The basic truths are always simple. For example, durian is a fruit with an awful smell and in some countries, there are laws that ban durian presence in public places. In the world of strength training everyone has an opinion, some are based on facts and years of experience, while others remind me of a durian smell.
But hey, everyone has a right to have an opinion, just like I have a right to eat durians. My intention is not to debunk strength-training myths; rather, I would like to share with you some basic muscle building truths that will help you achieve your goals.
It seems that some people can gain muscle mass just by looking at the weights. If you are one of them, you can stop reading right now. For the rest of us, and especially those that claim to be hardgainers, it is important to choose exercises wisely.
When I evaluate an exercise program, I always ask one simple question. Does a program revolve around free-weights and barbell exercises? I can already see some raised eyebrows. Do not worry; I did not forget about dumbbells, they just happened to be outside of the scope of this article.
A good exercise program always positions compound, multi-joint exercises at its core. Isolation exercises have their time and place, but they cannot recruit the same amount of motor units. If your body does not have sufficient muscle mass, isolation movements lead to mediocre strength gains, which, in turn, jeopardize your hypertrophy efforts.
There are some exceptions, but the best compound, multi-joint exercises are performed with a barbell. Three of them stand out from the crowd, because of their incredible strength and hypertrophy-inducing goodness.
If I were forced to choose only one exercise for the rest of my life, this would be it. This exercise works virtually every muscle in your body. When utilized properly, the deadlift can induce steroid-like muscle grows, especially in untrained individuals.
It puts emphasis on the quadriceps, buttocks, and hamstrings, as well as the hip, lower back, trapezius, and other muscle groups.
The squat involves a large part of the muscular system, but it is best known for adding slabs of muscle to the legs. Squats particularly work the quadriceps. Some of the other muscle groups involved in a barbell squat movement are the buttocks, hamstrings, calves, and lower back.
Barbell Bench Press
How many times have you heard “whaddya bench” question? Well, I think that as a measure of full body strength, the bench press is overrated. However, if you desire great upper body development, put it on your list. The bench press focuses on the pectorals and places second emphasis on the deltoids, coracobrachialis, and triceps.
When you star doing these exercises, it is tempting to get into the numbers game. Believe me it is not worth it. Over the years, I have seen too many people being injured because they were chasing a number. How silly is that?
If you can at least bench press, squat, and deadlift your body weight, you are on the right track. If not, this is something you may want to consider as your initial goal. If you are a beginner, start with very low weights, get familiar with the proper form, and be comfortable with these exercises before adding additional weight.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.