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The Big Four: Clean & Press, Deadlift, Squats And Flat Bench.

By incorporating the exercises listed here into an existing routine, and/or by making them cornerstones of future routines, you will be ensuring that massive, continual, muscle growth and strength increases are yours.

By: Clayton South

Blood, sweat, tears: these are the lifeblood and currency of the bodybuilding lifestyle. For some, however, the other part of bodybuilding never materializes: muscle. You see, bodybuilders, if they are true bodybuilders, spend blood, sweat and tears over the course of their bodybuilding endeavors. It's just that some put in more blood, sweat and tears than others, and see less of the end product for their work.

Like currency, blood, sweat and tears have "buying potential" - that is, when they are spent, one should expect a return in the form of some measurable substance. That measurable substance is lean muscle tissue.

Blood, sweat and tears also have a set value. Like currency the buying potential of these three elements varies according to the conditions of the muscle-building marketplace. Put another way - according to the different variables at work in your life, the results you get from equal amounts of effort will vary. But make no mistake: It is possible to invest your efforts poorly, thus minimizing your gains. The result of a poor investment will be little or no results for your work, and very little yield and return for your efforts.

If you are like many bodybuilders your goal is to put on as much mass in the shortest possible time. The fact that bodybuilders want to put on muscle is self-evident; the realization of this desire, however, does not come automatically. In order to gain muscle one must change the ratio of investment to return. The best way to do this is to gain the highest possible yield from the smallest investment. Doing this is not easy, but it is possible.

The addition of lean mass to ones frame is a like a puzzle: the whole picture is seen only when all of the pieces are present and assembled correctly. The pieces of the puzzle, so far as bodybuilding is concerned, are: intensity, diet, supplementation, recovery and weight training. If these elements are not addressed sufficiently, gains will be fleeting and virtually non-existent. For more information on intensity see the article Intensity: Do you have it?

The publication Why are you not making gains? outlined the numerous reasons why athletes fail to see progress resulting from their hard work. That publication stressed the important role that the endocrine system plays in determining if, at all, the body gains in lean muscle tissue in response to stimuli.

The Endocrine System

The endocrine system may be viewed as the master system of the body. From the bodybuilder who injects or swallows steroidal compounds, to the athlete on a fat-loss program utilizing the glycemic index, truly, all bodybuilding endeavors are hormonal endeavors.

Hormones are chemicals that are manufactured at one tissue location in the body, and then secreted into the blood stream, so that they may act on other tissue locations in the body. For your illustration, a chart* is included outlining the various tissues in the body that comprise the endocrine system, as well as their respective hormonal products.

Location Hormone(s) Physiological Function
Thyroid Gland Thyroxin
Thyrocalcitonin
Controls metabolism
Moves calcium from blood into bones by stimulating osteoblasts
Adrenal Glands Cortisol
Aldosterone
Epinephrine
Norephinephrine
Anti-inflammatory stress hormone
Controls salt balance
Pancreas Insulin
Glucagon
Lowers blood sugar
Prevents catabolism
Raises blood sugar
Ovary Estradiol
Progesterone
Feminizing hormone
Used for pregnancy
Parathyroid Glands Parathyroid hormone Moves calcium from bone into blood by stimulating osteoclasts
Testes Testosterone Sperm production
Increase in protein synthesis
Increases joint elasticity
Contributes to feelings of well-being in males
Strength increases
Pituitary Gland Somatropin [HGH] Controls growth

* This list is for general reference purposes only and is not mean as an exhaustive explanation.

It has been commonly observed that only when bodybuilders reach the intermediate to advanced levels of training do they sufficiently respect, and appreciate, the functioning of the endocrine system and how it may be manipulated to achieve their stated goals. This is very unfortunate because the endocrine system does not begin to influence your body only after you have developed sufficient realization and respect for its importance and functioning. It determines, from birth to death, whether or not you will gain, or lose, muscle.

Discovering the techniques of successful hormonal manipulation will virtually guarantee continuous growth. The chief question facing all goal-oriented athletes, then, must be: by what method[s] does one manipulate and harness the power of the endocrine system? This publication will outline one of the two methods by which the endocrine system may be stimulated: weight training.

The Big Four

Weight training, in conjunction with diet, is the best method for stimulating the endocrine system. Weight training stimulates the endocrine system to produce hormones that will trigger growth in lean body tissue.

