Most folks these days are sick and tired of seeing adverts about the latest protein powders and weight gain pills that “guarantee” muscle gains in like a week without you even needing to set foot in a gym…or something like that.

You and I both know that those kinds of claims are just there to sell more product, right? Fact is though, that many genuine folks feel lost in figuring out a good bodybuilding workout routine that will allow them to gain muscle in a natural way without resorting to all that junk.

The key to any successful bodybuilding workout routine is mindset and the ability to follow through with your commitment – that really is the hardest part. Once you have that down, then it is just a case of following a process of proven exercises that make the most of your muscle building potential.

These exercises are typically free-weight compound exercises that give a large range of motion and get lots of muscle groups working at once. By doing this you produce more natural muscle building hormones, are able to lift heavier weights, prevent over training, AND spend less time down the gym. Sounds good, right?

Below are the top 5 exercises that should be a “core” of any decent bodybuilding workout routine – they are known as the “big basic” exercises…in other words, fundamental to successful bodybuilding.


The king of bodybuilding workout routine exercises these recruit more muscle per rep than any other exercise, and are the ultimate lower body exercise.

Best performed with a free weight barbell it is ideal to get someone to spot you because the large range of motion can get tough on the last couple of reps. If you’re on your own feel free to use the squat machine as it is safer.

Make sure you prevent your back from curling, and keep a good wide stance.

Bench Press

If squats are the king, then the bench press is the queen. Simply the best and most popular upper body exercise, and with good reason – they work the chest, upper back, shoulders and arms. The bench can and should be changed to perform incline and decline presses (incline for upper chest and decline for lower chest), which will provide complete development for the upper body.

Make sure you regularly change up the angle of the bench in your bodybuilding workout routines to get the most out of this exercise.


Another super lower body exercise, these are sometimes forgotten by folks, since most guys are more concerned with upper body exercises in their bodybuilding workout routines.

Lunges are ideal for those who have trouble performing squats due to lower back problems, as these work the quads and glutes. You can decide which part of the leg to focus on by changing up the length of your stride. This is a good way to add some variety to your exercise routine and make sure you are getting the maximum overall development.


Rows, or bent over rows as they also known, are a great upper body exercise and ideal for hitting those muscles that the chest press doesn’t quite get. These are the back, lats, trapezius, and biceps – since rows are almost a reverse of a chest press, they are a pull exercise, and the bench press is a push exercise.

By performing rows in your bodybuilding workout routine you reduce the number of bicep exercises needed for the same result, helping you to spend less time down the gym.

Pull Ups / Push Ups

Pull ups and push ups are great additions to any bodybuilding workout routine and ideal for any folks who have trouble getting to the gym, or find that other people are already using the weights (if you go to a gym in a busy city you’ll know exactly what I mean).

Don’t be put off by their simplicity, they are still the best upper body body weight exercises out there. Again vary up the exercises by widening or closing your grip; performing overhand and underhand pull ups; and strapping a weight to your back for push ups, or weights to your ankles for pull ups.

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