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Grow Your Muscles by Improving Exercise Technique

Grow Your Muscles by Improving Exercise Technique

Paying for a gym membership and actually going to workout are two different things.  If the individual is not willing to make the most of what the membership includes, why buy one in the first place.  Many beginners or novices to the fitness world feel that going through the motions of a workout is enough to get results and grow muscles.  This could not be further from the truth.

Now that we’ve straightened that out, let’s switch gears and talk about how improving your exercise techniques (even just slightly), can build size, define muscles and tone your physique.   Experienced bodybuilders, athletes and fitness enthusiasts will tweak an exercise technique allowing the body to get the muscles engaged for maximum results.  Knowing when and how to change a technique is a process that will come naturally over time.  Men and women who incorporate exercise and weight training as part of the daily grind can recognize the need to change..  However, for the less experienced gym goer, pay attention to your body and feel each movement when training a particular body part.

If your technique for a specific exercise doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel it at all, take a deep breath and start that exercise over.  Focus on your form and posture and make sure you engage the body.  See Chapter 12 of BUILD MUSCLE, LOSE FAT, LOOK GREAT.

Don’t panic because at one time or another, the more advanced person started exactly where you are.  The key is not to just ignore what you feel (or don’t feel).  If you don’t feel that the muscles are engaged in the exercise, it’s pointless to finish that set.  Nothing will come out of those reps, that’s for sure.  Fix the problem, reset and start over.  Proper form and motion makes the growth of muscles much more effective.

We have provided some examples to break it down more.  Have a good workout not just to justify your monthly dues but also to show off your new physique.  Putting time and effort to train the right way will get you motivated.  Dedication will fuel some serious growth to the body.

Tty the tips we’ve listed but don’t run for the heaviest weights you can find.  It’s always good to train smarter, not harder.  Tweak the exercise so you can engage everything.  I know we already told you that above but it’s something that can’t be said enough.  Muscle growth is what you make of it and not feeling the pump won’t make mass gains.  Also, when weight training, don’t do what another person at the gym is doing.  Pick a weight that you can work with.   When it’s time, your body will tell you it can handle more.  After weeks of using the same weight, muscles become stagnant and used to the load.  Don’t be afraid to go heavier at that point because it’s what your muscles need to maintain their pump and grow!

Barbell squat

A barbell squat is a push-type, compound exercise which primarily works your quads but also trains your glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

The first thing you need to do is position an empty barbell on a squat rack at a height that’s about 3-5 inches lower than your shoulders.  Make sure the spotter rails are high enough so they don’t interfere that won’t interfere with the barbell when you lower the weight.

Load an equal amount of weight on each side of the barbell,  You can perform a regular barbell squat by stepping squarely under the barbell and placing it in contact with your shoulder-girdle.  Be sure you don’t place the bar on your neck.  Placement will be on a trial and error basis.  Making sure it’s comfortable before you start is very important.   Some will use a towel or padding on the back of your neck so you don’t feel as much pressure from the weight.  Squatting may seem uncomfortable at first to most but eventually you’ll find your sweet spot.

Start with good spacing between your heels, and each foot flared outward.  Tinker with flare and heel spacing until you find the arrangement that feels best for you, to enable you to keep your knees out  as you go down and back up.  If you feel your knees buckling inward you may want to lighten the load.  For sure that’s an indication that you have too much weight on the bar and your knees are doing more work than is necessary.

As a safety tip, we recommend clipping the bar just in case something happens and the weights slide off.  Plus, as you start increasing the squat weight, you should always clip the bar.

Gym rats usually warm-up by squatting with just the bar for a few repetitions.  This will get the legs pumping, knees in check and your back loosened up.  Never just add weight to the bar and immediately begin to do the exercise.

As you start going down, get comfortable with the weight you’ve got on the bar.  It is important not to squat too low because this will only add strain to the knees making it harder to bring the bar back up.  Make sure to keep your back up straight and do not let the weight on the bar round out your back.  These little motions can cause big problems if you don’t correct your form.

