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Lee Hayward In a bodybuilding world where intense marketing hype and exaggeration have become the norm, Lee Hayward has stuck to his guns and provides a truthful and honest approach to building muscle and gaining strength.

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A little more than a year a go, my left quadricep began tightening up and one day when I was sprinting I felt a sudden pop in my leg followed by a lot of pain. I rested a few weeks and it happened again. After that I rested longer and it went away. I havent had a problem with it until a few days ago. I can feel it tightening up again and I dont know how to prevent it. Is it possible I tore it before and it hasnt ever fully healed?


There are a lot of things that can cause your muscles to feel tight. But here are a few tips that may help.

Make sure to drink at least 1 gallon of water every single day. Dehydration can cause muscle tightness and cramping.

If you sweat a lot during exercise make sure to add extra salt to your food. You need to replace the sodium that you lose through sweating. Lack of sodium and other minerals will cause tightness and cramping in the muscles.

Stretch before, during, and after your workouts to help with your flexibility. Most people do not stretch nearly enough but it is critical for improving exercise performance, preventing injuries, and helping with muscle growth.


Lee, I emailed you before about my shoulder problem, and you gave me exercises to do. The exercises work but still my shoulder hurts. When I flex my arm , there is a pain in the back of my shoulder, muscles are tight. Is there any kind of supplement that can help ,or is a cortizone shot in order. Also my shoulders crack when I raise them over my head.


I find supplementing with Glucosamine can help with joint pain. Before I started taking Glucosamine I used to have a lot of elbow and shoulder pain but now I hardly ever have any joint pains at all. The main function of glucosamine is to stimulate the manufacture of substances in the body necessary for joint and cartilage repair.



My name is Roger, Im 27 years old. I have been lifing for about 8 years on and off. About 6month to 1 year ago I noticed a little bump on my forarm. For last 6 months I have been training hard, I though it was vein at first, but I dont think it is due to been getting alot of pain from it especially when doing curls or anything that works forarms. Please let me know what it is, should I worried. I really dont want to stop working out but I think pain is getting worse and area getting bigger. Please help me anyway you can, what should I do about it.

Please e-mail me back
Thank you


Hi Roger,

If you are having pain when doing curls or forearm work then that could be from tennis elbow or golfers elbow. I get this occasionally, strained tendons in the elbows / forearms that make certain movements very painful. When I get this I usually take a few days off and then wear an elastic wrap around my elbow / forearm to help support the area. I will also avoid any exercise that is particularly painful (i.e. curls, forearm work, various rowing exercises, etc.). Taking ibuprofen before workouts and rubbing some deep heat liniment on the painful areas also helps.

As for the lump in your forearm you should get it checked out by your doctor. Most likely it is nothing serious, but you should get it checked out just in case.


I decided to change my workout by going heavy and staying in the 4 to 6 rep range. Well I was working my arms and was having a good workout was winding down with my last 2 sets of concentration curls using 45ís on a preacher curl bench when I was half way up with the weight and my bicep popped a couple of times. Not a terribly painful experience but I knew it was screwed up! I mostly lost range of motion, pronating and supinating my arm. The doctor said that I have a partial torn bicep and it would take a couple of weeks to recover, the muscle would actually scar over! Is that how it heals? I understand I full tears that it requires surgery to be repaired but with a partial tear like I have will it recover to 100% or should I expect something like this to happen again? I am hoping that I can make a full recovery and get back to my lifestyle, I do need a break I have been going for a while with out a break. How often do you recommend taking breaks?

Thanks for the help.
Dave Scheiba


Hi Dave,

I know of two people who have had torn biceps. One had to have surgery, then other didn't. All you can do is rest up and when you do resume training avoid direct bicep work for a while until your bicep fully heals, this could be a couple months. Preacher curls are one of the worst exercises for a bicep injury because of the extreme stretch that you will get from the exercise, especially if you are using a heavy weight.

