This guide includes weight lifting & body-weight exercises you can do to build muscle & lose fat. You won’t find all possible exercise variations, but rather the most effective exercises you can do to achieve your goals.
Squat. Any strength training program must include the Squat. Squats work your legs in the first place, but also the rest of your body. Squats are key to getting stronger, building muscle & losing fat. Squat variations:
- Back Squat. Bar low on your back. Bend through your knees until your hips come lower than your knees. Come back up. Back Squats work your whole legs, but especially your glutes & hamstrings.
- Olympic Squat. Bar high on your traps. Torso is more upright which allows more depth. Olympic Squats work your legs more evenly than Back Squats, but don’t let you lift as much weight.
- Front Squat. Bar on your front shoulders. Torso is more upright, less forward lean. Switch to Front Squats if you have lower back issues.
- Overhead Squat. Squats holding the bar overhead. Great exercise for shoulder health & strong abdominal muscles.
Front Squat. Image credit: Mike’s Gym
Deadlift. Deadlifts teach you to hold your back rigid against a load. Deadlifts work your back, legs, traps & forearms. Deadlift variations:
- Conventional Deadlift. Pull the bar from the floor until mid-thigh level. Use a shoulder-width stance for Conventional Deadlifts.
- Sumo Deadlift. Using a sumo stance: feet outside the grip. The sumo style works your legs more & your back less than the conventional style.
- Stiff-legged Deadlift. Knees unlocked, straight legs & high hips. Harder than Deadlifts: you’re not using knee extension to get the weight up.
- Romanian Deadlift. Work your hips hard. Start from the top: bend at the hips until the bar is at mid-shin level & come back up. Video.
Press. Presses work your shoulders, chest & triceps muscles. Emphasis on each muscle depends on the Press variation you do.
- Overhead Press. Push a weight from your shoulders overhead until your elbows are locked. The Overhead Press works your shoulders, triceps & trunk. Correct name of this exercise is Press.
- Bench Press. Press a weight from your chest until elbows locked while lying with your back on a Bench. Bench Press works your chest, triceps & shoulders and allows more weight than the Overhead Press.
- Push Press. Overhead Press using leg drive. Dip with your legs, then explosively extend your hips while pushing the weight overhead.
- Close Grip Bench Press. Bench Press using a shoulder-width grip. Works your triceps more, but your chest less.
- Military Press. Overhead Press done heels together. Harder than the Overhead Press, meaning less weight.
- Floor Bench Press. Lie back on the floor. Lower the weight until your triceps hit the floor & come back up.
Rows. Work your back & biceps muscles. Bend over at the hips, pull the barbell from the floor against your chest. Variations:
- Barbell Rows. Pull the barbell from the floor against your chest using hip extension. Barbell Rows start with the bar on the floor on each rep.
- Pendlay Rows. Arch your upper-back while pulling the bar against your chest. Pendlay Rows work your lats & erectors more than Barbell Rows.
Windmills. Image credit: Crossfit LA
Core. Squats, Deadlifts & Presses work your abs & lower back. If you feel you need more core training, here are some exercises you can do:
- Turkish Get-up. Lie back on the floor while holding a weight overhead. Get up while keeping your arm extended & overhead. Video of the lift.
- Windmills. Keep a weight in one hand overhead while bending at the hips. Switch side. Here’s a video of this exercise.
- Waiter Walks. Walk around while holding a weight overhead. The weight can be a dumbbell or barbel. One handed or two handed.
Check out this thread on Sherdog.net for more core exercises.
Olympic Lifts. Olympic lifts build power: the ability to accelerate from a dead stop. Olympic exercises:
- Power Cleans. Clean the barbell from the floor on your front shoulders. The Power Clean works your hips, back & traps.
- Squat Cleans. Dip under the weight while cleaning the barbell from the floor on your shoulders. You can lift more weight using Squat Cleans.
- Snatch. Clean the barbell from the floor above your head, in the Overhead Squat position. More powerful than Power Cleans.
- Jerk. Dip under the weight while pressing the bar from your shoulders above your head. Jerks are the power version of the Overhead Press.
Body-Weight Exercises. You won’t need barbells or dumbbells to do the following exercises.
- Push-ups. Lie on the floor with your stomach. Push yourself up using your arms until they’re locked. Push-ups work your arms & chest.
- Dips. Superior to push-ups. You have to balance yourself more because your feet are unsupported. Dips work your chest & triceps.
- Pull-ups. Hang on a pullup bar with straight arms. Pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar. Pull-ups work back & biceps.
- Chin-ups. Same as pullups but with your palms facing you. Chin-ups work your biceps more than Pull-ups.
- Squats. Hands behind your head, bend through your knees until hips come lower than knees. Come back up. You can also do one leg squats.
Exercise Routines.The stronger you become, the more muscles you’ll have. The more muscles you have, the more calories you’ll burn. You want to build muscle & lose fat: get into strength training.
- StrongLifts 5×5. Beginner Strength Training Program based on weight lifting exercises. You’ll start light, focus on exercise technique during the first weeks & add weight progressively. Click here to download your 52 pages free StrongLifts 5×5 eBook.
- StrongLifts Dumbbell 5×5. Same approach as StrongLifts 5×5, but with dumbbells. Try StrongLifts Dumbbell 5×5, if you don’t have barbells.
- SimpleFit. Has a routine based on body-weight exercises like Squats, Pull-ups & Push-ups. Click here for the strength training program.