Skip to content

Tips of the week Try out the primary muscle-secondary muscle split

Tipps der Woche Probiere den Primärmuskel-Sekundärmuskel Split aus

Primary muscles and secondary muscles are old-school terms that are useful when describing these training splits. When training your chest, your pecs are the primary muscles. They should do most of the work. However, the triceps also help out and are therefore secondary muscles. In back training, the different muscles of the back do most of the work as primary muscles, while the biceps would be the secondary muscles.

So far so good, but why is this important when it comes to your training split? Well, as mentioned earlier, the arm muscles are the secondary muscles in chest and back exercises. This gives you two options:

Option #1

  • Day 1: Back / Triceps
  • Day 2: Chest / Biceps
  • Day 3: legs, shoulders, abs
  • Day 4: No workout or repeat from day 1

The idea is to keep your biceps and triceps fresh and recovered. On day 1 your triceps will be fresh as the back needs the biceps and not the triceps as a secondary muscle group. You will see that you will feel very strong when training your arms with this split and will be able to use more weight when training your arms than if you pair chest with triceps and back with biceps.

Option #2

  • Day 1: Back / Biceps
  • Day 2: Chest / Triceps
  • Day 3: legs, shoulders, abs
  • Day 4: No training or repetition from day 1

In this option, you intentionally pair the secondary muscles with the primary muscles. If you have already exhausted your arms through your back and chest training, you can give them the rest with direct training.

As with most splits, I wouldn't say one of these is better - they are simply different. So choose the training split that best suits your needs or choose the option you've used the least to break up your routine.

Tip: Small goals for big progress

Here's why setting small goals in the gym leads to the biggest progress

By Jim Wendler

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-think-small-win-big

Too many people sit at the workout buffet with hungry eyes and small stomachs. Their goals, their dedication and their efforts don't match up. This is something we all go through at one time or another. The fact is, every summer a couple high school football players send me a variation of the following question:

"My football coach tells me that if I gain 25 pounds over the summer, increase my bench press weight from 100 to 140 pounds and get faster, I have a good chance of making the roster. Which template should I follow? And what do you think of creatine?" Even though this enthusiasm is admirable, one wishes that these kids would at least keep one foot in reality. Maybe the football coach is just making fun of them. "Sure my boy, you'll play if you put on 25 kilos of muscle, get faster and grow another 35 centimetres."

We could all laugh heartily at all this now, as we have all experienced this ourselves, but all too many people remain trapped in this dream world. Their dedication and efforts don't match their goals.

How to solve the problem

The first thing you should do is reset your goals - make them smaller. Now before you get all excited and shout "You have to dream big!", let's look at the practical side of this. Progress in the weight room - no matter how small - is progress. Anyone who complains about making progress - even if it's small - is just a jerk with a weird attitude.

If you can do 150 kilos on squats at the moment, then you should focus all your efforts on doing 152.5 kilos. Never look further ahead. Never calculate where you might be at some point. Think about what you want to achieve next and then the 155 kilos will fall. Soon after that, the 157.5 kilos will, and if you focus on the process - the work you do every day and every week - then you will reach the 200 kilos faster than you would have expected.

The greatest successes come from those who love the process and focus on getting a little better each time. The trick is to never raise your head and admire the view.

You have to love the grind, the unsexy work and the discipline to keep going day after day. All people seem to see is the glory on the pitch. They think "Oh man, I wish I could walk on the field and have the crowd cheering for me!" But there is no glory without sacrifice.

Tip: Forget the oxygen deprivation mask

Yeah, it might look kind of cool, but it doesn't work. Here's why

By Dr. John Rusin

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-ditch-the-oxygen-deprivation-mask

If you're serious about pushing the limits of your training, isn't the simple act of heavy breathing hard enough without strapping a mask to your face and breathing through a clogged garden hose? The oxygen deprivation or altitude training simulation masks will make you look like a scrawny version of a Batman supervillain, but they will also damage your cardiovascular system and your breathing mechanics.

It is difficult to correlate studies that show the effectiveness of different forms of hypoxia training, such as altitude training or training in a closed chamber with reduced oxygen in the air, with the use of an oxygen deprivation mask. The studies that have used a breather mask relate to very specific situations and it is therefore not the best idea to make broad comparisons with this specific style of training.

For all the disadvantages of an oxygen deprivation mask, there was actually only one meta-analysis that showed that exercising in a low oxygen environment could have the ability to reduce waist circumference and effectively reduce arterial stiffness. I'm sure this is exactly why so many recreational athletes strap this thing on their face while doing supersets or running on the cinder track - for the health of their arteries.

Poor posture and deep breathing

Something I see frequently in my clinical practice is an alarming rate of dysfunctional and sometimes even painful breathing patterns that are directly related to posture, or rather poor posture.