While you are resting up you should be able to still do moderate cardio to keep active. After a week or two off you should be able to do some light weight training, but be careful to not do exercises that place a lot of stress on the biceps.


Hi Mr. Lee Hayward,

Let me introduce myself my name is Alex and I have a very important question to ask. I am recovering from a shoulder injury due to weight lifting and I will be taking an MRI this week just to make sure everything is alright. My question is I used to do Lat Pulldowns behind my head for years I think that was the problem I've seen many people due this through the years only to find out that it is a no no. I never bothered asking a personnel trainer for advice on that. Question what is the proper way to do military shoulder presses? Question 2 Is it ever correct in doing any shoulder exercises behind the head for shoulders?

Thank You,



Hi Alex,

Some people do behind the head press and pull downs with no problems. But others find it really hard on the shoulder joints. I personally do not do any behind the head presses or pull downs. You will work the muscles just as effectively, if not better, by doing your presses and pull downs to the front.

I have a good shoulder training article that you should check out at: http://www.leehayward.com/shoulders.htm


I just reviewed your website, and I had a question that I hoped perhaps you could help me with. Back at the end of 2003, I had only what I can explain to be a severe muscle cramp in my left tricep, which last approximately 5-6 seconds. This happened on two different occasions, where I was just standing, not doing anything unusual with my arm. Although, both times, I had been under a significant amount of stress, not eating properly, and may have been somewhat dehydrated. I went to my orthopedic doctor, since about 11 years ago, I had a disclocation of the shoulder. He xrayed the shoulder and found everything to be as it should. He indicated that it may have been do to a shoulder instability, where if the shoulder moved a certain way, that the brain would send a signal to the muscles to contract to prevent slippage. I went through physical therapy and continue to work out every other day with the exercises I have been given, using the max of 10 lbs. It has been three months since this has occured. However, last night while sleep on my left side, I was awakened with another episode. My arm feels as if it locks up, (I can't bend my elbow) and it is a severe twisting feeling, like a dislocation, however, it is defintely not in my shoulder. It is the tricep muscle. Kind of like when you get a cramp in your foot and your toes lock. It lasted about 5 seconds, but it causes by body to thrash around because it is such a strange sensation. Now, I have been sick over the past few days, and I have been pretty dehydrated (mouth has been very dry). My question to you is, is it possible that these spasms, or whatever they are, be caused by low potassium or dehydration? Have you heard of this happening to anyone. It frightens me to no end. I know we all get muscle cramps, but this really scares me because of the way it feels. It's as if someone is ripping my arm of, or that my are is all twisted up. I sincerley hope you can provide me with some answers. My tricep muscle is sore this a.m. The should feels fine.


I think that your problem is simply dehydration and a lack of salt in your body. I sometimes get really bad muscle cramps when I am dieting for a bodybuilding contest. This is because when I am diet I eat very little processed foods and do not get much salt in my diet. What I do to over come this is add table salt to my food. And if I am really sweating a lot I will even add a few shakes of salt to my protein drinks. You need to drink more water and increase your salt intake to avoid these cramps.


I have just a couple of questions. The following exercises involve lifting barbells and I have a bad back and don't want to injure it again, so I was wondering if you could suggest alternate exercises that I could do instead of Squats and Dead Lifts.


The best thing that you can do for your back is to start off training it light and build up your strength. If you don't train your back you will always complain of having a bad back, but by training it you can turn a bad back into a strong back. These are the best exercises that you can do for strengthening your back and building muscle. Start off light, even if you have to start with just squatting and dead lifting an empty bar and just add 5 lbs. per week.

I have a friend who seriously injured his lower back several years ago. But he built it up gradually over time to the point where his back is one of his strongest bodyparts, he can now do full squats with 400+ lbs. for reps.


