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Have a detailed look at the most productive muscle building exercises, consider adding these to your workouts and get the best results possible.
These are mainly free-weight exercises that focus on compound movements and total body strength. While some machines and cables can be beneficial, they are rarely as good as free weight exercises.

- Doing barbell squats will produce better results compared to just doing leg extensions or leg presses on machines.

- A Smith machine bench press is not as good as a barbell bench press. 

- Lat pull downs (pulley back) are nowhere near as effective as pull ups.

The following exercises are the best of the best. If you want to gain muscle mass and increase overall strength at the fastest rate possible, add these exercises in your workout.

1. Deep Squats (I am not talking about half squats)

Barbell deep squats are the king of all muscle and strength building exercises. Deep squats not only build massive legs, but they also stimulate testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) production. Testosterone and HGH positively affect the growth of muscles all over your body. Deep squat are like a hormonal nuclear bomb that force our body to get bigger and stronger with every rep. 

Quick Tip: Squats only count when you perform full squats (deep squats).

2. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are “manmaker”. It employs and strengthens over 25 major muscles including those of the entire back (lower, middle, upper), the shoulders, abdominals, forearms, hips (gluteal muscles) and the legs (hamstrings and quadriceps). The deadlift is a true measure of your strength. 

Quick Tip: Low reps work best here. Focus on lifting heavy weights and doing 1 Rep Max or 2 to 5 reps per set will work great for the deadlift.

3. Bench Press

Bench press is the king of all upper body muscle building movements. The bench press is so popular that it is often seen as having its own training day - bench press Monday. 

Quick Tip: For maximum stimulation of the chest, position your torso on the bench with a slight arch in the lower back; the ribcage held high; and the shoulders shrugged back and downward. 

4. Pull-ups

It seems that even the strongest and most fit lifters can barely squeak out more than a few pull ups. The pull up is an excellent exercise for building the back and biceps, and should be used instead of inferior exercises such as the lat pull down when possible.

Quick Tip: Every rep should have your chin clearing the bar. The key is to perform the movement strictly, without swinging the legs. If you relax and dead hang at the bottom of each rep you will often times swing your body and kick your legs to initiate the next rep which is what you want to avoid. 

5. Overhead Press

There are numerous quality variations of the overhead press that can be used. Nearly all seated and standing dumbbell and barbell overhead presses, the Arnold dumbbell press and the standing push press are solid choices.

Quick Tip: Lock the bar overhead and hold for a brief 1 count to demonstrate control. Keep your entire body tight and rigid when the bar is locked overhead.

6. Barbell Row

Barbell row is a tremendous upper back exercise. It’s been called “Back Thickener” because it stimulates the growth of the entire back. It employs 8 major muscles in the lower, middle, and upper back. The bent over position also calls for the involvement of your abs (rectus abdominis and obliques) to stabilize your core region.

Quick Tip: To avoid injury you must keep the back straight, not rounded, and your trunk tight. A pronated (ovehand) grip increases the activation of the shoulder muscles while a supinated (underhand) grip places the emphasis on the lats and biceps.

7. Dips

Dips are often called the upper body squat. Dips work the shoulders, chest and triceps very hard, and are a great overall exercises for building a super strong upper body. 

Quick Tip: Lean the torso forward during this movement to target the chest. Keep the torso upright to engage more of the triceps.

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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