Powerful Bodybuilding Exercises
If you want to transform your physique you need to hit the gym hard. Here are some of the top exercises per body part!
Shoulder (military) Press
The shoulder press is a compound exercise that will spark growth all around your shoulders, especially your front deltoids. You can use either a barbell, or a pair of dumbbells but a barbell will enable you too pile on the weight.
Key Tip: focus on squeezing your shoulders through the exercise and don’t use you triceps to lock out your arms.
Using either a barbell or pair of dumbbells raise your arms out in from of you and back down. This exercise focuses on the front delts.
Key Tip: make sure not to swing the weight and focus on the squeeze!
Side lateral Raise
Very similar to the front raise, this exercises focuses on your outer delts.
Key Tip: keep you elbows above your wrists during the movement to ensure you target the side delts.
Rear Delt Raise
Lying face down on a bench at a 45 degree angle, perform a ‘reverse flye’ to target your rear delts. Alternatively, if your gym has a pec dec you can do a reverse pec dec flye for the rear delts.
Key Tip: keep focus on your rear delts moving the weight, otherwise you will end up performing a row – you won’t be able to go heavy if you are doing the exercise correctly.
The king of the chest exercises, and probably the most popular exercise amongst bodybuilders, the bench press will pack muscle on your pecs. Change between dumbbells and a barbell to keep things fresh. The key to growing your chest is to focus on pushing and squeezing your pecs and not using your shoulders or triceps. It is also key to lower the bar all the way down to your chest without bouncing the weight back up, ensuring constant tension in your muscle.
Key Tip: DO NOT focus on how much you bench, but rather on perfect form
The incline press will focus on your upper chest. To perform incline presses place the bench at a 45-degree angle.
You can use a pair of dumbbells, cables or a chest flye machine. Remember to use a slow and controlled motion for this isolation exercise and concentrate of a full stretch of your chest.
The deadlift is unbelievably good at building muscle mass. Keeping your back straight and your head up is a must.
Key Tip: Perfect form is needed
The pull up is a total mass builder, perfect for packing on size in your wide back (your lats). Use an overhand grip to focus on your lats.
Key Tip: try using lifting straps to take your arms out of the movement.
The T-Bar is a variation of the barbell row, which is also a good exercise, however the T-Bar in my opinion recruits more muscle. Using a v-bar attachment placed under a barbell, anchor one end to a wall with a dumbbell and place plate weight on the other end, then use a row movement.
Key tip: try and take your arms out of the exercise and squeeze the weight upwards.
Shrugs will focus on your Trapezius, the muscle at the top of your neck. Take a pair of dumbbells by your side and literally shrug the weight upwards.
Key Tip: many people end up lifting the weight with their shoulders or arms – make sure you shrug with you Trapezius.
If you want to build huge quads, glutes and hamstrings you will have to squat with perfect form and heavy weights. When building muscle mass you have to leave your ego at the door of the gym – take the weight off the bar and learn perfect form. Anyone can squat 150 – 200kg when they go down 2 inches, but look at their legs, tiny huh? Who would have guessed!
Correct Squat Form:
Start with a weight on the bar that will give a bit of resistance to your squat so you can feel the movement.
Place the bar on your back and shoulders – not your neck and place you feet shoulder width or slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Keep your chest up and outwards – this will also create a slight concave arch in your back. Don’t arch the other way; this will place strain on your back.
Key Tip: make sure to lower all the way down to the floor or at least parallel to recruit your muscle fibre.
Stiff Leg Deadlift (or leg curl machine)
The hamstrings need to be worked if you are to fully develop your legs. Stiff leg deadlifts (SLDL) should be performed with perfect form.
Keeping your foot stance quite narrow, as you lower the bar do not lower your bum to the floor like a regular deadlift.
Bend from the hips, keeping a slight bend in your knees.
Key Tip: When lifting upwards concentrate on using your hamstrings to lift the weight.
Place a barbell on your shoulders and take a large step forward with one leg.
Bend all the way down until your opposing knee is just above the floor.
Push off your forward leg to return to the starting position.
Key Tip: You can perform this exercise one leg at a time or alternate between each leg, or you can ‘walk’ with the bar up and down a free area in your gym – if you do this correctly you’ll be crying for your mum after the set has finished!
In this exercise you must lie on your elbows and lift your body off the floor (your toes on the ground) making sure your core is constantly under tension. There are no reps in this exercise; it is performed for 3 sets of time intervals (for example 1 or 2 minutes)
Key Tip: keep your back straight
In the same position as the plank place your knees on the floor with your feet raised. Place your hands on a barbell in front of you (that has two round 5kg plate on it) and roll forward feeling the tension in your abs, then return to starting position.
Key Tip: focus on your core
Facing a high cable pulley machine, place a rope in a high position then grab the rope and place your hands in front of your head. With your hips in a fixed position, contract your abs so you body lowers down into a ‘crunch’, then let the weight bring you back up.
Key Tip: Keep this movement nice and slow.
The classic barbell curl will spark the most muscle growth in your bicep as you can go heavy. It’s easy to cheat with this exercise by swaying or using poor form, so make sure to keep your elbows by your side and lift the bar with your biceps
Key Tip: lean your back against a wall to prevent swaying
You need either a preacher bench, or a normal bench angled at around 40 degrees. Preacher curls will focus on the peak of your bicep.
Key Tip: this isolation exercise is best performed with a lighter weight to prevent injury
Dips are a great overall mass builder, but to focus on your triceps make sure to keep your chest and head up and out, and lock out your arms at the top.
The rope pulldown is a classic tricep isolation exercise. Make sure to keep your elbows locked by your side and squeeze your triceps at the bottom of the movement.
Key Tip: Your arms don’t need to go above a parallel angle to the floor
Now we have the exercises, let’s put together a great split routine
Monday – Legs, Abs
Squats 4 x 8-10
Lunges 3 x 10-12
SLDL 3 x 8-10
Plank 2 x 2 minutes
Barbell Roll 3 x failure
Cable Crunch 2 x 8-10
Wednesday – Chest, Triceps
Bench press 4 x 5-8
Incline press 3 x 8-10
Dumbbell flyes 3 x 10-12
Dips 3 x 8-10
Tricep pulldown 3 x 8-10
Friday – Back, Biceps
Deadlift 4 x 8-10
Pull up 4 x 8-10
T-Bar 3 x 10-12
Barbell curl 3 x 5-8
Preacher curl 3 x 10-12