The best way to add muscle is to do compound exercises. Compound exercises are the kind of exercise that work more than one muscle group and although compound exercises are harder to do they tend to have a bigger payback in muscle mass gained.
If you are looked to lose weight compound exercises are also good as they tend to concentrate on the massive muscle groups that will help to increase your metabolism.
One thing to really concentrate on when doing compound exercises is to make sure that you are controlling the weight on the up as well as down part of the rep so that you do not cheat and not use those weaker muscles at all. Slow and controlled is the message when doing these exercises
A great example of the difference between an isolated exercise and a compound exercise is Flyes, which are very isolated to your pectoral muscles compared to bench presses which hit your pecs, deltoids, and triceps. So know that you know the difference here is that list.
As already mentioned bench presses are great as they will work all of your chest, shoulders and triceps. There are three kinds of bench press. Inclined bench presses get the upper part of your chest and shoulders more, flat bench presses hit all of your chest and declines (when you are using a decline bench) are best for the lower part of your chest and triceps although doing too many decline bench presses will really give you a saggy looking chest.
This is the classic exercise where you sit upright and push a barbell up from behind your neck straight up above your head. Military presses push your anterior deltoid (front of shoulder) and again your triceps and are a great mass gainer for both.
Doing squats are great for all of your core muscles as well as the muscles in your legs. This is perhaps the toughest and best workout for gaining mass ever devised. As you likely know the biggest muscles in your body are your quadriceps on the front of your legs. To do squats properly you need to take care that you lower back is not bowed in or out and to do this a weight belt or lower weight helps most. Also when doing squats I have found that my calves do not extend far enough so I have always rested my heels on a block of wood.
Using a machine row is a great way to work your whole back and is hard to emulate doing free weights. This exercise works all of your back muscles, upper and lower and also work your biceps. After doing a few sets of rows your whole back will be sore. Doing rows it is again important to protect your lower back by making sure that you do not twist it in any direction.
Pullups are done by holding a barbell with both hands fairly close together and then pulling up towards your chin. Pullups work your biceps, rear deltoids and your traps. Traps are the muscles on either side of the top of your back beside you neck. This a great exercise I find for opening up and strengthening the very top of my body.
OK now that you know the exercises there is one thing that is important to note and that is the locking out of your joints. Over years of lifting weights locking out at the tops of bench presses or squats or really any exercise can lead to joint problems. On every rep try to get right to the end of the extension until you are about to lock your joint and then stop. Locking your joints is bad and is one thing to really remember especially when lifting the heavy weights that compound exercises allow you to lift.
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