It's really quite simple, but super-effective.
(I never knew how hard I could breathe until I started doing heavy deadlifts. Very similar effect to squats.)
I start out usually on the floor with a light weight, mixed grip (alternate your grip, though, so you get even development). Get down low by bending at the knees and hips, keeping the back flat. Then simultaneously push with the thighs, glutes, and hips, while lifting with the lower back, too.
Typically, I only do a few sets:
Deadlifts are funny (not “Ha-ha” funny) in that you're better off doing fewer reps with heavier weight, using super-strict form, rather than doing higher-rep, lower-weight sets.
It is so critical that you do these with the strictest form possible that getting carried away with too many reps will literally get you carried away!
The more reps you focus on, the less you focus on your form; so, do fewer reps but in strict form!
No back injuries.
Deads are so great for your core strength that they ought to be a staple in your weight-training programs.
They stimulate muscle growth and Growth Hormone production in a way similar to a squat program, but they really blast the upper body (all areas of the back and traps), including the biceps and forearms.
They may be a better exercise than the bench press!
I'm a slow learner. It took me a really long time to figure this out. This fact, coupled with my lower back issues over the past 10 or so years, has really kept the blinders on. But now that I can see clearly again, I'll never turn my back on the deadlift!
I love them now!
Big lats are a necessity on a well-rounded, symmetrical physique. Building the latissimus dorsi muscles, rhomboids, trapezius, and other supporting muscles of the back. There are only a few movements that you need to perform to build the muscles of the back.
The king of all lat work is the bent-over barbell row. Using an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, bend slightly at the knees and bend at the waist with your torso slightly above parallel. Pull the bar to your lower ribcage, trying to use your hands and arms as “hooks” only, to maximize the effect on the lats. If you pull the bar higher up on the torso, like to the chest, you'll involve the upper lats, rhomboids, and trapezius more. Pull to the waist, and you're building primarily the lower lats as they taper into the waistline.
Follow the bent-over rows with lat pull-downs. Again, you can influence which area of the latissimus that you effect simply by pulling the par to that area. For example, if you're trying to develop the lower lats, pull the bar down to your belly button. These are great for building thickness in the upper- to mid-back.
The trick to doing this exercise most effectively, is to lean back a bit so that your body is about 30-40 degrees from vertical. In effect, you're doing a variation on the bent-over row you just performed, but you're putting your lower back in a more advantageous position. Plus, you can use a lot more weight, especially if you use the part of the exercise machine that secures your knees, disallowing the weight to pull up your body.
You can also vary your hand position to effect a different part of the back. A wider grip will work on width, whereas a narrower grip will work on thickness.
A variation of the bent-over row is the dumbbell row. Doing these one arm at a time, you can really focus on feeling the muscles work, rather than focusing on getting the weight up. Let your shoulders drop as you extend your arm, and really pull back on the shoulder blades as you raise your arm.
An auxillary exercise you do, most often when trying to build the chest, is the bent-arm pullover. You may not realize this, but the muscles worked with this movement are the lats!
Couple the bent-arm pullover with the bent-over rows in a pre-exhaust superset. The pullovers fatigue the lats, and the rows blast them into oblivion! Repeat this superset 3-5 times, and you've gone a long way to building big lats.
Building a classic V-shape like that embodied by Steve Reeves, Frank Zane, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is easy to do if you follow the guidelines I'm about to lay out below. Much of bodybuilding is about making small changes to your physique here and there. Add a quarter inch here, lose an inch there. Bodybuilders are real-life sculptors with real-world clay in the form of muscle.
Building a V-shape is about creating an illusion of broader shoulders, wider lats and pecs, and a narrower waist and hips. The way to do this is to work on building up the lateral head of the delts, the deepening the ribcage, buffing up the lower pecs and widening the lats. You also have to shape the waistline such that it seems like it's getting smaller (reduce fat, increase muscle separation). Finally, you need reduce the apparent size of the hips.
I'll tackle each of these in turn.
Broadening the shoulders has the effect of making the tips of that classical V-shape. And it's easy to do if you focus on the lateral head. This means working the side delts with lots of side laterals and behind-the-neck presses. Try using the Pre-Exhaust method: Do a set of side laterals followed immediately by the presses. This engages the lateral head, fatigues it, such that as many muscle fibers of the side delt are utilized as possible in the presses.
To develop the wide latissimus dorsi muscle, or the “lats,” you must do wide grip chins, lat pull-downs, and barbell rows (mostly builds thickness, but also builds width).
To build the lower pecs, parallel bar dips are the best exercise around. You'll develop that lower line that is so well-recognized in the top champions.
Bent-arm pullovers are key to developing the larger ribcage that is necessary to support the increased musculature of the chest, lats, and shoulders. They not only enlarge the ribcage, they also build the lats and supporting muscles of the upper body.
Reducing the size of the waist is mostly dependent on reducing body fat. As you may know, there is no such thing as spot reduction. You can't just cut the fat off the stomach. No, you'll have to cut fat everywhere. So, diet and aerobics come into play. Losing fat is a numbers game: Burn more calories than you consume and you'll lose body fat.
However, you'll still want to do some ab work to develop the muscles there so that they'll really pop when you lose the belly fat.
Finally, you'll have to build the thighs to give the illusion of smaller hips. Of course, building the thighs is worthwhile, even if doing so didn't make your hips appear smaller. Squat and leg presses are key exercises to develop the sweeping quads that are necessary to enhance the classic V-shape.
Following these guidelines will enable you to build the body you want with that coveted v-shape every man and woman wants.
Look, I know how hard it is to build muscle. Trust me when I tell you it took me 20+ years to figure it out. But once I did--BAM!--muscle appeared almost overnight. Give me your email address and I'll send you the keys.
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