Take the Guesswork Out of Training

FLEX delivers the best exercises to build the most muscle

How many times have you caught yourself asking the question, “Which exercise should I do?” You get cranking on a good program, but still find yourself questioning why certain body parts just aren’t getting any better. You look around the gym and see a lot different exercises being performed and probably say to yourself, “Should I do that?” The better question should really be, “What am I trying to improve?” Exercises are created for a specific purpose, but when it comes to building size and getting razor-sharp cuts, that reason becomes even more important. Choosing the best exercise is difficult, since most exercises have variations and may activate more than one muscle or muscle group, making it difficult to pinpoint the true target. You also have to consider how to get all your body parts worked out inside of a week while ensuring that your overall goal is met.

It’s time to take the guesswork out of training. You need to determine the value of a particular exercise based on your goal and add it to your program based on that end result.

Whether strength, size, or shape is your goal—likely all three—your primary reason for working out should dictate the exercises you choose to help you reach your goals that much faster. To help you with your selection, we will discuss some of the elements of program development and then present the pros and cons—by body part—of two competitive exercises. Then we’ll choose the winner based on its practical application.

But even better, we tell you how to execute them for maximal results.


We could argue this point with science, fact, and practice, but in truth the debate should never end because there is no best training protocol, except the one that motivates you to improve. While there is a link between strength and size in that strong guys are usually well built, and well-built guys usually have some strength, being best at one or the other does create some separation. So in reality, while we all want to be strong and ripped, to take your body to its limit in either, you need to focus on one.

Smart programming suggests that you take turns focusing on strength and size by periodizing, planning, and structuring workouts to excel at one particular goal at a time. Thus both strength and size will improve over time. Building strength will create the platform to support size and thus should be an integral part of your overall training program. But focusing on the perfect shape is likely the goal of every man on the planet, and if it isn’t, it should be because it’s cool to be big and lean.

This leads to the question of which method is better as far as sets and reps versus the amount of weight you lift. You’ve heard it before: “Lift big to get big.” You’ve also heard: “More volume equals greater size.” In principle, both are right, but in application it simply depends on the person and how they define the parameters of their program. If you do few reps but lift real heavy, you will increase size in the long run because your strength increases exponentially. However, your size gains will be slower than if you do many reps and sets with slightly lighter weight, because you can achieve greater volume, which, both in theory and practice, increases size more rapidly. In the size race, you tend to sacrifice a little strength, but since the time your muscles spend under load is quite a bit longer it ultimately proves to be the better route. However, a true strength athlete knows that lifting heavy loads with fewer reps—and a never-die attitude that drives home more sets—can create a volume that is not far off the mark to produce some decent muscle mass while keeping strength.

So again, we could challenge the right method, but ultimately you have to choose the one that will keep you in the gym and pushing your limits. My vote? You train for both strength and size in an approach similar to the programs I have advocated in the past.

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