Gravity – The Ultimate Muscle Building Force
How to harness the power of gravity to unleash your true muscle building potentialBy Steve Jones Editor-in-chief
No its not some crazy supplement or whacky new training program it’s a force that keeps us all planted to Mother Earth and prevents us and everything else with it from floating out into space. It’s also what makes those chunks of iron we lift heavy because its gravity that pulls the iron down to earth. So yes, you could say it’s kind of important on the whole scale of things. It’s that magical force called “Gravity” and once you understand the basic science it can without doubt help you in your pursuit to build your dream physique!
What is gravity and how does it help with bodybuilding?
Gravity is defined as – The natural force that causes objects to be pulled towards the center of the earth, it causes objects to have weight. Because the Earth is a massive round ball, no matter where you are standing on the planet the center is always straight down, makes sense right?
Because gravity’s pull is always directed straight down it seems logical to ensure the actual resistance we use while weight training travels a path that is straight up and straight down, therefore taking full advantage of the Earth’s gravitational pull.
Vertically challenging exercises like military press, squats and bench press follow a straight up and down path. Don’t get confused with bench press as you are obviously laying in a horizontal position but the movement of the bar itself follows a vertical path. You get where I am coming from?
If we take a look at the basics or what I like to call the fundamentals of weight training exercises we can easily identify why movements like squats, deadlifts, bench press, military press and rows tend to have the most benefits when it comes to building a strong muscular physique. This is taking into consideration that they are performed correctly of course.
Because all the basic movements have one inherent thing in common, they take full advantage of Earth’s gravitational pull. They follow a direct up and down, vertical not horizontal path.
Keeping in mind these basic movements also have the additional benefits of targeting more than one muscle group. They a multi-group exercises that facilitate an array of
benefits to the human body so they should certainly always make up the foundation of any sensible weight training
What about less than vertical movements?
Now, let me stress just because any given exercise does not follow a vertical path it doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water! Let me give you an example of less than vertical movements, 45 degree leg press, preacher curls, flys, side lateral raise and many other movements follow a less than perfect vertical downward force.
Now there are exercises that make the use of pullies and cams and although it may appear you are pulling the weight across a horizontal path the pulley and cam setup is actually moving the physical weight in a vertical path. A good example of this is seated cable rows, you are pulling the handle into your waist at along a horizontal path but the actually cable set up is lifting the iron plates on a vertical path. See what I mean? And there are a host of exercise machines that do move weights in a vertical path, hence not all machine
exercises are bad.
But there is a way to make these vertically challenged movements much more effective with the use of super sets and pre exhaustion techniques. Let me give you a couple of quick examples.
1. Super set Side Lateral Raise with Seated Dumbbell Shoulder press.
By hitting purely the side deltoids with the lateral raise ( A horizontal plane movement) you pre-exhaust your shoulders while keeping your tricep muscles fresh and strong so when you jump on the Seated Dumbbell Press you are really taking your deltoids to the next level of intensity.The weights you use on the Dumbbell Press may not be as much as if you just performed straight sets with a 3 minute rest period between sets but we all know “intensity” is king when it comes to building an impressive physique.
2. Super set Preacher Curls with Seated Cable Rows.
The same method applies that we discussed above, you are hitting a (gravity challenged movement) preacher curls prior to the seated cable rows. You pre exhaust your biceps
allowing for more direct force and work load onto your back muscles. Once again your total weight may drop on the seated row but the additional intensity applied to the back muscles will be well worth more than a few kilos drop in total weight. Remember, intensity is what matters coupled with “constant tension” which I will discuss in next.
The Importance of Constant Tension
This is probably the most important thing point to take from this article. Any given exercise must ensure there is “constant tension” force applied to the muscle(s) under load. Even if you take full advantage of gravity and the basic bread and butter exercises if constant tension or force is not applied consistently through the movement you are essentially cheating yourself out of potential muscle growth!
I am very passionate about technique because I see so many gym goers perform exercises with such terrible form. Tension is not just a two way street, it’s a four lane highway. You need tension applied at the bottom of the movement, throughout the upward movement (positive) through the top of the movement, and finally throughout the downward (negative) part of the movement. That’s why we call it “Constant Tension” not partial tension, or one way tension, or sloppy tension. The force must remain constant throughout the entire movement.
To read the full “Gravity – The Ultimate Muscle Building Force” By Editor Steve Jones purchase Volume 7 Issue 2 of Natural Bodz magazine Click here