Muscle Stimulation or Exaggeration?
By Karen Sessions



Muscle Stimulation or Exaggeration? Now I'd like to discuss an issue with a certain question I receive concerning training and angle variation. Can you add more muscle size by adding more angels to exercises for each muscle group? Not necessarily.

Many bodybuilders are under the notion that adding more angles, sets, and repetitions can enhance their physique by recruiting all the muscle fibers. For example, I was talking to a lifter in the gym and he told me of chest routine. He did flat bench presses, dumbbell flat presses, inclines presses, dips, cable crossovers, decline presses, and the fly machine, using 4 sets of 10 reps. My internal response was"wow" and "what in the world are you trying to accomplish?"

His first mistake was replicating exercises. The bench press and dumbbell flat press are the same exercise. There is no need in doing the exact exercise twice in one workout. The cable crossovers and fly's are the same exercise, and depending on where the attachment was located, he could have hit the outer pecs with them in addition to the dips. His chest training routine was an absolute mess. He did far too many exercises, duplicated some, and did too many reps and sets for the amount of training he was under. The fact is, you either stimulate the muscle, or you don't.

Those individuals seeking muscle hypertrophy should stick to the basics for the core of the workout, and not overtrain. The basics include the flat press, shoulder press, chins, close-grip bench press, overhead extensions, straight bar curls, squats, dead lifts, etc.

Various fancy movements may change the direction of the stress applied to the muscle, but you will receive optimal results from power movements (compound movements) designed to add muscle mass. The poundage and intensity will determine if all the muscle fibers are recruited or not.

Example #1 (won't produce desired growth)

Chest Workout:

Flat Press - 4 sets of 10 repetitions
Incline Dumbbell Press - 4 sets of 10 repetitions
Incline Dumbbell Fly's - 4 sets of 10 repetitions
Seated Pec Dec Machine - 4 sets of 10 repetitions

Whew! I'm tired just reading that. If your poundage and intensity were right for the first exercise, the flat press, the rest are a waste of time.

Example #2
(will produce desired growth)

Chest Workout:

Flat Press - 3 sets of 8 repetitions
Incline Press - 3 sets of 8 repetitions

Example #2 is a more productive workout for chest development. The entire chest muscle can be stimulated with the flat press because it's one muscle, and therefore it contracts as one. Once you stimulate the chest muscle with the flat press, your work for chest training is basically complete. Adding the incline press can help shift some focus to the upper chest more, but keep it limited, as the upper chest is targeted with the flat bench press.

Conclusion to Muscle Stimulation

A multitude of angels and exercises are not necessary. There is no sense in making your training an all out marathon. Remember, you are not growing in the gym. You must stimulate the muscle, feed it, and allow it to grow through rest.


About The Author

Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988 and is a certified personal fitness instructor and specialist in performance nutrition. She is a nationally qualified natural female bodybuilder, holding numerous titles in the southern states including two overalls.

Karen has written six e-books on fitness. She also writes articles for several fitness websites, and distributes two monthly newsletters regarding weight loss and female bodybuilding.

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