Barbell Curl

The first biceps exercise to perform is barbell curls, which will also allow you to overload those biceps with a heavy weight. Most trainees are slightly stronger when lifting a barbell versus a set of  dumbbells, so this is a great one for maximum strength development.

When doing the exercise, the primary thing to focus on is that you’re not cutting the movement pattern short at all, and that you’re not allowing momentum to cause you to lean backward as you hoist the weight upwards.

This is one of the most common mistakes with this exercise—momentum performs more of the work than your muscles actually do. If you perform it in a slow and controlled manner, that should reduce the chances of this happening significantly and allow you to place a higher intensity deep within the muscle fibers.


Incline Dumbbell Curl

The second exercise to add is incline dumbbell curls. This exercise is one of the best to help prevent that momentum issue from happening as we just discussed, since it essentially restricts the movement of the back.

When doing this exercise, you will feel maximum tension on the biceps muscle belly, so don’t be surprised if the weight is slightly lower. As long as you’re pushing yourself hard, using the lower weight but maintaining proper form will be the way to go for results.


Standing Biceps Cable Curl

If you’re looking to target the deep-tissue muscle fibres, cable curls are a good bet. Since the pattern of movement is less stable with this movement, due to the constant tension provided by the cable, you will call all the stabilization muscles surrounding the biceps into play as you execute the exercise.

You can use a variety of different attachments to perform the cable curls including a rope, a straight bar, or rotating cable handles that allow you to work a single arm at a time.


Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Row

After you’ve included regular straight rows within the program, you may also want to consider adding reverse grip rows as well. These are going to place a slightly greater stress on the biceps muscles as opposed to straight rows, so they will be a better exercise for strictly targeting the biceps.

Depending on what muscle group you think of contracting as you bring the weights up to the body (the biceps or the back), that too will impact the nature of the muscle stimulus.


Finally, the last of the exercises to consider to blast your biceps into growth are concentration curls. When done while sitting, these will also limit the degree momentum plays in the execution of the exercise and place all the emphasis right on the biceps muscle.

Concentration Curl

There will be no helper muscles called into play when doing concentration curls (when done properly), so this is a good one to add in at the very end of your workout when you’re really looking to finish off the biceps and fully exhaust them


Want to get big, strong and cut? Part bodybuilding, part powerlifting, Mike O’Hearn’s ‘power bodybuilding’ concept builds muscle and strength at the same time.

This back workout is centered on some crazy-ass, heavier-than-hell deadlifts and only two secondary lifts: one-arm rowsand pulldowns. After you finish these deadlifts, that’s all you’re going to have left in the tank. Trust me.

– 07:28 

This is one example of a Power Bodybuilding workout. Your weights and reps will change depending on where you are in the 12-week program.

Follow that program to the letter, and you too will end up with a big S stamped across your chest. 

The deadlift is the best lift in weightlifting. It hits EVERYTHING. It’s the superhero lift, the beast lift, the man lift. You can cheat a squat by not going deep, but with the deadlift, there’s no cheating. You just grab hold of that bar and rip it from the ground like a freakin’ caveman. 

Take your time. Warm up slowly. Conserve energy. Don’t rush through this. Save your energy for the heavy weights. Wait till you hit the working sets before you really work it.

I don’t use straps. You can’t use ’em in competition, why use ’em here? I switch grip every set. I don’t listen to music. I don’t need that to get psyched. I like the noise of the weight. I like feeling the heavy weight tear down my fibers. Go heavy enough, and the next day, you’ll feel everything hurting – but in a good way.

It’s not a slow pull for me. I rip it up. People ask, “Aren’t you going to hurt your back?” but I don’t know why people think that way. I don’t get hurt. I don’t worry. I just destroy the weight. It’s not the other way around. 

When I deadlift, I’m already putting density and thickness in the mid-back. The one-arm rows hit the lower and outer lat. Beautiful exercise to give you nice wingspan. 

Take a wide-screen grip for pull-downs. You know how to do pull-downs, don’t you? If you don’t, I’m going to come through that screen and slap you silly. Do pull-downs to the chest instead of behind the neck. You get a longer pull down to the chest, more of a squeeze. 

