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Exercise isn’t all about fitting into skinny jeans and shedding pounds. It can be about getting big too.
If you’re looking to pack on muscle mass then its time to turn your gym workouts up to 11.
Let’s take a look at what exercises help gain weight
A Quick Note on Nutrition
First things first.
If you’re looking to pack on muscle mass then what you eat is going to be almost as important as what you do in the gym. If you’re looking at packing on lean muscle and not gaining (or losing) fat, then it’s going to be even more important.
In order to grow the body needs the right amount of nutrients.
Protein is essential for the synthesis of new muscle tissue, and carbohydrates are essential for the energy you need in the gym. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet that meets the nutritional demands of your workout regimen.
Supplement where necessary, from creatine for strength, fish oil for healthy joints all the way through to TB-500 and MK-677 for that extra edge in getting bigger and stronger.
What Exercises Help Gain Weight?
Strength equals size. That is the crux of it. If you walk into any gym you will no doubt notice that the people with most muscle tend to be moving the most weight.
The fact of the matter is, if you want to get bigger then you need to get stronger.
We can define what strength training is by breaking it down into its two main components.
- The Movement of Any Weight – Performing any exercise that forces your muscles outside of their comfort zone (their resting state). This includes bodyweight training such as push-ups.
- Progressive Overload – This is when you exert slightly more effort than you did last time, consistently. This can either be by increasing the weight or increasing the number of reps.
So, if you’re new to training and you did ten star-jumps yesterday and fifteen today, then you’re technically strength training. However, it’s going to take you a very long time to get big.
Fortunately, there are exercises that are more effective than others when it comes to building strength and size.
The Compound Movements
When it comes to strength training, compound movements are the bread and butter. A compound movement is an exercise that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
Because they rely on more than one muscle group at one time, they allow you to move more weight than isolation exercises. This means more strength and more size.
Compound movements are relatively complicated when it comes to implementing them correctly. Proper form is paramount to getting the most from these exercises and avoiding injury.
Be sure to check out exercise tutorials first if you’re not familiar with any of the movements. If you’re completely new to strength training then a personal trainer can help you get started safely.
With that said, here are some of the best compound exercises for packing on muscle.
The deadlift is the number one pulling movement for overall body development and firing up your nervous system.
It works the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back, quads, and more. You can also try deadlift variations such as the Romanian Deadlift, Stiff-legged Deadlift, and the Sumo Deadlift.
Whilst the deadlift is the go-to pull exercise for the legs, the squat is the push. Put the weight of the world on your shoulders, squat down, and then stand back up again.
Squatting predominantly targets the quads as well as the hip adductors, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.
Squat variations such as the front squat incorporate the back muscles more as they are required to stabilize the load, which is in front of you. You can also isolate one leg at a time by trying split squats.
The benchpress is how most bodybuilders start their lifting week. It’s a great exercise for building the upper body. The bench press targets the pectorals, deltoids, and triceps.
The incline bench press puts emphasis on the upper pectorals and deltoids. You can also try varying grip widths when bench pressing. A closer grip targets your triceps and inner chest more, whilst a wider grip focusses more on the outer chest and shoulders.
Dumbbell bench presses on a flat and incline bench are a great variation to the standard barbell bench press. They require more stabilization and therefore recruit more muscles of the shoulders.
The military press can be done sitting or standing. If you’re standing and looking to move more weight you can try dipping at the knees and then exploding upwards. This is known as a push-press.
The military press predominantly targets the shoulders but also recruits the traps, upper chest, and triceps.
Clean and Press
The clean and press is essentially a deadlift followed by a military press. It’s the most complicated movement on this list because of the transition from one to the other.
The clean and press is a full-body exercise, combining all the muscles used for the deadlift and military press. It is also great for developing muscle coordination, core stability, and athletic performance.
The pull-up is the pull to the military press’s push. Most gyms have pull-up machines or you can use resistance bands to assist you if you can’t pull your own body weight just yet.
The pull-up targets all of the upper and middle back as well as the biceps.
It might not sound like a strength exercise, but it’s one of the best ways for building leg and glute strength and size. Not only that, but sprinting will certainly test your fitness as well as your strength.
Try sprinting for 20-30 seconds and then having 30-60 seconds rest before your next sprint. If you want to up the intensity then set the treadmill to an incline or go and find a hill.
You want to focus mainly on compound movements, but you can complement them with accessory work. Where compound movements concentrate on multiple muscles at once, isolation exercises target one muscle at a time.
This means you can work individual muscles to failure with higher rep ranges without sacrificing form.
Make A Plan
Before you start on your mission to get big, it’s important to get organized. Be sure to plan your workouts as well as your nutrition.
Rest and recovery are as crucial as what exercises help gain weight. You need to give the muscles time to repair, as this is when they grow. Try to leave a minimum of 48 hours between working out the same muscle groups.
Minimize cardio. It’s important to stay fit, but if your main goal is to get big then its time to sacrifice cardio for a while. It’s much easier to pack on muscle mass if you’re not burning unnecessary calories on a treadmill.
Cardio and any diets or fasting routines you might have are best put on the backburner. You can always come back to them once you’ve gained the desired amount of muscle.
For more information on these exercises and other ways to build muscle and stay healthy check out the rest of our site.