How to Weight Train for Maximum Muscle Gain
By: Anthony Ellis
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 Exercises
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, tricep)
* 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 new muscle.
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, abs)
* Flat bench press, incline dumbbell flyes superset
* Shoulder press, side raises superset
* Tricep pushdowns
* 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.
About the Author
Former "skinny guy" Anthony Ellis is the author of Gaining Mass! The most widely used weight gain program in the world.
This unique program designed to help people gain weight and build muscle, is currently being used in over 90 countries and boasts the largest private weight gain forum on the Internet, with well over 13,000 members at http://www.fastmusclegain.com
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The Power of Stretching - Dave Snape
muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.
A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.
The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching.
it can't hurt, right?
So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.
Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
Why are stretching and flexibility considered
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy
know there are plenty of other benefits.
Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from
Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.
Here is some good
instructional material on stretching:
If you enjoyed 'The Power of Stretching' article, consider
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