Ready? Go out and be great.


Part 1: Back 


Working Sets:


Do These 5 Exercises For Big Forearms

1. Barbell Wrist Curls – 4 Sets 30 Reps

Barbell wrist curls are one of the most common forearm exercises and yet most people perform them incorrectly. Don’t let your ego get the better of you while doing this exercise and use weights you can maintain a full range of motion with. The barbell wrist curls work the brachioradialis and flexors.

The best way of performing the barbell or dumbbell wrist curls is to kneel down at the side of a flat bench with your forearms placed on the bench. Grab a barbell with an underhand grip and curl it as high as you can and while lowering the barbell, let the barbell roll down to the tip of your fingers. Doing so will help in recruiting all the muscle fibers in your forearms and hands.

2. Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls – 3 Sets 15 Reps

Barbell reverse curls is another common forearm exercise but is a little harder as compared to the normal wrist curls. Use a wrist curl machine if you have access to it at your gym, or use a flat bench.

You will be lifting lighter weights in this exercise as compared to the normal wrist curls. Grab the bar with an overhand monkey (thumbs over the barbell) grip. A monkey grip helps in better targetting your forearms better. The reverse wrist curls work the extensor muscles.

3. Behind the Back Cable Wrist Curls – 3 Sets 12 Reps

Behind the back cable wrist curl is a great exercise to isolate your forearms. Using the cables will help you maintain a constant tension on your forearms and will fill your muscles with lactic acid.

Stand with your back towards the cable pulley machine and grab a straight bar. Curl the bar and hold the movement at the contraction for a couple of seconds. This exercise focuses on your brachioradialis and flexors.

4. Reverse Grip Barbell Curls – 3 Sets 12 Reps

Reverse grip barbell curls are a compound exercise and will help you in developing muscle mass and strength in your forearms. Holding the barbell with an overhand monkey grip will make your forearms work harder to hold onto the bar.

Keep your elbows pinched to your sides and curl the barbell. Keep the reps slow and controlled and squeeze your forearms and biceps at the top of the movement. The reverse grip barbell curls work the extensors.

5. Farmer’s Walk – 2 Sets of 1 Minute Walk

Farmer’s walk helps in building forearm size and grip strength which can carry over to other exercises. The farmer’s walk is also one of the easiest exercises to perform. Grab a pair of dumbbells and walk around until you can’t hold onto the dumbbells anymore.

Another variation of this exercise is the pinch carries. In pinch carriers, you need to pinch together two plates so they don’t slip. Pinch carries activate your forearms by forcing you to squeeze your fingers so the plates don’t separate.

Tip: Use a Thick Bar or Fat Gripz

Another way to increase the muscle fiber recruitment of the forearm muscles and grip is to use a thicker bar. Conventional barbells and dumbbells have one-inch handles, but you can use thicker bars to make the forearms work harder. Thicker bars also provide a greater stimulus for your forearms to grow stronger and larger.


Do you want wide, meaty, broad shoulders but have failed at every attempt? Do you chalk it up to bad genetics or a lack of the newest piece of gym equipment? Have you tried everything in the book when it comes to shoulder training without an ounce of new muscle to show for it?

Well, it may not necessarily be something you aren’t doing; it might actually be something you are doing – incorrectly.

Below are 9 reasons why you can’t build big shoulders. Give some serious, honest thought to your current routine and finally get an idea at what you can improve on and bigger shoulders will be on their way with your very next workout.

1. The problem: You treat deltoids as an afterthought

Focusing a great deal of attention on chest, back, and legs is a good thing. After all, these are the biggest areas of the body to give you the most mass and strength. But going to the point of flat out neglecting your deltoids won’t go very far regarding building huge, muscular shoulders.

The Fix: Start to prioritize your deltoid training. Either train them on their own day or first during an arm workout, for example. Don’t think of your shoulders as small, weak little muscles that don’t require a significant amount of volume. Treat each head (anterior, medial, posterior) as a separate muscle to be trained. When it’s time to train shoulders focus on the task at hand and dig deep into your arsenal for the very best, most effective exercises available.

