TOP 4 EXERCISES FOR MUSCLE MASS
While there are many different exercises that are effective at building muscle, none of them come even close to effectiveness of compound exercises. If you are not currently doing compound exercises in your daily workout routine, I suggest you take 5 minutes to read this article.
What is a compound exercise?
A compound exercise is a movement that incorporates more than one muscle group, as opposed to isolation exercises where only one muscle group is used. A compound exercise such as a deadlift can do the work of several isolation exercises at once.
Compound exercises are hard to do. Ever tried completing five sets of heavy squats? If so, chances are you were exhausted at the end. These types of exercises hit the body very hard and cause the body to release anabolic hormones. The increased amount of anabolic hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) help your body build more muscle and recover faster from the grueling workout you just had.
#1 - Deadlifts
Deadlifts are ranked as one of the toughest and most effective muscle building exercises in existence. Doing a deadlift activates your calves, glutes, hamstrings, quads, traps, upper back, lower back, forearms, shoulders, and biceps.
How to Perform a Deadlift
- Place your feet hip-width apart.
- Place your hands on the bar using an overhand grip, make sure to place your hands just outside of your legs.
- Make sure to keep your back flat during the entire movement. (never arch your back while doing a deadlift)
- Keep the bar as close as possible to your legs (or even better, let the bar touch your legs during the exercise)
- While keeping your back flat, lift the bar until you are standing upright (as seen in the picture above), then slowly lower the bar back to the floor.
When doing deadlifts, it is vital that proper form is used to reduce the risk of injury. Always make sure that you are adequately warmed up before lifting heavy weights.
#2 - Squats
If you want big legs, you have to squat. Squats are the only other exercise that rank alongside deadlifts as the toughest compound exercise.
Squats activate the quads, hamstrings, calves and core muscles.
How to Perform a Squat
- Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart.
- Face the bar and dip your head under it, placing the bar on your upper back.
- Tighten your stomach muscles, push your chest out and pull your shoulders back.
- Keep your upper body straight while bending your knees, as if you are about to sit. Make sure not to allow your knees to go forward past your toes.
- Once your thighs are parallel with the floor, you can then push yourself back up. Make sure not to lock your knees when you are standing upright again.
#3 - Pull-ups
The pull-up is another great compound movement which works mainly the Biceps and Latissimus Dorsi (the lats). However, the Posterior Deltoids, Forearms, Abdominals, and the core muscles are also worked.
How to Perform a Pull-up
- With your palms facing forward grab the pull-up bar with your hands placed at a distance further apart than your shoulders.
- Fully extend your arms and let your body hang from the bar.
- Pull yourself up slowly until the bar touches your upper chest. (If you are unable to do this then instead start with the lat pulldown machine until you have enough strength to complete a pull-up with proper form)
- Once your upper chest has touched the bar, lower yourself down till your arms are fully extended and repeat.
#4 - BENCH PRESS
Contrary to what most people believe, the bench press does not only help build and strengthen the chest, it also works the triceps, shoulders, back and core muscles. The bench press is usually the most popular exercise in the gym, and when performed correctly it can help develop amazing muscle and strength gains.
How to Perform the Bench Press
- Lie down on the bench, placing your feet either on the bench or the ground. (placing your feet on the bench will help prevent over-arching your back)
- The bar should have ring marks on it, place your pinky fingers on the ring marks and grab the bar. The ring marks will ensure that your hands are in the correct position on the bar.
- Push your chest out and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Unrack the bar and move the bar until it is directly in line with your shoulders.
- Lower the bar slowly until it touches your mid-chest. Once the bar has touched your chest, you can push it back up and repeat.
Always make sure to use proper form when exercising. Using bad form and weights that are too heavy can lead to injury. If you are doing an exercise that you have never done before and are unsure what weight to use, always start off light and slowly increase the weight.