8 Critical Exercises To Pack On Muscle
Whether you’re a gym veteran or a new recruit, here are the eight most critical mass-building exercises to pack on muscle.
QUADS: Front Squat
While most bodybuilders would say the traditional squat is king for the entire thigh and glutes (and we wouldn’t argue), our focus with the front squat is its ability to heavily favor the quads. With the bar held in front of the body, your center of gravity changes, and the focus shifts to the front part of your legs. In the traditional move, your hips travel further back, allowing you to engage your hamstrings and glutes to a greater extent. By no means are we implying that the hams and glutes aren’t involved during the front squat, but it’s a good example of a compound exercise that allows a shift of emphasis depending on bar placement.
Inside the Lift
If you’re new to the front squat, get ready to reduce the weight … by a lot. First of all, because you can’t kick the butt back as you typically would during a standard squat, in particular the variety in which the bar is low on your back, your lower back strength will be heavily tested. For that reason, even if your lower back is super strong, we recommend you get a feel for the bar on the front of the body before trying to load up the poundage. And because the front quads are taking the brunt of the load, your knee stability will also be exposed, so be certain to warm-up well.
Best Technique to Add Intensity
Hands down, the best technique for the front squat is to use partial reps, in which you train in only a portion of the range of motion. And since partials are done in a power rack or Smith machine, you’re safe to hit this move without a spotter. While you can apply partials in a number of ways, begin by setting the safety bars at a point that allows you to get your quads parallel to the floor or to the bottom of the rep. When you fail at that range of motion, begin raising the safety bars so that you’re working through a shorter distance. As you raise the safety bars on each set, you can increase the weight. You’ll quickly notice that the more shallow you squat the more weight you’re able to lift. Over time, your starting weight will increase dramatically. You can also reverse the order, starting your sets at the top (and setting the safeties high), working your way down to the full range of motion.
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