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.
BACK: Bent-Over Barbell Row
The bent-over row is arguably the best barbell move for the back, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to dispute that. However, during your bent-over moves, it’s important to keep your knees bent, your chest big, your head neutral and your upper body fixed in the bent-over position. If you raise your torso up and down on each rep (and nearly every bodybuilder does it to some degree), you’ll not only lose tension in the target muscles (namely the upper lats, rhomboids and middle traps) but you’ll also risk injury to your lower back. You want your torso to be just above parallel to the floor throughout the exercise.
Inside the Lift
There are a few key points you want to keep in mind when doing rows. First of all, invest in straps. You’ve heard us say it before, but if you’re trying a heavy set of bent-over rows without straps, you’re letting the best chance of adding mass slip right through your fingers (pun intended). Remember, there’s no shame in using straps. Your hands can’t hold a candle to what your back can endure, so chew up your pride and do it right.
One way to make the bent-over row work in your routine is to use the end of the bench as a means to fix your grip and provide an easy way to end the set. Simply pull the loaded bar off the rack and place it a few inches from the end of the bench. Once you have your grip, you can get close to the bar and stand up with it, take a small step back and begin your set. A small step forward with the bar at the end of the set and you can safely dismount out of the move, placing it back on the bench.
Best Technique to Add Intensity
The bent-over row is one of those rare moves in which forced reps and negatives are impossible, since you need a partner for those. However, drop sets are still in play. Basically, after completing your reps in a heavy set, quickly strip an equal amount of weight from each side of the bar (about 20-25% of the total weight) and continue repping until you fail, then strip off more weight to complete even more reps. With this technique, don’t use clips on the ends of the bar to secure the weights since they can lengthen the time between drops.
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