2. The problem: You’re using too much weight with poor form

Are you guilty of turning a shoulder press into an incline bench press and only using half of the range of motion? Bottom line: You’re using too much dang weight! What about dumbbell lateral raises? Are you contorting, swinging, and flailing like a confused moth? How’s that working for you?

The Fix: The absolute best remedy is to cut your current weight to at least half and practice perfect, textbook form. Yes, I use the word practice here for good reason. Your job is to practice these movements the way they were meant to be done to help your shoulders relearn patterns of movement, proper contraction and control and to avoid injury. Once you focus on these factors, then you will start to see improvements in muscle mass and real, functional strength.

Ronnie Coleman Exercising

3. The problem: You’re doing too much anterior deltoid work

The next time you are in the gym and someone is training deltoids, watch closely. Are they performing dumbbell presses, machine/Hammer presses and some sort of front raise? In reality, that is a ton of front delt (anterior) work. Not only is this overkill, it may also impact other lifts later in the week such as bench presses in a negative way.

The Fix: Limit a shoulder workout to one multi-joint overhead pressing movement and possibly (if you feel it’s a weak point) a higher rep front raise. This will ensure that you aren’t overdoing it on your front delts so you can put a little more attention toward working on building balanced shoulder development.

4. The problem: You’re not contracting your deltoids correctly

This problem goes hand-in-hand with executing proper form. Once you compromise form for lifting more weight the idea of effectively contracting the targeted area goes out the window. If lifting more weight is your top priority you will start to recruit other muscles to help lift the weight and compromise your safety along the way.

The Fix: Again, by focusing on correct form and deliberate contraction of the working muscle, you will properly stimulate the muscle for better results, period. For example, don’t lean back so far that you turn a shoulder press into an incline chest press. Sit upright, lower the dumbbells until they are nearly touching your shoulders, and then raise the weight without clanging them at the top. Elbows back and in-line with your shoulders, slow and steady.

Ronnie Coleman Signature Series Supplements

5. The problem: Your reps are too low

Unless you are going for a 1 rep max or trying out for a powerlifting meet, there is really no need to pile on the weight and shoot for super low reps for shoulder training. For the average lifter chest and back training provide plenty of the heavy stuff.

The Fix: If you’ve been on a heavy weight binge lately, lighten up a little and try performing some higher reps for a change. Notice I said higher reps and not easy reps. The fact that you will go a bit lighter doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park. You will still work to failure on each set. Shoot for 10 to 20 reps for a while. You will quickly find the higher reps will put you more “in touch” with your muscle fibers and you’ll get a huge pump along the way.

6. The problem: You’re not working the medial deltoids enough

Muscular shoulder width is largely determined by the size of your medial (middle) deltoid heads. These are the heads that give you that wide, V-tapered look. However, a lot of gym-goers don’t give their medial heads their due. Instead they focus on presses and then throw in a few lateral raises for good measure.

The Fix: If wide is what you want then it would be wise to prioritize your medial delts more than any other deltoid head. Standing and seated side laterals, barbell and dumbbell upright rows, dumbbell and cable one-arm side laterals and various side lateral machines are all at your disposal. Include at least 2 medial deltoid head exercises in your program in order to ramp up gains.

7. The problem: Your program isn’t balanced

Many points above all come down to balance. Training your shoulders with tons of presses, a little lateral work and virtually no posterior (rear delt) work isn’t considered a very comprehensive, balanced program. Additionally, if you stay down that road of imbalance your physique will show it – out of proportion and forward-hunched shoulders.

The Fix: If you are one of the guilty ones out there who press too much then the answer is fairly simple. In addition to performing 2 medial delt exercises, add in 2 posterior delt exercises as well. Doubling-up on these areas will slowly get your physique in balance and proportion all the while getting you the muscle mass you need in the right areas.

Ronnie Coleman

8. The problem: You’re not using supersets and giant sets

Are you stuck in the straight set mentality? If so, I bet your shoulder training is quite boring if not mind-numbing. It’s hard to stimulate any new growth with the same ole routine week after week. Your delts are screaming for something new!

