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The problem with articles like these is that they never end. They breed like cockroaches. I work in the fitness industry and I can barely keep up with all this noise. I can't imagine how confusing it is to most of you.
If you add up all the "must try" variations I've seen in the past year alone, there are probably over 200 exercises that will give you better gains! But will they?
What Are the Best Exercises?Many choices in life are a case of good, better, best. Are there bad exercise choices? A few. But most exercises have value.
How much value? Well that's up for debate.
I'm often asked questions like:
Hey Steve, is the reverse flying cable transverse lat lift (made that up, don't Google) a good choice for building the back?My answer is always yes. It's a good choice. Emphasis on the word good. Most exercises will help you to build muscle. As long as that exercise allows some form of progressive overload, and it's a safe movement, then it's a good choice. But here's the issue...
A good exercise is not the best exercise.
Let that resonate for a moment.
The reverse flying cable transverse lat lift might be a good choice, but it's not going to help you build a thick back as effectively as:
- Barbell and dumbbell rows
- Pull ups or lat pull downs
- T-bar rows or seated cable rows
Prioritizing Your WorkoutsEach week you're in the gym performing resistance training for anywhere from three to five hours. During this time you're probably working your body with about 50 to 80 total sets, and about 15 to 25 different exercises.
This doesn't allow for much fluff.
It goes without saying that the goal of training is to maximize your time in the gym to get the best results. To do so, you must maximize your exercise selection.
Choose the best exercises, and you create a greater potential to maximize your results. Avoid the best exercises, focusing instead on the "cool exercises you need to do today to get better results," and there is a strong likelihood that you'll hinder your progress.
My main training philosophy is as follows:
Maximize every set, you maximize every workout. Maximize every workout, you maximize results.This goes for both the muscle and strength building process.
So while many of these new, or underused exercises have value, the question becomes: Are they they best choice for my goals? That is the question each of us needs to answer.
If you are training hard and eating right, the best tools will almost always produce the best results. For most of us, outliers excluded.
Therefore, when choosing exercises, the question shouldn't be: Is this a good exercise? The real question should be:
Does this exercise allow me to make the best use of my limited time in the gym?If not, toss it. I don't care what guru of the month with 28 acronyms after his/her name said. Dump it. Use the best choice, not just a good choice.
What Are the Best Exercises?So now that we are aiming to make the best use of our time in the gym, let's look at some of the best exercises choices. These movements will help you maximize results. Understand that this is not a comprehensive list, but it is a quality list.
- Squats (Barbell, not Smith machine)
- Front Squats
- Leg Presses
- Glue Ham Raise
- Reverse Hypers
- Stiff Leg Deadlifts
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Good Mornings
- Bench Press (Barbell, not Smith machine)
- Incline Bench Press
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Barbell and Dumbbell Rows
- Pull Ups and Lat Pull Downs
- Seated Cable Rows
- T-Bar Rows
- Military Press or Push Press
- Dumbbell Overhead Press
- Behind the Neck Press
- Landmine Press
- Close Grip Bench Press
- Cable Triceps Extensions
- French Press
- One or Two Arm Dumbbell Extension
- Chin Ups or Reverse Grip Lat Pull Downs
- Dumbbell or Barbell Curls
- Preacher Curls
- Hammer Curls
- EZ Bar Curls