I feel the fitness industry is often misled these days. Some trainers will have you balancing with one leg on a bosu ball while lifting a kettlebell over your head to “maximize muscular stabilization.” Also, the bodybuilders you see in magazines share their amazing “secrets” to build their physiques when most of what they say
won’t help anyone who is NATURAL. 1520 reps of over 30 sets of exercises will give you a great pump, but let me ask you this: are you getting stronger? Let me explain what will really help you as a weightlifter.
What Really Causes Muscle Growth
You see, the key driver of muscle growth is progression, as in progressive overload. It’s amazing how many people don’t realize this. Adding weight to the bar each time you hit the gym is the easiest way to achieve progression, which is what you WANT. As a natural weightlifter, you can take this to heart: If you don’t continue to get stronger, you won’t continue to get bigger. Doing compound movements such as the squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press and increasing the amount of weight you can lift on these exercises is the simplest way to achieve a great physique. Lifting heavy weights with a moderate amount of volume(Roughly 46 or 57 reps for 3 sets of about 3 or 4 exercises per workout) is a great start when it comes to building muscle. When you hit 6 or 7 reps, try to lift heavier, which most likely you’ll hit 4 or 5 reps. Little changes add up greatly over time.
Back To The Basics
Back in the oldschool bodybuilding days, these guys didn’t really have much to go off of. They didn’t have the musclemags or the internet to look up the new great routine for getting shredded, but they used their common sense. These guys focused on getting a heck of alot stronger, and with slow progression, they got bigger and more muscular. Common sense right? Nowadays people get so caught up in which diet and program is the absolute best, that they lose focus of the bigger picture. They’re so caught up in trying to find shortcuts going from article to article and getting absolutely nowhere. Slow progression, patience, and consistency is
what it takes…. sorry, no shortcuts.
The Key Exercises
This can vary, and can certainly come down to personal preference, but from my experience the exercises that you want to get really strong on include:
- Incline Bench Press
- Weighted dips
- Weighted chin ups
- Overhead press
Now, let me explain WHY…
Incline Bench Press: Dumbbell pressing is fine too, but lifting more weight and getting really strong on your incline press will give you that “armor plate” chest look and the line running down your chest. There’s nothing wrong with flat pressing, but too much of it and you’ll get that rounded “boob” shaped look to your lower chest.
Weighted dips: Fantastic tricep builder, if you can do weighted dips with 100+ pounds, you’ll have pretty great triceps. Enough said.
Weighted Chin Ups: Wanna get a nice aesthetic back? Do chin ups…. with about 100 lbs on your waist.
Overhead Press: If you can overhead press at least your bodyweight for reps, then you’ll most likely have some boulder shoulders.
Squats: This one should kind of be obvious…. squats are the ultimate “massbuilder.” Don’t skip leg day kids.
Deadlift: Another great back exercise, just don’t go to snap city.
These are the exercises you need to get really strong on in order to build a great physique. Keep at it, and eventually you’ll be happy that you did.
Nutrition and Supplementation
Obviously if you’re into weight lifting, you know a relatively high protein intake is necessary for building muscle, but how much exactly? Roughly 1 to 1.2 grams per pound of bodyweight is necessary for achieving optimal muscle growth. Most people know a high protein intake helps build muscle, but so does the overall calories in the diet. If you’re looking to build muscle with not a lot of excess fat, put yourself in a small surplus of about 10 percent over your TDEE. This will take some trial and error, but MyFitnessPal will be your best friend on this one. As for supplementation, let’s go over some common supplements that may help you achieve your
Creatine: Creatine has shown time and time again that it helps boost strength and performance. If you’re looking to get stronger, creatine can help a little bit and give you that extra edge.
Protein Powder: Now, protein powder isn’t NECESSARY but it can most definitely help reach your protein intake for the day. If you like it, use it. If not, and you prefer to get your protein from whole foods, that’s fine too.
Fat Burners: Some have shown to work, but if you’re consuming 4000 calories a day (which I wouldn’t recommend unless you need to) it’s unlikely you’ll be burning fat.
Fish Oil: Great for the joints and improving insulin sensitivity.
Glutamine: Can help with recovery.
That’s it! Building a great physique is relatively simple, as long as you train hard and get your nutrition right, you’ll build muscle with ease. All it takes is a little can-do attitude and some hard work, and you’ll get there in no time.