What’s the old saying? Rules were made to be broken. But let’s be clear: We’re not talking about gym etiquette here. You should always rerack your weights, wipe down your machine and respect people’s personal space. But there are some old school ideas that you should be ignoring if you want to get the most out of your time in the gym.
After all, you don't exactly go to the gym for fun, right? You go to seeresults. To accomplish a goal. And one of the most common goals, especially around this time of the year, is to get bigger. When you're planning on wearing shorts and swim trunks or taking off your shirt regularly, you want a bigger frame, defined muscles and better definition. Some guys don’t know exactly how to accomplish this, and others are still following some outdated wisdom - which means they’re missing out on the results they want. So feel free to break these four common gym rules in order to get bigger in all the right places.
The Rule: Lift slow and steady
Why to Break It: If you've ever worked out with a trainer, they no doubt reminded you to lift weights slowly and deliberately to maintain control. It's the foundation for good form. But if you're trying to boost the size of your muscles, fast lifts actually activate more of the muscle fibers that have the most potential to grow. According to a study published in Physiological Reports, participants that trained for eight weeks at a high intensity, low volume resistance program demonstrated increased bench press and lean body arm mass with fast rep resistance exercise training. While faster reps are generally linked to more explosive movements that result in power, training with a faster tempo can also produce gains in muscle size as well. Try to lift quickly and lower the weight a bit slower to maintain control and form.
The Rule: Change up your routine
Why to Break It: "You've got to switch things up to fool your muscles." Ever heard that? Us too. And there's certainly something to be said for keeping things interesting and not getting bored at the gym. But the less complex the body part, the fewer exercises are necessary to efficiently work it out. A prime example is your bicep - a very simple and small muscle. Dumbbell curls are an ideal way to stress them. So why do additional exercises or change up your style? This only swaps in inferior curls in the name of "variety." Instead, do more sets of or change up the speed and include it in every workout. This way, instead of doing something different, you're always doing what's most effective. And according to a 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sports Medicine, using a range of repetition durations is ideal if the primary goal is to maximize muscle growth.
The Rule: Full range-of-motion only
Why to Break It: A lot of lifters will tell you to always squat below parallel, lower a bar to your chest, and pull your bicep curl all the way to your shoulder. In theory, full range-of-motion is the way to go as it challenges the muscle to a much greater extent. However, partial ranges-of-motion can provide a unique stimulus for growth when used intermittently in your program. For instance, when using free weights for curls, the point of maximal loading on your biceps (when it’s most stimulated) is when your elbow reaches 90 degrees or when your forearm is parallel to the floor. No need to go further.
The Rule: Always do deadlifts last
Why to Break It: Serious lifters are often reminding us to start our workouts with heavy lifts like deadlifts, because that's when strength and energy are at their peak. But the same logic works in reverse. When you end your workout with deadlifts, you'll better target those exhausted dorsal muscles. By saving the deads to the end, you'll also have more energy earlier in your workout for other (and at-times, more complicated) exercises. This theory, of saving the heavier lifts for last, also applies for other compound moves such as bench press and squats. Moving those big weights is what will help you get bigger overall, forcing your entire body to grow.