Menno Henselmans & exercise selection [podcast]

Categories: Videos & podcasts

This was a great interview about exercise selection for maximum muscle hypertrophy. Ahmed Alshehhi and I discuss my favorite exercises for each body part, how to count training volume and more advanced biomechanical details that aren’t commonly discussed. If you’re interested in maximizing muscle growth and optimizing your exercise selection, I think you’ll find this interview very useful. Enjoy it! Bonus: subtitled in Arabic (UAE).


This is an automatically generated transcript of the podcast.

thank you okay perfect hello Menno how’s it going I guess this

time you’re in Madrid first time we spoke with when you were in Amsterdam I believe

I think so yeah yeah that was such a long time ago I think to like six or seven months ago uh

last time we spoke about protein and in general discussion about protein intake

and that I get I guess on both Instagram

uh YouTube and Tick Tock we’ve gained so many views on that and there was there

was a lot of positive feedback and I guess it has to be done again we have to

bring you back on this show uh I guess uh first let’s talk about you how are

you how are things uh in Madrid I believe yeah I’m currently Madrid it’s uh good

uh very productive doing more social media working on an app that’s going to

be released later this year a couple scientific studies that I’m that are likely going to be published this year

so got a lot to do very busy also working on a lot of upgrades for my PT

courses so lots of good things happening this year I hope that’s amazing an app that’s such a great news do you have

like a concept of the app or something you can tell us about it’s exciting sure yes ah okay

understandable how’s your back by the way good much better after I think last time

we talked I still had the back pain yeah I’m pretty sure and yeah it’s been I can front Squad again

deadlifts okay not not super heavy yet but um yeah that’s better than it’s been

a long time okay that’s that’s good to hear that’s good to hear I mean last time you were

avoiding completely deadlift and any like uh box training movements but that’s good to hear I’m glad did you do

anything specific for anyone who has like similar pain or just something you an advice I guess

I think it’s not so much about what you do as much as what you don’t do it’s more about

avoiding aggravating exercises or movements or even parts of daily life like for me even walking or standing

more than three minutes was a problem and yeah letting it heal time is the great

heater so it’s I don’t think there’s in general with rehab there is no such thing as a

healing exercise like there are some people who are woefully deconditioned and they just need to strengthen their tissues but

especially for a strength trainee that is very unlikely most of the time especially with overuse injuries

or at least biomechanical injuries their tissue is damaged you should stop

doing things that aggravate that issue because the stress tolerance of the tissue when it’s damaged it’s torn or

whatever is is much weaker so you need to avoid you know making it worse or

preventing healing and you work around it you active recovery works like doing exercises that just promote blood flow

activate the immune system that’s all very good and then it’s just a matter of letting it heal and for me

that’s eventually also what I came down to I just had to take a very big step

back because after at some point it was okay and then I re-aggravated it with

hip thrusts which I thought would be they had to be okay but it actually was much worse after that than even at the

start and then I had to just for two full weeks do nothing like I went to the

gym on a on a Kick Scooter and which was like five minutes which was the absolute

Max I could stand and no sex no walking no groceries ordering

everything like nothing and after two weeks of that it finally was to the level where it would heal on

its own with like daily life stuff okay I mean that’s that’s such a great

it’s a great news to hear but I remember I had uh I wouldn’t say similar but uh

back in 2019 or 2020 I strained my back like basically the right half of my hip

and Below uh I had this aggravate aggravating pain that doesn’t go away and I remember one of the worst thing

I’ve ever done was actually trying to get like I thought it was like something simple that can be solved by massage or

something like that and that was the worst decision ever I think I made it worse by doing massage and I just had

had to basically just sit or do anything that doesn’t strain this part for like

two weeks and then all of a sudden it’s just starting to get better I mean like with anything that

um basically uh I’m not sure what’s it called but those stickers you put on the back that

reduce inflammations I think that was one of the best things that helped me but this is not I’m not sure if we have

uh we had the similar problem or I’m sure I mean it’s different but anyway yeah

maybe they don’t work but for sure they are at least I know a lot of people

or massage

could it get worse of course it could so it is you have to be careful with these

things as well there’s no such thing as just you know healing stuff all the best closest to

them probably but even though yeah that’s true

okay so we can get to the topic of our discussion today uh I believe I chose

today exercise selection because it’s been such a Hot Topic in the last couple of years I mean I guess nutrition at

some point it reached the peak where we know what to do exactly for weight loss for weight gain how much protein we need

now in nutrition I believe it’s about fine-tuning these numbers and we have

the range but we’re trying to get point something of that range however an

exercise I believe there are still a lot of information or misinformation I would

say and this podcast or this episode we I would like to

pave the way for who whoever wants to start working out and just to have a clear path on how to structure his

workouts or his exercises based on his goals so ideally I will go through each

muscle and we’ll see how far we go uh maybe this will be a two-part series because I don’t think we can cover

everything in one sitting so um let’s kick things off with the bro’s

favorite muscle uh the text or the chest muscle I’ll let you talk about it and you can

maybe talk about the region primary movements for this much for these muscles and the exercises you

would choose for each of these muscles so go ahead let’s start with the chest muscle

yeah so the packs of an upper and the lower part it’s good to differentiate between those

