Back is the largest group in the upper body (almost 50% of it) composed by a variety of muscles. Back training is separated into width and depth, reflecting in different exercises.

Pull downs and chin ups in the vertical level develop width, while rows on horizontal levels develop thickness.

Classic exercise to widen your lats is chin ups that can be done with different grips (reverse, wide, close V, behind the neck).

Classic exercise to add thickness and density in your back muscles are barbell rows. Back is also separated into upper, middle and lower muscle areas.

Trapezius occupies much of the upper area, but also part of middle, teres major and minor middle, rhomboids also.

Supraspinatus also located in middle back and lower portion of trapezius as well.
While latissimus dorsi are the wings of the back, that give most of its width.
Erector spinae is a muscle group in lower back than forms the so called Christmas tree along with lats under good definition.

Usually beginners have a wide but kind of flat and empty back, while advanced bodybuilders develop muscle density and thickness.

Dead lift is the king of back exercises and develops muscles from traps down to the whole spine.

Chest training consists of two major movements: the flies and opening of arms trying to embrace and pressing movement that involves different muscles as front delts and triceps.

Flyes, cross overs, pec dec machine are varieties of the first movement that focuses on outer pectoral area.

Bench press, dumbbell press and deeps are varieties of second movement that protrudes pectoralis major muscle.

According to the width of bench press, we stimulate either the outer or the inner area of pectoralis major muscle.
However a closer grip will focus on triceps, while the wide grip the front deltoids.

In order to keep the tension in pectorals we shouldn’t lock elbows in the peak of contraction and shouldn’t also attach dumbbells at the peak of the flyes, as the arms close.

Deltoids training deals with the different portions of deltoid heads: the front, the side and the rear, along with traps, located on top of them and to the sides of neck.

The basic deltoid exercise has to do with pressing movement either from standing position with military press and barbell, or through dumbbell press seated, while it stimulates front head to deltoid.

The lateral raises stimulate the side of delts and provides width in whole deltoid department, giving the illusion of reverse triangle and V taper, making waist to appear smaller.

Front raises also stimulate front head (or the anterior) and can be executed either by dumbbells, or plates. Rear head of delts (or posterior) also engage traps and lats to a degree, while the form of execution comes from bending over, of lying reverly on incline bench.

Finally, traps are stimulated from standing rows with barbell, or even dumbbells, with wide or narrow grip; and shrugs by elevating scapulas, either by barbells or dumbbells.

Arms consist of two main muscle groups, the biceps and triceps.
Biceps are of two heads, that flex and peak, while underneath them lies the brachialis muscle.

Tripecs consist of three heads, each of them stimulates by different exercises and it consists almost of 3/5 of brachium size.

Brachioradialis is the muscle that connects arm and forearm and basically is the largest muscle of forearm, lying on the outer portion of forearm and in the border between flexors with extensors of wrist (flexors are stronger).

Forearms also consist of red muscle fibers, with elevated lactate threshold; therefore they require higher reps range.

Legs are half of the body and along with back the basic muscle groups in order to win a show.

They require complete development to the front with quadriceps, in the inner area with adductors and to the read with hamstrings and gluteus muscle.

Energy demands are so high, that leg training is a separate session in the weekly schedule (sometimes we even split front from rear leg workout).

Quads have the inner and outer portion (vastus medius and lateral), stimulated differently accordingly to the stance width in squat, leg press and even leg extensions.

Thigh sweep is based on development of vastus lateral and can be also further enhanced by front squat and hack squat. Hams are stimulated either by bending over exercises (Romanian dead lift, hyperextensions), or by isolating machine movements (leg curls).

Glutes are mainly involved in every squat like movement (squat, lunges, steps), but also in leg press when feet are located upwards in platform under complete eccentric phase.

But also glutes are involved in part of abduction movements (the reverse of adductors to the inner portion of thigh).

Of course walking uphill will stimulate rear muscles (glutes, hams and calves), while running downhill stimulates the quads (or taking the stairs down).

Calve development consist of two major movements: the standing raises that stimulate gastrocnemius and the seated calf raises that stimulate the soleus.

Gastrocnemius is the diamond shaped muscle attached to a tick elongated tendon, the Achilles.

Soleus is a thick muscle that lied beneath gastrocnemius and provides thickness and width above the ankle.

Tibialis anterior is the muscle in front of tibia, which is stimulated by walking downhill (extends ankle joint).

White men are known to have well developed soleus (Dorian Yates, Paul DeMayo, Mike Matarazo, Jay Cutler,Branch Warren).

Blacks lack of this, however their elongated Achilles tendon gives them supremacy to sprinting (100m race).

Calves consist of slow twitch red muscle fibers that need higher press range (15/20) with heavy loads, since they have high lactose tolerance.

