Every weight trainer needs a quality selection of exercises in their locker to maximise muscle growth. The number of options is endless and could fill a book. Working & collecting advice from GHN sponsored athletes Victoria Crewe Jo Prosser Shaun Mackenzie & Sion Evans our latest blog have abbreviated versions of the definitive list of lifts and how to do them.
GENERAL LIFT EXECUTION FOR WEIGHT TRAINERS
Technique: Lifting with good techniques is essential for injury prevention and optimal muscle stimulation. If you're unsure whether you've got it right, ask an experienced trainer or PT.
Breathing: Breathe in deeply before each rep and exhale through the 'sticking point' - this is key for stability, power, safety and all-round lifting quality!
CHEST DAY LIFTS
- Bench press: Load-up a barbell or use dumbbells and lie on a bench. Un-rack the bar and smoothly lower it until it brushes your chest – fully extend your arms pushing the bar up to complete the rep.
- Dips: Find a dipping station and lower yourself until you feel a deep stretch in your pecs. Fully extend your arms to push yourself above the bars.
- Flyes: Grab your dumbbells, lie on the bench and extend your arms fully. Smoothly lower the weights in an arc until the weights are level with your shoulders, then move the weights back to the starting position.
- Press-ups: Use press-ups as a finisher to your chest workout – just smash as many reps as you can in 5 minutes and feel the burn! Keep your body in a straight line and 'kiss the floor' (not literally!).
SHOULDER DAY LIFTS
- Overhead barbell/dumbbell presses: Start with the weight at shoulder level and simply extend your arms to lift the weight above your head. Perform seated or standing.
- Lateral delt dumbbell raises: Hold a pair of dumbbells in a natural position by your side. With a slight bend in your arms, raise the weights slowly until they're level with your shoulders. Slowly lower and repeat, trying to maintain muscle tension.
- Posterior delt dumbbell raises: Lie face down on a bench holding a pair of dumbbells. Perform a 'reverse fly' raising the weights to shoulder level in an 'arc shape'.
LEG DAY LIFTS – NO PAIN NO GAIN!
- Squats: Load a barbell with weight and step under the bar. Grab it with a comfortable grip and position it resting on your traps. Take a deep breath and un-rack the bar. Position your feet shoulder width apart (or to suit your body structure). To lower the bar safely, take a deep breath, tense your abs, keep a natural arc in your back and imagine you are squatting down to sit on a chair. Your knees should never extend in front of your toes! Squat down to 45 degrees (you can go lower if you can maintain good technique!).
- Leg press: Sit in a leg press machine and set the weights in the right position to suit your body structure. Lower the weights smoothly towards you, then powerfully press the weights by extending your legs. Different feet positions alter the muscle stimulation – don't be afraid to experiment.
- Leg extensions/curls: These simple exercises are great for finishing your leg workout. Use strict technique and a slow rep tempo to really feel your quads and hamstrings burning!
BACK DAY LIFTS FOR HARDCORE TRAINERS
- Deadlifts: Use a trap bar or barbell to lift the weight off the floor explosively, until your legs are fully extended. Technique is crucial for safety - your back must maintain its natural curve at all times!
- Rows: Use cables, dumbbells or a barbell to hit your back with a variety of 'rows'. You have a choice of 1-arm dumbbell rows, classic barbell rows, or cable moves using different grips.
- Chin-ups (or lat pull-down bar): The chin-up is ultra-simple! Grab the bar and pull yourself up to it until your chin is level or above it, lower smoothly into a deep stretch at the bottom of the lift, then explode back up!
BICEPS & TRICEPS – GET THE PUMP!
- Standing barbell curl (or EZ-curl bar): Grab the bar and tuck your elbows into your sides – then curl the weight towards your chest, lower smoothly and repeat, always maintaining muscle tension.
- Preacher curl: Find a preacher station and use an EZ-curl bar. Position your arms so they rest on the preacher pad, forcing you to curl with super-strict form.
- Close-grip bench press: Perform a regular bench press but use a grip slightly narrower than your shoulders to stimulate your triceps intensely.
- Cable press-down: Use a variety of cable attachments and grips to hit the three heads of your triceps. Keep your elbows tucked into your torso to maintain strict form.