Men and women alike want that toned, muscular appearance they see in magazines and TV. While, some of those people have the benefit of really good genetics, for a lot, they achieved that look only after many months of hard work in the gym. Far too often, I see personal trainers working out their clients with dinky little dumbbells, doing nothing but isolation exercises, i.e. dumbbell curls, tricep kickbacks, etc. While these exercises have their place, for the person who wants to pack on lean muscle across their entire body, this may not be the best option. A mix between power lifting moves AND isolation exercises is key to unlocking that body you’ve always wanted.
Power lifts typically affect 3 or more muscle groups at one time. In addition, they often hit muscles you would otherwise ignore, or not be able to target effectively. This is one of the reasons that no matter how many push ups and bicep curls you do, you still don’t look like the girl on the Women’s Health magazine cover. In order to look like an athlete you must train like an athlete.
Many people hear power lifts and automatically envision big bulky men wearing weight belts lifting hundreds and hundreds of pounds. While there are power lifters like that, no one ever said every power move has to be performed this way. Nor have they said you will look like these big, bulky guerrillas if you use their moves. Their goal is to build up strength for a one rep max. Your goal should be to complete 8-12 repetitions of these moves. This is what will separate your appearance from theirs…as well as the fact you will also likely be eating about 3,000 calories less per day than them.
Whatever your current routine may be, set aside one day where you do all power weightlifting moves. Give yourself a day’s rest before and after this day, as it can be particularly exhausting. Try to do 3-4 sets of each exercise for 8-12 repetitions. Gradually bump up the weight as you progress. After 8 weeks you should be seeing some very noticeable differences in your appearance.
Bench Press – Very common and something most people always do. Remember to use good form, keep your back flat on the bench, and come all the way down. If this is part of your regular routine, go a bit heavy and do less reps on your powerlift day.
Clean and Press – While not a traditional powerlift, this move is a fantastic exercise for developing the shoulders, upper back, core muscles, and triceps. Use a weight belt if your lower back feels too strained.
Squats – Perhaps the best exercise for the lower body. Use a barbell for this exercise. You want to sink as low as possible when doing a squat without hurting yourself. Go light on the weight at first until you find your comfort level. The feet should be pointed out slightly, while the heels take the bulk of the weight and the abdominal muscles are pulled in to maintain primarily upright throughout the lift. Do not round the back.
Deadlifts – This power move is great at training most of the muscles on the back of the body as well as the abdominals. As the video shows, keep the back straight throughout the lift, never arch the back. “Pop” your hips on the way up to help lift the weight.
Performing these moves withe very ounce of energy you have will give your muscles something they’ve never seen before. You will no doubt be very sore for days to come, but that will lessen the longer you stick to this routine. Your muscles will be shocked into growing and you’ll be looking at a body in the mirror that you once only dreamed of.