because they they have some opposing functions the function that they share is a horizontal

adduction or flexion so basically like crunching the elbows together which you do in a bench press or a dump bench

press a fly all these movements and the Very the most horizontal movements in my

view are generally the best that doesn’t mean you do a flat press though because

if you’re doing a flat press and you’re arcing your back a bit which is what most people do you’re attracting the

shoulder blades you’re actually slightly decline so I like a 15 degree ink line

and I typically prefer dumbbells over barbell barbell is also great but dumbbells you can just get a little bit

more range of motion it’s easier on the shoulders and you can get that stretch which we know from the research from the

past years is extremely important because it can stimulate stretch mediated hypertrophy

and then most of the standard exercise are good I’m a big fan of push-ups as well I think most people are a little

bit too much while doing all of their pressing with their scapulae fixed so their shoulder blades are like fixed to

a chair or the bench or whatever and the body moves very well when it can move

freely so during a push-up which is a closed chain closed kinetic chain exercise the scapulae are free to move

and a lot of people experience a lot better shoulder Health when they do these as opposed to always doing bench

presses which for many people really takes its toll on the shoulder at some point

okay so um one of the most common questions I get regarding the pecs or the chest

muscle that how many should you tackle the upper angle or the lower backs or

the upper backs or just doing horizontal uh push or does does it cover all the

muscle fibers I think that you cover pretty much all the fibers if you do horizontal type

pressing decline pressing I’m not a big fan of because most people have issues

developing the upper chest and the lower chest if anything gets over developed I think most people probably do a little

bit too much kind of decline pressing a standard push-up if you think about it is actually a decline press and like I

said a standard flat bench press if your arching is actually also a slightly decline press so a lot of people

actually unwillingly do most of their pressing decliners and also when they do a cable crossover they like do the kind

of the most muscular pose it’s a very very decline type movement that’s focused on the lower backs

so I’m not a big fan of really targeting the decline dips again really it’s the

lower chest upper packs there is something to be said for that but most research finds that if you look

at what happens when you do an incline press and the same for a decline press is that you’re not increasing the

activity much like a little bit but very little in the the upper Parts like if you do an incline press the upper backs

get a little bit more activity depending on which study you look at but the lower packs get a lot less

activity so it’s not really that you’re hitting the upper packs better it’s mainly that you’re hitting the upper the

lower backs worse and I think that you already hit the upper

packs and the lower packs quite a bit with other exercises like chin UPS they also actually at the lower backs many

people forget that the lower packs also ate in shoulder extension and pull over type

movements all these things they also hit the lower backs not you know necessarily an optimal exercise for that but they

still Target the region so those fibers will be activated and then the upper packs they get hit with almost any kind

of front raise even a little bit with a lateral raise depending on how you perform it overhead pressing if you’re not fully

like your arms are not fully out to the sides also hits the upper packs so there are a lot of exercises typically that

hit the upper versus lower backs a little bit and I think the most of the back work that you have to do also because you’re

already getting that extra volume is in in or near the horizontal pressing plane

okay it’s funny because you mentioned the dips and I’m not a big fan of uh chest tips honestly I feel like they

strain my joints they put a lot of stress on my joints especially as soon

you start loading weights or you use the the chains and you start putting on

weights you can really feel it in your joints so this is a pass for me and

another thing I come across um is flies in general are they

unnecessary chest exercise you would say in a program they’re not necessary but I like

Bayesian flies a lot which is a fly that’s done with cables and you internally rotate the shoulder so

instead of holding it like this you do like this and which is kind of what you do with a bench press so most people

feel that because you’re you’re rotating the shoulder and therefore the if you look at the the back fibers they’re kind

of stretched over the shoulder normally like this and when you internally rotate the shoulder you act you align them much

more directly with the movement so the line of pull of the movement is

the same as the line of pulled muscle fibers which is typically when you get the highest muscle activity there’s no direct research on this but most people

like them and actually they’re surprisingly easy on the shoulders for a lot of people even though they’re in internal rotation

so yeah I like those a lot but any type of flight can work and a big benefit of flies is that they can

allow you very well to overload the stretched position now you can do this with a dumbbell with a double it’s

probably a little bit Overkill because then you’re kind of only overloading the bottom position but with a cable for

example it’s a really good way to overload the bottom part and and isolate the backs of course

where else we have dumbbells and barbles you’re kind of hitting the triceps but not very well which is we’ll probably

we’ll get into that later it’s actually an issue because you’re train your lateral fibers of the triceps

a lot but not so much the long head so you’re you’re actually kind of over

training one part of the triceps and under training another part in many programs and fly Sala allow you to just hit the

packs pack deck can also work well then you are taking the shoulders out of it a little bit if you externally rotate the

shoulders then you don’t engage the front delts as much which can also be beneficial because a lot of people

overwork those as well yeah yeah that’s true and it’s a for especially for the front

delt it’s a game of not over training it in a typical program rather than actually hitting the volume because

it’s all in almost any chest movement you will move the front shoulders and then you have any push movements so

you’ll still also move the front delts that’s very interesting okay since we talked about the triceps

let’s get on to the triceps I guess um so I feel like it’s necessary to

explain uh passive and active and sufficiency when we’re talking about the triceps sensitive by articulate muscle

