As a guy, my ultimate goal is to build strength. I want to lift as much as the linebacker on the football team. I also want muscles as big as his. To accomplish this, you cannot use isolation weight lifting exercises as the core of your routine. To really build strength, you must focus your workout on these three exercises.

How to build strength #1: Bench Press

Outside of curls, the bench press is definitely one of the most glamorous of the weight lifting exercises. It seems as though nearly every day is “bench day” when people head to the gym. Lucky for them, the bench press is a great workout for most of your entire upper body. Doing a press incorporates the chest, shoulders, triceps, and your core all at once. Doing a bench press also helps to correct some muscle imbalances. If your shoulders are disproportionately strong, this will help even things out some.

For proper form on the bench press, make sure your back is flat at all times. Arching your back can and will lead to injury. Keep your feet flat on the ground. You want to bring the bar down gently to your sternum, then lift so the bar ends up at eye level when your arms are fully extended. Once again, gently bring down the bar (do not bounce it off of your chest), and repeat. Make sure you do this workout at least once a week.

How to build strength #2: Dead Lifts

This workout requires a bit more technique. If you are new to core lifts, you should probably start with very little weight so you can get the hang of the technique involved. Trust me though, this definitely will build strength if done correctly. This is one of the go-to workouts of most football players for a reason. Doing one dead lift will use muscles from the lower back, quads, abdomen, and biceps. The abdomen, lower back, and upper legs constitute the “core” of your body. Although I don’t have any documented proof, I have personal experience that indicates that a well developed core will increase your strength in other lifts too. Increasing my dead lift will also increase my bicep curls. Use dead lifts to increase all of your weight lifting exercises.

To properly execute a dead lift, start with the bar on the ground. Bend your knees to reach the bar. Make sure you puff out your chest. I’ve been told to imagine a pencil being held between your shoulder blades. Make sure you don’t let the pencil drop as you go down. Bend your back only slightly to grab the bar. Lift the bar using as much legs as possible. Also, make sure you are looking forward at all times. Moving your head around could lead to a pulled muscle or a shift in balance. One rep is completed when you stand up with the weight in your hands; arms extended and knees locked.

How to build strength #3: Squats

If you ignore everything else I have to say, please just listen to this: squats are one of the most important weight lifting exercises you can do. Squats are like the magic pill to build strength. Doing one squat will work your quads, calves, lower back, abs, and even other small balance muscles you don’t notice. Multiple times, if I got away from doing squats, nearly every other workout I did would plateau. By going back to squats, my other lifts seem to magically improve. Please, make sure you do squats at least once a week. Somehow, it builds strength in your entire body and allows you to lift more in almost all weight lifting exercises.

Doing a squat is similar to doing a dead lift, except the weight is on your shoulders. Make sure your back is as straight as possible. Use as little back as possible when squatting down and when lifting up. Depending on the type of squat you do, keep your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart; pointed forward. Regarding eye contact, I like to find a spot on the wall in front of me about 7 or 8 feet above ground. I focus on that point throughout the set; when I go up and down. One rep is completed when the squatter goes all the way down, then returns to the starting position, knees locked.

For more information on proper form for these weight lifting exercises, take a look at bodybuilding When properly incorporated into your workout, these weight lifting exercises will build strength and help you fight through any plateaus you encounter. With these lifts, maybe you will be able to lift as much as that linebacker.

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How to Build Muscle the Right Way

When I was young I rarely got out. When I wasn’t watching TBS sitcoms or going to school I just did not know what to do with myself.This all changed when I was introduced to weight lifting by my father. He had bought two 30 pound dumb bells. He taught me how to lift the weights and bring them down. I still have these weights and I still use them.Now I’ve moved up to bigger and better muscle building regiments.I would like to recommend some of these to all those beginners and pros alike that may be of assistance.

Compound exercises: Compound exercises are extremely vital to the building of muscle, and much more effective then isolating one or two muscle groups. In fact I didn’t make noticeable gains from simply doing dumb bell curls.I saw better results from my push ups, pull ups and squats. Squats are actually the most important compound exercise you could think of.When you work them out your body secretes much more growth hormones, and testosterone, compared to your arms. More testosterone means quicker recovery, and your muscles shall grow bigger.

Nutrition: I see protein as the most obvious way and yet the most overlooked necessity in giving your body everything it needs to build mass. Nutrition is 90% of body building.Without ample amounts of protein, you won’t be seeing as considerable gains as you would if you drank 2 protein shakes a day on top of having three or four meals. Water is also extremely necessary. Your muscles are mostly made of water. Drink at least one gallon a day.It may sound like too much but break it down throughout the day.You will find that while your working out you will drink a lot more.