Hi Lee,

First of all i would like to compliment you on your site. It has provided with alot of useful tips lately. Just a quick question which i hope you can shed some light on. I am about to have surgery and i have been advised not to touch the weights for 4 weeks. How do i go about ensuring that i do not loose muscle and power during this period. Is there anything that i can do?



Well if you are going to be inactive for 4 weeks you will lose some muscle and strength. There is no way around it. However, the good news is that when you do resume training again you will regain the muscle quickly and most likely you will surpass your current level of development within a couple months of training.

Practically everyone that I know of who has had to take a short layoff from weight training has become stronger then ever within a 2-3 months of resuming training. Because you are giving your muscles, joints, tendons, and central nervous system a complete break from training. When you start back you will make fast gains like a beginner all over again.

I will occasionally take a week off from training just to let everything rest and fully recover. I know of some bodybuilders and powerlifters who will even take a couple months off from training entirely in the off season just to give their body and mind a break from training.


im 40 years old and been weight lifting for about 9 months. i took off from weight lifting for 3 weeks due to the flu then went back . during the first few days back in gym i was doing sitting 2 arm tricep extension behind my head with a dumbell 75lbs. later that night i felt a pain in myright elbow only when i extended it. i look at it and it swelled a little did some research and found out i have golf elbow. ever heard of it?

is that common in weight lifting?

i heard of you build up your forearms then you might not get golf elbow?

well can you give me some exercises to do that wont hurt my elbow until it gets better?

golf elbow= inflammation inside the elbow.

thank you


Hi Tony,

This is an individual thing, different people will get pain and discomfort from different exercises. All I can suggest is that you experiment to find what movements feel ok. If a certain exercise doesn't feel right, then don't do it, pick something else. But generally I find cable and machine exercises easier on the joints then free weight exercises.

You should try supplementing your diet with glucosamine. I personally use this and find it excellent for strengthening the joints. I have an article about it at: http://www.leehayward.com/art26.htm

Training your forearms with heavy grippers is an excellent way to strengthen your forearms and tendons. I highly recommend them. You can check them out at: http://www.leehayward.com/heavygrips.htm

I personally used to have a lot of elbow problems (i.e. tennis elbow, golfers elbow, etc.) as well as carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrists, all of it caused from years of weight training. But since I have been supplementing with glucosamine and using the heavy grippers regularly I haven't had any major joint or tendon problems with my elbows or wrists.


HI Lee,

Im 15 years old and I have been working out for nearly 6 months now and my right elbow carcks and pops every time I lift Dumbells or do benchpress. I was wondering what I can do to prevent this, and also I would like to know if maybe you might now what the problem is with it.

Thank you,


Hi Casey,

Very often if you workout when your muscles and joints are cold you will get cracking or popping noises. Make sure to warm up really well before doing any weight lifting. I personally do 5-10 minutes on the aerobic rowing machine as a warm up before my weight training. The rower works both the upper and lower body and helps to get the blood flowing and loosen up the joints.

Do several warm up sets with light weights before moving into your heavy sets. You can even do a set of push ups before doing your bench presses to help warm up the arms and chest. This should help eliminate the cracking in your elbow.


Hello Lee.

I have a quick question: When I played football last year as a senior in highschool, one day I did the splits and heard a pop in my right hamstring. I shrugged it off as nothing, but it did hurt for a while (I can't recall how long it hurt). Just yesterday,While I was in a Tae Kwon Do class and did a jump kick and heard the same pop, and felt nothing until I awakened. It hurts just the same as it did about a year ago. The pain is right out side of the inner thigh area, where the muscle just begins to curve into the inner leg; I'm not sure what I did (i hope just a pull) and I thnk the muscle was my semitenidnosus, but don't quote me on that (sorry for all of the extra rhetoric) My question is HOW THE HECK DO I CARE FOR THIS STUPID THING TO GET HEALED ASAP SO I CAN TRAIN WITH NO WORRIES AGAIN!!!!!!!!

Thank you for your time!!

