OK, males, listen up! I realize that many of you may be new to the iron game or maybe you have just hit a plateau when it comes to packing on muscle. Most guys want to be bigger and stronger, but don’t be deceived by ‘bulk up’ weight. If you are a novice, you can expect to add 5-10 pounds of lean mass in your first year and it will drop off in the years to follow. When I was competing, if I could gain 1-2 pounds of muscle per year that was a huge accomplishment! Think about what 1-2 pounds of new muscle on a ripped physique looks like! Don’t fall too much into the numbers game; make sure you build your house (physique) on a solid foundation. Now, onto the good stuff.
Whether you are a beginner or have a good amount of experience under your belt, when it comes to the iron game, I would suggest that you master multi-joint exercises before you worry about the detail or body part specific training. When I was doing my research for my thesis, I came across quite a few studies looking at the effects on the hormonal environment of the body after isolation movements (leg extensions) and multi-joint, compound exercises (squats).
In every case, no matter the exercises in comparison, as long as one was an isolated move and the other a multi-joint exercise, the latter always won. What do I mean by won? Well, if you are after more muscle, that is what I mean by won. The studies show that compound exercises (multi-joint) raise testosterone (T), growth-hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF). Basically, all the things we want to create an anabolic environment in the body.
If the above is a little too scientific, then allow me to introduce a few analogies (they always help me to learn). A good deal of muscle growth is systemic in nature, not local. Think about if an athlete uses steroids. Does just the area they are injecting get bigger or does the whole body get bigger? Yes, the localized muscle cells will get a little more kick out of the extra hormones, but you get the point, the whole body grows.
One of the best examples I have ever come across was this: if we take male twins and assume they have very close to the same propensity for muscle growth and we put them on the same mass gaining diet (bodyweight x 16 = total calories) but one of them does only biceps curls for a year and the other does deadlifts for a year, who will have the bigger body and bigger biceps when all is said and done? The twin that performed the deadlifts will have much more muscle hypertrophy in the biceps and the rest of the body!
Thus, showing that a good deal of muscle growth is systemic in nature. I am not saying there is no place for body part training, but unless you are a serious competitive bodybuilder, it should be used as supplemental to your big daddy lifts. I thought you’d ask (what are the big daddy lifts, right?), so here they are (to name a few):
|Multi-Joint Exercises||Repetitions For Growth|
|Bench Press||8-12 reps|
|Military Press||8-12 reps|
|Clean and Jerk||8-12 reps|
|Bent Over Rows||8-12 reps|
|Romanian Deadlifts||8-12 reps|
I do recommend that you be able to master your bodyweight and continue to train with bodyweight exercises mixed in with the above exercises. I will be following this article up with others to help you grow in the coming days and weeks. Train hard!