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Some exercises get labeled as “old school” and in some people’s minds, that’s supposed to be a bad thing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In this video, I’m showing you the best exercises ever for building old school muscle size and strength and how to make each one work faster for you. I’m going to show you the best tips for each of these great exercises to get more out of each of these iron classics.
Each of the exercises listed in this video is included because of the low risk high reward that it offers. As a physical therapist and strength coach for professional athletes, I have to know where to draw the line between the two. These exercises have stood the test of time in many strength and conditioning programs because they flat out work, and when done safely, work for a long time.
The 6 greatest exercises in this old school edition video are as follows:
1. Bench Press – There is no escaping the bench press as one of the best upper body movements you can do. That said, it may not be the best chest building exercise option, unless you make one important change. Start narrowing your grip on the bar to no wider than shoulder width if you want to start building a bigger chest with this exercise. Keeping your hands too far apart on the bar prevents your opportunity of adducting your arms and therefore limiting your chest size.
2. Overhead Shoulder Presses – The behind the neck version of this exercise actually wound up in my iron graveyard as part of the 5 worst exercises because of the damage it can do to your shoulder. Doing your presses in front of your body however allows for a much safer position at the shoulder joint. That said, there is still a limitation on how much deltoid activation you get by pressing with a barbell since it limits the natural pressing arc of the shoulders. Switch to dumbbells and start to press up in a pyramid shape and you’ll start seeing cannonballs develop in your shoulders in no time.
3. Pullups – The pullup may very well be the king of the upper body exercises. It is a classic bodyweight exercise that can be weighted to allow for even more muscle overload and growth. If you want to start getting more back and lat gains from this movement however you have to start leaning back rather than pulling straight up. In addition, don’t forget to plug your energy leaks. Tighten your quads, glutes, abs, and calves to stiffen up everything from the chest down. Now lift up and perform your pullups and you’ll see that you can get many more reps than you could normally.
4. Squats – The squat is one of the greatest and most functional lower body exercises you can do and is a staple of all old school iron programs. That said, there are many problems people have with performing it correctly. As someone that deals with knee issues myself, I can tell you many of them boil down to the biomechanics of the exercise. If you want to build strength faster you will have to pay attention to the angle of your back and shin at all times. Keep the two angles the same throughout each rep and you will be in a better position to lift more weight and get more gains from this exercise.
5. Deadlifts – This great exercise is one of the most classic old school exercises of all time. It relies on a proper hip hinge however and that can be tricky to pull off correctly each time. To do so, lower the bar until with nothing but hip hinge until it reaches the level of the knees. From here, bend the knees only to lower the bar to the floor. Reverse the sequence to get it back up to the top.
6. Barbell Curls – This great arm building exercise allows you to move some serious weight and build big biceps. That said, you have to be willing to use a little body english and slow down your reps if you want to get the most out of this movement. Cheat your reps on the way up (but not beyond vertical) and try to lower the bar to a count of three if you want to make this great arm exercise even greater.
For the safest and best exercise options it’s time you start training like an athlete. Follow the program used by today’s top pro athletes to build ripped athletic muscle while protecting their joints and becoming more resilient to injury. Get the ATHLEAN-X program at http://athleanx.com
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