While there are a lot of exercises for different muscle groups, some of them have withstood the test of time and you will find them virtually in every workout. There’s a reason for that, these old school exercises simply work and if you want to train effectively, you just have to do them.
So let’s go through 6 of the greatest exercises of all time and I will also share some tips on how to make the most of them.
#1 Barbell Squats
Hands down the number one exercise for the lower body that you can’t do without. To make the most of it, keep your back and shins parallel at the same angle as you move the weight up and down. Move your hips back to keep the back in straight line and bend the knees so that your shin are always parallel to your back. As you get up, thrust your hips forward but keep them in straight parallel lines too.
#2 Pull Ups
The best of the best body weight exercises that must be on this list. I’ve written a lot about this exercise, but one of the major tips when doing pull ups is to keep your legs straight, your body tense and lean back a little bit to work the lats more. You can also read related articles about how to do more pull ups, why you can’t do pull ups and managing your energy for bigger strength.
#3 Bench Press
One of the greatest exercises of all time that has become the symbol for strength. Bench press is the best exercise for chest but to really work the muscles, go for a narrower grip within the shoulder width. That way you will contract the chest muscles more and train them better. (Read also: how to build strength for the bench press)
We can’t talk about the back training without talking about the deadlift. This is certainly one of the best old school compound exercises. When doing it, you have to get your knee bend and hip hinge action right. Think about the knee level as the turning point when the bar meets your knees. When getting the barbell off the ground, you have your knees bent and you lift with your knees keeping your hips back. At the knee level you thrust your hips forward and extend to the upright position. Reverse the movement when lowering down, bending the knees only when the barbell reaches the knee level.
#5 Barbell Curls
All guys want to have big arms and biceps and this is the go-to exercise for it. With bicep curls, the eccentric movement is the most important so my tip is not to be afraid to “cheat” when lifting up but giving your everything to lower it as slow as possible, fighting for every inch. So it’s ok to lean a bit forward to get some momentum to lift the barbell up, but you have to lock the movement once it’s up and don’t swing back, then do your best at the eccentric movement. (Read also: a biceps workout for the biggest pump)
#6 Overhead Press
Last but not least, the best exercise for shoulders. I recommend dumbbell press rather than barbell because it allows more motion. Think of pressing the dumbbells at an angle, making sort of a triangle of your shoulders and arms. That way you give your shoulder and upper back muscles more movement and contraction for fuller development. (Read also: an intensive shoulder workout)