So I recently had been asked about My top 10 weighted exercises on Quora. Since Quora is becoming my number one inspiration for my blogs, I decided to write this article to share with you my top 10 gym exercises.
First of all, I want to say that narrowing down all the weighted exercise to only 10 movements was a challenge in itself. You see, bodybuilding is all about building the perfect physique. Building that type of physique will necessarily need than more just 10 exercises. You need multiple variations, different angles, different loading parameters. All of those would require a huge selection of exercises in the toolbox.
However, if someone were to put a gun to my head and ask me about the best 10 exercises that he can do at the gym and that will contribute to the best possible results. The following list would be my answer.
No surprise I guess. The deadlift is the most complete movement in all strength training exercises. it will work your entire back including your lats, your lower back, your rhomboids, and your rear delts. Also, it will hammer your hamstrings and glutes, developing both strength and muscle. And finally it would increase your grip strength and to some degree work your biceps Brachii all while hammering your core.
As you can see, the deadlift alone will take care of most of your pulling muscles. So, if you are deadlifting, you don’t need to worry about that function.
The variations of the deadlift would include:
-Stiff leg deadlifts: more hamstring emphasis.
-Rack pulls: lower back emphasis.
-Snatch grip deadlift: lats emphasis.
The bench press is the king of upper body exercises. There is no arguing about that. It will work your pectoralis major, all 3 heads of the triceps and the anterior delts. Also, it is one of the best exercises to increase your overall upper body strength. So, I think the fame of this exercise is well deserved.
Performed correctly, and even without the addition of any other pushing exercises, the bench press will give you a barrel-sized chest and thick triceps all while dramatically increasing your upper body strength.
The variations of the bench press include:
-Incline/Decline bench press.
-Wide grip/ Close grip bench press.
You can choose between those variations depending on your weaknesses and priorities.
3-Chin Ups/Pull Ups:
The king of bodyweight upper body exercises. The Pull-up is the barbell squat of the upper body as many strength coach like to call it. It nearly targets the majority of your upper body musculature from lats and rhomboids to both heads of the biceps and the upper chest as well. So yes it is a complete exercise that will assist you in your attempt of muscle building.
Also, like the previous two exercises, you vary your grip width and placement to target different parts of your back or to focus more on targeting your Biceps.
For pull-ups/ Chin-ups your reps should be around 8-15 reps to elicit maximum hypertrophy. If you are not there yet, start with lower reps and build up your strength.
I personally would choose the front squat over the famous back squat. The front squat minimizes lower back involvement and it generally requires less hip mobility.
Also, the front squat will help you to develop an iron-clad midsection. Yes, if you are doing front squats you don’t need to perform countless amounts of sit-ups.
Another benefit of the front squat i that it is one of the best exercises to increase athletic performance. Keep in mind that I am talking about ass to heels front squat, not the 1/4 range of motion ones.
Tall guys specifically would benefit greatly from the front squat. They usually tend to have too much lower back engagement in the back squat because of their long torso.
The variations of the front squat would include:
-Heels-elevated front squat: more quad emphasis
Besides its decline in popularity in recent years, the military press still by far the best overall shoulder builder. It also targets the triceps and the trapezius muscles as well. This exercise is a must if you want big powerful delts. Please, don’t give me that shoulder mobility crap. If your shoulder mobility is so poor that it is denying you from performing military press, then you should get that fixed instead of dropping this big boy from your exercise selection.
If you happen to have a decent shoulder flexibility and you can press behind the neck. it is also a great idea to switch between front and behind the neck presses for a complete shoulder development.
Although the Bench press is considered the king of upper body exercises, Dips are an excellent way to target the chest, anterior delts, and the triceps. Dips have their fair share of controversy by being associated with shoulder pain. There is no evidence to support this unless you are doing them with an extra 90 lbs wrapped your waist.
There are basically two variations, the shoulder and triceps variation where you keep your torso more upright to focus more on the triceps. The other variation is chest dip where you slightly lean forward to increase pec recruitment. Both are great mass builders.
While there is a lot of variations in Biceps training, the barbell curl should be the fundamental movement of any Biceps training routine. It is like the bench press for the Bi’s. It will effectively target both the short and the long head of your Biceps brachii. It will also hammer your forearms flexors. It is also one of the few exercises in biceps training that allow the use of heavyweights and the implement of progressive overload.
With barbell curl, you can vary your grip width to focus more on certain parts of your biceps. You can go with a narrower grip for more long head focus. You can also use a wider grip for more stimulation of the short head of the biceps.
8-Lying Leg Curl:
The deadlift will to some extent work your hamstrings muscles. however, it won’t do much in terms of the development of the biceps femoris muscles. Those are the biggest muscles of your rear thighs and you need a variation of leg curls to effectively target them. So, if you want big hanging hamstring muscles you can’t go wrong with lying leg curls as your main go to exercise.
A key point to remember with the lying leg curl is to always keep the reps in the 4-8 rep range. Since the biceps femoris muscles are predominately fast twitch muscles.
9-Reverse Pec Deck:
Wait, what? Is that one of your top 10 weighted exercises? yes, it is and for a good reason.
Developing a 3D Delts is one of the biggest assets that will completely enhance the aesthetic and illusion of your physique. It is the difference between a meh and waw. And without properly developed rear delts, you could forget about having those 3D canons.
I found the reverse peck deck to be the best overall rear delt builder. It supports the spine and reduces the singing in the movement. Also, the pec deck machine is more suitable for techniques like partials and drop sets which are critical in rear delts training.
The best for last. My personal favorite exercise. The farmer’s walk builds muscle ridiculously fast slashes body fat, increases strength and performance in the big lifts, and has a very little risk of injury.
A heavy farmer’s walk will quickly fry your back, shoulders, and grip. It will do all of that while making your lungs feel like you’ve guzzled a gallon of napalm.
The farmer’s walk is the simplest exercise you can do. Just pick up some heavy weights, walk as far as you can and repeat.
I’d argue that the biggest reason they’re not used more often is that they’re too simple. Everyone wants the newest, hottest exercise, but that often means an easier movement. What they really need to do is get back to basics and man up.
That’s it. Those are my top picks as the big boys of all gym exercises. I believe any weight training program should revolve around the use of those exercises because they are guaranteed to produce awesome results.