In the bodybuilding world, all of us have been told we must do certain exercise , namely the squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, bent over row and pull up. But is that really accurate?
Lets take it from the top: The human body can do more or less six different things which are twist, turn, squat, hip hinge, push and pull. The first two should not be performed with weights for obvious reasons.
That leaves us with the other four which you should do on a weekly basis at least twice.
But does that mean you should do the above exercises. No, I prefer to speak of movements as opposed to pigeon hole you into certain exercises.
Certain consideration do apply.
1. Injures: If you have lower back issues the bent over row with the barbell or the dead lift are simply not great ideas, think cable rows and pull throughs instead.
If you shoulders are too tight and you can not raise your hands behind the body, a barbell overhead press will murder your rotator cuff. here the seated shoulder press on the machine is a much safer option.
This one is a bit trickier but if you do not feel an exercise in the target muscle, out with it. The bench is a poor chest builder so even when I was benching in the 400 lbs range, my chest did not develop. Once I transferred to cable presses and focused on isolation= massive gains. A beginner is most likely not ready to put a bar on his back and squat effectively. So instead of frustrating himself, he could start training at the leg press ( throw in some single leg presses for balance) while working on his squat form.
4. What do you want out of the exercise?
All these can be used for different goals, as an example: with the dead lift you can target your glutes and hamstrings if you move your hips backwards and curl the toes up. By the same token, if you go straight down it becomes more of a lower back exercise. You can also use dumbbells and drive them to the side of your body for a lot exercise.
Cliff notes: you must squat, hip hinge, push and pull but I will provide you with a list of alternates below.
Squat: Barbell squat, dumbbell squat, cable squat, lunge, step up ,leg press
Overhead press: Barbell press, Bradford press, Ahrens press, Scott press, parallel press,
Bench press: Incline press, decline press, cable press, push press, floor press, push up
Deadlift: Banded deadlift, pull through, good morning, banded good morning
Bent over row: Seated cable row, one arm dumbbell row, chest supported dumbbell row.
Pull up: Close grip pull up, underhanded pull up, wide grip pull up, sternum pull up,
Pull down done as : kneeling, 2 for 1, in vs out, behind the neck
As always, look at the science and figure what works for you!
Here is the video for the bench press part.
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