11 Effective Exercises to Build Muscle mass

To learn how to get ripped you not only need to learn about nutrition but also the best exercises to build muscle mass.  When you first start trying to increase muscle mass, there are so many muscle building exercises that it can be challenging to sift through them all and find the ones that allow you to gain muscle mass fast.
To help make things easier for you we have provided you with an overview of what we consider to be 11 of the most effective exercises to build muscle mass to get you started on the right track.  Ideally, you will want to perform 6-12 repetitions of each of the following muscle building exercises for 3 to 5 sets with a weight that is around 70% of the maximum weight you can lift (that means you should find the last set difficult to lift due to muscle exhaustion).

3 Effective Body Weight Exercises To Build Muscle 

As the name suggests, bodyweight exercises use your own weight to create resistance and build muscle mass. This is great as these exercises do not require you to purchase any exercise equipment other than maybe a pull-up/chin-up bar or use the bar of a smith machine.

1. Wide Grip Pull-Ups

wide grip pull up

Set up a bar (such as the Smith Machine) so that it is horizontal to the ground and at arm’s length above you. Lying directly under the bar so that it is above your nipple line, place your hands on the bar as far apart as possible with knuckles facing up.

Breathe in as you squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your chest up towards the bar until it is almost touching. Breathe out as you lower yourself slowly back down making sure not to lock your elbows.

2. Chin Ups

chin ups

Find a pull-up bar that is high enough so that your feet are off the ground when gripping firmly.
Place your hands about hip-width apart with your palms facing toward you or away from you depending on whether you want to focus on your triceps or biceps as you raise yourself up. For triceps face, your palms away from you and for biceps have your palms facing you.
As with pull-ups, breathe in as you squeeze your shoulder blades and pull your chest to the bar and your chin above the bar, then breathe out as you slowly lower yourself back down. Once again try not to lock your elbows at the end of each repetition.

3. Push-Ups

push ups

There are many options when it comes to performing push-ups (e.g. wall, bench, floor, knees, full, inclined, ball, close, normal and wide position) and the variation you choose will often depend on your level of fitness and area of the chest you are targeting.
For the full floor push up, start on your hands and knees, and place your hands at shoulder-width apart, wrists just forward of your shoulders. Step your feet back so you are resting on your toes and suck in your tummy and core to support your back.  Be sure your body forms a straight line before you start.
Breathe in as you bend your elbows to bring your chest down towards the floor, stopping about an inch or two above the ground. Breathe out as you slowly push up and straighten your arms, being careful not to lock your elbows.

5 Free Weight Exercises To Build Muscle Mass 

Free weight exercises are perfect for building muscle mass thanks to the extra resistance added by barbells and dumbbells. Using free weights also gives you a greater range of exercises to choose from while activating your stabilizer muscles. This results in your building even more muscle mass.
The following 5 free weight exercises can be done with either a barbell or a set of dumbbells.

4. Back Dumbbell Row

back dumbbell row

Stand or sit so that you can bend forward slightly from your hips while holding a pair of dumbbells, let your arms hang by your sides.
Breathe in as you pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together raising the weight up towards your chest. Breathe out as you return your arms to their original position lower the weights.

5. Bench Press (Decline and Incline)

incline bench press

The bench press can be performed in many ways – flat, on an incline, on a decline, on a bench, on a ball, on a machine, with a barbell or with dumbbells.

The following instructions explain to you how to perform the bench press flat with a barbell but feel free to incorporate variations of these to prevent muscle confusion and add muscle mass quicker.

Lay on the bench with the barbell in line with your chest. Place your hands on the bar, hip-width apart and knuckles facing up. Lift the barbell off the rack and hold above your chest with your arms straight.
Breathe in as you slowly lower the bar towards your chest stopping just before it touches your chest. Breathe out as you slowly raise the bar back above your chest and straighten your arms, being careful not to lock your elbows.
To perform a bench press on an incline tilt the bench up approximately 30 degrees and to perform a bench press on a decline tilt the bench down approximately 15 degrees. Once you have set the angle you can perform the bench press as you would a flat bench press.

6. Lunges

walking lunges

Lunges are another exercise that can be performed several ways and you can use a barbell or dumbbells to add resistance to your lunges.
To perform lunges with a barbell, place the bar across the back of your shoulders so that it rests comfortably. If you prefer to use dumbbells you can either hold these by your side or rest them on your shoulders (holding onto them of course).
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your abs in. Step forward with your left foot and drop your right knee towards the floor (but don’t let it touch the floor) as you do so, making sure your left knee forms a 90-degree angle. Many beginners perform this exercise incorrectly with their knee too far in front of the foot causing unnecessary tension on their ankles.
Squeeze your glutes as you push back through your left heel and return to the start position.  Repeat this with your right leg.

7. Military Press

seated military press

To perform a military press stand or sit so that your abs are contracted and your shoulders are back while holding a barbell with your palms facing forwards and the bar resting on your anterior deltoids.
Breathe in as you push the barbell towards the ceiling being careful not to lock your elbows. Breathe out as you slowly lower the bar back to your chest.

8. Bicep Curls

Bicep curls are a great exercise to build muscle mass and can be performed with cable machines, resistance bands, dumbbells, barbells, and EZ-bars. You can even perform full curls, half curls (upper or lower), concentration curls or hammer curls, either together or alternating.
The following instructions are for performing standing full bicep curls with a barbell.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands resting by your sides as you hold the bar with your palms facing forward. Keeping your wrists strong raise the bar upwards towards your chest as you breathe in, and as you breathe out slowly lower the bar to the start position.

3 Weight Machine Exercises to Build Muscle Mass 

Gym machines are a fantastic way to perform exercises to build muscle mass and give you many options you wouldn’t normally have from bodyweight or free weights alone.
Before you start an exercise on a gym machine, be sure to adjust the machine and the weight to what is best and safest for you.

9. Leg Press

The leg press is a great exercise for building muscle and strength in your legs. There are many different leg press machines available that allow you to perform the leg press in a seated position or lying down.

Depending on the machine your gym has you may push against a plate to move the seat/bench backward or push the footplate forward.

Lying leg press – To perform a lying leg press adjust the weight machine so that your knees are at a 90-degree angle before you start and adjust the weight of the machine. Place your feet hip-width apart and push against the footplate until your legs are almost straight then slowly returning to the start position.
Seated leg press – To perform a seated leg press adjust the machine so that your hips and knees are at a 45-degree angle and adjust the weight of the machine. Place your feet on the footplates and press the plate until your legs are almost straight then slowly return to the start position.

10. Leg Curl

The leg curl is one of the best weight training exercises that target the hamstring muscles.  To perform a leg curl you must first adjust the leg curl machine to suit your height. Lay your stomach on the bench and place your calves under the footpad and curl the pad with your feet towards your butt.  Slowly lower the pad to its starting position to complete one repetition of this muscle-building exercise.

11. Calf Raises

Calf raises are one of the easiest muscle building leg exercises. To complete a calf raise simply sit in a calf raise machine and adjust it so that the top pads fit comfortably against your thighs. Push up with your legs until you are on your toes, raising the weight up towards the ceiling. Slowly lower the weight down until your feet are flat again.
So there you have it, 11 simple exercises to build muscle mass that is a great place to start your journey to get a ripped body. Follow the instructions, perform 3-6 sets of 6-12 repetitionsgradually increase the resistance(weight) you use, and you’ll be building muscle mass in no time.

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