remember watching Indiana Jones' Last Crusade last week and there was a scene near the end when Indiana had to choose the Holy Cup.
In the scene, the Knight says to Indiana, Choose wisely. I thought it was a little understated given the fact that if Indiana chose the wrong cup, his skin melts off of his bones!
Of course, he chooses the right cup and is able to save his dad, played by Sean Connery.
Anyways, your skin won't melt off your bones but if you choose the wrong program for you muscle building goals, your time and efforts may be for naught.
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes made by beginners and intermediates. I've found that beginners and intermediate tend to choose quantity as opposed to quality when choosing a routine (I've personally fell victim to this line of thinking back in the day).
For some reason, a lot of trainers tend to overthink the entire muscle building process. This usually includes choosing complicated and counterproductive exercises (isolation) coupled with an outrageous amount of sets and repetitions' erroneously thinking this is the right way to build muscle.
Let's break down the muscle building process in very simple terms. To build muscle, one must choose a program that:
• Uses strictly compound movements
• Choose 1 to 3 exercises per muscle group (although two is plenty for large muscle groups)
• Incorporates one or two working sets per exercise (these are considered your growth sets)
• Uses a weight pyramid scheme per exercise
• Allows for a constant progression leading up to the final work sets
• Save all your effort and energy for the final work sets (growth sets)
• Allow for complete muscle recovery in between sets and exercises (this will depend on your intensity) but generally, a rested muscle will tend to perform better
• Repetition range will vary depending on the muscle group. Generally, larger muscle groups will need a higher repetition range (such as the quadriceps). Stick to the 8 to 12 repetitions range However, you may have to play this one by ear.
When it comes to building muscle, the trick is to get rid of those exercises that rely on cables, wires, wheels, pulleys, or hydraulics to move the weight. Basically, you should be using cold hard steel and nothing else. This will include plates, barbells, dumbbells, benches and a whole lot of sweat.
For exercises, you should only be using multi joint (or compound) movements such as the:
• Bench press (and/or dumbbell presses)
• Dead lift
• Squat and other variations (and/or dumbbell squats)
• Shoulder press (and/or dumbbell presses)
• Barbell bent rows (and/or dumbbell rows)
• Olympic movements (cleans and presses)
• Barbell curls (and/or dumbbell curls)
• Close grip bench press
• French presses
• And other associated compound movements
Compound movements use a system of muscle as opposed to a single muscle. This will allow you to lift heavier weight which will force your body to work harder. This places additional stress on your lean tissues which will force them to grow.
Think of it this way, the harder you force your body to work with each passing workout session, the more strength and muscle you will gain. Compound movements are much more difficult to perform than isolation exercises. Therefore, common sense concludes that: