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.
SHOULDERS: Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press
The most obvious benefit of dumbbells is that they allow a wide range of motion. With the overhead press, since both hands can move in any direction, you can move your arms out to your sides a bit to hit more of the middle delts. As opposed to the barbell version of the move, your head gets in the way during the descent of the bar, forcing you to either lean back or use the behind-the-neck version. However, not everyone can go behind the head with the bar, but with the dumbbells, your elbows are in line with your ears allowing maximal emphasis on all three heads.
In addition, dumbbells let you lift your arms higher at the top of the exercise as you bring the weights together at the top. This takes the deltoids through a longer range of motion while also bringing into play the traps, which enhance the shoulders as well.
Inside the Lift
Probably the biggest limiting factor to this exercise is actually getting “into” the start position. Our shoulders are pretty strong and we can lift a lot of weight, often more weight than we can seem to get into a start position with. So if you feel like you can move more weight but don’t have anyone to hand you the dumbbells, practice kicking one knee up toward your chest (with the weight sitting atop the knee) to get the dumbbells in place one at a time. If that still doesn’t work, practice the single-arm version of the move, working each arm separately. That’ll help strengthen your core and stabilizers, helping you prepare for the standard overhead dumbbell press when situations and circumstances are optimal.
Best Technique to Add Intensity
Because you’re right there in front of the rack, you might as well run it. Running the rack is basically a giant drop set, in which you do as many reps as you can at a certain weight (say, a weight you can do for 10 and only 10 reps, your 10RM) then upon failure, rack that set of dumbbells and move to the next lightest pair. Grab those and do as many as you can. You continue running down the rack for as many sets as you can. Then after a 3–5-minute rest, if you’re still able to lift your arms, you can reverse direction.
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