If you’re trying to build muscle mass and strength, you probably spend a good bit of time thinking about your routine. Thinking is great and all, but you need to stop stressing, stop worrying about the details, and get to work on a program that produces results! Here are the two best workout routines to build muscle. Pick one, stick to it, and grow!
1. Powerlifting for Mass and Strength
A lot of beginner bodybuilders and weight lifters think that heavy lifting and bodybuilding are too entirely different pursuits. This is completely wrong! Sure, professional lifters and experienced bodybuilders use different training styles, but they did basically the same things to build heaps of muscle mass and strength to boot.
If you want big legs, get a big squat! If you want a thick chest, strengthen your bench press! Wide back? You’d better be tugging some serious weight on pull-ups, rows, and deadlifts. It really is that simple. Some skinny guys try to get bigger with light weights and a big pump or burn, but the experienced guys know that a STRONG lifter is a MUSCULAR lifter, period.
So, what’s a good powerlifting routine to build muscle mass? Since you’re focusing on strength first and foremost, you want to organize your lifting into different days based on different lifts. You’ll have a squat day, bench press day, deadlift day, and military press day, in that order. You can arrange them basically how you want throughout the week, but never train more than two days in a row.
On each day, start with the main lift. Warm up gradually and thoroughly, and then do two main sets. The first work set should be from four to six reps. For the next set, drop the weight a bit and get eight to ten reps. Both of these sets should be done until you can’t do another good rep! Keep solid form but make sure you really strain!
After the main lift, do three to four more exercises that target similar muscle groups. On your deadlift and squat days, you mainly want to do legs exercises like leg presses and lunges, as well as movements for abs and calves. On the bench and military press days, do other types of presses – dips, dumbbell presses, incline presses, it’s all good! Then, do a couple of exercises for your upper back. These include all different types of pull-ups and rows.
Overall, you simply need to make sure you are getting stronger from week to week on each exercise you do. Keep a detailed training log so that on any given day in the gym, you can look at the numbers you’ve got to beat!
2. Bodybuilding Training for Bodybuilding Muscle
Okay, so getting stronger builds muscle, but is a powerlifting routine the only way to train? No, there are tons of other good workout routines to build muscle! As long as you’re getting stronger and thoroughly working all of your muscles, you’re going in the right direction.
Most bodybuilders train with a routine called a “body-part split.” Instead of organizing their training around certain lifts, they arrange it according to body parts. This type of routine is typically a bit more time consuming, as well as more demanding in terms of recovery. If you’ve got some extra time to spend resting and eating, this program might help you build muscle as fast as possible!
Training five days per week, you want to organize your training into chest day, back day, legs day, shoulders day, and arms day. This is a good order to use for each week of training, as it allows for proper recovery of each muscle group.
On each day, you want to pick one or two exercises where you’ll really try to push big weights, getting stronger week after week! For instance, when you train legs, you’d want to focus on getting stronger on squats and stiff-leg deadlifts. On chest day, you’d want to push big weights for the incline bench press and dips. Really, the exercise choices are up to you, but make sure you use free weights and really challenge yourself. Don’t wimp out and choose the leg press over the squat, lazy!
After your main strength movements for each muscle group, you want to pick three or four other exercises and do three to four hard, higher-rep sets of each. These other exercises can be done with free weights, machines, cables, or a combination of those. The most important thing to remember here is to FEEL the muscle work. Perform your reps explosively, but make sure you feel the contraction in the target muscle.
This might sound confusing, so here’s a sample workout for your back. You’d start with pull-ups and barbell rows, working up to one or two very heavy sets on each. Every time you train back, you’d try to increase the weights on these. After these “money” exercises, you might also do cable rows, pull-downs, and dumbbell rows, using higher reps and really feeling a pump and burn in your back. This combination of heavy weights and a big pump are a surefire ticket to muscle growth!
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