Lifting heavy is at the heart of being able to effectively build muscle, and if you're going to the gym, chances are building muscle is on your list of goals. To build your body is to work each muscle to attaining the greatest possible degree, in terms of strength, mass and performance. Isolated exercises, like biceps curls and calf raises etc, can get you there, but it is far more effective if you're integrating compound lifts into your routine. This is because compound lifts, like the deadlift for example, works your entire body, engaging all the important muscles to execute the move. With just one move, you're targeting far more, which leads to a wider spread of potential gains.
Here the key lifts you must integrate into your routine.
Squats, though mostly popular for working the legs and butt, is a full-body compound exercise. It works you from your back, to your core, to your legs, and even your arm, though you may not realise it — this is why it is known as the king of exercises.
Before you squat, you need to pay attention to form. You can do this by practising in front of the mirror, without a weight. Keep your back in neutral spine, and your weight located in the heels and balls of your feet. A good gauge is if you are able to wiggle your toes once you're in squat position or not, and you ought to be able to. Your entire body should be kept tight. Breathe in, and send your hips backward as you lower your body downwards. Your back should still be in neutral spine, and your torso upwards. It helps if you focus on a point in the wall. As you descend, watch your knees as they should never go beyond your toes. Squat until your hip joint is lower than your knees, then drive through your heels to return to starting position.
Now you've got your form down, bring weights into it. Go to the weight rack, step under it and place the bar across your shoulders. A narrower grip would be more comfortable, but a wider grip is nonetheless fine. Hold the bar, then stand up, brace your core and step back. Then begin to squat as per our instructions.
Deadlifts are another essential exercise to work your posterior chain, and there's no other move to shape your back like this one. Like the squat, your form is essential, as improper form can lead to severe injury.
Key things to note about form is that you should always, always be in neutral spine. Your chest should be facing upwards so that your back doesn't round, but avoid squeezing your shoulder blades. Your elbows also should not be bent.
Begin by walking to the bar, and standing with your feet under it. Your shins should not touch the bar, and your feet should be situated at hip's-width apart. Point your toes out slightly at around 10 to 15 degrees. Grab the bar by bending over it, making sure that your palms are facing you and that your grip is shoulder's width apart. Now, bend your knees until your shin touches the bar, straighten your back, raise your chest and lift. Keep the bar in contact with your legs as you lift all the way until you stand upright. Return to starting position by moving your hips back, keeping your legs almost straight, and descending. Once the bar has passed your knees, you can afford to bend your knees more until the bar reaches the group.
The bench press is the most important exercise to build your upper body muscles and strength. It is commonly labelled as a chest exercise, but it does magic on your triceps, back, core, shoulders and even your glutes.
Again, form is crucial. Begin by going to a weight bench, then setting your feet properly on the ground. This ensures you have a strong base to start with. Next, bring yourself under the bar. As you grasp it, you need to realise that arching your back is part of helping your spine maintain its neutrality. It doesn't have to be a dramatic arch like powerlifting, but just ensure that your lower back does have a slight one. Then, grab the bar very tightly, with your thumb wrapped. Take a deep breath and unrack.
It's time to lift, so breathe out, then lower the bar. Bend the bar into a U shape as you lower it so that you can engage your lats. The bar should descend until your forearms are at 90 degrees away from the ground. Then the bar ought to hit your chest or your top abs. Try to maintain it at this spot the whole time. Next, tighten your glutes, drive your legs into the ground and use that force to bring the weight back to starting position, with your arms fully extended.
Key things to note about a deadlift include not flaring your elbows, not moving your feet during the lift, and not rolling your shoulders forward at the top of the lift.
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- October 20, 2017
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