Many bodybuilders lack sufficient flexibility in their calves, hamstrings, thigh adductors, glutes and shoulders, and as a consequence are not able to get the maximum benefits from the barbell squat.  Just remember, warming up and correct form will do your body good.

Bench press

The flat barbell bench press is the most common exercises used in the gym by people of all fitness levels.  It is the staple exercise for building muscle mass and strength in the chest.  The bench press is sometimes the only chest exercise and individual will do.  We don’t recommend only doing one exercise for any body part.   The primary muscles that are worked in a bench press are the triceps brachii and pectoralis major with the anterior (front) deltoids, traps & back as secondary muscles used.

Please make sure to do a few warm-up sets with only the bar to get your joints loose and ready to bring the weight down and explosively push it back up.

Lie down on a flat bench with your feet flat on the floor.   We can’t stress enough to keep your feet flat on the floor.  Picking your feet up and moving them around while you do the exercise will cause more strain to your lower back.

One of the most common problems when doing  this exercise is lowering the bar down too close to your neck.  You want to bring the bar down to the position that sits in the middle of your pec (at your nipple or slightly below).  You may need to tweak this a very tiny bit depending on your height..  Position your elbows so that they stay directly beneath your wrists, and your forearms are always perpendicular with the floor.

How you breathe during each rep affects your ability to bench press.   If you push the barbell up on a deflated chest, that will make the exercise harder and the bar feel heavier.  Take a deep breath while the resistance is at arm’s length; then lower the bar to your chest (under control, of course), p

Pause  momentarily, and then start the ascent, all without exhaling. Maintain the full chest of air until during the second half of the ascent, and then breathe out.  Bench pressing on a full chest of air is easier than on an empty chest.

Dumbbells permit you to adjust your wrist positioning during the bench press, which can vary during each rep. Find what works best for you. But avoid an excessive range of motion.  Don’t go any deeper in the dumbbell bench press than what you would in the barbell version.  In simple terms this means that your elbows should not go below parallel.

Dips

A dip is a compound, push-type exercise which works a large number of muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms at the same time.  You can perform dips by grasping two parallel bars that are about shoulder-width apart.  Next, raise yourself up to an initial position with your arms extended to support the entire weight of your body.  Lower yourself to a final position where your elbows are bent and your shoulders are mildly stretched.

Two Types of Dips:  Chest & Triceps

Depending on the individual’s training type, he/she should consider using dips to bring special attention to your chest muscles.  This can be done by performing chest dips in which you lean your body forward while dipping.  To do this, grasp the handles of the parallel bars and push yourself up to the initial position.  While keeping your elbows close to your body and your hips straight, lower yourself to the final position.  The final position should be just enough to slightly stretch your shoulders. While keeping your body leaning forward at all times, push yourself up to the initial position again.

You can also use dips to train your triceps.  The triceps can be emphasized by keeping your body straight at all times while performing dips.  To perform this exercise, simply grasp handles of the parallel bars and push yourself up to the initial position.  While keeping your elbows close to your body and your hips straight, lower yourself to the final position.

With either variation of dips, your final position should be just enough to slightly stretch the shoulders.   It is important to keep your body straight at all times, push yourself back up to the initial position.  Depending on how high you are above the floor, you can bend and cross your legs or keep your legs straight while performing the exercise.

Consider Using This Dip Technique

Some individuals may not be strong enough yet to support their bodyweight on the parallel bars. In this case, Bench Dips are a great way to gain the benefits of performing dips until the strength is great enough to perform regular dips.

You can perform Bench Dips by placing your hands on a bench, or a pair of handles, and placing your feet on some type of support. . Then place your feet on a bench and support your bodyweight by grasping a pair of parallel handles.   The primary advantage of Bench Dips is that they remove a large portion of the weight of the legs.

