The 9 Best Exercises For Muscle Growth

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Correct me if I’m wrong:

But the primary purpose of us men and women visit1ing the gym on a daily basis is because we all want one thing – an attractive muscular body.

For years people have tried their best to crack the secret to muscle growth.

Thousand of theories were publicized and millions of people followed them with hopes and dreams of growth.

Now…

I am not saying that all of the information out there is completely wrong but rather implying that what has become mainstream (and followed by many) is complete and utter bullsh*t, excuse my french.

The problem with these fads is that we’ve all forgotten about the two most important elements that bring the best results – train hard and train smart.

The Oak, also known as Arnold Schwarzenegger, is one of the people who advocated this
notion.

“To get big, you have to get strong”, he wrote.

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“Beginning and intermediate bodybuilders shouldn’t be as concerned with refinement as with growth.”

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What this means is that anyone who’s aim is to improve muscle mass growth needs to focus less on single-joint movements (isolation exercises) and more on multi-joint movements.

These exercises should form the foundation of your training plan, or in other words, these exercises MUST be included in your workout programs.

These exercises are beneficial in many ways:

Help you build overall strength – the stronger you get the more weight you can push and the more weight you can push the more muscle you can grow;

Work on multiple muscle simultaneously ensuring a more well-balanced and well-structured body frame;

Increases metabolic rate – the lower body fat percentage you have the better (this means higher testosterone levels) plus your metabolism is an enzyme-catalyzed reaction allowing organisms to grow and reproduce;


READ MORE: 11 WAYS TO INCREASE TESTOSTERONE NATURALLY


Increases testosterone and growth hormone production – both hormones play a fundamental role in muscle recuperation, bone strengthening, and muscle growth.

Arnold believed that executing these moves and challenging yourself both mentally and physically with heavy weights was the most critical component of gaining strength and size.

*Worth noting that the exercises are arranged on random.There is no hierarchical order that I’ve followed or anything of that sort. The first one is the the best one and the last one is not the least important. As a matter of fact, in this article, all exercises are extremely important!*

This is why I decided to share with you…

THE 9 BEST EXERCISES FOR MUSCLE GROWTH

deadlifts.jpg

Deadlifts are a great total-body movement that allows you activate about 8 muscle groups simultaneously.

This exercise has been considered as the ‘king of mass building’ by many for a good reason, it carries a lot of benefits.

Core stability – Deadlifts, if done correctly, directly targets all of the major muscle groups responsible for correct posture and core strength.

The exercise will also help strengthen all the supporting muscles of the waist, hips, backside and of course lower back.

More muscles being worked – as mentioned above deadlifts activate approximately 8 muscle groups at once.

This forces your whole body to grow symmetrically because there is an equal amount of physical strength going through all of your muscles for the proper execution of the exercise.

Gripping strength – If done without the help of any external equipment such as wraps, the deadlift will strengthen your grip like no other movement due to the sheer weight involved.

This will benefit your performance during other exercises such as pull-ups, back rolls, biceps curls, flyes, etc.

Boosts testosterone product – Biologically speaking this makes perfect sense.

Think about it, testosterone production is activated by the brain only when the brain believes that your body requires more testosterone;

Testosterone is responsible for strength development and bone density improvements. Your body’s reaction to deadlifts is not as an exercise, but rather as an obstacle which activates your survival instincts.

As you  increase the weight max of your deadlifts so does your testosterone production increase; this is your brain saying “WE NEED MORE POWER!”

body transformation [Converted]

How to perform: commence a shoulder-width stance and grip the barbell so that the inner forearms touch the outside thighs, and your shins are lightly touching the bar.

You can use whatever grip you believe is more convenient for you – overhand; over/underhand (one hand over and the other hand under) grip. The under/overhead grip helps you rack up more weight on this exercise.

Spine should be held in a neutral position (neither up nor down), straight as an arrow. Shoulder should be held back and positioned over the bar (never rounded forward).

