Foundational Training for Muscle-Building Success (Part 1)
Focusing only on adding weight to the bar = potential fool’s gold!
If I ate a cookie for every trainee I’ve watched haphazardly hoisting weights around in a wishful attempt at gaining muscular inches and building a shirt ripping physique, I’d be more a contender to be an Oreo’s sponsor then I would be to one day win the Olympia!
Training-induced muscular size is predominantly born in response to ‘tension’… utilizing and maximizing tension to your advantage may be the single biggest factor in achieving your muscle-building potential and optimizing your results in the gym.
It matters not how much weight you can lift or how many reps you can perform if you’re failing to stress the target muscle with adequate stimulus!
Case in point, in contrast to how I typically see them performed, the primary movers when performing dumbbell bicep curls for example should NOT be the hips, spinal erectors, anterior delts or traps (with perhaps a little incidental emphasis at some point falling in the vicinity of the biceps)… and don’t even get me started on the all too common enthusiastic (and also ill-advised) use of momentum!
In fact, while I’m on this topic, I’d like to aptly name this widespread variation of bicep curls, “oscillating hip swings with bicep assistance!”
‘Technique’ of the above nature is obviously advantageous for working with more weight, however, contrary to popular belief, upping the weight lifted is not necessarily advantageous to optimizing, or even to eliciting, more muscle growth in a target muscle.
Sure, one may gain a sense of satisfaction at ‘swinging’ 100lb+ dumbbells up and down… though to say that performing curls in this manner is suboptimal is, well… an insult to the term suboptimal!
I can state categorically that no curl bicep curls will, unsurprisingly, fail to optimize the potential hypertrophic response from the biceps. Duh, right?
One may even impress their buddies (if they don’t know any better) with that Hulk-like feat of (imagined) strength… though the only feat actually achieved was the superhuman success of having turned an isolation movement intended to work the biceps, into a whole-body compound exercise for the EGO!
GREAT job numbnuts!
I would also predict that parading next to zero bicep development and suffering pain in the elbows and shoulders from this practice may eventually eclipse any misplaced short-term feeling of accomplishment.
Oh, and TRUST ME, jerking your body like you’re on the dance floor as a means to get those heavy ass weights up will NOT impress that hottie you’ve got your eye on… save those ‘moves’ for the nightclub you should invite her to!
Having said all that, it’s important to understand that I did NOT say the weight used during an exercise is unimportant…
Progressively increasing the weights you lift on a somewhat regular basis plays a MONUMENTAL role with regard to progress… HOWEVER, both to optimize this process, and also to help facilitate long-term growth, an increase in the weight lifted MUST be accompanied by an increase in the levels of TENSION generated within the target muscle! …the inverse of this is what I typically see!!
Key #1 to unlocking bigger gains – tension in all the right places!
Drop by tomorrow for part 2 when we’ll discuss some practical steps you can take to help with the above, as well as what the pro’s are able to do during their training sessions that you probably can’t… and what you can do about it!
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