An exercise program that is too chest dominant can create a muscle imbalance that could be responsible for a rotator cuff injury that limits the function of the shoulder. In addition to bringing a load directly down on the chest while the scapulae are being held in place by a bench puts a tremendous amount of force on the anterior capsule of the shoulder, sitting at a computer for hours a day without the best posture can already place your shoulder and chest muscles in a shortened, weakened position that greatly enhances the risk of injury.
Except for competitive athletes, the amount of weight you can bench press is irrelevant to improving his quality of life as you age. If you only have a limited amount of time, the best way to get results is to make exercise as efficient and effective as possible, using movements that involve a number of muscles simultaneously. The body burns 5 calories to consume 1 litre of oxygen; therefore, the more muscles used during a workout, the more oxygen used and the more calories are expended. The following exercises can help increase lean muscle mass, improve definition and burn calories, and should be a part of every guy’s exercise program.
So when training, you should make sure you use the following exercises in your weekly workouts.
Squats and Deadlifts
The only difference between these two exercises is where the resistance is placed: on the body for a squat or picking a weight from the floor for a deadlift. Either way, squatting with resistance involves a lot of muscle mass, which means burning more calories during the exercise. An additional benefit of squatting or deadlifting is that each exercise requires you to maintain a strong, stable spine using abdominal bracing to strengthen the core muscles that help with the appearance of a flat stomach. It’s important to squat with good form so before you step under a bar or pull from the floor, start by learning the movement with goblet squats. A goblet squat involves holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of the chest during the exercise and can be a safe, effective way to load the hips while learning proper form and technique.
Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
The RDL involves hip flexion and extension while holding a resistance in front of the body. Proper form means the knees are slightly flexed while the spine remains long and straight throughout the range of motion. The movement should be from the hips, not the lumbar spine, and when done properly can strengthen the glutes, hamstring and adductor muscles responsible for extending the hip. Like the squat or deadlift, the RDL uses the stabilising muscles of the core, which means you’ll be working on a flat stomach while developing noticeable, well-defined glutes.
Chin-ups or Pull-ups
Whether in the gym or outside in a park almost nothing feels more primal than grabbing on to a pull-up bar and knocking out a few reps. The primary difference between a chin-up and a pull-up is hand position; the hands are palms-up during a chip-up and palms down during a pull-up. A palms-up position uses more of the biceps and places less strain on the elbow; it also puts the shoulder in an externally rotated position, which counteracts the effects of being at a computer all day. Either way, chin-ups or pull-ups with your own bodyweight (even modified or assisted) are a great way to strengthen the upper back and give you an overall more muscular appearance.
Bent-over Barbell Rows
In his research on the spine, Canadian professor Stuart McGill, Ph.D., noted that in addition to strengthening the muscles of the upper back, the barbell bent-over row develops important core strength to enhance spinal stability. The bent-over row can improve strength and definition of the back, while also strengthening the deep core muscles that can help give the appearance of a flatter stomach.
Standing Shoulder or Military Press
The shoulders sit on top of the spine, which sits on top of the hips. While seated shoulder presses are effective for developing shoulder strength they do not engage the hip and core muscles (and remember using more muscles = burning more calories). Standing shoulder presses require a solid, stable platform using the hips and deep stabilisers of the spine, making this exercise effective at developing core strength while improving the size and definition of the shoulder muscles.
Everyone’s favorites…push-ups can be the most effective way to strengthen your chest and require no equipment. While your body is lying on a bench during a chest press, push-ups require the hip and core muscles to create the stability for the shoulders and arms to move through a complete range of motion, making it another exercise that does multiple things at once. While you can lift more weight lying on a bench or sitting in a machine, neither will use the muscles that help flatten your abs like the push-up does. The good news is that when performed to fatigue, push-ups can initiate a hormonal response that leads to muscle growth, meaning that you don’t need to risk injury with a ton of weight to increase mass and definition.
Planks and Side Planks
A number of the exercises on this list use the deep core stabilisers as an integral part of the movement, something the normal plank is great for. Side planks, however, provide many of the same benefits as a traditional plank but balancing on one arm requires more strength from the shoulder. In addition, the side plank engages both the internal and external obliques, which, when strengthened together, can create a stronger mid-section.
While lifting weights is AWESOME, you can’t forget to add flexibility and mobility training and yoga provides both. The first yoga class you take will be a challenge of moving the body in different directions, which helps improve overall flexibility and coordination. Yoga can help reduce both physical stress from exercise and mental stress from work and life demands.