Today, we will discover the best gym exercises that all men should practice. “New year, new me – right?” I am sure you’ve heard that sentence many times already, and regular gym-goers often encounter these individuals in January.
Let’s clear one thing, we do not recommend going to the gym just because of the new year and you want to get in shape. Start going to the gym because you are interested in lifting weights, because you are interested in nutrition, and you have the patience to see results.
This article is not only for men but is highly recommended for them as these exercises are focused on building muscle and not on toning your body.
Shoulders: Half-Kneeling Bottom-Up Kettlebell Press
We will be moving from the top down, so we start with shoulders. The shoulder is a complex muscle. Broadly speaking, it consists of three main parts – the front, the side, and the back.
How to Perform Half-Kneeling Bottom-Up Kettlebell Press
- Hold a kettlebell in your left hand in front of your shoulder, bottom-up. Step forward with your right foot and kneel on your left knee.
- Press the bell overhead ten times. Stand up, switch sides, and repeat. Do four to five sets of that.
Chest: Barbell Bench Press
Like your shoulders, your chest can be divided into three major parts, an upper part, a middle part, and a lower part.
With the Barbell Bench Press, you can train the whole chest muscles. However, if you master it, you can do more focused exercises with inclined and declined variations of the Bench Press.
How to Perform Barbell Bench Press
- Lie flat on your back on a bench.
- Grip the bar with hands wider than shoulder-width apart, so your hands are directly above your elbows when you’re at the bottom of your move.
- Bring the bar slowly down to your chest as you breathe in.
- Push up as you breathe out, gripping the bar hard and watching a spot on the ceiling rather than the bar, so you can ensure it travels the same path every time.
Back: Lat Pulldown
How to Perform Lat Pulldown
Grasp the bar with a wide grip with an overhand, knuckles-up grip. Pull the bar down until it is approximately level with the chin. Exhale in the downward motion. While shifting just slightly backward is OK, aim to keep your upper torso stationary. Keep your feet flat on the floor and engage your abs as you pull.
The bottom of the motion should be where your elbows can’t move downward anymore without moving backward. Be sure to stop at that point and do not go lower. Squeeze the shoulder blades together while maintaining square shoulders.
From the bottom position, with the bar close to your chin, slowly return the bar to the starting position while controlling its gradual ascent. Don’t let it crash into the weight plates. Continue until you complete eight to 12 repetitions in a set. Rest, then continue to complete your program of sets.
Biceps: Preacher Curls
How to Perform Preacher Curls
- Sit on the preacher bench and adjust the height so your armpits are just touching the top of the sloped section.
- Hold the weight using an underhand grip (palms facing up) with your arms extended and your upper arms resting on the bench.
- Curl the weight up, keeping your upper arms on the bench until your forearms are vertical.
- Pause for a second at the top of the curl, then slowly lower the weight until your arms are fully extended once again.
- Make sure your feet are touching the floor and that your torso and shoulders stay still throughout the movement.
Triceps: Tricep Pushdown
Training the biceps and doing curls are great, but if you want to make your arms look more defined, you need to focus on your triceps as well. You may not be aware, but the triceps muscle makes up 60% of your upper arm, making it a crucial part of the body to exercise regularly, and one that you really ought to pay attention to if you’re looking to tone, define, and strengthen your upper body.
Although push-ups are the best triceps exercises you can do without a gym membership, if you are at a gym, you can use machines that help you stimulate your muscles better. You can pair more complex exercises with push-ups and do supersets, but since this is a beginner-level article, you should focus on one exercise at a time.
How to Perform Tricep Pushdown
- First of all, pick a bar or rope that you are comfortable with – we recommend either the rope or the V-Bar.
- Second, adjust the height of the machine and the weight you will be doing the exercise. Then, choose a weight with which you can comfortably perform the exercise.
- Keep your feet together, bend your legs a bit, and arch your back so you won’t hurt your spine. Keep your arm at 90 degrees – that is your starting point. Push down while breathing out. Once you are down, slowly come up to the 90 degrees starting point. Repeat that 10-12 times and do 4 to 5 sets with increased weight. Slowly increase the weight – if you can’t keep the form, decrease it.
Abs: Regular Sit-Ups
Whether you’re working out in a gym or not, doing sit-ups is a great way to make your abs stronger; they don’t just work the surface muscles in the front but also the deeper ones in your sides, helping you have a steadier core and better posture.
How to Perform Sit-Ups
- Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your hands across your chest.
- Contract your abs to pull your torso up to your knees.
- Squeeze your core at the top and slowly descend back down.
Quads: Front Squats
To be honest, both Front and Back squats are excellent exercises to improve your quads. However, Front squats can be easier on the lower back because the position of the weight doesn’t compress the spine like it would in a back squat.
Front squats both help you gain strength in your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, which in turn help with attributes like speed and power.
How to Perform Front Squats
- Start with the bar secure in the squat rack, level with the middle of your chest.
- Hold the bar with hands just wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Take one step backward and position your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Brace yourself, take a deep breath in to fill your chest and keep your torso strong, then bend your legs to lower into a squat.
- Keep your knees wide apart and heels down.
- Lower until your legs are at least parallel with the floor, then drive back up to stand.
- That’s perfect form. As with any exercise, if you have difficulty with the form, try using smaller weights or just the bar.
Hamstrings: Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift
How to Perform Dumbbell Stiff-Legged Deadlift
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip (palms facing towards your body) in front of your legs, both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Draw your shoulder blades down and back to push your chest out slightly. That is your starting position.
Inhale. Bending from the hips only, allow the dumbbells to run along the length of your thighs and halfway down your shins, ensuring that you maintain a proud chest and that your head is an extension of your spine. You should feel the tension in your hamstrings (back of your legs).
As you reach halfway down your shins, exhale. Push through your heels and, using your glutes and hamstrings, extend your knees and hips to return to the starting position. Ensure that the dumbbells remain in contact with your legs. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.
Calves: Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise
Finally, calves. Unfortunately, there aren’t many exercises for calf training, but we have no reason to complain. By doing the following exercise, you can achieve the perfect calves.
How to Perform Standing Dumbbell Calf Raise
Stand upright, holding two dumbbells by your sides. Place the balls of your feet on an exercise step or weight plate with your heels touching the floor. With your toes pointing forward, raise your heels off the floor and contract your calves. Slowly return to the starting position.
Gym vs. Home Workouts
Gym workouts offer a variety of equipment and a motivating atmosphere but require time and cost. On the other hand, home workouts are convenient and cost-effective, though they may lack equipment and social interaction.
The choice of whether to visit a gym or stick to home workouts depends on personal preferences, goals, and resources.
Joining a gym can be an exciting journey, but it needs patience and discipline, especially on tough days. Sometimes, the gym gets crowded, and bad days happen. If you keep going and finish your workout on those days, you can achieve anything. Just focus on your exercises, do them all, and by the end of the session, you’ll be glad you went to the gym.
Repeat this the next time and after, and soon you’ll realize that you are feeling better in your body, and have more energy and confidence.
Keep on reading: The $1,000 Glow-Up Challenge for Men: Boost Your Life