I’m a big believer in the K.I.S.S. principle, Keep It Simple Stupid, when it comes to muscle building exercises and planning workouts.  There are 3 core muscle building exercises that I believe will give you the most results and you need to add them today!


So I am going to get back to basics in this article.  In today’s world there are too many people who are trying to make building muscle more difficult.  So I decided to show you these three core exercises and why you need to do them.  Any serious program should contain these 3 grass roots exercises for muscle building.


If you have followed any of the modern trainers out there you may find it hard to believe that these 3 exercises can pack on large amounts of muscle, but they can…and will.  When a client comes to me looking to build more muscle I will focus on these basic exercises and build the program around them.


Below I’ve listed these 3 core muscle building exercises:




The squat has a reputation of a serious muscle building exercise.  No one can deny it!  This is the primary leg building exercise.  To start the squat you place a barbell across the back of your shoulders and stand straight up.  The next step is to bend at the knees and hips and lower yourself down until your upper legs are parallel to the ground.  Then, with an explosive movement, push yourself back up to the starting position.


There are 3 main areas that are activated while performing the squat; they are the quads, hamstrings, and the glutes.  But those are not the only muscles that are worked during the squat.  You are also working the lower back, adductors, and the shoulders are used to stabilize the bar.  The more muscle fibers that are activated during a movement the more muscle is broken down and rebuilt.  This is why the squat is essential to big muscle gains.


Due to the amount of energy that is used while performing the squat it should be the first exercise you do on your leg training day.  Just the sheer amount of effort squats take to perform they must be done in the beginning of your training.  Scientific studies have proven that a rep range of 8-12 is best for gaining muscle.  But do not forget to warm up because of the heavy weight you’ll be using.  Warm-ups can include a 5 to 10 minute walk on a treadmill or spending some time on the stationary bike.  This will ensure that your knees are ready for the stress of the squat.



Bench Press

When looking to build the upper body you cannot ignore that the bench press remains the king.  The bench press is one of the most used movements to measure ones overall strength.  Most trainers will use it during the assessment of a new client.  It is also one of the most asked questions; “how much do you bench?”  It is unusual to be asked “how much do you squat?” Although it should be.


Targeting the entire chest, shoulders, and triceps, the bench press is an extremely powerful exercise.  The bench press is performed by lying on your back on a flat bench while gripping a straight bar with your hands about shoulder width apart.  You then remove the bar from the rack and lower it to your chest; explosively “pressing” the bar back up to the starting position.


The key to more muscle growth in the upper body is to press the most amount of weight possible.  Although dumbbells are a great substitute, they will not give you the opportunity to move the most amount of weight possible.  There are also some advanced bench pressing techniques such as board presses, bench press negatives, and the use of chains.



Wide Grip Chin Up

There is one exercise that is the ultimate test for lifters weight to power ratio and that is the wide grip pull-up.  The pull-up is a very demanding exercise for your body to perform.


The primary muscle that is worked during the pull-up is the latissimus dorsi, or the lats.  The way to perform a pull-up is the start by using a chi up bar.  You could also use a lat pulldown machine but you will not get the same effect.  Grab the pull-up bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip with your palms facing forward.  Start by hanging from the bar and your arms fully extended.  Focus on pulling your elbows down toward the floor.  Raise yourself up so that your chin reached the bar and then lower yourself back down to the starting position.  Then repeat.


As I stated earlier, this is a very demanding exercise and most people will not be able to complete a full rep without some previous back training.  A lot of gyms offer an assisted pull-up machine which can be helpful when first starting out.  But do not use it as a crutch as you get stronger.  Use it for a short period of time but make sure to challenge yourself to get away from it.


It’s very important to know when to do these exercises.


These 3 core muscle building exercises are very intense and will likely cause you to have to use less weight on your other exercises.  That is why it is so important to do these at the beginning of your workout.  The most effective set range should be around 5 sets.  You can also vary the way you perform these core exercises.  For instance you could pyramid up or down week to week.  It’s also important to not allow your muscles to get accustomed to a single routine.


I am convinced that if you implement these 3 core exercises into your training you will see your body changing from week to week.  You will see major gains in your size and strength.

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