There are hundreds of workout routines out there today, each one promising to give you the magic results you have always wanted.
It can be overwhelming for someone who is just starting when it comes to the gym, and can even throw the most experienced gym-goers down the wrong path…
While many of these programs may work, even if you are drinking juices not only with the best celery juicer, nothing will beat the results you will get sticking to the core 5 basic weight lifting exercises.
They’re not confusing, they are not fancy, and they are just plain work.
The squat is the single most effective weight lifting move that you can do. The problem is that most people hate to do them.
Why? Because they are so damn hard. But anything that hard has to reap huge benefits, and they do.
Not only do squats work for almost every muscle group, but they send surges of testosterone running through your body giving you massive increases in size and strength.
Muscles worked: Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Erector Spinae, Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Abs, Abductors, Adductors, Soleus, Gastrocnemius.
How to execute a squat:
1) Position the bar in a comfortable position on your trap muscles. This may be uncomfortable at first but you will become accustomed to it as time goes on.
2) Keep your head up, hips and shoulders back, weight on the heels, and knees in line with your feet.
3) Squat down, keeping the posture outlined in step 3, down to your preferred level. Many people say it is best to go 90 degrees, some like to go all the way down until their ass hits their ankles. This is a debate for another article.
4) Make sure that your knees never go beyond your toes. This puts a terrible, damaging strain on your ligaments.
5) Push up through your heels on the ground and raise the bar back to starting position while keeping your back straight, head up, and shoulders back.
6)This is one rep.
Check out the demonstration video from Buff Dudes below on how to execute the perfect squat and a look at commonly made mistakes.
This is a great video.
This guy has perfect form, and I will outline some of the points that I noticed so you can too.
1) Keep your back tight
To keep your back tight, keep your elbows down and imagine as if you are about to do a military press with the bar. This will keep your chest up and you back in the correct position throughout the whole movement.
2) Keep the pressure on your heels
All the force going into the ground to propel the bar up needs to be done so through your heels. This will save you thousands on expensive knee surgery in 10 years.
3) Start the squat by breaking at your knees
By breaking at the knees first and then sitting back with your hips, you will ensure that your back remains straight and does not round during the movement
4) Open up your hips
As we stated before, you need to make sure your knees do not go out further than your feet. In order to do this, you need to open your hips as needed.
Point your knees and feet out at the appropriate angle based on your leg length so that when you squat down your knees and feet are on the same vertical plane.
I can’t stress enough how important good form is on the squat.
Make sure that you start with very low weight, maybe even just the bar, until you perfect your form like you see in the video. This may be a little tedious for a month or two but will help you achieve greater lifts without nagging injuries years down the line.
So get that form down and start doing squats.
I am sure you have seen the guys roaming around the gym with huge arms and a puffy chest and skinny little frog legs. Or maybe you haven’t because they are probably wearing sweatpants.
Please don’t be that guy, everyone hates him. Get your squats done.
Deadlifts are incredible.
They are the single most effective strength-building move that you can do.
And like squats, the deadlift also pumps testosterone throughout your entire body.
Muscles worked: Lats, Posterior Delts, Lower Back, Upper Back, Spinal Erectors, Abs, Obliques, Glutes, Hamstrings, Calves, Biceps, Forearms, Quads, and more.
How to execute a deadlift:
1) Stand above the bar with your feet a little less than shoulder-width apart. They should be just inside your arms when you go down to reach for the bar.
2) Position your feet under the bar so that when looking down the bar is directly over the center of your feet
3) Grab the bar with your arms perpendicular to the floor.
4) Bend down through your knees until your shins make contact with the bar.
5) To prepare for your lift, lift your chest up and pull your shoulders back.
6) Now pull up lifting the bar while keeping it as close to your body as possible. Keep your back straight through the entire movement.
7) As you bring the bar past your knees thrust your hips forward while you straighten out your legs and form a straight line throughout your hips, knees, and feet.
8) Return to starting position.
Check out the video demonstration below for a look at the perfect deadlift. Watch carefully and then ill break it down below.
