1. Use strict form
Many people realize that bodybuilding, ie lifting weights, is the surest way to build muscle, yet if you go into a typical gym, you’ll see as many things you shouldn’t see as those compared to those you don’t. The number one bad habit you’ll see is people swinging the weights, rather than strictly lifting their weights.
Watch people doing dumbbell curls for example with a 50-pound dumbbell in each hand, and you will see them bending their backs and using their hips to curl swing the barbell up, rather than power it with their arms. Or if they are doing bench presses, 70 per cent of the effort is coming from arching their back up.
So the number one best practice to adopt if you want to actually actually build muscle when you exercise is to use a lighter weight, but use strict form. Don’t use your back, your hips or your legs to do exercises designed to build your arms, shoulders and triceps. The old saying cheaters never prosper applies to bodybuilding muscle.
2. Fight your dumbbell or bodybuilder going down, more than up
Let’s say you are doing a bench press as an example. Get a spotter to help you, and from the top of the movement, fight the weight all the way down till the bar hits your chest. Then using strict form, push the bar back up.
Resisting the barbell or dumbbell in negative fashion builds up muscle far more than the traditional way, which means you’ll wind up using less weight. If you can bench press 200 lbs in strict form the ordinary way, you might have to drop down to 170 lbs fighting the barbell down for a count of 5 or 6 and then press up for two or three counts, but you’ll definitely build more muscle.
3. Tear down muscle but don’t destroy it
Many people lift weights without having even a tiny bit of how muscle is built. If you do two or three sets of an exercise, using a strict form and slowly fighting the barbell on the downward side of the movement, what happens is that your legs, chest, arms, shoulders or whatever muscle group you are working, actually tears down the muscle you are working.
The body, being smart, however, compensates, by building up the muscle, recognizing that taxing your muscles is the new normal, and so the muscle slowly builds up stronger than before.
However, if you are foolish enough to read muscle magazines, most of which are aimed at selling you overpriced protein and creatine substances that may not even be healthy for your body, then you will read how bodybuilders do workouts that involve 20 sets or so per body part, to blast their body into producing 20-inch arms.
if you do more than 3 sets though, most experts who deal with beginning and intermediate bodybuilders, what you are doing is destroying the muscle tissue beyond what the body can easily recover.
You probably aren’t ready for 6 sets per body part, let alone 20, until you have perhaps two years of weight lifting under your belt. Gp for 2 or 3 sets maximum, and get plenty of rest, (at least two days) before going to the gym again.
4. Post-workout snack
Most people get plenty of protein, so don’t buy into the hype that you need to spend $60 or more on post-workout protein supplements. However, a post-workout supplement, one shortly after your workout, one the following morning, can definitely ensure your body has all the nutrition it needs to build up muscle.
5. Concentrating on the wrong exercises
A huge problem with beginning bodybuilders is they concentrate on the wrong exercises. For example, perhaps 80 per cent of men begin their routines with bicep curls, followed by perhaps a couple of sets of crunches, hoping to get that 6-pack ab look.
First, concerning abs, you can do a thousand crunches per day, but if you have 20 or 30 pounds of excess fat, your abs will not show through. Secondly, when compared to other body parts, like your calves, your back, and your glutes, your biceps are just a fraction of your body.
Beginning bodybuilders, in particular, should concentrate on exercises that use a number of muscles such as deadlifts, squats, bench presses and military presses, and bent over rows. Not only do these exercises tax multiple muscle groups, so you get more bang for your buck, but various ancillary muscles are built up that help you handle heavier weights down the line, which is one reason why old school bodybuilders prefer weights over machines.
Blame it on the media, as well as steroids, but people have unrealistic expectations about how their body responds under weightlifting. One need only look at the bodies of former Olympic champs such as Arnold Schwarzenneger and Frank Zane to see their overall body size today is a fraction of what they were when they were young, lifting 6 times a week, and presumably on steroids as well. The best thing is to build up slow and carefully.