Recently I have been experimenting with trying to add some total body size. I know from experience the best way to do this is to throw in a bit of volume training and also to involve compound exercises.
Compound exercise is a type of exercise which involves several muscle groups at a time. This is very beneficial for the body since you can usually workout 3-4 muscle groups.
When you involve several muscle groups in one movement you trigger huge potential for muscle growth via the hormonal effect that takes place. Not to mention workouts become far more time efficient, the other benefit is that compound movements allow for progression that is easy to gauge as you can see strength increase.
Bench Press or Dumbbell Bench Press -- This is the king of chest and upper girdle builders as it encompasses not only your entire chest but will also use the front of your shoulders and triceps to a large extent. Your abdominals will also come into play when stabilising the entire body. Checkout the video below for an essential safety/technique tip…..
Dips - One thing I have noticed about dips is that if you can do them with good form and use a large weight your chest will be pretty impressive. I think this comes through the huge amount of strength and stability that is built not only in the chest but the shoulders, traps, abs and triceps. They really do trigger growth in a large part of the body. The only problem with dips comes in their safety when form slips, we must not forget the huge weight load and strain these put on our shoulders.
When doing dips make sure you keep form and only progress in weight when you are confident that you have mastered your current load. If you keep good form the results will be outstanding.
Dumbbell Pullover - I have been a big fan of these since I read Ellington Darden’s HIT work . He is a huge proponent of the pullover as an upper body mass builder. It works so well as pullovers activate pretty much the whole upper body plus they:
Stretch out the chest and ribage
Transition between chest and back in the same workout
This is a huge advantage as you can actually increase your upper bodies size by elongating and expanding the ribcage. The other great thing about pullovers is that they will activate your core. when done correctly they make for a strenuous Abdominal builder. Making for a hidden total body compound.
Pull-ups - Pronated, supinated doesn’t matter. Whichever grip you do pull-ups with is not important as they do a great job of building not only your lats but your biceps and again the core which works hard to stabilise. When it comes to gauging progression with back strength nothing is better than the pullup.
Once you can do 10 good reps it is time to add weight either with a dumbbell between your feet or hanging a plate from a belt. As someone once told me if you can get strong on one pressing exercise and with pull-ups you are well on your way to an impressive physique.
If you want to build an efficient upper body workout you cannot go far wrong with combining these four exercises in the order described above. Try doing 3 sets of 8-10 reps of each taking 90 seconds rest in between sets, your other goal is to increase the weight with good form as often as possible. Remember to leave good recovery time between workouts as these compounds can take their toll on the body.
Simply combining this workout once a week with lifestyle activities like sports, cycling/walking and stretching on off days can yield some impressive results.