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.
BICEPS: Standing Barbell Curl
The barbell curl is awesome for adding mass because of the amount of weight you can apply to the small biceps. But when guys hear that, they think that’s a license to be absurd with what they throw on the ends. It doesn’t take a ton of weight to spark growth in the biceps, so the best thing to do is to use a heavy enough weight that enables you to use good form throughout the natural range of motion. Be sure to fix your elbows to the sides of your body. Don’t let them travel forward because as you raise the bar up, you’ll automatically call the front delts into play. As a rule of thumb, at the top of the motion, you don’t have to be looking at the bar, but rather the bar will likely be at the top of your chest.
Inside the Lift
Way too neglected is the advantage a change in grip width provides. From week to week or even during the same routine, alternate from a wide, to narrow and then standard grip. Here’s why: Taking a wide grip on the barbell for curls hits the short, inner head of the biceps more directly by reducing the amount of stress on the long, outer head while increasing the tension on the short. Taking a close grip on the other hand places a greater emphasis on the long, outer head (or peak, the highest point you see on the biceps during a back-double biceps pose).
Best Technique to Add Intensity
If you’ve never tried barbell curls 21s style, you’re long overdue. With 21s, you train each half of the curl (bottom half, top half) through seven reps, then finish the set with seven full-range reps. You can even reverse the order, hitting the full range of motion and then the half reps. However, always do the upper half of the range prior to the lower, simply because we typically fail on the lower portion of the repetition, leaving the strongest phase with gas in the tank, so to speak. If you fail in the start of the move before you’ve failed in the upper half, your biceps won’t experience everything the exercise or the technique provides. And it probably means you’re going too heavy.
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