and could you give an example on each of those and how this affects uh the

working or the muscle function of the tricep sure so muscles have what’s called a

length tension relationship which means that the amount of tension the muscle produces depends on the length of the

muscle and the amount of tension a muscle produces is extremely important because tension on the muscle mechanical tension

on the muscle fibers is the primary probably actually exclusive stimulus for

muscle growth there is some speculation about muscle damage and metabolic stress but it’s mostly theoretical and there’s

very little like hard data to back that up most research is consistent with really that mechanical tension on the fibers is

the growth stimulus probably D1 and only growth stimulus for hypertrophy so if we

know what maximizes tension on the muscle fibers that is essentially the goal of exercise selection to select

exercises that put as much attention on the target musculature as possible

now due to the length extension relationship there’s usually kind of an Optimum curve where there is a certain length where

the muscle is the strongest and then if you stretch it out a lot it becomes weaker if you shorten it a lot it

becomes a lot weaker too now this depends this varies per muscle so it’s good to know what every muscle and

potential relationship is but for the triceps you can actually get it

so short and so long especially the long hat that it’s basically inactive so the long

net is also active at the shoulder it’s actually it’s like a little helper of the lats it helps with shoulder

extension pulling the elbow down so what you want to do typically for the long head is

to have the elbow overhead because that stretches it and that allows you to induce stretch media perfectly now

stretch media hypertrophy is something that you get when you’re training it at a long length but probably not at full

passive insufficiency so passive insufficiency means that you are the muscle is so long that it’s it’s very

weak and basically it cannot fully contract anymore so if you think of how a muscle contracts the accent myosin

sling sliding over each other the sliding filaments that that process

of you know the muscles the filament signing over each other that’s how it shortens so if you think of this now now the muscle is more short

if the muscle is very long then you’re pulling these uh myofilaments so far

apart that they cannot they cannot contract anymore they cannot join hands

and that’s what happens with passive insufficiency and with active insufficiency is when

the muscle is so short which you you could get with the triceps but you it

doesn’t really occur much you get it a little bit with a kickback if you’re you’re you have the elbow way out to the

back and then you try to fully extend the arm you can actually tell like if you do that like you build the elbow way

back and you try to extend the arm you’ll notice that you cannot pull the elbow quite as far back it’s a small

difference for most people as when you’re just pulling the elbow back like a row so if you’re also trying

to extend the arm you’ll notice that the long end of the triceps gets too bunched up it gets too short so the actin myosin

are like cramped up together and there’s there’s no room for them to form cross breaches anymore because they’re they’re just cramped up against each other

and that’s a position you definitely want to avoid for most exercises because yeah you can’t produce much tension and

there’s also no stretch media to the birth fee um Okay so

in the same context i i two questions are in my mind so right now so the first one

um doing a lot prayer this is an an obvious tricep exercise because you can

really feel the tricep working or per several triceps specifically yeah and

you can really feel it but would you say it’s the motion or the position of the

triceps in a lot prayer for example um fully extending the elbow and doing

while doing the last prayer does it put the triceps in a passive insufficiency

no so it would go close to active insufficiency in the bottom if and this

is not possible with straight arms you would get the elbows behind the body so you really have to get maximum for the

shortest possible muscle length which is the elbow way behind the body not like a little bit but all the way back and then

fully straighten the arm then you get active insufficiency and passive insufficiency you you

wouldn’t get because at the top you you would have to also Flex the arm so you’d

also have to stretch the triceps at the elbow which you’re not doing with a lot player you’re keeping the arm either

fully straight or close to straight so with a lot player you don’t go into either range most exercises for the

triceps they won’t go into full active or passive insufficiency it’s the position of when you’re doing over at

tricep extension and you’re doing it like this and you really focus on getting the elbow all the way back and

then you get the arm all the way down then you also notice you are extremely weak and it’s because the alarm at can

do very little it may still be okay to do that sometimes because you’re stimulating a whole lot of passive

tension on the long head so it may actually kind of balance out okay if you

also have other triceps work for the long hands in the program because then you’re banking more on passive tension and stretch media to perjury with that

exercise and other exercises stimulate more active tension and like I said the active insufficiency

that’s what you mostly get if you’re doing like a kickback with the elbow way behind the body so Kickbacks in general

are not a great exercise because they really don’t stimulate the triceps at Short lengths they’re not great for the

long hat and um if you do them like with your elbow way up then you’re even going into active insufficiency which is also

why you’re so weak when you do that if you try to do a kickback with your elbow all the way up behind your body and you

really fully straighten the arm then you’re going to be lifting pink weights very often

because yeah that’s the active insufficiency at play yeah that makes sense that completely makes sense yeah

and for example exercises like a skull crusher if you do it the regular way

you’re just moving your elbows but for example if I take the weight back behind

my head does that work the long head of the triceps as well yes so I like to call those skull overs

instead of Skull Crushers yes makes sense yeah there you go over the skull

instead of crushing the skull and they’re kind of a skull crusher meets a pullover so it works both ways so yeah

scroll overs not to be confused with school crushers then you’re activating the long app more

for two reasons one you’re stretching it more when the elbow goes back you stretch the long hip more and then

secondly when the elbow comes back then as we discuss the long head also helps the lats so it actually also helps pull

