With so much information available to us now about the best exercises to use, the optimal weight to lift, the leanest diet to follow, the most effective gym plan to subscribe to, it can be difficult and often overwhelming to pin down which exercises, out of the hundreds on offer, will give you the strongest physique.
Whilst more goes into building muscle than just the gymwork, below are our expert recommended five best exercises guaranteed to give you a stronger, better physique below that are perfect for beginners, intermediates or experts. Make sure to add at least two or three of these into your set.
1. The Squat
One of the most fundamental movements available to anybody wanting to build strength is also an exercise that can strike fear into many lifters! Whilst the squat is often overlooked as just an exercise that tightens and strengthens the quadriceps, if the sometimes tricky form is executed correctly, it will strengthen both the hamstrings and glutes and give the upper and lower back an isometric stimulation.
An added bonus of squats is also their ability to allow you to work up to high amounts of weight. This stimulates a bigger central nervous response in your body which can allow for larger adaptations towards overall strength and even translate towards the upper body - so it’s well worth taking the time to study and practice the correct form.
2. The Deadlift
Another popular, high priority exercise is the deadlift, which is more posterior chain dominant than the squat. To get stronger at the deadlift, you must have a strong core, strong hips, and a tight upper back.
The deadlift is a necessary movement to any gym routine if your goal is to have a more complete physique and better overall functional strength. Being able to correctly fix your hips and pull back your shoulder blades is one of the best injury preventative aspects of training you can do for the lower back.
Plus, one of the deadlift's hidden qualities is its ability to correct the posture in our hip flexors and pecs from where many of us sit hunched over desks all day, so it’s easy to see why it has such a distinguished reputation.
3. The Bench Press
Another all time classic and for good reason. The bench press focuses on strengthening and defining the chest, shoulders and triceps. For the most effective results, the elbows should be flared to 45 degrees and not 90, whilst the shoulder blades should be pinched as if you are trying to hold a pencil between them.
Make sure the chest leads the press too, a common mistake is allowing the shoulders to dominate too much during the lift which can allow the hips to rise off the bench. Let the chest lead, and your form should stay tight lessening the shoulder pain which can occur and boosting your physical strength.
4. The Pull Up
Something weightlifters, or even those with a keen interest in shaping and defining their bodies, often seek out is the Hollywood hero V tapered back. The pull-up is the secret weapon in achieving this.
Focusing predominantly on the lats and biceps, this exercise will also encourage you to learn how to correctly and easily move your body weight. Lat pulldowns will build strength in abundance, but beforehand it is advisable to ensure you are practicing body weight pull-ups first.
If you find at the beginning you are struggling to perform good reps with just your body weight, do not be discouraged. Instead, use a pull-up assistance machine which can be located at any good gym and consider this your first step in mastering the pull up and looking like a Marvel superhero.
5. The Row
Last but not least is an exercise that will perfectly complement all the work mentioned above. Whilst the pull-up’s main focus is to focus on the laterals in the back, the row will concentrate on defining and strengthening the rhomboids as well as the biceps. This is especially vital because the key to a balanced physique is being able to stimulate as much of the body as possible during a workout.
Whilst the popular exercise, and indeed one of the most effective, is the bent-over barbell row, if you are finding too much fatigue in your lower back, a seated row will produce the same results and is ideal for beginners.
When executing the seated row, ensure you are sitting up straight and keep that focus on pinching the shoulder blades back as if you were balancing something between them as this will hold the correct amount of tension needed for achieving the best results.
Add these exercises into your workout as often as is right for your training programme and you’re guaranteed to see strength, posture and physique improvements.