1) The Squat
The King of exercises? It just might be! For the bang for your buck you don’t get much better than the squat. Proven when done repeated to raise your test levels naturally, the squat recruits all the major muscles groups. When done with proper technique it takes all your shoulders, arms, abs and back to keep up straight with the weight. It also takes all your lower body to push the weight from the bottom. From top to bottom, you can’t get much better an exercise to work out your body for strength and mass building. If you could only do one exercise the rest of your life and it was squats, you would still be huge and strong!
2) The Bench Press
Is there a better upper body exercise out there? I think not. When executed properly the bench press also has the lifter using their legs and glutes as well (though that might be for only seasoned bodybuilders and powerlifters). The best upper body mass builder and strength builder. If you could only do one upper body exercise for mass and strength, it would surely be the bench press…and you would still be in great shape! It takes chest, shoulders, and triceps to push the weight. However, a seasoned powerlifter who knows how to incorporate all his muscles necessary to get the most out of his bench also recruits his back, glute and leg muscles! The King of upper body exercises!
3) The Clean
Speed is power, and you must learn to use speed to generate maximum power. The Clean is the best exercise you can use to harness speed and power at the same time. It makes your body adapt to moving weights in a much more athletic sense, and functional. You can’t do cleans slowly ala bodybuilding. You must move the weights with conviction and technique. With time, you can move hundreds of pounds free weight in this exercise. Whenever that is the case, you know you are onto something special 😉
4) The Deadlift
If ever the Squat had a rival for the Kind of exercises title, it was with this fella here! The Deadlift requires unmatched stabilizing from the upper body, core, and legs to perform. Those who do this exercise improperly likely see it as a lower back exercise. That is blasphemy! If you let your lower back do all the lifting, or the majority of it, you are not doing it properly. When done with the right form you are keeping your upper body in position (which takes lots of core strength in abs, lower back, upper back, and should blades) and pulling with your lower half of your body (your legs and glutes). This exercise gets your test levels through the roof naturally when done often enough (at least weekly!)
5) The Military Press
While this cannot replace the bench press, it is definitely second place to it above all other “upper body” exercises. This free weight exercise requires the lifter to use the shoulders (no kiddin), upper chest, triceps, and even some of your upper back for stabilizing. Some have mastered the shoulder press to hundreds of pounds in the same range as the bench press.
6) The Bent Over Row
You want to thicken out your back and add strength? Grab yourself a bar bell and rep off a few of these babies. No need to touch a machine. Nothing quite hits your back and widens you out as a bent over row. You can do them light and fast, light and slow, or go heavy. Either way, your back and core get blast, thicker, and of course stronger! This is not just a bodybuilding exercise!
7) Good Mornings
There is nothing friendly about this good morning! These babies will load up your central nervous system for handling heavy weights. You can go even heavier with these than you can with squats and deadlifts! That being said, make sure you know what you are doing. If you are the guy at the gym bending forward at the waist, instead of pushing your butt backward with your back arched, than you should stop doing them or find some help! If you do these right, they will thicken out your body and build tons of core strength!
These are not just for the ladies! Doing a lot of squats and deadlifts can wreak havoc on your hips and the muscles running up the outsides of your legs. To help even things out, do some lunges. You will benefit from keeping you body upright (taking considerable upper body strength) as well as tax your legs and glutes in a more isolated way that differs from the squat and deadlift. A great addition to those lifts!
9) Shoulder shrugs
These sweethearts will put a massive amount of weight in your hands. Though done free weight with a bar bell or dumb bells it is true that you don’t have a great range of motion these still are greatly beneficial. You gain invaluable grip strength, and because the range of motion is small you can load up the weight. This will acclimatize your body to lifting heavy loads. It will also thicken up your shoulders, in particular your traps!
10) Chin ups
Who says you need to lift weights to gain strength and size? The classic exercise that modern science just can’t top. Use your own body weight and rip off a few of these bad boys with any grip width. Do close grip for attacking the biceps, or spread them out to hit the back. You will be amazed how it does wonders for your shoulder blades and biceps while at he same time hitting your upper back. A great upper body workout all round! Add some weight to them if you need to, or just add more reps!
****The author, 6 Pack Lapadat, is a National Powerlifting Champion and Guinness World Record holder in the Squats. See bio section for more info on him!****