In keeping with New Year’s resolutions, Zack George, personal trainer and “Fittest Man in Britain” – a title he earned at the “Cross Fit Open 2020” – has five exercises for you to focus on in your training if you do Want to build muscle. It doesn’t matter whether you want it for health or aesthetic reasons. These are deadlifts, squats ,. Pull-ups. Bench press and shoulder press.
Compound exercises use several muscles at the same time
Each of these exercises are compound exercises, so-called “compound exercises”. You use several muscle groups at the same time. You will also use different joints for movements when performing these exercises. This is very helpful for building muscle, says George.
It is essential that you continuously increase the load during training, i.e. challenge the muscles with increasing weight or repetitions. This process is called “Progressive Overload”, in German “Progressive Overload”. It means that you are always exposing your body to slightly larger training stimuli. This technique is indispensable for anyone who wants to build muscle.
Build the exercises into your training plan
For a structured training plan, George advises you to incorporate all of the five mentioned exercises into your training twice a week, varying the weights, sets and repetitions. And this could look like this:
Training session 1: Five sets of twelve repetitions per exercise – with little weight. “Even so, the final reps in each set will be tough,” warns George.
Training session 2: Five sets of eight repetitions per exercise – but this time with more weight. Above all, a clean execution is important so that you avoid injuries.
Sets of eight to twelve repetitions each are the best option for building muscle. Sets with fewer repetitions but more weight are recommended primarily for building strength; more reps will help with fat loss. In addition to training, recovery and nutrition are essential for building muscle. The bottom line is that you have to be consistent and patient until you can see the results.
How to do the five exercises correctly:
In the deadlift, less power comes from your legs and more from your hips. Zack George describes the exercise as follows: “You stand shoulder width apart in front of the barbell, your knees are slightly bent. Grab the barbell with your hands on the right and left of your shins with your palms facing you. Pull your shoulder blades back and reveal a proud chest. Breathe in, put tension in your stomach, keep your back straight. “
“Bring the barbell to hip height by pushing your pelvis forward. Exhale. The lowering is done by bringing your pelvis back to the starting position. The barbell stays close to your legs. Your knees are always slightly bent, ”explains George. Many people simply drop the dumbbell, but you should always be careful and controlled when lowering it.
There are many varieties of squats. George recommends the variant with a barbell on your back. The strength comes mainly from the legs and buttocks. Nevertheless, you have to tense the abdominal muscles in order to counteract a hollow back and to protect the spine.
“The feet are set up at least shoulder width apart, the load is on the entire foot, the knees point slightly outwards. The barbell rests on the trapezius, more on the shoulders than on the neck, ”explains George. “Then grasp the dumbbell with the palms facing forward, the wrists straight, the elbows under the dumbbell. Then you have to tense your stomach, pull your shoulder blades back and stretch your chest out. Inhale deeply, build up pressure inside your stomach, hold your breath and begin to bend your knees. ”The execution is similar to the movement you make when you sit on a chair. “When you arrive at the bottom, hold briefly and straighten up again in a controlled manner, pushing off your entire foot and exhaling forcefully from your mouth,” continues George.
Pull-ups primarily train the upper body. Depending on the shape and width of the grip, different muscle groups in the upper body are stressed sometimes more, sometimes less. The most important basic rule for pull-ups: It should always be performed in the full range of motion.
“Jump on the pole and start on the completely passive slope. The muscles are relaxed. Then tense your stomach and pull up using the strength of your arms and upper back until the bar is in front of your sternum. Hold briefly and then release it again in a controlled manner, ”advises George. You should look straight ahead and raise your chin while moving over the bar – without lifting your head yourself. If you are not yet able to do real pull-ups, you have the option of practicing with a pull-up band under your knees or feet.
4. Bench press
The bench press is an effective exercise for building muscles in your shoulders, triceps, and chest. “It’s best to use a bench and lie on your back. The feet are flat on the floor. Grab the barbell a little more than shoulder width apart and hold it over your chest with your arms straight. Then press your shoulder blades together. Then slowly bend your arms and lower the barbell until your upper arms are roughly horizontal. Keep your forearms in a vertical position, ”explains George. Important: Do not bend your wrists and always breathe in and out in a controlled manner.
5. Shoulder press
As with all exercises, there are different versions of the shoulder press. Here, too, George recommends the variant with a barbell. “Stand shoulder-width apart in front of the dumbbell. Take the barbell with your hands about shoulder width apart. Then take two steps back. Take a deep breath and push the bar straight up. Your head is likely in the way as you move up. Lean it back slightly. The bar should go right past your nose. At forehead level you move your head forward again. “
Afterwards, says George, you should “stabilize the bar upstairs for a few seconds and then carefully move the barbell down again.” Important: You shouldn’t “get momentum” with your legs, as this reduces the positive training effect on your upper body.
This article was translated from English and edited by Siw Inken Forke. You can find the original here.