Chest need to be pointed forward, never down. Before engaging in lifting the weight make sure you’ve tightened the shoulders and squeeze the glutes together to help generate power.


READ MORE: 14 TIPS TO STIMULATE FAST MUSCLE GROWTH


Grip hold of the bar, tight, and push with the feet. The legs must power the weight up. Maintain a straight back through the whole process.

Do not use your shoulder to lift the weight, your arms are to remain in a neutral position (they are literally used as hooks for the weight).

As you reach the top of the movement you would want to pull back your shoulder blades to fully activate your back muscles and push your hips towards by tightening your glutes together.

Try to look forward through the whole process as it will help you maintain proper posture during the execution!

Pay attention here because here is where most people make the most mistakes. The whole idea of a deadlift is the explosiveness, i.e. the process of lifting the weight.

When lowering the weight you don’t want to slowly lower it down but rather “drop the weight”.

Don’t be confused, though, I don’t literally mean that you drop the weight with 0 control of the weight, but rather you apply little control so that your lower back and abdominals are ever-so-slightly activated.

The biggest mistake is to start lowering the bar slowly, you lose your strength during the lowering, and you are increasing the risk of injury!

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About John Gregory

I am a 22 year old fitness enthusiast who has spent the last 9 years studying, learning and experiencing of the world of fitness. I have decided to share my collected knowledge in the field with my readers in hopes of making lives easier.

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21 Comments on “The 9 Best Exercises For Muscle Growth”

  1. Damn this is a badass post!!!

    I I’ve done all of these workouts at some point in my regimen and I agree that they all do get you shredded, but which ones are the main ones I should focus on?

    I also wanted to ask anyone who is reading this if I should ever try any muscle building supplements like crazy mass bulking stack and if you have what was it like?

    I’m going to share this post ion my Facebook group by the way, thanks for the free info man.

    1. Firstly, thank you for the nice comment snd I am glad that it was beneficial for you! I mean, after all, that is why i spend so much time writing these articles.

      To answer your first question – the idea here is that all of these exercises are a must and they need to be included in your workout plan. They target different muscle groups under different angles and allow for some serious muscle hypotrophy to come into play. Some exercises listed are pointed out as arsenals – i.e. As extra exercises that can be used in combination of others so that you constantly change them and never hit a plateau.

      And to answer your second question – supplements truly help improve muscle mass and help us gain more crude power and strength. I wouldn’t suggest that going overboard and purchasing products similar to the mentioned by you is necessary. You can just stick with the classic and powerful supplements such as whey protein and creating as well as fish oil, BCAA (you don’t need to get all of them). The other forms of supplementation (as your listed product) are the same but made fancy and pumped with sugars and other unhealthy elements. Plus, their prices are pumped up like crazy!

      I hope that this answers your questions! And thank you for sharing, have a great day!

  2. Are there any set/rep combinations of these exercises that you would recommend which could aid in development? Thank you for your post!

    1. That’s a great question, Adam! Usually, the internet is loaded with various set/rep combinations that different people claim to do wonders. It really comes down to you experimenting and finding out what works best for you! My personal opinion is that the best rep/set range [combination] is 6-10 reps with 3-4 sets. This of course will vary from exercise to exercise – for smaller groups like the shoulders you might want to aim for a bit more volume and going for 8-12 reps and 4 sets and for larger muscle groups where you would use exercises such as the deadlift you might want to go a bit lower with a rep rang eof 6-8 with about 4-5 sets. It is believe that those who train at lower rep ranges [say 4-5 reps] are stimulating more strength development than muscle hypertrophy and those training at 6-10 are promoting muscle growth. Whether that holds to be true for you is really up to you trying out both scenarios. What really matters is that you maintain a good range of motion through out the execution of each and every exercise and maintain proper form, everything else will sort of fall in place on its own. Something that quite a number of famous bodybuilders are preaching is that it essentially comes down to time under tension – i.e. if you’re doing lower and heavier reps then do more sets and vice versa. I hope that helps you out Adam! If you have any further queries feel free to leave them here or at our email [email protected]

    1. True. But you’re also forgetting about his period of competing as a bodybuilder when he was clean. He, even then, managed to grow to a respectable size considering that he was just 18 years of age.

