All lifts in bodybuilding are important, and all can have those lifters destroyed, however certain lifts are a staple for building good strength and mass. Hitting the biceps and triceps with curls and extensions may give you some nice arms but the action doesn’t relate well to real life actions. However there are lifts out there which do have real life benefits, do improve overall muscle size and mass and are great for increasing bone density. The fully compound exercises like squats and deadlifts have this impact, however whilst many attempt these in their workout many have bad form and fail to execute these exercises correctly, we will now go through a few exercises that must be included in your training:


Deadlift is the quintessential exercise, and whilst the name implies death it is actually the most widely performed exercise done in gyms across the UK. The exercise is pretty much as it implies, it is a lift of dead weight off the ground, even though that sounds simple the exercise works nearly every muscle in the body in some shape or form, whilst training the body in a vital movement pattern that is rarely matched in weight lifting. The deadlift improves coordination, alignment and posture and is an essential exercise for maintaining quality balance of muscles. The deadlift brings emphasis to the posterior muscle groups like the hamstrings, gluteal, adductors and erector spinae, this is important as many lifters are anterior dominant with strong quadriceps, pectorals and abdominals, the deadlift helps with this imbalance and will prevent injuries down the line. The deadlift is a simple exercise in concept but is actually a technical exercise and like all exercises requires good from over massive weight. 


Stand with feet shoulder width apart, lower the body flexing at the knee and hip joints maintaining thighs parallel to the floor and knees directly over the feet, grab the barbell in whatever grip formation you find easiest with your hand spacing just outside of the knees. This is the starting position of the deadlift, from this point use your posterior leg muscle groups to power upwards pulling the weight from the ground until the bar clears your knees and comes to rest mid upper leg, from this point concentrate on pushing the weight through your heels whilst straightening the back. Once you have mastered this exercise you can then move onto variations which will allow you to work the muscles in a variety of ways.


If deadlifts are the husband the squats would be the wife, Squats have numerous varieties each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of the variation you use, squats are essential for building the lower limb muscles, and core stabilisers. Squats are great as they transfer well into the real world and will help keep injuries away which may occur due to imbalances and weaknesses. The squat is an exercise that is essential and feared, it has the ability to work numerous major muscles and can get the heart rate sky high.


The method we will describe is the back squat, the reason we have chosen this excellent exercise is due to its simple brilliance, it is one the most widely used variations and should be implemented into any training programme. This must be performed using a squat rack, and if you are beginner than a light weight and a trainer is essential for safety. Placing the bar upon the squat rack you want to get a good steady base with your feet, normally slightly greater than shoulder width. Placing the bar upon the trapezius and not the neck you want the weight driving through the base of the feet, step back from the rack with the bar balanced symmetrically on both sides and by flexing the knees go down without letting the knees go over the toes, you want to get your bum down low, it is a good idea to be one ledged step behind you so you know you’re going low enough, you will want to power up through the concentric phase of the rep whilst extending the back slightly.


The humble push-up may seem like a simple exercise to include but in reality many people fail to do 10 push-ups in good form. Many fatigue very fast in their triceps and core leading to terrible bum placements and all manner of differing body rolling movements. This bad form leads to pressure in the lower back and can lead to serious injuries forming. The push-up is a fundamental exercise and needs to be mastered, the push-up works not only the obvious chest, arm and shoulder muscle groups, and the push-up hits core muscles and helps stretch out upper posterior muscle groups.


The push-up is done with hands shoulder width apart and plated palm down on the floor (or using a fist which may help prevent wrist injuries), feet are either together or slightly apart (depending on balance). The back should be flat with the bum down, the exercise is then a simple up and down pushing motion.

The Pull-up

One the best exercises around and one that isn’t aimed at our anterior muscle groups or mirror muscles (besides the biceps). The pull-up is fundamental in the development of the posterior muscles such as the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids. However like the push-up it works many stabilizer muscles and smaller muscles in the process including the abdominals and biceps brachii, this again like the push-up will build power to weight rather than all out lifting strength. Power to weight can be seen as a more functional as it relates better to the outside world.


There are many variations of the pull-up, and many apparatus to choose from but for many and those stating out we would recommend using a straight bar instead of rings, ropes or TRX handles. Placing your hands slightly more than shoulder width apart and gripping with the back of the hands facing towards yourself, engage the core muscles and lift yourself off the ground until your chin is over the holding bar, this has to be a controlled motion to activate those muscles and don’t skimp on the eccentric phase (the phase coming down).

Military Press

A true classic, an exercise that really strengthens the shoulders, back and abdominals. The military press is a great exercise that takes the whole body to perfect excellent form. Again the amount of weight lifted is not as important as using good tempo and form especially for when you want to add muscle mass and strength. Weak shoulders are a large reason from injury occurrence, the military press is a vital exercise for any lifter.


The military press is an excellent exercise, and is relatively simple. We recommend using a squat rack (if using BB) to hold the weight instead of having to clean the weight to the chest. A barbell (BB) is the best option for beginners although dumbbells may be used to add extra instability and work the muscles proprioceptors. Take the weight off the rack using your hands placed on the bar at slightly more than shoulder width apart, step away from the rack and extend at the shoulder and elbow until full extension of the elbow is complete before flexing the elbow to bring the weight back down to the exercise starting position.

There you have it, 5 exercises that need to be in your lifting books! The reps, sets and tempo should be set to your goals, and if you require any assistance make sure you contact us at myInnerGo to help you on your journey.