Nothing is more frustrating than slaving away at the gym and not growing. Too often, people hurriedly scramble from machine to machine without a second thought toward compound exercises. Usually, this is because of time constraints, lack of motivation or the free-weight section seems too intimidating.
While machines are great, they rob you of acute growth hormone signaling and opportunities to work harder by using precious stabilizing muscles. Trying to sculpt a chiseled physique without these bread and butter exercises is a fool’s errand. So if you’re serious about cultivating mass, add these exercises to your training routine to build muscle fast.
Squats: There’s a reason this exercise is the king. It not only incorporates the entire lower body, but causes the body to respond by naturally releasing a burst of anabolic hormones. Squats are physically demanding, and will stimulate the muscle recruitment and appetite you need to grow.
With all of their benefits, squats can place harsh compression and stress on the spine and joints unless performed properly. Always warm up with a weight you are comfortable with, and always have a spotter with you when possible.
To properly perform a squat, keep your legs about shoulder width apart and keep your eyes pointing straight ahead. Flex and tighten your abs and glutes throughout the movement. Bring your glutes down as close as possible to your ankles.
You should never reach a dead stop, as soon are you approach the bottom of the movement you should be squeezing your glutes and using them to help power yourself back up for the next rep.
Deadlifts: The steely sinews of the back can be especially resilient to training and growth. It is much more common for forearms to fatigue and give out before the back does. The first thing I recommend is getting a decent set of lifting wraps to ensure full back exhaustion.
One of the more powerful exercises for stimulating growth hormone release, the deadlift can also be dangerous unless proper form is followed. After loading a comfortable weight on the bar, keep your feet about shoulder width apart with toes pointing forward.
Squat down until your shins are touching the barbell. Keeping your hips in a natural position and eyes looking forward, focus on driving your heels and exploding upward as you stand up with the bar. Keep your back straight and down allow it to round.
Once the bar gets just about the knee, concentrate on pushing your hips forward and contracting the back to pull your shoulder blades back. Pause here, slowly lower the weight and repeat the movement.
Bench Press: The classic barbell bench press is like the squat for the chest. When performed properly, it is like taking a sledge hammer to the fibers the make up the chest. This is hands down the best mass building exercise for the chest.
The most common mistake people make when performing a chest press is flaring out their elbows. Your elbows should only go about 45 degrees out from the body during the movement.
Keeping the elbows in this position not only reduces the risk of rotator cuff injuries, but spares the shoulders from taking over the movement. Concentrate on squeezing the chest to explode the weight up.
Military Press: If you want to build cannonball delts, the military press is your best friend. It hits all three shoulders heads: the anterior, medial and rear deltoids.
Always warm up the rotator cuff before any shoulder exercises. The rotator cuff stabilizes the shoulder, and is responsible for some of the most common gym injuries.
After warming up, take a grip a little bit wider than shoulder width apart. Don’t flare your elbows, and keep your forearms in a straight line as the bar rises over your head. Tighten your core as you press.
Lower the bar down to just past the nose and drive up, keeping the bar as close to your body as possible, making the shoulders do the work.
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