Build Muscle

The 8 Moves You Must Do If You Need Mass


Whether you’re a gym veteran or a new recruit, here are the eight most critical mass-building exercises to pack on muscle.

BACK: Bent-Over Barbell Row

Bent-Over Barbell Row

The bent-over row is arguably the best barbell move for the back, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to dispute that. However, during your bent-over moves, it’s important to keep your knees bent, your chest big, your head neutral and your upper body fixed in the bent-over position. If you raise your torso up and down on each rep (and nearly every bodybuilder does it to some degree), you’ll not only lose tension in the target muscles (namely the upper lats, rhomboids and middle traps) but you’ll also risk injury to your lower back. You want your torso to be just above parallel to the floor throughout the exercise.

Inside the Lift

There are a few key points you want to keep in mind when doing rows. First of all, invest in straps. You’ve heard us say it before, but if you’re trying a heavy set of bent-over rows without straps, you’re letting the best chance of adding mass slip right through your fingers (pun intended). Remember, there’s no shame in using straps. Your hands can’t hold a candle to what your back can endure, so chew up your pride and do it right.
One way to make the bent-over row work in your routine is to use the end of the bench as a means to fix your grip and provide an easy way to end the set. Simply pull the loaded bar off the rack and place it a few inches from the end of the bench. Once you have your grip, you can get close to the bar and stand up with it, take a small step back and begin your set. A small step forward with the bar at the end of the set and you can safely dismount out of the move, placing it back on the bench.

Best Technique to Add Intensity

The bent-over row is one of those rare moves in which forced reps and negatives are impossible, since you need a partner for those. However, drop sets are still in play. Basically, after completing your reps in a heavy set, quickly strip an equal amount of weight from each side of the bar (about 20-25% of the total weight) and continue repping until you fail, then strip off more weight to complete even more reps. With this technique, don’t use clips on the ends of the bar to secure the weights since they can lengthen the time between drops.

BICEPS: Standing Barbell Curl

Standing Barbell Curl

The barbell curl is awesome for adding mass because of the amount of weight you can apply to the small biceps. But when guys hear that, they think that’s a license to be absurd with what they throw on the ends. It doesn’t take a ton of weight to spark growth in the biceps, so the best thing to do is to use a heavy enough weight that enables you to use good form throughout the natural range of motion. Be sure to fix your elbows to the sides of your body. Don’t let them travel forward because as you raise the bar up, you’ll automatically call the front delts into play. As a rule of thumb, at the top of the motion, you don’t have to be looking at the bar, but rather the bar will likely be at the top of your chest.

Inside the Lift

Way too neglected is the advantage a change in grip width provides. From week to week or even during the same routine, alternate from a wide, to narrow and then standard grip. Here’s why: Taking a wide grip on the barbell for curls hits the short, inner head of the biceps more directly by reducing the amount of stress on the long, outer head while increasing the tension on the short. Taking a close grip on the other hand places a greater emphasis on the long, outer head (or peak, the highest point you see on the biceps during a back-double biceps pose).

Best Technique to Add Intensity

If you’ve never tried barbell curls 21s style, you’re long overdue. With 21s, you train each half of the curl (bottom half, top half) through seven reps, then finish the set with seven full-range reps. You can even reverse the order, hitting the full range of motion and then the half reps. However, always do the upper half of the range prior to the lower, simply because we typically fail on the lower portion of the repetition, leaving the strongest phase with gas in the tank, so to speak. If you fail in the start of the move before you’ve failed in the upper half, your biceps won’t experience everything the exercise or the technique provides. And it probably means you’re going too heavy.

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  • sourabh agarwal

    There is only one move here.. Where are the rest 7 ???

    • MMI

      Hi Sourabh, the other moves have just been posted. Check them out and let us know what you think. Remember, mass starts in the kitchen so be sure to keep up your nutrition and supplementation!

  • John

    Got it all wrong. 2 moves to build mass. Take that spoon and eat that entire chicken. Then go squat 500 pounds. You ain’t building shit pressing 40 pounds dumbells unless you are cheating

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