Don't Be Intimidated in the Weight Room Again
Summer is almost here, and this is the summer you are going to take your shirt off without being embarrassed by those unsightly rolls and bulges. So, you’re rededicated yourself to going to the gym. The only problem is what to do once you get there. The gym can be an intimidating place filled with large men and even some large women who tend to grunt loudly. It is easy to take one look at the weight workout area of your gym and veer back to the safety of the cardio bikes and ellipticals. This is not an uncommon experience for beginners who are new to the weight room. However, if you go to weight room with a plan, you will begin to see huge benefits in your overall fitness and body shape quickly. Who knows, you may even feel confident enough to grunt. Here is a list of the top ten overall lifts that you should incorporate into your lifting plan: power cleans, squats, deadlifts, snatches, the bench press, pull-ups, the leg press, dips, seated rows, and lat pulldowns.
The power clean is a core weight lifting exercise because of it's explosiveness and the fact that it utilizes so many different muscle groups. The muscles that are mainly worked include the calves, glutes, lower back, hamstrings, upper back, traps, and shoulders. If you do the power clean correctly it works most of the muscles in your body. There are 3 basic parts to the power clean: the 1st pull, the 2nd pull, and the catch. Power cleans are a great way to increase overall strength and explosiveness. Form is critical to muscle development. The power clean is a very technical lift. To develop muscle mass and incredible strength fast, focus on power cleans. 28
Squats are another great lift. The primary muscles exercised in squats are the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and the spine. Your core strength plays a big role in stabilizing the weight. There are several different types of squats you can perform and they include front squats, back squats, overhead squats, hack squats, box squats, and a bodyweight squat. Squats are a great lower body lift.
Deadlifts are one of the most important lifts, next to the squat and power clean. They tax most of your muscles with extremely heavy weight. Doing deadlifts will increase your strength in other areas of weight lifting. The muscles worked are the glutes, the arms, the traps, the shoulders, and the legs. Notice that I am referring to specific muscle groups instead of each individual muscle because there are a lot of muscles worked in this exercise. Deadlifts are often called “the king of mass builders.” When performing this lift, make sure to lift most of the weight with your legs instead of your back. Lifting most of the weight by rounding your back can cause serious back problems and injuries. 28
Snatches are similar to the power clean, but instead of catching the weight on your shoulders, you catch the weight above your head. There are three phases including the pull, the quick drop, and the overhead squat. Snatches take a lot of practice, but once you get the hang of it they pay off. The muscles used are the biceps, the triceps, the glutes, the deltoids, the traps, and the quadriceps. 28
The bench press is a very common lift and you have most likely heard of it. The bench press is a good way to strengthen your chest, triceps, abs, biceps, and shoulders. There are two main phases and they include the down phase and the up phase. For increased definition and even distribution of weight, I recommend doing the dumbbell bench press. It is basically the same lift, just with dumbbells. It allows a greater range of motion and puts less stress on your shoulders. 28
Pull-ups! Many people overlook the pull-up because it requires outstanding upper body strength and control. Pull-ups are difficult because they are a mind game. It takes mental and physical determination to complete several repetitions of pull-ups. The muscle groups that are used include the arms, the back, and the shoulders.
The leg press is an exercise that works most of your lower body. The muscles used in this lift include your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. This is an alternative lift to the squat if you have a bad back. It takes some of the pressure off the lower and upper back. The leg press is a great way to get tone, ripped legs fast. As a variation to the leg press, you can perform calf raises on the leg press as well.
My personal favorite lift is the dip. The dip is a simple, but extraordinary upper body workout. The dip works your chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles. The main focus of this lift is developing your tricep muscles. The tricep makes up 2/3 of the muscle in the arms. People always look at bicep curls as the way to increase arm size. If you want huge arms, focus on your tricep muscles.
Seated rows work your lats, deltoids, biceps, and forearm flexors. They are an incredible back development lift. A strong back is critical to overall strength and muscle balance. Emphasize sticking your chest out when performing this lift.
Lat pulldowns are the last lift on my top ten list. They use your lats, biceps, and lower back. These develop your “wings” as some people refer them to. Developing your back muscles will increase your strength in all major lifts including bench press, squats, power cleans, and deadlifts.
Now Develop Your Plan
The top ten lifts I have just described are compound lifts. Notice that I didn’t add single primary lifts like bicep curls and tricep extensions. I chose these lifts because these are lifts that will get you stronger overall and build more muscle mass. You can add in single primary lifts to your routine. Now all you have to do is develop a schedule. I recommend working muscle groups separately. For example, your workout routine one week could be: Monday-Chest and Triceps, Tuesday- Back and Biceps, Wednesday- legs, Thursday-Core, Friday-Cardio. Make sure to switch up your routine every few weeks in order to create muscle confusion. After you have developed a lifting schedule, I recommend buying protein, amino acid, and vitamin supplements. Supplementing while working out will provide you with faster results and increased satisfaction. To learn how to perform each of the top ten lifts I have just described visit bodybuilding.com or any other fitness website. When lifting heavy weights, it is advisable that you have someone to spot you as a safety precaution. Always remember that it isn’t how much you can lift, it’s the form and technique that count. The better the technique you have, the heavier the weight you will be able to lift.