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Returning to Free Weights for More Mass.

Updated on September 21, 2022

Returning To Free Weights For More Mass

With all the advancements in gym equipment, the old iron weights may have fallen out of favor. Returning to free weights for more mass may be the answer for you.

This is for the series bodybuilder that wants to build high quality mass. These exercises need to be the staple of your workout program.

Nothing builds muscle better then heavy weights and good form. The old style iron weights do this the best. I know I call them the old style Iron weights but they are still used daily today.

They are primarily used in weightlifting competitions and hard core gyms but are found in most gyms. They are called Olympic style weights because they are made to be consistently the same weight and used in the Olympic competitions.

Newer style health clubs will tend to shy away from them because of injuries. The man hour costs of picking them up and returning them to where they belong is also a factor.

They may still have some but you can see there are very few compared to the machines. I have nothing against the machines and use them myself. The trick is you have to know how to incorporate them with free weights for building mass.

Nothing is better then free weights for building mass. The machines are good for toning, shaping, and firming your muscles. They are also much safer and a spotter is usually not needed.

Building Mass

Building mass is achieved with heavy weights (about 80% of you max lift weight) for less reps of about 6 - 8.

You want to overload and tear down the muscle fibers allowing them to repair themselves bigger and stronger.

It is important to give your muscles enough time between workouts to rest. Then getting plenty of sleep is crucial because this is when the muscles repair themselves.

I think sticking to the basic exercises like benching, squats, curls, and presses will give you all the mass you need.

Incorporating some machine exercises with your free weights will help to shape and define the muscles as the free weights force them to grow.


If you are not using dumbbells then you are cheating yourself out of significant gains. I use dumbbells for 65% to 70% of my free weight training.

Dumbbell exercises are essential in every exercise routine. They work your muscles independently bringing other stabilizer muscles into play.

By also building and strengthening your stabilizer muscles you will look more symmetrical and defined.

You will also be able to handle heavier weights and as a result grow even larger.

I like using dumbbells because you have to focus more on the weights. This builds a stronger mind-muscle connection.

It is easier to tell if you have a muscle that is weaker then the other one. You can spot train then and bring it up to match it's counterpart.

Muscle Confusion

Muscle confusion is also very important when building mass. This is when you keep changing your exercises and workouts so that your muscles do not get use to any particular exercise and stop growing.

This is accomplished a few ways. You can switch the exercises you do or switch the way you do some exercises.

I usually do both to keep the muscle guessing and growing at the fastest possible pace.

The way you do these exercises are using drop sets, forced sets, overload principles, etc.. This will help to force growth.

Typical Dumbbell Exercises

Here are a few dumbbell exercises that you can use and include in your routines when it is time for a change.

Bench press

Lay down on a good weight bench with your chest facing the ceiling. Ask a good friend to spot you ('spot' - passing you the weights, being ready to take them from you if you can't lift anymore),

Hold the weight at chest level with your wrists facing your feet. Push the dumbbells towards the ceiling without locking your arms out at the top.

Then bring them back down towards you with your elbows slightly below your torso. This completes one set. I like to squeezer my pictorial muscles at the top of the exercise.

Bicep Curl

Use a seated bench at about 70 degree incline. Hold your back against it to prevent upper body movement.

Or even standing up will work but keep your body rigid without swinging to assist the lift.

Hold the weight at your sides by your waistline. Then curl up while keeping your elbow lock in position. Turn your hand outward so you finish the lift with wrist facing upward.

Focus on the bicep and make it do the work.

Triceps kick-back:

Lean over a chair placing one hand on the seat. Hold one dumbbell in the other hand with your arm bent at a right angle.

Straighten your arm using your triceps muscle to lift while concentrating on your triceps.

Lateral Raises

Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your waist. With your arms slightly bent and your palms facing your sides.

Lift your arms keeping out to the sides keeping palms facing down. The top of the lift should end at shoulder height. Your palms should still be facing the floor at the top of the movement.


Proper Nutrition and Vitamins

Proper Nutrition

Learning to eat better will help to promote growth by ensuring you get enough protein and vitamins for your muscles to grow.

When building mass you should get enough protein to feed your muscles, this equals about 1 gram of protein for every 2 pounds of body weight daily


Take a good multivitamin daily to make sure your body gets the vitamins is needs to function properly.

Knowing you are not deficient in any vitamin will keep your body growing as it should.

BCAA's and Creatine

Branch Chain Amino Acids are the building blocks to muscles. These are needed for muscle repair and growth.

Your muscles feed off of these and use them to repair themselves. Supplement your diet with these to give your muscles what they need for growth and you will see quality gains.

Add creatine to your program as well. This helps with muscle recovery and promotes gains in strength. When you are stronger you can lift heavier weights and gain more mass from it.

This is the only supplement that I actually felt working. The weight I could lift went up and I was able to push myself harder.

Do you prefer to do your cardio before your workout??

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Vince Alvino


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