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One of your top two goals should be to "get stronger." While there are dozens of ways of getting stronger, one of the best ways is through progressive resistance weight training. If you've been in a gym more than once, you undoubtedly have seen some stupendous exhibitions of strength. Those men and women didn't get that way without hard work.

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In short, it takes some effort to build strength!

However, I have boiled down a weight workout that utilizes compound exercises to get the biggest strength-building bang for the buck. How? Powerlift!

Now I don't mean to suggest that you attempt "single rep maximums." No, this is not a powerlifting competition! However, you can learn a lot by watching how powerlifters and other strength athletes (i.e., Olympic weight lifters, wrestlers, and track and field athletes like shot putters and discus throwers). How do they get so strong and powerful?

They train hard using a short list of overall-body exercises. Here are the 5 exercises I suggest you master in order to build strength quicker than you could ever imagine.

  1. Squat. The "King of all Exercises." This one will build strength and muscle mass faster than any other exercise. It stimulates muscle growth and strength over the whole body, not just the legs. This is the Number 1 exercise in your training regimen.
  2. Deadlift. Also know as "deads," the deadlift is the second powerlifting movement to add to your strength-building arsenal. Deads use virtually every muscle in your body, including the quadriceps, lower back, traps, lats, delts, triceps, biceps, forearms, calves, hips, and glutes, not to mention all of your core muscles (did I leave anything out?) -- in short, they are the second-best exercise you can do to not only improve your strength but also your size and speed.
  3. Bench press. "Benches" are the number one upper body exercise. They work the pectorals, delts, triceps, and core. You cannot find a better overall upper-body exercise you can do with a barbell or dumbbell!
  4. Bent-over Rows. These build the entire upper back, including the lats, traps, and inner muscles of the back, as well as the rear delts, biceps, and forearms. They build strength and size in terms of thickness and width.
  5. Military Press. Also known as overhead presses, these build core strength, in addition to delt and arm strength. They're best used seated on a bench, but if you want to build explosive power, do some "clean and jerks" by bending over a barbell and lifting from the floor to the shoulders in one movement, and then overhead in another movement. Repeat.

These 5 exercises not only make up the core of a sound strength and muscle-building program, but they could stand on their own as a complete workout all by themselves.

Do 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps for #1, 3 sets of 3-5 reps for #2, and 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps for numbers 3 through 5. It's best to limit your strength training to 3-6 weeks at a time, followed by a less extreme, "maintenance" or mass-building phase for 3-6 weeks.