By Robbie Thompson
Most teenage guys want to be bigger and have the massive arms, the chest your t’shirt hangs off and shoulders so wide you have to go through doors sideways! Well the good news is you’re primed to grow you just need to do it right.
You grow by exposing the body to new and unfamiliar stimulus, as a new and inexperienced lifter it really doesn’t take much get your body growing.
As soon as your body is asked to do something it hasn’t had to do before it has to adapt, for example getting bigger or stronger, that way it can cope better when asked to do it again.
The key is not to try to jump too far ahead with the most ridiculously hard or complicated workouts, there’s simply no need. The basic movements and exercises will see you grow so keep doing them. The reason guys like Arnie talk about all those crazy drop sets is because they are advanced lifters. They’ve trained for so long that they’ve had to come up with new and innovative methods to overload their muscles. That will all come but for now its not needed.
You might have heard about compound exercises, or if you haven’t you’ll recognize the names of some of them, well this is where you need to start.
Compound exercises refer to multi-joint and muscle movements, for example the bench press. When bench pressing you’re using your chest, shoulder and triceps (arm) muscles through moving your elbows and shoulder joints. Other key compound exercises would be squats, deadlifts, rows and pull-ups, there are many more.
By becoming strong in these compound exercises you give yourself the best chance of putting on stacks of muscle in both the short and long term.
Not only that but you’ll build a balanced physique. By combining bench press with rows or pull ups you’ll ensure your chest and back will grow at the same rate. The last thing you want is to create imbalances that lead to injuries and a pretty crap looking physique. The same applies to legs; you’ve got to train your lower body just as much as your upper body. Again this builds a balanced, strong body and also helps stop you getting blown over in strong winds!
What about biceps curls? You’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned them yet; surely the only way to get big arms is by doing loads of curls?
Well think of it like a cake with a cherry on the top; the cake is your compound lifts and the cherry on the top is your exercises like bicep curls (which we call isolation exercises). Without the cake you can’t have that cherry on the top, in the same way that you can’t have those massive arms without mastering the big lifts and building a big strong physique. Mainly because you’d look ridiculous with a weedy body and humongous arms!
Do the big lifts first, get stronger and you will grow, everywhere. If you want to do the fluff work like biceps curls at the end then go for it but you have to earn that right by doing the big lifts first. Don’t forget that the bench press uses your arm muscles too, in the same way that pull-ups hit your back and biceps. The compound lifts are a fantastic way of getting your whole body to grow.
Okay so I’m hoping I’ve won you over, now how do you do these big lifts? The only draw back with the compound lifts is that they are tricky movements and take practice. The temptation is to become impatient and pile the weight on the bar like the guys you’ve seen on YouTube lifting enormous weights. Remember what I said about overload, for you right now just doing the movements properly with a sensible weight will be more than you are used to and will therefore help you to grow.
You also have heard or read that a workout is only working if you are crawling out of the gym; this is far from true, especially for you now. You don’t need to go to failure to grow, this will be both dangerous and detrimental.
I heard a great quote from a coach called Derek Woodske recently he said that, “you’re always going to grow at the rate of restoration”. What that means is you’ll grow as quickly as you can recover from your workouts. If you crawl out of the gym its going to take you a long time to recover from that, which if nothing else means that its going to be longer until you can get back in there and train again.
So the take away message is build that cake before you worry about the cherry on the top. Master the compound movements which will help you build a balanced physique but be patient, nail that technique before trying to bend the bar. Study the exercises and hire a coach if you are struggling, your body will thank you in the long run!
Bring on the gainz!