Armand Smith


Hi Armand,

The best thing that you can do for your leg now is simply rest it. Don't do any heavy stretching, kicking, or any explosive movements for your legs for at least 4-5 days. You can do some moderate cardio (i.e. walking, bike riding, cardio machines at the gym, etc.) this will help increase blood flow to your legs and help speed up muscle recovery. If the hamstring hurts you can try rubbing some deep heat (or similar product such as A535) on the muscles. I find that this works good for relieving pain quickly and increasing blood flow to the area. You can also take ibuprofen to help reduce pain and inflammation in the hamstrings, take 200 mg 2-3 times per day after eating.

When you do resume normal training warm up extra carefully (light cardio, light stretching, etc.) and judge for yourself if your hamstrings feel fully recovered or not. If they don't feel 100% then avoid heavy stretching, kicking, etc. until they do or you will only make the problem worse.


Sometimes when i go to the gym and i get head aches while doing excersises why does this occur?


Most likely low blood sugar or dehydration is the reason you are getting headaches. Here are a few tips that should help you avoid the headaches:

Eat a small meal containing protein and carbohydrates 1 hour before your workouts. This will prevent low blood sugar levels and keep your energy up.

Always drink plenty of water during your workouts, or you can drink a carbohydrate drink such as Gatorade. Drinking lots of fluids will prevent dehydration and allow you to train harder. I carry a water bottle with me and sip it in between each set of my workout.

Take a regular strength coated aspirin 30 minutes before your workouts. This will improve blood flow and circulation and help prevent headaches.

Give these tips a try and let me know how they work for you.


Hi Lee I was reading your q&a and had a question, I recently was at the gym and I was training back and traps and after doing my back routine I started on my Traps since they were already warmed, on like my 3rd set of barbell shrugs I felt a slight tug on my lat muscle on the back it went away and didnt hurt but the morning after I was in pain and couldnt move it back and forth well, its is now the 4th day and it still hurts a little in the morning when i wake but then by the afternoon it goes away, when can I go back to the gym can I workout other muscles? if so which ones? Thanks I got alot of great info on some injuries Ive had from you Q&A column


You may have pinched a nerve in your back. I get similar pains every now and then. Don't do any direct back work until the pain is gone. You should be able to work other muscle groups such as arms, chest, & abs. I wouldn't suggest that you work you legs right now because exercises such as squats, stiff leg dead lifts, etc. heavily work the back as well. You can also try taking ibuprofen before your workouts to help reduce the pain. You should be back to feeling 100% within the next 4-5 days.


Today at the gym I was doing one armed dumbell tricep extensions and on my fourth rep I heard a popping noise in my tricep. It was a sharp pain and I immediatley stopped. After I stopped, my tricep started gradually to swell at the elbow and caused me a great deal of discomfort if I tried to flex. The pain came from the tricep side. The upper part of the "horse shoe" area of my tricep does not hurt and is not swollen. I came home and iced my tricep and then followed it with heat. My question is will this work as therapy or should I consult my doctor in order to get professional therapy? What determines recover time length and are there any supplements you recommend to promote healing? Thanks for taking the time to answer.

Charlie Piekanski
Frustrated in Pennsylvania


Hi Charlie,

You are doing the right thing by resting and icing your tricep. Ice it daily over the next few days and do not do anything to place stress on the tricep. You should be back to top notch in a week. If your tricep is not better by this time next week get it checked out by a doctor, just to be on the safe side.

200 mg of Ibuprofen every few hours can help if you have any muscle / joint pain. I take this and it works well. You can also try rubbing some deep heat, A535, or similar product on your tricep area. This can help increase blood flow to the muscles and help relieve pain.



i recently sustained a serious shoulder injury, involving the resulting in problems with the rotary cuff and sub-dislocation. i am 19, and a hardgainer, wo loves to train, and wants to put weight/muscle on. do you have any ideas?

thankyou for your time

Joe R.


