When attempting any type of anaerobic exercise, the most important thing besides safety to think about is form, form, and more perfect form. Form can be the difference between a well developed physique and an injured one. What I intend to do is take an exercise from all of the major body parts and explain the perfect way to do it, in order to maximize your gains. Let's get smokin'.


The first exercise we'll cover is Bench press. This is a good exercise for the chest. Among all of the exercises that people do, the majority of individuals favor the bench press over all others. Lay down on the bench with your feet planted comfortably on the floor. To conduct the exercise, make sure that your shoulders and rear end remain on the bench and that your abs stay tight. Go for a nice comfortable grip on the bar a little wider than shoulder width. I suggest you get a spotter. Lift the bar off of the rack. Lower the bar close to your nipple line. You want to inhale as you lower the bar and exhale as you press it back up. As you press the bar back up, squeeze your pecs.


After a nice sweeping chest, the next bodypart that gets a lot of attention is abdominals. Everyone wants the six pack. Well, the best exercise for "washboard" abs is the crunch. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground or on a sit-up board. Place your hands on your upper chest. I read an article that helped me keep from straining my neck. The article said to make a fist and place it between your chin and upper chest/collarbone. With the other hand, grab your wrist. This keeps you from moving your head and lessens the strain on your neck. When you conduct the exercise, you should visualize the rib cage being drawn down and in towards the pelvis when the abdominals contract. Both the contraction and the extension should be slow and precise. When you crunch, exhale. When you lay back down, inhale.


The chest is good and the abs are great, but there is nothing more intimidating than powerful arms. The two parts that make up the upper arm are biceps and triceps. We'll start with biceps and the standing barbell curl. First off, you need to find your comfortable grip. Stand with your hands to your sides, reach out and grab a bar, palms up, without taking your elbows from your sides. This is your carry grip for most bicep and curl exercises. Stand straight up and stick your chest out. Keeping your elbows in to your sides and very slightly bending your knees to lower your center of gravity, curl the bar. Lower the bar at the same speed that you curled it. There are many mistakes people make when doing bicep exercises. I want to give you a few pointers to help you maximize your gains. First, don't swing the weight up, using momentum instead of muscle. If you have to swing it up, it's too heavy. Second, keep your elbows locked into your sides while raising and lowering the weight. Finally, be patient. The pounds will come soon enough without you sacrificing form to lift heavier weight.


(a.k.a. skull crushers/nose breakers)

We talked about a biceps exercise, now let's hit the triceps. Find a flat bench and set an EZ-curl bar in front of one end. Grasp the bar using a shoulder-width grip, and lie back onto the bench. Your feet should be wide to ensure stability. When you hold the bar, it should be held directly over your eyes at arm's length. Slowly lower the weight backwards and down in an arc towards your forehead until your elbows form 90 degree angles. Your palms should be facing up at this time. Bring the weight just short of the bar touching your forehead. Don't lower the weight too fast or you'll find out how this exercise got its nickname. Keep your elbows in tight and your upper arm stabilized. Slowly raise the weight, again making sure not to move the upper arms.


(a.k.a. cable pulldowns)

Now that we have a nice chest, a six pack, and some powerful arms, let's get that V-shape. The V-shape comes from working back. To find out what your comfortable grip is, hold your arms out to your sides in the manner of the letter T. Bend your lower arms until they form a 90 degree angle and you look like a football goal post. This is your correct grip. Set the seat on the pulldown machine so your knees can slide easily and comfortably under the knee pad. I recommend pulling the bar down to your upper chest vice the base of your neck. Slowly contract the lats and pull the bar down towards your chest. While pulling down on the bar arch your back forward slightly, sticking out your chest. Focus on keeping your elbows directly below the bar/hands. Squeeze your lats as tight as you can at the bottom of the exercise.


(military press using dumbbells)

One bodypart that can't be forgotten is shoulders. There's nothing better than putting a little lean mass on those shoulders to round them out. I prefer to use dumbbells instead of barbells for shoulders. Dumbbells tend to be a little kinder to the shoulder joints and the easily injured rotator cuff. First, try finding a bench with a back support. Hold the dumbbells at shoulder height, elbows out completely to the sides and palms facing forward. Slowly press the dumbbells up and in, so they meet or nearly meet above the head. Do not rotate the wrist. At the top, squeeze the muscles as tight as possible. Now, slowly lower the dumbbells, keeping the weight balanced over your elbows. Don't let the arms rotate forward or backward, as this risks rotator cuff injury.


The way you can tell if someone is extremely serious about building there body, is by noticing if they work those motivating quads (thighs). I don't think I've heard more excuses used why people don't want to or can't work that bodypart. Well, squats are an all-around good bodybuilding exercise. Position yourself under the bar, and place the bar on the upper portion of the trapezius (traps) muscles. Make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades together slightly, and place your hands on the bar. A shoulder width stance is fine. You can experiment with stances as you get used to squats. Always, always, always keep your spine neutral when doing squats. Grab the bar and lift the weight off of the rack and step back. Slowly lower yourself to the point where you would normally sit in a chair. Ensure that you keep your head up and don't look down. Once you've reached the bottom point, slowly press the weight upwards while maintaining spinal alignment. This is one exercise where I think that a spotter is crucial. Especially if you're using a lot of weight.

These are some of the basic exercises to help you build lean body mass. If you're not into lifting weights and want to get started, these are some of the exercises that you can do without having to be in the gym all day. I hope this helps you out. Remember, form is extremely crucial to building lean body mass. These exercises, if done properly, will put that mass on you.

Semper Fidelis!