Healing Tendonitis with Eccentric Training

Q: "Hi! I'm Rafael and I've read your Strength Training for Fat Loss article on Bodybuilding.com, and I must say it looks very promising. It reminds me of Bruce Lee's strength training. Anyway I'm going to start doing the program you put up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I was wondering what YOU recommend for cardio on Tuesday and Thursday?

"I'm planning on doing 20-30 minutes of H.I.I.T. on the treadmill. You know, 5 minutes warm up then 20 second sprints alternated with 10 second jogs for a total of 12 minutes, followed by a 5 minute cool down. Then followed by 15 minutes of hitting the heavy bag.

I'm just looking for some suggestions. I'm in great cardio shape, but I have stubborn belly fat that I'm trying to lose. I've lost over 60 pounds and still have this belly fat that's so hard to lose! That being I use to hit up a lot of keggers and what not.

"I hope to hear from you as I would greatly appreciate it! I hope you get to read this, and thanks for your time! Also I was thinking of at different times maybe putting in bench presses in the program. How many sets and reps would you recommend? Your program seems amazing that being I practice martial arts, so I don't want to get bulky or bigger (not too much). Thanks again."

My Answer: Congratulations on losing 60 pounds! That's quite an accomplishment. With regards to cardio, high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) followed by the heavy bag is fine. When it comes down to stubborn fat (like the abs and love handles), your diet needs to be clean and strict. That means no alcohol, no carbs except from vegetables.

Now as far as incorporating bench presses into the Bigger Engine program, simply substitute bench presses for pushups and perform 10-12 reps alternated with 10-12 reps of deadlifts.  

Q: I have an imbalance in my lats. My right is significantly bigger then my left. I have tried everything and every training technique available on earth but can never seem to stimulate growth in my left or feel the lat working whatsoever. 

Overall both my lats are extremely weak and small. I also get a weird felling in both my delts when doing heavy chest. It feels like someone is blowing air into my shoulders, and they start to get very heavy and become painful. I have been training for 5 years, and I have recently started doing assisted wide grip pull ups and chins for the first time ever as I cannot do them unassisted.  

I also have very tight lats, tight shoulders, traps and chest. Any suggestions on fixes for the lat problem? Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you Sir.

My Answer: I'm getting the sense that your chest and front deltoids are overdeveloped and this strength imbalance is preventing you from fully activating your lats.  I'd suggest laying off the chest work and prioritizing your back first in your workouts.

DON'T DO MACHINE ASSISTED PULL-UPS AND CHIN-UPS.  I've explained this numerous times before on this blog, but just understand that the machine is not going to help you in building your pull-up strength or your back.

If you cannot do a pull-up, then just do V-bar pulldowns and V-bar cable rows.  Go through a full range of motion and focus on getting a good stretch on the lats with each rep.  NO PARTIAL REPS!  Also fully contract the back on each rep by pulling the shoulder blades back and flexing the lats for 2 seconds.

Now if one lat is significantly smaller than the other, then you should get checked out by an A.R.T. practitioner.  You may have a shoulder impingement that's pinching a nerve, which may be why you're not feeling the lats.

Hope that helps.

Q: I have been off for a year now from tendonitis and golfer's elbow. I babied it, because I just couldn't figure it out, and with treatment it always seemed to linger. I got fed up and started back lifting just doing basic movements and icing it afterwards. It keeps feeling like it is getting better and stronger. 

My question is what would you recommend replacing Zottman curls with? They are a great movement, but I feel that it might be something that aggravates that area. I just started back doing the Shotgun Method, because I didn't know which one to get back into. Do you have a suggestion for which workout to try next after I am done with this one? Your books have been great!


My Answer: If Zottman curls aggravate your tendonitis, then you should definitely avoid it.  The key to recovery is to avoid exercises that aggravate your tendonitis and perform exercises that work the elbows but don't cause you any pain.  This means you have to experiment with different exercises and find out which hurt and which do not.  Go through Strength and Physique: High Tension Exercises for Muscular Growth and you'll find many exercises to choose from.

Once you've figured out what exercises work your elbows without aggravating them, you'll perform high reps (12-15) along with eccentric training.  There is some evidence to suggest that negative reps strengthen the tendons, which would alleviate the tendonitis.

So a good program to follow after the Shotgun Method is a Muscle Spinning program.  Do 4 sets of 12-15 reps on each exercise.  On the last 2 sets of each exercise, perform 12 reps followed by 3 negative reps.  Using the cable curl as an example:

Set 1: 15 reps
Set 2: 15 reps
Set 3: 12 reps followed by 3 negative reps at a slight higher weight
Set 4: 12 reps followed by 3 negative reps at a slight higher weight

I suggest choosing cable and machine exercises, since negatives can be more easily performed.

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