When we enter the gym for the first time and see so many different types of machines, weights, benches and barbells we can get confused. In this article I’ll describe which exercises we should use in our workouts during muscle mass building cycle.
We can divide training equipment into two groups:
- free weights
Basically, free weights in your gym are barbells and dumbbells. They are called free because we can move them in any direction that we want. Generally they are more difficult to use but are much more effective.
Their biggest advantage is that training with them incorporates much more muscles – responsible for supporting the weight in a right range of motion.
Another great thing about free weights is that we can perform unlimited number of exercises. For example one barbell is enough to train every muscle group of our body.
Machines on the other hand move only in a fixed path, they assist with control of the movement – less muscles involved. They have limited possibilities because usually we can perform only one exercise on a certain machine.
There is two groups of exercises:
Compound exercise is an exercise that involves work of more than one major muscle group and more that one joint at the time. For example Barbell Bench Press works primarily on chest, secondary on the front part of the shoulder muscle and triceps.
Isolation exercise is opposite. It’s objective is to isolate only one muscle. Good example is Leg Extension which hit directly only our quads.
The best and the most effective exercises whether we train for growth, strength or fat loss are free weight compound exercises. Because they recruit the most muscles at the same time and we are able to use quiet heavy weight they are extremely effective. They increase the production of anabolic hormones by our bodies: testosterone and human growth hormone. These are the main reasons why we should build our workouts around them.
The ideal workout for one muscle group consist of:
- Barbell exercise.
- Dumbbell exercise.
- Isolation exercise (machine or fee weight).
We usually start from barbell because we can load the heaviest weight of the 3 exercises and this is the best stimulation for our muscles to grow.
Second exercise we can perform with dumbbells. It will give us greater range of motion than the barbell what is also very important and slightly different angle to hit our muscles from other direction.
For many people, specially beginners, 2 exercises for one muscle group is really enough however if you’re more advanced you can add isolation exercise at the end of your workout which can be done on the machine but not necessary. After two heavy, free weight exercises our stabilizers will be really tired. It will be too difficult to do another compound exercise but our muscles will be still able to do some more work. So to use the rest of energy and recruit maximum amount of muscle fibers we have to perform one more – easier exercise.
Example of workout for chest muscles:
- Barbell Bench Press 12/10/8
- Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 10/8/6
- Cable Crossover 12/10/8
Three exercises – barbell, dumbbell and isolation one is really enough to recruit all of the muscle fibres of certain body part in one workout. If you do them with proper intensity, tempo, right number of repetitions, optimal resting time and amount of sets you will have to grow. Don’t add any more exercises unless you are advanced lifter. You’ll not get bigger or stronger by increasing the volume or training longer. It will slow down the process of building muscles or even stop it.