The #1 Muscle Building Tip You’re NOT Doing
Fill in the blank: I have trouble making my ________ (insert body part here) grow.
We all have weak body parts. Some people have chicken legs instead of tree trunks. Other people have deflated balloons for shoulders instead of canon ball delts. You get the picture.
There’s always room for improvement.
Personally, my lower body development is awesome, but my upper body development has much to be desired; specifically, my shoulders, arms, and chest.
It All Starts With an Injury
You see, a few years back, I had a bummed shoulder from football and BJJ, and my posture was Hunchback-of-Notre-Dame-worthy. This meant that every day was leg day, and that upper body workouts were more focused on rehabilitation instead of muscle building.
This year, after reading a bit of future Mr. Olympia, Ben Pakulski’s writing, it was very apparent to me that the reason my shoulders, chest, and arms are so puny is because I have a hard time activating the muscle.
What I mean by this is I have a hard time flexing the muscle without added resistance.
Learn to Flex Your Guns
Think about this for a second. If you can’t feel a muscle working, then chances are, it isn’t. Simple logic, my dear Watson.
Here’s an example for you. As part of my rehab for my shoulder, I had to learn to pack my shoulder, and fire my lats like crazy. Over a year of applying this concept, my back has grown like crazy. Whenever I wear my old dress shirts, I feel like I’m going to tear them apart like the Hulk every time I give someone a hug.
This is actually a great problem to have…Badass…
The crazy thing is, I wasn’t even trying to put size on my back. It just happened because I learned to fire my lats.
What I’m Doing Now
These days, before overhead pressing, I activate my delts using behind the neck presses with a towel. Hold a towel with snatch grip and pull it apart so it is taut. Perform a behind the neck press and really focus on firing your deltoids instead of your traps. Always be conscious of firing the delts during the overhead press and activate them between sets if necessary.
For arms, I practice flexing them without weight. Then, I’ll perform an isolation exercise with light weight to further activate the muscles, but I’ll focus on contracting the muscle as hard as possible.
With my chest, I’ll activate my pecs by pushing my hands toward each other while performing a pushup.
In reality, it’s all about activating the muscle and contracting it as hard as possible throughout full range of motion. It doesn’t matter if you are isolating, or performing a combination movement. Keep your body tight as hell and contract the muscles until you cramp up.
Where to Feel It
It’s inevitable that a bunch of people will email me and ask where to feel certain exercises, so I’ve compiled a list of where to feel certain movements below.
|Movement||What Muscle(s) to Feel it In|
|Horizontal Push||Pecs, triceps, lats|
|Horizontal Pull||Lats, mid and upper back, biceps, NO TRAPS|
|Vertical Push||Deltoids, Triceps, Lats|
|Vertical Pull||Lats, mid back, biceps|
|Quad dominant||Quads, glutes|
|Hamstring Dominant||Glutes, hamstrings|
Plan of Action
What I need you to start doing is make sure you feel your muscles working first and foremost when you are lifting. Control the weights. At first, you may need to use less weight, but I guarantee you that within 4 weeks of practicing “feeling it” in the muscle, you will break PR’s in every single lift and increase your muscle size. Go get swole, my friends.
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