The best gym hacks to build lean muscle faster
Add serious muscle size and strength where you want it most with these gym hacks and smart training tactics that will transform your physique, says New Body Plan’s Joe Warner
I want to build a wider chest
Vary your lifting angles
The barbell bench press is the classic big chest-builder, but to maximise your muscle gains your smart gym hack is to start benching from a variety of angles. It’s true that muscle activation across the whole of the pecs is greatest when pressing from a flat bench, according to the European Journal Of Sports Science.
However, stimulation is highest in the upper portion of the muscle when doing the incline bench. And it’s greatest in the lower part during the decline bench press. That’s why you need to hit your chest from a variety of angles to maximise muscle size, strength and definition. And don’t forget to include these best dumbbell chest exercises to pack on as much lean muscle as possible.
I want bigger and more defined arms
Slow down your reps
The main reason most people fail to build bigger and more defined biceps and triceps is that they don’t select the right weight so end up lifting far too heavy. And doing so forces them to rush through the reps relying on momentum rather than their muscles to lift the weight.
If this sounds like you, you’re missing out on at least 5% more muscle, according to a study in the Journal Of Applied Physiology. So start lifting lighter, focus on moving through a full range of motion, and squeeze and flex your arms at the top and bottom of each rep to maximise muscle fibre activation.
And the number one arms gym hack is to always lower the weights slowly. Neglecting this eccentric phase of each rep will cut your gains in half, according to a study from the University of Florida. Check out our latest build bigger biceps articles, as well as our detailed guides on how to build more defined triceps.
I want a broader and stronger back
Go back to bodyweight basics
Many people overlook bodyweight training as an effective way to build muscle, instead insisting that only heavy weights will transform your physique. The problem is they’re wrong, especially where your back is concerned. So don’t miss out on one of the easiest gym hacks build a broader back.
A study measuring muscle activation in the back from three different moves – the inverted row, the barbell bent-over row, and the cable one-arm row – found that the greatest muscular contractions in the upper back and lats came from the bodyweight inverted row. So if you’re struggling to build a broader back get to grips with the inverted row to start adding muscle size and strength, then find out how to do the perfect seated cable row, as well as how to get better at the assisted pull-up.
I want lean, hard and defined abs
Be more creative with your exercise selection
Smashing out hundreds of sit-ups might sound impressive, but it does very little for sculpting a six-pack. Indeed it could exacerbate back and hip problems, according to the British Journal Of Sports Medicine. Why? Because of the stress they place on your hip flexors and how they can hyperextend your spine.
Your best gym hack to build an impressive set of abs is to follow a fat-burning and muscle-building training programme, such as New Body Plan. It features a variety of compound lifts, such as deadlifts, squats and overhead shoulder presses that require your core to work hard to stabilise your body. And it contains dedicated abs exercises that hit this muscle group from multiple angles and different rep ranges.
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