouts in the grand scheme to tell you if something works.
    Try the lighter approach and focus on squeezing the reps out, the last few reps hold the contraction for 2 or 3 sec.

    And its called a Pec deck when learn to contract your chest this would be a good finishing exercise.

    Good luck with your next workout keep us posted..

    I just wonder if there isn't something wrong with my anatomy, it just seems weird that I can never get my chest to develop or feel as though it has been worked or feel the burn.

    Nevertheless, I'll keep at it and keep you posted.

    Thanks again for the tips/advice, it is greatly appreciated.

    Last edited by Speedtoburn; 01-29-2007 at 03:27 PM.

  15. #14
    Never enough. MeHoW's Avatar
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    Just add weight, I've never seen anyone that has a small chest while benching 350.
    5'6
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    Bench:240-250, somewhere in that area.
    Squat:315
    Deadlift:385-405

    Goal: Lift more, Be Bigger and look Better.

  16. #15
    Senior Member beatlesfreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedtoburn View Post
    Thank you all very much for the feedback, you've definitely left me with several things to think about.

    After reading your replies, the more I think about it, the more I think I am just using too much weight. I'm probably just not strong enough yet, that fact combined with the fact that I am new to using dumbells and exercising those stabilizer muscle probably all compound to make the exercise difficult for me.

    Good observation....many folks I've seen think that to switch from BB to DB you simply divide your BB Bench in half and pick out DBs accordingly. So a guy who is benching 220 pounds tries to use a 110 pound DB in each hand.

    It doesn't work that way.

    Those little [but very important] stabilizer muscles are not ready for the big 110s yet. Lower your weights and build up.

    It's tough, but man, a good DB workout is a great feeling. You'll grow to love it. Eric is a smart man. Pay attention to his advice.

    And keep at it.

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