How many of you out there are sick and tired of being pigeon-holed by the fitness content you come across? Nowadays it seems fitness experts and bloggers are writing for one of two groups; those who are overweight and need to lose body fat, or those who are the ultra-hardcore-cross fit-advanced athlete types.
From the trends I’ve been noticing on the web, it seems the “average” person should only be concerned with how to burn fat. The workouts, guidelines, and dietary advice is largely geared towards the goal of fat loss. While this is fine and dandy for the people who actually have significant weight to lose, how about the other “average” people who aren’t overweight but are still in desperate need of a physique makeover?
You guys and girls need something that is going to show you how to add significant lean muscle to your frames, thereby improving your physique, boosting your metabolism, and providing a host of other health benefits. Take a look at yourself in the mirror, you may think you look a little “soft” but you certainly aren’t overweight. A little bit of muscle added to your frame would take you from average to awesome very quickly. The key is building this muscle as effectively as possible.
So with that theme in mind, and after much trial and error, I’m bringing to you what I consider to be the best muscle building exercises and combos to help you quickly build muscle and improve your appearance and health.
1. Squat/Deadlift Combo – The squat/deadlift combo is perhaps the most effective of all. Perform a full set of squats followed by a full set of deadlifts, back-to-back. You’ll want to use this combo on lower body days or when you don’t plan on doing any running/biking the next day because believe me, you’ll NEED the rest. This combo hits almost all of the major muscle groups in your body and causes the release of muscle building hormones which should help you develop that lean and toned appearance everywhere else.
2. Snatch/Push up/BB Curl – This three exercise combo is fantastic for building muscle in a hurry. Go for 8-10 sets of each exercise, with no rest between exercises. This power combo will effectively hit your shoulders, chest, triceps, back, lower body, and core muscles. Go for 3-4 total sets and remember to keep your form when things get tough.
3. Pull Up/Burpee/Push Up Combo – This exercise trifecta is crazy. Standing under a pull up bar, reach up and perform one pull up. Immediately drop to the ground, burpee style. Before rising to your feet, perform one push up, then pop yourself back up, again, burpee style. That is ONE rep. Go for 8-12 total reps and expect to bump your heart rate while seriously fatiguing major muscles across your entire body.
4. Barbell Bench Press/Dumbbell Flys/Lateral Dumbbell Raise – Need a little extra help developing the muscle in your chest and shoulders? Want that “line” that forms around a nicely toned deltoid muscle? You’ve got to add this chest/shoulder focused combo to your mix. As is common with these combos, keep little to no rest between exercises; only rest at the end of each three exercise set. Since you’re hitting the chest especially hard, you may want to slightly lower the weight to accommodate the intensity.
5. Barbell Box Jumps/Reverse Barbell Lunges/Barbell Squats – This lower body combo is going to burn you out and help you build a lean and athletic looking lower body. Perfect for those with simply trying to build a shapely and toned set of legs and butt, and not overly concerned with fat loss. This combo is performed non-stop, rest only at the end of the third exercise. Shoot for 12-15 reps for the first two exercises, and about 25-30 reps for the barbell squats. Keep in mind you’ll be using a much lighter barbell for this lower body combo, making the rep ranges more doable for you.
6. Push Up/Dip Swings– This is one of my all-time favorite exercises and is so effective at building muscle AND bumping your heart rate, it shouldn’t be missed. Go for 4-5 sets of 10-12 swings to fully wear out your chest, front deltoid, core, and tricep muscles. The fast pace of this exercise is great for getting you a good sweat while helping you build muscle in your upper body and core.
7. Clean and Press/Bent Over Row/Barbell Shrugs – Want an exercise combo that will have you looking like a ripped up, lean, athletic machine? This three combo set is specifically designed to give you that athletic build and appearance. By performing these three exercises back-to-back in superset format, your muscles have no time to rest, and are forced to undergo significant TUT (time under tension) which leads to great muscle growth. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or advanced athlete, using this combo will lead to great growth and development. Go for 6-10 reps per set on the first two exercises (depending on weight used) and 12-16 reps on the shrugs. Aim for 3-4 sets total.
8. Weighted Ab Crunches/Russian Twist/Plank – This core-focused combo uses heavy weighted exercises in the first two slots, then follows up with a static-tension hold. I find using a static hold exercise when doing core work at the END of a weighted series produces tremendous results in clients and users alike. Limit your rest times between exercises to near-constant tension is put on the abdominal muscles throughout.
The combos above specifically target key areas of your body where you may be lacking muscular development. These areas include:
If you’re one of those people out there who know you stand to improve your physique but don’t need a ton of fat burning work, these combos were MADE for you. Feel free to incorporate some of all of them into what you’re already doing. Maybe you’re doing a split routine, push/pull, or one of our plans on here. If you want to specifically target a goal of muscle building, I would recommend some or all of these combos 2-3 days a week, provided you are giving muscle groups ample rest.
One last point; muscular development is highly dependent on your diet. Muscle won’t just grow out of thin air; you’ve got to fuel yourself so the tissue is able to grow itself. This means ample protein (you don’t have to go overboard here), healthy fats, and complex carbs to fuel your workouts. Likewise, don’t go overboard on the carbs either. Find what level of carbohydrate intake works for you and stick to that. Developing that lean, ripped, athletic look is highly dependent on your diet as well. It’s hard to see muscle when they are being covered by a (albeit thin) layer of fat.