5 Great Exercises That Will Help Build Muscle

A recent New York Times article looked at the importance of getting stronger and to build muscle. It report that, according to researchers, only 6 percent of adults performed at least two strength workouts each week. Everyone knows that regular strength training is one of the best time and energy investments for better health. Compared to other countries, however, our physical inactivity and obesity numbers are simply embarrassing.

Why Build Muscle?

Because muscle starts to deteriorate when we reach our 30’s. After age 40, we lose on average 8 percent of our muscle mass every decade, and this phenomenon, known as sarcopenia, continues to accelerate at an even faster rate after age 60.

The good news is exercise scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging found that doing just two strength training sessions each week can reverse age-related cellular damage that causes muscle atrophy.

Muscle Index

In 2014, researchers at UCLA Medical school found something very interesting. They followed more than 3,600 healthy subjects for about a decade. In that study they noticed a subjects muscle mass was closely linked to their lifespan. They found this out by pinpointing their “muscle index” or someones muscle mass divided by your height squared. “Those who were in the group with the highest muscle index had the lowest mortality, while those who had the lowest muscle index had the highest mortality rates.” Their published research “showed that muscle index was an even better predictor of premature mortality than obesity.”

To build and maintain muscle mass you need to engage in regular strength training. Here are what many consider five of the “better” exercises to perform in order to build muscle and maintain it as you age. Each exercise also offers progressions to try before attempting each exercise, if needed.

Deadlift

The deadlift is easily one of the best exercise you can do to build muscle. It’s a valuable compound movement targeting the back, hips, legs and grip. It’s also ideal for developing posterior chain strength. The movement, however, can be challenging for some. If that is the case, there are some suggested progression options for you prior to the deadlift.

Progressions: Hex-bar deadlift and Romanian deadlift

Squat

Considered the king of the compound lower body movements for building muscle at any age. Best advice, especially if you’re young or a training novice, master the front squat prior to progressing to a barbell squat.

Progression: DB Wall Squat, Front Squat, Partial Squats

Pull Ups

There is not a better compound back exercise you can do for the upper extremity. The movement recruits many muscle groups while offering multiple training variation like wide/close grip or assisted pull ups.

Progression: Inverted Row, Machine Assisted, Assisted (Band) Pull Ups, Chin-ups

Bench Press

Considered a favorite exercise for the majority of gym goers. It incorporates a large number of muscles to execute the movement. You can do it from an incline/decline position or use dumbbells, barbell, kettlebells or cables.

Progression: T-Push Ups, Incline/Decline Push Ups, Weighted Push Ups

Shoulder Press

A great compound exercise to build muscle for the deltoid group. It really works your entire body when performed from a standing position. Holding weight overhead also works the core.

Progression: Kettlebell Thrusters, Dumbbell/Barbell Push Press

One of the first things you might have noticed, all five of our suggested exercises are compound movements. Add some of these muscle building exercises into your next Jefit program. If they are not the answer to your current needs, try the suggested progressions to build up instead.

Use Jefit App to Record & Track Your Workouts

Jefit app was named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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Muscle Growth Requires: Intake, Timing and Distribution of Protein

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Many Jefit app users spend a lot of time working hard in the gym, lifting the appropriate amount of weight to progressively overload their muscles. Additional focus is also placed on optimal sleep and nutrition. With all that, they may still have trouble building lean muscle mass, commonly known as a “hard gainer.”

Key to Muscle Growth? Protein Intake, Timing and Distribution

Preventing sarcopenia can be a serious challenge for the majority of people over the age of 35. Performing 2-3 weekly strength training sessions can help your cause. Also, eating a balanced diet with adequate protein are essential components. Finally, eating an additional 500 calories a day will keep your body in an anabolic state. Still having trouble adding muscle? Monitor the amount of daily protein as well as how it’s distributed throughout your day.

Protein Research

Building muscle requires adequate daily protein intake. Research has demonstrated eating protein every three hours, on your strength training days, is needed to build muscle. A 2013 study by Areta and colleagues, published in the Journal of Physiology, showed this to be true. Consuming 20 grams of whey protein every 3-hours, over 12-hours, following strength training, showed superior results for stimulating muscle protein synthesis. The key differences in the study were the timing and distribution pattern of the whey protein. The findings of this novel study were:

“the results from the study provide new information demonstrating the timing and distribution of protein ingestion is a key factor in stimulating rates muscle protein synthesis.”

“this study emphasizes that the timing of protein intake is a separate variable and a crucial factor in the development of optimal nutritional strategies to maintain and/or enhance peak muscle mass in humans.”

