5 Moves to Emphasize Size

Looking to Go From a Size XL to An XXL?
Then It's Time For You to Get Back To Basics!

For some reason, folks like to get fancy when it comes to building muscle. Every week we see new tricks, gadgets and loading parameters sure to confuse the hell out of anyone that tries to use them. In reality, building size is simple—it requires consistency, effort and exercises that recruit a ton of muscle mass.

Be forewarned; this article isn’t going to dazzle you with wizardry, it’s going to secure you with the simplicity of the five basic barbell moves that emphasize building size. What you’re about to read isn’t news, but it’s exactly what we all need to remember when training to enlarge muscle mass.

1. The Deadlift

Deadlifting, in all of its glorious forms, is the most nervous system taxing of all the barbell lifts. It requires a firm grip, which sends a powerful message throughout the nervous system, and it recruits most of the body’s muscle mass for completion. Long story short: it’s an effective and efficient muscle builder.

While deadlifting is likely the most effective muscle builder, we must, however, remember that deadlifting is the most recovery intensive of all the big lifts. Load it up too heavily, and too often, and you’ll likely drop your body into the trash. The road to recovery lengthens and training frequency, and intensity, will have to drop.

But if we load deadlifting efforts consistently in the 50% to 85% of one rep maximum range we can continue to build muscle while staying ahead of the recovery curve.

And, as a distinct deadlifting rule, always leave two to three reps in the tank at the end of deadlift sets. It may sound soft, but it’s important. Consistently pushing deadlift sets to near failure causes more harm than good. The likelihood of injury increases and the overall stress is difficult to recovery from.

2. The Bench Press

It’s the typical bro test. ‘Hey, buddy, how much do ya bench?’ If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it 1,000 times. While the bench press is often overemphasized in some lifting circles, it’s a productive upper-body mass builder.

Here’s the rub with bench press. It's often allotted too much training volume. This means during each set and cumulatively throughout the training day and training week.

High-rep bench press sets, those above eight, do more harm than good. Why? It’s at this level of fatigue that shoulder issues reveal themselves. Shoulders are often asymmetrical from left to right, when fatigue sets in these discrepancies are more glaring. This is when we begin to see form decline and weird kayaking-esque movements take the bar from chest to lockout. It’s no good for anyone.

Rather than pushing bench press sets into the eight rep and beyond range, do most of your bench pressing in the three to six rep range. Benching in this rep range keeps the weights heavy enough to build muscle while avoiding the pitfalls of fatigue.

If it’s high rep work that you desire, trade out the barbell for dumbbells or kettlebells. Also, high-rep push-ups will get the job done.

3. The Barbell Row

Rowing is the all-too-often forgotten barbell lift. As a lifting populace, we’re enamored by squats, deadlifts and presses, but we forget the value of bending over and pulling the barbell from the ground to our chest. That value is added back mass and a sturdy posterior chain.

Barbell rows are great for heavy sets and volume sets—the caveat is that the back remains flat and the head stays still. If you can maintain these two requisites, row to your heart’s content. Remember all of that volume we avoid with bench pressing? Barbell rows are a great way to reintroduce volume into your program.

4. The Front Squat

Stop traffic! I’m specifically emphasizing the front squat over the storied, king of all exercises, the back squat.


Simple. The front squat reinforces good squatting form. Squat with good form and you can squat with more volume and more often. They also make the core strong as hell, which is important for all aspects of life.

Squatting, unlike deadlifting, can usually be done with increased frequency. It’s not as nervous system intensive because we don’t have to grip the bar. The key is putting your body into positions that it can handle—loading the hips rather than the low back, staying upright rather than rounding over. It’s much easier to achieve good positions with the front squat than the back squat.

Load the bar up and front squat. Front squat for reps and front squat heavily. Your legs, back and core will become monstrous S.O.B.s!

5. The Overhead Press

The overhead press is a serious size and strength builder. It’s important, however, to have the raw materials to barbell overhead press before you rocket the bar above your cranium.

Can you raise your arms straight overhead without your rib cage moving?  Can you reach behind your head and touch the shoulder blade on the same side as your moving arm? Can you reach behind your back and touch the shoulder blade opposite your moving arm?

Yes to all of those and a clear shoulder injury history? Press your little heart out. No to those? Let's find a better fit than barbell pressing.

Treat the barbell overhead press with the same regard as bench pressing. Use it for heavy sets of three to six reps and avoid high-rep, fatigue-building sets. Go after high rep sets with dumbbells and kettlebells.

If you’re sans the raw materials we discussed above, do all of your overhead pressing with kettlebells and dumbbells. If these implements bother your shoulders, cut the overhead pressing and stick with bench press variations.

Suggested Supplements

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Emphasize the Size

We don’t have to get gimmicky to build bigger muscles. We simply have to train consistently with time-proven staples. Commit to using these five lifts and use them as directed and you’ll train yourself into a large force to be reckoned with.

Read more about Andro Fury here.

Read more about MyoZene here.

Read more about ProSource Creatine Monohydrate here.

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