Have you ever been in the situation where you bump into an old mate, only to be left scratching your head as they share their latest progress with you?
“Yeah bro, I’ve gained 5kg of muscle in the last 2 months on my new program…”
“Sorry, but where”?
For the vast majority of us, when we enter the gym it is because we want to change how we look.
We want to change our body composition!
Our body composition is everything that is comprised to make up our body; muscle, fat, bone, water etc. And the only way to positively change our composition (to our vision) is to build muscle and to burn body fat.
Ideally, we aim to do both of these things at the same time (yes it can be done), but if your goal was solely to build mass, you may aim to increase your muscle size whilst you maintain your current body fat levels (you don’t need to get fat to build muscle).
Conversely, to get leaner your focus would be to burn body fat whilst at least maintaining existing muscle mass (I don’t believe it is ever acceptable to lose muscle when training).
But that is just for starters!
You see, effective weight training is the ONLY non-surgical way that we can permanently change how our composition LOOKS!
And just like a master sculptor brings a block of clay to life, so does the physique architect with the right selection of exercises.
Our exercises form the ‘tools in our toolbox’, and by their use (what we select) is what gives us the end result we are after.
It’s amazing to think that depending on what exercises you choose and your overall training program, we have that much power over our outcome. In fact, with ‘old mate’ gaining that much mass, if it was in the right areas it could have easily LOOK LIKE 10kg!
How could 5kg really look like 10kg?
REAL progress is part factual, and part illusion. The factual elements are your numbers, the specifics in terms of what is gained and what is lost.
The illusion is being able to achieve results and build a physique that defies the data. To “look” like you have gained MORE than you actually have.
Now as we come into Summer, with the desire to build a great physique that turns heads, is there anything that we can do to make more of an impact?
Yes, there is. First, scrutinize your current development and project your ideal end goal and then “fill in the blanks” with effective programming.
Let’s see what we can do with this 3-way plan of attack!
Cannon Ball Delts!
A pair of cannon ball sized delts really set off the physique with gains that can be appreciated both under a T-shirt, or none at all.
Lateral raises are a great exercise that directly targets the medial head of the deltoid (that’s the outside one that gives us the width and roundness) but still, nothing will ever beat overhead pressing.
One of my favourite all around mass builders for shoulders is the barbell military press.
I set the back rest to around 70 degrees (I don’t go to 90 degrees) and lower the bar to no deeper to chin level before driving back up. This set up for me often means setting an adjustable bench in a power rack, so I can use the safety bars if I fail.
That is an important point to make. Training intensity is VITAL! Nothing happens by chance and accident, and if you want your shoulders (or anything else for that matter) to grow, you need to provide the right opportunity (and that means intensity in the gym) for progress.
Back it up with the right Back Attack
Nothing screams size and power (and aesthetics) than a wicked V taper! Therefore, I would like to discuss the pull up (think of a gymnast).
The pull up starts with an overhand grip, and hands positioned wide enough so your forearms remain perpendicular to the floor during the movement. Aim to keep your torso as vertical as possible, and drive your elbows into your sides.
Some of the common mistakes made with pull ups are body position (either leaning back or crunching over the bar at the top) or letting the elbows move too far forward (or rear).
With this exercise, precision is key!
Winning the Arms race!
To win the arms race, most people focus on the biceps. But the key is with the Triceps, which makes up 2/3 of the upper arm in terms of mass.
One of the best overall mass builders for the Triceps is the dip, though most people are unaware that there are 2 ways to commonly perform the dip – for Chest, or Triceps.
When you are on the dip bars, if you bend forward at your waist (leaning into the movement), and push through the part of your hand when your thumb and index fingers join, you will primarily feel it in the chest.
But what we want to do is keep your torso as vertical as possible whilst pushing through the heel of your hand (area anteriorly to the base of the metacarpal bones, located in the proximal part of the palm). In this position, you will feel the majority of overload directly in your Triceps (exactly where you want it).
Note: And of course, make sure you employ some heavy leg work to build the mass under those board shorts!
How could this look in a training split?
If you were training 4 days per week, this could present as an ideal training split
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4|
|Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
Hitting it hard in the gym with adequate intensity and backing up your efforts with optimal nutrition, rest and supplementation should have you show casing some new found growth as soon as the weather calls for “losing the t-shirt”!