For body building exercises to be effective, there are two specific forms of exercising muscles to be considered, both of which are discussed here. Working each muscle group with a variety of muscle building exercises ensures you’re training the muscle group thoroughly.
Training this way has proven to be most efficient for body building. Every muscle group should be trained, not say just upper body muscles, to avoid imbalance and risk of injury.
Here are the two specific techniques used in body building exercises.
- Compound exercises stress two or more joint movements, for example, barbell squats and bench presses. Compound muscle building exercises mostly involve the use of free weights such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells.
- Isolation muscle exercises usually stress just one joint in one plane of movement at a time, for example, bicep curls. The various weight training machines found in the gym are largely designed for isolation exercises.
Compound Body Building Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises
Compound body building exercises are generally regarded as better than isolation exercises for building muscle strength and muscle mass. Isolation exercises are good for working just one muscle at a time.
One thought is that isolation body building exercises for a specific muscle will place more added stress to a muscle than using barbells or dumbbells, but in an artificial way. Popular opinion however regards compound body building exercises as superior because more muscles are stressed at the same time, making these muscle building exercises more productive.
For example bench presses work deltoids, pectorals, triceps, rotator cuff, serrates, and lats if you use a wide grip. Compare that to using the pec deck machine which only works front deltoids and pectorals. Compound bench presses are the more efficient exercise for muscle building.
Another comparison would be compound squats and isolation leg presses. The leg press works the same muscles as the squat and allows much more weight to be used safely. But the squat is still superior because just about the whole body is being stressed to some extent. Whereas doing leg presses only stresses the lower half of your body.
Body building with dumbbells can be even more effective than with barbells. Dumbbells are the more ‘free’ free weight because you can twist, turn and roll them in any direction, requiring more effort from the smaller stabilizer muscles.
A Word About Ab Exercises
You cannot effectively isolate upper abs from lower abs in ab workouts. As soon as you apply resistance, both upper abdominals and lower abdominals immediately combine their power, kicking into action together as they are designed to do.
You don’t need to do hundreds of crunches in your body building exercises to develop six pack abs. Just like all the other muscles in your body, your abs will develop better with progressive resistance training. Full range crunches are twice as effective as half range crunches.
Body Building Exercise Tips for Upper Body Gains
- Here is a list of muscle groups you should train to give the upper body the most increase in size, starting with the most effective first. Well developed deltoids create the illusion that your upper body is much larger that it really is, giving your upper body a V shape and the appearance of broad shoulders. Develop your deltoids with dumbbell side laterals and front dumbbell raises.
- A well developed chest adds major size to a very visible part of the upper body. Develop your chest with wide grip and narrow grip bench presses to work all the pectorals.
- Trapezius muscles, when developed, give you large muscular shoulders, thicken your neck, and contribute to that powerful upper body V shape. The standing dumbbell and barbell press will develop the traps.
- Lats or latissimus dorsi are important for a muscular back and also help to give that classic V shape. A well developed back will make you look much more muscular and improves the shape of your whole upper body. Pull ups on a high bar or lat pulldowns will develop your lats.
- Triceps make up two thirds of the upper arm, and are more important for visible upper body gains than the biceps. Developing the triceps also leads to more chest development since they share many of the same body building exercises, such as the narrow grip bench press.
- The biceps are surprisingly one of the smallest muscle groups in the body and may not add much to your upper body size. However, they look great when they’re developed attracting attention to your upper arms.
- Lastly the abdominals. Abs don’t contribute much to the size of your upper body but they’re essential to bring the upper body physique together. To get a good set of six pack abs you need a very low body fat percentage. Anything over ten percent and your ab definition would fade under the layer of fat on top of them. So watch your body building diet and use progressive resistance in your crunches as you should do with all muscle building exercises.
What Electromyography (EMG) Reveals
There are several different body building exercises for each muscle group. How can you tell which exercises are more effective and which are less effective?
Electromyography has helped indicate the best exercises for each muscle group. An EMG device measures the extremely small amounts of electricity generated by muscles below the surface of the skin which indicate excessive muscle tension and enables us to determine the percentage of muscle fibers being stressed in the muscle group.
Here are the results of EMG tests for muscle building exercises on some muscle groups. The percentage represents the percent of muscle fibres worked.
Decline dumbbell bench press – 93%
Incline dumbbell press – 91%
Decline bench press – 89%
Flat dumbbell bench press – 87%
Flat barbell bench press – 85%
Bent over barbell rows – 93%
One arm dumbbell rows – 91%
T-bar rows – 89%
Lat pulldown – 86%
Seated pulley rows – 83%
Incline dumbbell side laterals – 66%
Standing dumbbell side laterals – 63%
Seated dumbbell side laterals – 62%
Cable side laterals – 47%Rear Delts
Standing dumbbell bent laterals – 85%
Seated dumbbell laterals – 83%
Standing cable bent laterals – 77%
So we can see here conclusive evidence of the superiority of using free weights, especially dumbbells, for body building exercises. However, the wider the range of muscle building exercises you do, the more effective your body building program will be.
Don’t get stuck on just one piece of equipment. Use them all in your body building exercises; free weights, gym machines and cardio machines to warm up and warm down.