The Fix: Deltoid work is one of the best opportunities to take advantage of supersets and giant sets. Since most exercises can be performed with dumbbells gym space and monopolizing equipment aren’t issues. A simple giant set could look something like this: Standing dumbbell side laterals, bent-over dumbbell rear laterals, Standing dumbbell overhead presses, dumbbell upright rows. Do 3 to 5 rounds of 10 to 20 reps each, rest 2 minutes between each giant set.

9. The problem: Your frequency is too low

Another factor to give serious consideration to is your frequency training shoulders. Once per week seems to be the norm for most gym-goers these days. I’m sorry to say, that just won’t cut it if your goal is to prioritize a weak point. Why wait an entire week to train your delts again?

The Fix: Let’s do the math: If you train shoulders once per week you will have 52 chances per year to stimulate growth. If you train them twice per week you instantly increase those chances to 104. Which will get you to your goal of better shoulders faster? Sometimes all you may need is a bit higher frequency in order to get those gains going. Additionally, the fact that you will train them twice per week will actually require a little less volume in your routine since you’re hitting them more often.


Here’s how to Deadlift with proper form:

  1. Stand with your mid-foot under the barbell
  2. Bend over and grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip
  3. Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar
  4. Lift your chest up and straighten your lower back
  5. Take a big breath, hold it, and stand up with the weight

Hold the weight for a second at the top, with locked hips and knees. Then return the weight to the floor by moving your hips back while bending your legs. Rest a second at the bottom and repeat. Do five reps on the StrongLifts 5×5 program.

Your lower back must stay neutral to avoid injury. Rounding it during heavy Deadlifts is dangerous for your spine. It puts uneven pressure on your spinal discs which can injure them. Always Deadlift with a neutral lower back – maintain the natural inward curve of your lower spine.

The fastest way to increase your Deadlift is to improve your form. By pulling more efficiently, you can use more muscles and Deadlift heavier weights. This results in more strength and muscle gains. The best way to improve your form is by practicing Deadlifts with proper form.

This is the definitive guide to proper form on the conventional Deadlift

The “dead” in Deadlift stands for dead weight. So every rep must start on the floor, from a dead stop. You don’t Deadlift top-down like on the Squat or Bench Press. You start at the bottom, pull the weight up and then return it to the floor. Here are the five steps to Deadlift with proper form…

  1. Walk to the bar. Stand with your mid-foot under the bar. Your shins shouldn’t touch it yet. Put your heels hip-width apart, narrower than on Squats. Point your toes out 15°.
  2. Grab the bar. Bend over without bending your legs. Grip the bar narrow, about shoulder-width apart like on the Overhead Press. Your arms must be vertical when looking from the front.
  3. Bend your knees. Drop into position by bending your knees until your shins touch the bar. Do NOT let the bar move away from your mid-foot. If it moves, start from scratch with step one.
  4. Lift your chest. Straighten your back by raising you chest. Do not change your position – keep the bar over your mid-foot, your shins against the bar, and your hips where they are.
  5. Pull. Take a big breath, hold it and stand up with the weight. Keep the bar in contact with your legs while you pull. Don’t shrug or lean back at the top. Lock your hips and knees.

Return the weight to the floor by unlocking your hips and knees first. Then lower the bar by moving your hips back while keeping your legs almost straight. Once the bar is past your knees, bend your legs more. The bar will land over your mid-foot, ready for your next rep.

Rest a second between reps. Stay in the setup position with your hands on the bar. Take a big breath, get tight, and pull again. Every rep must start from a dead stop. Don’t bounce the weight off the floor or you’ll pull with bad form. Deadlift sets of five reps every workout B on StrongLifts 5×5.

Main Deadlift Cues

Your build influences how proper Deadlift form looks like for you. If you have short thighs with a long torso, you’ll usually setup with lower hips than someone with long thighs and a short torso like me. So don’t mimic someone else’s Deadlift form (not even mine) unless you have the same build.

Use these cues instead and you’ll Deadlift with proper form. They work whether you’re young or old, beginner or advanced, short or tall, skinny or fat, weak or strong, male or female. Try them.