      1. When did Arnold lift clean? Lol. He was using performance enhancing steroids at 16 years old from what I’ve read.

        That said, you don’t need steroids to grow. Steroids force our body into growth mode, but you can make it happen yourself with the right dosage of exercise and intensity.

        If you minimize your workout to the minimum effective dose of sets and exercises, you will leave more energy on the table for growth rather than being stuck in recovery mode for several days after.

        Here’s what worked for me. If you are hitting a gain plateau or are looking for something else, I implore you to consider it:

        Use a handful of exercises (2-5) mentioned above in each workout. I know I said 2 btw – that’s not an accident. Just read.

        These exercises above are big compound movements where you can target large muscles and move lots of weight (eventually) in each workout. I prefer splitting the workout up to keep workout time under 30 minutes (testosterone boost is harder for me with shorter workouts). My current workouts take about 20 minutes to complete each one. I know it might sound weird with all the volume craze that’s out their (Very American of us isn’t it? Forget aiming, just shoot more bullets at it!!!).

        Perform a few warmup sets to get comfortable but don’t even approach failure. These just grease the engine and get the blood flowing. Then with the last set go to absolute failure (like man-sized failure where you can’t go on without assistance – not oh I guess I’m done now. You need to FEEL the muscles struggle to contract and struggle to let the weight down.) with VERY strict form and VERY slow reps (5/5 cadence or whereabouts in there – increases Time Under Tension). If you do that you will stimulate growth with each workout. Only one set to failure required for each exercise – guaranteed 100%. If you can’t do 5 exercises to failure without performance issues (deadlifts can be brutal as you get stronger) then reduce the number of exercises in each workout. That works well for me. Helps me feel fresh and give a good effort.

        Safety is key for exercise choice – I don’t squat to failure like that because I lift alone in my basement – therefore I deadlift (you can move more weight anyways). I also do weighted chest dips instead of bench press for the same reasons (more weight moved here also – you see a theme). If you can do more than one set to failure (safely) – you didn’t go to failure – your muscles should be gased with one all out deadlift, military press, weighted dips, etc.

        Next is REST. You need to get in, stimulate growth and get out as fast as you can and start growing. You don’t grow in the gym – you stimulate a neurological and physiological response in the gym and you grow afterwards while resting once you recover. If you don’t allow enough time for recovery AND growth you won’t grow. If you don’t stimulate growth with sufficient intensity – you won’t grow.

        Make sure you are not working out a muscle group when it is still recovering. (I know. People lift sore all the time – they also like to get the same results year after year, decade after decade.) The muscle will underperform if it is not recovered properly.

        With this type of lifting and enough resting, you can expect to match your reps completed or beat them with each workout (crazy right?! It’s the case with me at least.). That’s because you are stimulating growth with an overwhelming stress on the muscle fibers and then lifting once your body has responded to the stimuli with a muscular adaptation to improve strength and endurance of the muscle fibers in the area stimulated. (That’s wild. Almost sounds like muscular hypertrophy right?? *sarcasm)

        Rest enough days to give a maximal effort between exercising the same lifts. If your goal is exercising your ego with tons of gym hours logged you might need to do something else. (This was a hang up for me years ago when I started. I didn’t grow until I gave in and rested more I will say.)

        Your body is an efficient machine. It won’t add additional muscle mass if it can get by with less – it must be necessary for survival. Keep this in mind.

