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Best Muscle Building Exercises

Updated on January 21, 2015

Finding The Right Exercises To Build Muscle

There are many guys who want to get stronger and build more muscle mass. Building more muscle will give you a powerful look that will demand respect and should help attract the ladies. You can also compete in powerlifting or bodybuilding competitions depending on whether you train for strength or muscle size. To get bigger and stronger you need to perform the best muscle building exercises regularly during your workouts. These exercises are compound movements that involve multiple muscle groups. Always start off your workouts with the best major compound exercises and save the isolation movements for later.

The first step when you start weight training should be to learn proper form on all of the top muscle building exercises. Using poor form when you're weight training with heavy weights will cause you not to target the muscles you're training as efficiently and can lead to injury.


The squat is certainly one of the best muscle building exercises. They will help you build the quadriceps, hamstrings, and lower back. You'll even gain size in your upper body if you do intense squats because you'll get a big boost in your natural testosterone levels.

To perform the squat you need to stand with your feet placed about shoulder width apart or a bit more with a barbell on your upper back / trapezius area. You then squat down to where your thighs are about parellel to the floor before using your legs to get back to a standing position. Keep your lower back arched and avoid bending it when you squat. Some great alternatives to the squat are hack squats and leg presses.


Another one of the best muscle building exercises is the deadlift. This exercise is great for strengthening your lower back and will help build your quadriceps, hamstrings, and upper back as well. You squat down to a barbell that's on the floor and grip the bar with one hand overhand and the other underhand. Then you use your legs and lower back to get to a standing position. Avoid bending your lower back, keeping it arched instead. Grip strength is very important when you deadlift. You can use chalk or wrist straps to enhance your grip on the weight so your hands don't give out before your muscles.

Power Cleans And Clean And Presses

Two of the best muscle building exercises are power cleans and clean and presses. These are both classic weightlifting exercises that you don't see done very often any more. However, they both involve many different muscles and are great for giving you a big testosterone boost.

To do power cleans you need to "clean" a weight from the floor to your upper chest/neck area. This means that you need to squat down and grip a weight that's on the floor. You then need to explode upward to get the weight moving before squatting back down a bit to get the weight to your upper chest.

You do clean and presses pretty much the same as power cleans. The difference is that once you clean the weight you have to lift it overhead.

Bench Presses

The best muscle building exercise for the chest is the bench press. It is possibly the most popular weight training exercise there is and will help build your pecs fast if you do it right. To perform the bench press properly you need to pull your shoulder blades in when you lie on the bench to pop the chest muscles out. This will put more of the resistance on the pecs. Besides the flat bench press, you should also do incline and dumbbell bench presses in your chest workout routine.

Pull-Ups And Pulldowns

The top muscle building exercises for increasing the width of your upper back are pull-ups and pulldowns. These exercises will help you build the latissmus dorsi muscles of the upper back for a wider appearance. Pull-ups are a better exercise than pulldowns, but many weight trainers have a tough time getting enough pull-ups for a good set. If this is the case for you, cable pulldowns make for a great alternative.


The best muscle building exercises for increasing the thickness of your upper back are rows. They are exercises that have you pulling a weight towards you using the muscles of the upper back. There are many forms of this exercise you can perform. The best are barbell rows, dumbbell rows, and t-bar rows.

Military Presses And Dumbbell Presses

To build the shoulder muscles you need to do military and dumbbell presses. Both of these great muscle building exercises involve lifting weight overhead. When you do military presses you need to lower a weight to your upper chest or in front of your neck or chin and use your shoulder muscles to lift it overhead. To do dumbbell presses you need to lower the weights to the sides of your head then lift them.


Curls are the best muscle building exercises for the biceps and are certainly among the most popular. Curls are done by curling weight upwards using the biceps. The best forms of curls of barbell curls, dumbbell curls, and hammer curls.

Triceps Extensions

The top muscle building exercises for gaining triceps size are triceps extensions. They are done by holding a weight in your hands, bending your elbows, and lifting the weight with your triceps. There are many forms of triceps extensions. They include standing triceps extensions, lying triceps extensions (also known as skull crushers), and seated dumbbell triceps extensions.

Calf Raises

Calf raises are the best muscle building exercise to increase the size of your calves. To train both of the major calf muscles you need to do both standing and seated calf raises. If you work out at a gym you'll have access to machines that will allow you to do both forms of calf raises. A great alternative to standing calf raises are leg press calf raises.


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      Isopure Protein Drink 7 years ago

      Great article. All of theses exercises are great and i perform these myself as well. Power lifting exercises like some of these are excellent for stimulating muscles to grow. These exercises will build strength and muscle fast.

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      Weight training routines 7 years ago

      Great comprehensive list of compound exercises. It's also important to remember that the number of reps for maximum muscle hypertrophy and strength gains should be kept between 8 - 12.

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      Nick Andrade 8 years ago

      Great list of very effective muscle building exercises. I really think that more people need to get back to the basic free weight exercises if they want to gain muscle mass. Stick with the basics and train hard and heavy and you will build muscle mass!