19 Best Body Building Exercises

body building

If you’ve always wanted to learn about how to build your body to that “Grecian Ideal” envisioned by Eugen Sandow, there can be a lot to learn. This post will guide you through some of the basics to get you started. Of course, nothing will compare to actually getting to the gym and lifting those weights, but you’ll need some information first.

That’s why we’re here. We want to reveal body building secrets to YOU.

Weight Training

Man Performing Dumbbell Presses

Body building is the process of developing muscle fibers through various techniques. It is achieved through muscle conditioning, weight training, increased caloric intake, and rest. Workouts are designed to focus on certain muscle categories, and foods are consumed with the intention to build the body’s metabolism and increase mass.

This section in post will focus on weight training for body builders. Weight training develops both strength as well as the size of skeletal muscles. It uses the force of gravity to oppose the force generated by muscles through contraction. Weight training uses a variety of specialized equipment designed to target specific muscle groups and movements.

Some people refer to weight training as strength training. While they are not exactly the same, they are both similar to each other. Strength training focuses on increasing muscular strength and size. Weight training is one type of strength training using weights as the primary force to build muscle mass.

The basic principles of weight training are pretty much the same as those of strength training. It involves a manipulation of the numbers of reps, sets, tempo, exercise types, and weight moved to cause desired increases in strength, endurance, size, or shape.

The specific combination of reps, sets, exercises, and weight depends upon the desires of the body builder. Sets with fewer reps can be performed with heavier weights but have a reduced impact on endurance.

Equipment used in weight training include barbells, dumbbells, pulleys, and stacks in the form of weight machines or the body’s own weight as in push-ups and chin-ups. Different weights will give different types of resistance.

Weight training also focuses on form performing the movements with the appropriate muscle groups and not transferring the weight to different body parts in order to move great weight. If you don’t use good form in weight training, you risk muscle injury which could hinder your progress.

Another form of weight training is resistance training. Resistance training involves the use of elastic or hydraulic resistance to contraction rather than gravity. When your muscles are resisting a weight, the overall tone of that muscle will grow over time.

If you are a beginner at weight training, you should not just “jump right in”. You need to build up your strength and over-working your muscles can cause more harm than good. Some of your muscles might be naturally stronger than others. Building up slowly allows muscles to develop appropriate strengths relative to each other.

Most gyms offer the services of a personal trainer that comes with the membership fee. These trainers can suggest specific workouts for you to begin with. If you want to undertake it yourself, we can make a few suggestions on routines that can help you build muscle and get on the way to a great body.

First, we’ll define some common exercise for clarification.


You may not be familiar with some of the terminology used in body building. Along the same line, you should know what certain exercises are and how to safely perform them. There are all sorts of exercises you can perform – so many, in fact, space prevents us from listing all of them. However, learning the basics can be a great help.

Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press

Sit on the edge of a flat bench with the dumbbells resting on your knees. In one smooth motion, roll onto your back and bring the dumbbells up to a position slightly outside and above your shoulders. Your palms should be facing forwards.

Bend your elbows at a ninety-degree angle with your upper arms parallel to the ground. Press the weights up over your chest in a triangular motion until they meet above the center line of your body. As you lift, concentrate on keeping the weights balanced and under control. Follow the same path downward.

Standing Military Press

Standing Military Press


For this exercise, you will use a barbell. Stand with your legs about shoulder width apart and lift the barbell to your chest. Lock your legs and hips and keep your elbows in slightly under the bar. Press the bar to arm’s length over your head.

Lower the bell to your upper chest or your chin depending on which is more comfortable for you. This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells or seated on a weight bench.

Lying Tricep Push

Lying Tricep Push


Sit on a flat bench holding a curl bar with an overhand grip. Lie back so that the top of your head is even with the end of the weight bench. As you are lying back, extend your arms over your head so that the bar is directly over your eyes. Keep your elbows tight and your upper arms stationary throughout the exercise.

