Hail to the Dinosaurs!
Let me begin with a story. A true
There was a kid who fell in love
with wrestling in junior high school.
He won the City championship for
7th and 8th graders two years in a
row, and the wrestling coaches were
looking for him when he started high
He went to a school with a great
wrestling program, and worked
like heck to become another of
the schools place-winners at the
His goal was to win the state
championship. And for his entire
high school career, he worked
tirelessly to achieve his dream.
He won the state championship
in Greco-Roman wrestling during
a summer tournament, and it looked
like he had a great shot at the
collefgiate style (or folk style)
title during his senior year of
But then -- disaster.
His right shoulder started to slip
slightly out of joint whenever his
shoulder or arm took a hard hit --
as in, for example, when he shot in
on a single leg take-down and his
opponent countered with an arm block.
He qualified for the state championship
in a bizarre match where his shoulder
got hurt in the first few seconds of
the match and he had to wrestle it --
and win it -- one armed.
He won in the final seconds with a
reversal, a quick turn, and three points
for a near fall -- all with one arm.
And against one of the toughest kids
in the state.
In the state tournament, he lost a close
match to the eventual champion, went into
wrestle-backs, and ended up finishing
third in state. Again, all with a bad
Now, third in state is pretty darn good.
But if his shoulder had held up, he might
have been number one.
And yes, you guessed right.
That kid was me.
How did he hurt his shoulder?
He hurt it in training. In the weight
room. Doing pullovers on the old Nautilus
Pullover Torso machine.
The range of motion on the machine was
too great. It pulled his shoulders a
little bit out of joint on every rep.
And over time, those excessive stretches
with weight resistance did the damage.
He also did lots of dips with extra weight
around his waist. Those probably didn't
Neither did the behind neck presses.
And yet, in performing those exercises, the
kid was following the advice of virtually
all the Iron Game writers of the era -- and
the coaches -- and he was doing what they
said to do in Peary Rader's old Iron Man
magazine, which was widely viewed as the
best source of unbiased, sensible advice
that you could find back then.
So here's the moral to the story:
The most important thing about your training
is this: DON'T HURT YOURSELF!
I learned the hard way that there are certain
exercises that just aren't worth doing -- by
anyone -- because the risks far outweigh the
benefits. I mentioned three of them in this
email -- machine pullovers, press behind neck,
and weighted dips.
There are others. I cover them in Gray Hair and
Black Iron. If you own a copy, dust it off and
reread the chapter on exercises to avoid. If you
don't already have a copy, grab one now.
If I had avoided the WRONG exercises -- the ones
that hurt my shoulder -- I might have achieved
my dream of winning the state title -- and I
might have avoided 40 years of sore shoulders.
Because yes, that right shoulder has bothered
me ever since. Still does. Actually aches a
bit right now as I type this.
So choose your exercises wisely. Train smart.
Always use perfect form on all of your exercises.
Train with deep focus and total concentration.
Use spotters when you need to use spotters.
And if something hurts -- if you feel a twinge
that says STOP -- then stop. And don't do it.
Find a substitute that doesn't hurt.
The shoulder (or knee, elbow, wrist, ankle or
lower back) that you save may be your own.
Yours in strength,
P.S. Go here to grab a copy of Gray Hair and
P.S. 2. My other books and courses are right
here at Dino Headquarters:
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Train to build
your body, not to destroy it." -- Brooks Kubik