Before science stepped in, they were bodybuilding truisms. The golden ages of the '70s and '80s were full of them:
- Drop your carbs before a competition (or in the novice's case, before a tropical vacation) to shed massive amounts of bodyfat.
- Pyramid up in weight each set to get bigger and stronger.
- No mass-gaining program is complete without squats.
- Reading a magazine on the treadmill does not - we repeat, does not - constitute an effective cardio session.
Then science stepped in, and such truisms practiced and preached in any bodybuilding gym worth its $99 annual membership fee became clinically accepted, doctor-approved, bona fide facts. As sport science became a multimillion-dollar industry, research budgets at universities worldwide expanded to study such training minutiae as determining the best time of day to work out and what type of carbohydrates to consume before and after training.
The result? To say nothing of 260-pound linebackers running the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds or modern-day bodybuilders making the likes of Sergio Oliva look small in stature, progress in the field of exercise science has led to the following list of the 50 best bodybuilding advances of the last 50 years.
A majority of the breakthroughs and discoveries came straight from the lab, while others have been reinforced so many times in hardcore gyms across the globe that scientists needn't waste their time looking for answers all but cemented as fact. Not to brag or anything, but we saw this coming.
The Best Advances In Exercise
1. Best for Overall Chest Mass - Dumbbell Bench Press
Recent research from Las Vegas-based StrengthPro, Inc., headed by David Sandler, MS, CSCS, showed that the dumbbell bench press uses far less front deltoid involvement than the barbell bench press, since the arms are allowed to come out to the sides more with dumbbells. Less delt involvement means more stimulation of the pecs, which is exactly what you want for maximal chest development.
2. Best For Lat Width - Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
University of Miami researchers had 10 experienced lifters perform wide-grip pulldowns to the front, reverse- and neutral-grip pulldowns, and wide-grip pulldowns behind the neck while measuring muscle activity with electromyography. The wide-grip pulldowns to the front involved the most lat muscle fibers, with the reverse-grip version coming in a close second.
3. Best For Overall Deltoid Mass - Overhead Dumbbell Press
Research performed by StrengthPro found that the overhead dumbbell press activated more middle delt muscle fibers and fewer front delt fibers than the barbell version. Since the middle delts make up the most mass of the three heads and provide width and roundness to the shoulders, dumbbells should take precedence over a barbell when pressing for delt size.
For the remaining 47 advances that have helped reshape the face of bodybuilding - as well as hundreds more training and nutrition tips - pick up the December 2007 issue of Muscle & Fitness, on newsstands November 6.
For more M&F, visit their website: www.muscleandfitness.com.