9 Muscle-Building Exercises

When you start to work out, you should focus on compound exercises. Unless you're going to be a competitive bodybuilder, you should stick to compound exercises for most workouts to always get the most benefit from your workouts. The following nine exercises will help you build muscle.

You can do these exercises three times per week. Do three sets of eight to 12 reps. When you can do three sets of 12 reps, increase the weight by 10 pounds.

1. Pushups

Pushups is the number one upper-body exercise you can do. There are many variations of pushups that you can do to hit different parts of the upper body. You can do them with your feet raised, with your hands close together, with your hands wide apart, etc.

2. Bench Press

The bench press has several variations as well that focus on different parts of the chest. You can do bench press on a flat bench, incline bench, decline bench, with a barbell or with dumbbells.

3. Pullups

Pullups are the best exercise you can do for your upper back (lats). Pullups are also great for working on your shoulders and arms. If you do them with an underhand grip as chin ups, they give your biceps a good workout as well. If you need to cheat to do real pullups, use a chair to get up to the bar and lower yourself down slowly until you can do them without assistance.

4. Squats

Body weight is all that is needed when you first begin. Add weight as your form becomes better. Squats are the top muscle building exercise for overall muscle, because your leg muscles are so big. As you squat down, push your butt back and keep the weight behind your knees.

5. Overhead Press

Military press is another name for this exercise. This exercise is great to work your shoulders. Add some variation as well. Raise up with a twist to get a little different workout on the shoulders.

6. Triceps Push Downs

This is more of an isolation exercise, but it's hard to work your arms as well in compound exercises. You do work triceps in pushups, but because triceps are an important muscle to build, add this one into your workout. If you don't have the equipment for push downs, do bench dips instead.

7. Biceps Curls

As mentioned before, you will work your biceps doing chin ups, but it's good to give them a better workout by doing a specific biceps exercise to compliment the triceps.

8. Rows

Rowing is another great back exercise, it can also be done with many variations. You can do rows with a barbell or dumbbells, you can do them bent over or seated on a cable machine. This is another exercise that many people don't like, but it's worth the effort. 

9. Straight Leg Raises

Lay on your back and put your hands under your butt for back support. Keep your legs straight and raise your feet straight up and back down again. Don't touch the floor when you come down, stop a couple of inches from the floor then go back up. This is a killer core exercise.

Active logoSign up for a fitness class.


Steve is a freelance writer living in the Twin Cities. He is passionate about lifting weights, biking, jogging, walking, disc golf, golf, canoeing, fishing, and photography.

Examiner.com is the inside source for everything local. Powered by Examiners, the largest pool of knowledgeable and passionate contributors in the world, we provide unique and original content to enhance life in your local city wherever that may be.

Discuss This Article

Follow your passions

Connect with ACTIVE.COM