the elbow back so you’re activating this motion itself like bring the elbow up like this activates the long head of the

triceps so you get kind of double extra return on investment plus it’s much much easier

on the elbow for most people most people they get a lot of issues with Skull

Crushers I often joke that Skull Crushers are better called elbow Crushers because not many people actually end up injured on the skull but

a lot of people get elbow pain from them and school overs are a lot safer on the elbow because you’re kind of avoiding

that position in the the bottom where you have a lot of tension in the elbows all the way like this it’s safer to just

get the elbow back a little bit even if that comes at the expense of a little bit less muscle tension it’s better to

have the muscle tension you can manage then you know a bit more muscle tension but then get injured as a result

yeah that’s that’s very interesting because I used to do a lot of overhead exercises for the triceps and then at

some point that that position that specific position where you put the tricep and becomes really difficult to

pull I I wanted to change that so I went to start with the skull overs as you

called them and I noticed it’s such a it’s more time efficient for me at least

and especially with my busy schedule sometimes doing unilateral exercises takes a lot of time so I prefer doing

um both muscles at the same time but of course not everything I can do that I will get to that I guess in the

different muscles I’ll talk more about that okay I guess we covered everything about the triceps I believe

okay so let’s move on to the antagonist muscle of the triceps the biceps so we

have two heads of the bicep the short head and the long head of the biceps and I’ll let you take over let us know what

yeah so should a short hats the inner Hats Long hats the outer hat uh even textbooks sometimes confuse the two but

it’s the short hat that’s actually also active at the shoulder so um

if you raise your arm like in a shoulder flexion like a front raise it

technically trains the short head of the biceps it’s very weak there though so it’s not a big

um it’s not a big issue but it means that you generally eat also to avoid that saying the muscle shortening too

much you want to keep the elbow at your side and another issue is that the biceps is

a relatively unique muscle because it’s strongest in the position

where it’s relatively long in fact it’s the strongest almost at its maximum

length if you think about resting position where you’re just standing upright in military posture your biceps are stretched they’re atrocytes

so they’re they’re not flexed at the shoulder they’re relatively stretched at the shoulder and your arms are

straightened so the biceps are stretched in that position and in that anatomical position the

biceps is approximately that position the strongest so you actually want exercises

especially for the biceps that train the muscle at long lengths because you get

the highest not only passive tension which every muscle gets when it’s lengthened like in the triceps like we

have to trade off right between active and passive tension with the biceps you get both in the

bottom position now as it turns out the way most people do their curls dumbbell curls marble

curls that’s all Max tension at 90 degree elbow flexion and there’s actually no

tension when the arm is straightened in the bottom because the moment arm the external moment arm is zero the like

there’s no leverage of the dumbbell right it’s pulling your elbow down whereas the biceps wants to perform this

movement like 90 degree upward rotation around the elbow joint so

for for most people they are neglecting completely neglecting the very most important position for the biceps and as

a result of that I think that the exercise I like the most is the Bayesian curl which is a cable curl but unlike

the way most people perform their cable curls is you face away from the cable Tower so almost everybody when they’re

doing cable curls they’re facing the cable Tower and then you have the exact same problem even worse in fact because

there’s still no leverage in the bottom position like you could literally just let your arms relax in the bottom

position and it will be basically zero tension on the biceps just like in a double robotical like you can feel it you can just in the bottom position you

can rest you can literally relax in between repetitions now with the basic curl because you’re facing away

from the cable Tower there’s still tension in the bottom position and by stepping forward it actually becomes

quite a lot of tension so you overload the bottom part and then by leaning a little bit forward you can also still

overload the top position so you get nice constant muscle tension throughout

the entire range of motion and especially the bottom position where you get the highest active and passive

tension so it’s kind of a perfect bicep exercise yeah I’m a vision curve have been uh

ever since I finished the course uh your course this exercise has been a staple in all

of my clients uh workouts like every single client has to have this exercise

and whenever they ask about why do I need this exercise and the widest

exercise specifically I’m like okay this exercise will cover all the parts of the

biceps like starting from the stretch position to the 90 degrees and you’ll have maximum uh

um contraction on each one of them and if you don’t like it this will cause

your workout plan to have three or at least two different exercises to focus on eight different angles of uh devices

for example I can give you a picture curl so you can have the completed upper

upward position of the biceps and I can give you another exercise that can work the stretch position of the biceps if

you want to save time let’s just stick to this one and

I’ve I’ve I haven’t had anyone complain about this exercise as soon as they know how to perform it properly

it it just it feels really good to the biceps as well and if you want if you’re

chasing the pump this is a perfect exercise for that yeah it does it does both right the pump

and the stretch exactly exactly both and for the details freak and I got this

question from those who were chasing the details for example um the two heads of the biceps when

should you care about which one to focus on more

rarely you you rarely care about that you mainly care about the short hats

training the short hat well by keeping your elbow at your side so you have all

of these exercises you know you’re doing curls like this and curls like this and the biceps position for some reason guys

in the gym uh get insanely creative when it comes to biceps isolation exercises like they do the same stuff year in year

out for every muscle group but no when it comes to biceps isolation exercises they do like seven variants lying down

