It’s finally starting to warm up a little. March is great for transitioning my mind into springtime, but then it’s always a reality check, too, because we are just six weeks from tank-top season.
I find that many people are confused during this time of year because they want to know how to keep packing on the muscle to look BAP (Beefy As Possible) but with summer around the corner they want to start also focusing on cutting up. Though many of us have been told you have to choose either building muscles or being able to actually show it, this is not the case. So, yes, you can essentially have your protein shake and eat it too.
Big muscles=big results. If there’s one thing most of us can always agree on, it’s the ancient Christopher Street proverb: Bigger is better. Can the church say AMEN? No matter what your goal, when you focus on training large muscle groups over small ones you challenge your body more, burn more calories and see more results. When I speak of targeting large muscle groups I mean exercises that focus on the chest, back and legs.
My favorites are the push up, pull up, and lunge. You should try to include some variation of these exercises in each of your strength training workouts. What about your shoulders and arms? Focus on chest and back exercises and the arms and shoulders will come along for the ride.
By targeting exercises on our bigger and stronger large muscle groups, the smaller muscles of the biceps, triceps, shoulders and calves are forced to work at a higher intensity. This small muscle overload makes them work harder than they do when they are normally isolated. People many times ask me what I do to develop my arms and they are shocked when I reply that I barely touch them. If you do want to include some isolation exercises for your smaller muscle groups include them at the end of your workout as topping off exercises. This way your smaller muscles will already be fatigued from all of the large muscle work making these isolation exercises effective. In summary, it’s time to put that “arms day” to rest.
The second great effect of focusing on larger muscle groups is that moving large muscles burns far more calories than small muscle groups. Even though we will be packing on lots of muscle, these large muscle workouts will keep your heart rate up, obliterating fat cells. As we get closer to summer and your goal becomes to lean out more, increase your speed and reps while lowering your rest time, but still focus on large muscles.
Harder vs. Longer. Ever see the overweight guy in the gym who is there for two hours and you wonder how he still looks the same? It’s because he’s not challenging himself. High-intensity workouts beat low-intensity workouts exponentially. I train my clients for 45-minute sessions and they usually don’t want a minute more, until the next session of course. Remember you can get a great workout in 30-45 minutes if you are focused and keep moving the entire time. Simple rule: If you are not sweating and your heart rate isn’t up, then you are wasting your time.