When you walk into the gym these days you have an insane number of exercises to choose from, In fact there’s probably over 100 different variations of chest exercises. So which ones do you go for? I have put together my 5 fundamental exercises you NEED to be doing (If you’re not already) to improve your game and develop greater core strength.
1. Barbell Bench Press
Main muscles worked: Pectorals (Chest), Deltoids (Shoulders) and Triceps.
Okay, so unless you’re 100% committed to calisthenics you should definitely be benching; and here’s why… The barbell bench press is the fundamental strength building exercise, hitting the pectorals, deltoids and triceps, this exercise helps develop your core (overall) strength.
‘The bench press is a key exercise in strength and conditioning programs’ says strength and conditioning coach Bret Contreras.
2. Barbell Squat
Main muscles worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings
What? You skip leg day? Too bad, because research has found that the barbell squat (and squatting in general) doesn’t only promote hypertrophy in the lover muscles, but actually increases testosterone levels naturally. This results in increased muscle growth all over the body. Good news right? Moral of the story: Don’t skip leg day!
Main muscles worked: Hamstrings, gluts, lower back, traps, quads
If you’re not deadlifting you need to ask yourself; do you actually workout? Seriously! The deadlift is FUNDIMENTAL you absolutely cannot neglect this exercise. Besides developing your core strength and a strong lower back, this is by far the most conventional lift, simulating many real life situations of picking up weighted objects. Once you get comfortable with the form, you can even progress onto giving sumo-deadlifts a go.
4. The Pull-Up
Main muscles worked: Latissimus dorsi, Biceps, Other back muscles
Can’t do a pull up yet? That’s okay, but you should defiantly be practicing as this compound movement is essential for building core strength and a strong, well-developed back. Have you ever seen the film 300? Remember how jacked those actors were? Well before the movie the guys were shipped off to a training camp with Mark Twight. Here they performed simple compound movements with no machines what so ever. These exercises included Pull ups!
The difference between a pull-up and a chin-up? A pull up is where you have a wider grip, and your hands are facing away from you. A pull-up puts a lot of emphasis on your lats. A chin-up on the other hand is usually a narrower grip, with your hands facing towards you. This movement puts more emphasis on your biceps, whilst still working your back.
5. Barbell overhead press
Main muscles worked: Middle and front delts, trapezius, triceps, upper chest
Well rounded shoulders are key to any good physique, and if you do Crossfit pretty much everything involves shoulders. (The snatch, thrusts, rope climb, you name it.) The overhead press really is a staple move and should be implemented in to ALL routines. EMG research suggests that during a standing barbell press, as compared to seated dumbbells, there’s significantly greater muscle activation of both the middle and front delts. This is important, since these are the two primary muscles that really create those cannonball, capped delts.
EMG Research available at: Saeterbakken, A. H., & Fimland, M. S. (2013). Effects of Body Position and Loading Modality on Muscle Activity and Strength in Shoulder Presses. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(7), 1824-1831.
Information on the ‘300’ movie training regime available at: https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-do-a-proper-pull-up-and-why-you-need-to-do-them/
Featured image available at: http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/3-tips-nailing-front-squat