There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to formulating training plans that will provide and guarantee results to all those that use it. Our individual make up is what will ultimately determine what works and what doesn't with regards to the training stimulus and which exercises will be more effective over the rest. Just because you heard that doing heavy squats is the best way to build gigantic legs, doesn't necessarily mean that your path to enormous legs includes spending time in the squat rack. The exercises that you determine will provide you with the best return on investment, should be those that will elicit the greatest gains within the realms of being effective for your body type as well as being safe for you in the long term. How do you know if certain exercises are right for you? By following the check points below, you'll be able to determine fairly quickly if you should put your time and effort into the exercise or abandon it altogether.
#1: Immediate Unwanted Discomfort
There is a level of discomfort that goes hand in hand with training and it is usually what stops our sets when it gets replaced by pain. However, it shouldn't be present right from the outset nor should it be felt in your joints, tendons or ligaments. If when you begin a movement you immediately feel something you don't like (this takes time and experience to acknowledge in many cases) stop the exercise right away. Something is off and not working in synergy with your biomechanics. Ignoring this feeling could very well lead to imminent injury.
#2: No Pump
When you train a muscle group, the goal is to break down the tissue in the targeted area through increased resistance as well as drive a whole bunch of fresh new blood into the area which is known as the pump. When an exercise taxes the muscle the way it's supposed to, both of these things happen. If you find that you're having difficulty achieving a good pump with certain exercises, it's almost always because the exercise doesn't fit you and your structure. When this happens, there's no sense in trying to force the issue just because it's an exercise you think you're supposed to do. Leave it alone for the time being and move onto something else.
#3 No Gains
The end result of busting ass in the gym is to build upon our current physique. Each exercise that we select for individual body parts must elicit growth otherwise what's the point? For this reason, I really like the idea of sticking with a set list of exercises to be performed week after week for a good month or so (as long as they pass check points one and two) to know for sure if they are working for you or not. If you're constantly switching things up, you won't really know for sure what worked and what didn't. Keep a training journal, take pictures and make a mental log of any progress with regards to any gains in size and/or strength as well as an overall positive change to body composition.
Just like the sizing chart on the Heyday Footwear website that you use when purchasing a new pair of Mission Trainer High Top Sneakers, you have to do your due diligence when it comes to selecting exercises that will be in your best interest in using. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and adjust accordingly. It's the best way to go about building the physique you've always wanted.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.