However, not all forms of weight training are created equal for this purpose. Some types of weight training will elicit smaller, greater, or different results than others. It is, therefore, important to discover the type of weight training that will allow you to add the most amount of muscle onto your body in the shortest period of time, if gaining mass as quickly as possible is your goal

Accordingly, then, presented here for your consideration are four exercises that, if incorporated into your existing routine, or made the center of future routines, will add considerable amounts of muscle onto your body, and will also increase your strength dramatically.

The effectiveness of these exercises lies in their ability to simultaneously stimulate multiple muscle groups. These are not isolation movements; they are the most compound movements known, and also the best mass builders known. When performing these exercises remember that the key to obtaining maximum muscle growth is to place the greatest level of appropriate stimuli upon the body. If performed correctly these exercises will provide that stimuli and your body will provide the growth.

The Exercises

1. Clean and Press - View Exercise

The clean and press is a movement that involves both strength and speed. Although this exercise targets primarily the front deltoids, it also works the trapezius, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the buttocks, and the triceps.

How To Do It:

Place an Olympic barbell on the floor and make sure that there is plenty of room on either side of the bar. Load the bar with the appropriate poundage, place your feet approximately shoulder width apart, and make sure that the bar is over the tops of your feet at the midpoint (halfway between your toes and your heel).


Click To Enlarge!

From this position, bend down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Making sure that your knee's do not shoot out over your toe's, lower your buttocks to the floor until your thighs are parallel to the floor. It is of extreme importance that your lower back does not become arched during any point of this movement. If, during this movement, your lower back becomes arched, you dramatically increase the chances of sustaining a career ending lower back injury.

Using perfect form for this exercise should be your primary concern. It is of little value, and is even less impressive, to use too much weight while employing sloppy form.

After you have followed the above instructions and are ready to perform the movement, contract your shoulder blades, look straight ahead and explode upward from the bottom of the movement. Using a quick movement, snap the weight up to chest level and then, using your shoulders, triceps and trapezius, push the weight toward the ceiling in a straight line. Then, under control, lower the weight back down to its original position on the floor. If you find yourself leaning too far backwards, use less poundage until you're able to perform the movement with perfect form.

2. Deadlifts - View Exercise

The deadlift is a movement that involves both strength and speed. Although this exercise targets primarily the lower back, it also works the trapezius, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, and the buttocks.

How To Do It:

Place an Olympic barbell on the floor and make sure that there is plenty of room on either side of the bar. Load the bar with the appropriate poundage, place your feet approximately shoulder width apart, and make sure that the bar is over the tops of your feet at the midpoint (halfway between your toes and your heel).


Click To Enlarge!

From this position, bend down and grasp the bar. Place your left-hand in an underhand grip and your right hand in overhand grip. Making sure that your knee's do not shoot out over your toe's, lower your buttocks to the floor until it your thighs are parallel to the floor. It is of extreme importance that your lower back does not become arched during this movement. If, during this movement, your lower back becomes arched, you dramatically increase the chances of sustaining a career ending lower back injury.

Using perfect form for this exercise should be your primary concern. It is of little value, and is even less impressive, to use too much weight while employing sloppy form.

After you have followed the above instructions and are ready to perform the movement, contract your shoulder blades, look straight ahead and explode upward from the bottom of the movement. You should place emphasis on using your buttocks, hamstrings and quadriceps to power the weight out of the hole position. Pause briefly at the top of the movement. Then, under control, lower the weight back down to its original position on the floor, while keeping your back straight and eyes looking straight ahead.

If you find that your knee's shoot out over your toes, that you find yourself leaning too far forward, falling backwards, or that during this movement you are unable to keep your body tight and controlled, use less poundage until you're able to perform the movement with perfect form.

3. Squats - View Exercise

The squat is a movement that involves strength. Although this exercise targets primarily the quadriceps, it also works the buttocks, the hamstrings, the hips and the lower back.

How To Do It:

For this movement use a power rack that enables you to use safety rails if you do not have a spotter. Place an Olympic barbell in the power rack (at the correct height). Load the bar with the appropriate poundage. I do not recommended placing plates under your heels to perform this movement as this will change the center of gravity and increase the chance of knee strain resulting from improper form.


Click To Enlarge!

As you put yourself under the bar, grip the bar and place it evenly on the trapezius muscles. Pay careful attention to bring the shoulder blades together as this will determine the placement of your hands on the bar. It is of extreme importance that the bar does not rest on the back of your neck; it should instead rest just beneath where your neck and your back connect.

