For building muscle, which body parts should be worked together each day when you are training 5 days a week?
Topics Covered In This Article
- Which Bodypart Split Works Best for Building Muscle?
- Progressive Resistance Training for Gaining Muscle Mass
- Free Weights for Leg Training?
- Heavy Weight Training
- Your Workout PLAN is Critical
- How to Group Bodyparts
- Smith Machine Vs. Free Weights
- How to Train Lagging Bodyparts
- Recovery Week- Mental and Physical Rest
- Changing the Workout Schedule Every 8 Weeks
- Overloading the Chest Muscles
- Overload Builds Muscle, Fatigue Does Not
- How to Warm Up Your Muscles Efficiently
- Would Vibration Training Have Any Effect on Anabolic Hormone Profiles to Promote Better Muscle Gains?
- Increasing Strength
- Working Out At Home
Which Bodypart Split Works Best for Building Muscle?
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I don’t think there is one “best” body part grouping to use when you are constructing your workout schedule. Many different variations can be equally effective.
When you are making your schedule you want to keep each workout efficient. Shorter workouts focusing on one or two body parts are more effective for maintaining maximum intensity and focus throughout the workout. With that in mind, I would not suggest scheduling two bigger body parts for the same workout like chest and legs.
What is your opinion on working chest and back on the same day?
Personally, I’m not a fan of training two major body parts like chest and back on the same day. I’ve found that I just can’t devote 100% intensity to both of these areas.
To build muscle, training these areas need to be trained on separate days to really devote the greatest amount of focus and intensity.
Remember that an effective, efficient workout should take you around 45 minutes tops. An attempt to tackle 2 major body parts such as chest and back in the same workout will exceed this time frame. I believe that 45 minutes is the absolute maximum time frame, train any longer than this and the intensity level will suffer.
Heavy Reps Build Maximum Muscle
I am finishing up my first month of heavy weight training and my results have been awesome. I really like the way you set up your training schedules with the right exercises on the right days and I want to keep training this way. Should I change anything up?
I am glad hear about the success you are experiencing with weight training and I have to say I am not surprised. Heavy, controlled reps are the most effective way to train to build maximum muscle and I see real world examples of its effectiveness all the time.
The most important thing is consistency, so continue to hit it hard every workout. Execute all reps and exercises with intensity. Make sure you incorporate the recovery days and weeks off as well. If you do that and stay focused, you’ll keep packing on serious muscle.
Sets Per Body Part for Building Muscle
I am surprised to see you suggest so few exercises and sets for building muscle. Would more training speed results?
You need to be careful of the “more is better” mindset when it comes to weight training. More sets and more exercises does not equate to more development. In fact, too much volume is counterproductive to your gains because it leads to over training.
Heavy weight with progressive resistance is the best way to train to stimulate maximum muscle. Muscle is best stimulated to grow through overload. Keeping volume low and weights high provides maximum muscle stimulation without over training.
Doing a large number of sets per body part will certainly fatigue your muscles but it is very important to remember that fatigue does not build muscle, overload does.
My advice is to try lifting heavier with lower amount of sets. I believe the results you achieve will speak for themselves and will erase any questions you may have about whether “more is better”?
Progressive Resistance Training for Gaining Muscle Mass
Progressive resistance training is the best way to train to build maximum muscle mass for all body types and no changes to that are necessary.
No matter what body type you have, following progressive resistance will ensure you are performing your workouts in the most efficient and intelligent manor to stimulate maximum muscle growth.
Where changes come into play for varying body types is diet. Nutrition will need to be adjusted based on individual metabolic rates and end goal.
Frequency of Training to Speed Results?
I’m thinking of trying your style of training. No matter what exercises or workouts I try, I just can’t seem to get the chest development I want. Should I train chest twice a week for better results?
Doing more work to catch up when you are behind applies to many things in life but not to building muscle. It seems to be a natural reaction that if development is lagging in a certain area, that area should be trained more to help it catch up to the other muscle groups.
Doing more work by the means of training more frequently will not help your cause of increasing development, in fact, it will hinder it by impeding the recovery process.
Training your chest more frequently is not the answer but training it more intelligently is. I recommend training your chest with progressive overload. This is the best way to train to stimulate maximum development.