with the cable standing up weird poses like yeah the the Arnold poses it’s uh

it’s crazy let’s pull down yeah yeah exactly and it’s really not a

muscle that needs that much variation because like I said Beijing curls are essentially perfect they’re not a very

complicated muscle so just some exercise like that and then you get the work you get from chin ups and the like you’re

pretty much covered for mostly that’s a purpose you can play around you know from for more advanced trainees with

pronation supination neutral position Hammer you can do Beijing curls as well with hammer grip with pronated grip like

reverse grip so you can add some variation in like there but you really don’t need that much of it and

especially not in the same program so I think there’s this idea of changing

the peak of the biceps for most people it really doesn’t matter yeah and I think you mentioned this I’m

not sure if I caught it or not so which head of the biceps is mainly responsible for or dominantly responsible for the

shoulder flexion the short one the inner one so the one the closest okay yeah

okay last one for the biceps and especially with counting the volume of

the biceps because it’s it’s uh in every pull and not to every but most of the pulling exercises there there is some

sort some some level of bicep work and it’s for example chin UPS I completely

count the volume towards the biceps because it you can feel the activation of the muscle in the chin up if you do

it in a full range of motion and for example when it comes to rows and

any exercise that has basically the moves the biceps and or a pull down a

regular pull down how do you differentiate on how to count the biceps is it half a volume is it one or is it a

complete set for towards the biceps yeah that’s an area where we currently

we’re just scratching the surface of that I’m actually in the process of doing well I think will be a really

really cool study on hip thrust versus squats together with breath Contreras and some other researchers and

we don’t have that many studies that directly compare muscle growth for different exercises so we rely a lot on

EMG research biomechanics and some indirect findings there are studies on muscle damage how much muscle

damage is induced by an exercise for example how much um like biomechanically how much tension

there there is in these positions so we rely a lot on those things like for the triceps we actually have studied

directly now that shows that overhead tricep extensions stimulate significantly more muscle growth than

push Downs so what we just talked about these biomechanical principles um which is what I’ve very long

advocated and so it’s great to see that we now actually have researched that that validates these principles for the

biceps we also have a few studies we know that chin ups and even white grip

pull Downs according to one study is by paulus until from Brazil Who doesn’t have the best reputation after

its association with data frauding scandal in Brazil but he was never like officially called

out or anything so we you know based on the data we have that’s what we should go by and it found that even white grip

pull-ups or pull Downs are as effective as I think marble or dumbbell cross I

can’t remember which one I think they’re marble curls in contrast we also have a study that found that dumbbell rows are

considerably less effective like half as effective as biceps growth and

that makes sense because one thing that the biceps and the triceps have in common is that with barbels or fixed implements they can be

a lot more effective due to horizontal Force production it’s a little bit complicated to explain

but basically if during a wide grip

um pull down you can kind of move the biceps you can exert force of pulling the bar inwards and because if you’re

pulling the bar inward the bar is fixed you’re not going to crush the bar unless you’re the mountain so what happens is

you pull the weight down like that Force essentially gets transferred into downward movements biomechanically it’s a little bit more complicated but that’s

intuitively how you can think about it and the same for a bench press if you’re pressing outward on the bar since the bar can bends that pushes the bar up

So based on these things you can with a fixed Implement activate the arms a lot

more than with a dumbbell or a single cable so if a dumbbell row there there

really isn’t that much you cannot have that horizontal Force production and because you would move the dumbbell

on to the side because it is not fixed in place and you also don’t have a lot of direct demands for elbow flexion like there’s

no elbow extension Torque from the weight pretty much especially as long as the double is directly below the elbow

you know that there’s no direct amount to the biceps so it’s um yeah just not a great exercise for

the biceps chin UPS probably yes I would count them 100 So based on This research rows and stuff are like 50 and then you get to

something like high rows or face pulls I mean if you want to be precise probably that would be like 25 because

it still activates the biceps but I think often you can just ignore it for the sake of Simplicity maybe you because

if you don’t cross a certain threshold I think it’s like 40 of mvic in EMG

research the the stimulus is essentially too low to stimulate significant muscle growth so you can you don’t have to

worry about an exercise stimulating 10 versus 20 you know probably based on that if it’s below 40 or below half you

can kind of round it to zero so yeah and then of course all the girls

count 100 the tricky thing is like with the triceps we know that overhead tricep

extensions are a lot more effective than push downs but they’re both really train the triceps well so you we kind of also

have to worry about the muscle length right so something like a preacher curl or Beijing curl is probably a lot more

effective than a double curl but are you actually gonna count the double curl as 80 or something in a program you know

then you have to make a lot of assumptions and it gets very complicated so typically I I count on exercises fully

or half and I make sure that you take all the boxes for a muscle that’s most important because if you look at

research what we have on the I the adding of isolation exercises to compound exercises

for example we see that you don’t have to like do everything perfect with every

exercise for all your volume like if you have some exercise that’s maybe not I optimal but you have some other exercise

that does take all the boxes stimulate stretch media perfectly super high active tension good range of motion Etc

then if you have some other volume in the program it kind of rounds it out you know it doesn’t you don’t have all of

your volume you don’t need it to hit because you’re kind of also hitting the same fiber stand probably so yeah based on most research what we