The biggest key to this exercise is keeping your upper arms in a fixed position. Slowly lower the bar until it almost touches your forehead. Press the bar back up in a slow, sweeping arc-like motion. At the finish, lock your elbows completely.

Side Lateral Dumbbell Raise



Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms at your side. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms turned toward your body. Keep your arms straight and lift the weights out and up to the sides until they are slightly higher than shoulder level. Then slowly lower them back down to your side again.

Keep your palms turned downward as you lift the dumbbells so that your shoulders rather than your biceps do the work. Make sure you are lifting the dumbbells up rather than swinging them up. Don’t lean forward while doing this either or you risk injury to your back.

Preacher Curls

Preacher Curls


This exercise is best done with a special preacher curl bench, but you can do this without it with a little modification. Sit at the end of the weight bench, and place something such as a firm pillow or a few pillows under your armpits on your lap. Hold the curl bar in your hands with palms facing upward. Don’t hunch over the pillow, sit as straight as you can.

Using a shoulder width grip, grasp the bar in both hands. Curl the bar upward in an arc. Be careful not to swing or rock to get the bar moving. You need to be using your muscles to lift the weight, not momentum. The goal of this exercise is to work the biceps.

Bring the bar up to your chin keeping in mind that the resistance is greatest during the beginning of the lift. Lower the bar slowly working the muscle on the way down as well. You can also do this with dumbbells or work one arm at a time.

Seated Dumbbell Curl

Seated Dumbbell Curl


Sit at the end of a bench with your feet firmly on the floor. Keep your back straight and your head up. Start with the dumbbells at arm’s length with your palms facing in. Curl the weight up and twist your wrist once they pass your thighs. Squeeze your biceps at the top and then slowly lower the weight.

Do not swing the dumbbells down; lower them as you are working those muscles! You can do this standing, but the seated position prevents bad form.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Start with your right foot flat on the floor and your left knee resting on a flat bench. Lean forward so that you’re supporting the weight of your upper body with your left arm on the bench. Your back should be flat and almost parallel with the floor.

Reach down and pick up a dumbbell with your right hand. Your left arm should be locked at the elbow so it will support the weight of your upper body.

Before starting, look straight ahead instead of at the floor so you can keep your back straight. Tighten your abs to keep your body from turning to the side as you lift the dumbbell. Concentrate on pulling your elbow back as far as it can go. The dumbbell should end up roughly parallel with your torso.

After you’ve rowed the dumbbell up as far as you can slowly lower it back to the starting position. Switch arms after one set.

Dumbbell Shrugs

Dumbbell Shrugs


Stand straight up with your feet at shoulder width. Hold two dumbbells with your arms hanging at your sides. Droop your shoulders down as far as possible. Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go then slowly return to the starting position.

You can also rotate your shoulders by going up in a circular motion from front to back and then back down again. This can also be done holding a barbell.

Standing Calf Raises

Standing Calf Raises


This can be done with a specific machine found in a gym, or adapted for use without the machine. Stand up against a wall with your body facing the wall and your palms down on the wall and your feet flat on the floor.

Keep your body straight and slowly lift up your heels until you are standing on the tips of your toes. Hold the contraction briefly then slowly return to the starting position with your feet flat on the floor.




Lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground, or resting on a bench with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. If you are resting your feet on a bench, place them three to four inches apart and point your toes inward so they touch.

Place your hands lightly on either side of your head keeping your elbows in. Don’t lock your fingers behind your head! Push the small of your back down in the floor to isolate your abdominal muscles. Begin to roll your shoulders off the floor.

Continue to push down as hard as you can with your lower back. Your shoulders should come up off the floor only about four inches, and your lower back should remain on the floor. Focus on slow, controlled movement – don’t cheat yourself by using momentum!

Dumbbell Hammer Curls

Dumbbell Hammer Curls


With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your arms hanging at your sides, and palms are facing each other. Keep your elbows locked into your sides. Your upper body and elbows should remain in the same place during the whole lift.