I want to speed my results from weight training. Is it possible to prevent muscle breakdown entirely so I can keep building my muscle mass? If so, how can I do this?
To stimulate growth you have to overload the muscle with heavy resistance exercise. High-overload resistance (weight) training is essential to activating the anabolic mechanisms that lead to gains in strength and muscle mass.
However, this type of training also provides a substantial amount of damage (breakdown) and inflammation within muscle and other connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments as well as the bones that they attach to. This trauma is extensive, even in individuals that train regularly. However, this is a desirable effect.
This exercise-induced damage is kind of a double-edged sword. Firstly, it’s an all important part of a “remodeling” process that leads to bigger stronger muscles.
It involves the repair of structural damage but also, the degradation and removal of damaged proteins (catabolism) before new, better-equipped proteins can be synthesized and incorporated into the contractile machinery (anabolism).
This is essentially how a muscle adapts and becomes bigger and stronger. This is why a certain amount of muscle breakdown is actually desirable.
However, the research also shows us that exercise-induced inflammation can easily promote a bioenvironment that leads to chronic muscle catabolism. That is, if left unchecked, these catabolic responses override the anabolic processes that build muscle. The result is a very meager amount of progress from months or even years of dedicated training.
I’m training twice day as per my coach, morning and night. I wanted to know if incorporating a midday nap into my schedule would help with my recovery?
If you can manage it, a midday nap between training bouts will definitely help with recovery. Researchers from Penn State College of Medicine recently reported that a midday nap lowers cortisol levels and the amount of inflammatory chemicals circulating around the body.
Cortisol is a highly catabolic hormone that breaks down protein and suppresses immune function. Training twice a day (morning and afternoon) is known to produce a dramatic increase in cortisol which can lead to overtraining, poor results and illness.
If you are training twice a day, a midday nap of 30-60 minutes may help to prevent excessive cortisol production and therefore reduce the possibility of overtraining.
Exercise Selection in Important
Exercise selection is important and is centered around compound free weight exercises because they are the best for maximum muscle stimulation. We teach the most effective set and rep ranges as well as a complete workout program to follow for chest and all body parts.
All you’ll need to do is supply the hard work and execute the plan given to you with intensity and consistency.
Free Weights for Leg Training?
I am getting ready to start lifting heavy. I train at home and have a power rack and free weights but no leg press. Can you recommend a good leg routine with the equipment I have available? Thanks for your help.
A power rack and free weights are all you need to do some awesome leg training.
Squats- The Backbone of Your Leg Routine
The backbone exercise of your leg routine should be squats. Squats are the “King” of all leg movements and I suggest beginning with them. Make sure you are using a full range of motion for total lower body involvement.
Barbell Lunges Recruit Quads, Hamstrings and Glutes
Next I would recommend barbell lunges. This is another excellent exercise that will heavily recruit quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Again, take each rep through a full range of motion, almost as if you were performing a one leg squat.
Stiff Leg Deadlifts to Overload the Hamstrings
Finally, I’d throw in some stiff leg deadlifts. Stiff leg deadlifts are a great compound exercise guaranteed to effectively overload the hamstrings.
- Squats….3 sets 4-6 reps (After warm-up)
- Barbell Lunges….2 sets 4-6 reps
- Stiff Leg Deadlifts….2 sets 4-6 reps
This will be a very effective leg workout – no leg press required.
Heavy Weight Training
I have been on a heavy weight training regimen for about 8 weeks and it is great! A few times, I’ve felt weak before my workout, even though I always have my pre-workout meal. I fight through it though and have always felt stronger at the end of my workout. Is this normal?
I think everyone experiences a day like that from time to time when you feel a little “off your game” so to speak at the start of your workout and that is where pre-workout mindset comes into play.
The Right Frame of Mind
It is important to make sure you have the right frame of mind to have an awesome workout before you even touch a weight. The mind is an extremely powerful tool and the better you learn to harness that power and channel it towards your workouts, the more outstanding your workouts and results will be.
Before I begin my workouts I think about exactly what I want to accomplish. I visualize the development I want to achieve and how I want each exercise to feel. I also review my workout from the week before to see exactly what I lifted and how many reps I completed.
This gets me focused on the task at hand and the standards I will have to surpass in order to have a successful workout.