Journal of Physiology

A study published in the Journal Nutrients in 2020 by Hudson and colleagues looked at additional protein requirements. The results supported eating at least one meal containing a sufficient quantity of protein. This applies to all adults already consuming 0.8 – 1.3 grams of protein a day. This in turn, helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis, independent of daily distribution, and is helpful in promoting skeletal muscle health. The study went on to mention that the researchers believe there has been a shift in thinking about dietary protein requirements. Their belief is it has gone from a daily requirement to an individual meal requirement. As an example, eating 30 grams of protein per meal, plus one protein shake, would equate to 120 grams a day.

References

Areta JL, Burke LM, Ross ML et al. (2013). Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. Journal of Physiology 591(9): 2319–2331

Hudson, JL et al., (2020). Protein Distribution and Muscle-Related Outcomes: Does the Evidence Support the Concept? Nutrients 12(5): 1441. doi: 10.3390/nu12051441

Try Jefit App

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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Six of the Best Exercises to Build Strength

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Look at any exercise book, website or app and you can find hundreds of different exercises. Those exercises can be performed hundreds of ways and those hundred can turn into thousands of different variations. The Jefit app, as an example, features more than 1300 different exercises. What are the best exercises to build strength though? Let’s take a look at a few of them.

The Deadlift is One of the Best Exercises to Build Strength

Overall strength is needed for activities of daily living and it’s obviously very important for any athletic activity or workout. The deadlift is a great exercise because its whats known as a compound exercise. Meaning, multiple muscle groups work concurrently. As a result, an increase in strength will occur in the core, legs, back, hips and grip – basically head to toe! The glutes and hamstrings are the prime movers during this exercise. An additional nine other muscles also get worked. The deadlift is great for improving hip extension strength.

TRAINER TIP: Use a Hex Bar, if possible, it’s a lot easier to use than a barbell when initially performing a deadlift.

Squat

The squat is always a main exercise feature in any strength program and for good reason. Squats are also great for a beginner level person compared to say a deadlift. Knee-dominant exercise, like the squat, target the quadriceps muscles. The glutes also come into play during the execution of the movement. In addition, like the deadlift, nine other muscle groups also get hit.

TRAINER TIP: Many strength coaches actually teach the front squat before back squat. It’s not about the amount of weight a person uses but rather using good technique and moving through a full range-of-motion. As a former assistant strength coach at UConn, we use to have all our athletes start fresh because so many coming in had bad habits. We gave each student-athlete a chronological training age of zero. Once they had proper technique down they then progressed to bigger and better things with the squat and other movements.

Pull-Up

This exercise can be very challenging for a novice but it’s a great way to build upper body strength. The pull-up uses an overhand grip compared to a chin-up, which has the palms facing towards the person. This is a great exercise to test your upper body “pulling” strength. They can tell someone a great deal about where they’re at training wise. Seven muscle groups get stronger doing this compound movement, including the latissimus dorsi, and biceps.

TRAINER TIP: If pull-ups are too difficult initially, try chin-ups first or do negative pull-ups. Try jumping up and let yourself return to the starting position in a slow controlled manner. Also, try either an inverted row or connect a giant band to try assisted pull-up using less of your body weight, as additional options.

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Overhead Military Press

Overhead Press

An efficient way to build shoulder, core and overall strength is by lifting weight overhead. Lifting a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell overhead builds strength in the shoulders, back, arms and core. Any vertical pressing movement also works different muscle that act as stabilizers from the foot up through the shoulder complex.

TRAINER TIP: Remember to move the head forward as you press the weight overhead. Also, keep areas of your body, like glutes and core braced (or tight) when performing the exercise.

Bent-Over Row

The Bent-over Row, using a barbell or dumbbells, is one of the best pulling exercises someone can do. It ranks near the top for exercises in terms of muscle recruitment. See this previously published article on the Jefit blog that discusses this topic more in depth. The exercise is perfect for any push/pull routine and is a nice compliment to a barbell or dumbbell chest press.

TRAINER TIP: Work first on performing scapular retraction before any pulling or rowing motion is attempted.

Bench Press

Saving the best for last, the bench press is a versatile exercise that can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells and kettlebells. It’s a great exercise to build upper body strength, especially in the chest, shoulder and arms. As a result, it’s a great compound or multi-joint exercise and a must in a strength training routine.

TRAINER TIP: Change it up every 4-6 weeks. Meaning, make your grip wider, more narrow, switch barbell to dumbbells, change the speed of the movement, adjust the incline on the bench, try a decline position, etc.

Adding any of these six exercises into your routines at any given time will help build strength in both the prime movers and smaller stabilizing muscle as well. These particular exercises are some of the best exercises to build strength. Good Luck and Stay Strong!

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