What’s going on everyone, Benjamin here - and today we’re going to be discussing my philosophy behind building muscle and progressing in the gym. Keep in mind there are multiple ways to achieve progress and muscular growth! These are just a few of the principles I have always followed and have shown me the most results within my years in the gym.
MIND MUSCLE CONNECTION / EXECUTION OF EXERCISES:
One of the most important ones right here! In my opinion, a proper and effective mind muscle connection will take you extremely far when meeting your goals. In other words, make sure you feel a connection between the weight and intended targeted muscle during each repetition. For example - when performing bicep curls, are you simply going through the motion, lifting and lowering the weight? Or are you taking your time in a slow controlled manner, feeling the muscular tension and stress on the bicep with each rep?
The takeaway here is to not rush your repetitions. There is no benefit or advantage to completing your sets with lightning speed. Obviously there is no need to go in slow motion every set, but lift with a controlled manner and solid tempo. Make sure you feel the muscle working with each rep!
CONTROL THE WEIGHT, NEVER LET THE WEIGHT CONTROL YOU & LEAVE YOUR EGO AT HOME:
Just like the title says! Never let the weight control you. This goes for any exercise you can possibly think of. Bench press, bicep curls, tricep extensions, squats - you name it. Never let the weight control you! If you’re sacrificing form for quality reps, drop the weight and don’t ego lift. For example, curling 25lb dumbbells for 10 repetitions will ALWAYS be more beneficial than curling 40lb dumbbells for 6 reps with terrible form while swinging your body to get the weight up. Even though the weight is 15lbs heavier, there ends up being less tension and mechanical tension on the muscle because of the swinging and poor form. This ends up stimulating the muscle less than the 25lb curls with proper form will.
The takeaway here: Don’t sacrifice extra weight for proper form. It doesn’t matter how much you lift, it matters how you lift.
UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ECCENTRICS:
Eccentrics. I can’t stress how important these are for muscle growth. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term eccentrics, it refers to the 2nd part of the repetition when weight training - the lowering of the weight. Most people often only focus on the concentric portion of each rep (which is the raising of the weight). For example, when doing bicep curls, people often let the weight drop quickly after curling the bicep to the top, when this happens they miss out on 50% of the rep’s benefits. This could even be argued more than 50% because the eccentrics damage the muscle fibers more than a concentric does, thus resulting in the cell repairing itself and becoming larger, which means more muscle growth.
The takeaway here: Don’t ignore the eccentric portion of your repetitions when weight training, as they are more beneficial than the concentric. Lower the weight in a controlled manner and feel the muscle work.
DON’T GET CONSUMED BY CHASING NUMBERS ON THE BENCH PRESS:
The bench press - an amazing compound movement that can pack on mass in the chest, shoulders, and triceps all at once. Now before we dive into this one, just remember I’m strictly talking about chest growth, not overall strength here. If you’re a football player, then we all know that there is a large focus and importance revolved around the bench press and how strong you are on it. It’s even used as a measurement of strength in the combine. However, this section strictly applies to the average gym goer trying to increase the amount of muscle mass on their chest.
What I see happen ALL the time is new gym goers obsessing over their strength and numbers on the bench press, doing it way too often and also sometimes incorrectly. By incorrectly - specifically referring to the retraction of the shoulder blades allowing the chest to be worked and not primarily the anterior deltoids. The bar gets loaded up and chasing big numbers all of a sudden takes priority over building muscle and using correct form to target the chest. If you’re going to bench press often, try to use it as a tool for hypertrophy and growth instead of simply doing sets of 2-3 chasing numbers.
The strength will come with your chest growth if done correctly. Shoot for 8-12 repetitions with correct retraction of the shoulder blades and strong mind muscle connection.
LEARN THE BASICS OF NUTRITION AND COOKING:
The fuel you put in your body will dictate a majority of your progress in fitness! Think of your body like a car - the better fuel you put in, the further you will go. Learn the basics of macronutrients and calories and watch your progress skyrocket. Are you cutting or bulking? This will let you decide whether to be in a caloric surplus or deficit. YouTube will have everything you need to know about the basics!