Bodybuilders Were RIGHT All Along! (7 THINGS)

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Bodybuilding and lifting to build muscle is one of the favorite pastimes of men and women around the world. That said, with the emergence of new lifting styles, a focus on training for strength and a general tendency to throw away everything from eras past rather than keeping the things that worked – we are going to highlight the things that 90’s bodybuilders got right. These 7 things should still be used as bodybuilder motivation and be incorporated into your workouts if you want to see the best results for building muscle at home or at the gym.

First up is the idea that you should train your compound lifts before training your isolation exercises. This is actually true in large part. The idea here is that performing the lifts that require the most muscle contribution and will have the largest impact on fatigue management should be front loaded into your workouts. Perform them when you are the most fresh in your workout and you will have a chance to lift the most weight on them and spark new muscle growth from the tension overload you are training. Isolation exercises are often still effective even with much lighter weight and can therefore be used even when you are tired from the initial portion of your workout.

The next idea is that of training to failure. Who knew that this would become such a controversial topic of discussion just 30 years later. The fact is, when you are looking to create change you must always be willing to face a challenge. Suboptimal training intensity as a tradeoff for hard work is not going to get the job done without costing you much more time and workout volume in the process of doing so. If you are willing to train hard, you will be able to build muscle in less time as long as you are prioritizing optimal recovery along the way.

Third is the concept of tension being a prime driver of muscle growth. This is so true. When you want to build muscle and not necessarily solely strength then you have to remember that the way the exercise feels to the muscle is much more important than what the number says on the side of the dumbbell or barbell. Finding a way to make an exercise more inefficient is going to be the best way to force it to change, adapt and grow. Strength training will benefit best from a well orchestrated, finely tuned movement pattern but that is not what we are talking about here.

Fourth on the list of great ideas that you should still be doing from the bodybuilding era is using set prolonging or intensifying techniques like drop sets. The idea behind the drop set is that it acts as an insurance policy to guarantee that you trained hard enough to elicit a change in the muscle you are training. If you were to go to failure on a set of bench press you wouldn’t necessarily have reached failure on the chest – the muscle you were trying to grow. In fact, most often it’s the shoulders that give out at the bottom of a bench press. If you dropped the weight and immediately performed a follow up set you would be able to continue to drive stress to the pecs and help to reach the point of fatigue that forces new muscle gains and growth.

Fifth on the list of things we should still be doing from the bodybuilding era is incorporating posing or flexing of a muscle more often. The simple act of voluntarily contracting a muscle is going to help you to develop a better mind muscle connection with the muscle. When you are looking to overload a specific muscle group, the better neurological connection you have with it the more capable you will be of getting it to respond.

Sixth is the idea that better tasting protein powders and supplements made it easier for us to meet our protein requirements and build muscle in the process. Gone are the days of having to drink protein shakes that taste like battery acid.

Finally, just because isolation exercises should be placed later in your workout doesn’t mean you should skip them all together. While they used to serve as a way to fill in the gaps on specialized hypertrophy training and to bring up muscle weak points they now can serve the important role of the accessory lift to a bigger compound exercise.

As you can see, not all advice from the bodybuilders of the past should be thrown away if you are seeking to build muscle. Just because something is new doesn’t always mean it is better. If you are looking for workouts that are not just new and cutting edge but respect the exercises and techniques that worked in every era, be sure to head to and check out the programs available.

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