For building Muscle Mass:

When you’re trying to build muscle mass, you have to find ways to stabilize your body so that you’re only working a select set of muscles at once.  You can think of this in a bench press exercise where your legs and core are minimally involved because they’re resting on a bench.  Your pushing muscles are the only muscles being stressed to a great extent.

This is the type of exercise you have to do if you want to gain muscle mass.  You have to use exercises where specific muscles are targeted.  Full-body exercises just don’t work as well for muscle growth.



For our purposes, we like to split up the muscle groups into three categories.


1. Legs – Examples: Back Squats, Front Squats, Leg Press
2. Upper-body Pushing – Examples: Flat Bench Press, Incline Bench Press, Military Press, Dips
3. Upper-body Pulling – Examples: Barbell Row, Dumbbell Row, Pullup, Chinup


That’s about as detailed as we get.  We’re not too excited about isolating a single muscle itself because that has very little translation into real movement.  Doing the machine bicep curl only builds up the muscles that bend the elbow.  How often do you do that movement by itself in real life?  Even when you simply eat an apple, you have to move your upper arm forward, bend your elbow, and bend your wrist.

Although these exercises are designed to build muscle mass, we still don’t go overboard with losing all functionality.



For Activities of Daily Living:

In activities of daily living, we don’t have the option of stabilizing muscle groups so that we can emphasize others.  As a result, we have to train the body for how it functions in real life so that it will actually function in real life.  It all comes down to the Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID) Principle.

The SAID principle simply states that if you want to perform a specific activity, then you need to train that specific activity.  So, if you want to run really fast, then you should run a lot.  If you want to bike really fast, then you should bike a lot.  If you want to be able to pull open a door, then pull a cable or resistance band while standing upright in order to simulate actually pulling open a door.



We have to take every effort to make our exercise simulate what real life is.


1.  We’re usually standing
2.  We usually use one leg at a time (walking, jogging, running, etc.)
3.  We usually use one arm at a time (carrying a bag, pulling a door open, etc.)
4.  We almost always use multiple joints at once
5.  We usually have our own bodyweight as the resistance (when you walk, you move your own weight rather than moving a barbell, dumbbell, or a pad)



We still split things up into legs, upper-body pushing, and upper-body pulling:


1. Legs – Examples: Single-legged Squats, Anterior Reaches
2. Upper-body Pushing – Examples: Push-ups, single-arm standing cable presses
3. Upper-body Pulling – Examples: Recline pulls (aka “reverse push-ups”), single-arm standing cable pulls


We’ll get some sample workouts up soon.  However, a quick note for now is that both training for muscle mass and training for activities of daily living are necessary.  It’s pretty short-sighted to pursue one fully and neglect the other.  As a result, integrate some of both into your workouts.



A More In-Depth Look at the Subject for Nerds

I wrote about this a while ago.  Anyone can understand it, but you’ll have to put your thinking cap on.  🙂  Anyway, it’s called “How to Resistance Train”.