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1. Make sure that 95% of the exercises you perform regularly in the gym are big multi-joint compound exercises. It doesn't matter if your goal is fat loss or building muscle... big multi-joint exercises should comprise 95% of the exercises you do in your workouts if you want to get lean, ripped, and powerful.
It's easiest to think of it in terms of the major movement patterns such as these (focus 95% of your workouts on these):
upper body horizontal press (bench press, pushups, dips),
upper body horizontal rows (1-arm dumbbell rows, seated cable rows, bent over barbell rows),
upper body vertical pull (lat pulldowns, pullups, chinups),
upper body vertical press (overhead dumbbell and barbell presses, barbell or kettlebell clean & presses)
lower body squatting movements (front squats, back squats, overhead squats, bodyweight squats, etc)
lower body deadlifting movements (regular deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts)
lower body single leg movements (lunges, step-ups, jump lunges, etc)
abdominal and core exercises (these are important, but still are 2nd priority after all of the major upper body and lower body multi-joint movements... your abs and core will be worked from most major multi-joint exercises anyway)
The other 5% of your exercises can focus on single joint exercises (isolation exercises) such as bicep curls, tricep presses, calf presses, shoulder shrugs, shoulder lateral raises, pec flyes, etc, etc. However, these exercises are only accessory exercises to do after the main focus has been the multi-joint drills.
2. Train hard and intensely 3-4 days/week for 45-60 minutes per weight training workout. Keep your workouts to no longer than 60 minutes as training too much beyond this point can trigger excess catabolism. You want to stay anabolic, but you still need to train your body hard and intensely enough to trigger muscle growth.
Try a super-set style of workout program to maximize the intensity that you can train. My favorite combinations are opposing upper and lower body movement patterns that don't interfere with each other, such as squats coupled with pullups as a superset, or bench press coupled with deadlifts as a superset.
Don't underestimate the effectiveness of these types of upper/lower body supersets done with heavy weights and a high intensity. The first time in my life that I experienced significant muscle mass gains were when I started doing these types of workout combos regularly (although still mixing up my training variables).
These are mainstays of almost any effective workout program -- caloric intake can simply be adjusted whether your goal is fat burning or gaining muscle mass.
3. Eat clean with quality whole foods... REAL foods instead of highly processed over-hyped supplement powders and bars.
The quality of protein (and additional nutrition from vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) are best assimilated by the body from real whole food such as eggs, meats, dairy (preferably raw), fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc. instead of from processed protein powders, chemical-laden bars, and meal replacements.
Forget about the hyped up workouts in the muscle mags that only work for pro bodybuilders or people on steroids. Forget about the over-hyped supplement "stacks" that pay the bills for almost every muscle mag... Instead, make these tips in this article part of your lifestyle, and you'll see muscle gains and a leaner, ripped body like you've never seen before!
If you want to get a lean chiseled body, check out these tips to Get Ripped Abs the right way.
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