Pre-Workout Energy Boost
Another tool in my pre-workout arsenal is a caffeine tablet. Caffeine will give you an amazing energy boost right when you need it the most. When you combine it with an awesome pre-workout mindset you will be busting down the walls to get at the weights every day.
A strong mind is the key to a strong workout so take some time before you train to get yourself ready to attack the weights and you’ll make the most of each opportunity to build maximum muscle!
I have been lifting heavy for about 2 years now. I train 4 days a week and have been working my upper body one day and lower body the next day. I was wondering if I should be doing a different workout plan because I don’t think that I am making very good gains?
Your Workout PLAN is Critical
Your workout plan is critical to the speed and degree of the results you experience. An ineffective training approach will mean marginal results at best and it sounds like a change is exactly what you need to accelerate your gains.
Focus and Intensity is Key for Growth
With this rotation you will be cramming too many body parts into each workout which will detract from the focus and intensity you can direct towards specific muscle groups, plus training all your body parts a couple times a week will not allow for adequate recovery time between workouts and bring your progress to a screeching halt.
It’s crucial to use the optimal set and rep ranges for building maximum muscle as well as the ideal recovery time to fully respond to your intense workouts without over training.
You spend a lot of time and energy in the gym and the last thing you want is that energy to misguided in an inefficient manner that yields few results. Follow a progressive resistance style and you’re guaranteed to make the most out of every workout.
How to Group Bodyparts
I can only make it to the gym 4 days a week and was wondering if you could tell me how to group my body parts for each workout?
There really isn’t a right or wrong grouping of body parts. As long as you use overload and keep each workout focused on a couple body parts so any given workout doesn’t take too long to complete, a variety of groupings could be equally effective.
I prefer not to group body parts like chest, back or legs together to keep the workout volume lower and total workout intensity higher. For example, I would find it very difficult to train back as intensely as I need to if I had to work it directly after legs.
4 Days Per Week Exercise Schedule
Here is one example of a 4 day schedule that I used recently:
Day 1 Chest, Biceps & Forearms
Day 2 Legs & Calves
Day 3 Back & Abs
Day 4 Shoulders, Triceps & Traps
This schedule is not set in stone. You could change the order of days or even switch some of the groupings around. In fact, I change routines after every 8 weeks to keep things new and fresh.
Rep Range and Increasing Weight
How do you decide when to move up in weight on your exercises?
I train in a 4-8 repetition range using progressively heavier weights. I select a weight that allows me to get at least 4 reps on my own but no more than 8. When I get to the point where I can complete 8 fairly easy reps, I increase weight.
After each workout I record the weights I use so I can refer back to those numbers the following week. This way I know the exact weights and reps I need to work to exceed.
Maximum Muscle is Built in the 4-8 Rep Range
You recommend that I should do 4-8 reps per set but the guys in the gym tell me that is wrong and that I should do 8-10 reps. So which one do you think would be better for me and would get me much bigger and more muscular?
For maximum muscle gains I recommend using progressively heavier weights and training in a 4-8 repetition range. Overload in the 4-8 rep range will be the best way to stimulate growth.
It’s the most effective way to train. That is not just me talking, it is proven by research and exhibited by countless examples of real world results.
To gain the full benefits it is important that you execute all the exercises properly and with intensity. I believe the results you achieve from the 4- 8 rep range will speak for themselves.
Smith Machine Vs. Free Weights
I can put more weight on the bar when I do Smith Machine bench presses than I can using regular free weights. Does that mean I should stick with the Smith Machine because I am getting more overload?
Just because there is more weight on the bar does not necessarily mean you are achieving greater overload or that the exercise is more effective. Let me explain.
When you use the Smith Machine, the weight is being balanced and stabilized for you. This can translate to using more weight because you are being assisted throughout the movement.
Lack of Balance and Stabilization
The lack of balancing and stabilization on your part is not a good thing. If you are not required to balance the weight you will get little to no recruitment of the stabilizing musculature. No recruitment of the fibers means no development or strength increases in those areas.
Another draw back to the Smith Machine is it forces you into one plane of motion. You are not able to move the bar in a natural range like you can when using a good old fashioned barbell.
Compound Free Weight Exercises are Superior for Growth
Don’t be confused by the total weight you see on the bar, that can be a little misleading. The benefits of using free weights out weighs using the Smith Machine by far. I suggest sticking with compound free weight exercises along with progressive resistance for maximum muscle stimulation.
