You’re new to lifting weights, and your goal is to build muscle.
First off, congratulations. You’re starting down an amazing path that will change your life. If you stick with it you will not only build muscle, but you’ll also build character, discipline, and confidence that will propel you forward in life.
The six exercises below combine to target every major muscle group in your body. You can focus on these 6 exercises alone and build a balanced, muscular physique in no time.
They are ideal for beginners for 2 main reasons:
- They are easy to perform with good form, so you can focus on pushing yourself safely
- They teach you foundational movements that will prepare you for more advanced exercises
The main thing to focus on is getting stronger: by progressively using heavier weights and performing more reps you will give your body the stimulus it needs to build new muscle tissue.
#1: Dumbbell Goblet Squat
The squat is the most important movement you will ever learn. While it focuses on building strength and mass in the lower body, it will also develop good posture and unparalleled total body power.
The goblet squat is the easiest form of the squat to learn. This does NOT necessarily mean that it’s easy to do – you can still make it extremely difficult by opting to use a heavy dumbbell.
The 2 main things to focus on when doing this exercise are keeping your feet flat on the floor the entire time and keeping your chest upright (press the top of the dumbbell against your chest to make this effortless).
Next Step: Barbell Back Squat
#2: Dumbbell Step Back Lunge
While the squat is the most complete lower body movement, it’s a relatively quad-dominant exercise. And so it’s important to balance this out with something that hits the posterior chain a bit harder.
Your posterior chain consists of your lower back, glutes (butt), and hamstrings. A great way to hit the posterior chain for beginners is with the step back lunge. This movement still builds mass in your quads, but it also targets the glutes and hamstrings more than a traditional squat.
The 2 main things to focus on when doing this exercise are keeping your chest upright the entire time and picturing dropping your back knee down to the ground, rather than reaching it backwards behind you.
Next Step: Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
#3: Weighted Push-Up
It’s important that you master the basic pushing movement before you get into bench presses and the like. And don’t worry – this will still be extremely effective and quickly pack mass onto your pecs.
The push-up is the classic pushing exercise. And I’m assuming you can probably bang out a bunch of push-ups no problem… Which is why we’re adding weight to it! Just throw a weighted plate on your back (start with 10 lbs, then 25, then 45) – a backpack with heavy stuff inside will do if you’re working out at home.
The 2 main things to focus on when doing this exercise are keeping your back straight (not allowing your butt to sink towards the floor) and using a full range of motion (your t-shirt should make contact with the floor at the bottom on the movement).
Next Step: Barbell Bench Press
#4: Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Let’s not forget about the deltoids! A big pair of coconut shoulders will make you look like a beast (shirtless and in clothes), so it’s important they get some action.
The best way for beginners to hit their shoulders is with a seated dumbbell shoulder press. This will support your back and allow you to focus fully on working the delts (while getting some solid tricep work in there, too).
The 2 main things to focus on when doing this exercise are making sure your forearms stay completely vertical the entire time (your arms will get closer at the top of the movement) and keeping your back straight and not allowing it to arch as you press the weight up (pushing your butt into the back of the seat will help).
Next Step: Barbell Overhead Press
#5: Inverted Bodyweight Row
Time for the back! A lot of new lifters tend to neglect their back and focus more on their chest and arms. This will screw you over in the long term! It will ruin your posture, turn you into a hunchback, and just make you look silly.
An amazing movement to target your back is the inverted row. This uses only your bodyweight, but it’s still incredibly challenging.
The 2 main things to focus on when doing this exercise are keeping your body straight (contracting your ab muscles will help) and driving your elbows back as you raise your body up (you should pinch your shoulder blades together at the top of every rep).
Next Step: Barbell Bent Over Row
#6: Lat Pulldown
Alright the final exercise we’ll cover is the lat pulldown. When combined with the inverted row, this will build a beastly set of lats, upper back muscles, and biceps.
I recommend using an overhand, shoulder-width grip to get started. The traditional wide grip can be strenuous on your rotator cuff and is best avoided.
The 2 main things to focus on when doing this exercise are driving down through your elbows when pulling the bar down, and using a full range of motion (your arms should be straight at the top of each rep, and the bar should hit your chest at the bottom).
Next Step: Pull-Up
An Effective Routine for Using these Exercises
Perform each workout every other day. For example, workout A on Monday, workout B on Wednesday, workout A on Friday, workout B on Sunday, and so on…
|Step Back Lunge||3||12|
|DB Shoulder Press||3||12|
I am gonna recommend this article to a few friends.
Thanks Oliver – I appreciate it!
Hey David!! Great article!! I have been very few times in the gym and I mostly see guys using machines or isolated exercises, but I seldom see them doing compound movements!! Keep up the great job!
Thanks Dacero! It’s true, many guys stick to the machines which is quite unfortunate.
This is a terrific article for all beginners. If you are a beginner or if you’re thinking of joining the ranks of amateur or professional bodybuilders, it’s important that you arm yourself against certain kinds of bodybuilding myths so you can focus on what really matters – developing your physique, building strength and improving your overall performance.
These are some great exercises! I can’t wait to implement them into my own routine.
Hello David, how are you?
What would you recommend instead of lunge back and squats? I have a terrible knee and these exercises really put a lot of pain in them.
Hey Bruno – You can do box squats, they should be far easier on your knees.
Been searching of exercises on the internet to start with and I am going to try this one. I am hoping to have an amazing transformation. Thanks bro!
Great article man
Hi david, awesome article!!! How long should i do these excercises for and when to change it up?
Hey Jamey – in general, until you get bored of them or top making progress.
Some of the exercises you have mentioned are unique and aren’t known to all.
Most beginners often forget compound and basic exercises which helps more than most of the isolation exercises. Please write an article specially for importance of compound movements to help educate people about them.
Thanks Rohan – and good idea for that article!
Can u gave me a any id of social networking
Because i want to know about exersices from u to how we can perform it in right way
Hi David great read.. I am pretty new to working out and am wondering if I should do this routine or you’re dumbbell bulking one? I work out at home but I figured I can substitute the lat pull down for pull ups, thanks
I would go with the DB bulking routine, it’s more complete. Download the newer PDF version of it though, I’ve made some updates.
Awesome man.. thanks for the advice!
hey buddy ! If I mail you my inbody and daily routine, would you suggest me diet and workout ?