Train the biggest muscles first… And then don’t – The rule of thumb that the big exercises should be trained first is a good one. But a couple of times a year, a four week period of training the smaller muscles first in isolation is extremely effective. So on a pulling workout you might train biceps first, then the upper back and then finish with chin ups (if you can manage, it’s a humbling experience).
If you want to use high intensity techniques like drop sets, rest pause, forced reps and negatives, use them mainly on isolation exercises. Train smart on the big lifts like deadlifts and presses, but feel free to smash yourself on curls and lateral raises.
When using pec flyes, utilise one-and-a-quarter reps. Lower the weight, lift it a quarter of the way back up, lower it back down, then lift it all the way up. That’s one rep. This way you spend longer in the most effective range of the movement.
When training for strength and performance, seek to make the exercise as easy and efficient as possible. For example, when benching, place the feet firmly on the ground, retract the shoulders, arch the back and drive the traps into the bench. Press as explosively as possible.
When training solely for hypertrophy , try the opposite and make the exercise harder. With our bench press example, you could perform a wide grip press to the neck on a slow tempo, taking four seconds to lower the weight.
Same movement pattern, dramatically different exercise.
Same-muscle supersets are useful in general, but in particular the shoulders and upper back respond extremely well.
Shoulder example – bent over flyes for six reps, straight into lateral raises with the same weight for 6, then frontal raises for 6, finally Arnold presses for 6, all with the same dumbbell. That’s a shoulder smasher right there.
Vary your exercises- when seeking to build muscle, choose exercise variations you haven’t used for at least a few months. If you’ve been back squatting switch to front squats. If you’ve been doing pull-ups (palms facing away from you) switch to chin-ups (palms facing you) You still want to train the key movements (upper body push, upper body pull, lower body knee dominant, lower body hip dominant) just with slightly different variations.
You should vary your methods too. When a new client arrives and wants to build muscle one of my first questions is “what have you been doing up
Then I do the opposite of whatever they’ve been doing. If they’ve been using a high volume approach I’ll drop the volume and increase the intensity. If they’ve done nothing but full body routines I’ll split things up. If they’ve trained bench press first thing on a Monday every week of their adult life, guess who’s going to be occupying the squat rack on a Monday evening from now on?
Variety in itself is enough to build new muscle.
by @Zackcahill for BodyStudio.