This is my second week on the heavier weights and I love it! My question is regarding an exercise substitution. Where I work out they don’t have a station for Military Presses. They do have a Smith Machine, but it seems like I read another question where you kind of discouraged the use of the Smith Machine as it limits you range of motion. Are there any good substitutes for Military Presses until my gym gets this station?
It sounds like you are off to a great start. You’ll love using progressive resistance even more and the awesome results you’ll achieve with every week you get under your belt.
Natural Range of Motion
Keep it up! You are correct, I would not advise using the Smith Machine in place of standard barbell military presses. The Smith Machine does restrict your natural range of motion and it balances the weight for you making it less effective at muscle fiber recruitment than its free weight counterpart.
My suggestion would be to use seated dumbbell presses. Seated dumbbell presses are a great exercise and are equally as effective for maximum muscle stimulation as military presses.
How to Train Lagging Bodyparts
I’m thinking of placing emphasis on my slow developing back and prioritizing my back workouts. On my recovery week off of training, should I still work my lagging muscle groups?
Structuring your body part of emphasis- in this case back, as the first workout of the week when you are mentally and physically very fresh from 2 days of rest is the way to go.
This does not diminish the importance of any other workout during the week as it is simply placing what you feel needs the most work first on the list.
Try training your lagging body parts earlier in the week and see if that ignites any increased focus and intensity. However, DO NOT train your lagging body parts during your recovery week.
The week off of training is necessary for total recovery. Through recovery we grow and become stronger as we respond to the stimulus created by all that heavy and intense training. Training your lagging body parts on your week off will only impede recovery and thus impede your results.
Keep executing and bring the same fire and intensity to the gym every day. Pay special attention to your focus and execution when you train what you feel are lagging body parts and with persistence they won’t be lagging for long.
Order of Exercises
Does the order of exercises make a big difference when training shoulders? For example, could I do side lateral raises before dumbbell shoulder presses for variety?
When it comes to training shoulders I would say that the order of exercises is important and you should start with a basic pressing movement (barbell or dumbbell) when you are strongest and can handle the most weight.
Shoulder presses should be the backbone of your shoulder workouts. They allow you to handle the most weight and the compound nature of the exercise effectively works all heads of the shoulder (front, side and rear).
Heavy Weight is More Important Than Variety
Achieving overload through compound exercises with heavy weight builds maximum muscle and that is far more important than variety. In fact, I don’t think variety plays a very big physical role in training but will agree it does play a bit of a mental role.
Changing your workouts around from time to time keeps everything fresh and that is why I switch things up a bit after every 8 weeks of training.
If you are at the point where you want some variety with your shoulder training then I suggest switching to Military barbell shoulder presses but keep them first in the rotation for maximum overload and maximum shoulder stimulation.
Going Deep on Squats for Full Benefit
Recently I’ve made an effort to improve my form while squatting. I realized that I wasn’t going as deep as I should so I started to increase my range of motion. My weights have gone down since I have been going deeper. Do you think I made the right choice even though I am using less weight?
Going deep on squats is very important in order to reap the full benefits of the movement. By deep I mean squatting to the point where your quads are at least parallel to the ground.
Increase Muscle Stimulation
You don’t want to sacrifice range of motion for the use of a heavier weight so you have made a wise choice to improve your execution. Using a fuller range of motion while squatting will increase muscle stimulation and lead to better all-around leg strength and development.
If you have been squatting shallow for a while it makes sense that you would have to lighten up the weight in order to go deeper and that is fine. Once you get comfortable squatting with a full range of motion you’ll be able to work your weights back up only this time with correct form.
Recovery Week- Mental and Physical Rest
On your first week back to the gym after your recovery week do you try to use the same weights you left off with or do you use a percentage of what you used before?
A recovery week with no training is an important component of recovery and should be taken every 8-10 weeks. The week off allows for total physical and mental recovery and should not be skipped. I always return from the recovery week mentally fresh, physically rested and ready to attack the weights.
You should ease into training your first week back in the gym. The focus this week should be more on execution along with achieving maximum overload.
This week is a chance to clear out any bad training habits that may have crept in over the last training cycle and it gives your mind and body a chance to get acclimated to training again before you go for maximum overload.