If I had to choose one exercise for each muscle group, that would be the following:

CHEST-> Incline bench
BACK ->Dead lift
DELTS -> Military press
BICEPS -> Barbell curls
LEGS -> Squat
ABDOMINALS -> Leg raises

Incline bench press
Incline flies
Dips V
Pullover (vertical on bench)

Chin ups (front grip, reverse grip, close V grip)
Bend over barbell rows
T-bar rows
Dead lift
Bend over dumbbell rows
One arm dumbbell rows

Standing military press
Seated dumbbell press
Side lateral raises
Front dumbbell raises
Bend over rear deltoid extensions
Standing upright ez bar rows (wide & close grips)
Barbell shrugs behind the neck

Close grip bech press
Dips (parallel grip)
French extensions (scull crushers)
Both arm triceps extensions with dumbbell
Barbell curls
Larry Scott ez bar
Concentration curls
Hummer curls
Zoltman curls

Barbell hack squat
Jefferson squat
Romanian dead lifts
Good mornings
Calf raises on one leg with dumbbell
Seated calf raises with dumbbell

This is called as myofibrillar hypertrophy that stimulates the central nervous system.

The main fact about muscle growth is breaking down muscle fibers, achieved by high intensity.

Either by heavy weights, or by time under tension and short intervals between sets.

But mainly it’s about heavy weights and 8/12 reps range.

Of course we realize that weight is purely subjective to each one of use and it means we have to train almost to failure (like no other rep is possible). 

Muscle growth is based on 8/12 reps range and 60-90 sec resting time between sets.

Muscle inflammation requires arachidonic acid, omega 6 fatty acid, plus the mechanical stimulus of resistance training to failure (lactate production).

Afterwards, proper sports nutrition along with specific supplementation (positive nitrogen balance) will ensure muscle growth.

Anabolic hormones include testosterone, AAS, growth hormone, and insulin like growth factor, insulin, mechano growth factor and myostatin inhibitors. S

upplements that help anabolic drive include creatine monohydrate, EAAs & BCAAs, glutamine and HMB.

Muscle growth deals with sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, while muscle strength with myofibrillar hypertrophy.

The former is achieved by the classic 8/12 range to failure, while the later with single reps of maximum strength.

Cross section of muscle fibers dealing with muscle strength and single reps (myofibrillar hypertrophy) appear thicker having more fibers of actin and myosin.

Muscles that lift heavy, have this muscle density and thickness and bodybuilders, who started as powerlifters, have this kind of physique.

Generally for muscle growth the main stimulus is to break down muscle that has to be repaired afterwards.

This is mainly achieved by heavy weights, however this is not exclusive.

During my bodybuilding carrier I realized that medium weights can still keep intensity high by keeping two out of three parameters of intensity.

Time under tension with strict form, full range of motion and short time intervals between exercises and sets.

Eccentric has to be 3x times slower than explosive concentric phase, while range of motion must be complete (better stretch, leads to better contraction).  

Strongmen, powerlifters and cross fit athletes also develop the so called resistance in strength.

This technically implies the lactate tolerance threshold and deals with numerous reps to failure.

Calves, forearms and abdominals obey to the category of slow twitch read muscle fibers that require high reps and heavy loads in order to develop.

The use of NSAIDs (ibuprofen, diclophenac, nimesulid, salicylic acid) post workout, suppresses muscle inflammation and inflammatory cytokines prostaglandins.

Therefore it’s not a good idea to take those drugs post workout in order not to hinder this process. The reason we fell sore after a long break from training, is the accumulation of arachidonic acid.  

Free weights and basic multi joint exercises with barbells and dumbells have to be done in the begging of each workout, when energy levels are higher.

Of course we need a good warm up and the start using some cables, or machines with light weight to pump some blood. Pre exhaustion isolation exercises are ideal before a multi joint basic exercise like bench press or squat.

So that would be pec dec, or leg extension machines.

Usually machines are used pre contest when energy levels are lower from dieting and stability is an issue in order to have safety and avoid possible injuries.

They are more about detail and practical for drop like sets. 

In multi joint basic movements several different muscles are participating.

We have the main primary muscles and the antagonistic ones during the eccentric movement.

While we also have secondary muscle that stabilize the joint and provide support.

For instance during dumbbell flies, pectoralis major contracts during concentric phase, while latisimus dorsi contracts during eccentric phase.

Moreover biceps brachi provides some stability in arm as it is flexed vertically in 90 degrees. Same valids for standing military press where front head of deltoid gets stimulated in first place, while triceps  plays a secondary role during the final part of the movement.

Similarly during squat lower back muscles (erector spinae) are playing major role to provide stability, being antagonistic with abdominal muscles.

For proper posture those muscles groups have to be equally trained, otherwise the more dominant muscle group will force the body towards that direction. 

We have to train accordingly to time of recovery, otherwise we jeopardize our gains and catabolize.

After all, we break our muscles in the gym, we feed them in the kitchen and we grow them in bed.

Usually one or two times per week we train a muscle group. In order to train wise, we need to train in pairs of muscle groups (chest and triceps, back and biceps)


Leave a Reply