The Best Weight Lifting Exercise to Gain Muscle

Aug 2 12:01 2008 Tony Schwartz Print This Article

Is any weight lifting exercise as good for muscle building as the back squat?  Maybe not, but these sure do come close.

The back squat is known as the classic weight lifting exercise.  No other exercise works as many muscles as efficiently as the back squat.  With this one weight lifting exercise you train your quads,Guest Posting hamstrings, calves, glutes, lower back, upper back, and abs.

Using all of these muscle groups with heavy weights creates a positive hormonal response that can cause muscle growth throughout the rest of your body as well.  Because of this the back squat rightfully deserves its place as the king of weight lifting exercises.

But sometimes we need some variety.  Whether it’s because we’re bored with our current program, want to target specific muscles, or need to work around an existing injury, sometimes back squats aren't the best option.  For these occasions there are some fantastic alternatives to the classic weight lifting exercise:

Front Squat

The execution of the front squat is very similar to the back squat, except that the bar is in front of the head instead of behind it.  Make sure the bar rests on the front of the shoulders and that the weight is not simply supported by the hands, as this puts unnecessary stress on the wrists and limits the amount of weight that can be used.  You can have the hands under the bar with the elbows pointed straight out in front, or simply cross the arms and put the hands on top of the bar.  Either variation is fine as long as the weight is stable and relatively comfortable.

The advantage of the front squat is that the body must maintain an upright posture in order to avoid dropping the weight.  This means you can't use as much weight as with a back squat, but you’ll put more targeted stress on the quads, and less on your hamstrings and glutes.

Zercher Squat

This is one of the least used, but one of the most effective squat variations.  To perform this weight lifting exercise, begin standing with your arms at your sides and your elbows bent to 90-degrees (like the mid-point of a biceps curl).  From this position put the bar in the crooks of your elbows and clasp your hands together in front of you.  If the bar is hurting your elbows (and it will if the weight is heavy enough) then you can place a thick towel or other padding between the bar and your skin.

From this position you simply squat down until the bar touches the tops of your thighs and then stand back up.  This is a great weight lifting exercise for the lower and upper back, as well as the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Split Squat

This variation is very similar to a lunge, and is often referred to as the Static Lunge.  Whatever you call it, it’s a tremendous weight lifting exercise for the legs.  Set-up with one leg 2-3 feet in front of the other.  From this position, squat down by bending the knees of both legs until the knee of the rear leg softly touches the floor and then stand back up.  This can be done with a bar on your back or dumbbells held at your sides.  Don’t change legs or bring the feet back together until you have completed the set, otherwise you’ll be doing a lunge.

The leg in front will bear the brunt of the weight, but the rear leg also gets a good workout.  Because of this, make sure to recover adequately before changing legs.

Use these variations along with a well-designed training and nutrition program and you will gain muscle in no time!

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Tony Schwartz
Tony Schwartz

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