What Is the BEST Way to Build Muscle?
It’s an age-old question, but a good one.
There are methods and techniques that work better than others. And everyone responds differently to each of the different techniques and methods.
The simple answer to the question is:
What exactly are compound exercises? and why do they work so well?
Compound exercises are exercises that involve more than one muscle group and use movements that involve multiple joints at one time. When you do compound exercises, more muscles are used than when you do isolation exercises.
The opposite of compound exercises is isolation exercises. These are exercises that isolate a muscle group by concentrating on only one group of muscles.
EXAMPLE of A COMPOUND Exercise: A Pullup is a compound exercise because it engages a lot of muscles in the execution of it.
EXAMPLE of An ISOLATION Exercise: A bicep curl is an example of an isolation exercise.
Compound, or multi-joint, exercises put stress on more than one muscle group and more than one joint so that the target muscle group grows, as well as the neighboring muscle groups.
Also, when low stress is created by an exercise such as an isolated exercise, our muscles don’t benefit from the activation of hormones, like GH and testosterone, that create protein synthesis and greater muscular growth.
Yet another reason for emphasizing compound movements over isolation exercises is the compound exercises’ ability to work more muscles overall. This can eliminate the need for many more isolation exercises, that would be needed to get the same level of workout stress.
You can get the same effect with fewer exercises. This saves time in the gym and maximizes the efficiency of your workout. More major muscle groups can be hit with a smaller number of exercises.
How Often Should I Work Out?
That is a great question.
I believe that you should split your workouts into UPPER and LOWER body parts.
Do each twice a week, which means working out four (4) times a week. A lot of people like to do two (2) of their four (4) workouts on the weekend, so then they only have to workout two (2) times during the week. That works for a lot of busy people.
Which Ones Should I do?
There are probably a dozen or more compound exercises that will benefit you. Below are nine (9) that I believe are the best for everyone. Do these nine (9) on a regular basis, and you’ll see results quicker than if you were only doing isolation exercises.
Squats are the single most important lift you can do. They incorporate your entire body and focus the work on your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
I sometimes use a Smith machine because I don’t have a workout partner who can spot me. A Smith machine is a good safe way to do squats…..not ideal, but it works.
I find the best technique is not to go below having your upper legs parallel to the floor. Any lower than that, and you’re putting too much stress on your knees and hip joint.
I even suggest half squats to start off, …..if you’re a newbie to squats.
Lunges are a quintessential compound exercise. It’s important to do lunges properly so you don’t put unwanted strain on your joints. Here’s the right way:
Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed Engage your core.
Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle.
Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor.
Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.
You can generate the most power with barbell lifts, so the standard barbell bench press allows you to move the most weight.
It’s also an easier lift when using a barbell as opposed to using heavy dumbbells.
Don’t let your elbows flare out too much, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor to transfer power to the floor. Something a lot of guys don’t do or know.
The exercise is relatively easy to learn and is one of the staples of any good compound weight workout program.
Hold a barbell or a pair of dumbbells in front of you with an overhand grip, palms facing the body.
Grab a high pull-up bar with your palms facing forward. (Each time you do this exercise, you should vary the width of your grip to get the best results.)
Now that you have both hands on the bar, slightly arch your back and stick your chest out.
Pull your body up until the bar touches your upper chest.
Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the top.
After a second at the top, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position where your arms are fully extended.
If you can’t do at least 4 of these, go use a lat-assist machine. You kneel on a pad which is weighted so you’re not pulling your entire weight up. Do this until you feel strong enough to do 4 Pullups by yourself.
This is one of the ultimate compound exercises. Once you can do 10 of these, you’ll probably look fantastic. (HINT: the leaner you are the easier it is.)
PUSHUPS (close grip version)
Lower yourself until your chest almost touches the floor.
Using your triceps and some of your pectoral muscles, push back up to the starting position.
Adjusting the width your hands are apart will work different muscles. Try several variations each time you do this.
PUSHUPS (Bosu Ball version)
Assume a prone position with your body straight supporting your upper body with a wide grip on the flat side of the Bosu ball.
Start by flexing your elbows and lowering your body. Do not allow your hips to rise or to sag.
Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then push up keeping your elbows from bowing out.
BENT OVER ROW
Keep your back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Make sure that you keep your head up.
The barbell should hang directly in front of you.
While keeping your body stationary, lift the barbell up to you. Keep your elbows close to your body and only use your forearms to hold the weight.
Slowly lower the barbell back down.
SEATED MILITARY PRESS
Sit on a bench with a bar behind your head and either have a spotter give you the bar or pick it up yourself with your palms facing forward. (Another option is to use a bench with a back. That is safer.)
Once you pick up the barbell with the correct grip for you, lift the bar up over your head by locking your arms. Hold at about shoulder level and slightly in front of your head.
Lower the bar down to the collarbone slowly.
Lift the bar back up to the starting position as you exhale.
You can also do this standing and it works just as well.
Exercise – Seated Cable Row
Seated cable rows are a traditional upper back exercise.
Strengthening these muscles is important because any weakness can lead to unstable shoulders which can limit your strength and muscle gains.
When you begin this movement, pull your shoulders down and back. Otherwise, you’ll keep your shoulders elevated, which stresses the shoulder joint.
Compound exercises are a GREAT way to get a GREAT workout in an efficient manner.
If you use only these exercises, you’ll find that you may reach your goals sooner than if you had done twice as many isolation exercises and worked out twice as many days.
GOOD LUCK and see you at the gym!