Keep your palms facing each other, curl the weight in your right hand up in a semi-circle toward your right shoulder. Squeeze the biceps hard at the top of the lift and then slowly lower. Do not turn your wrists during this lift! You can also do one arm at a time and/or alternate.

Incline Dumbbell Press

Incline Dumbbell Press


Sit on the edge of an incline bench set at about a 45-degree angle. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and place them on your thighs. Then, one at a time, raise them up to your shoulder level while you press your back and shoulders firmly against the bench.

Press the weights back up to a point over your upper chest, with your palms facing forward. Lower the weights slowly. Inhale as you lower the weights and exhale as you lift.

Barbell Squat



Rest a barbell on the upper portion of your back, not your neck. Firmly grip the bar with your hands almost twice your shoulder width apart. Position your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes should be pointing just a little outward with your knees in the same direction.

Keep your back as straight as possible and your chin up, bend your knees and slowly lower your hips straight down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Once you reach the bottom position, press the weight up back to the starting position.

Don’t lean over or curve your back forward! You can use a belt to help reduce the chance of lower back injury. You can put your heels on a 1 inch block to further work the quads. You can also use a wider stance to work the inner quads even more.

Upright Barbell Row

Upright Barbell Row


Stand upright and grasp a barbell with your hands about shoulder width apart. Let the bar hang straight down in front of you. Keep your body and wrists straight. Pull the bar straight up towards your chin, keeping it close to your body.

Concentrate on either pulling with your traps or the front of your shoulders, depending on what you want to work most. Lower slowly to the starting position. Don’t cheat by leaning forward or backward. Don’t swing!

Front Dumbbell Raise

Front Dumbbell Raise


Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing backward. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise so that your arms are straight, but not quite locked.

Lift the weight in your left hand in front of you in a wide arc until it is slightly higher than shoulder height. With a smooth, controlled motion, lower the weight while simultaneously lifting the weight in your right hand, so that both arms are in motion at the same time.

Do not cheat by swinging or leaning backwards! This lift can also be done with two dumbbells at the same time or a barbell.

Stiff Leg Barbell

Stiff Leg Barbell


Place a barbell on your shoulders. Keep your head up and your back completely straight. Bend at your waist with your legs locked, until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Return slowly to the upper position. This can also be done with your knees slightly bent.

One Leg Barbell Squat

One Leg Barbell Squat

Use a 12 to 18 inch box or bench for this exercise – the higher the box, the more difficult the exercise. Place a barbell behind your head at the base of your neck. Grasp the barbell with both hands with a wider than shoulder width grip.

Stand approximately 2 to 3 feet from the box and turn so that the box is directly behind you. Reach one foot back and place your toe on the box. Keep your opposite foot flat on the floor and point your toes forward. Stand up straight. Keep your back tight and your chest out throughout the entire exercise.

Keep your head and neck in line with your torso so that you are looking forward. Your shoulders should be directly over your front foot. Keeping your front foot flat on the floor, sit your hips back (like you are going to sit in a chair), bend your knee (of your front leg), and lean forward slightly at the waist.

Lower your body in a controlled fashion until your thigh (of your front leg) is parallel to the ground. If you have difficulty lowering yourself down this far, lower yourself until the knee of your front leg is bent 90 degrees. At this point, your knee should be directly over your toe, your hips should be sitting back, and your chest should be directly over the middle of your thigh.

Now, leading with your head and chest, raise yourself by pushing your hips slightly forward and up toward the ceiling, and straightening your leg. Return to the starting position. At this point, your shoulders should be directly over front foot.




Place a barbell on your upper back. Lift your chest up and look straight ahead. Position your right leg forward in a long stride. Your foot should be far enough in front of you so that when you bend your right knee, your thigh and lower leg form a right angle.