After you are in the ideal position, unrack the bar and walk forward placing your feet proximally shoulder width apart. Make sure that your feet are facing outward at and angle of approximately twenty-five degrees. After you have followed the above instructions and are ready to perform the movement, look straight ahead and, keeping your back completely straight and your knees behind your toes, lower the weight toward the floor. For this exercise you can lower the weight so that your buttocks and quadriceps are parallel to the floor, or you can go below parallel to involve your glutes to a greater degree. In either case, at the bottom of the movement explode the weight up returning it to its original position at the start of the movement.

During this movement your eyes should be looking straight ahead, your lower back should be completely straight, your knees should not be shooting out over your toes, and you should keep in mind the "12:00-6:00" rule. At no time should you lock out your knees; continuous tension should be placed on the quadriceps and target muscles at all times.

Using perfect form for this exercise should be your primary concern. It is of little value, and is even less impressive, to use too much weight while employing sloppy form.

If you find that your knee's shoot out over your toes, if you find yourself leaning too far forward, falling backwards, or that during this movement you are unable to keep your body tight and controlled, use less poundage until you're able to perform the movement with perfect form.

4. Flat Bench Press - View Exercise

The flat bench press is a movement that involves strength and speed. The target muscles are the pectorals, but deltoids, triceps, trapezius and the lats also share a significant amount of the work, as they assist in the movement.

How To Do It:

For this movement you can use a power rack with safety rails, or a flat bench. Load the bar with the appropriate poundage. As you put yourself under the bar grip the bar and plant your feet firmly on the ground, place your hands far enough apart that when you bring the bar down to your chest your arms form a nintey degree angle. The ideal grip is slightly wider than shoulder width.


Click To Enlarge!

The path that the bar should take on the down portion of the movement is such that at the band of the down portion of the movement the bar will be slightly above the nipple line.

Pay careful attention to control the movement on the way down and on the way up. Many people bounce the bar off their sternum. This will result in extremely painful injury, and the end of a bodybuilding career. If you find yourself doing this, stop immediately. If you must, reduce the amount of weight that you are lifting so that you perform the exercise correctly.

Is important to not use so much weight that you end up arching your back, thus lifting your rear end of the bench. Doing this is asking for lower back injury. Also, your eyes should be looking up at the ceiling at all times. At no time should you be moving your neck during the movement as this will result in neck strain.

From the bottom of the movement explode the weight up toward the ceiling, but never lock out your elbows under tension as this will take the stimuli off of the target muscles and will place the weight load on the joints, exposing them to injury.

Using perfect form for this exercise should be your primary concern. It is of little value, and is even less impressive, to use too much weight while employing sloppy form.

If you find that your rear end comes off of the seat during the movement, if you find yourself locking out your elbows at the top of the movement, or that during this movement your unable to press the weight without bouncing it off of your chest, use less poundage until you are unable to perform the movement with perfect form.

Summary/Conclusion

Weight training stimulates the endocrine system to produce hormones that will trigger growth in lean body tissue. However, not all forms of weight training are as effective as others for this purpose.

Employing multi-muscle exercises places optimum stress and stimuli upon the body, which in turn causes the body to adapt and grow via the endocrine system. The rate and amount of growth will be determined by the amount of stimuli placed upon the body, the frequency with which the stimuli is applied, and the recovery time afforded to the body after said stimuli has been applied.

By incorporating the exercises listed here into an existing routine, and/or by making them cornerstones of future routines, you will be ensuring that massive, continual, muscle growth and strength increases are yours.

What Do YOU Think Is The Best Mass Building Exercise?
Clean & Press
Deadlift
Barbell Squat
Flat Bench
Other

Disclaimer

The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider.

The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers. Further, the author does not warrant or guarantee that the information contained in written publications, from him or any source is accurate or error-free. The author accepts no responsibility for materials contained in the publication that you may find offensive. You are solely responsible for viewing and/or using the material contained in the authored publications in compliance with the laws of your country of residence, and your personal conscience. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the use of information contained in this or other publications.

Copyright © Clayton South, 2003 All rights reserved.

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright holder and author of this publication.

Thanks,

The Big Four: Clean & Press, Deadlift, Squats And Flat Bench.
csouthca@gmail.com

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