The Best Exercises to Transform your Body
7 Exercises that will transform your physique
Your gym may just have got the latest cable machine and vibrating plate, but without these fundamental free-weight lifts, your physique will forever remain mediocre and you'll always be as weak as your grandmother. Isolation and machines are great for targeting muscles, but if you get nice and strong off these compound lifts, you'll have a great base.
Flat Barbell Bench
An obvious one, you may see those people at the gym with the chest that you want putting up 225 for reps. I don't know about you but I sure haven't seen anyone who can bench their bodyweight for reps with a pigeon chest. Make sure your form is perfect, that means back on the bench, shoulder blades tucked back.
You may have also seen that guy in the gym thrusting(I personally like to call them ceiling thrusters) He loads up way more than he can handle, drops the weight on the negative, bounces it off his chest and thrusts his pelvis to get it up, they also usually have spotters who are working their traps helping them. Don't be this guy.
First, it's a good idea to warm up your rotator cuffs. Then, make sure you have a spotter who Is paying attention (and preferably someone you trust) use a slightly narrower grip, this helps take stress off the rotator cuffs. It's a nasty injury, so we want to avoid it. Now, unrack the bar, keep your wrists locked (this keeps the load off the front delts), then slowly lower it to your chest, really control the weight on the negative. You do not have to touch your chest, but try to come within 1 inch. Then slowly raise the weight using the least momentum you can. Repeat until failure.
Standing Barbell Military Press
An old strongman favorite, if you want shoulders like boulders, this is your lift. First, load up the bar with a light weight. Now you have to get it on your clavicle (you can use the squat/power rack if nobody else is, but if somebody needs to squat, let them.) If you can't use the racks, just clean the bar up to your collar bone and start from there.
Now slowly raise the bar overhead(careful not to hit your chin!) using no momentum until your elbows are almost locked out over your head, then slowly bring it back down, remember to control the weight. Repeat until failure.
You will hear a lot of people talking about how you should have your grip during this lift. I use a shoulder-width grip, with thumbs over. You'll hear about "suicide grip" (thumbs under) eventually, I cannot say whether it produces better results, but its called suicide grip for a reason. Just sayin'.
Pull-ups are a huge mass builder for your lats, if you don't have a v-taper; I'm willing to bet you can't do more than 2 pull-ups. Also another amazing fact you might hear is that 90~% of males are incapable of doing 1 pull-up! If you're in that percent, set yourself apart from the crowd and start now!
I'd suggest using as wide a grip as possible, if you cannot do 1, do negatives. Jump up and then control your bodyweight on the way down, try to do it as slow as possible, try 3x8 of these until you can do your bodyweight for a few reps.
Once you can do bodyweight pull-ups for 3x8, it's time to invest in a weighted dip/pull-up belt(this can also be used for dips, another awesome exercise) Once you hit 45lbs+bodyweight for 3x8 reps I can guarantee you'll have lats big enough to fly with.
Bent over barbell rows
Another major back mass builder, there are several variations; some are known for targeting your biceps. Anyway the form is quite simple, pick up the bar, try to keep a flat back at about a 45 degree angle and row, row, row. You should be able to feel it in your back.
Weighted parallel-bar dips
These are a killer for your chest, triceps AND shoulders. It's the same case here with pull-ups, if you can't do 3x8 bodyweight yet, leave the weighted belt at home until you can. Then slowly start adding weight.
As for the form, get up on to the dip station and vault yourself up in to the air (makes me feel like a gymnast every time) and then go down, and come back up, simple as. If you lean forward, it targets the chest more, whereas if you stay more vertical it hits your triceps more. If you feel any pain in your shoulders or elbows, stop immediately, it is not worth the injury. Some people cannot do these due to previous injuries/problems, if you are one of these people I'm afraid you'll just have to work around it.
Now onto the major lower body exercises, the squat, commonly referred to as the "king of weighted exercises" (it earned that name for a reason) is probably one of the best exercises you can do for athletic performance, leg size and overall general health. Now, the form is EXTREMELY important, you MUST perfect your form with the bar before you put on any weight if you don't feel like slipping any disks anytime soon.
Now there are differences in squats, the main 2 are referred to as "high bar" and "low bar". High bar is the type of squat that Olympic lifters do. The bar is held high on the traps and the feet are in a shoulder-width stance, if you are flexible enough, I'd suggest you try this, it's a more natural movement and I feel it works the lower body better. "Low bar" squats are powerlifting squats, the bar is held on the low traps/rear delts, and the feet are in a very wide stance, these squats are designed for moving as much weight as possible. It doesn't matter which type you do as long as you do one. But please for the love of god, make sure you research the form beforehand.
The second major lower body lift, again it is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to use good form when doing deadlifts, if you do not listen to me now, you'll probably be in a wheelchair in 10 years. Now a lot of people will tell you that deadlifts are a lower back lift, they are wrong. Yes, the lower back is involved the deadlift, but it is not one of the primary muscles.
I have 2 pieces of advice, 1. Pull with your HAMSTRINGS and GLUTES, NOT your lower back. 2. Leave your ego at the door and pick a weight you can manage, this is the lift where ego-lifting practically guarantees injury.
If you can do these in to your old age and keep good form, you can pretty much wave good-bye to back pain.
These 7 exercises done correct will set you miles apart from all these other gym idiots you see, they're great for building a strong, healthy physique and gaining mass(if you're on a calorific surplus). Don't forget why you got in to lifting, you not only wanted to get BIG, but strong no? Don't be that guy who's all show and no go when push comes to shove and you'll go a long way!