I’m on a 4-day split routine and I change my workouts every 4 weeks. I’m still not getting the exact look I’m after for my physique. I highly concentrate my training on my arms and chest. What types of exercises should I perform to achieve my goal of adding muscle mass to my upper body? I want to gain about 10-15 pounds of pure muscle and build up the thickness in my shoulders, chest and arms. I’ve been working out for about 2 years now and I seem to have hit a plateau and need help. Do you have any recommendations?
If you’re focusing most of the training during your workouts on just your arms and chest, then this is probably the biggest reason why you’re not making the gains in muscle mass that you’re after. In order to build a significant amount of muscle, you really need to stimulate growth by doing exercises that work the largest muscle groups of your body. The two biggest muscle groups are your legs and your back. The reason why exercises like deadlifts and squats are the kings of mass building movements and are so crucial for helping you pack on tons of muscle is because they recruit so many different muscle groups when you perform them. Have you ever see any of those massive college and professional football players doing dumbbell curls and cable crossovers? No way! They are training with the most effective and powerful mass building exercises they can use to get absolutely huge, strong and explosive.
Along the same line, you also need to choose the right mass building exercises when you train your arms and chest. If you are doing cable curls for your biceps and the pec deck for your chest, these single joint exercises are not going to help you reach your goals of adding a lot of muscle mass to your upper body. First off, with single joint movements you are limited to the amount of weight you can use. The less weight you can lift, the less muscle you will build, period! With multi-joint exercises, you are using two or more joints which recruit more muscles and allow you to pack on serious weight when performing them.
An example of a multi-joint exercise is the deadlift where your hips, elbows, shoulders and knees are all involved. An example of a single-joint exercises is the pec deck, where your shoulder is the only joint being activated. Cable curls are another example of a single-joint exercise where your elbow is the only joint being used in the movement.
So when you’re in doubt, always try to use basic mass building exercises as the foundation for your workouts like implementing the barbell bench press as the cornerstone for your chest workouts and barbell curls for the key movement when training your biceps. By using these multi-joint exercises, it will really help you to stimulate growth in your entire body so it can be primed to pack on tons of lean muscle tissue.
I highly recommend focusing on these multi-joint mass building exercises if you really want to get stronger and gain a lot of thick muscle mass:
- Barbell Squats (amazing for adding size to your legs)
- Barbell Bench Press (the king of chest exercises)
- Military Press (mass building exercise for the shoulders)
- Barbell Curls (get ready to pack on size to your biceps)
- Deadlifts (the king of mass builders for your back)
Your diet is also extremely important for reaching your goal of adding 10-15 pounds of lean muscle to your physique. You should be eating every 2.5 to 3 hours and shoot for a total of 5-7 meals during the day. Try to mainly eat nutrient dense whole foods for the majority of your diet with lean sources of protein, clean whole grain starchy carbohydrates and heart healthy fats. You can also include a few protein shakes and bars as snacks during the day if you are in a rush. If you work in an office, a great tip is to buy a few boxes of your favorite protein bars and throw them in the freezer at work. This will give you instant access to a quick and convenient source of protein anytime you’re in a rush and it will also satisfy your sweet tooth. It’s always best to have a healthy alternative that is super convenient and also tastes great versus dealing with all the temptation from the plethora of high fat and sugar laden foods that can infiltrate an office. Just make sure to label the box with your name since the really tasty protein bars seem to grow legs quickly in the office kitchen!