I’m a Trainer, and These Are 24 of My Favorite Muscle-Building Exercises

1. Leg Press

  • Before getting started, add weight to the machine. 25-35 pound plates on each side is a good starting point. If this is too heavy or too light feel free to adjust the weight.
  • Sit on the seat and place your feet hips-width apart on the footplate.
  • Once your feet are in place, press the footplate with both feet as you simultaneously disengage the safety latches on the side of the seat with your hands.
  • With your feet still on the footplate, bend your knees letting the footplate come toward your body. Once your knees are at a 90-degree angle, press the footplate up and straighten your legs. Be sure not to lock your knees.
  • This counts as one rep.
  • Once you’ve completed a set, press the footplate and engage the safety latches.

2. Banded Assisted Pull-Up

  • Place a large resistance band securely around a pull-up bar. A band with more resistance will provide you with more assistance/momentum to pull yourself up.
  • Stand on a stable object (a bench will work), and grip the pull-up bar. With one hand, place the band around the arch of your shoe. Fully extend the banded leg.
  • With a neutral spine and your abs engaged, pull yourself up. The band will provide you with momentum to lift your body up. Lower back down to the starting position.
  • This counts as one rep.

3. Barbell Squat

  • Start with a loaded barbell; 75 pounds is a great starting point. Beginners should start with just the barbell and gradually add weight as they become familiar with the movement.
  • Position your hands about shoulder-width apart on the barbell, and lightly grip the bar with an overhand grip.
  • Step in front of the rack, and rest the bar on your trapezius muscles (the muscle closest to your neck/upper back).
  • With your feet about hip-distance apart, lift the barbell off the rack. Take one to two steps backwards.
  • Shift your weight back into your heels. Brace your abs as you begin to lower into a squat, keeping your head and spine in a neutral position. Your knees should be as close to 90 degrees as possible. Hold for one second.
  • With your core still braced, drive through your heels to stand back up. Be sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of your squat. That’s one rep.

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