Fitness with Snow: Make the Muscle do the Work
There are a lot of men and women in the gym who just move weight. They struggle to force their muscles to do the work. They have trouble feeling the muscle working. This is a problem because if you can’t feel the target muscle working, you probably aren’t working the target muscle. For example, if you are working on your biceps, and you don’t feel it in the biceps, you won’t develop the biceps correctly.
Power lifters can benefit from learning to feel the muscle working as well. The key is to go slower when doing isolation exercises. Do slow eccentric reps and fast concentric reps. This means that you go slow on the way down, and go fast on the way up. On an incline bench press, you can do the constant tension method. This is where you go all the way down. In this case, this means that you lower the barbell to the chest and then press it 3/4 of the way up, with your elbows bent. When you lock out the elbows the tension is taken off of the chest.
People who are focused on perfect form are the ones who have small pecs. When you go slower on the incline press, and keep the elbows bent, the chest is working for the entire set. This method will make your chest grow, provided you don’t eat like a bird. You need to get into the habit of making the muscles do the work instead of mindlessly moving the weight. Moving weight doesn’t build muscle. Squeezing muscles with heavy weight is what builds muscle. Doing this is will help you create a better body for yourself. Once you learn to do this you will immediately feel a difference in your body. Maximizing the muscle contractions will create a better body.
It is important to lift heavy enough to create muscle damage. Creating muscle damage in the gym is what you need to target. By completing workouts in this fashion, with slow eccentrics and fast concentrics will help you to get better at squeezing the muscle. Don’t go slow on every set, the objective is to control the weight without letting gravity control it. By moving the weights differently you will notice changes in how your body responds. You will begin to produce better muscle pumps. This will cause you to experience soreness from lactic acid inside the muscles. The objective is to get muscles to do all of the work, in order to get optimal growth and to protect your joints. If you are injured you can’t train, if you can’t train you can’t create a great physique. For power lifters, this means that you need to save your all out max for the meet. Body builders, this means to make sure you are squeezing muscles instead of moving weight. Exhibiting great body control will help you in your quest to create the best physique possible. If you can train yourself to do this you will begin to experience results.
This technique is not for every exercise. On a traditional, conventional dead-lift, it wouldn’t be optimal to focus on squeezing your back. On the stiff leg dead-lift you can squeeze your glutes and hamstrings a lot easier. The dead-lift is a high risk high reward exercise, that I do recommend every one do. I say it is high risk, because I see too many people dead-lifting with poor technique. If you keep using poor technique, it increases your likelihood of getting injured. This happens to a lot of people. They do the dead-lift incorrectly and then they complain that it is too dangerous. These people are wrong.
Dead-lifts done incorrectly are dangerous. This is important to remember. You will also run into perfect form “Nazis” who never lift heavier weight. These people are cowards, they hide behind perfect technique because they are secretly scared of injury. You are what you focus on. If you focus on creating a great physique, you will increase your chances of creating a great physique. If you focus on not getting hurt, you are focusing on getting hurt. This will increase your chances of getting hurt. Keep your focus on creating the body you want. If you’re a power lifter, focus on creating the best total at the meet. Whatever you focus on consistently is what you will get.
Condition yourself to only pay attention to what you want from the gym. On a squat, you need to focus on squeezing the quads and glutes and keeping your core tight if you are a bodybuilder. This means that you need to go all the way down, past parallel, and then come 3/4 of the way up.
For those out there who think your glutes get the most work at the top. I have news for you, the glutes get the most work at the bottom of the squat and on the way up, not at the top. When you lock out the glutes and quads, you are resting, the tension is off of the quads and glutes, when you get back down in the whole and keep coming halfway up the muscles get a lot more work than if you rest at the top. If you are power lifting, this is a different. Power lifters have to train in a specific way to prepare themselves for a meet. This means that they have to work on the commands. Learn to train what you need to train.
If your hamstrings are weak it is because you don’t train them enough or with enough volume. The people who train with a lot of volume usually learn how to squeeze the muscle. A great way to do this is to work on controlling the weight, the way I talked about earlier. When you are committed to making the muscle do the work you will begin to see why it works this way. The great bodybuilders train this way. This is how Arnold trained, and Phil Heath trains this way. Don’t confuse what I am saying or use it as an excuse to not train heavy.
A lot of skinny guys will use this as an excuse to not train heavy. The problem with a lot of skinny guys is fear. They are afraid of getting buried by heavy weight. This is a mistake and a problem. People who think like this rarely make progress. Since they are so focused on what they are afraid of instead of what they want, they continue to produce more fearful thoughts. But, fear is all internal.
