While watching the summer Olympics the last few days you would be hard pressed not to notice the great physiques possessed by many of the athletes. But by far and away the most muscular bodies always belong to the gymnasts and the sprinters. These guys certainly know how to build muscle more effectively than most average gym rats.
For years now I have been extolling the virtues of moving your body through space when you train, as opposed to simply moving your limbs around a fixed object. When you move your body through space, as the Olympic gymnasts do, you stimulate a much higher level of neuromuscular activation. In simple terms this means that you call more muscle fibers into play on any one exercise. And the more muscle fibers you activate, the more you will grow.
So if you want to develop an incredible physique, take a lesson from the Olympic gymnasts on how to build muscle, and start moving your body through space as much as possible while you train. Following is a list of exercises to start you on the path to getting huge.
- Instead of triceps pushdowns do parallel bar dips.
Have you noticed how many dips and how much work the Olympians do on the parallel bars? And have you noticed the size of their triceps? Need I say more?
- Instead of barbell curls do close grip chin ups. Ditto what I said about the dips. Not only do you get incredible biceps development from close grip chins but you also get the added bonus of massive lat and forearm development.
- Instead of bench presses do chain or strap suspended pushups. While the bench press can be an effective mass building exercise it can also be one of the worst for your shoulders. If you want to be safer and build a chest and pair of shoulders like you see on the Olympic gymnasts I would highly recommend some type of chain or strap suspended pushup. This movement will call far more muscle fibers into play and challenge the smaller stabilizers muscles as well. Not only that but you will get an outstanding ab workout from this movement as well; something that can’t be said for the bench press.
- Instead of flyes with dumbbells do them with your bodyweight. These were a favorite chest builder of the first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott. He preferred doing them with gymnastics rings but you can also do them on the TRX Straps. Either option is great and will pack size on your chest.
- Instead of leg presses, leg extensions or leg curls do double and single leg squats. When you sit in a fixed machine and move weight with your limbs as opposed to moving your body the level of neuromuscular activation is quite low; no matter how much weight you use. And it is very unnatural. A leg press allows you to build strength in your lower body without additional gains in lower back and core strength. This is not normal and creates an imbalance that will lead to future problems. When you do squats you incorporate nearly every muscle from head to toe and will not only build tree trunk sized legs but will stimulate growth throughout your entire body.
- Instead of crunches and sit ups do all of the exercises listed above. Isolation abdominal exercises like crunches and sit ups are not real life type movements. In real life your abdominals contract isometrically to protect your spine; they do not contract the way they do in a crunch or sit up. Not only that, but by continually flexing your spine for hundreds of reps per week, you will surely be setting yourself up for long term back problems.If you follow a steady diet of chins, dips, suspended pushups and squats you will build an incredible set of abs. When you watch the Olympic gymnasts you immediately notice their rock solid abs popping right through their spandex and they never do crunches or sit ups. You simply can’t hide abs like that. That kind of six pack is built with full body movements like the ones listed above.But if you still want to do a little extra ab work you can add in exercises like planks and ab wheel rollouts; just skip the sit ups and crunches.
Now you know how to build muscle, Olympic style. Stick with these time tested exercises and all of the others listed in my Muscle Gaining Secrets course for the next eight weeks and be prepared add some massive slabs of beef to your physique.