have is as long as you you have some exercises that stimulate a the passive tension the stretch media

perfectly and really Target those most fast twitch muscle fibers make sure you get really high muscle activity then the

rest of the volume can just get okay muscle activity because you’re stimulating you know the type 2A fibers

the type 1 fibers a bit more you also want to stimulate those

yeah and that that makes sense actually and it’s funny you mentioned the triceps and especially when you have like uh

you’re counting volume towards the long head of the triceps and Counting volume towards would you call it the medial or

the lateral head of the triceps and do you count volume for each separately or you just

count pushing exercises as half and then the other half is compensated by the

long head exercises I counted separately I count long hat

and medial and lateral volume my medial lateral I count them together it’s mainly the lateral has really like the

head in between is relatively small it’s not that visible so you can kind of just think about it as a lateral head

uh but yeah the long accounts separately because exercises like laborators they hit the Long Heads but don’t hit the

other hats sufficiently and then you have exercise like the bench press because of the bioarticular muscle

conflict like the the elbow you know the long hat is essentially pulling the elbow down a bit as well and

we know from research now it was a great study by brand Avatar that shows a bench press like a bobble bench press is great

for a lateral head but really poor for the long hat and on average in research we see that bench presses and push-ups

stimulate about half the growth of tricep extensions and direct triceps

isolation work so that explains it it’s probably yeah you’re activating about half of the musculature very well

but yeah to make sure that your program gets rounded out you you technically can’t just say it’s half if you have

overhead tricep extensions in the program it’s fine some students I say look if you if it’s too complicated and

you just count it as half and you’ll be okay as long as you adhere to all the other principles if you want to be

precise then you do need to count for example that players because how else do you count the laparators or those half

as well like you know and if you just do 20 sets of bench presses that’s still

crap for the long hat especially if it’s double bench presses so it doesn’t it

doesn’t make a hole you know you need something else to compensate for that volume but yeah just counting in half is

is pretty okay as long as you like I said adhere to these other principles as well

yeah that I think that covers it for the biceps and we tapped back into the triceps we’re taking this conversation

going with it I’m enjoying this this is really fun okay so um it makes sense to move the to the

shoulder I guess because we spoke about it here and there so let’s get it out of

the way I believe um shoulder has three sides uh or three main muscles uh front delts lateral

delts and the rear delts front desk as we mentioned earlier in the uh I would

say podcast uh they’re already moving in most of our push exercises so our focus on these should be on mainly towards the

lateral head I guess more than the real rear delt because you have pulling exercises that also work the rear delt

so you can go yeah yeah the the short or the the

interior head the front part of the delts I typically don’t even bother training because you’re going to hit it

all of your overhead presses all of your horizontal presses basically all your chest work like I said except maybe back

deck flies with very high external rotation of the shoulder you don’t take the front delts much but yeah it’s gonna

hit it’s gonna get hit a lot now the lateral delts they don’t get hit nearly as much as people think because most

people have the idea that if they do an overhead press for example or a standard lateral race they are taught to do it in a scapular plane so it’s actually a bit

more of a front raise you know it’s like 30 degrees to the front also most people intuitively when they do an asphalt race

like you stand up straight with double and the arm gets kind of forward their arms a little bit bent for one which moves to double forward which kind of

has the same effect as moving the elbow forward and then they also move the elbow a little bit forward because for some people it feels better on the

shoulder or they’re taught to do that and then if you look at the angle of the

fibers like when it’s like this then your it’s mostly your front fibers of the delts that are active and even if

you’re doing a lateral raise with the elbow all the way out to the side this is still a lot of the front fibers like

you can see if your adults are big enough and you do it like this you can see the different heads and in this position this is like these

fibers these are leftful fibers these get hits but these are all front fibers so I like to do most of my delt work

really focused on leaning a little bit forward and actually really making sure those lateral fibers the top fibers are

in line with the exercise because we know from the literature that the delts

can actually be divided into 7 9 11 some research have a lot of different opinions there are three main heads but

there are at least I think based on latest research is at least 11 different neuronal compartments that can be

activated separately so it’s almost a Continuum of the fibers and it’s the fibers that are the most directly in

line with the exercise those are the fibers that you’re going to hit the most so bending over a little bit forward

like you can literally see for yourself making sure it’s those lateral fibers that are in line with the exercise and

then Moving Straight Out to the sides that’s a great way to Target the lateral fibers you can also move the thumb down

a little bit internally rotating the shoulder you have to be a bit careful with that for shoulder Health but as long as it feels fine you don’t go up

too high it’s it’s generally okay and then you know the rear fibers as

well you want to um you hit those with pulling exercises so you don’t need to worry as much about it

but the level fibers for sure also with overhead pressing you want to make sure that your your elbows are

really out to the sides because if you think about how most people overhead press they actually many people sit and

when they’re sitting um they are they’re kind of doing a high incline press they’re not sitting fully

upright because for one bench often doesn’t go fully upright and if you are then you can’t sit comfortably

now I’m not a big fan of sitting in general in part because of that and also because we literally have a study showing that you get greater muscle

activity when you do the exercise standing probably in part because of the higher stabilization requirements maybe also

because the shoulder is free to move and because it’s easier to keep the elbows all the way out to the sides

and you can do that very well with dumbbells so it’s a shame if you use dumbbells and you don’t go a all the way

down and B all the way out to the sides again as long as your shoulders are happy with this and even if you’re using a barbell you

want to make sure that you’re you know having shoulders way out the elbows way out to the sides really focusing on this

kind of motion not on the front tire press okay that’s really interesting

um so when you say go all the way to the sides would you say so for example if our Baseline is

the shoulders would you say double the shoulders or triple or two and a half so

pretty wise okay okay so the ideal grip with I would say is at a minimum where in the bottom

position your forearms are vertical

you can even make them a little bit more out of size

and you’ll feel that when you move the arms out further to the sides then your elbows will interference towards your

body and you you’ll feel the stretch more in the lateral delves and that’s great you may actually determine either

perfectly okay yeah that makes sense Yeah so basically for a lot of people I would say if you

can comfortably go wider go wider okay so if you go narrow then you’re

turning it into more of an incline press again this assumes that you’re doing it for primarily bodybuilding purposes

that’s true that’s true um uh I guess this

this is for the uh lateral head and the rear is there anything to add other than

what we discussed well and better with all the all the

modifications we just discussed and then if you add the pulling exercises and stuff you should it should be okay at

more valuable High balls shoulder pulls um rear high rows and

the last thing I’ll probably add is that you also want to add stretch media to virtually exercises for adults so I like

cable after analysis a lot more than doubles I like sight lining that’s all raises where you’re lying out to the side and

you overload the bottom position more because normally people when they do left right they only Overlake again the

90 degree top like people focus are way too excessively on the pump and the burn as opposed to stretch media laboratory

and long long muscle relaxers you don’t feel as much as long as legs very little

in fact sometimes you feel the stretch but sometimes you just feel very little but we offer research that’s where you

get the most growth so with rear delts you can also do that

with cables and you can also kind of do a slightly um

you get a kind of a lying type of uh or sideline real Trace

to also stretch the rear delts a bit more on the load if you only like

standard row type movements then you don’t hit the real house as much I do think it helps a lot if you let the

shoulder blades drift forward in the bottom of like high rows and roll movements chin UPS as well like let your

that your shoulders come all the way up to go into a full that hang that’s the

button just break all the way down stretch the traps the rear delves fully

Etc they’re probably hopsilots and there’s there’s really no risk like

you never see anyone injuring themselves doing uh at the end of a road or something you know it’s so now a lot of

people say no you need to keep the um shoulder blades a little bit up um during chin ups and they’re like

there’s zero evidence to support any of that and anecdotally you don’t see anyone injure themselves like doing a

death tag and a chin up like at the bottom very ball position you’re like oh oh no it’s always in the middle or uh

somewhere else you know if they get injured to the first place yeah that’s true that’s very true and it came to my

mind would you count um a large prayer as a rare dealt uh

exercise especially in the bottom position or in the bottom position where you slightly go hyper extension

yeah so the last results also extends shoulder they are primary shoulder High Park sensors they’re more active than

but they’re also very active during shoulder extension so that way I went on well actually also hits the rear delts

very well mm-hmm and I guess with the time we have left

we can slightly talk about the last upper body muscle which is the back and

I like to divide the back into um two parts the upper part which uh

goes with the traps and the rear delt and the lower part I would call the Luts

and especially these days I’ve been seeing a lot of variations to relax and

so many angles and you have to pull horizontal you have to go frontal and

you have to work your iliac fibers and so many things that’s been going on

these days with the lads so let’s hear it from the man how how are things with the lats and how would you put a

structural program to work the Lots properly there is something to be said for that

to Target shoulder adduction which is basically like a wide grip type lat pull

down or a pull-up versus extension which Port you get with Superhead close grip chin up or laborers you hit more upper

versus lower fibers with different variants so there’s some

some research indicating that whether it’s still relevant at maximum training intensity is debatable

we know that fiber should have the best direct orientation for light up flow

from the exercise they are more active but if your training goes to failure all

the fibers get activated like it’s all hands on deck everything gets worked so what whatever is still very relevant

then it’s it’s currently available I think if you have those two movements

like you have a more wide grip a whiteboard for example and the lap player you’re pretty much covered

so I don’t think you need like six different angles and you know diagonally

down and try those fibers and the other fibers just two good exercises are

probably okay for for the very most part maybe super Advanced or initial benefit from one more but if you want to do high

volume you’ll you know you’ll work them for a lot of exercises anyway yeah that’s that’s true uh it’s funny

because uh lot’s prayer ever since you wrote the article on your website about

the light prayer and how um they work so many muscles in different muscles I’ve been starting to

implement them on my program and I’ve been doing them from such a long time uh now

at some point my core started failing before my last which got really

difficult so I switched to unilateral lot prayers which was much much easier

but then I have the same not the same problem it’s much easier and you can actually fail in the Lots before you

fail in your core but sometimes you have to stabilize yourself since you’re pulling in One Direction or half your

body but it’s such a great exercise I highly highly recommend anyone who’s watching

this to try this if you struggle with the core being the limiting factor then you can with body

positioning you can reduce the effect a lot kneeling also helps a lot like standing in sitar and what you also do

with the kayak version which I got from the late John Meadows is he didn’t use the prolapiers specifically but he used

