First, they involve big muscle groups. The more muscles involved simultaneously in an exercise the higher the anabolic effect of the movement, which causes overall muscle growth. Second, they are relatively easy on your joints, minimizing the risk of soft tissue injury. Unlike muscle, the soft tissue around the joints (tendons and ligaments) has limited blood supply and therefore it takes more time to heal. Muscle recovers faster than joints, therefore performing low impact exercises that do not overstress the joints favors recovery and speeds up muscle growth. Of course, weight lifting is a big stress for the neuromuscular system, anyway. But, choosing exercises that do not overstress the joints can make a difference in how fast you develop these muscles. In light of this, here are 25 faster muscle building exercises. For more exercise tips, check out Steadystrength.com Photo credit: www.BodyBuilding.com
The deadlift is regarded by many as the king of mass builders. And for a good reason since it works more muscles simultaneously than any other strength training weight lifting exercise. It effectively adds slabs of muscle to the lower and upper body. When properly executed it is risk free. It employs and strengthens over 25 major muscles including those of the entire back (lower, middle, upper), the shoulders, abdominals, forearms, hips (gluteal muscles) and the legs (hamstrings and quadriceps). The deadlift is a true measure of somebody’s strength. The deadlift world record is 1,015 lb by Benedict Magnusson.
Bent Over Row
It’s been called “Back Thickener” because it stimulates the growth of the entire back. It employs 8 major muscles in the lower, middle, and upper back. The bent over position also calls for the involvement of your abs (rectus abdominis and obliques) to stabilize your core region. It’s relatively difficult to perform bent over rows, which is why it is an overlooked exercise. To avoid injury you must keep the back straight, not rounded, and your trunk tight. A pronated (ovehand) grip increases the activation of the shoulder muscles while a supinated (underhand) grip places the emphasis on the lats and biceps. The problem with the bent over row is that while your back may be strong enough to row the weight, you may not be able to lift it because you just can’t stay balanced. The weight pulls you forward.
Barbell squats are excellent for increasing muscle size not only in the legs but in the whole body. Doing heavy squats triggers a systemic anabolic effect that promotes overall muscle growth. The squat employs mainly the quadriceps (quads), hamstrings and the gluteus maximus. It also involves the hip adductor (inner thigh) and other stabilizer muscles. There is some injury risk involved though, even if you do the exercise the right way. Placing a heavy barbell on your shoulders creates an unhealthy vertical compression on the spine. Moreover, in the lower part of the motion, knee injuries are common. To avoid knee injury, make sure your knees do not move beyond your toes. Other than that, heavy squatting guarantees rapid muscle growth.
Barbell lunges are an excellent, safer, alternative to barbell squats. Lunges work each leg separately but fully. When performing lunges, a big part of the resistance comes from your own body weight. Therefore the exercise requires relatively little weight on the barbell. If you do barbell squats with 240lb, it is unlikely you can lift more than 150lb on a barbell lunge. That means lunges are less taxing on your spine. In addition, since your knee does not travel beyond your toes, lunges are safer for your knees than squats.
When compared to squats, the leg press is a less compound movement. The leg press is performed from a seated position and therefore it employs fewer muscles than the squat. It’s easier and safer, too, because it is performed in a fixed pane of motion which requires minimal core stabilization. That means, your abs and back muscles are not that much involved. The relatively short hip Range of Motion (ROM) decreases the involvement of the hamstrings and glutes thus placing the emphasis on the quads. Still, the leg press is superior to the squat in that it can more directly target the quads. With the hip adductor (inner thigh) and stabilizer muscles less involved, and the seat support, the leg press allows you to focus all your energy on your quads and hit them really hard with a tremendous load.