Best Training Tips to Build More Muscle

“I rely on free weights to build mass. Machines and cables to me are more for adding detail to the muscle, which you also need.” -Kevin Levrone

With perfectly-shaped mountains of muscle flowing on a frame accentuated by classic symmetry, Kevin Levrone caused jaws to drop on stages the world over. No wonder this IFBB Hall of Fame bodybuilder was known as the “uncrowned Mr. Olympia.” Kevin is also a musician, and in 1995 he released his first training tape/DVD, titled “Full Blown.” It became immensely popular, in part because fans identified with his blue-collar work ethic and were astonished at his incredible feats of strength in the gym. People have always held a special respect and admiration for men who were every bit as strong as they looked, and Levrone was a true powerhouse. Now Kevin shares training tips from his legendary video, “Full Blown.” Here’s how he introduced it: “This video is about hardcore training. It’s about being psyched and staying positive, and it’s about making your dreams come true.”

Flat or Incline Dumbbell Press. “You want to do four sets, 8-10 reps, or sometimes 10-12 depending on how you feel that day. Once you get into those heavy dumbbells, like 120s and up, it’s good to have a spotter and training partner to help push it and motivate you through this. I also believe in stretching the pecs out hard between sets. It really opens them up and allows for a better pump, as well as helping to prevent injury.”

Cable Crossovers. “We normally do about four sets on this, with the reps around 12-15. I go for a lot of feeling. Flex and squeeze the chest on every rep. Inhale on the stretch and exhale with the effort. This is pretty much a shaping exercise, bringing deep striations into your chest. A lot of times I will drop the weight down on the last set and do 20-25 reps, which really lets me feel it and get my mind into the muscle. Pump it up, because in bodybuilding, if you’re not giving it your all, someone else is.”

Dumbbell Front Lateral Raises. “I do 10-12 reps each arm, alternating arms. You don’t have to worry so much about flexing and squeezing here. The anterior delt will contract fully once the dumbbell is up to your shoulder level and controlling the negative rather than simply letting it drop stretches the muscle.”

Dumbbell Side Laterals. “A lot of people always ask me how I got my shoulders this big or what I do for shoulders. A lot of it is genetics, but it also takes concentration and dedication. Lateral raises hit that outer, medial head of your shoulders so they get nice and round and give your torso a better taper. Presses are critical, but you need those laterals to get round delts.”

Dumbbell Bent Rear Lateral Raises. “The rear delts are so important for having complete delts that look great from any angle. If yours are lagging, it will really hurt all your back and side poses. You don’t need to go super heavy on these, but you do always want to do them in a controlled fashion or else the traps and upper back take over.”


Reverse-Grip Barbell Rows. “I’d always done barbell rows, but I never used the reverse/curl grip on them until I got a back workout over in England with Dorian Yates. It’s a very basic free-weight movement, so I keep the reps around 8-10, even as low as six on my heaviest set of 405. I use straps to reinforce my grip and put chalk on the bar. Coming from a powerlifting background, I always felt I gained 5 pounds of muscle every time I saw that chalk on my hands!”

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows. “This is my other favorite movement for building back thickness, and I like doing it right after barbell rows. My back is already warmed up, so I start with a 120 and pyramid up to 150 pounds. Don’t just yank the weight up. Flex and squeeze the lat with force at the top of each rep, even if it’s very briefly.”


Seated Cable Rows. “I like these as my third exercise for back, and normally do four sets of 12 reps. Generally on free-weight exercises I like to do six to eight reps, but I go higher here with the cable because I’m concentrating on form. I rely on free weights to build mass. Machines and cables to me are more for adding detail to the muscle, which you also need.”

Lat Pulldowns. “Most guys do these first, but I prefer doing various types of rows to work more on thickness (Note: at this time, Dorian Yates was Mr. Olympia, and he had the thickest back ever seen). Pulldowns work the outer portion of the lats so you can get wider. Form is important here and you want a complete range of motion. You should feel your lats stretching at the start of the rep, and no rep is complete until the bar hits your upper chest, and your elbows are driven all the way back and down.”


Alternate Dumbbell Curls. “Form is important on these of course, but even more important is flexing and squeezing the biceps. I rotate the hand as I curl so that at the end of the rep my pinkie is higher than my thumb. It’s OK to use a little swing to get the dumbbells up as long as you get that squeeze. It also helps you overload the biceps with more weight. I go up to 70s.”

Handsome Muscular Men Exercise With Weights

Seated Dumbbell Hammer Curls. “These work the brachialis muscle between the lateral head of the triceps and the long head of the biceps to give the upper arm more thickness. There is no twisting here. You grip the dumbbell like a hammer with your thumbs up. I alternate and do sets of six to eight reps per arm, and I do them seated so I don’t lean into the working arm as much as I lift.”


EZ-Bar Curls. “The cambered shape of this bar takes pressure off the wrists and allows you to put the stress more on the biceps, not your wrists. I still do six to eight reps on these.”

Muscular Men Exercise With Weights. He is performing barbell biceps curls

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