Top 6 Movements to Build Muscle and Increase Aerobic Capacity

If you’re looking to build muscle and increase your aerobic engine, it takes work.  There are no shortcuts.  Showing up to the gym on days when you don’t want to and putting in the extra reps when your mind is telling you to stop are crucial to your success.

But what if you’re already showing up consistently and breaking down the mental barriers you encounter?  The solution is choosing the right exercises for muscle growth and metabolic conditioning.  There are many exercises out there but some pack more punch than others.  So let’s break it down.

Two Best Exercises to Increase Your Conditioning

Burpee

  1. Start from a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart.  
  2. Drop yourself down to where your chest touches the floor.  
  3. Immediately push yourself up with your arms while bringing your feet forward landing on your heels.  (Avoid landing on your toes as to prevent knee injury.)
  4. You should now be in the bottom portion of the air squat.  From this position stand and jump up raising your hands above your head and clapping.  
  5. Lower your chest back down to the floor and repeat.  

Want to test your mental toughness?  100 burpees for time.  It’s a load of fun!

Thruster

A front squat into a push press.  That’s the name of the game.  The thruster starts from the ground.  From there, you can either power clean or squat clean the bar into your first rep.

Use this movement to crank up your conditioning by keeping the weight light and keep your motor running.

Want a sweet metabolic workout?  Mix this with burpees (above) and you’ll find yourself fighting for air while creating muscle-havoc!

Four Best Exercises to Increase Strength

Front Squat

I know the back squat gets a ton of praise as it deservedly should but if you’re looking for overall muscle growth and an increase in mobility you should be looking to the front squat to make all those gains.  

You can begin the front squat with the barbell in the squat rack or from the ground and then lift it into the front-rack position.  Some who lack mobility in the front-rack may choose to cross their arms and lay the barbell over the shoulders.  By doing so you may lose stability with the barbell.  However, either way works.

Core, back, shoulders, quads….the front squat covers them all.  Increase your front squat and increase your overall strength.  

Deadlift

The Mac-Daddy of them all.  The deadlift is where it’s at when it comes to strength training.  The important piece to the deadlift and where many get it wrong is to activate your hamstrings and glutes throughout the exercise.

How do you activate your hamstrings?  Like this.  As you bend down to pick up the bar.  Lower the upper-half of your body first before bending at the knee.  As you lower yourself, you will begin to feel your hamstrings tightening.  Your hamstrings are now activated.  

Now bend at the knee continuing to keep pressure on your hamstrings.  Keep the bar close to your body as you begin to lift.  At the top of the lift squeeze your butt cheeks together and you’ve now activated your glutes.

Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position as you continue to keep the pressure on your hammies!

Want the very best routine for deadlifts and front squats?  See my review of the 5/3/1 program by Jim Wendler and get ready to become Jacked and Strong!

Chin-Up

The chin-up is opposite the pull-up.  The difference?  You do a pull-up with your palms facing outward activating more of your back muscles.  Chin-ups work the back and the biceps too as you see in the video above where your palms are facing towards you. 

My favorite way to get better at chins is to complete 4 sets of 6 once or twice a week.  As that becomes easier, use a dip belt to allow you to increase the weight.  Once you’ave added a dip belt to the mix, find your 6 rep max and then do as many sets as possible to get 25 reps completed with a 2-minute rest in-between each set.

Dips

Dips are an awesome accessory movement for the chest and triceps.  Want bigger arms?  Chin-ups and dips will do it for you.  Use the same rep scheme as you would for chin-ups adding a dip belt as your body weight becomes easier to maneuver and you’ve got yourself a great workout.

So, if you’re strapped for time and need to get a workout in, incorporate these movements into your routine and get more bang for your buck.

Until next time…Stay Jacked, Stay Strong!

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