Are you building muscle the wrong way?
I remember when I first started lifting and training with weights. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. One of my main reasons for lifting was that I was skinny-fat kid who was very weak. You know the guy I'm talking about: He doesn't weigh a lot, but he's just "soft". That was me.
I wanted to be strong and fit; and was also starting to take my martial arts training much more seriously. I knew that lifting weights would help me get stronger and be a better fighter.
When I first joined the gym and started lifting, I tried to mimic what everyone else was doing in the gym: biceps curls and bench press (but of course the WRONG way). Think about how many guys you see doing that everyday. How many of them do you actually want to look like? How many of them actually look like they are strong and muscular?
I had no idea what lifts to do, how to do those lifts properly, how to organize my lifting routine, etc... I have NO plan.
Then there were Deadlifts
Then one day I saw this dude lifting a lot of weight off the floor. He was not only big, but he looked strong and "animal" like when doing the lift. I was not only impressed, but intimated.
This is the type of guy 18 year old soft Matt wanted to be. I mustered up some courage and asked him what exercise that was - and he told me, the deadlift. He said it was the single best exercise you could do for gaining mass and strength. From that day on, deadlifts became a stable in my routine.
Along the next few years, I still fumbled my way through weight lifting, but I did notice gains. I did gain mass, size and definitely strength. Most of it I do attribute to solid deadlifting.
BUT - it took me a VERY long time to get there and learn the proper way of lifting, dieting and building a routine that would help me gain muscle and strength. There is always more to learn, but at times I wish I could turn back to clock and apply the knowledge I have now to 18 year old Matt.
What I did learn along the way, is that a solid routine and plan is what is needed to get results in the gym.
Now I'm 33 years old and my days of going for insane strength and size are finished. It's not because I don't like lifting that way, its just that after becoming completely obsessed with jiu-jitsu and martial arts training, I found not direct benefit to going insanely heavy (lifting in the 1-3 rep range).
But I still deadlift 2x a week, one day I do tabatta deadlifts, and the other I do 6-7 sets of deadlifts working in the 4-6 rep range. Now I weigh 210lbs and deadlift 365lbs for 4-5 reps. My diet is also completely in-check now too. Something that has also helped me improve in all areas of physical training. I am still trying to improve my strength, just not for 1-2 reps.
What I have learned?
What I learned from this experience and what I'm trying to pass onto you, is that most people, including myself, have made a many mistakes in the gym when it comes to their lifting routines. Confusion and not having a solid plan is most likely the number one reason for failure. The main lessons I can pass onto you are the following:
- Deadlifts are king. If you want to gain strength, size and mass - deadlift.
- Squats are deadlifts twin brother. Do them properly and grow.
- Compound exercises are essential for building muscle: Dips, Pullups, Bench Press, Barbell Row, Deadlifts, Squats, Cleans, High Pulls, etc
- You need a solid plan - both for lifting and diet
- You need solid supplementation - muscle building supplements are essential for growth. Your muscles need food.
What can I recommend for you to get started?
- No Nonsense Muscle Building: If you are a skinny guy, or a someone who has trouble gaining size and muscle mass. Or if you are just completely clueless about the gym and don't even know where to begin, I am going to recommend you Vince Delmonte's No Nonsense Muscle Building. On that site Vince will also go into details on some other common mistakes you can make when it comes to building muscle. He also has a great offer going on right now: Try out his program for 21 days for only $9.95
- Accelerated Muscular Development: If you have some experience in the gym or are an athlete looking to gain more size and strength, I am going to recommend to you Accelerated Muscular Development (AMD) by The Diesel Crew. When I think of hardcore "get it done" lifting, I think of AMD. AMD provides you an amazing set of workouts, routines, and exercises. They also include their deadlift manual, which as far as I'm concerned is well-worth to program cost itself ($77).
If you guys have any questions, just visit my new QandA section on Fightauthority.com.
Matt Bryers is a Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling and Hand to Hand Combat instructor with a school located in Cromwell, CT. Matt has been teaching and training martial arts and reality based self-defense for over 15 years. He has worked with a variety of martial artists, fighters, and professionals who need reality based self-defense on a daily basis. Matt also competes regularly in grappling and jiu-jitsu tournaments, and made his professional MMA debut in 2009.
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