The Best Exercises For Building Muscle & Strength

The Best Exercises For Building Muscle & Strength

Resistance training is one of the best forms of exercise in my opinion and is effective in enhancing several important aspects of physical and mental health.

Research has found resistance/strength training to offer numerous potential health benefits including increasing bone mineral density, reversing specific aging factors in skeletal muscle, reducing body fat, metabolic related benefits and increasing physical performance.

Resistance training also enhances cardiovascular health by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

I like to focus the core of my strength training routines primarily around the basic compound exercises.

Compound exercises are multi-joint exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Examples of compound exercises include bench press, squat, deadlift, military/overhead/shoulder press and bent over rows.

You will get a full-body workout by including even just four or five of these basic core exercises into your plan.

Always seek the guidance of qualified professionals before starting any new intense exercise or fitness regime.

Especially if you are new to resistance/weight training in general, so that proper instruction on the correct form can be given.

1. Bench Press

Bench Press

Bench press is probably one of the most popular weight lifting exercises of all time and is great for building muscle and strength in the upper body.

Bench press is a push compound exercise which primarily targets the chest and tricep muscles.

I’m a huge fan of dumbell bench press, so even if you don’t have access to a barbell you can still get the benefits.

Alternatively if you don’t have access to a barbell or dumbell to bench press, then dips can be used as a substitute in their place and work similar muscle groups.

Muscle Groups Worked: Pectoralis major, Anterior deltoids, Triceps, among other stabilizing muscles.

2. Squat

Barbell Squat

Barbell squats are the ultimate exercise for building muscle and strength in the lower body and legs in my opinion.

Squats primarily target the quadricep muscles, but also work your hamstrings, glutes, calves and lower back, amongst other stabilizing muscles such as the core.

There are many different types of squats including dumbell squats, overhead, front squat, hack squat, zercher squat and bulgarian split squat.

Muscle Groups Worked: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteus Maximus.

3. Deadlift


Deadlifts are arguably one of the best compound exercises for hitting the posterior chain muscles and are another great functional full-body movement.

It is another of the three main powerlifting exercises along with the likes of squat and bench press.

Deadlifts are excellent for building all round functional strength and great for targetting the posterior chain muscles that are often neglected.

Muscle Groups Worked: Quadriceps. Glutes. Adductor Magnus (Inner Thigh) Hamstrings. Erectors. Lats. Traps. Rhomboids.

4. Military & Shoulder Press

Shoulder Press

Military and Shoulder press is the next functional compound exercise on our list and is another great overall upper mass strength and muscle builder.

As the name suggests, shoulder/military press primarily targets the shoulder (deltoid) and tricep muscles.

There are many different ways to shoulder press including seated and using dumbells instead of the barbell.

Muscle Groups Used: Shoulders(Deltoids), Triceps, Trapezius, Pectoral.

5. Bent Over Rows

Bent Over Rows

Bent over rows are the final basic compound exercise on our list and are a great choice for building strength in the back muscles.

Bent over rows are another pull compound exercise, which primarily target the back and bicep muscles, amongst numerous other secondary/stabilizing muscles.

Bent over rows can be performed using both the barbell and dumbells.

Another great choice of exercise for balancing out various posterior chain muscular imbalances.

Muscle Groups Worked: Latissimus Dorsi (back), Posterior Shoulder, Rhomboids, Scapular Stabilizers, Forearms and Biceps, Spinal Erectors and Hamstrings and Glutes.


[1] Resistance Training is Medicine – Effects of Strength Training on Health

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