Way back in the grainy, pastel-hued era that was the 1990s, musclebound bodybuilders were considered the apex of physical fitness. And while the culture has shifted since then toward more functional practices for every day people to get fit, there are still principles from the bodybuilding world that can be applied to your everyday training.
Compound Movements First
Heavy multi-joint lifts like squats and bench are the bedrock of your daily routines—so give them the premier treatment they deserve.
"If you do them [compound movements and isolation or accessory lifts] in the opposite order, you're only sacrificing your performance on the compound lifts," says Cavaliere. "Even though the focus is about creating muscle growth and hypertrophy, we know that you're going to be able to drive muscle growth through an increase in strength."
Train to Failure
A high volume of reps isn't worth much if they're all low effort. According to Cavaliere, training to failure "was, is, and always will be" an effective driver of muscle growth. "You can either train hard, or you can train long, but you can't do both," he says. "Push yourself until you can't get another rep with good form, and then respect your own recovery."
Tension Trumps Totals
The actual weight you're lifting isn't as important as the amount of tension you're placing on the muscle during the exercise. "Don't always focus on top-end strength," says Cavaliere. "Every once in a while, focus on slowing those reps down, squeezing the muscle you're training, taking momentum out of the equation."
In addition to training to failure, lowering the weight in order to manage another set is a great way to ensure you're getting the most out of training a specific muscle.
Posing Is Actually Beneficial
Working on your Arnold-style flexes before a workout can help you to develop more mind-muscle control with muscles that you might not necessarily have a good connection with, says Cavaliere. This, in turn, can make your training more effective.
Protein Supplements Help
While not necessarily advocating the daily consumption of shakes and supplements during training, Cavaliere acknowledges that the range of whey protein and creatine products available now do make it easier to get the protein intake required for real gains.
Don't Forget Isolation
"As long as the big compound lifts are in place, there's no denying the importance of isolation exercises," says Cavaliere. "They help us as accessory lifts to our bigger lifts."
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