If you take a look around online and you will find thousands of articles of a bodybuilder’s pick your body part routine and all these bodybuilder workouts look pretty much the same but every pro’s routine is unique and is custom tailored to their unique purpose and reflects usually decades of experimentation.
Amateur bodybuilding fans are obsessed with numbers like how much someone can bench, how much macros are consumed and even training splits etc. but seasoned pro bodybuilders tend to focus more on time-tested principles, instinct and accumulated wisdom to get them to impressive results.
Here is how to apply a few of these tried and tested methods to your own workout routine for amazing results.
Like most people your warm-up is likely to consist of a few minutes of pointless treadmill strolling and some very light sets that have a danger of floating away. These early minutes in the gym are too vital to waste on such frivolities for me personally. I always start with some dedicated work to get blood pumping and plenty of it into the muscle groups I will be targeting for the day.
A few supersets of rope push-downs and cable curls are sufficient, don’t count the reps just do it until you get a good pump.
My first working sets are usually lat pull-downs which take place on the pull-over machine as a warm-up which provides all of the back work and none of the arms, pull-overs are great as they isolate the lats and help them fill with blood, I always do them first before hitting the lat pull-downs, this ways my lats are more fatigued before having to pull with my arms, it just pump a load of blood in there and gets everything primed and ready to go.
Pre-fatiguing is something nearly all pro-bodybuilders swear by. A hefty pump from the get-go allows them to maintain a stronger muscle-mind connection for further movements. This allows them to use feel as opposed to just numbers as a guide, the lifts might not be as heavy after a pre-pump but are certainly effective.
Supersets can be misused and overdone but when your training arms there is almost nothing better, the pump gets better when you don’t rest very much, you keep hammering away at the muscle with exercises.
Plenty of lifters utilize rapid-fire cable supersets, a good pairing as an example is close-grip bench presses with chains alternated with dumbbell hammer curls.
Why chains you ask? Chains and other forms of so-called accommodating resistance have long been used by bodybuilders to improve their lockout strength. Meaning unparalleled triceps activation, engaging all three heads of the triceps requires serious intensity and a few chains can help provide it if done right, if not you might as well add another plate.
Don’t rest like a powerlifter after these sets even though they are difficult. Rest 30-60 seconds maximum between sets and keep pumping them back to back.
The real difference between pros and amateurs is that pros don’t stop at a pre-determined rep range. Usually you should aim for an approximate rep range with full ROM movements, then continue with partials on muscle isolating exercises like preacher curls and pull-downs. When I reach failure, I start doing half-reps at the bottom of the stretch out and get more blood in there.
Pros never look for an easy way through a set but rather for anything that will make the set all the more intense. It allows you to for instance take a set that is considered easy, like bench dips and make it really difficult, you could do 50 reps of these, so make your reps harder. Slower, squeeze and hold, especially on an exercise like this. Don’t just do the 15 you are supposed to do, reach failure before then if you can find a way.
Every set is a challenge to see how much more you can do and how long you can delay failure, even reaching failure when you can’t fully complete a set, keep going, even if it is only half a set or less until you fail completely.
For years, my back was a weak point and I could never figure it out. I started to look at the way I was doing pull-downs and realised that my biceps and brachialis were taking as much of a beating as the lats so I changed the way I was performing the movement and limit the range of motion, forget the form police.
Many people would look and come over and say ‘your not touching your chest’ but when I come all the way down I feel it nowhere except my arms. This way my arms never get pumped during this part of my back workout, by doing it this way I have made some amazing progress in just over a year, there is more difference in just six months than I have seen in four years, this is something that really works for me.
Pulls can be tricky, everyone likes to focus on how much weight their pulling and the real clue is how they are pulling it. Things like hand position, angles and range of motion matter here more than almost anywhere else.
Proper bodybuilding is the bodybuilder making sure they have good consistency but it is certainly not about going through the motions, the standard ‘one size fits all’ approach is a great way to get started but once you have nailed this, find out what works for you specifically and keep going, being open to change along the way, this is exactly how the pros do it.
There is also a fantastic program out there called Adonis Golden Ratio that will transform your body in a short space of weeks, you can find out more information about this program here, give it a try now.
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