Training

The Big 25

25 training tips for maximizing mass.

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 17. MAKE YOUR RECUPERATION PROACTIVE 

You might think the best way to recover from workouts is to lie on your back. In fact, there are several things you can do that are better than nothing. Low-intensity activities like walking, swimming and cycling can increase blood flow and aid recuperation, as can stretching and massage.

 18. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ________ 

Mass-gaining guides often say you need to squat, deadlift and bench press to maximize gains. These are excellent exercises, and most trainers will see benefits from doing them regularly. However, sometimes an exercise just isn’t right for your physique. You don’t have to do any particular lifts. Find the ones that work best for you, and make them the focus of your workouts.

 19. DO CARDIO LAST 

If you pair cardio with your weight-training workouts, do it after you hit the iron. This order makes certain the cardio doesn’t fatigue your muscles. It also burns more fat because weight training has already depleted your muscles’ glycogen, and a study shows this order raises your growth hormone to a higher level than the reverse order.

 20. ALTER OLD FAVORITES 

We tend to get in a groove with exercises, taking the same grip and stance each time and covering the same range of motion. If we’re using proper form, this keeps us in a productive, safe motion rep after rep. But your body may be too comfortable, and altering your stance, grip or range of motion can provide just the new stimulation you need. For example, a narrower squat stance targets your outer quads more, close-grip bench presses focus on your triceps and inner chest, and top deadlifts in a power rack hit your traps more and your legs less.

 21. 21s AREN’T JUST FOR BICEPS 

You’re probably familiar with 21-curls — biceps curls performed by first doing seven partial reps from full stretch to halfway up, then seven from halfway up to full contraction, then seven full reps. As Tony Freeman advocates, this same principle can be applied to other exercises, such as leg curls and calf raises. (Also note that, blackjack aside, there’s nothing special about 21; you can do 15s, 30s or any other number divisible by three.)

 22. STRIKE A POSE 

Whether or not you ever intend to enter a bodybuilding contest, one of the best ways to increase your mind/muscle connection is to practice posing in front of a mirror. Maximally flex your muscles in the eight compulsory poses. Focus on the feelings and how subtle changes of positioning alter these sensations, indicating that you’re contracting other muscles or different fibers in the same muscle. The more you pose, the better you can target exercises to specific areas.

 23. USE YOUR OWN WEIGHT 

Some seemingly easy bodyweight lifts are effective and convenient as the last half of supersets. For example, you can do pushups just after flyes, bench dips just after triceps extensions or weightless lunges just after leg presses.

 24. RESCUE BAD WORKOUTS WITH A “STINGER” 

Sometimes, for whatever reason, your workout just doesn’t go as well as planned. If you haven’t stressed a bodypart enough, add something such as a long drop set, a superset or an additional exercise performed for high reps. This “stinger” will give the understressed muscle(s) a final shock.

 25. DO NOTHING 

When strength and/or growth gains stop, don’t keep doing the same thing the same way. You need to alter parameters, such as reps, exercises or training frequency, to travel a different route to muscle growth. One suggestion is to do nothing — literally. Once or twice per year, spend up to two weeks away from the gym and, when you return, you should find your intensity is revitalized. - FLEX

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