Hi Joe,

I always do a good shoulder / rotator cuff warm up prior to each workout. I will list the exercises that I do below, you should do them everyday and before your workouts to help strengthen and heal your shoulders.

Arm Circles - 10 rotations forwards, 10 rotations backwards, repeat 3 times.

Rotator Cuff Rotations - 3 sets of 15 reps with very light weights (i.e. 2.5 lb. plate in each hand)

(Note: if this exercise hurts your shoulders just use the weight of your arms)

Shoulder Press to Front and Back of neck - 3 sets of 10 reps with empty bar (just press the weight high enough to clear your head with each rep, do not lock out your elbows at the top.)

(Note: if this exercise hurts your shoulders just use a broom stick instead of a barbell)

Standing Flyes - just use the weight of your arms and do flyes as if your were lying down doing dumbbell flyes on a bench. Do 3 sets of 20 reps.

Finish off with a few more sets of arm circles.

Doing these exercises daily will help to get your shoulders back in shape.


Hi Lee,

I was doing military dumbell presses and my my right arm started falling backwards while it was extended in the air and i heard a couple of popping noises so i dropped the dumbells. that happened yesterday and today it pops when i rotate it and slighty hurts but not a serious pain. i stretch it different ways and some ways are painful and others i can't feel. what should i do?



Hi Chris,

The best thing to do is just let your shoulders rest, don't do any shoulder or pressing movements for a week.

Do some light shoulder / rotator cuff work each day:

Arm circles 2 sets of 20 reps forwards and backwards

Rotator cuff rotations 2 sets of 25 reps, use light weights (in the pic below the exercise is done with 2.5 lb. weight plates.

You should also do these before every workout to strengthen the small stabilizer muscles in your shoulders and prevent injury.


Hi there,

I was wondering if you could help me.I used to weight train a lot but whilst training i had an accident, a lot of weight on a cam machine pulled against my treciept. This was 2years ago. I let the arm rest and a few weeks later i started training again. With light weights my armw as ok but when i lifted a lot f weight while bench pressing my arm would hurt. I seeked help. I knew all i had was a treciept pull so some ultrasound would fix the problem. Unfortunately for me the physio said the problem was with my nerve. So he started massarging my nerve from my neck and also at the bend of my arm i.e. the elbow. This treatement infact made the problem worse.

Today my neck hurts and also my arms especially the top of the trecipt. If i lift even a very light item such as a shopping bag my arm hurts. What can I do? I really dont know whats wrong and what i can do to fix the problem,

I had an MRI scan onmy shoulder, the doctors concluded that my shoulder was fine

I really hope you can help

Kindest Regards

ps I have had a previous shoulder injury whihc kept me out of training 4 a year inwhich i had intensive ultrasound treatement



You should do some light active recovery workouts to help gradually strengthen the muscles, joints, tendons, etc. When I have any muscle, joint, or tendon problems I will do bodyweight movements on a daily basis to help get blood flow to the bodyparts and help speed recovery. For example, I will just stand up and move my arms the same as if I were doing a bench press, shoulder press, bicep curl, tricep push down, etc. and do a couple sets of 25-50 reps with just the weight of my arms. I also do this before each workout as a warm up.

Experiment with some light exercises at the gym to see which ones that you can perform most comfortably. I like to use rubber fitness bands a lot in my workouts. I find that not only are they effective at working the muscles, but they are therapeutic on the joints as well:

You need to keep active, if you don't use your muscles they are not going to get stronger. Start off light and build up the resistance slowly over time.

Taking pain medication such as ibuprofen should help to reduce pain and make the exercises more comfortable. Before each workout you should apply "deep heat" or a similar product to your elbows, triceps, etc. this will increase blood flow to the problem areas.