The first week back I select a weight on each exercise that I can complete for 6 pretty easy reps. I don’t use a specific percentage, I go by feel. As a rule I try to use a weight I could complete approximately 8 reps with and I stop at 6.
Again, my goal the first week back is not to achieve maximum overload it is to focus on execution and train with moderate weights to set myself up physically and mentally to go full speed my second week back in the gym.
The “Pump” and Building Muscle
I know you don’t think flys are necessary for maximum chest growth but I have read in many magazines that they are very effective. I always get an incredible pump by ending my chest workout with a few sets of flys. Should I skip the flys altogether?
You need to understand that a “pump” does not build muscle, achieving overload does and flys are not the most efficient or effective exercise for achieving overload.
My advice is stick with the basic pressing and drop the flys. Overloading the muscle with basic compound exercises is the best way to stimulate maximum muscle growth.
Finishing off your workout with an exercise like flys or doing light sets at the end of a workout just to achieve a pump is not helping your muscle building efforts, despite what the magazines say.
In your opinion how often should I change workout routines, every 4 or 8 weeks? What’s more effective?
I feel this is a matter of personal preference. The benefits from changing your workout schedule are more mental than physical. A change in schedule can help you remain mentally fresh and help you avoid any burn out in the gym. Physically, I don’t think one time span is more effective than the other.
Changing the Workout Schedule Every 8 Weeks
I prefer to change my workout schedule after every 8 weeks of training. Some people like to change more often and I don’t see anything wrong with that either.
If you are training with progressive resistance you can be assured that you are stimulating maximum muscle growth and whether you change your workout schedule every 4 or 8 weeks is of secondary importance.
Frequency of Training Abs
You recommend training abs twice a week as opposed to once a week?
I do recommend training abs twice a week but each ab training session is designed to accomplish a different function.
My first ab training session is on Mondays with the Swiss Ball. I do Swiss Ball ab exercises with body weight resistance to increase my core strength and stability.
Core strength (the combined strength of all the muscles from your hips to your arm pits) is important as this is where you generate much of your power for compound strength movements. Improved core strength also guards against injury.
My second ab workout is on Thursdays with resistance exercises. I do resistance exercises to overload the abdominal muscles and increase my ab development.
I think it is important to incorporate both kinds of abdominal work into your routine to achieve well developed abs and greater power through improved core strength.
Overloading the Chest Muscles
The lower portion of my chest is really lacking in development. What could I do to improve this area?
To direct more overload to the lower portion of your chest I would suggest incorporating weighted dips or decline presses into your chest routine.
I would combine weighted dips or decline presses (bar or dumbbell) with a flat or incline pressing movement using the progressive resistance.
Example of a Chest Routine for Overall Development
- Decline Barbell Press….3 sets 4-8 reps (After warm-up)
- Flat Barbell Press….2 sets 4-8 reps
- Incline Dumbbell Press….2 sets 4-8 reps
This chest routine will emphasize the lower portion of your chest and help you balance out your overall chest development.
How Much Time Between Sets?
You suggest taking 2-3 minutes rest between sets. When I perform squats and deadlifts I sometimes need up to five minutes to recover before I attempt another heavy set. Is that too much time to wait between sets?
Short term recovery (STR) between sets will vary somewhat from person to person and even vary among different exercises as you have mentioned. I don’t think there is one perfect amount of time to prescribe for everyone on every exercise and that is why a general time frame for short term recovery of 2-3 minutes is given. In most cases this time span should be sufficient but it is not set is stone.
Overload Builds Muscle, Fatigue Does Not
The idea is to take enough time between sets so you feel recovered enough to exert another maximal effort. You don’t want to rush to the point you sacrifice the amount of overload you can achieve on your next set. Remember overload builds muscle, fatigue does not.
On major full body compound movements like squats and deadlifts it makes sense that you may need a little extra time to recovery between sets and 5 minutes sounds fine.
I’m using progressive resistance and doing great except for my leg training. I can do squats but lately when I try to do leg presses (45 degrees) I experience pain in my right knee. I’ve replaced leg presses with lunges, but this week I felt some pain in exactly the same area, not much, but enough to be annoying. What can I replace leg presses with?
