It's important to choose the right weight lifting exercises for your workouts. If you want the best muscle gains possible you should be doing the right exercises.
A common mistake made by a lot of people in the gym looking to build muscle is choosing the wrong exercises. Don't become a statistic, and learn the proper lifts even if they are hard to perform at first and make you look silly!
Let's take a look at the most effective weight lifting exercises out there to build muscle, sorted into the main different muscle groups. You should work all of these muscle groups to build an all-round great figure.
Many people try to avoid working their legs, or they don't work them as hard as their arms or chest for example. That type of thinking is not good, you should train your legs just as hard as any other part of your body.
The reason why is simple. If you just build up your upper body and avoid working your legs, your figure would look odd. Think about it, a strong muscly upper body with weak "twig" legs would just look plain silly. But there is another important reason that is explained in our article on leg workouts.
The most effective leg exercises are:
Squats are definitely the most important leg exercise, and some even say the most important exercise for your whole body. Read more about squats with our articles:
The Importance of Barbell Squats
Proper Squat Technique
Along with your legs, a lot of people avoid working their back. If you want to pack on as much muscle mass as possible, avoiding your back is a big mistake. The muscles in your back make up a lot of the overall muscle mass in your body, and a large, well-defined muscular back makes your figure look very powerful and looks great.
Including these exercises in your back workout will go a long way:
For the best gains in your chest you should include the bench press as the main weight lifting exercise. There are different ways to perform the bench press, either with a barbell or dumbbells.
You can do a basic flat bench press, or you can do it on an incline or decline bench. These different variations will work different types of chest muscle. These are the chest exercises you should concentrate on:
Learn more by reading how to structure a solid chest muscle workout.
Big strong shoulders are a must for a powerful physique. The best exercises for building up your shoulders fast are:
Read about structuring a great shoulder workout here.
The arms (biceps, triceps and forearms) are the most "showy" muscles and so many people focus too much on working their arms, and other muscle groups are ignored. Sure, work your arms very hard! But don't neglect the other muscle groups. But building arm muscle is only one part of building your overall body.
Check out our page on arm workouts to build large and strong biceps and triceps.
Everyone dreams about having those rock solid, sexy-looking 6 pack abs. Although many people are misguided about how to go about getting those great abs.
Most people believe that if you train your abs very hard and at frequent times, your 6 pack will magically appear. That's far from the truth. You see, for your muscles to show in your abdominal region, you need to get your overall body fat under a certain level. No matter how hard you train your abs, unless you have a very low bodyfat percentage, they won't show all that much.
I'm not saying you shouldn't train your abs, just understand that you won't necessarily see amazing abs until you start lowering your overall body fat percentage.
There we go, the most effective weight lifting exercises for all the major muscle groups. Like I said before, don't slack off on any of the muscle groups. It's important to train all muscle groups for a balanced body.
Forget whatever you've been doing until now, getting little to no strength and muscle gains, and start anew on the right foot with a logically-structured, science-based, results-focused mass gain program:
Option A: Design Your Own Effective Program ($)
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros.
Option B: Follow An Existing Pre-Made Program ($$)
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are some excellent step-by-step programs out there for hardgainers that's been proven to create transformations in other guys. This is how I got my start as well, and if I hadn't initially found a good program online I know for a fact that I would have never got the dramatic 1st and 2nd year mass gain results that I got.
Option C: Find a Good In-Person Trainer ($$$)
I personally don't do 1-on-1 training with clients for various reasons (mainly 'cause I run a business which takes up all of my time, and plus I travel a lot which isn't ideal for training people), but if you have the money to spend on this (PTs can quickly add up in costs) and you care about getting results then ensure they understand the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly pick one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want (and if you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who was once a hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you or worst-case they'll falsely tell you that you can't build the physique of your dreams; don't listen).
Whichever path you take, if you're a hardgainer/skinny noob who's a little sceptical that you can actually build the strong and muscular physique that you know would change your life - remember this: no matter what anyone tells you, your destiny is 100% in your own hands despite where you may be starting from. Don't fall victim to the illusion that being a hardgainer or [insert excuse] will hold you back, as smart strategies and persistence will always win in the end.
To your success,
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12 Years & Counting
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor