A few newsletters back I discussed energy cost and how multi-joint exercises that don’t optimally load the target muscle can take from your hypertrophy gains in exchange for some strength…
However, I also mentioned that you can focus on barbell squats at one leg workout and the ideal quad exercise at the next. Just keep in mind that it’s not the most efficient muscle-building strategy…
That’s because putting heavy barbell squats first in your quad workout takes a lot out of you and only allocates about 30 percent of the load to your quads—with a lot of spine compression. That’s fine if you’re trying to build impressive squatting strength like a powerlifter.
But the better, not to mention safer, mass-building strategy is attacking the ideal exercise first. For quads that’s sissy squats or cable squats.
I focus on the ideal exercise at every workout, and I usually follow with an add-on exercise; however…
Doug “Mr. Universe” Brignole uses the ideal exercise for each target muscle, and that’s it. He doesn’t do any ancillary moves the way I do.
Is Doug’s way better? To be honest, I don’t know. I do know that I’ve gotten excellent results emphasizing the ideal move and then following with an add-on exercise for a set or two—like squats, with dumbbells not a barbell…
My reasoning is “variation in muscle-fiber recruitment” (Fleck and Kraemer, two Ph.D. researchers discussed in the new ebook).
That simply means that there’s evidence that different exercises can produce unique fiber firing due to different leverages and planes of motion. For instance, squats vs. leg extensions vs. sissy squats.
What about chest? I could do four sets of dumbbell decline presses and move on, as Doug chooses to do. But I like two to three sets of that ideal exercise and then a set of flat-bench dumbbell flyes (stretch) or cable flyes (contracted + stretch).
Luckily, the energy cost of flyes is not extreme. Even if the cost was somewhat high, one set to get some unique fiber recruitment is worth it for me.
Again, I’m not saying Doug is wrong and I’m right. In fact, I have an ideal-exercise-only workout I rotate in every so often, but I rely more on workouts that emphasize the ideal + an add-on move.
It’s how I keep my mass-building focus in the groove.
New: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
Doug’s analysis and explanations on the science and logic behind muscular movement will show you why many of the so-called fundamental mass-building moves are inefficient time-wasters. Plus, he’ll show you the best alternatives.
Whether you’re a hobby bodybuilder, competitive athlete or personal trainer, this book is a must read, one you will refer to again and again throughout your training career.
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