You asked, we answered! Lou dishes on choosing the right gym, his favorite exercises, and how to get started with building muscle.

Hi Lou,
What do you look for when you chose a professional gym?
-Susan, WA

You have to be real careful when you’re choosing a professional gym. Here is my personal checklist.

  1. Make sure the gym is conveniently located.
  2. The gym should have limited membership; check that the membership isn’t too large for the facility, because there is nothing worse than always waiting in line to use equipment.
  3. Your time should be QUALITY time.
  4. The space should have the right atmosphere for your workout.
  5. The equipment should be properly maintained.
  6. The area should have good lighting and ventilation.
  7. Ample locker space should be provided.
  8. The facilities should be clean (including the showers).

Hi Lou,
I am looking to gain muscle mass and I am wondering what your favorite basic body part exercises are?
-Joe M, Cleveland OH

To gain muscle mass you have to train heavy.  Heavy weight, low reps and a moderate number of sets (4-6) I have found the best results with fast muscle mass gains. Doing at least one or two sets in this rep range with absolute limit weights will get you the gains you may be looking for.
Another key is to apply these heavy weights and low reps to basic exercises. A basic exercise is one that works more than one muscle group. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, work only a single muscle group, or in some cases, only a segment of that muscle.

My 50 plus years of bodybuilding has shown me what the best basic exercises for each body part are. Here are my favorites that have given me the best results:

  • Thighs: Squats and Leg Presses
  • Back: Bent- Over Rows, Seated Pulley Rows, Shrugs & Stiff – Legged Deadlifts
  • Chest: Bench Presses, Incline Presses, Parallel – Bar Dips
  • Shoulders: Military Presses, Presses Behind the Neck, Upright Rows
  • Biceps: Barbell Curls, Dumbbell Curls
  • Triceps: Narrow-Grip Bench Presses, Barbell Tricep Extensions
  • Forearms: Reverse Curls
  • Calves: Standing Calf Raises, Seated Calf Raises
  • Abdominals: Sit-Ups, Leg Raises

Also crucial in weight-gain training is the length of rest intervals between sets. Remember: While using heavy weights, there is a constant temptation to take long rests between sets. I have seen bodybuilding resting as long as 5 minutes. Such long rests erode your muscle gain rate and leave you open to injury. Be sure to rest no longer than one minute between sets, regardless of the weights you’re using. This will ensure maximum gain.

I am a 23 year old male. 6’1 and 165 pounds. I have never played sports or worked out a day in my life.  I naturally have a thin physique but am looking now to build muscle. Big Lou, where do I even start?
-Thin Mint

Hey Thin Mint,

Remember that strength is muscle. Body, Mind and Soul. For your body I suggest getting into strength training. It allows you to start light but keep building up. It is important that you learn the proper techniques and take the ego out of it completely when starting out. I suggest starting with your own body weight (calisthenics) and empty barbell. Over time keep adding weight and stay out of your comfort zone.  Always remember to get the right amount of Rest, Sleep, Eat Right (High Protein and Complex Carbs) and Drink Plenty of Water.