Mass moves mass. This old adage was passed onto me early on in my bodybuilding endeavours and has served me very well ever since. There's a reason the biggest people you see at your gym are also usually the strongest; it's because it takes a certain amount of hard earned muscle to move the kind of weight that makes most shudder at the thought of even attempting it. Almost every single exercise you can think of performing can and will go towards building extreme size if the appropriate amount of intensity is applied. I've heard many times that certain exercises are meant for shaping or for cutting or only used for getting a pump. I call you know what on that because I've used and seen others use those exercises while getting huge. The most commonly misconstrued exercises, in this respect, are cable movements. These highly effective and muscle stimulating exercises can and should always be used as a part of any sort of mass building program you build for yourself and here's how to utilize them most effectively.
Compound then Cables
There are certain exercises you should always stick with when mass is the goal. Heavy and basic free weight compound lifts that incorporate multiple muscle groups and joints will always be far superior for building size than any machine offered to you. Exercises such as the squat, bench press, dead lift, military press, barbell curl and skull crushers rank extremely high on the list of movements for mass. Once you've completed those first in your training program, then move onto cables. What this will do is ensure that if there are any muscle fibres left that haven't yet been stimulated, will be in doing so. The nice thing about cable exercises at this point in your session is that they don't take a tremendous amount of support to perform and you can really zero in on and focus completely on specific areas of the muscle that have yet to be taxed. The freedom of movement and angle manipulation that you can incorporate with cables will ensure you fry whatever fibres are left so that maximum growth can occur.
Cables then Compound
Some of you out there may require a little extra time and attention in the warming up phase for many different reasons prior to getting into the nitty gritty of the workout. If this is the case, and you feel much safer going into your big lifts with a muscle fully engorged with fresh new blood, then performing cable exercises first hand is a great option for you. The safety in cable movements can allow you to maximize blood flow, get a good pump going and mentally prepare you to go all out on your heavy basic lifts. Some cable crossovers prior to benching, go ahead! Triceps pushdowns before close grip bench press? Makes sense to me. It doesn't really matter that you're doing these cable movements first versus saving them for the end as mentioned above; all that really matters is that in doing your cable exercises first, you allow yourself to physically and mentally prepare to move the kind of weight you need to move to build extreme size and that's the whole point.
As a Pairing or Within a Group
In a previous article, we discussed training principles that boost intensity to maximize growth. Two such principles that weren't mentioned in that article were supersets and giant sets. Many have applied these two strategies to their process when trying to get shredded. While I agree with that practice, I also believe that those two training principles can be used when building size as well. Think about the benefits of super setting bent over barbell rows with a set of seated cable rows. Or how about stringing together a biceps giant set that sees you going from barbell curls to dumbbell curls to preacher curls to standing low pulley cable curls. In either scenario, which are just two of many different examples you could present yourself with, you're going to be fully taxing the muscle group in question and stimulating growth at an unprecedented rate. In my mind, that's the goal you need to achieve each training session to grow insane amounts of muscle and incorporating cable exercises within this approach is the perfect fit.
The hardcore may try to tell you to leave the cable exercises alone when trying to accrue mass. The biggest and baddest of the hardcore will agree with what I just shared with you. Don't be left on the sidelines of size; lace up your Super Freaks and get crazy with the cables!
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.