Okay, pretty good deadlifts right? The main things to point out from this video are:
1) His back is completely straight the entire time
Never arch your back during deadlifts. Some good ways to achieve this is to keep your head up the entire time, as if you are looking at the ceiling, and to keep your abs tight throughout the whole movement.
Arching your back can cause a whole mess of problems so really focus on that before you get to the heavyweights.
2) He keeps the bar close to his body
3) He thrusts his hips forward
As the bar passes his knees he does not pull up with his back, but instead, he thrusts his hips forward completing the movement.
When he lowers the bar he does so by simply pulling his hips back until the bar reaches knee height where he proceeds to bend his knees back to starting position.
So with deadlifts and squats alone, you are already on your way to building an incredible body.
These are the two most core exercises that will give your explosive increases in strength and mass.
3) Bench Press
The bench press is probably the favorite exercise of most men out there.
When it comes to how strong you are, a lot of guys go right to their bench stats to display their superiority.
Even though they are not as powerful as squats or deadlifts for a true reading of strength, they are a powerful upper body movement that will produce great results.
Muscles worked: Pecs, Deltoids, Shoulder Muscles, Coracobrachialis, Triceps, Anconeous Serratus Anterior, Middle and Inferior Trapezius, Rotator cuffs, Core and more.
How to execute the bench press:
1) Grab the bar with a slightly outside shoulder grip. Your hips should be firmly placed on the bench with a slight arch on your lower back. Your feet should be planted flat on the ground. Your shoulders should be locked downwards with your shoulder blades squeezed together.
2) Lower the bar to your sternum area keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle.
3) Drive the bar up keeping your body and legs tight.
4) This is one rep.
Check out the demonstration video below:
These guys have a lot of great videos on Youtube so I highly recommend checking out Buff Dudes Youtube page if you are really into hitting the gym.
Yes, pull-ups don’t involve weights, but in this scenario, your body is the weight.
Pull-ups are an incredible exercise for overall strength and endurance.
Muscles Worked: Biceps, Triceps, Pecs, Lats, Teres Major, Coracobrachialis, Subscapularis, Rhomboid, and more
How to execute the perfect pull-up:
1) There are a few different ways to do pull-ups, each as beneficial as the last, which we will go over in an in-depth pullup article later.
a) You can have palms facing forward
b) You can have palms facing backward
c) You can do close grip
d) You can go wide grip
2) The most traditional pull-up is with palms facing forward with a wide grip, slightly wider than your shoulders.
3) Simply hang with this grip and pull your body straight up until your chin is over the bar.
4) Hold here for a second and then slowly lower your body back to free hang position.
5) This is one rep.
Here’s a buff dudes demonstration video of the traditional pull-up:
This exercise is a great full-body exercise for beginners who are not used to the gym yet.
It is an excellent indicator of your level of fitness as it works your anaerobic system as well.
For a good idea of how many to do just keep going until you can no longer get your chin over the bar.
5) Military Press
The military press, or overhead press, is my personal favorite exercise. I just feel like an absolute beast when I’m pumping 150 pounds over my head.
But regardless of what I think, the military press is one of the most powerful full-body exercises you can do.
It not only works your whole upper body, but it gives your stabilizer muscles one of the greatest workouts they can have, building incredible overall strength.
Muscles worked: Shoulders, Delts, Core, Legs, Chest, and all stabilizer muscles
How to execute the military press:
1) Start by positioning yourself under a barbell that is at chest height on a squat rack.
2) Grab the barbell with your palms forward, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
3) With your feet shoulder-width apart and the bar resting on your collarbone, slightly bend at the knees and explode up, lifting the bar over the head by locking your arms.
4) Lower the bar back down the starting position as you exhale
5) This is one rep
Below is another amazing video from buff dudes on how to execute the perfect military press.
These are truly the most powerful yet most basic weight lifting exercises you can do.
Just doing these 5 movements alone, once a week will give you massive increases in size and strength. And without doing a single sit-up, you will develop an incredible core and ripped abs.
They can’t be beaten.
My name is Thomas. I’m a Personal Trainer who like to take his body to the limit.