Doing the bench dip is very similar to performing regular dips. When you do bench dips, grasp the two handles or parallel bars and then place your feet on the support.  Keeping your legs straight, raise yourself up until your arms are fully extended.  Then lower yourself down until your shoulders are slightly stretched.

While still keeping your legs straight, raise yourself upwards to the initial position then repeat.  As with other forms of dips, you can focus on your chest by leaning forward, or you can focus on your triceps by keeping your body straight throughout the exercise.

Pulldown

If you are looking to get not only a bigger back but also add width to your back then you need to incorporate the lat pulldown to the front to your routine.  This technique is a common back exercise that should be included in everyone’s back day of training. . This movement is also important and essential to help create the  v-taper shape.

Grab a bar, any bar and there are multitudes of different angled bars to use for pulldowns on a selectorized pulldown machine. Hold on to a bar with an overhand grip with hands wider than shoulder width apart.  Before you begin the movement there are three things that will help perfect your form: Shrug, Pull, and Squeeze.  Shrug your shoulders down just a little bit.  Then right after the shrug immediately pull your shoulder blades together squeeze the shoulder blades down and together while pulling the bar towards your chin or top of your chest then repeat.

One key thing to remember is to use a weight that allows you to use the correct form.  Correct form means  keeping your torso fairly upright, with a slight arch in your lower back (so that it looks as though your chest is up in the air), and keep this position throughout the whole movement.

 Chin-up

To perform a chin-up, take a closer, underhand grip.  The back muscles you use so efficiently in the standard pull-up are still activated, but there is more focus now placed on the biceps.  The reason for this is elbow flexion – an underhand grip means your bodyweight is channelled through the elbow joint.  As the biceps is the primary muscle that attaches to the elbow joint, it is responsible for the load you are lifting.

Grasp a pull-up bar with an underhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower. Straighten your arms, keep your knees bent and cross your lower legs.  Retract your shoulder blades to lower the amount of stress on the shoulder joints.  Keeping your body stable and core engaged, pull your body up until your chin becomes aligned with the bar.  Then, pause for one to two seconds at the top, with the biceps under maximum tension.  Slowly lower to the start position.

A proper chin-up means getting your chin over the bar at the top, and then lowering until your arms are straight. Don’t focus so much on many chin-ups you can do.  The key is to make sure to maintain proper form for each rep done.

Machine bench press

The machine chest press is an exercise machine exercise that primarily targets the chest and to a lesser degree also targets the shoulders and triceps.  Correct form is very important to ensure muscle engagement and to lessen your risk of injury.

Sit down on the chest press machine. Select the weight you want to work with.  Step on the lever to bring the handles forward.  Some machines may not have a lever.  Grab the handles and then fully extend your arms.  Grasp the handles in a hands-down grip.  Next, lift your elbows so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor to the side of your torso.  Push the handles forward and extend your arms.  This will be your starting position each time.  Move the handles back towards you as you inhale.  Push the handles away from you and flex your pec muscles.  Hold this position for a second or two and move back to the starting position.  Repeat this motion until you finish your set.  If you want to have proper form with this exercise, it is important to focus on the range of motion and not the amount of weight you are pushing.  Increasing your weight will come in time.

Machine seated overhead press

Sit comfortably on the machine with your feet placed firmly on the floor about shoulder-width apart.  If this is your first time using the machine, try light weight until you perfect your form.   If your machine has an adjustable seat height, ensure that the setting allows your arms to push at a horizontal position to the ground when your arms are fully extended.   Grasp the handles with a full grip, thumb circled around the handle, and maintain a neutral wrist position with your wrists in line with your forearms.

Push the bars outward to full extension but without locking out the elbow, exhaling as you press out.  Keep your head steady against the upright pad and your neck still.  You should feel significant resistance
against the horizontal push.  Pause briefly at full extension, then allow the bars to return toward your chest and breathe in during this recovery.  The last repetition of any set should be a little difficult to complete.  This means that you have engaged your muscles correctly and you can feel the burn.

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