Leg presses are not essential for total leg development. As long as you can squat effectively you are all set. Squats are the king of all leg exercises and if I could only do one, that’s the exercise I would pick.
Instead of replacing leg presses, I would do 2 additional sets of squats and finish with stiff leg deadlifts. Squats and stiff leg deadlifts will give you an incredibly effective workout.
You are smart to avoid an exercise that is causing you aggravation. The worst thing you can do is ignore the pain and try to train through it. That is only setting yourself up for bigger problems down the road.
Keep training smart and focus on squats and stiff leg deadlifts until you can do leg presses or lunges with no pain.
Training on Machines Can Limit Results
What do you think about some of those home weightlifting machines advertised on TV that have exercises for your whole body and use resistance with rubber bands? Are they very effective for building muscle?
Home weightlifting machines like the one you describe are not very effective for muscle building. Machines like that often restrict your natural biomechanics based on their design and limit the amount of overload you can achieve. Limiting overload will limit your results.
Machines in general are not as effective at maximum muscle stimulation as free weights. Machines balance the weights for you and thus limit the involvement of secondary muscle groups and limit total muscle fiber recruitment.
Multi-Joint Compound Exercises are Best for Building Mass and Strength
Your best bet for building muscle is sticking with basic free weight compound exercises and increasing resistance. Sports scientists agree that multi-joint compound exercises are best for building mass and strength.
During your first week back in the gym after a recovery week with no training do you try to pick up right where you left off and use the same weights?
After every 10 weeks of intense training I take one week off.
A scheduled week off is very important for total physical and mental recovery.
When I get back into the gym I don’t try to pick up where I left off. I use the first week to ease into training. This lets my mind and body get adjusted to training again and acclimated to a new schedule. I use the first week back to set the stage for full blown intensity in the weeks to come.
My objectives during the first week of training are to select weights that I can handle fairly easy for 8 reps and emphasize exercise execution. I focus on the form and feel of each movement and flush out any bad training habits that may have crept in over the previous weeks.
Beginning a new training cycle every 8 to 10 weeks is a great way to start fresh and make sure you are executing to the best of your abilities.
Training Volume and Gaining Muscle
My back is my weakest body part and I would like to build it up. Should I do extra work to help it catch up, like train it twice a week?
A person’s first instinct is often to do more for a lagging body part but more is not always better, especially when it comes to the volume and frequency of your training.
If you train your back more frequently you will be impeding the recovery process and doing more harm than good. You need to create the best stimulus for growth in the gym and then give adequate time to recover before you subject your back to another session of overload.
Training each body part once per week with the progressive overload will ensure you are creating the best stimulus for growth and allowing optimal recovery time to fully respond to that stimulus for all body parts.
Pay Careful Attention to Good Exercise Execution
Keep blasting your back once a week with basic compound exercises. Pay careful attention to good exercise execution, making sure the majority of the overload is being directed to your back on each exercise. Follow a good nutritional plan along with intelligent supplement timing to aid in your recovery and your back will have no choice but to grow.
Correcting Muscle Imbalances
I took body measurements before I started lifting heavy and I found some imbalances in size between my right and left sides. Should I train these body parts differently in order to get them to grow evenly?
It is not uncommon to have some imbalances in muscle size, especially if you are just beginning a weight training program. I think you’ll find that over time your development will equal out with consistent training and the use of free weight exercises.
Using a variety of basic barbell and dumbbell exercises will make both sides of your body work to balance and control the weights during the various exercises. This will lead to a better balance of strength and development and you will not have to train either side differently.
Consistent training and good nutrition should do the trick.
What Role Does Muscle Soreness Play?
I train very intensely but I don’t always get sore. Is that bad?
Muscle soreness is not a good indication of the success of your workout. Just because you are not sore doesn’t mean you didn’t effectively stimulate muscle growth.
If you are training proper intensity and overloading the muscle you are creating the best stimulus for maximum muscle growth. The degree of soreness you experience after training may vary depending on factors such as your nutritional status and your hydration.
How to Warm Up Your Muscles Efficiently
Some of the workouts train separate muscle groups during a single session such as calves and shoulders. Whenever you train separate muscle groups like that should you warm-up each muscle before starting the workout?
