“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.” –Mark Twain.
For so many of us dedicated warriors of iron out there, the innate desire to be bigger and stronger is the driving force behind our efforts in and out of the gym. Born out of necessity, our quest for larger muscles and unprecedented growth leads us to a fight against ourselves day in and day out. We fight against gravity when we lift weights. We fight the pain when our bodies are telling us to stop. We fight the urge to stay on the couch after a long days work and we fight tooth and nail for every ounce of new muscle growth we experience.
In our world, the size of the fight in us translates into the size we are able to put on. From this standpoint, I see no reason for anyone to say they cannot put on size. Remember, mass moves mass and to achieve a larger than life physique, you’re going to have to lift some heavy ass weight. Let’s take a look at some proven mass movements that will help you get to where you need to and should be.
Chest: Incline Bench Press
Walk in any gym pretty much around the world on a Monday and my guess is you’ll have a hard time finding a flat bench to work on. Look a little further and you’ll find the bench you should be spending more of your energy on and that’s the incline bench. As a proven overall chest mass builder, the incline bench press offers trainers the feeling of being powerful in a lift with the added benefit of adding quality muscle in the area of the chest that many are lacking in; the upper pecs. Focusing on this movement first in your workout will ensure you are fresh enough to put everything you have into it for muscle growth. Completely developed upper pecs are very impressive on any physique.
Shoulders: Military Press
This is the meat and potatoes movement for overall shoulder mass. As another power-pressing movement, all heads of the deltoids come into play during a full range of motion of the rep. Whether you are seated or standing, the overhead press is a must when trying to build boulder shoulders.
Of all the exercises that exist, the deadlift ranks number one for overall strength and size gains. When performed correctly, the body is taxed head to toe when pulling the bar from the floor to a standing position. If you are looking to get bigger, you must do these. Due to its difficulty and impact on the body, dead lifting has been shown to increase testosterone and growth hormone levels in the body after one session.
Biceps: Straight bar/cambered bar curls
The biceps is a relatively smaller muscle in comparison to other muscles on the body. For that reason, you do not need to do as much for them as you would for say your back. If I had to pick one exercise that I would look to for adding the most size, it would be straight bar curls. You can go heavy and use cheat reps at the end to finish the muscle off. Full range of motion is crucial in this movement extending the arm just short of lock out at the bottom and then holding for a squeeze at the top of the movement.
Triceps: Skull Crushers
After carefully warming up your elbows, the skull crusher is second to none in adding beef to the triceps area. Hitting all three heads of the muscle, the skull crusher is an exercise that allows you to load up on the weight to break down that muscle tissue. Experiment with different grip distances on the bar until you find one that hits deep into the belly of the muscle.
I came up in the bodybuilding world with only one thing in mind when it came to training legs. If you want big legs, you have to squat; plain and simple. So that’s what I did and I’m happy that’s what I did. If you want tree trunk legs you have to squat. They are hard, take everything out of you and you feel horrible afterwards. But it is all worth it. Vary your foot positions from time to time to hit the quads from a different angle, but this is a movement you don’t need to get fancy with. Go down to parallel or just a bit beyond, then power through your heels and push yourself up. It’s that easy!
Hamstrings: Stiff Leg Deadlifts
I chose this exercise over all the leg curling exercises because this is considered another compound movement. Sure your focus is on the hamstrings, but so many other muscle groups are also involved in this lift. Another reason for choosing this exercise is because you can really load up the weight on this one as well. Keeping proper form, lower the weight until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings, then stand up straight flexing your glutes hard at the top. Stay with this exercise and you’ll have a great hang to your hamstrings in any of the side poses.
Calves: Standing Calf Raises
The gastrocnemius is a larger muscle than the soleus, and for that reason I chose the standing calf raise as the best mass builder for calves. This exercise allows for a deep stretch in the belly of the muscle and then a fantastic contraction at the top of the rep. It’s not uncommon to see people maxing out and then adding plates to the standing calf machine at the gym. That’s why it’s my number one movement for calf size.
Traps: Dumbbell Shrugs
Unlike barbell shrugs, which are excellent in their own regard, the dumbbell shrug allows more freedom within the exercise for hand positioning. You can shrug with palms facing your body or palms facing back, both giving a slight difference in contractions. As well, I believe the traps get a better stretch with the dumbbells. Use your wrist straps, and go heavy on these. Hopefully your gym has dumbbells heavy enough for you to really benefit from this exercise.
Forearms: Hammer Curls
Often times neglected, forearms play a bigger role in your lifting and physique than you might realize. For this reason, you should give them some attention and to get forearms even Popeye would be proud of, you have to hit them with Hammer curls. You can do them out to the front of your body or cross body. Either way, you can handle some pretty impressive poundages in this exercise and put on some good beef in the lower part of your arm.
If size is what you are after, then the Max-OT training program is what you need. Built on the foundation of building muscle efficiently and effectively, Max-OT will not disappoint if mass is what you are after. Sign up for the free 12 week training program found on the website and employ the Max-OT discipline using the exercises I’ve outlined above for you. Not only will you be satisfied with the results, you’ll be spellbound by what you’ve been able to accomplish going at it in this way.
So there you have it. My top exercises for gaining mass. They are extremely effective for putting on size and strength when performed with correct form and unparalleled intensity. Jack up your current training program with any of these lifts and maximize your efforts in the gym with Max-OT. The biggest and strongest dogs in your gym already know this, don’t be left behind!
Next week – Mass Phase Part 2: Eating and Supplementation