Matt’s Shoulder Health and Rehab Program

The shoulders have got to be the most-injured joint in weight-training populations. Virtually everybody walks around with some kind of shoulder aches.

Even I’ve had my issues with this. Years ago, I started noticing a pain in my right shoulder, near where the pectoral muscle inserts, when I was doing any kind of flat pressing movement. I’d assumed (naively) that it was some strain of the pec, and responded by just taking time off. This went on for years, alternating between getting (reasonably) strong on the bench, only to have this pain come back and sending me back to square one.

It turns out I actually had a partially-torn subscapularis (one of the rotator cuff muscles; thanks to Eric Cressey for helping me to figure that out), and according to my ART guy, a whole metric ton of scar tissue in both shoulders, though the right was the worst.

Since then, I’ve had to take a lot of steps to rehabilitate the area, and that’s what this is going to deal with: my attempts at fixing, working around, and maybe even preventing shoulder problems.

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Rep Speed, Fatigue, and Motor Units

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a good old-fashioned hater post, which is ironic since that’s one of the reasons I started this site: to serve as a place to rebuke claims of guru bullshit. I’ve pretty well gotten away from that lately, for better or worse, but today I saw something that got me interested enough to write up a response.

Namely I want to talk about this recent obsession with movement speed (tempo) and motor unit recruitment. This is being touted as “revolutionary” by certain parties; although it might be new to the current crop of would-be Internet lifters and bodybuilders, this is not a new concept. In fact, in my brief decade in the gym, I can remember running into that same idea in half a dozen places in the early days of the ‘net, back when places like Deepsquatter and MFW were the only real places to get decent info.

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A New Explanation for Adrenal Fatigue and Metabolic Damage?

If you’ve read some of my older rantings, you’ve seen that I don’t terribly care for the phrase “adrenal fatigue”. A survey of medical literature just doesn’t agree with the idea of an adrenal dysfunction. Yet, many people have complained of having the symptoms. The same goes for the “damaged” [sic] metabolism. This has a little more evidence in the literature, yet it’s often used as a catch-all term for a certain set of symptoms.

In the past, I’ve considered this to be a function of simply too much stress and little to no attention paid to recovery. For example, the people most often complaining of both of these symptoms are usually doing the Standard Female Fitness Regimen – 2-3 hours of cardio every day, an equally stressful weight-training plan (if any at all), and a diet that might add up to 900 calories of chicken and broccoli – combined with the normal stresses of life. Some will exhibit signs of thyroid disease and either hyper- or hypocortisolemia (which are actually pathological conditions, mind you, that should be diagnosed by a medical doctor).

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Remembering Unloading Weeks

You grow outside the gym, not in it. That’s the mantra so often repeated, used to justify everything from training a muscle group only once a week to taking off whole months from exercise. There’s certainly a lot of truth in that statement. One thing that’s come into vogue these days is the concept of the unloading week (sometimes called deloading; it’s the same concept) where you do what the title says: remove the training stress from your body to “unload” it.

This is a valuable tool. Yet, as obvious as “take it easy” is, I don’t think a lot of people get it. So I want to talk about that.

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Squat Depth – How Low is Low?

I don’t usually listen to people online that quote squat numbers. If someone has a video, or is a competing powerlifter or Olympic weightlifter, that’s one thing. It isn’t a matter of lying, either. I think most people just don’t realize what actually constitutes a real squat.

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A Quick Rundown of Overtraining and Fatigue

I made this post on another forum, and it’s one of those things I tend to write off-the-cuff that tends to summarize things fairly well, so I thought I’d share. The context was a discussion about ‘overtraining’ and stress/fatigue in general.

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Women and Bench Pressing

Everybody likes to bench press, especially in the commercial gyms. It’s the one lift that everybody knows and everyone will ask about if you mention you lift weights. “How much ya bench?” Guys seem to gravitate to the bench, and crappy form, like it’s some expected tradition.

What about the girls though? Besides pullups, I can’t think of a lift that women seem to have a harder time with. It can lead to some frustration and eventually just giving up.

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Lagging Muscle Group: Does this demand special training?

Lots of people have muscle groups or body parts they’d like to look better. This fair enough, in concept, but I’m not sure that average folks really understand some of the implications. Make no mistake, this applies to both males and females that aspire to have better bodies.

The rationale goes that if you want a part to look good, you have to work that part. It’s logical enough if you don’t know any better, I guess. Guys are all about the chest and biceps. Women like the butt and legs. Both seem equally obsessed with abs.

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A Closer Look at Cortisol & Bodybuilding

Every bodybuilder knows that cortisol is bad. Cortisol is one of those nasty catabolic hormones, and catabolism is bad. At least that’s the logic. Cortisol is a hormone found in your body, in a class of compound called glucocorticoids. It gets its name from the fact that it’s produced in the cortex (outer layer) of … Read more