3 Ways to Build Muscle From All Angles

In more than 15 years as a strength coach, I've trained hundreds of elite athletes. Before that, I competed at the world-class level in tae kwon do. So I've seen my share of amazing feats of strength. But the one I remember most was performed by a man who worked for a moving company in New York City. He could hold himself from a lamppost like a flag, with his body completely horizontal and rigid and his feet together. The kicker: The man never worked out in a gym. Download the No-Curl Secret to Bigger Biceps Workout to your MP3 playe. 

Moving Guy's muscles and strength were in perfect balance because he had to lift weights in every conceivable direction—from the floor, over his head, up and down stairs, and so on. As a result, he had no weak links—and freak-show strength.

Of course, you don't have to haul furniture for a living to build the body you want. This guide will show you a new approach to muscle building. The upshot: You'll blast through longtime plateaus and achieve gains in muscle and strength like you've never seen before.

I'll reveal the principles of building a balanced body. Then, in this workout, you'll find all of those principles packed into one cutting-edge training plan.

I call the training plan the 3-D Workout, because it strengthens every muscle in your body from every direction. Adopting these principles doesn't mean you'll soon be amazing your friends with your human-flag trick. But you will make gains.

The Secret to a Balanced Body

We live in a three-dimensional world. The trouble is, unlike the guy who moves furniture for a living, our workouts are often one-dimensional. In other words, most men work their muscles in only a single direction—forward and back, for instance.

Take the classic situp. It trains your core—the muscles that protect your spine—to be stronger as you raise your torso off the floor. But your core needs to be equally as strong when you bend backward and from side to side, and when you twist. If it's not, those imbalances will limit your muscle-building potential.

Here's why: If a muscle is taxed regularly by, say, having to perform a challenging exercise, its fibers grow larger and stronger. Physiologically, this happens in order to make the task easier, which reduces stress on your body. Makes sense, right? But suppose the muscles that surround a joint become unbalanced, so that one becomes stronger than another. This makes the joint—whether it's your spine, shoulder, or hip—less stable, which can lead to injury. When that happens, your body may shut down the growth of the stronger muscle to prevent the imbalance from worsening.

Chances are, your gains in strength may have already stalled to some extent because of this built-in protective mechanism. So how do you turn off this safety feature in order to switch muscle growth back on? Simple: Just follow these three principles.

Principle 1: Strengthen Your Body — In Every Direction

This doesn't mean you need to do dozens of exercises that have you bending and twisting at every angle. No, what you really want is to train your core, shoulders, and hips to stay stable no matter what position you're in. Think of this in terms of Moving Guy: His body remained rigid while suspended horizontally from the lamppost, despite the force of gravity pulling him down. While that seems incredible, you've already trained your body to do this when you're standing. That's why you can walk erect instead of having to crawl on all fours like a baby.

Discuss This Article

Follow your passions

Connect with ACTIVE.COM