Efficient warm-ups are designed to acclimate your muscles to heavier weights without fatiguing them before you begin your muscle building sets in the 4-8 rep range. When you are training two different muscle groups, each should be warmed up before you begin your working sets with maximum overload.
In the case of training calves and shoulders you would want to follow a normal warm-up protocol for each body part. There is virtually no secondary involvement of shoulders during calf training and vice versa so each muscle group needs to be acclimated to using heavier weights before it is subjected to direct overload.
Compound Exercise that Works your Entire Body
When you are performing normal deadlifts do you set the bar on the floor after each rep or do you maintain a continuous motion?
Deadlifts are an awesome compound exercise that works your entire body, especially back and traps. Due to the nature of this movement and the amount of weight you can handle, you never want to get sloppy with deadlifts and execution should always be a priority.
When performing deadlifts I set the bar on the floor after each rep. I take a moment to check my grip and starting position then I do another rep. I continue this pattern until my set is complete.
The last thing I want to do is sacrifice form when I’m approaching the end of a set. Setting the bar on the floor and “re-setting” myself between reps allows me to maintain better concentration and focus on execution throughout the exercise.
Pre-Exhaust Training is Useless
All my body parts are responding great and are growing with no stagnation except for my chest. I was thinking of pre-exhausting my chest with either flyes or cable cross overs before I begin the pressing exercises. What do you think? Is pre-exhaust the answer for my lagging chest development?
In my opinion, pre-exhaust training is worthless and will do nothing to promote muscle growth, in fact, it will stand to limit your results.
Pre-exhaust training does exactly as the name implies, it simply fatigues your muscles with an isolation exercise before you perform the compound muscle building movements. By the time you hit the compound exercises like flat and incline presses, your chest is fatigued and you can use no where near the amount of weight you could normally do.
Pre-exhausting just doesn’t make any sense. Your best bet is to use intense, progressive overload during your exercises for your chest in the 4-8 rep range. Remember, muscle fatigue does not build muscle, muscle overload does.
Would Vibration Training Have Any Effect on Anabolic Hormone Profiles to Promote Better Muscle Gains?
Vibration training has been suggested as an alternative to traditional weight training for building muscle mass and strength. The theory behind vibration training is that lifting weights on a vibrating surface will stimulate muscle stretch reflexes that activate more muscle fibers.
One important draw back of this type of training is that the amount of overload used is some what limited due to the instability. Overload is the key to muscle gains.
Any technique that limits the amount of overload used will severely impair your capacity to build muscle mass.
Only one study has assessed hormone profiles in response to traditional weight training in comparison to vibration training. No differences in hormone profiles were noted. However, the traditional weight lifting program didn’t use high overload, so the implications of these results are unclear.
If your goal is maximum muscle and strength gains, my recommendation is to stick what the research shows is effective. That is, traditional heavy lifting. As we find out more about vibration training, the applications if any, will become clearer.
I am really interested in increasing my strength but am a little confused on how to approach weight training. I talked to a clerk at a nutrition center and he told me if I want a big bench I have to train no less than 3-4 times a week with the bench press alone, but from what I’ve been reading that is over training. My question is should I be benching once or twice a week?
My first bit of advice is don’t ask that clerk any more questions. Bench pressing 3 to 4 times a week is severely over training and if you follow that routine you can kiss your results goodbye.
Maximizing Muscular Gains
Proper recovery time is essential for maximizing your gains. You need to remember that you are growing and becoming stronger when you leave the gym. Intense training creates the stimulus for strength and muscular development.
In order to fully respond to that stimulus you need to follow an intelligent nutritional plan and give adequate time to recover before you subject that body part to another session of direct overload.
Intensity and Progressive Overload
I recommend that you train with intensity and progressive overload while bench pressing once a week, giving at least 6 full days to recover before you blast your chest again.
Your workout schedules are designed allow for maximum recovery and if you follow along with the course as written you’ll be creating the best stimulus for strength and muscular development and will not have to worry about over training.
I’ve been training heavy for about 4 weeks now and it’s been awesome. I have a question about deadlifts and back training. Deadlifts are my last back exercise and I wanted to know if I should do a warm-up on them before I begin the working sets, even though I have already done 3 back exercises?
I was thinking I should probably not go for my max deadlift weight on the first set without a warm-up.
