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Switch X for Y: Top 9 Exercise Swaps for Faster Muscle Growth

Do this instead of that…

Check out 9 traditional exercises that you should be swapping if you want to get more benefits and build more muscle faster.

If you are an avid gym goer, there is a chance you simply choose a few exercises without even researching about it. After all, if it is traditional and most people do them, surely they are the best for hypertrophy, right? Not necessarily.

In the following paragraphs, you will see 9 exercises that you should be swapping for other variations if you want to build more muscle and faster. And who came up with this list? Joe Delaney. He is an online fitness trainer who shares online his progress and helps people to get in the best shape of their lives. His YouTube channel has nearly 700k subscribers at the moment.

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When it comes to choosing exercises, Joe Delaney advocates for a nuanced understanding of what makes an exercise effective. He emphasizes that exercises are not inherently good or bad; their efficacy depends on the individual’s fitness goals. Joe encourages the audience to learn the principles behind exercises, enabling them to make informed choices tailored to their specific needs.

Acknowledging that not everyone wants to delve into the intricacies of exercise science, Joe humorously adopts the role of a “fish salesman.” In this analogy, he promises to provide exercises (fish) while subtly imparting valuable lessons on the principles behind them (fishing lessons).

Top 9 Exercise Swaps for Faster Muscle Growth

Starting with the less glamorous but essential seated leg curl versus lying leg curl, Joe highlights the importance of hamstring exercises. Despite the general lack of interest in hamstring development, he introduces research that supports the superiority of the seated version, attributing it to hip flexion and optimal muscle stretching. Joe emphasizes the principle of positioning joints to stretch muscles during exercises involving multiple joints.

Transitioning to overhead tricep extension versus pushdowns, Joe discusses the research favouring overhead extensions for hypertrophy. He provides practical recommendations, including cable overhead extensions and lying dumbbell skull crushers, explaining how these variations capitalize on muscle engagement and positioning.

Source: Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash
Although traditional, rope pushdowns are inferior to building muscle compared to overhead tricep extensions.

Joe delves into the debate of supported row versus unsupported or bent-over rows, illustrating the importance of making the targeted muscle the limiting factor. He argues for predominantly using supported row movements, considering factors such as muscle fatigue and overall effectiveness in targeting specific muscle groups.

Addressing issues beyond muscle fatigue, Joe explores the importance of cardiovascular fitness and grip strength. He explains how these factors may limit certain exercises, leading to the use of straps for deadlifts or pull-ups to ensure optimal training for the targeted muscles.

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The discussion extends to leg press variations, comparing the lever leg press with the sled leg press. Joe breaks down the advantages of the lever leg press, emphasizing the importance of aligning resistance curves with strength curves for optimal results.

Moving to single-joint exercises like lateral raises, chest fly, rear delt fly, and preacher curls, Joe discusses the limitations of free weight versions. He introduces cable versions as a better alternative, offering more consistent resistance throughout the range of motion. Machine versions are presented as the best option, with Joe acknowledging that sometimes machines can be beneficial despite the preference for free weights.

Joe concludes the exercise comparison with a focus on ab exercises, proposing a swap from leg raises to reverse crunches on an inclined bench. He provides insights into the muscle actions involved and how this swap can better target the abs for visual development.

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Instead of free weights, choose the machine for lateral raises.

In his closing remarks, Joe stresses the importance of considering both sides when evaluating exercises. He suggests that even when one exercise seems superior in isolation, there is always the option to incorporate both for a well-rounded approach. Joe highlights the complexity of muscle development and the variability in individual responses to exercises, encouraging flexibility in workout routines.

So, in short, these are the exercises you should be swapping for:

  • Change lying leg curls for seated leg curls
  • Change tricep pushdown for overhead tricep extension
  • Change bent-over row for chest supported row
  • Change sled leg press for lever leg press
  • Change free weights for the machine version for lateral raises, chest fly, rear delt fly, and preacher curls
  • Change leg raise for reverse crunch

In conclusion, Joe encourages flexibility in exercise selection, suggesting that sometimes the best approach is to do both. He emphasizes that exercises may stimulate hypertrophy in different areas of a muscle, making a combination of exercises beneficial for overall growth.

To fully understand the top 9 exercise swaps for faster muscle growth explained by Joe Delaney, click on the video below.

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Here are some general guidelines for how often to work out based on your fitness goals:

  1. For general health and fitness: Aim to exercise most days of the week, for at least 30-60 minutes per day. This can include a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
  2. For weight loss: Aim to exercise most days of the week, for at least 30-60 minutes per day. This should include a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training, with a focus on creating a calorie deficit through a combination of exercise and diet.
  3. For muscle building: Aim to do strength training exercises at least two days per week, targeting all major muscle groups. You can also include aerobic exercise and flexibility exercises as part of your routine.
  4. For athletic performance: The frequency and intensity of your workouts will depend on your specific sport and fitness goals. Consult with a coach or trainer to develop a customized training plan.

Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and avoid overtraining, which can lead to injury or burnout. Start slowly and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of your workouts over time.

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