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Exercise Selection

Updated: Jun 1, 2018

How important is exercise selection for muscle growth?

Pretty much everyone in the gym will tell you that exercise variation is important element if you want to maximize your muscle growth and build a complete physique. It is pretty much common knowledge by now. However, to what degree is it important and how often should you switch your exercises is not known by many. This ends up usually in two different ways. The first one is where you train with too little variety and the second one is where you train with too much variety. So how do we fix this? Stick around and you will find out.

There is no ''must do'' exercises

There is no such thing as an ultimate exercise that you must do if you want to grow. You should have a selection of your exercises for each muscle group that you periodically rotate from month to month. You selection should depend on your preferences. A general rule of thumb is to have at least 50% compound movements with the rest being isolation movements. Exercises should be challenging ones as you need to sufficiently stress your body in order to force muscular adaptations over time. I will give you a list of exercises that you can choose from later in this article.

Benefits of variation

It has been scientifically proven that it is not only possible to target different heads of the muscle, but also portions of a given muscle fiber. This is called fiber partitioning. Bicep is a good example where you have 2 heads, long and short, but also different parts of these fibers are more stimulates with different actions. For example fibers in the lateral portion of the long head are recruited by elbow flexion, but fibers in the medial part are recruited by supination, and fibers centrally located are recruited by a combination of both. Long head is also more activated during the early part of the curl while the short head is more activated during the latter part of the curl.

This tells us that a combination of different arm curls can help you to maximize bicep size. For example the hardest part when doing standing barbell bicep curl is the early part of the movement, putting a lot of stress on the short head. If you combine this exercise with machine preacher curl where the hardest point of the movement is the latter part, you emphasize both heads and different parts of muscle fiber as well.