Specific Training Tips
Incline to Build Your Chest:
One of the number one pec builders is bench presses at 30 degree incline. Using proper form and feeling the stretch in your chest as you slowly lower the weight is very effective at building muscle mass. Often, the bench press turns into a ego exercise because body builders sometimes care more about how much weight they can lift. Instead concentrate on the feeling in your chest and feeling the stretch. It is important you press the weight up using your chest strength, not your shoulders.
Perform Flye Movements With Moderate Weight:
As with other chest exercises, body builders tend to use the heaviest weight possible on flyes. Yet this often recruits your shoulders into the movement. Try choosing a weight that allows you feel a deep stretch across your pecs. You can try reducing the weight by 10 pounds and slowing each rep, but do not increase the quantity.
Execute Squats with Proper Form:
Far too many bodybuilders think the purpose of squatting is to put as much weight as possible across their backs. Instead, try to stimulate as much muscle growth as possible in your quads, hamstrings and glutes by using a weight that allows you to squat with proper form. Keep your back tight, holding its natural curvature throughout the movement. Descend in a slow controlled manner stretching your glutes and hamstrings then press back up through your heels.
In addition to excellent form through the entire squat movement it is important to use the services of a spotter. Due to the heavy load and the mechanics of the exercise, you should always have a spotter when performing “to the max” squats. This will help overload the muscle fiber but and you’ll be able to squeeze out one or two extra reps with added personal safety.
Utilize both Seated & Standing Calf Raises:
Many bodybuilders torch their calves with five or more sets of either standing or seated calf raises. A much better strategy is to include 3-4 sets of each. Seated calf raises target the Soleus Brevious muscle while standing calf raises target the Gastrocnemious muscle. For complete calf development, you need to work both muscle groups.
Deadlifts and more Deadlifts:
Far too often deadlifts are considered just a powerlifter’s exercise. This myth needs to be firmly put to rest. When performed correctly, deadlifts are an excellent bodybuilding exercise. This compound movement builds the entire body better than any other single exercise including squats. If you use a strict form deadlifts can help build a large variety of muscle groups, including your upper and lower back, abs, glutes and legs. They also increase your overall strength, making you stronger for other movements. Deadlifts can also become an ego exercise because body builders sometimes care more about how much weight they can lift. Instead concentrate on a slow eccentric stretch (lowering of the weight) that is controlled. Also, utilize a variety of lifting strategies to shock the muscle into growth noted in the “Advanced Bodybuilding Techniques” post.
(See: POST on Advanced Bodybuilding Techniques)
Go Heavy on Barbell Rows:
This exercise is a bulk builder for the back, but you must be able to handle as much weight as possible while maintaining strict form. Rely on the hypertrophy overload principle working 8-12 reps to shock the muscles into growth and add density and thickness to your back.
Use Supination Movement for Bicep Dumbbell Curls:
During dumbbell bicep curls try turning your wrist outwards at the top of the curl. This movement is termed supination and it allows you to take your biceps through its full range of motion, helping to develop the muscle more fully. Supinate, then squeeze the bicep at the top of each rep.
Duane De Jager, M.Ed., B.Ed., BPE