A New Age Foundation for Life-Long Bodybuilding

Justin Grinnell

Guest Contributor

East Lansing, Michigan, United States


For many, bodybuilding workouts are a gateway into the world of strength training. People who want to build muscle, get lean, and look good often start by aspiring to look like the massive bodybuilder on the cover of a muscle magazine. Probably the same magazine where they found their current training routine. It makes sense; why wouldn’t someone want to follow a program written by someone who looks like that?


The problem with taking a program straight from a magazine is that they often fail to integrate details on fundamental human movements, proper mobility, and self-care. While building muscle mass should be one of the primary goals when lifting weights, you can't ignore performance, longevity, and overall health. Improving joint mobility, flexibility, power development, and athleticism all have a place in a bodybuilder’s program.



Bodybuilding should really be about creating a more resilient, strong, and muscular body for the long haul.

bodybuilder flexing

Bodybuilding is about having bigger muscles, but it's also about improving your overall health and fitness.


Bodybuilding as a Foundation of Overall Fitness

Anyone looking to improve their physique could be called a bodybuilder. The stereotype that all bodybuilders are meatheads that perform body part splits, eat chicken and broccoli, and stay tan year round is untrue and unfair. Bodybuilding is more than that.


If you are looking to build muscle, lose body fat, move better, and stay healthy, you need to start by constructing a base of strength. Outlined below are the elements of my New Age Bodybuilding template. Integrating these concepts into your program will not only help you build muscle, but also form a foundation to stay lifting for years. If you are new to lifting and looking for a way to improve your body, start here. For the advanced lifter, it never hurts to go back to the fundamentals.


Bodybuilding Foundation: Warm Up, Correctives, and Movement Prep

The following corrective exercises can be done at home, on an off day, or before a workout. 


Active Straight Leg Raise: Leg lowering progressions help improve the hip hinge. This is also a great drill to improve mobility.


active straight leg raises



  1. Lie flat on your back.
  2. Using a strap or a band, bring your right leg up to the beginning of the stretch and hold for a few seconds while keeping your left leg straight and flat.
  3. Raise your left leg, keeping it straight as possible while raising it even with the right leg. Repeat 10 times.
  4. If the right leg loosens a bit, then increase the stretch, but the left leg needs to return to the ground straight and flat (calf touching before the heel without any turnout) on every rep.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.


Take your time with this drill. Keep in mind that this is not a hamstring stretch, but rather an alternating pattern of hip flexion and extension. Both legs are equally important and it also has a core-strengthening component if done properly. 


Couch Stretch: This is an excellent hip flexor stretch to improve hip mobility.


couch stretch




  1. Grab a pad or other soft surface for your knee.
  2. Start with your back to the wall.
  3. Put one knee on a soft surface and bend it back until you have your foot up against the wall. The other knee should be bent in front of you at 90 degrees.
  4. Maintain an upright posture at all times.
  5. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.


McGill Sit Up: The McGill sit up will strengthen your core and protect your back.


McGill sit ups


  1. Lie on your back with your left leg straight on the floor. Your right knee should be bent with your foot flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands palms down on the floor underneath the natural arch in your lower back. Don’t flatten your back.
  3. Slowly raise your head and shoulders off the floor without bending your lower back or spine, and hold this position for 7-8 seconds, breathing deep the entire time. That’s one repetition.
  4. Perform 4-5 reps, rest for 30-60 seconds, and then switch legs so that your right leg is straight and your left is bent. Repeat for a total of two rounds per side.
  5. For an added challenge, raise your elbows off the floor as you curl up. And for an even greater challenge, contract your abs before you initiate the movement, and then curl up against that force.



Other corrective exercises:



In addition to these corrective exercises, spend 5-10 minutes before each workout focused on original strength reset drills like breathing exercises, head nods, rolling, rocking, crawling, and getting up and down off the ground. Perform 10-20 reps per movement depending on the time that you have.



Finally, before you begin your workout spend 5-10 minutes on the following movement preparations: 


  • Arm-bars: 1-2 sets of 30-60 second holds each side
  • KB Halo: 10 reps each direction
  • Prying goblet squat and Cossack squats: 5 reps each side
  • Lunge matrix (forward, lateral, rotational): 5 reps each side
  • Plyometrics or jump rope: 2 sets of 5 reps for plyometrics and 2-5 minutes for jump rope



Continue to page 2 for for strength training progressions, performance standards, conditioning, and recovery.

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