To build a strong house you must first lay a strong foundation. Without it all else will crumble.  The same can be said with strength training.  Having a few basic mainstays in your program will insure that you are progressing in strength and building a foundation to make you rock solid. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love bicep curls as much as the next guy at your local gym, and with a 6’10 wingspan I know that my biceps need more work to look like I even lift.  However this accessory movement is something that I build into my program after the main lifts have taken place.  There can be arguments for several lifts and their importance to your success, but today I would like to present you with 6 exercises that are the foundation to any great lifting program. These movements are multi-joint movements that will incorporate lots of muscles and can be built upon once they’ve been mastered. These 6 exercises are great whether your goal is to lose weight or gain mass. 

  1. Deadlift
  2. Squat
  3. Bench Press
  4. Pull ups
  5. Overhead Press
  6. Hip Thrust


Deadlifts- Perhaps the king of all lifts and a true measure of ultimate strength.  The deadlift is going to target several muscle groups.  It works your back, glutes, legs, arms, shoulders, trapezius and core.  In simple terms, it is going to shore up your whole back side.  Make sure to use correct form as there is potential to hurt yourself, especially when the weight start getting heavier.  Variations on the deadlifts include dumbbell deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, and stiff leg deadlifts. 


Squats- The squat is a staple movement in our day to day life.  Everything you do in a day, from getting out of bed, getting out of your car, and even sitting down on a toilet utilizes the muscles that are strengthened with squats. The primary muscles used in the squat are gluteus maximus and quadriceps not to mention all the stabilizer muscles that are used. 


Bench Press- There are a lot of pressing movements that can be used, but perhaps the most recognized would be the bench press.  You can also use dumbbells and change the angle of the bench to get a bit of a different workout.  The major muscles used in the bench press are the pectorals, triceps, shoulders, biceps, and abs.  

 Bench Press              Bench Press

Pull-ups- If you’re looking for that V-taper look, with a wider upper back and smaller waist, then pull-ups should be one of your main exercises.  Pull-ups can be very challenging and it can be tough to get even one rep.  However, you can work up to it by adding bands to decrease the amount of weight you’re pulling up or by doing negative pull-ups, which involve starting at the top with your chin over the bar and simply lowering as slow as possible.  Finally, you can use a pull-down machine to help build up your strength.  Pull-ups primarily work the latissimus dorsi, teres major and minor, infraspinatus, pectorals major, coracobrachialis, and triceps. 


Overhead Press- The best exercise for your shoulders, primarily your anterior (front) part of your shoulders.  The major muscles used in this exercise are your deltoids along with lots of stabilizer muscles.  Make sure you have full range of motion with your shoulder before pressing heavy weights over your head.

 Overhead Press              Overhead Press

Hip Thrust- The dark horse on this list, but a must.  The hands-down best exercise for getting that butt you have been dreaming about.  Primary muscles used are the glutes, hamstrings and lower back along with other stabilizing muscles including your core.  Another great feature about the hip thrust is the risk of injury is low and it is simple movement to learn.

 Hip Thrust              Hip Thrust                          Hip Thrust

When creating a workout plan look to make these movements the cornerstone of your program then add in the accessory movements.

Yours in Health,