If your aim is to build large amounts of muscle, you can forget about sissying around with the cable crossovers and concentration curls all day long. While those kinds of exercises are not nearly as useless as some of the rather old fashioned strength training advocates would have you believe, they should be used to fill out your muscle building program – not form the foundation of it. That should be left to the big compound exercises – the big lifts and basic movements that work larger amounts of muscle at the same time. Here’s a list of the most important ones:
- The Squat. The Squat is perhaps the most important weight training exercise of them all. Still, lots of people choose to do some kind of leg press exercise instead – because it’s not nearly as demanding (and also easier to learn) than the squat. However, nothing beats squats – the squat won’t just make your thighs bigger and stronger, but the entire body. So do them!
- The Deadlift. We don’t always prescribe doing both squats and deadlifts in the same workout routine, but that’s only because both exercises put together may simply be too much for many people. Deadlifts, however, could easily be seen as the king of all weight training exercises. The deadlift is a great exercise for the (lower) back, but like the squat, it pretty much makes all parts of you stronger – including, not the least, your mind!
- The Standing Press. The standing press builds huge shoulders and arms and – as opposed to the seated varieties – important stabilizing muscles core strength that you need for other exercises and real world strength.
- The Bench Press. The Bench Press is a great builder of upper body strength and mass, and probably the most popular exercise out there. It effectively builds the muscles of the chest, triceps and shoulders (primarily the anterior head).
- Chins and Pull-ups. These exercises are fantastic for building both the big muscles of the upper back and giving you that great looking width and V-shaped upper body, as well as the biceps and muscles of the forearms.
- The Clean and Press. Not necessarily an exercise that has to be part of every routine as long as you’re doing the ones listed above, but if you could only do one exercise this would probably be it. At least that’s what Arnold Schwarzenegger says that he would do – and he should know a thing or two about the subject!
Most of the workout routines you will find on this site will naturally be built around the exercises listed here, or variations of them. Here’s where you should be spending most of your time in the gym for best results!