The first thing you must know about Bodybuilding Technique is that it is very different from Power/ Olympic Lifting Technique. As opposed to Power and Olympic Lifting where the load must be moved from point A to B in the most efficient way possible, Bodybuilding is about causing as much tension to the target muscles by deliberately making an exercise very inefficient. Furthermore, Power and Olympic Lifting may require the use of multiple muscle groups for any particular lift, but (while impossible in some cases) Bodybuilding requires as much isolation on specific muscles as possible. Strength Training can be seen in much the same light as Power and Olympic lifting in this regard, where neuromuscular adaptations are targeted more then gains in muscle mass.
STEP 1. Technique
'Technique' refers to proper form needed to contract the correct muscles for that movement, i.e. Pectoral muscles for Chest exercises. Correct form is vital for stimulating the target muscles enough to induce muscle growth. If proper form cannot be used throughout the exercise then the weight must be reduced until the exercise can be performed correctly.
Chest Pressing And Fly Movements
1. Upper arm 90 degrees to the body, excluding Decline Machine Press/ Cable Fly.
2. Chest puffed up, lower back arched, shoulders down and back - no shrugging.
3. Do not drop elbows in towards the torso as this takes tension away from the Chest and onto Shoulders + Triceps.
Shoulder Pressing And Lateral Raise
1. Upper Arm should follow the lateral plain of movement, i.e. Elbow positioned straight out to the side.
2. Elbows should start slightly below parallel with the knuckles pointing straight up. Extend until Elbows slightly bent.
3. Do not lock out at the top during Standard sets, (although locking can occur during other set structures).
Back Pulling Movements
1. Arch the entire spine top to bottom.
2. Keep Shoulders back as far as you can - no shrugging, never round the Shoulders or drop them forward.
3. Drive the Elbows as far back as possible during rowing movements, pinching shoulder blades together.
4. Drive the Elbows down as far as possible during pull down movements, (visualise them touching together toward your lower back). Use full Range of motion enabling a full stretch and full contraction each rep.
Lower Body Pressing Movements
1. Feet shoulder width apart, toes pointed slightly outwards. Wide + Narrow stance can be used in conjuction with '2.' Feet must remain flat on the platform at all times, pushing through the middle of the foot.
2. Knees must point in same direction as the toes at all times.
3. Never move knees inwards or outwards (side-to-side).
4. Movement must go beyond 90 degrees at the Knee joint for maximum contraction.
1. Isolation means single jointed exercise, only one joint is being used.
2. If unable to pivot only one joint, i.e. pivoting only Elbows during Bicep curls - the weight must be reduced.
3. Do not pivot at any other joint during isolation movements, as this reduces tension on target muscles, i.e. Shoulder joint pivoting during Bicep curls. The only exception being a slight pivot of the hips during forced reps.
STEP 2. Exercise Range
All exercises are performed in what is called a 'Tension Window' - the section of the exercise range where maximum tension is exerted on the target muscles and no rest takes place. We must eliminate points of the movement where our muscles could rest, i.e. at the very top or very bottom of the movement (note difference to strength + power training). So, as a strict rule we will never fully extend or lockout our joints on any movement (except Tricep + Quad extensions), as this takes tension away from the muscle and onto the joints and tendons (dangerous + ineffective).
STEP 3. Exercise Choice
Building your body is not just about trying to build muscle, but building muscles in the right places - for aesthetic appeal (beauty), strength balance and optimal posture. The objective is width at the top and bottom of the body (shoulders, upper back + thighs), and narrowing of the centre of the body (waist/ stomach). We only choose exercises that target the desired muscles in the way we want, and ignore exercises that target undesired muscles. Chest, Back, Legs + Calves, Arms and Abs are the target areas. You need 4-5 Exercises per large muscle group (Chest, Back, Legs), 2-3 per small muscle group (Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps, Abs) per week in a basic program.
E.g. Dead Lifts are predominantly a back movement, but they have been known to thicken out the waist muscularly as huge amounts of pressure travels through the core. Thickening of the waist will reduce the illusion of size and shape of the upper body. Squats are also not recommended for anyone taller than 170cm due to insufficient biomechanical movement and over emphasis on the Glute and Lower Back muscles. Over development of the Oblique muscles (side abs) can also cause waist enlargement, which is undesired.
STEP 4. Set Structure
What is a set? It is a group of repetitions on a particular exercise. How long is a set? A set is 30-40 seconds long, (can be longer when advanced). In repetitions this translates to 8-12 repetitions per set for upper body, and 10-15 repetitions for lower body. Set Tempo also forms part of the set structure. What is Set Tempo? It is the speed you perform the repetitions, and involves both raising and lowering of the weight. Our Tempo must be at least 2 seconds up (raising), 2 seconds down (lowering) - so an entire repetition should last 4 seconds. 10 repetitions = approx. 40 seconds. The length of the set is fundamental, as the longer your muscles remain under high tension the more Intense it is. Perform 3-4 Sets per exercise.
STEP 5. Rest Periods
The time you spend resting between sets and exercises is another factor that determines how Intense a workout is, which in turn results in how effective it is. Rest periods in-between sets for upper body + calves is 30-45 seconds rest maximum, and 60-90 seconds for Legs. Beginners might need to work up to this over time, but resting any longer and the body recovers for too long and Intensity is drastically reduced. An entire Bodybuilding workout should only last 45mins.
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