I agree with you. I think it is important to do a series of acclimation sets for deadlifts before you jump into the heavy sets, even though you have already completed 3 back exercises.
The execution of deadlifts and the muscles involved are quite different than other back exercises. Deadlifts recruit just about every muscle you have and there is heavy lower body involvement as well. I think it is important from both a performance and a safety standpoint to make sure your body and mind is acclimated to the exercise before you attempt to work with maximum overload in the 4-8 rep range.
I would suggest at least 2 or 3 acclimation sets with progressively heavier weight so you can get accustomed to the form and feel of the movement without approaching the point of fatigue.
Deadlifts are an awesome exercise and execution is extremely important. Doing a series of acclimation sets will also allow you to get comfortable and confident with the execution of the lift before you attack the heavy muscle building sets.
My calf development seems to be lagging behind. Is there anything I can do to help them “catch up” to everything else?
You need to remember that the calves are muscles like any other and regardless of what you have read or heard, they are best stimulated to grow by overload, not by high reps and light weight.
The best thing you can do for your calves is train them heavy with the intensity and progressive overload. You also need to make sure you are devoting the same focus and intensity to your calves as you are every other body part.
I would suggest training calves first on the day you are scheduled to work them. If you train calves at the end of your workout, you may have a tendency to treat them as an afterthought and not give them the focus or intensity they need.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can train calves more frequently to help them “catch up”. Training them more frequently will impede recovery and hinder your results. Train calves once a week like you train all other body parts.
Here is my current favorite calf workout.
- Calf Raises off the Leg Press 3 sets 6-8 reps (After warm-up)
- Seated Calf Raises 2 sets 6-8 reps
Hammer your calves weekly with intensity and make sure calf training is as focused and intense as every other body part and you’ll be creating the best stimulus for maximum calf development.
I have been using the progressive overload on my arms about a month now and love it! I am having a problem with tricep cable pushdowns though. I now do the full stack for my sets but it is getting less challenging. Is there an alternative exercise or variation I should try? Or should I just increase my reps?
In order to keep stimulating maximum muscle growth you need to choose exercises that allow you to effectively reach overload in a 4-8 rep range.
If you are getting to the point where you can complete 8 reps with ease and you can’t add any more weights to cable pushdowns then it’s time to choose another exercise because progressive overload is a key to continual progress.
There are a number of good free weight compound tricep movements to choose from including: lying tricep extensions, close grip bench presses, curl bar overhead extensions and incline overhead extensions.
Any of these exercises will fit right into your tricep workouts and allow you to achieve maximum overload.
Working Out At Home
I workout at home and I have all of the same equipment that the big gyms have with the exception of a leg press. Could you suggest an effective alternative to the leg press I could add to my leg routine?
If your home is equipped with free weights you will have everything you need for an effective leg workout and don’t have to worry about missing a leg press.
I would suggest a combination of squats, barbell lunges and stiff leg deadlifts.
These are very effective compound exercises and all you need for an awesome leg workout.
- Squats….4 sets 4-8 reps (After warm-up)
- Barbell Lunges….2 sets 4-8 reps
- Stiff-leg Deadlifts….2 sets 4-8 reps
As a trainer, I’ve noticed that muscle growth responses between younger and older adults are very different. For instance, my older clients respond much more slowly whereas my younger clients (people in there 20 and 30’s) respond quite dramatically to the stimuli of weight training.
The limited amount of research on this topic seems to agree with your real-world experience.
One study has directly compared muscle fiber hypertrophy (growth) responses among older adults (over 55 years) to those aged between 20-35 years.
In this study both groups of people underwent a structured, progressive overload program 3 times per week for 16 weeks. Results showed that in response to training, all muscle fiber types (slow twitch to fast twitch) increased in size in the younger adults whereas only the type-2 fibers (fast twitch) increased in the older group.
The magnitude of the hypertrophy response was different too. In the younger group, the type-2 muscle fibers increased in size by 32% compared to the 23% increase experienced by the over 55’s.
However, anyone who is in or approaching the “older adult” category shouldn’t despair. The results of this study also showed that the training virtually turned back the clock. At the end of the program the older adults possessed muscle fibers that were as large and strong as a group of untrained 35 year-olds.
Pumping iron Arnold Schwarzenegger style; it’s the fountain of youth I tell ya!