Spending time in the gym may or may not be enjoyable for you. Either way, you don’t want to spend a lot of time working on a body part to have meager gains.
If you were only able to do one exercise per body part, what would you choose?
Admittedly, hammer strength machines are great, but if you want to reach maximum levels of strength and muscle mass, pick up a barbell.
Performing barbell and dumbbell movements have been proven to be the most effective form of resistance training.
Now that we’ve ditched the machines, let’s dive into what the most effective exercises per body part are.
Effective Muscle Building Exercises For Each Body Part
Chest: Barbell Bench Press
Chest day, AKA Monday, has been the most popular day at the gym since before the beginning of time.
The barbell bench press primarily works your pecs, relying on your delts and triceps as secondary muscles worked.
Lats: Bent-Over Barbell Rows
If you are trying to build a barn door back and get rid of your invisible lat syndrome, bent over barbell rows are the exercise.
This exercise also works your core and posterior chain to support the weight, your spinal erectors, traps, and even biceps are worked in this exercise.
One bonus with this exercise is there is a direct carry-over to your bench. A stronger back makes a stronger bench.
Abs: Rope Crunches
When it comes to building strength in your core and abs, rope crunches are the most effective.
This weighted movement doesn’t use a dumbbell or barbell, but will run you through the ringer.
Since your shoulders have 3 different points to work; your anterior, your lateral, and posterior deltoids should all have their own exercise.
- Anterior Delt (Front Delt): Seated Military Press
- The seated military press helps keep a straight back and remove all leg drive from the movement.
- Lateral Delt (Side Delt): Lateral Raises
- When done correctly, lateral raises really gives you that “boulder shoulder” look. Don’t use heavier weight than you need to, ego lifting won’t help here.
- Posterior Delt (Rear Delt): Bent-Over Dumbbell Flyes OR Face Pulls
- Face pulls are great for rear delt and trap recruitment, just like bent-over dumbbell flyes. For an extra challenge, do your working sets of bent over dumbbell flyes and then do 2 burnout sets of face pulls.
Traps: Dumbbell Shrugs
While I personally feel deadlifts are an extremely effective trap builder, I would have to say dumbbell shrugs are a close second.
This exercise is best when done in the full range of motion and with explosive power.
Check out the rest of the exercises on the next page…
Biceps: Preacher Curl
Concentration curls were neck and neck with preacher curls, but overall preacher curls will benefit you the most.
Fully isolating the bicep, preacher curls allow you to use strict form and isolate the bicep.
Triceps: Close Grip Bench Press
The close grip bench is one hell of a movement for your triceps. It helps give you the best bang for your buck in regards to energy expenditure.
Lower Back: Conventional Stance Deadlifts
Deadlifts are hands down the best lower back exercises you can perform.
They hit everything from spinal erectors, calves, and biceps.
Quads: Front Squats
Front squats make for a killer quad workout because they are hard, technical, and scare most people.
If you are unable to do front squats because of lack of equipment or inability to safely perform the exercise, heavy goblet squats work well.
Hamstrings: Romanian Deadlifts
Going along with how beneficial deadlifts are to your posterior chain, Romanian deadlifts will completely destroy your hamstrings.
Placing the weight on your hamstrings and hips allow you to control the weight and really overload those muscles.
Check out this video on how to perform Romanian deadlifts:
Glutes: One-Legged Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
A mouthful to say, these target your glutes and hamstrings in a great way.
Start light until you get your form and balance down.
Calves: Standing Calf Raises
While there may not be too much of a difference between standing and seated calf raises, the exercise that utilizes the whole body wins in my book.
Load up some wheels on that bar and bang out a handful of high-rep sets and go about your way.