There are few things more important than resistance training when it comes to maximizing your masculine physical traits. From strength to muscle growth and overall body resilience, lifting weights offers a plethora of benefits that help you develop your overall masculinity. A comprehensive lifting program designed for men who want to supercharge their strength needs to include essentially compound movements that target all areas of the human body. Today, you’ll learn about 10 of the best exercises for men to improve their strength.
Utilizing compound movements for the majority of your exercise routine is the best bang-for-your-buck workout methodology to maximize your overall strength and muscularity. Including an isolation movement or two can help round out the program, but most exercises should be compound free-weight movements.
For my male clients, I generally rely on some combination of the following 10 exercises. Mastering these moves means focusing on form over the amount of weight lifted. Only progress the weight when you can safely and cleanly perform the upper-end range of the recommended repetitions per set. Do not increase the weight past the point where your form starts to break down.
Split the exercises up into multiple workout days, or perform them as one single long workout, which I don’t generally recommend. In an ideal setup, you would have two to three days of lifting per week, one to two days of aerobic exercise, and two to three active rest days. Be sure to eat a high-protein diet and follow a healthy lifestyle to maximize the gains from your workout regimen.
Keep reading to learn about 10 of the best exercises for men to improve their strength. And when you’re finished, check out the How to Lose Weight While Eating At McDonald’s
The barbell back squat is one of the most effective full-body exercises you can perform, primarily targeting the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Squats also engage your core muscles, enhancing overall strength and balance.
To perform a barbell back squat, start by positioning a barbell at shoulder level on a squat rack. If available, set the safety pins just above waist level. Stand under the barbell so that it rests comfortably on the back of your shoulders, then step out of the rack. Position your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes pointing slightly outward. Keep your spine neutral and your eyes facing forward. Inhale, and lower your body by bending your knees and hips. Remember to push through your full foot, not just your heels. Once your thighs are parallel to the ground, exhale as you push through your full foot to return to the standing position. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Pull-ups are a potent upper-body exercise that works several muscles including the latissimus dorsi, biceps, and rhomboids. This exercise also stimulates smaller stabilizing muscles in your shoulders and back, providing a comprehensive upper-body workout.
To perform a pull-up, grab a pull-up bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your palms facing away from you. Hang onto the bar with your body fully extended and your feet off the ground. Initiate the pull-up by retracting your shoulder blades, visualize crushing a piece of fruit in your armpits. Pull your body upward until your chin is above the bar, and squeeze for about one second at the top. Lower yourself slowly and with control to the start position. Aim for three sets of five to 10 repetitions.
The deadlift is a highly beneficial exercise that primarily targets your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes, while also engaging your core and upper body. This multi-joint movement is a great way to build strength and stability.
To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart. The barbell should be over your mid-foot. Bend at the hips and knees to grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. With your chest up and your spine neutral, push through your full foot to lift the bar off the ground. Once you reach the top, squeeze your glutes, then lower the bar to the ground maintaining the same controlled motion. Perform three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.
The bench press is a fundamental exercise for strengthening your pectorals while also working your triceps and anterior deltoids. It’s excellent for building upper-body strength and muscle mass.
To perform a bench press, lie on your back on a flat bench, positioning yourself so your eyes are under the bar. Grab the bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width, and unrack it by straightening your arms. Lower the bar slowly to your mid-chest, keeping your elbows at about a 45-degree angle to your body. Once the bar touches your chest, push it back up to the start position, ensuring not to lock out your elbows at the top. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Lunges are fantastic for developing lower-body strength and stability. They target your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, while also engaging your core and improving balance. You can use a barbell or dumbbell to increase the weight.
To perform a lunge, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with your right foot, and lower your body until your right knee forms a 90-degree angle. Your left knee should be just above the ground. Rotate your left foot inward slightly as you lower for optimal biomechanics. Push through the full foot of your right leg to rise back to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat the movement with your left foot forward. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions on each leg.
The overhead press primarily targets the deltoids, but it also engages the triceps and upper pectorals. This move is essential for building shoulder strength and stability, enhancing your upper-body performance.
To perform an overhead press, start by standing upright with a barbell at your collarbone level, hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core, then press the bar upward until your arms are fully extended. Lower the bar down to the collarbone level under control. Remember to avoid shrugging your shoulders throughout the motion. Repeat the movement, focusing on keeping your body stable and your spine neutral. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Bent-over rows primarily target your latissimus dorsi and rhomboids, but they also engage your biceps and forearms. This exercise is key for building a stronger back and improving your pulling strength.
To perform a bent-over row, stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Bend at your hips and knees, keeping your back straight until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Pull the bar to your upper waist, retracting your shoulder blades. Visualize crushing a piece of fruit in your armpits at the end range of motion. Lower the bar back down under control. Repeat for the target repetitions, aiming for three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Dumbbell flyes primarily target the pectoral muscles, emphasizing the sternal fibers. They also engage your deltoids and biceps to a lesser extent. Dumbbell flyes help improve chest width and definition, contributing to a stronger, more aesthetic upper body.
To perform a dumbbell fly, lie on your back on a flat bench holding a dumbbell in each hand, your palms facing each other. With a slight bend in your elbows, open your arms out to the sides until your elbows are about level with your shoulders. Contract your chest muscles to lift the dumbbells back up to the starting position over your chest, visualizing that you’re hugging a large tree. Remember to squeeze at the end range for about one second. Lower the dumbbells slowly and under control back to the starting position. Repeat for three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. Always focus on maintaining control throughout the movement, prioritizing technique over weight lifted.
The dumbbell bicep curl is an isolation exercise that specifically targets your biceps, one of the main muscles in your arms. This move is essential for enhancing your arm strength and giving them a more defined appearance.
To perform a dumbbell bicep curl, stand upright holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length, palms facing forward. Keep your elbows close to your torso, and curl the weights while contracting your biceps. Make sure to squeeze the end range for about one second. Slowly begin to bring the dumbbells back to their original position. Repeat for target repetitions, aiming for three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Planks are a core exercise that engages multiple muscle groups including the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques. They are key for enhancing core stability and improving overall body strength.
To perform a plank, start by positioning yourself in a pushup position, but rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold your abs tight by drawing your belly button in towards your spine. Remember to breathe steadily. Hold this position for three sets of 30 to 60 seconds.