Weight training involves the use of equipment
that enables variable resistance. This resistance can come in the form
of "free weights" like barbells and dumbbells, machines that
use cables or pulleys to help you lift the weight and bodyweight exercises
like pull-ups or dips.
Free Weights vs. Machines vs. Bodyweight
For maximum muscle gain, the focus of your
workouts should consist of free weight exercises. Not machines or bodyweight
exercises. This is not to say that you should not use machines or bodyweight
exercises, but they should not be the focus of your training. To get an
effective, muscle blasting workout, you must stimulate the most muscle
fibers as possible, and machines do not do this.
The main reason for this is a lack of stabilizer
and synergist muscle development. Stabilizer and synergist muscles are
supporting muscles that assist the main muscle in performing a complex
lift. The more stabilizers and synergists worked, the more muscle fibers
stimulated. Multi-jointed free weight exercises like the bench press,
require many stabilizer and synergistic muscle assistance to complete
the lift. On the other hand doing a bench press using a machine will need
almost no stabilizer assistance.
Since machines are locked into a specific
range of motion and help to support the weight along that path, they fail
to stimulate the muscles that surround the area you are working (stabilizers).
This is a mistake. If your stabilizer muscles are weak, then the major
muscle group will never grow!
Free weight exercises like the dumbbell
press or squat, for example, put a very large amount of stress on supporting
muscle groups. That's why you will get fatigued faster and not be able
to lift as much weight as you did on the machine. But you will gain more
muscle, become stronger very quickly and have a true gauge of your strength.
If you use machines in your program, they
should be used to work isolated areas and only after all multi-jointed
exercises have been completed.
Beginners should begin with a limited combination
of machine exercises, bodyweight exercises and mult-jointed free weight
exercises. Before increasing the weight levels, they should work on becoming
familiar with the proper form and execution of each. Soon, bodyweight
exercises will become insufficient to stimulate growth and they will need
to focus on more free weight exercises.
The exercises that work the large muscle
groups are called compound (or multi-joint) movements that involve the
simultaneous stimuation of many muscle groups. These compound exercises
should be the foundation of any weight training program because they stimulate
the most amount of muscle in the least amount of time.
Here are the basic movements:
- Bench Presses (works the chest, shoulders,
- Overhead Presses (shoulders, tricep)
- Pull-ups/Barbell Rows (back, bicep)
- Squats (legs, lower back)
- Deadlifts (legs, back, shoulders)
- Bar Dips (shoulders, chest, arms)
I cannot overemphasize the importance of
these exercises. Do not start an advanced weight training program without
them! They will overload your entire skeletal and muscular system like
no machine could ever do, giving you and effective workout in a very short
period of time. If you can only do a few exercises, then do these. They
have been proven (and not just by me) to encourage muscle and strength
gain unlike any other exercises.
Lift Heavy Weight
To build mass, you must weight train with
heavy weights. By heavy, I mean a weight that is challenging for you --
not me, or anyone else. To consider a weight heavy, you should only be
able to do a maximum of 8-12 reps before your muscles temporarily fail.
A weight is considered "light" if you can do more than 15 reps
before muscle fatigue sets in.
Heavy weights stimulate more muscle fibers
than lighter weights. It's that simple. More muscle stimulation means
more muscle growth.
Heavy weight training puts a huge strain
on your body, so adequate rest and recuperation after your workouts is
essential. If you are prone to train too often, several things happen:
- You don't give your muscles enough time
to recuperate between workouts. If your muscles have not repaired themselves,
you will not be at maximum strength for your next workout. Rest is essential.
Other than eating, this should be your main focus.
- You are setting yourself up for burnout
or an injury.
I know you are motivated and excited about
working out, but don't be careless. You must pace yourself, you want to
be able to keep this up for a long time, not burnout before you reach
your goals. I only weight train 3 times per week, that's all. Anymore
than that and I would not give my body enough time to repair and build
Contrary to popular belief,
you do not grow while working out, you only grow when you are resting.
Below is an example mass workout. I did
4 heavy sets for 4-8 reps each.
Wednesday (legs, abs)
Heavy Squats, leg extension superset
Seated Calve Raises, 4 strips sets
Crunches (4 sets of 20)
Friday (chest, shoulder, triceps,
Flat bench press, incline dumbbell flyes superset
Shoulder press, side raises superset
Reverse incline leg raises (3 sets of 20)
Sunday (back, biceps, abs)
Wide grip pull-ups, latbar pulldown superset
EZ bar bicep curl, incline dumbbell curls superset
Crunches (4 sets of 20)
That's it. Nothing fancy, but effective.