Slowly bend your knees, lowering your hips so your rear knee just clears the floor. Pause briefly in this position, then slowly straighten your legs and raise your body back up to a standing position. Complete a full set, then switch legs and repeat, or alternate legs for each rep.

Make sure your knee does not travel past your toes in the down position! This can also be done with dumbbells in each hand instead of using a barbell.

Barbell Tricep Extension

Barbell Tricep Extension


Hold a barbell with hands a little closer together than shoulder width. Lie on an incline bench and position your head at the top. Press bar overhead to arm’s length. Lower the bar in a semicircular motion behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps.

Keep your upper arms close to your head. Return to the starting position. This can also be done with straight bar, 2 dumbbells, seated or standing or with 2 dumbbells and your palms facing in.

The exercises listed above can be done either in a gym or in your home. If you are going to join a gym, they will have many specialty machines that will work specific parts of your body. Employees at the gym can help you with proper use of the machines.

Now that you know what exercises to do, let’s look at a couple of sample workouts.



Beginning a body building workout plan requires a level of commitment. As a beginner, you can work out more frequently than more advanced body builders. The reason is simple: as you get more experienced, you learn to push your muscles harder and inflict more damage that takes longer to recover from. Beginners, on the other hand, get sore but bounce back quicker since the muscular damage isn’t as severe.

If the word “damage” makes you flinch, don’t worry. It’s a good thing for a bodybuilder to incur limited muscle damage, because it nudges the body to recover and overcompensate (grow) slightly to prepare for future workouts. This is what bodybuilding is all about – a continuous cycle of one-step-back, two-steps-forward, repeated over
and over on a weekly basis.

The following workout plan is designed to focus on one part of your body each day of your workout with mid week and the weekend as your rest days. This plan is just a suggestion. You can adapt it as needed to suit your workout goals.

With any workout, you need to start out with some warm up exercises. This can be simple stretching as you get your body ready to work. A warm-up session prior to working out can not only help get your body ready for exercise, but your mind will get prepared as well.

You should also have an appropriate cool down period after you are done working out. This will reduce the possibility of delayed muscle soreness and will help quell the adrenaline that has been building in your system as a result of the workout. This can also be simple stretching exercises and deep breathing.

Again, it’s important to start out slow and not push yourself beyond your limits.

Use weights that are not too heavy for you but that will give you enough resistance to build your muscles. You can progressively increase the amount of weight you lift as you get stronger.

Day 1 – Upper Body

For the following exercises, begin with two sets of 10-12 reps each.

• Dumbbell press
• Standing barbell military press
• Lying tricep press
• Side lateral raise
• Preacher curls
• Seated dumbbell curl
• Dumbbell rows
• Dumbbell shrugs

If you have access to weight machines, add the following to your plan:

• Pec deck butterflys
• V-bar pushdowns
• Lat pulls with pulley machine

Day 2 – Lower Body and Abs

Again, begin doing each exercise with two sets of 10-12 reps each except for the crunches which you can do as many of them as you want.

• Barbell squat
• One leg barbell squat
• Lunges
• Standing calf press
• Stiff leg barbell
• Crunches

Machines can be especially helpful when working your lower body. Here are some you should consider on this day:

• Leg presses on a plate loaded machine
• Leg extension machine
• Seated hamstring curls
• Standing hamstring curls
• Ab machine

Day 3 – Rest

Day 4 – Upper Body

Increase your sets to 3 doing 10 – 12 reps each

• Chin ups (get assistance if necessary)
• Seated dumbbell hammer curls
• Dumbbell presses on an inclined bench
• Standing barbell military press
• Standing bicep curls
• Barbell tricep extension
• Upright barbell row
• Front dumbbell raise

The machines you can use on this day include:

  •  Seated cable rows
  • Upright cable rows
  • Cable crossover flies
  • Tricep rope pushdowns

Day 5 – Lower Body and Abs

Go back to doing just two sets of 10-12 reps each except for the crunches which you can do unlimited amounts of.