Work-out Aids- I have something called work out aids. I use these because I personally believe they give me a leg up when I begin my work outs. Some people probably have some kind of work out aid(s). For me I like to use creatine and caffeine. Creatine is a naturally produced byproduct of the body.It helps by increasing the retention of water in the muscles, which synthesizes protein and prevents it from breaking down.Also creatine is believed to help repair muscles faster. Caffeine is actually something that I never used to use. I discovered its positive effects when I studied.I applied it to my work out and I found myself working harder, and with more force.

* Conclusion: In order to make great strides in developing your self into a formidable and physical fit powerhouse you will need to have dedications and be willing to do a little hard work.But the great news is that if you are motivated you wills see incredible and I mean INCREDIBLE improvement not just in the gym but outside too. Of course one type of work out regiment will not fit everyone’s needs and wants. But the above mentioned suggestions have helped me tremendously, and I hope they can help you.I wish you the best of luck and success in the end, and remember you can do it!

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I originally decided to return to the gym after being dominated by less skilled, but physically stronger opponents in my Brazilian jiu jitsu class. Despite the fact that I knew more moves and performed them better/smoother, it often just wasn’t enough against guys who weighed 60 lbs more than me. I thought that lifting weights again could be helpful, but I wanted to take a scientific approach to the subject. There are so many weight lifting magazines out there, but most appeal to the body building crowd. I had no interest in “getting big” and thought that something that stressed “functional fitness” would be more appropriate.

After asking around on a message board that I frequent, I decided to try Mark Rippetoe’s program, “Starting Strength.” Followers of the program were almost cult-like in their enthusiasm. Since the program appears in a book of the same name, I decided to look at some reviews on Amazon.com just to gain some perspective. Rippetoe’s book had some of the best reviews I’ve ever seen of any book, ever. The majority of respondents gave it the full 5 stars available, without a single person giving it a 1 star review. I promptly ordered it, and began reading it immediately after it arrived.

I was amazed at the perfect balance that Mark Rippetoe maintained between using legitimate exercise science while still making the book very readable for the average person. While many fitness publications push a lot of pseudo-science, Starting Strength is based on the author’s nearly 30 years in the fitness industry. Rather than just making bold claims about how a certain exercise will lead to the greatest possible strength gains, Rippetoe explains WHY this occurs. The program is designed for the serious athlete who’s looking to improve his strength, and avoids impractical exercises like curls that target esthetically pleasing “beach muscles.” Starting Strength focuses on exercises which genuinely demand the athlete’s full muscular abilities. Rather than wasting time with forearm curls and dumbbell flies, the program is based around a few basic compound lifts: the bench press, squat, deadlift, standing overhead press, and power clean. The author recommends a few other supplementary exercises, such as pullups and dips.

I started the program about a month ago. After years of frustration with poor performances, I was amazed at how quickly I improved. Starting Strength prescribes squats for each workout, as Rippetoe states that the squat is the overall best exercise for increasing strength and athletic performance. I originally felt like the pressure from the bar on my back was going to cause a hernia, but this has changed quickly. Deadlifts were never incorporated into previous workouts, but they’ve become a favorite lift. After increasing by several repetitions, I find myself looking forward to doing dips on each workout that they appear. The program calls for a total of three workouts per week, which fit perfectly with my Brazilian jiu jitsu schedule.

Mark Rippetoe makes it a point to emphasize how often you need to challenge yourself in the gym. This has resulted in increases in my squat of 50 lbs, deadlift of 60 lbs, bench press of 20 lbs, standing overhead press of 15 lbs, and power cleans by about 20 lbs. I’ve lost a few pounds of fat as well, and have improved my physique substantially. A few of my training partners in jiu jitsu have remarked that I “felt stronger”, which was quite the compliment. I’ve lifted weights in accordance with other programs, but mostly improved in exercises that were of little value. While my personal bests increased in hammer curls and dumbbell rows, I stagnated with basic lifts such as the bench press and squat. Overall I’d recommend this program to just about anyone. The gains in absolute strength you will experience benefit the dedicated athlete, and the rapid speed at which it develops your physique will appeal to the casual gym rat as well. Rippetoe and his legions of fans make none of the claims that you’ll find in fitness magazines or on late night infomercials. Starting Strength does not claim to demand little to no effort. The program does not boast of how quickly it will get you that 6 pack of abs. If you’re willing to put in the required effort however, Starting Strength will not let you down.

Sources

Starting Strength- Mark Rippetoe and Lon Kilgore

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