As we head out of the holiday doldrums into the new year, many people are gazing down at their sagging bellies and thinking it’s about time to get off the overindulgence merry-go-round and back on board the fitness bullet train.
While we all know it’s easy to imbibe a bit too much alcohol and allow yourself to overeat during winter months, getting your diet regimen back in order is just one piece of the fitness puzzle.
Doing the right exercises to convert that table muscle into real muscle mass is the key to getting yourself back to your fighting weight.
And building mass is one of the best ways burn fat! Studies show that even when you’re not exercising, the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate.
In other words, even when you’re at rest, the muscle you have on your body burns more calories than the fat you carry. So you can think of building lean muscle mass as your insurance policy against fat.
Here then are the top five exercises for building the mass you need to pop those tight t-shirts and keep the old spare tire at bay!
It goes without saying that safety is first, so be sure you know and use proper form, build up to higher weights gradually, and always use a spotter!
Weightlifting blogs and gym bros seem to go through periodic cycles of trendy disdain for the good old classic bench press, for a variety of esoteric reasons that are honestly a little too stupid to go into.
Suffice to say that when it comes to building upper body strength and mass, there is no substitute for grabbing a bench and pushing iron.
There’s a reason that athletes from all sorts of disciplines incorporate the bench into their workout routines. Be sure to mix it up with incline and decline presses as well in order to build mass and definition across the entirety of your pecs.
Squats are also a vital part of any workout routine designed to build mass – which makes sense, as they target the largest muscle groups in the body. Those would be the glutes, aka the gluteus maximus, or in technical terms, “your sitter.”
Squats also target your quadriceps and your hamstrings, so not only do they give you ripped quads and stronger legs for all kinds of sports, the mass you build there also goes toward burning away that pesky winter fat. Plus they one of the best exercises to increase your testosterone.
Never skip leg day, Jimmy!
The erector spinae or lower back muscles are vital for spinal stability and are a primary target for the classic deadlift.
It’s so important to keep your back muscles healthy and resilient, a painful lesson far too many of us learn only after we fail to do so – and it’s often a lesson that takes weeks or months to recover from.
Deadlifts help to keep your core strong and prevent injury, as well as helping to develop your glutes, quads, traps and abs. That makes the deadlift super important for helping to create overall mass.
Your back muscles cover a large portion of the total area of your body’s muscle, and the bent-over row is a great way to build mass throughout the upper and lower back.
But a great bonus for people looking specifically to build mass is that the bent-over row also targets your biceps and traps, both great spots to focus on building mass.
Keep in mind too that while some people think of this as an isolation lift, the bent-over row in fact activates a wide array of muscles and helps to achieve mass in all of them.
The other reason not to skip out on bent-over rows is that by building these muscles you provide a counter to a common muscle imbalance in the growth of the front of your deltoid muscles.
This often occurs from overdoing it on bench presses (which, let’s be honest, most of us do), and can result in nagging injuries and soreness.
Having well-developed muscles on the back part of your deltoids like you get from bent-over rows in addition to the front of the shoulder cap (deltoid) helps prevent this.
Speaking of the shoulders, the shoulder press, aka the military press involves simply pressing a barbell upward and is also great for the deltoids. You can do it standing or sitting, but either way it is another key to building up some great mass.
Of course the shoulder press helps build your shoulder muscles, but it also targets your upper pecs, triceps and traps offering a great package deal for building that coveted mass.
Time to put away the tinsel and Christmas lights and put on some mass!
Get started today with these five key exercises for building muscle mass, and start to see results tomorrow!