It’s time to pump you up! Okay, you probably won’t be looking like a body builder right away, but the key to building muscle is to be consistent and stay motivated. And if you are afraid of looking lost in the gym, don’t be, because we are going to go over some basic workout routines for men.
Chest / Shoulders /Triceps
These are known as the “pushing muscles” because all the exercises involve some sort of pushing or pressing movement. For that reason, we want to focus on only these areas of our body.
- Bench Press (chest, triceps, shoulders) – The general rule is to start doing exercises that engage the most muscles, and in this case it would be the bench press, since it works out multiple areas. If you are new to the bench press, start with just the bar to get used to the motion. Don’t bounce the bar off your chest when bringing it down, and don’t lock your elbows when extending it. Also, try to have a spotter when doing bench press so you can get a full workout in. 3-5 sets.
- Military Press (shoulders, triceps) – You can use the smith cage or the military press machine to do this. Be sure to keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle when starting, and then extend your arms up all the way. Slowly bring the bar back down and back to your starting position. 3-5 sets.
- Tricep Pushdown (triceps) – Face the pulley machine with the attached handle bar or rope at about shoulder level height. Keep the bar close to your chest and push the bar down until it touches your thighs. 2 sets.
- Dips (triceps, chest, shoulders) – This may be difficult for some at first, so use the dip machine if your gym has one to assist you. Keeping your elbows at your side, lower your body until your triceps are parallel to the floor, then push yourself back up. Try to do as many as possible until you can’t go down any more. 3 sets.
“Leg day” is considered the most dreaded workout day for a lot of people . Leg muscles aren’t as glamorous as the chest or arms, but skipping out on this workout will definitely show. If you haven’t worked out your legs in a while, be prepared to be sore and have trouble sitting down for a few days.
- Stiff-leg Deadlifts (Hamstrings, calves, quads, glutes, lower back) – Considered the king of all workouts, deadlifts work out almost your entire lower body. It is important to do this exercise correctly because you can easily injure yourself doing this exercise, therefore this course might be more useful to you. With legs shoulder length apart, place your hands on the barbell with a reverse grip. Keeping your legs straight and your spine parallel to the ground, lift the barbell up, focusing on your hamstrings and lower back. Bring the bar back down but don’t let it touch the ground, and repeat. 3-5 sets.
- Squats – (quads, calves, glutes, hamstrings) – Using a squat rack or machine, place the barbell below your neck and behind your shoulders. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly outward. Some people go down all the way (butt to the floor), but if you are still beginning, I recommend bending your knees until you are in a seated position. 3-5 sets
- Calf Press (calves) – Using a leg press machine, keep your feet shoulder length apart. Push up against the platform as high as possible, flexing your calves. Hold that position for a second, then go back down to your starting position and repeat. 2-3 sets
Back / Biceps
The last part of the workout involves the “pulling muscles”. It’s easy to focus more on biceps than back because they are easier to show off, but having a balance between the two is very important.
- Overhand Pull-ups (lats, traps, deltoids, biceps) – Although there are many different variations of pull-ups, this version is the best for a complete back workout. Have your hands at shoulder length apart, and pull up until your chin is at the same level as the bar, then go down almost all the way. It may be difficult to do pull-ups at first, but as you keep trying them you will improve. 3 sets.
- Barbell Curls (biceps, forearms) – Stand up straight and hold the barbell in a shoulder-width grip. Your body should be stationary while curling the bar, and focus on contracting your biceps. Bring the bar back down slowly to the starting position, and repeat. 3-5 sets.
- Seated Cable Row (lats, biceps, shoulders) – Attach the v-bar to a rowing machine, and grip it so your palms are facing forward. Arch your back so your chest is sticking out while you pull the cable. Bring the cable back to the original position slowly, and then repeat the process. 3 sets
- Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown (lats, biceps, shoulders) – Using the lat pulldown machine, grip the bar with your arms fully extended. Curve your back so your chest is protruding, and pull down on the bar. Slowly let the bar go back up, and repeat. 2 sets
NOTE: You will notice that for most of the exercises, there isn’t an amount of reps listed. If you are trying to get buff and gain mass, you should be lifting more weight and doing less reps (3-6). For a more toned look, use less weight and do more reps (8-12).
If you are trying to develop a six-pack, just note that you will need to focus more on your diet than on ab exercises. Cardio exercises are also important so you can burn off the fat that is covering your abs. With that said, you do need to work-out your abs about twice a week. But don’t overdo it, because just like all of our other muscles, they need time to rest.
Bicycle – Lie on your back and put your hands behind your head. Bring your knees in to your chest and left your shoulders off the floor, rotating your legs as if you were riding a bicycle. Try to do about 15 reps or until failure. 2 sets
Chair Leg Raise – If your gym has one of these, simply stand on the chair and grip the handles. Bend your knees and contract your abs to lift your knees to about your hips. Try to do as many reps as possible. 2 sets minimum is a good way to start.
3 Important Tips
Breathing – The general rule is to breathe in on the way up/down, and breathe out when going back to your original position. For example, if you are doing bench press, you want to breathe in when you are pushing the barbell up, and breath out when you are bringing it down. Practice this as it will help you lift more and reduce your recovery time.
Stretching – Often overlooked, stretching the muscles you are engaging will help prevent injury and give you more flexibility during your workout. Stretching after lifting will help your overall muscle growth and could ease the soreness you feel the next few days.
Workout buddy – It can be difficult to stay motivated and go to the gym. Having a friend workout with you can eliminate that, as well as push you to your max when lifting. It can also be more fun when you have a friend there to chat with in between sets.
If you do not have access to a gym or certain equipment, doesn’t mean you can’t get as good of a workout. There are always other ways of losing weight and working out the same muscles just as effectively. So now that you have no excuses to start working out, what are you waiting for? Pump it up!