Hi there Lee,

I hope you can help me. I'v been weight training for just over a year now with building muscle the main aim to my training. a few months ago I started to find that when doing z-bar bicep curls using heavy weight i suffer pain on the right hand side of my right upper arm. It's especially painful when I put the bar down and release my grip. I decided to rest the injury and had 6 -8 weeks off training. On return to training last week it was fine on low weight but by the second visit to the gym it was hurting and by the 4th it was too painful to exercise. It feels fine all day but just hurts in certain positions. Have you any ideas what this is and would use of a wrist support be worth while?

Any advice greatly recieved.

Mark Harris


Hi Mark,

If an exercise hurts don't do it, find another exercise to substitute in its place. However, for the next month I suggest that you avoid training your biceps and just focus on the rest of your body. This will give the tendons time to heal. When you do return to training your biceps experiment with different types of exercises (i.e. dumbbells, cable machines, rubber fitness bands, etc.). I personally like using the rubber fitness bands when my joints / tendons are sore. The rubber bands are very therapeutic, easy on the joints, and still allow me to work the targeted muscles.

Before each workout rub some "deep heat" (or similar product) on the areas that are painful and sore. Try wrapping your arm with an elastic wrap / support. After each workout ice the areas that are sore (i.e. 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off, and repeat 2-3 times). I personally use a bag of frozen veggies for icing my muscles and joints.

Give these tips a try and let me know how they work for you.


I injured my elbow a while bad and was wondering what would be the best support band to use while strenth training as in curls,bench press that wont restrict my movement?



Hi Kirk,

You should get some pain relieving liniment to rub on your elbow before every workout. I personally use "Heet". This is available at most any drug store. Simply rub some around your elbow joint, start off with just a little until you get used to the product (it can get pretty hot). If my joints are hurting I will put it on before I leave for the gym, this way it has some time to kick in and help ease up the pain.

You can take a couple ibuprofen before your workouts to help ease the pain in your elbow.

As for elbow support bands I suggest that you check out your local sports shop, most places have various types of support wraps and bands. You can also check out http://www.monstermuscle.com/accessories2.asp they have "Mueller Neoprene Elbow Sleeves" for sale.

They main thing is to avoid exercises that aggravate your elbow. If an exercise hurts find a different variation or a different movement all together. Experiment with various machine and cable exercises to help work the muscles with out putting too much stress on your elbow joints.


Mr. Hayward-

My name is Gracie. I'm from IL and I'm involved in volleyball. I love playing it. I'm a setter on the team. There's one problem. Something is wrong with my wrists. My doctor said it might be tendonitis or I might have fractures on the surface of my bones. My coach said to lift weights to help build my muscles up and to help my wrists get stronger. Do you have any suggestions? I've tried just lifting weights but it just doesn't seem to cut it. I end up having to wrap both of my wrists by the end of the game. Thanks for your time.



Hi Gracie,

I personally have "carpal tunnel syndrome" (www.carpal-tunnel.com/anatomy.htm) from working out and from typing on the computer so much. I always wear wrist wraps when I workout do any physical activity that involves my hands. Right now as I am writing this e-mail I have a pair of elastic wrist wraps on and they help to support my hands and wrists. I suggest that you do the same, wrap your wrists for every volleyball game, workout, etc. you need to support your wrists so they can heal.



I hope you can help me. i have been training for two years and have recently realised good growth but the inside of my left elbow hurts and the pain is also at the wirst and up towards the bicep.

This happens when i train my tricep, such as the over head bar or push-downs with heavy weights. I am worried that the doctor will turn around and say that dont train for 6 weeks. A mate says just keep massaging it and carry on.

Can you please advise me on what to do and if it does involve a break can i traion other parts. Thanks alot and impatiently look forward to hearing from you.



Hi Asad,

You should supplement your diet with Glucosamine. And you should also avoid any exercises that bother your elbow. Pick different exercises that work the same muscle groups (i.e. close grip bench presses, dips, etc.) You can also try wearing an elastic elbow wrap when working out. This will help to support the elbow joint.

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