it for a fake kayak Rose which is uh or like standards type pull Downs you

basically you start like this just like a normal operator and then you move only one hand into your hip

you’re doing it like this you can alternate or you can just do one side and then the other side but I like to

alternate between sides and it just naturally move like this arm this hands

goes to the left hip exact same position as normal but the other hand you just let it kind of stay near the top and it

just goes you kind of press down into it it’s a kayak black prior so it’s also just great variance you don’t need as

much weight and it’s not fully metal so you’re kind of alternating between the sides and you also feel it hits the

fibers a little bit different because you’re yeah you’re using these different angles so it’s a nice variant as well where you’ve done lots lots of normal

pairs already I must try this one I I will definitely give it a try

it sounds like something I would do okay um for the upper back just to keep it

short and simple with the time we have left um for myself um I’m a big fan of shoulder pulls

they I I can really feel my upper back Contracting especially uh the upper

traps and uh contrary to shrugs this feels much

more that activates the traps or the upper traps especially while doing

shoulder pulls basically shoulder pulls instead of doing a baseball which you go up and you go to the shoulder uh

Direction rather than going to the face poles or the face Direction what do you have to say for the upper backs

and the rear valves which we already discussed election

movements in general I don’t do a lot of mobile rows because they’re not ideal for less and because you’re not getting

a full resources and when you’re moving on the elbow behind the body you’re hyper accepting

your shoulder and the last couple of way in that position you’ll go back to your side they cannot put it further back

so most rows kind of yeah they don’t cut it for less and they’re no better than a

high Row for their upper back so I like to just focus on the upper back with rowing type movements and really focus

on the rear elves the traps whether you hit more upper trap or not the best a lot on the angle if you have a little

bit more upright row you will hit the upper traps a lot more for the upper traps though

most research trying fast to really hit them you need to be in a shoulder abduction to some degree so the elbows

need to be someone up like this because the fibers they run almost horizontal for the most parts so the way most

people do stress they think the fibers run like like this like if you have a super fake neck maybe you do but for

most people they run more like this which means that you want the angle of pull again also to be more like this

because the fireworks will contract this way right so you want like a height or a white

shrug the white barbell shrug or like dual cable dual cable pulley shrug it

goes to overhead shots or even monkey shots monkey shots like it’s like this it’s um not very practical most people

don’t like them but theoretically they work well so I like those a lot if you really want

to focus on the upper traps many people don’t know because you know it creates more um

you you kind of reduce the width of the shoulder yeah visually speaking when you when you make this part very big then

kind of you don’t have that long bronze shoulder look so for aesthetic purposes many people don’t want to maximize upper

fat growth and are fine with just doing the shoulder balls horizontal type movements and not focusing too much on

that trap specifically but if you do want to roll them you should probably add some like wide grave type trucks

yeah that makes that makes sense and in the same context would you say um for

example a wide grip chest supported t-bar would you count it towards the

upper traps because it works the upper back and then you have the white grip and then you

will pull in that direction does that make sense yes someone go by Seal because it depends on

the angle of your individual trap fibers which you know if you look at the fibers will say auto loan versus is versus

average strongman part of the guy usually don’t like this it will exist there are really like like this so the

original fires of the individual the fires of the individual versus the exact angle of the movement

like if it’s more of an upright bro you’ll have the um traps over traps more whereas if

you’re fully horizontal you’re not going to hit that much at all you may feel it but it’s going to be more like the top of your horizontal fibers rather than

release upper fibers because the top fibers hold the traps they go all the way up to the neck

yeah yeah that makes sense that makes sense um I guess uh that’s uh one hour of your

time I want to stretches further we try to get as much as many muscles as I

believe we cover the upper body completely um we can do a part two so

this must be a second part for so where we talk about the lower body I guess we

can talk about that later and we’ll see how this goes and the feedback of the people I’m sure that everyone’s gonna

love this episode there’s a lot of room for information to digest here so I’ll probably watch it myself for two or

three times Jessica so I can grasp everything here um but yeah thank you so much for your

time middle um I mean I mean we’re trying to get this to work for the last two to three

weeks I’m glad it finally happened and I hope you get well soon or cover

completely from your back injury where you can go back with the as much as you can lifts

are squats

thank you we’ll do we’ll do definitely and for anyone watching I’ll leave all the links below where for melon’s

channel how’s Instagram his YouTube channel which he launched recently and his also his PT course uh I I believe

you you started the this year no uh you’re starting in a couple of months I believe the next batch of people

absolutely yeah this is highly recommended this is

one of the best courses I’ve ever done and um you also have your patreon so I

also highly recommend that live every month that there’s a lot of information so you’re a busy man so I and then you I

envy you you’re such a hard worker I need to take your recipe from that

have a great day have a great day bye

Mini Course on muscle building graphic Want more content like this?

Then get our free mini-course on muscle building, fat loss and strength.

By filling in your details you consent with our privacy policy and the way we handle your personal data.

About the author

Menno Henselmans

Formerly a business consultant, I've traded my company car to follow my passion in strength training. I'm now an online physique coach, scientist and international public speaker with the mission to help serious trainees master their physique.

» Join in and discuss this article on Instagram
Share via
Send this to a friend