  • Bar Path: vertical line over your mid-foot when looking from the side
  • Barbell: on the floor, over your mid-foot, at the start of each rep
  • Stance: heels hip-width apart, narrower than on the Squat
  • Feet: whole foot flat on the floor, toes turned out about 15°
  • Grip width: narrow, hands about shoulder-width apart
  • Grip: thumbs around bar, bar close to fingers, both palms facing you
  • Arms: vertical when looking from the front, slightly incline from the side
  • Elbows: locked before and during the pull, until lockout. Never bent.
  • Chest: up to avoid back rounding, do NOT squeeze your shoulder-blades
  • Lower Back: neutral – the normal inward curve. No rounding or excess arch
  • Shoulders: in front of the bar from the side view, relax your shoulders and traps
  • Shoulder-blades: over your mid-foot when looking from the side, don’t squeeze them!
  • Head: inline with the rest of your spine, don’t look up, don’t look at your feet either
  • Hips: setup looks like a half Squat, hips higher than parallel. Don’t Squat your Deadlifts
  • Setup: bar over mid-foot, shoulder-blades over bar, straight line from head to lower back
  • Breathing: take a big breath at the bottom, hold it at the top, exhale at the bottom, repeat
  • Way up: don’t jerk the bar off the floor, pull slowly while dragging the bar over your legs
  • Way down: hips back first, bend your legs mostly once the bar reaches your knees
  • Between Reps: don’t bounce, rest a second, lift your chest, breathe, pull again
  • Traps: let them hang, relaxed. Don’t shrug or roll your shoulders at the top
  • Knees: push them to the sides on the way up, lock them at the top
  • Shins: touch the bar with your shins during your Deadlift setup
  • Lockout: lock your hips and knees. Don’t lean back at the top
Free:  download my Deadlift checklist to get the above cues in a handy pdf. Signup to my daily email tips to get instant access to the checklist. Just click here.

Muscles Worked

Deadlifts work your whole body. Your legs are the prime movers. Your back muscles keep your spine neutral. And your arms keep the bar in your hands. But since the weight is heavier than on any other exercise, every other muscles has to work too. Otherwise you can’t Deadlift the weight.

The Deadlift is more for the back than the legs compared to Squats. But every muscle works when you Deadlift heavy. That’s why Deadlifts are a full body, compound exercise – they work several muscles at the same time. Here are the main muscles Deadlifts work…

  • Legs. Your hamstrings and glutes straighten your hips. Your quads straighten your knees. Your calves straighten your ankles. The range of motion is smaller than on Squats since you start in a half Squat position. But the weight is heavier and starts from a harder dead stop.
  • Back. Your back muscles contract to keep your spine neutral while gravity tries to bend it. Your lats keep the weight close to your body so it doesn’t drift away. Deadlifts are the best back-builder because they work your whole back with heavier weights than any other exercise.
  • Traps. Your trapezius muscles contract to keep you shoulders in place and transfer force to the bar. Even your shoulders and chest muscles contract to add support. The heavier you Deadlift, the harder your traps work, the bigger they become. You don’t need to do shrugs.
  • Abs. Your abdominal muscles and obliques contract to support your lower back. The heavier your Deadlifts, the stronger and more muscular the become. Eat right and they’ll show.
  • Arms. Your hands hold the bar tight. This strengthens your grip and forearms. But everything upstream tightens as well during heavy Deadlifts, including your biceps and triceps. They don’t bend but work isometrically, like your lower back, to hold your body in position.

The Deadlift is the best exercise for your back. Add Barbell Rows and maybe Pullups and you don’t need more to build a v-shape back. Go heavy and you can build a great physique doing just two to three exercises per workout. This is why StrongLifts 5×5 is so effective.

Safety Concerns

All exercises can hurt your back if you use bad form. The most dangerous mistake on the Deadlift is to pull with a bent lower back. This puts uneven pressure on your spinal discs and can cause bulged discs, pinched nerves and other back injuries. Don’t Deadlift heavy with a rounded lower back.

