The Best Conditioning Exercises For Definition
Have you ever wondered why your muscles don’t look as striated and defined as the guys on social media? A lot of times, you see people on Instagram with great muscle maturity and it leaves you wondering what you are doing differently. Chances are, it is largely because the pros incorporate some different exercises than you do in their training, and we’ll be letting you in on their secrets today. If you leave the gym without sore muscles, you are essentially leaving gains on the table, and we certainly do not want to do that.
Conditioning Exercises Overview
The definition and muscle maturity you see the guys on Instagram showing off comes from them completing a lot of great workouts. In order to know you have accomplished a great workout, your muscles should be filled with blood and lactic acids by the end of your training session, leaving you with a painful pump. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, 7x Mr. Olympia, the muscles “should be screaming”, and that is when you know you’ve shocked them.
Shocking the muscle is when you have introduced something to your workouts that your body was not expecting. When your body does not expect it, the muscles will break down differently, which results in them growing back bigger and better. Keep in mind, the recovery process after is going to be where you really grow. Performing these six exercises at the end of your workouts will surely shock your muscles and make them grow.
Most people perform the leg extensions at the beginning of their leg workouts as a warmup, and there is nothing wrong with that as it is a good way to get blood flowing into the quads, prepping you for some heavy compounds like squats or leg press. However, the leg extension is an isolation exercise and can be very beneficial to sculpting the quads with striations, making them look almost like they are feathered. You should prefer doing isolation exercises as your finishers for better pumps as compared to the compound lifts.
Keep the reps slow and controlled and focus on squeezing your quads. Posing and flexing your muscles between sets can help in amplifying the pumps and improving the mind-muscle connection.
Cable crossovers are an incredibly effective chest exercise, a favorite exercise of Golden Era bodybuilders, and rightfully so. If you want to improve the definition and size of your inner pecs and want more striations, cable crossovers should be a part of your exercise arsenal.
If you want an absolutely filthy pump, pause at the top of the movement and squeeze your muscles. You can add variation in the exercise by adjusting the height of the pulley. Setting the pulley at your chest height will target your mid-pecs and high pulley will work your lower chest.
Seated Cable Row
It can be relatively hard to achieve a pump in the back. While the deadlifts and barbell rows can be great to add some serious mass in the back, you need isolation exercises to build definition and conditioning.
To put even more stress on the muscles, lean all the way forward at the end of the movement, then pull the cable to your stomach and squeeze hard. This gives your lats a great stretch, and a good squeeze at the end to really fine tune the fibers in your back. Again, the Golden Era bodybuilders loved this movement.
Arnold Schwarzenegger helped put the bicep peak on the front cover of magazines. It was not too long after that people started comparing biceps with mountain peaks. Developing the bicep peaks requires following a full range of motion and a good squeeze.
There are a few ways to perform this exercise. If you don’t have access to a preacher curl machine at your gym, you can use a preacher bench and place it in front of a cable pulley, or do it the old fashioned way with an EZ curl bar and preacher bench. If you don’t have a preacher bench, use an incline bench, and if you don’t have an incline bench, find a new gym.
Skullcrushers are one of the most underutilized exercises, as strength gained in the triceps transfers to other lifts, like bench press or military press. While setting up for the lift, you need to lower the weights to just above your forehead, whether you use dumbbells or barbells for this. So, keep the weights just above your forehead with your elbows bent, then extend your arms out and push the weight up, the lower again to the starting position and repeat.
Using the dumbbells will give you a better range of motion which can result in a better pump if you perform the lift with the right form.
Cable Side-Lateral Raises
No v-taper can be deemed aesthetically appealing without wide boulder shoulders. Shoulders are one of the most undertrained muscle groups, yet they contribute so much to your physique overall.
Using the cables can help keep constant tension on your shoulders. Place the cable pulley in a low position and raise your arms until they are parallel to the floor. Elevating your arms above your shoulders will take the tension off the delts.
Commonalities Amongst These Conditioning Exercises Exercises
When it comes to these exercises, they are all great for crafting the striations amongst each muscle group they work. All of these exercises also really allow you to isolate the muscle groups they work, which also contributes to attributes like striations and definition. Think of them as “fine tuning” exercises. You have the compound movements like squats, bench press, and deadlifts to pack on the mass, then you have exercises like the ones listed above to really fine tune the muscle and add in the definition.
This does not mean that these exercises will not help build muscle, as they certainly do build muscle, but these exercises are big contributors to definition and striations.
Another thing you can do with each of these exercises, you can take each set to failure, and really push yourself on them, forcing them to break down and grow back better. As Tom Platz said, you should aim to “achieve failure”, as this is where you really grow.
Supplements to Help Striations
While these exercises listed certainly help break down the muscle, the recovery process is truly an essential part of the muscle definition and maturity. A list of some good supplements to help with your overall muscularity include:
Supplements sure can help your gains, but do not forget to eat right get your 8 hours of sleep!
Conditioning Exercises Wrap Up
Isolation movements such as the ones listed above can really help you improve your conditioning, especially when they are thrown in at the end of a workout to really finish off your workouts. When you improve your conditioning, it really takes your physique to the next level.
Will you be giving these exercises a try?
Which is your favorite finisher exercise? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.