Your routine is a key part of lifting for maximum muscle mass. In this article we are going to focus on some of the key muscle building exercises. The following exercises are the standbys of a solid lifting routine. They won’ t be your routine forever, but it is likely that at least a few of them will be present in your lifting routine at any one time. Together they make a great starting routine, as well as a great fall back when you find your muscle building has hit a plateau.
An important aspect of these and any other exercises is technique. The biggest benefit of technique is your safety. Improper lifting can lead to serious injuries that will set your muscle mass increases back significantly. Technique is also important for results. Consistent proper technique will provide the best muscle mass gains.
Prior to any lifting it is important to check all of your equipment. Any damaged benches, or plates with cracks or large chips should not be used.
Muscle Building Exercise 1 – Bench Press
Positioning – Proper Bench technique begins with your location. As you lie on the bench, the bar should be at its resting position directly above your eyes. From your shoulders to your buttocks should be flat on the bench. Your feet should be at a comfortable width, flat on the floor.
Down Phase – After raising the bar from the resting position lower it to just below the nipples. This lowering should happen at a controlled pace, do not drop the bar on your chest. This is dangerous for you, and reduces the impact of your workout. You should be inhaling through this portion of the lift.
The Press – Press the weight back to the starting position; arms fully extended, elbows locked. This press should take pace with the same amount of control and force through out the motion. This will ensure muscle gains throughout the muscle.
Muscle Building Exercises 2 – Squats
Positioning – The bar should be should rest on the rack 3 inches lower than the top of the trapezius muscle. You should stand backed up to the bar. Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width. Hands should be placed evenly on the bar.
Down Phase – Stand up into the bar, holding it steady across the trapezius. Slowly lower your body be bending at the knees and hips. You should always keep your eyes forward and your torso rigid. The tendency to look the direction you are moving can lead to falling, either forward or backward while lifting.
The Press – Once you have reached the bottom of your knee bend, extend your hips and knees and rise to the fully erect position. Exhale throughout this portion of the movement. Make sure that you maintain control of the bar as you reach the end of your motion.
Muscle Building Exercises 3 – Deadlift
Positioning – Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. The weights should be resting on the ground with the bar crossing over the balls of your feet. Squat down, keeping your eyes forward and your back straight. Grasp the bar just slightly wider than your feet.
The Lift – Keeping your back rigid and arms straight and unbent, raise the bar by extending the knees and hips. The power from this exercise should come from your legs not from your back. Bending your back can lead to herniated discs. Once you have reached the upright position complete the lift by raising your shoulders.
The Down Phase – With the same pacing and control you used to lift the bar, return it to the starting position by lowering your body from the knees and hips.
Muscle Building Exercises 4- Shoulder Press
Positioning – These can be done standing but the best option is seated. With your back flat against the seat back, raise the dumbells to shoulder height. Palms should be up and the thumb wrapped around the dumbell.
The Lift – Extend your arms raising the dumbell straight up. Do this in a controlled motion. Do not click the weights together above your head and do not lockout your arms. You will see more muscle mass gains by keeping continual weight on your shoulder muscles.
The Down Phase – With the same control you used to lift the weight bring them back down to shoulder height. Keep the same speed through out the return to the starting position.
Muscle Building Exercises 5 – Dips
Positioning – Dips are done on a set of parallel bars. You should be raised above the bars with your arms locked out. Grip the bars tightly. Keeping the muscle contracted throughout the movement will help with muscle mass gains.
The Down Phase – Keeping your head up and looking forward, lower your body by bending your arms. Continue lowering until you have slightly passed the point where your tricep is parallel to the floor.
The Lift – Once you are in the down position, raise yourself back to the starting position by extending your arms. Do not return completely to the locked out position. Keep your weight on your muscles.
Muscle Building Exercises 6 – Bent Over Rows
Positioning – Place your knee on a flat bench. Your other foot should be flat on the ground and your body should be parallel to the bench and directly above it. Place the hand that is opposite the knee (i.e. right knee, left hand) flat on the bench. Use the other hand to grab the dumbell from the ground, it should be on the side opposite of your foot.
The Lift – In a smooth motion pull the weight from the ground straight up. It should come to a point on the side of your torso that is slightly forward of your hips.
The Down Phase – In a controlled descent, move the weight straight down. Do not let it hit the floor, keep it slightly higher to maintain weight on your muscle at all times.