Building Muscle With Compound Lifts
Building Muscle With Compound Lifts
Article by M Holland
Many people spend hours in the gym each week, only to be disappointed with small, slow results. Some people have been working out for years, only to maintain a mediocre weight and fitness level. Lots of these people blame genetics, metabolism, body type, and a myriad of other factors, but the real problem lies in their workouts.
The problem with the average person’s workout is that they focus on isolation lifts. These are exercises that focus on one specific muscle, and include things like bicep curls, butterflies, and triceps extensions. While these are all good exercises, they will not gain you much size after the initial “newbie gains,” and really amount to gym time being wasted.
To really improve in the gym, you need to focus on compound lifts. These are big lifts that involve many different muscle groups. There are many different compound lifts, but these are the more popular ones that anyone relatively new to the gym should include in their workout.
The squat is the only exercise that works every single muscle in your legs, and is probably the best overall exercise you can do. The largest muscles in your body are in your legs, so if you are looking to put on weight and gain size, it only makes sense to work your legs out and build them up.
Squats also work your entire core, and build substantial stabilization muscles that you would never gain doing only isolation work. Many professional bodybuilders and power lifters swear by the squat, and it should definitely be the core of your entire workout regime.
The deadlift is right behind the squat as one of the most important exercises that anyone could do. Famous bodybuilding coach Mark Rippetoe calls the deadlift the “Health Lift,” because if a person were to do only deadlifts for their physical fitness, that person would still manage to be in good shape.
The deadlift primarily works the hamstring, the back muscles, and the abs, but also includes a whole slew of other muscle groups.
- Bench Press
The bench press is likely the most important upper body exercise, and is the one that will increase your “mirror muscles” the most. The bench press is a long favorite of any bodybuilder, and behind the squat and deadlift, it builds the most useful “real world” strength.
The bench press will build up your chest muscles, triceps, and deltoids.
Rows focus on training the back muscles and biceps. Many people tend to build biceps with endless sets of curls, but you can achieve the same size and strength in much less time by building them up with rows.
Rows can be done bent over a bench using a T-bar, or by bending over at the waist and lifting a standard Olympic bar. If you are a beginner and do not have the strength for bent-over rows, you can do seating rows with the aid of a machine. However, this should only be used as a learning mechanism, and you should progress away from the machine as soon as possible.
- Military Press
The military press is great for anyone looking to supplement the bench press in their workout with additional upper-body work. Military press also focuses much more heavily on the shoulders than the chest, so when placed properly in the workout schedule, you can increase your gains in both areas substantially.
Military press is best done while standing, but can also be done at a bench from a seated position. For safety, you should do military presses in a squat rack with safety bars if you do not have a spotter, as failure can result in serious injury.
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