A couple of days ago, I posted an article that introduced you to nine exercises that should form the basis of your workout routine, as they will build a solid foundation.
In the first article, I introduced you to the Deadlift, the Shoulder Press, and the Classic Push-Up.
In the next article, I discussed the Pull-Up, the Standing Barbell Curl, and Dips.
Today we will discuss the last three exercises that should form the basis of your program: Squats, Barbell Rows, and the Bench Press.
Let’s get started!
Personal confession time. Leg day is the day I dread the most! I never (rarely) skip it, but, I don’t look forward to doing the exercises. I tend to push my limits with leg exercises, and then I am sore for the next few days. I know, I know. This is what is supposed to happen. But my day job involves a lot of walking, sitting, and standing, and when my legs are sore, well, it makes it less fun to do all those things.
Enough about my complaints, let’s get on with the squat.
Just one more aside. Your upper body and your lower body are connected. If you want greater upper body growth, then you need to train your lower body. Also, your upper and lower body are connected by hip flexors, and you must not ignore them. I will discuss hip flexors in a later post.
The squat will train all your lower body muscles (quads, hamstrings, glutes) at the same time. These three muscle groups comprise 40% of the muscles in your body. That means with one exercise, you are working out 40% of your body. Add to that the amount of stress on your core to stabilize yourself throughout the movement, and the squat becomes one of the greatest exercises of all times.
Added to that, the squat will skyrocket your metabolic rate and kick start your testosterone production due to the large number of muscles being used.
There are many variations of the squat that will focus the stress on various parts of the leg, but until you have a handle on the classic squat, let’s leave the other methods on the rack.
Here are a couple videos that demonstrates the proper form to perform the squat. Enjoy.
One down, two to go. On to one of my favourite exercises…
This is a great exercise to develop the thickness of your back muscles. It will also work your traps. Add to that the stress on your core, as you stabilize yourself while performing the exercise, and the stress on your biceps and triceps, and you have one of the greatest compound exercises you can perform.
Again, there are many ways to perform this exercise: barbell, dumbbell, alternating dumbbell row, palms facing in, long bar, palms neutral, etc. Ultimately, you are working the same muscle group, but feel free to vary your method of execution to get a full pump of the muscle, forcing them to grow.
The best advice I can give you is to focus your mind on the muscle group you are using throughout the entire motion. Flex your back muscles to start the motion, instead of using your arms. Hold at the top, and then lower with the same control, focusing on the muscles in your back.
Once again, I have included a video to assist you in the mechanics of the row. In case you are wondering, I use Athlene X videos because I appreciate the details in the explanation and trust Jeff Cavalier’s knowledge of muscles and how they work.
The bench press is the one exercise that everyone thinks of when they think about weight lifting. Curls and the bench press. The two go to exercises. And for good reason. Curls build bicep size and the bench press build chest strength. Yes, I did that on purpose. If you want to add size to your chest, be sure to do lots of dips. Dips will add size. Bench press will add strength.
The bench press is a great exercise for increasing your pushing strength, and will increase your upper body strength in general. You will be activating your chest, your shoulders, and your triceps when you perform the bench press.
So, perform dips to stretch your pecs all the way, forcing them to grow, and perform the bench press to gain crazy amounts of strength.
Again, there are many ways to perform the bench press that will cause stress on your chest muscles, or triceps, in a variety of ways. You can use a wide grip, an incline bench, a decline bench, a close grip bench, or a reverse grip. You can use a barbell, or dumbbells, or alternate arms with dumbbells.
Any way you cut it, the bench press is an important exercise to build a solid foundation on which to build muscles. Don’t skip it (as if you would) and load it up as heavy as you can (as if you wouldn’t)!
Here is a video to assist you in figuring out the proper form for the bench press.
And one last video to assist in improving your weak bench press.
As I have said, start with these and then add exercises for each muscle group so you are performing two or three exercises, two or three sets, and 8 – 12 reps. That should be a sufficient amount of stress to cause growth in the muscle group.
Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
See you in the next post.
Have a great day!