Top 5 Best Lifts for Bodybuilders
Bodybuilding is an art form that requires a tremendous amount of attention to detail, movement accuracy and a dedication to refining exercises so that they will elicit the greatest gains possible. We are all structurally different in many ways and not all exercises will be copacetic in our endeavors. You will spend countless hours experimenting with different movements, motions, angles and so on until you find what works. When you do, hypertrophic gains will occur and success will be found. As a bodybuilder, knowing which exercises work best for you is of paramount importance. Otherwise, you will be wasting precious time and energy on negative gains. With so many different options available to you, how will you know which ones work and which ones don’t? Only time and experience will tell but in the meantime, give these five exercises a try and hopefully one if not all will give you what you are looking for.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Nothing screams bodybuilder like a fully developed set of deltoids. Big, full and round delts set you apart from the rest of society and give you the illusion of being wider than what you structurally are. The best exercise for creating this look is an old school classic; dumbbell lateral raises. This is easily the most difficult exercise to teach proper form on but once mastered, will pack on medial deltoid size like no other. Sure, you need to perform overhead presses and rear delt flyes to round out the group, but nothing builds width like a lateral raise.
A huge set of guns that split the seams of your Heyday t-shirt is exactly what you’re going to need if you want to be a bodybuilder and stand out from the crowd. Far too many people put much of their arm training emphasis on building up the biceps when in reality, putting more emphasis on training the triceps would be much more advantageous. The triceps accounts for approximately two thirds of total upper arm size, which only tells me, the bigger the triceps, the bigger the arm. Your best bet for packing on triceps mass is definitely going to be skull crushers. Whether you perform them on a flat bench, incline bench or in an upright seated position, nothing allows you to stretch and contract the triceps better than the skull crusher.
Wide grip Pull Ups
Width, width and more width is the name of the game when it comes to back development. The wider you are, the more you’ll dwarf the competition around you. Back thickness comes with time and seems to happen after width has been established, so even though you need to perform lots of rowing type exercises and dead lift until you puke for total back development, you still need to expand your wings to make room for all of the detail that will eventually come from your back training. The best way to do this is to incorporate wide grip pull ups into every workout.
Total leg development is the result of many torturous sessions at the squat rack with the garbage can nearby. While back squats usually get the first nod by most on leg day, it may be more advantageous to a bodybuilder who is looking for more quad development to opt for the front squat instead. By placing the barbell in front of your body, versus the back, the resistance from the weights being held will be shifted more towards the front of the body and down on the quadriceps versus being on the posterior kinetic chain (lower back, glutes and hamstrings). This shift will focus in more on the quadriceps and place more emphasis on that muscle group to do the majority of the work. In turn, greater gains may be seen and a better overall balance attained.
Side note: front squats are terribly difficult with respect to balance. A high top bodybuilding shoe with a flat sole and lots of ankle support is what you’re going to want on your feet. The Tactical Trainer by Heyday Footwear is second to none in this regard and is worn by those who possess some of the best quads in the business.
Incline Dumbbell Press
Thanks to Arnold, everyone in the bodybuilding world wants to have a huge chest. It’s the reason Monday is proclaimed as international chest day and getting on a bench press is damn near impossible. With that said, the better option for overall chest development might be incline dumbbell presses. The hardest part of the pecs to develop is the upper portion just underneath the clavicle. The incline dumbbell press targets this specific area and still allows you to use lots of weight with the added advantage of a better stretch when compared to the barbell version. So rather than waiting in line to get on the bench press, grab some dumbbells and work your chest from top to bottom.
Of course, there are plenty of other exercises that bodybuilders have to do to fully develop their physiques. The ones listed above just so happen to be some of my favorites. I would advise you to pay close attention to how the muscle feels with each exercise you try, keep track of it, eliminate the ones that do nothing for you and then devise a program from what’s left. This way, no time and energy will be wasted and only positive gains will occur.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.