Want to gain size? Want to get bigger, thicker and stronger? Who doesn’t, isn’t that the nature of bodybuilding? Isn’t that why we train, to build muscle? Always pushing to go past “normal” and blow by “average”? While many of you might not ever achieve the size to be a top pro, the drive is something that inspires us to push forward through every rep, every set and every workout.
Speaking of workouts, it seems that quite often we move away from the basic movements that build the foundation of having quality muscle on our bodies to cables, pulleys and cams. We opt for the latest cool moves that we hear about and get away from the core exercises that upper tier athletes have been using for decades. Why do they continue to do them? Because when performed with the proper form and consistency you will build muscle. Period.
Here are 8 of the best moves for building mass.
The big daddy of all lower body exercises. It is a movement that is natural to the body.Think about how many times you squat during the day. That is why it is so effective, it is a natural movement. Honestly there is no more effective way to load the quads and hamstrings than with squats. If you can, you need to go all the way down performing full reps, “ass to the grass” as they say.
There is an amazing amount of muscles that go into doing a flat bar bench press. Chest, delts, back and triceps just to name a few. When your benching think “raw power”, that is the feeling you want when your driving the bar upward. Do not get caught up in “how much” and try to not depend on a spotter.
Not many exercises can be called a “full body-movement”, deadlifts come as close to that as possible. Not only are you using your back but the traps, rear delts, biceps, quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves all come into play. Again, like the squat, deadlifts are a natural movement. You lift something up and put it back down. Simple. Do not over complicate it.
If getting a strong and thick upper back is your goal, nothing beats chin-ups. From working the upper lats to the biceps, the concept is pretty primal. Grab onto a chin-up bar and lift yourself up. Slowly bring yourself back down and repeat. Try using three grip variations for your chin-ups. Wide, shoulder width and narrow. It is important that you control the entire movement and not go ballistic or swing like crazy. The more you control the rep, the more back fibers you hit.
Whether standing, seated, front press or behind the neck, the act of pressing a weight over your head will build your delts. Some prefer dumbbells as that can allow the shoulders to move back a bit more but once you can go heavy, they become a problem getting them into the pressing position. This is one of those movements where concentration is key. You have to focus on controlling the weight and not jerking it as this, more than any other other core movement, can result in an injury with improper form. Always warm up before loading on the plates.
Everyone who has ever built awesome biceps has used a barbell in their routine. Although you see people in the gym doing this, it is by far the exercise that is done incorrectly the most. You do not need to load up the bar. You do not need to swing. You do not need to heave the weight. Keep your elbows at your sides, control the rep speed and think about flexing your biceps as you bring the bar up. You do not need to do a ton of sets, 3-4 is plenty.
Sure your going to get some great triceps stimulation from benching and doing military presses but you still need to hit the triceps directly. You can do these on a decline or incline bench but I prefer a flat bench. As with most power reps, control the weight and do full reps and avoid locking out at the top. Try to keep your triceps vertical to the floor only moving at the elbow.
STANDING CALF RAISES
Do not forget the calves! Standing raises are great because they give you the ability to do a full range of motion. Do not bounce the rep. Do not use too much weight and control the rep speed.
SETS and REPS
SQUATS – 6 X 15, 12, 10, 10, 8, 8
BENCH PRESS – 5 X 15, 12, 10, 8, 8
DEADLIFTS – 5 X 15, 12, 10, 8, 8
CHIN-UPS – 6 X 10
MILITARY PRESS – 5 X 15, 12, 10, 10, 10
BARBELL CURLS – 4 X 15, 12, 10, 8
SKULL CRUSHERS – 5 X 15, 12, 10, 8, 8
STANDING CALF RAISES – 5 X 12
There you go. Eight mass building movements that will be sure to power you to new growth. Are there other exercises you can do, of course but your emphasis needs to be on the core and doing movements that mirror what the bodies natural functions are. Own these and you will love the results.
Michael A. Carrubba
Clinical Sports Labs