So I’ve just come back from a pressing session, and my delts are in pieces. Delts are normally a muscle I don’t feel much, or get much of a pump in. Today was different. The pump was almost painful, despite training fasted.

What did I change? I followed Jonny’s suggestion:

 

For compound movements, perform a very light isolation movement for the target muscle group between sets. 

 

Source - Dolfi, flickr

Between each set of overhead press, I did a few lateral raises between 4kg and 8kg. By pumping the muscle full of blood without fatiguing it, you become acutely aware of its contribution to the compound movement, and can feel a deep contraction as opposed to just moving the weight.

 

For hypertrophy purposes, this is the key to training a muscle group effectively, and will garner you much greater benefits than gaining strength for strength’s sake. This is Ben’s approach as a purist bodybuilder, who actively doesn’t aim to get stronger in a movement unless serves a purpose of stimulating the target muscle group more effectively.

We caught Ben doing dumbell pullovers with 12kg. Fancy telling him he’s wasting his time?

 

Does that mean you shouldn’t train heavy?

This is not to say that gaining strength isn’t important, and following the Propane Protocol will achieve the best of both worlds, especially if you implement this tip. But the point here is that this attitude of ‘go heavy or go home’ often spouted online is not always helpful for hypertrophy.

 

Training as heavy as you can day-in-day-out puts you at risk of injury: Performance varies day to day depending on sleep, recovery, mood and calorie intake. Progress is not linear, so push it harder on days you feel good, and scale it back when you’re not. This is the basis for the ramping guidelines in the Propane protocol, where the loading choice is based on today’s performance. That way, you’ll be able to ride the wave without driving yourself into the ground by training at the daily threshold. Couple that with ensuring the target muscle groups are firing effectively by following the above tip, and brace yourself for sweet gainz.

 

Summary:

Superset a light isolation movement of the target muscle group with a heavy compound lift to flush blood into the muscle and train it more effectively. The pump will make you feel like you’re about to burst.

 

EDIT: See the comments on this article for some useful exercise pairings to use.

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7 responses to “Building a Mind-Muscle Connection the Easy Way

  1. What kind of isolation exercise are you supersetting with a big compound?

    Bench -> Flye
    OHP -> Front/Lateral raise
    RDL -> Leg curl
    Row -> Band pull apart

  2. If you have bands, try band squeeze presses, with the band running across your back and hooking over your thumbs.

  3. i have always found doing this i concentrate on what i believe my body lacks in shape of definition.

    shoulders- rear delts
    chest- cable crossovers (also found it good to train tri’s before to pre exhaust them if training same time. then it concentrated everything on chest. u cannot lift as heavy but it defo works for me).
    legs- leg curls feet slightly pointed out
    back- never needed to do always have good pump
    arms- dont have problem with. few sets always heavy

  4. I’m also a fan of squeeze presses, I do them flat or incline with a 5kg plate, focusing on pressing the elbows together.

    Squats -> bodyweight bottom range squats. Leg extension would be a better option but they’re not in the same room in my gym.
    Deadlift –> bodyweight glute bridges
    Chin ups –> straight arm rope pulldowns (partials)

  5. Ben said:
    If you have bands, try band squeeze presses, with the band running across your back and hooking over your thumbs.

    I bought a pair of 2-16kg bands this morning, going to try them for band squeeze presses and band pull aparts.
    http://www.myprotein.com/uk/products/myprotein-resistance-bands

    Yusef said:
    I’m also a fan of squeeze presses, I do them flat or incline with a 5kg plate, focusing on pressing the elbows together.

    Squats -> bodyweight bottom range squats. Leg extension would be a better option but they’re not in the same room in my gym.
    Deadlift –> bodyweight glute bridges
    Chin ups –> straight arm rope pulldowns (partials)

    Definitely going to try the bridges for more ham and glute activation.

  6. Today I’ve tried supersetting glute bridges and third world squat holds with my deadlift warm-up sets.

    Hamstrings were totally involucred in the movement, usually I get more quad activation, which helps me in the starting position (my sticking point), but my hams were still sore from tuesday RDL and I felt them doing more work.

    The lockout part was preeetty easy because glutes were pretty good warmed-up.

    Definitely going to incorporate this two movements into my daily warm-up routine, getting more glute activation will also help with OHP and bench.

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