Easy exercises that build muscle. It’s something that a lot people want. However, solely building muscle mass should not be your main focus.
In this article I’m going to discuss why becoming stronger is more important than growing muscle fast. You can become stronger with just a few exercises, which in turn results in muscle hypertrophy.
The Importance of Compound Exercises
A compound exercise is defined as a movement of the body that involves multiple muscle groups at the same time. The deadlift for example, is an exercise that works the legs, glutes, abs, the back, traps, and lower arms.
Movements like these are phenomenal for getting stronger. Not only that, but you are actively training your nervous system by teaching your muscles to work together.
Forget machines! Dumbbells and barbells are the key as they provide free movement of your muscles and thus also forcing your stabilizer muscles to contract.
This allows for a tremendous increase in strength. This increase enables you to train with heavier weights and thus forcing your muscles to grow.
The hardest part is to pick a weight that’s right for you. Forget your ego! Sure, we all want to lift 200 lbs from the get-go, but it’s okay to settle with a lot less. The most important, is that you train your body to move a certain way.
When I started working out, I thought to myself: “sure I’ll go ahead and perform a 170 lbs deadlift”. That did not go well. Ashamed and baffled by my failure, I ‘downgraded’ to +/- 100 lbs.
This however gave me the opportunity to really focus on performing the movement of a deadlift.
Two weeks later, I was able to pull of the 170lbs deadlift I so desperately wanted to. Sure, it might have still not been a lot of weight, but to me it was an achievement that helped me progress even further.
So long story short: I’d recommend ANY beginner to focus on a full body workout.
Exercises to Improve Your Strength
In my experience, there are only a few exercises that you need in order to become stronger.
- Push exercises – Bench Press, Dips, Overhead Press
- Pull exercises – Bent Over Row, Pull Ups/Chin Ups, Deadlifts
- Leg exercises – Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges
- Core exercises – Planks, Crunches, Leg Raises, Knee Raises, Dragon Flyes
This might not seem like a lot, but I assure you that you can improve a lot by performing just this selection of exercises. Yes, there are so many more exercises, but for beginners, the easiest are listed here.
One of the most important things to remember when you’re working out, is that consistency is key. You can’t just do two sets of squats per month.
Actively implementing strength training in your everyday life is highly recommended. Not only that, but you might also need to change up your food intake.
Fuel Your Body
Great! You’re actively trying to get stronger and build some muscle in the process! Now comes one of the most important parts: nutrition.
You can train all you want, but without the proper nutrition, you won’t make as much progress as you want, which can be infuriating. Trust me, I’ve been there.
It is very important that you give your body the opportunity to recuperate and restore the muscle fibers. There are multiple tools online that let you calculate your base metabolic rate, or BMR.
This is the amount of calories your body burns on a regular day. Exercise however, can bump that amount of calories up by 500. Then comes the issue of actually building muscle.
So the bottom line is this. Say your BMR is 2000 calories per day and you burn around 500 by working out. In order for you to recover AND build muscle, you might want to consume around 3000 calories per day.
I’d recommend you consume 0.5-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Breaking down muscle in the gym is absolutely great! Just don’t forget to fuel them and allow them to recover.
This routine requires you go to the gym three times a week. In my experience each muscle group must be trained at least once a week. I used this routine back when I started training, and it did wonders for me.
- Monday – Deadlift, Overhead Press, Bent Over Row, Reverse Crunches
- Wednesday – Squat, Bench Press, Pull Up, Dragon Flyes
- Friday – Weighted Dip, Weighted Chin Up, Weighted Lunges, Planks
I made sure each training day contained a near full body workout. This way I basically forced my body to keep up and grow. Mind you, I was very sore for the first few weeks! I had a goal though, and you should have one as well!
So how many reps and sets should you do? Well, it actually all depends. There’s a lot of 5×5 programs that will make you do 5 sets of 5 reps. For me personally, that did not work as well as I’d hoped.
I mostly did 5 sets of each exercise, with increasing weight. I wrote down all of my progress in an Excel file, so I could track my progress.
For example: if I could not do more than 4 reps of an exercise, I’d lower the weight. If I could easily perform more than 15 reps, I’d up the weight. This did wonders for me, as I kept track of every exercise I did.
Then comes the food intake. My calorie intake used to be around 1500 calories per day, which isn’t a lot for someone that’s 5ft 11in. When I started working out, that drastically changed and I started eating more than twice as much.
Chicken, cottage cheese, broccoli, rice and the like. The MyFitnessPal app is a great way for you to track your food intake and it definitely helped me progress.
Strength First, Muscle Second
If you truly want to commit and go to the gym to pack some muscle, it’s important that you realize the following:
- Strength first, muscle second
- There is no shortcut
- Consistency and nutrition are at least as important as your workout
You want to build a solid foundation before you start sculpting it by doing some ‘smaller’ exercises. Don’t get demotivated if you’re not seeing results in a month or so.
Keep at it, and the muscle will come and you won’t even notice it until other people do. I know because I’ve been there.
If I can do it, then you can, too!
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