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.
OVERALL MASS: Deadlift
While it’s arguably the best exercise on our list for mass, it’s probably the least used. Seen more as a move for strength athletes, the deadlift is unfortunately overlooked by bodybuilders who are looking to pack on serious size. Calling into play the arms, shoulders, back and legs, the deadlift recruits more muscle groups than any other move, save maybe the squat.
Inside the Lift
Let’s break the deadlift down. First of all, you start from a dead stop, which means you don’t have any built-up elastic energy from the negative rep prior to pressing through the positive (concentric) portion of the contraction. For perspective, imagine beginning each squat of 405 from the stalled, down position. And notice we said “press” not pull? See, your arms are straight throughout the move (which is key), and the exercise is initiated by pressing through the floor with your legs. So in effect, it’s as much a leg press as it is an upper body pull.
One very important aspect of the deadlift is that you need to drag the bar up the legs. In fact, you should try to keep the bar in constant contact with your legs right from the start. That’s why the most successful deadlifters use baby powder on their legs (that’s not chalk) so the bar glides smoothly up and down the legs. At the top of the lift, you can squeeze your legs, glutes and back hard as you lean back slightly. The reverse motion is identical to the positive portion.
Best Technique to Add Intensity
The deadlift is so tough, with so many things to consider and master, we feel no need to add intensity techniques to it. Those who try the deadlift for the first time will feel like they’ve combined every intensity tactic into one exercise at the same time.
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