The ONLY 7 Exercises Men Need To Build Muscle

How many of these do you do?

You should have these 7 exercises in your routine if you want to build the most amount of muscle in the shortest possible amount of time.

They have been selected by Max Posternak, based on his many years of experience.

You can also watch him explain all the details in his video below.



Source: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc

Barbell Row

The barbell row is a compound exercise that primarily targets the muscles in the upper and mid-back, as well as the muscles in the arms and shoulders. Here are the main muscle groups worked during a barbell row:

  • Latissimus Dorsi (Lats): The lats are the largest muscles of the back and are heavily engaged during the barbell row. They are responsible for the broadness of the upper back.
  • Trapezius (Traps): The traps, particularly the middle and lower fibers, are heavily involved in stabilizing and controlling the movement of the barbell during the row.
  • Rhomboids: The rhomboid muscles are located between the shoulder blades and play a significant role in retracting and squeezing the shoulder blades together during the rowing motion.
  • Erector Spinae: The erector spinae muscles run along the length of the spine and are engaged to maintain an upright posture and stabilize the lower back during the exercise.
  • Biceps Brachii: The biceps, located in the upper arms, are used to flex the elbows when lifting the barbell.
  • Deltoids: The deltoid muscles in the shoulders help stabilize and support the movement of the barbell.
  • Forearms: The muscles of the forearms are engaged to grip and hold the barbell.

While the barbell row primarily targets these muscle groups, it also engages the core to some extent for stability and support.

It’s an effective exercise for building upper body strength and improving posture when performed with proper form. Different variations of the barbell row, such as the bent-over row or the Pendlay row, may place slightly different emphasis on these muscle groups.

Barbell and Dumbbell Chest Presses

Barbell and dumbbell chest presses are popular strength training exercises that primarily target the muscles of the chest (pectoral muscles) but also engage various other muscle groups. Here are some of the benefits of incorporating these exercises into your workout routine:

Barbell Bench Press

  • Muscle Development: The barbell bench press is a compound exercise that effectively targets the pectoral muscles, helping to increase chest size and strength.
  • Strength Gains: It allows you to lift heavier weights compared to dumbbells, which can lead to greater overall upper body strength gains.
  • Stability and Control: The barbell provides stability, making it easier to control the weight and focus on form, which can be especially beneficial for beginners.
  • Efficiency: It’s an efficient exercise as you can quickly add or remove weight plates, making it easier to progressively overload your muscles.

Dumbbell Bench Press

Muscle Imbalance Correction: Dumbbell presses require each arm to work independently, helping to correct muscle imbalances. This can be particularly useful for individuals with one side weaker than the other.

  • Range of Motion: Dumbbells allow for a greater range of motion compared to a barbell, which can help activate more muscle fibers in the chest.
  • Stability and Core Engagement: Dumbbells require more stabilization, which engages the core and supporting muscles, contributing to overall functional strength and stability.
  • Versatility: Dumbbells can be used for a wide range of chest exercises, including variations like incline, decline, and neutral grip presses, providing variety to your chest workout.

Both exercises offer the following benefits:

  • Improved Chest Definition: Regularly including these exercises in your routine can lead to better chest definition and a more aesthetically pleasing upper body.
  • Increased Upper Body Strength: They are key movements for building upper body strength, which can translate into improved performance in other activities and sports.
  • Enhanced Pushing Power: The strength developed in these exercises can improve your ability to perform pushing motions in various daily activities and sports.
  • Compound Exercise Benefits: Both exercises engage multiple muscle groups, including the shoulders and triceps, which can lead to a more balanced and well-rounded upper body.
  • Bone Health: Weight-bearing exercises like these can contribute to improved bone health.

It’s important to perform these exercises with proper form and to include them as part of a well-rounded strength training program.

Whether you choose barbell or dumbbell chest presses may depend on your personal goals, experience level, and preferences, but incorporating both into your routine can provide a balanced approach to chest development and overall upper body strength.

Barbell Squats

Barbell squats are considered one of the most effective exercises for building muscle and strength due to several key factors:

Compound Movement: Barbell squats are a compound exercise, meaning they involve multiple muscle groups and joints. This compound nature allows you to lift heavier weights and engage a broader range of muscles, leading to greater muscle activation and growth.

Major Muscle Engagement: Squats primarily target the muscles in your lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. These are some of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body, and working them with squats can lead to substantial muscle growth.

Hormonal Response: Squats, especially with a heavy barbell, stimulate the release of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. These hormones play a crucial role in muscle hypertrophy (growth).

Functional Strength: Squats mimic movements that are essential in everyday life, such as sitting down and standing up, lifting objects, and maintaining balance. Building strength in these movements can improve overall functional fitness.

Core Stabilization: Squats require core stabilization to maintain an upright posture and control the weight. This engages the muscles in your core, leading to increased core strength and stability.

