I can't tell you how many times people have asked me for the best exercises to do in the gym to get big. Well, before I go any further, listen up. I'm going to tell you five exercises that have great potential for helping you build muscle. However, going in the gym and doing only these five exercises would be ridiculous.
Also, don't go into the gym doing the same thing every time. These are simply exercises that you should be doing in your workout. If you are already doing these exercises, you will want to put a little more emphasis on them than the others in your workout.
I've said it a million times - if you want big legs, you're going to have to squat. Technique is everything with this exercise. Make sure that you are arching your back from the time that you pick the weight up to the time you rack it. Also, your head needs to be back, preferably looking up during the set.
Your chest should be out with feet a little wider than shoulder width. To execute, imagine yourself sitting down in a chair. With me, if I can imagine myself doing the exercise in such a way that the form makes sense, it is always easier to execute the movement.
Now, you might even want to grab a bench and practice sitting down normally just so you can get a feel for the movement. To really hit your quads (which is the muscle that you want to focus on with this exercise), go down to just above parallel, in order to minimize the emphasis on your glutes, before starting the ascending portion.
This exercise should be done on the days that you work your back. This is an excellent movement for overall strength and building thickness in the mid to lower portion of your back. Deadlifts can be done anytime in the workout, but it is probably best to do it later in your workout.
I've always found that if I have a pump in the working muscle, it is easier to work it in other exercises. Since deadlifting pulls in aspects of your legs as well, the more of a pump you have before this exercise, the more you can emphasize your back. You can do this with a narrow stance, with your arms outside of your knees.
An alternative way is to have a "sumo" stance with your feet very wide apart and arms inside your knees. Either way, the key is to have strict form, arch your back, and keep it that way throughout the movement.
To most people, this is the bread and butter to building their chest. However, most people perform this movement with very poor form. It seems like every time that I look at the people bench pressing in the gym; over half are using terrible form by squirming on the bench, lifting their butts off of the bench, or dropping the weight on their chest.
I think that this is because the majority of those who bench press want to load on as much weight as they can possibly handle so that they can go around bragging about how much they bench. Now, if you have done bench press with any kind of frequency, you've probably noticed that there is a groove that you can push through where the weight feels a little lighter.
This is natural because there is a groove that you need to try and stay in to get maximum results. After letting the weight down to your chest and GENTLY touching your chest with the bar, push up and very slightly towards your head. The weight should end up over your chin or mouth.
If you push at all towards your feet, the weight will feel much heavier. This is what you will tend to do with extremely heavy weight or late in a set. Avoid throwing the weight up, instead, put the emphasis on actually pushing with your chest muscles.
To do this, try flexing your lats throughout the set. I do this, and it makes my chest flex automatically. If that doesn't work, put a little bit of force in trying to touch your hands together at the top of the repetition without actually moving your hands.
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This is an exercise that you want to do when you work shoulders. It is a good idea to go ahead and have a pump before you do this movement. I prefer to do these by pressing the weight behind my neck, not in front. This because I simply feel it more in my shoulders this way. However, you can do as you please.
Military press is very good for getting that wide and thick look up top. Again, there is also a groove for this exercise as well. Basically, if you are going behind your neck, you want to make sure that your elbows are back throughout the entire set. You don't want to come down to your neck and push the weight up while your forearms are at a funky angle to the bar.
You want your forearms to be perfectly perpendicular with the bar. Use about the same width that you use on bench press. If you have a relatively narrow grip for bench press, then go a little wider with military press.
Be cautious of the position of your lower back and butt throughout the set. Usually, you tend to deviate from the back of the bench as the set progresses. Make sure that you keep your lower back and butt pressed against the back of the seat.
Straight Leg Deadlifts
You would want to include this exercise in your hamstring workout. This is a very simple movement, but it can be devastating if you are not aware of your form. Just like regular deadlifts, you want to keep your lower back arched, chest up, and head back. Use about a 15 inch grip and when you let the weight down, stick your butt out and bend at the hips.
This will cause you to focus in on your hamstrings. Personally, I would rather try to stick my butt out as far as I can in order to get a stretch in my hamstrings instead of trying to go all the way down to my toes with the weight. Think about it, if you try to go all the way down to your toes, your back will probably round, and that is what you don't want.
When you pull the weight up, flex your hamstrings and bend only at the hips. If you do what I have instructed, you will be able to blow out your hamstrings with this exercise.
I promise that if you incorporate these exercises into your workout and really emphasize them, you will get results. Go as heavy as you can using perfect form and you will definitely obtain the maximum benefits to these exercises.
Remember, it's always a good idea to get somewhat of a pump in the working muscle before performing any of these movements. Also, try to incorporate 2-4 other exercises per body part in addition to what I have listed depending on the body part worked.