The nation's top trainers spill the tricks of the trade to help you maximize muscle gain and strengthen from head to toeBy: The Editors of Men's Health
A great tip is an awesome thing. Whether it's an undiscovered restaurant, a sleeper stock, or a Sure Thing in the late double at Pimlico, savvy inside info imbues a man with confidence. Control. Strength.
Knowledge is power, baby.
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It's also the secret to a powerful body, as you're about to find out. In our never-ending mission to get you in the greatest shape of your life, we've grilled the world's top experts, combed our own archives, even eavesdropped on some cell-phone conversations to find 100 perfect fitness tips &mdash small gems that will make a huge difference in any man's life. Here are 20 of them geared toward lifting smarter and building bigger, stronger muscles.
Get ready: You're about to feel the power &mdash and have the body to show for it.
Use dumbbells, barbells, and machines—in that order. "The smaller, stabilizer muscles you use with dumbbells fatigue before your larger muscle groups," says Charles Staley, a strength coach in Las Vegas. So progress to machines, which require less help from your smaller muscles, as you grow tired.
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When doing lat pulldowns, don't wrap your thumb around the bar. Instead, place it on top, alongside your index finger. This decreases the involvement of your arm muscles, so you'll work your back harder. Works for pullups, too.
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If you don't like an exercise, start doing it. "You're probably avoiding it because you're weak at it," says Michael Mejia, C.S.C.S., Men's Health exercise advisor.
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Bend your wrists to work your biceps harder. That is, extend them backward slightly—and hold them that way &mdash while you do arm curls.
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Work opposing muscle groups &mdash your biceps and triceps, for instance &mdash back-to-back for a faster workout. "While one muscle is working, the other is forced to rest," says Staley. You won't need as much time between sets.
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Do dips with your elbows in and your body straight to work your triceps. But lean forward and flare them out to focus on your chest.
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Don't think about pulling yourself up when you do chinups. Instead, imagine pulling your elbows down. The exercise will seem easier.
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Follow this simple formula to build more muscle: Multiply the amount of weight you lift for a particular exercise by the total number of times you lift it. Try to increase that number every workout by lifting heavier weights, increasing your repetitions, or doing more sets.
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Do lunges in reverse. This forces your front leg to work throughout the entire exercise. Use the same movement pattern as in a traditional lunge, but step backward instead of forward.
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Exercise one arm at a time. Do a set of shoulder presses with your left arm, then do a set with your right. "You'll get higher-quality sets than if you work both arms at the same time," says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S., a trainer in Canada.
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To strengthen your grip, wrap a towel around the bar when you do arm curls. It makes the bar thicker, which forces your forearm muscles to work harder.
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