Muscle Activation: Squats recruit a wide range of stabilizing muscles, including the erector spinae (lower back) and various muscles in the upper back. This helps improve overall muscle development and can assist in maintaining good posture.

Progressive Overload: The barbell allows for easy progression by adding more weight as you get stronger. Progressive overload is a fundamental principle in muscle building, as it continuously challenges your muscles to adapt and grow.

mat fraser dead stop exercises squats strength trainingSource: Muscle & Fitness

Efficiency: Squats are an efficient exercise because they work numerous muscle groups in a single movement. This can save time in your workout routine and allow you to target multiple areas simultaneously.

Metabolic Benefits: Squats are demanding and can elevate your heart rate. This increases energy expenditure and can contribute to fat loss, which can further enhance muscle definition and visibility.

Variations: There are various squat variations, including front squats, overhead squats, and sumo squats, which allow you to target muscles from different angles and promote well-rounded muscle development.

To maximize the muscle-building benefits of barbell squats, it’s important to perform them with proper form and technique. Additionally, a well-balanced strength training program that includes a variety of exercises and targets different muscle groups is key to achieving comprehensive muscle development.

Pull Ups

Pull-ups are an excellent bodyweight exercise that primarily target the muscles in the upper body, particularly the back and arms. Here are the main muscle groups that pull-ups develop:

Latissimus Dorsi (Lats): The primary muscle worked during pull-ups, the lats are the large muscles on the sides of your back. Pull-ups are one of the best exercises for targeting and developing the lats, which contribute to the “V” shape of the upper body.

Trapezius (Traps): The trapezius muscles, particularly the upper and middle fibers, are engaged when you retract your shoulder blades and pull your body up during a pull-up.

Rear Deltoids: The rear deltoids, or rear shoulder muscles, play a role in pulling the body upward and maintaining shoulder stability during the exercise.

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Biceps Brachii: The biceps, located in the upper arms, are heavily engaged during the pulling phase of the pull-up. This exercise is effective for bicep development.

Brachialis and Brachioradialis: These are smaller arm muscles that also assist in the pulling motion.

Forearms: The muscles in the forearms, particularly the forearm flexors, are engaged to grip the pull-up bar.

Rhomboids: The rhomboid muscles, located between the shoulder blades, are involved in the scapular retraction and stabilization of the shoulder blades.

Pectoralis Major (Pecs): While not the primary focus, the pectoral muscles are engaged to some extent during the pull-up, especially in the lower part of the movement.

Core Muscles: To stabilize your body during the exercise, your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, are activated.

Pull-ups are an effective exercise for building upper body strength and muscle definition. They are especially valuable for targeting the muscles of the back and arms. Performing pull-ups with proper form, controlling the movement, and gradually increasing resistance can help you develop these muscle groups and enhance your overall upper body strength.


The deadlift is a fundamental compound exercise that offers a wide range of benefits for overall strength and muscle development.

Here are some of the key benefits of including deadlifts in your workout routine:

Full-Body Strength: Deadlifts engage multiple muscle groups throughout the body, making them an excellent exercise for building overall strength. The primary muscles worked include the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and forearms.

Muscle Development: Deadlifts are particularly effective for building muscle in the posterior chain, which includes the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. They also engage the erector spinae, traps, and lats, contributing to a well-rounded muscular development.

Functional Strength: Deadlifts mimic real-life lifting and pulling movements, making them highly practical for improving functional strength. This can help with everyday activities and sports performance.

Increased Grip Strength: Holding and lifting heavy weights in the deadlift requires a strong grip. Regular deadlift training can lead to improved grip strength, which can benefit various other exercises and activities.

Core Stability: Deadlifts demand core stability to maintain a neutral spine and support the weight. As a result, they engage the muscles of the core, including the rectus abdominis and obliques.

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Improved Posture: Strengthening the muscles responsible for maintaining proper posture, such as the erector spinae, can help reduce the risk of back pain and improve overall posture.

Metabolic Benefits: Deadlifts are a demanding exercise that can elevate your heart rate and burn a significant number of calories. This can contribute to fat loss and improved cardiovascular fitness.

Hormonal Response: Deadlifts, especially when performed with heavy weights, can stimulate the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, which play a key role in muscle growth.

Bone Health: Weight-bearing exercises like deadlifts can help improve bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Injury Prevention: Properly executed deadlifts can help improve hip mobility, strengthen the lower back, and enhance overall stability, which can reduce the risk of injury during other physical activities.

Variations: There are various deadlift variations, such as sumo deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and trap bar deadlifts, which allow you to target specific muscle groups and add variety to your training.

Progressive Overload: Deadlifts are conducive to progressive overload, as you can gradually increase the weight lifted to continue challenging your muscles for growth.

