5 Old School Exercises That Build Mass

There’s a classic montage n Rocky IV that contrasts the training styles of Rocky and his Russian opponent, Drago. While Drago is using sophisticated equipment (at least by 1985 standards) to train for the brawl, Rocky is outside running in the snow, chopping wood, and carrying boulders. I’m sure you know by now who came out on top.

Although advances in exercise science has created a new generation of top-performing athletes, the vast majority of new “advances” that come to the market are essentially useless. Do you think Arnold or Lou Farrago ever used an elliptical trainer or a BoFlex?

Go back in time and forward with your results with these retro exercises for packing on muscle:


Do you spend more time on the lat pull down bar than you’d like to admit? If you want lats like a flying squirrel, man-up and start doing pull ups. Not only do pull-ups utilize more muscle fibers than machines, but the act of lifting your body weight actually releases growth hormone.


Running can be anabolic if done the right way. Studies show that high-intensity interval training can actually stimulate muscle growth. Unlike machines like exercise bikes, sprinting works your muscles and cardiovascular system at an extremely high intensity.


Now we’re really talking old school! The kettlebell has been a Russian fitness mainstay for centuries. In recent years, its popularly has taken off in the US because kettlebells can purportedly increase functional strength better than standard weight lifting.

Push Ups

Drop and give yourself 20! Push ups are a fantastic upper body exercise that gets very little love in the bodybuilding community because it’s supposedly only used for high reps. By mixing up grips and adding weight, it’s possible to fully fatigue your muscles using pushups in the 4-8 rep range.

Power Cleans

Cleans have been part of NFL player’s training regimen for years –with eye popping results. However, most lifters eschew the clean because it doesn’t “fit” in with their training split.

To work in power cleans, take a rest from your typical routine and incorporate some of these old school exercises into your regimen. You’ll probably find that these blasts from the past help you bust through plateaus and stimulate stagnant muscle groups.

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