        I also find it helpful not to compare myself to Arnold and rather a previous version of myself. We are all genetically different from one another in terms of muscular potential. Just because I lift and eat like Arnold did, (or even use steroids like he did) – it does NOT mean I will look like him. Each human body has a unique potential and we can each work towards our own. No shame – and no useless comparisons to Greek gods (unless you are one I guess). Others might lift with lots of exercise volume and seem to grow nicely (if they are using steroids or hormones this is especially the case). I’m not saying this is the only way, but it works well for me and it’s something that not too many people have genuinely explored.

        Take it from a guy who worked as a personal trainer and lifted 4-5 days a week and couldn’t break 175 lbs body weight for years – until I tried some out of the box high intensity, lower volume, and greater rest exercise. I shot up to 185 in a few months. I’m about 192 right now and going strong again after a layoff.

        1. Check out his Blueprint series with Bodybuilding.com he explains his whole life in detail there. Nobody really knows when he started taking steroids but at the age of 18 he was in the military and it’s pretty hard to imagine him somehow smuggling steroids in the military back when bodybuilding wasn’t even a mainstream phenomena, especially back in Austria.

          Also, looking at his physique back then it seems quite unlikely that he was under the use of steroids.

          And lastly, quite doubtful that with experimental steroids (considering the times he started exercising) would have probably not allowed him to live to such an old age.

          However, this is just me spit balling. Maybe you’re right and he started taking steroids at a young age. Only he knows the truth.

  3. The Buff Dude on the bench press video is pretty funny. Check out the pipe stem legs and the no-trap shoulders. He needs to start doing squats, deadliest, and bent rowing and put on some size. This article would help him out. That and laying off doing the heavy biceps workouts!

  4. Very interesting article. I’m 6’6 inches and have arthritis n stiff joint knees. Are there any exercises I can do without stressing the knees? Squats maybe too much for my knees any suggestions

    1. Hello, Jason. Thank you for your comment. There are a number of exercises that you can do that are going to be knee-friendly but sadly are not really compound but the important bit is that they’re still going to help you develop your hamstrings and quads. Usually, I would suggest focusing on the machine such as leg extensions and hamstring curls, reverse hyper, deadlifts (which is a great compound exercise), etc. I would STRONGLY suggest that you contact a professional physician who can better guide you towards which exercises are appropriate and which are not. Thank you again for you comment, wish you best of luck!

  5. Is there an alternate to squats? I messed up my back and knees in my foolish youth and now squats are almost off the table for my routine.

    1. There are quite a great number of good exercises that will target your leg muscles as well as squats, if not better. However, before listening to my advise, Chuck, I would strongly recommend you contact a doctor or a professional in the field who can provide you with a more comprehensive answer. I would recommend focusing on more isolation exercises such as leg extensions and some knee-friendly exercise such as romanian deadlifts, wall sits, straight leg kicks, etc. I strongly recommend you check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeLQwNgU_Qo where there 22 knee-friendly exercises listed. Again, I would STRONGLY recommend you contact a professional on the matter before you do something that might potentially hurt you even more!

  6. Hi, great post and very informative! I am just back in the gym after many years due to focusing on cycling, running and cardio etc. and have started the StrongLifts 5×5 12 week program! Should I stick strictly with the program (I’m sure you’re familiar with the exercises, 5 covered in your article) or would you recommend incorporating the additional Pull-ups, Dips, Push-ups and Arm Curls into my weekly plan?

    Thanks,
    Paul

    1. Hello Paul! Great question. Stronglifts 5×5 is a pretty good workout program as it focuses quite heavily (pun intended) on building strength and muscle mass. The only set back, however, is that you’ll be using pretty much the same exercises for 12 weeks – this strikes one of the most important muscle building mistakes – no variety. Quite honestly, it really boils down to your own personal preference – i.e. if you’re not really noticing any muscle growth improvements then I would recommend adding something new into the program. Remember, just because it’s a program it does not necessarily mean that it cannot be molded so that it can better fit your personal preferences. If you are really a control freak and want to make sure that everything is exactly as you were instructed, then by all means stick to the program religiously. It’s really a personal choice, Paul. Hope that helps.

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