Return to the Iron Dungeon
Getting Back to the Basics
by Adrian Arellano
Let's get back to basics!
I'm tired of seeing misguided kids in the gym slaving away on lateral raises and biceps curls and then asking "Why can't I get any bigger?" I'm sure many of you have seen exactly the same thing and many of you are probably still doing it. If you wanna get big, you gotta do big exercises with big poundages. That's the only way. Curling 10 lb. dumbbells isn't gonna do it. I mostly blame it on the muscle rags. They feed us crap about doing Mr. Champ's "killer bomb super blitzing arm routine" that'll "have your arms growing like weeks in a matter of days!".
It's all a bunch of bull, and us experienced guys know it. However, the younger guys don't know that they're getting taken. I haven't seen anybody grow from these 25 sets 5 days a week routines, so I suggest we get back to basics. First of all, we gotta start with two age old friends of all lifters.
Your new best friends
The only two things you should be focusing on in your training are overload and progression. Have you ever heard of the overload principle? Well, it says you gotta overload the muscle with work that it's never been used to before. Simple right? Well, some people get so caught up in 1 set vs. multi sets and meso-micro cycles that they don't remember about overloading the muscle. That's all that really matters. If you overload the muscle, give it time to REST, and FEED it, it WILL grow. It has no choice not to grow. Progression is the other thing you should be focusing on in your training. Imagine doing a workout and then doing a the same workout a year from now with exactly the same weight and rep scheme. Do you think you'll be much bigger? It's not likely...unless you've gained an ungodly amount of fat. And you'll also be the same strength. Who would want to be the same strength a year from now? You must try to progress either in reps, or in weight at each training session. If you can make progress in both weight and reps, then that's great, but try to focus on one or the other if you can't. If you abide by the rules of overload and progression using compound movements like the ones I listed, and eat and sleep your heart out, you WILL make progress and you WILL be bigger and stronger. You will especially be bigger and stronger than your friend who is still slaving away on the wrist curls and leg extensions.
It has been proven time and time again in real life and in studies that multi-joint movements that involve a great deal of muscle mass are the greatest testosterone boosters. For those of you who don't know about the importance of testosterone, it's a hormone that makes you get more manly (i.e. big and strong). This hormone is responsible for transforming that protein drink you have after your wussy workouts into muscle. Now imagine if you did multi-joint movements in your workouts....wouldn't the testosterone resulting from the workout and the Joe Weider protein drink make you a little bigger?
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against isolation movements, but they just don't make you grow as fast as compound movements. They are also extremely poor substitutes for compound exercises. If you have an injury or are an advanced bodybuilder trying to bring up a lagging bodypart, then isolation movements might have their place; however, if you have >been lifting for a relatively short periodof time, all isolation movements do is waste your time and recuperative capacity.
I'm talking about exercises that make you puke when done hard enough. No, not tricep pushdowns, laterals, and curls; but instead, squats, deadlifts, dips, and chins. You want a good routine? How about performing squats, stiff-legged deadlifts, dips, chins, and bench presses. Do as many sets as you want, but don't do them half-ass. You don't have to go to muscular failure as I prefer, but just make sure you work damn hard on 'em. Oh yeah, here's another tip: don't rest between sets. How's that for cardio?
Exercises to consider:
Pretty much any multi-joint movement....such as squats, deadlifts (any variety), bench presses, shoulder presses, dips, chins, pulldowns, rows, and leg presses. You can add a little neck work every once in a while or even a set of calf raises and crunches once a month.
Guidelines for life outside the weight room:
You gotta EAT if you wanna get big. That's all there is to it. If you find that you just can't find the time to eat during the day, or that you just get full really fast, wake yourself up at 2 a.m. and make yourself a protein shake or some kind of liquid meal. Other than that, you gotta try and not be so active....especially if you have a very fast metabolism. Try and get around 8-10 hours of sleep a night. You'll grow a lot faster. I'd also recommend drinking about a gallon of water a day instead of all the other crap we find ourselves drinking. You'll be amazed at the effect sleep and water have on your training. Your gains will go up pretty fast. Sorry if this article seemed a little mean, but it pisses me off when somebody could be making progress if they would only use common sense instead of trying the latest scientific periodizing back blitzing routine.