A posture with increased kyphotic position of the spine (rounded upper back and hollow back), inwardly rotated and downwardly pulled shoulders and a forward bent posture of the head, predisposes our respiratory muscles to strain on a regular basis. And this is just what happens when these people sit still. Imagine what happens if we now add training volume, intensity and exercise selection to the equation.

So posture obviously has a big impact on training and performance and can make certain areas of the body such as the lumbar spine and shoulder region more susceptible to injury. The use of an oxygen deprivation mask by a person who already has dysfunctional posture and poor mechanical breathing patterns is the perfect recipe for disaster.

Take off the mask

With a society that "likes" social media posts of NFL pros and MMA stars working out on the treadmill with this dysfunctional gimmick, I challenge you to separate yourself from the herd. Master your posture, improve your breathing strategies and techniques and only then should you even think about taking the next step towards training in a legitimate hypoxic environment.

Tip: Improve the quality of your sleep

How to sleep more, sleep better, fight cortisol and increase your natural growth hormone production

By Mike Roussell, PhD

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/supplements/tip-increase-the-quality-of-your-sleep

A lack of sleep and poor sleep quality can greatly affect your health and your body's ability to cope with stress. While you often hear that 8 hours of sleep is the amount of sleep we should get, it may be the quality of our sleep that is more important than the quantity. So if you can't always get 8 hours of sleep, then you should make sure that the sleep you do get is very restorative.

It has been shown that athletes who train hard suffer from sleep disturbances, some of which are related to higher levels of epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine at night. Drinking decaffeinated green tea before bedtime could help combat elevated norepinephrine levels.

3 ingredients for better sleep

The next step up from green tea is a powerful sleep supplement that contains anxiety-fighting and sleep-inducing ingredients, including the following:

  • 4-Amino-3-Phenyl Butanoic Acid HCl (PhGABA)
  • L-theanine (yes, the same good stuff found in green tea)
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

Such supplements can improve the quality of sleep without leading to tiredness or a kind of hangover the next morning, as is often the case with pharmaceutical sleep aids.

A good night's sleep is also important for what happens hormonally during the night. During periods of deep sleep, the body's release of cortisol decreases, while growth hormone production increases at night.

An easy way to optimize your sleep for maximum muscle growth is to simply go to bed earlier. Turn off the TV, make sure your bedroom is completely dark and try to get 14 nights of quality sleep in a row to get your body back on track.

Tip: Use the countdown method for your shoulder muscles

This will really burn. And terribly so. But you'll love the results!

By Ben Bruno

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-use-the-countdown-method-for-delts

Increasing the weight is the best form of progressive overload - but not for deadlifts. Sure, you'll be able to increase the weights a little when you first start doing this exercise, but most people will plateau quickly and the subsequent increase in weight would just mean using poor form. Then it becomes difficult to measure progress. Did you get stronger, or did you just drop a little more?

Instead, keep the weight lighter on side raises and focus on maintaining good form, keeping your arms reasonably straight and minimizing body momentum. If you use some momentum to perform the last reps of a set, that's one thing, but if you're heaving the weights up more poorly than right from the start, then the weight is too heavy.

Instead of chasing weight increases, try increasing reps or volume by adding a few sets here and there, or doing them on an extra day each week. However, you can also do the following...

Side lifts: the countdown method

Start by choosing a number of reps - usually between 4 and 6 - and no matter how many reps you start with, immediately follow this with an isometric hold for an equivalent number of seconds. Then you start the countdown down to one repetition.

Let's say you decided to start with 5 repetitions. The set would then look like this:

  • 5 reps
  • 5-second isometric hold
  • 4 repetitions
  • 4-second isometric hold
  • 3 repetitions
  • 3-second isometric hold
  • 2 repetitions
  • 2 seconds isometric hold
  • 1 repetition
  • 1-second isometric hold

Tip: Activate your gluteus to move more weight when deadlifting

This simple exercise will activate your gluteus and help you pull more weight

By Tony Gentilcore

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-activate-your-glutes-to-deadlift-more

Because we sit on our gluteus for 8 to 12 hours every day, it tends to be weak. Considering that the gluteus is the strongest hip extensor in the body, it's reasonable to assume that this muscle should affect how much weight you can move when deadlifting. Many exercisers cheat themselves by not paying more attention to their gluteus.

The solution? Perform some simple gluteus activation between your deadlift sets. You'll notice a big difference in the amount of weight you can put on the bar. Here's one way to do this.

Glute Bridge Plank Lifts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V6Tgi6hIGc

  1. Place both heels on the floor and lift your hips slightly off the floor. Contract your gluteus.
  2. From here, lift one heel 3 to 5 centimeters off the floor and keep your pelvis straight (it should not turn to the side). Hold this position for one second.
  3. Move the leg back to the floor and repeat with the other side for a total of 5 repetitions per leg.

If your gluteus was in a deep sleep, this exercise will wake it up and you will have a better deadlift workout.

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-try-the-primary-secondary-mover-split

By Chad Waterbury

Previous article The definitive guide to preventing muscle loss