The deadlift is a very effective compound exercise for strengthening the lower back, but also exercises many other major muscle groups, including quads, hamstrings and abdominals. It is a challenging exercise, as poor form or execution can cause serious injury. A deadlift is performed by grasping a dead weight on the floor and, while keeping the back very straight, standing up by contracting the erector spinae (primary lower back muscle). When performed correctly, the role of the arms in the deadlift is only that of cables attaching the weight to the body; the musculature of the arms should not be used to lift the weight. There is no movement more basic to everyday life than picking a dead weight up off of the floor, and for this reason focusing on improving one's deadlift will help prevent back injuries.
For some guys, the answer to the exercise question will always be that they're looking to put on muscle. Whether you have a very specific goal, like getting into figure contests and bodybuilding, or you just want to fill out a t-shirt, you have to start somewhere, even if you've always struggled to add and keep weight onto a skinny frame in the past.
One scary-sounding study says your health depends on x, but another says it depends on not doing x. One writer says CrossFit kills people, but the people in those pictures all seem ripped and happy. But so does that woman in yoga class. And, let's be honest, so does the Shake Weight guy! So does that online writer guy shouting at you about intermittent fasting, high reps, low reps, high-carb, low-carb, no-carb, steady-state, or HIIT.
Major variants: incline ~ (more emphasis on the upper pectorals), decline ~ (more emphasis on the lower pectorals), narrow grip ~ (more emphasis on the triceps), push-up (face down using the body weight), neck press (with the bar over the neck, to isolate the pectorals), vertical dips (using parallel dip bars) or horizontal dips (using two benches with arms on the near bench and feet on the far bench, and dropping the buttocks to the floor and pushing back up.)
Bodybuilders often split their food intake into 5 to 7 meals of equal nutritional content and eat at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours). This approach serves two purposes: to limit overindulging in the cutting phase, and to allow for the consumption of large volumes of food during the bulking phase. Eating more frequently does not increase basal metabolic rate when compared to 3 meals a day. While food does have a metabolic cost to digest, absorb, and store, called the thermic effect of food, it depends on the quantity and type of food, not how the food is spread across the meals of the day. Well-controlled studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water have demonstrated that there is no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.
The Old School bodybuilders didn’t have as many choices as today’s bodybuilder has. The gyms back in the 1970’s and ’80’s were typically smaller, hardcore gyms designed to appeal to the serious trainer. Most gym members were bodybuilders, powerlifters and others who were trying to get big and strong. Those establishments were equipped with plenty of free weights such as barbells, dumbbells, benches and some cable machines. However, cardio equipment like treadmills, stair masters and elliptical machines were not yet available. Also, many of the fancier machines, that help to isolate and “tone” muscles, were also a thing of the future.
The best way to develop muscle strength is for the muscle to contract to its maximum potential at any given time – maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). In resistance training, MVC is measured by the term XRM, where RM is the maximum number of repetitions that can be completed with a given resistance or weight. X is the number of times a certain weight can be lifted before the muscle fatigues.
Carbohydrates play an important role for bodybuilders. They give the body energy to deal with the rigors of training and recovery. Carbohydrates also promote secretion of insulin, a hormone enabling cells to get the glucose they need. Insulin also carries amino acids into cells and promotes protein synthesis. Insulin has steroid-like effects in terms of muscle gains. It is impossible to promote protein synthesis without the existence of insulin, which means that without ingesting carbohydrates or protein—which also induces the release of insulin—it is impossible to add muscle mass. Bodybuilders seek out low-glycemic polysaccharides and other slowly digesting carbohydrates, which release energy in a more stable fashion than high-glycemic sugars and starches. This is important as high-glycemic carbohydrates cause a sharp insulin response, which places the body in a state where it is likely to store additional food energy as fat. However, bodybuilders frequently do ingest some quickly digesting sugars (often in form of pure dextrose or maltodextrin) just before, during, and/or just after a workout. This may help to replenish glycogen stored within the muscle, and to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.