Discover the seven pillars of musclebuilding wisdom
“Whenyou’re strengthtraining, the besttoolyoucan useisthebarbell”
If you ask a good coach about effective ways to get bigger and stronger, you’re likely to hear about moves that give you “a good bang for your buck”. What they mean by this is that for the amount of time and effort you put in to training, some exercises give you more in return than others. And if, like most modern men, you are time-poor and you want to make sure that your gym sessions are both effective and efficient, it makes sense to identify the most useful exercises you can do so that you can build your workouts around them.
With the help of top personal trainer Tom Wright, a man who has entered physique competitions and also lifts impressively heavy weights (he squats 220kg and benches 170kg), we’ve focused on the seven moves that will give you better and faster results when it comes to building strength and size than any others.
They are all barbell exercises, for one simple reason. “When you’re strength training, the best tool you can use is the barbell,” says Wright. “Nothing else comes close. Lifting for strength requires multijoint exercises known as compound lifts, which create tension through different muscles and movement patterns, and they stimulate thousands of nerves which are all part of getting stronger.”
But before you head to the gym with a new punishing seven-move routine, Wright has some advice about how to weave them into your training regime. “Because these movements require the recruitment of a large number of motor units and they provide a big stimulus to the central nervous system, I always put them at the start of training sessions. Generally you pick two of these exercises as your main lifts, such as squat and deadlift for a lower-body session, or bench press and barbell row for the upper body.”
Alternatively you could do a full-body strength session, performing an upper-body move followed by a lower. “This upper/ lower style of training can allow you to get more work done in a shorter amount of time because less recovery time is required when you move between different body parts. Another benefit of this method is increased heart rate as the body pumps blood from one area to another, leading to a higher metabolic rate and increased fat burning.”
The overriding benefit of barbell training, according to Wright? “The body’s ability to get stronger, fast. No other equipment allows such dramatic improvements in overall strength as the this one. Simply start with a weight you’re comfortable with, increase the load every week and watch your numbers fly up.”