One of the most appealing and fun aspects of training is achieving the pump.
You all know the famous quote from Pumping Iron so it doesn’t need repeating but ever since the movie came out, “pumping up” has been both the goal and the prize for training.
Because of this, many workouts are designed to help pump as much blood into the area as possible.
But, how do we find ways to make the pump even greater? How do we make more room in the muscle so we can get more blood in there?
I think we need to add more stretching type exercises to our workout programs.
Stretching exercises can help maximize flexibility as well as improve your overall range of motion. This means that your physique can be both show and go. You’ll see the benefits for yourself both in and out of the gym.
We’re going to share an exercise for each of the major muscle groups that you can add to your plan for that purpose.
You can plug each of these in the beginning of your plan to help you prepare for the work to come so you can maximize that pump, or you can use it as a finisher. Obviously these aren’t the only choices you have but these, I feel, are the best.
Chest: Incline Cable Fly
When it comes to chest day, otherwise known as Monday, flyes are the optimum choice. Cables will do a great job here because you can keep constant tension on the focused muscle. Each side has to work independently while you’re performing flyes with cables as opposed to a barbell pressing movement where you’re pushing one object with both sides.
As for the angle, you can never do too much incline work. They will target the upper pecs better than going flat and since your upper body will be slightly elevated you can get a deeper stretch at the bottom of the movement. This is a great one for establishing that mind-muscle connection too.
Back: Dumbbell Pullovers
Dumbbell Pullovers were Arnold’s favorite and he credits it as one of the major reasons for his massive upper body. The deep stretch at the bottom of the movement stretched out his lats and he felt it also helped him work to master the vacuum pose.
When he lifted it he felt it not only hit his chest but helped him expand his rib cage area. The lats are rather large muscles and stretching them out meant you can enhance and develop them. You want a long range of motion when it comes to areas like the lats. Pullovers are the move of choice here.
Shoulders: Single Arm Lateral Raise
It can be tough to stretch an area like the shoulders, especially the side delts. This choice is one that can help you do just that.
If you hold yourself against a rack or machine and lean away from it, then you can let the arm holding the weight hang. This means that area will stretch before you go to lift. You might also find that you can isolate the side head of the shoulder when you do this. You can try this one with a cable as well and see which you like better.
Biceps (tie): Incline Dumbbell Curl and Single Arm Preacher Curl
I can’t decide which is better so I’ll include both and you can decide which is right for you. Incline curls call for you to lie on a bench and have your arms hanging over the sides. When you lower the weights and flex the triceps at the bottom, you will feel it from top of the biceps all the way down to the elbow.
As for the single arm preacher curl, your upper arm is braced so there’s no cheating here. You also can lower the weight all the way to the bottom so you can feel the muscle stretch. Don’t go too heavy with this one though because you can risk injury if you can’t control the weight on the way down.
Triceps: Overhead Rope Extension
This one for me is undisputed. Having the cable helps with the tension and you can step slightly away from the stack. Using the rope means the range of motion is even longer and you can either separate the ends or keep them together so you can get the most out of the move.
You can feel all three heads working throughout the exercise. If you have issues with your elbows you might want to find something different or warm up before going into these.
Legs: Deficit Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
When it comes to legs, hamstrings are often neglected in favor of quad work. However, they’re so important for many reasons for all athletes. You need to have good flexibility to maximize your potential in this area.
This exercise is key for you to turn that potential into success. You can do traditional stiff-legged deadlifts but you’re limited by the floor and the plates on the bar. Standing on a step, box, or thick plate means you can lower the bar further and get that deeper stretch which means improved athletic ability and greater detail if you’re standing onstage.
Calves: Seated Calf Raise
The soleus is the bigger muscle of the calf but it isn’t as visible as the gastrocnemius which is what you see when you flex the muscles below the knee. So I prefer to start calves with a bent-leg movement which targets the soleus.
Seated calf raises are also an excellent choice to stretch everything from the soleus to the Achilles tendon. This will help you when training legs, running for cardio, or participating in sports. Pause at the bottom of each rep for at least two seconds before continuing. This can help minimize chances of a serious injury which would leave you unable to perform for a long time.
Abs: Ab Wheel
It’s amazing how such a little gadget can be so intimidating but there are lifters who will avoid this little thing at all costs. It’s a simple wheel with handles on it. What is there to be concerned about? Doing this one hurts, that’s what.
When you perform this correctly, you’ll feel the entire upper body stretch. Arms, back, core, will all feel it. Then you have to roll back to your starting position which can be tough. Your midsection will benefit so much from this one that you should work up the courage to take it on.