No one can make you feel fear unless you accept fear. This means that you need to come back to the focus of this article. You need to focus on squeezing the muscle and using heavy weight. By doing both, you will get bigger, harder muscles. Learn to do remember this. A lot of people are incapable of noticing when they are using this technique.
Another great technique is timed holds. On the last rep of each set hold the position for 30 seconds. This helps to build muscular density. Whoever does this with consistency will build a harder physique. This isn’t to say that it is the only method to build muscle. This is a useful technique for guys or girls who are interested in building more muscular density. Consistently doing the work and making the muscle do the work instead of the joints is what will build the muscle most effectively. Once you notice that the muscles are contracting correctly, you will see that it takes effort and vigilance to make sure you are making the muscle do the work. This is often where people screw up. They look at how much weight they are lifting instead of making sure they are making the target muscle do the work it is supposed to do. When the target muscle does it’s job, you will get bigger and harder. But, a lot of people don’t understand this. They focus on doing fast reps. Fast reps aren’t as effective as controlled reps with a great squeeze. This will help with adding size. Controlled reps will give you more control over the target muscle and it will teach you to feel the muscle working. The goal is to build an incredible physique.
If your traps are contracting when the target muscle is the delts then that is an issue. This is why controlling the weight and feeling the muscle do the work is more important than just pushing around iron in the gym. This is another way people mess up. They take progressive overload to the extreme. Yes, you need to do heavy sets. When you are doing heavy sets you need to still aim to contract the muscles and make them work. When you do this it will be easier to build a great body. It is important to remember when to forget about squeezing muscles. When doing power cleans, as I advise bodybuilders to do sometimes, just aim to do 5-8 good reps, you won’t feel it until the next day.
Power cleans are great because they are metabolically demanding. They also raise testosterone just by doing them. This is why I recommend that people do them. Unless you want to compete in the Olympics, don’t obsess over form, learn the basic power clean form and use it as an exercise to build your body. Some people will disagree and tell me that power cleans don’t build incredible bodies, my answer to them is to look at NFL players, and college football players, these guys do power cleans all of the time and power cleans have worked for them.
If anything, do power cleans instead of dead-lifts if you have to. I still recommend both for the dead-lift lovers out there. Both are a necessity. Power cleans need to be done at least once per week. The snatch is more dangerous which is why I recommend a power clean from the floor. Pulling it from the floor is also more primal, which is something that I like. This makes it fun to do power cleans.
This isn’t an Olympic lifting article, you need to refer to an Olympic lifting style if that is what you’re looking for. I use some of the Olympic lifts to create a great physique. This is a different focus then most. A lot of Olympic lifters have no interest in adding size and mass. Most of the time their focus is to increase their snatch and their clean and jerk. They want to stay in the same weight class, and to do that they can’t add muscle mass, since muscle mass makes you gain weight. This differs from your goal.
If your goal is to build the best body possible and to physically look your best all of the time, this will help with creating that great physique. Creating a great physique can be done with the basics and with concentrated detail work. The power clean is a basic exercise that can add mass in the glutes, hamstrings and upper back. It is not a detail exercise and is not to be treated that way. Detail exercises are meant to squeeze and feel the muscle. Some exceptions are the squat and the bench. These basic exercises can be used to feel the muscle and squeeze each targeted body part.
On these exercises you can do slow negatives and fast concentric reps. This is one of my preferred techniques to increase time under tension and build more muscle. This in turn will enhance your physique and take you to the next level. These eccentric time under tension techniques are not to be used on power cleans. Power cleans need to be done explosively. This is why I recommend doing power cleans early in the workout when the body is still fresh. This way you can use heavier weight and burn more calories. Burning more calories will lead to burning more body fat.
This is what it takes to keep your body at the next level. You don’t have to like the work, you just have to do it. This is the difference between a physique champion and an amateur. A champion does the work whether he feels like it or not. That is the only difference. Taking things to the next level will help. This is the whole objective and desired outcome when I train people: take everything to the next level. By doing this, you are forcing yourself to think in terms of expansion and playing offense, this is the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful.
Teach yourself to have courage and to move forward continuously no matter what. This will help with building muscle and getting things done. If you aren’t building bricks your building dicks. Pay your dues and build your bricks everyday in the gym. This will earn people’s respect and most importantly you will earn your own respect. Paying your dues is the best thing you can create a great body. This new work ethic you develop will help you with business and career success as well. This idea of using the gym as a sanction for building a work ethic can transfer over to any field or craft.
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