• Standing calf press
• Lunges
• Barbell squat
• Stiff leg barbell
• Standing calf raises
• Crunches

Machine exercises include:

  •  Leg presses on a plate loaded machine 
  • Seated hamstring curls
  • Kneeling hamstring curls

Weekend – Rest

If a four day workout plan is too much for you, consider starting out with a two or three day plan. Keep in mind that you won’t get results as quickly with a fewer day workout, but if you need to start out slowly, it can still be effective.

Here is a sample three day workout.

Day 1 – Back, Chest, and Abs

Do three sets of 12-15 reps each.

• Bent over barbell row
• Stiff legged barbell dead lift
• Barbell bench press
• Incline dumbbell press
• Dumbbell flies
• Crunches

Day 2 – Legs and Shoulders

Do three sets of 12-15 reps each.

• Barbell squat
• Seated calf raise
• Front dumbbell raise
• Side lateral raise
• Upright barbell row
• Lunges
• Barbell squats

Day 3 – Biceps, Triceps, and Abs

Do three sets of 12-15 reps each

• Barbell curl
• Incline dumbbell curl
• Lying triceps press
• Barbell tricep extension
• Front dumbbell raise
• Dumbbell hammer curls
• Crunches

About an hour before your workout, you should eat some protein and carbohydrates. This is to make sure that you have enough energy to make it through your entire workout. By doing this, you are putting your body into an anabolic state that will provide the necessary energy and power to effectively work your muscles.

During training, there is increased blood flow to the muscles. When you consume protein and carbohydrates prior to a workout, your body can take advantage of that extra blood flow and work the muscles more efficiently.

Many people opt for a protein shake and a bowl of rice, but you can choose whatever foods you want to get what you need.

It’s a good idea to keep track of your workouts and how many sets and reps you are doing. Write it down in a small notebook and when you are able to increase the number of sets and/or reps, be sure to take note of how long it took you to get to that point. Also keep track of the amount of weight you are able to lift and when you are able to increase that weight.

It’s also a good idea to do your first set with very little weight. This is to get the blood flowing through the muscles. On the second set, add a little weight and do the exercise again. If you find that it’s just a bit too easy, try more weight. The goal is to add weight until it’s difficult to complete 8-12 reps. Remember, you want to build your body, not lift weights.

Be sure and rest between sets to allow your body to adjust and recover. Usually that’s around a minute or two. DO NOT rest more than a minute or so or else your muscles will get cold and all your previous work will be for naught.
It’s a good idea to sprinkle your workouts with some cardio exercises to help get your blood pumping. This could be a little time on a treadmill or walking. The cardio is good for your body and you’ll be focusing on that most important muscle of all – your heart!

Good nutrition is an integral part of an effective workout program for any body builder.


One Response

  1. Latonya 10 months ago

Add Comment

Translate »
5 Ways to Get Huge Targeted Traffic To Your Site
Work Smartly! Check If A Link is Dofollow or Nofollow?
Learn To Find Keywords Like A Professional for Your Website
Long Tail Pro Review: The Best Keyword Research Tool?
Some Quick Tips to Run a Successful Online Business!
8 Simple But Effective Strategies to Increase Your Sales
internet marketer
12 Tips To Become a Successful Internet Marketer
What Is Ghostwriting And How to Become a Successful Ghostwriter
6 Tips to Take Action Towards Establishing a Brand
10 Obstacles That Successful Internet Marketers Need to Overcome
A Sample System for Successful Internet Marketing
A Sample System for Successful Internet Marketing
8 Simple But Effective Strategies to Increase Your Sales
5 Tips For Keeping Active In The Winter
Foodie Way to Lose 10 pounds in 30 Days
How To Stay Healthy
How To Bring Out Bravery
6 Secrets to Be the Nice Guy Women Want
6 Ways To Get Your Ex-Back In 3 Days