Quality strength training exercises should be the foundation of any new workout routine. While getting a good workout split is important along with making sure that you are working in the right rep range with the proper number of sets per exercise, having the top exercises in place is going to be highly important.
Unfortunately, this is one thing that many people commonly overlook. Regardless of whether your goal is build as much muscle size as possible, get as strong as you can, or melt off some of the body fat covering the muscles you do have, proper strength training exercises are a must.
Let's have a quick look at some of the vital things that you need to know.
The very first thing that must be mentioned when talking about the strength training exercises you will be doing is whether they are compound in nature or isolated. Those who don't understand what the difference is between the two are going to run the risk of putting together a program that yields few results.
The important thing to note that differentiates compound and isolation strength training exercises it that compound exercises will work more than one muscle group at a time, while isolation exercises will target just a single muscle group.
For example, if you're performing the bench press, you'll be working the chest, triceps, as well as the shoulders, while if you perform the bicep curl, you're only working the biceps.
The compound exercises do tend to be the superior of the two types of strength training exercises because not only will they allow you to lift more weight, thus seeing noticeable increases in strength, but they will evoke a higher metabolic response in the body, helping you get lean at the same time.
Plus, for those who are looking for muscle building results, these exercises tend to increase the rate of testosterone production better, which is a key hormone that is required for lean muscle mass generation.
Isolation exercises do have a place in a good strength training workout program and tend to work well performed at the end of the session when you need something to totally finish off a muscle group. These strength training exercises are also great for bringing out maximum muscle definition, so once you do have the size that you're looking for, adding these in can help to finalize your physique development.
Just be sure that you do perform any isolation exercises after your compound exercises (unless you are using a very specific training strategy that calls for you to reverse it), since the isolation exercises will be less physically demanding compared to compound movements.
So now that you know the main differences between the compound and isolation exercises, which are the top choices to perform?
Let's look at the best lower body strength training movements.
First, when it comes to lower body exercises, it's often said that squats are king. The squat is going to work the hamstrings, the quads, as well as the glutes, and will also call into play the core and the muscles running along the spinal column. If you want a major strengthening exercise, this is the one to perform.
In addition to the squats, the deadlift is another lower body movement that tends to be an excellent selection for most people. While the squats will place more emphasis on the quad muscles, the deadlift places more emphasis on the hamstring. Stiff-leg deadlifts will also target the back as well, so you'll get a bit of upper body activation with this exercise.
If you're someone who is looking for an alternative to the squat exercise, the leg press may be an exercise to consider. The leg press is going to work mostly all the same muscle groups as the squat would, only will place less strain on the lower back since you'll be resting it against a back pad the entire time.
Once these three strength training exercises have been considered, additional movements to think about adding to your workout routine include the lunge, the split squat, as well as the step-up.
These are all compound exercises as well and will yield top results.
Shifting over to the upper body side of things, you want to look at movements that are going to primarily work the chest or primarily work the back as these are the two biggest muscle groups in the upper body.
For your chest workouts, you can't beat the bench press or the incline bench press. Both of these movements will work the chest, the shoulders, as well as the triceps, so allow you to target many muscles simultaneously.
You may also wish to add in a shoulder press exercise on your chest workout days as this will help to isolate the shoulders to a greater extent and is a good strength and size development movement.
Looking at the back muscles, you can't beat barbell bent over rows. This is a primary power developer and will target the back muscles as well as the biceps very nicely.
The pull-up is another compound back exercise to consider and one that many people do often overlook. While the bent over row tends to work the muscles in the mid-back, the pull-up will target the muscles at the side of the body, helping you increase the width of the body.
So there you have the main strength training exercises that you should know about. Aim to perform at least one, if not two, exercises for each muscle group in every workout you do and you will be on track for optimal success.