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The Fit 5: Gains for Every Body Part

Our fitness expert answers your questions about building muscle and strength in each muscle group.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Dan Trink C.S.C.S, and founder of Trink Fitness answers questions about building muscle and strength across all of your muscle groups.

1) Bench Press Plateau — asked by Joe DiCarlo:

"What strategies do you find most effective for breaking a bench press plateau?"

“There are two strategies I like to use for busting through a stubborn bench press. The first is to tweak your technique. Make sure your elbows are tucked and not flairing out wide, that you are feet are pulled under you and you are retracting your shoulder blades in order to get a solid "shelf" to drive off of. The second is to use some supplemental lifts that have proven to make your bench press stronger. The military press is great developing shoulder and triceps pressing strength and it integrates your core which will have great carry over to the bench press. Board presses and floor presses are very valuable if you are struggling with your lockout. And possibly the most overlooked aspect of a big bench is training your shoulder's external rotators as these create muscular balance and allow you to drive more weight.”

2) Dumbbells vs. Barbells — asked by Blake Ingrim:

"How often should I switch between dumbbells and barbells when working out the shoulders for size and strength?"

"I would recommend using a mix of both dumbbells and barbells when training the shoulders for size and strength. The more important thing to keep in mind, however, that the shoulders consist of mixed fiber-type muscles. So you really want to make sure you are getting a variety of rep ranges in your shoulder training. Everything from 2-3 reps per set for movements like the clean and press to 15-20 reps for exercises like lateral raises. And don't forget to train the posterior (rear) delts as they are critical for both function and a strong physique."

3) Core Stability and Strength — asked by Frank Matucci:

"Could you recommend three of the most effective core movements? Not for aesthetics or the six-pack, but for actual core stability and strength."

"Personally, I believe that training the big lifts, specifically squats, deadlifts and military press, are the best way to develop strength in your core, stabilize your spine and transfer power from your torso to your limbs. And not only do these movement train the core hard, but they get the abdominals, hips and lower back all working together in an integrated fashion. If you want to train the core with isolation movements I would choose one that trains stability or anti-rotation (like planks or single-arm farmers walks), one that trains flexion (like hanging knee raises) and one that trains extension (such as 45 degree back extensions). This way you are training the core through a variety of movement patterns in which they function."

4) Squat Plateau — asked by Bryan Willow:

"What other exercises can help increase my squat? And why?"

"By the 'squat' I am assuming you mean the traditional barbell back squat. For the majority of trainees, the limiting factor in the squat is not the strength of your legs, but the strength and functionality of your core. Therefore I recommend movements that train your core for maximal stability such as farmer's walks, planks and anti-rotational holds with a band or cable. My second recommendation would be to train your glutes as most people are excellent at recruiting their quads, but are terrible at getting their glutes to do their fair share of the work. I like glute bridges and hip thrusts as there is no way to perform these movements correctly and not utilize your glutes. Once your glutes get 'turned on' and stronger they will be more likely to share the load during your squat. "

5) Volume Training per Bodypart — asked by Craig Delaney:

"I'm shooting to get much bigger, but how much different are the volumes for training each individual muscle groups? Chest? Back? Biceps? Triceps? Shoulders? Legs? Core?"

“It's tough to say exactly what the appropriate volume is for each muscle group as that would really depend on the strengths and weaknesses of the given individual. However, as a generalization, most people overtrain their chest, biceps, shoulders and abdominals and neglect their back, legs and hips. So I recommend a training block of about 4-8 weeks where you perform double the amount of pulling and lower body exercises as pushing exercises. After that, be sure that the vast majority of your programs have as many pulling exercises as pushing exercises and that you have an equal amount of volume for the lower body and upper body. The only exception to this would be to bring up a particular weakness (you would want to train that muscle group more often) or if you are looking to specialize or increase performance in a specific lift (for instance, you needed to improve your deadlift for a power lifting competition)."

 

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