Utilising the powerlifting movements to build yourself a bigger, stronger
By Liam Armstrong (Jnr BNBF Mr Scotland, BDFPA British Champion & Record
Chest day in my gym is like a Saturday at the supermarket, only difference
being that instead of queuing for salmon fillets and a half pound of beef
for Sunday lunch, I’m waiting in line for the bench press. If, like most of
the other guys in the gym, I trained chest four times a week then I would be
forced to endure this monotony on an almost daily basis. Luckily for me I’m
one of the enlightened ones that realises there is more to building a good
physique than simply repping out on the flat bench and curling one out, so
to speak, on the biceps machine. Now I’m not attesting to being some kind
of Demigod when it comes to training methodology, but through the years,
trial and error I do feel I’ve acquired (stolen) some useful training
concepts and ideas. Throw these ideas into one basket, and you have what
culminates in my current preferred method of training, one that I feel has
served me well and given me the most gains during my time spent under the
Heavy, Low Rep Basics for Mass
Heavy weights speak for themselves. The thickest, most densely muscled
bodybuilders are that way for a reason. They’ve all got one thing in common
and that is they shift one hell of a lot of weight in the gym. Resistance
builds period and the more you can handle with good form the better. It’s
the common denominator that separates the hambones from the T-bones, I
challenge you to find a guy with monstrous legs that hasn’t paid his dues in
the squat rack.stop looking, he doesn’t exist. Simply put if you wanna get
big, strap up, wrap up or whatever you’ve gotta do and go shift some metal.
Contrary to popular belief, performing low rep sets does have its place in a
bodybuilding routine as it contributes to our muscles getting into that much
sought after state of play, hypertrophy. If you perform heavy squats for
four reps, a greater amount of stress is placed on your central nervous
system than it would be with, say, 10 reps. This improves the CNS’s ability
to recruit high threshold fast twitch muscle fibres, the most difficult
fibres to stimulate but also those with the highest growth potential.
Lifting in the lower rep ranges also affords the muscles a certain hardness,
both in look and feel, by increasing myogenic tone. This is something that
normally comes with muscle maturity, creating that grainy look Yates was so
famous for, Paul George sports frequently and others strive to attain. On
top of all this lifting in the lower rep ranges increases strength, meaning
that when it comes to higher rep sets, you’ll be able to perform them with
more weight and subsequently grow like a mofo. Never a bad thing.
Lifting heavy with low reps is all fine and well, but its common knowledge
that good things come in threes. Low rep, heavy dumbbell kickbacks just
aint gonna cut it in your quest for mass. The final piece of this
incredibly simple puzzle is Basic compound movements. If you don’t utilise
the basics you’re short changing your efforts in the gym. You could peck
deck flye all day long but you won’t grow a huge chest. Basic movements
incorporate the most muscle fibres and they require the most effort, the
only mechanism controlling the movement of the weight is you, with your
ancillary muscles providing the only assistance you’re going to get. Man
versus metal, it doesn’t get much rawer than that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m
certainly no ‘purist’ when it comes to training. If a machine exercise
works, use it. Make the most of what’s available but don’t shy away from
the barbells and dumbbells, it’s where the gains are at.
Let’s recap on the mainstays of the program so far.
- Lift heavy with good form in the prescribed rep range for increased muscle
density and growth.
- Each workout will see you performing at least one main exercise in the
lower rep ranges, going as low as 4 reps on your final set. Remember, your
new found strength will serve you well when it comes to performing sets with
- Stick to the basics. The core of your workouts will revolve around
compound, basic movements. Old School, New School – when it comes to the
thick, dense physiques, this is one thing they all have in common.
The training itself is split over four days. The split is a pretty familiar
one, coupling larger body parts with smaller ones and also trying to ensure
that each body part is trained after adequate rest. I’ll never understand
why guys train biceps after back or triceps after chest when trying to build
muscle as by this point they are already fatigued and will not respond as
effectively with heavy weights as they would when were they fresh.
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