The Bread and Butter

The Squat is one of the most effective, practical exercises you can perform. This statement rings true whether you’ve been lifting for less than a week or well over a decade. Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they incorporate numerous different muscle groups. The legs are going to be the primary movers, but squatting also helps to exercise the abs and many other stabilizer groups. Squats make the top of this list, not only because of their effectiveness, but for their versatility. They can be performed with bodyweight, dumbbells, barbells, or even with customizable stances. For more information on which squat variation is right for you, check out this other recent article that dives into how to shake up your leg day routine.

Upper Strength

The Bench Press comes in second on our ranking for much of the same reasons as the squat. It’s a compound lift, which works the pectorals, shoulders, and triceps. Our favorite aspect of this exercise though is its scalability. Even if you struggle to perform a push up, you can find a way to perform a bench press. If the bar is too heavy, begin with lighter dumbbells. The bench press comes with countless different variations and can be easily modified to adequately challenge you, no matter what your experience level is.

Getting Creative

The Dumbbell Row rounds out our list, as well as rounds out the muscle groups we have neglected to talk about. This final compound lift targets the back, biceps, and forearms. What makes it different from the other two however is its unilateral nature. Each arm moves independently with this lift, allowing each side to be sufficiently challenged. Our more dominant side tends to often take more of the load than it should, sometimes leading to muscle imbalances in the long run. Rowing each arm independent of the other ensures that these muscles will evenly grow, leading to strength, physique, and, in the case of this exercise, even postural improvement.

Bringing it all together

Creating a workout routine centered around these three movements will be sure to put you on the right track in your fitness journey. The only parting advice I will leave you with is to make sure that your form remains your top priority when performing these exercises. Progress will happen with time, but only if you are doing these exercises correctly. Check out some of our other articles for detailed guides on how to make each lift count. Take it slow and you’ll be amazed how your muscles will grow.

About the Author

Jake Stewart

Jake Stewart

Jake is an author and weightlifter from the San Diego area. He has been in the gym for the past eight years, experimenting with weight training focused on aesthetics and strength. He...

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