It’s important to note that deadlifts are a complex exercise, and proper form is crucial to avoid injury. Beginners should start with lighter weights and seek guidance from a qualified trainer to ensure correct technique. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions or injuries should consult a healthcare professional before including deadlifts in their exercise routine.

Shoulder Press

The shoulder press, also known as the overhead press, is considered a highly effective upper body exercise for several reasons:

Full Upper Body Engagement: The shoulder press is a compound exercise that engages a wide range of upper body muscles, making it a comprehensive upper body workout. It primarily targets the deltoid muscles in the shoulders, but it also engages the triceps, upper chest, and various stabilizing muscles.

Shoulder Development: As the name suggests, the shoulder press is one of the best exercises for developing the deltoid muscles. Well-developed shoulders not only enhance your upper body aesthetics but also contribute to shoulder stability and functional strength.

Triceps Engagement: The triceps, located on the back of the upper arm, play a significant role in extending the elbow during the upward phase of the shoulder press. This exercise can help improve tricep strength and definition.

Upper Chest Activation: The upper chest (clavicular pectoralis) is engaged when you press the weight overhead. This contributes to overall chest development and can improve the aesthetics of the upper chest region.

Core Stabilization: Maintaining proper form during the shoulder press requires core stability. The core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, are engaged to support your spine and maintain balance.

Improved Posture: The shoulder press encourages good posture as it promotes an upright position, helping to counteract the negative effects of slouching or sitting at a desk for extended periods.

Strength Development: The shoulder press is a strength-building exercise that allows for progressive overload. By increasing the weight over time, you can continuously challenge your upper body muscles, leading to strength gains.

Functional Strength: This exercise mimics movements commonly used in daily activities, such as lifting objects overhead, putting luggage in overhead compartments, or performing overhead tasks in various sports and activities.

Shoulder Mobility: Shoulder presses help improve shoulder mobility and flexibility, which can be beneficial for preventing injuries and enhancing the range of motion in the shoulder joint.

Variations: There are several shoulder press variations, including seated, standing, barbell, dumbbell, and even kettlebell shoulder presses. These variations allow you to target different muscle groups and add variety to your upper body workouts.

Hormonal Response: Like many compound exercises, the shoulder press can stimulate the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, which are beneficial for muscle growth.

It’s important to perform the shoulder press with proper form to avoid injury and maximize its benefits. Whether you choose to use a barbell, dumbbells, or another form of resistance, incorporating the shoulder press into your upper body workout routine can help you achieve well-rounded upper body strength and muscle development.

Power Clean

The power clean is an explosive Olympic weightlifting exercise that offers numerous benefits, primarily focusing on power, strength, and athleticism. Here are some of the key advantages of incorporating power cleans into your workout routine:

Explosive Power: The power clean is a highly explosive movement that involves lifting a heavy weight from the ground to shoulder level in a rapid motion. This explosive power development is beneficial for various sports, such as sprinting, jumping, and throwing.

Full-Body Workout: Power cleans are a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, traps, and shoulders. This comprehensive muscle engagement leads to well-rounded strength and muscle development.

Strength Gains: The power clean is an excellent exercise for building lower body and upper body strength. It targets the posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) and upper body muscles (shoulders, traps) effectively.

Improved Athletic Performance: Many athletes use power cleans to enhance their performance in sports that require explosive power and speed. The ability to generate force quickly can lead to better agility, sprinting, and jumping abilities.

Core Stability: To perform a successful power clean, you must maintain a stable core throughout the lift. This exercise can help improve core strength and stability.

Coordination and Balance: Power cleans demand precise timing, coordination, and balance. These skills are essential not only for weightlifting but also for overall athleticism and injury prevention.

Increased Vertical Jump: Developing the explosive power from power cleans can contribute to an increased vertical jump, which is crucial in sports like basketball and volleyball.

Hormonal Response: As a high-intensity compound exercise, power cleans can stimulate the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, which are beneficial for muscle growth and strength development.

Functional Strength: The movements involved in the power clean mimic activities such as lifting heavy objects from the ground or from a squatting position. This can improve your functional strength for everyday tasks.

Caloric Expenditure: Power cleans are a demanding exercise that elevates heart rate and burns a significant number of calories. They can be useful for fat loss and improving cardiovascular fitness.

Progressive Overload: You can progressively increase the weight you lift in power cleans, allowing you to continually challenge your muscles and promote growth.

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Improved Posture: Proper technique in power cleans requires maintaining an upright posture and a straight back. This can help counteract poor posture developed from sitting for extended periods.

It’s important to note that power cleans are a technically demanding exercise that may require proper instruction and practice to perform safely and effectively.

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If you’re new to power cleans, consider seeking guidance from a qualified coach or trainer to ensure you use proper form and technique to maximize the benefits and reduce the risk of injury.

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