The safest way to Deadlift is with your spine neutral. Setup with the normal inward curve in your lower back. Maintain this position while you pull the weight off the floor to the lockout. The pressure on your spinal discs will be even. This decreases the chance of injuring your lower back.

Many people have improved their bad back with Deadlifts. Dr Stuart McGill Phd says your spine is like the mast on a ship – the rigging holds it firm so it can’t buckle. Your trunk muscles around your spine are that rigging. They hold your spine firm so it can bear heavy loads safely and pain-free.

The Deadlift can turn a weak back strong by strengthening your trunk muscles. It also increases back endurance and builds safe movement habits. Here’s how it does this:

  • Gravity pulls the bar down when you Deadlift. Your trunk muscles contract to fight this force so your spine doesn’t bend. The heavier the weight you can pull with a neutral spine, the stronger your trunk muscles become. The stronger they are, the more they support your spine.
  • Stronger muscles last longer. The same movement takes less effort from your stronger trunk muscles. It takes longer to tire your back. You can therefore lift longer with a neutral spine. And since your back is in a safer position more often, you’re less likely to hurt it.
  • Deadlifts are practice for picking up weight by bending through your legs with a neutral spine. Repeating this in the gym builds safe movement habits that transfer to daily life. You’re less likely to hurt your back when picking up something at work for example.

Deadlifts have a risk of injury like any other physical activity. The best way to increase safety is by using proper form. Start light, use proper form, and slowly add weight. Your trunk muscles will get stronger as the weight increases. This will build a stronger back that is harder to injure.


If you stick with resistance training long enough, you eventually graduate from beginner to intermediate. No, you don’t get a cap-and-gown ceremony to mark this magnificent occasion, but you do get to start tackling more challenging workouts that stress your body—and ultimately lead to continued growth—in new ways.

When you hit intermediate status after lifting for six months or more, you get to add more exercises to your body-part program, enabling you to work each body part more thoroughly. This stacks more volume on your workouts, but the extra stress demands more recovery time, so you may not train each body part as frequently as when you began your iron journey.

As an intermediate, you also need more training variety than a beginner to continue building muscle. Most training plans become less effective after 6-8 weeks, at which point you should consider making some adjustments in your training—especially in exercise selection—to keep the gains coming. That’s where training smarter, instead of simply longer or harder, can make the difference in how far you progress.

While these intermediate guidelines should be applied to all of your evolving workouts, this article is specifically about building a thicker, stronger, more muscular chest.

Mass Workouts For Chest

Mass workouts for chest are characterized by a few important concepts: reliance on multijoint exercises in a mass-producing rep range, multiple bench angles for the greatest possible overall growth, and sufficient volume and intensity to boost the hormonal response.

After warming up, the workouts below start off with a weight that’s just a bit more geared toward strength (failure at about 6 reps) than a normal hypertrophy-based workout (failure at 8-12). That’s because you’re typically strongest at the start of your workout, making it the best time to tackle those heavier weights.

Mass workouts for chest are characterized by a few important concepts: reliance on multijoint exercises, multiple bench angles, and sufficient volume.

Because I’m not a big fan of doing multiple exercises for a target area from highly similar angles—such as doing barbell bench presses and then dumbbell presses, both on a flat bench—in the first three routines, the second movement is instead done from a slightly different angle than the first. The use of an adjustable bench allows you to work in between bench angles, since incline and decline barbell bench racks have fixed bench angles and are normally fairly steep.

While many programs follow a pyramid scheme in which you use an increasingly heavier weight, the workouts below are based on reverse pyramids, which allow you to take more total sets to failure. After warming up, you go right to your heaviest 1-2 sets and go full tilt, reducing the weight just a bit on follow-up sets that account for accumulating fatigue but still require that you take them to failure. Reduce the weight by about 5-10 percent, which is shown by the higher rep target.

You finish with a higher-rep single-joint movement, which effectively helps you complete your workout with a muscle pump.

For all chest workouts, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • These workouts don’t include warm-up sets. Perform as many as you need, but never take your warm-ups anywhere near muscle failure.
  • After your warm-up, choose a weight that allows you to reach muscle failure by the target rep listed. It’s important to take each set to muscle failure.
  • When using adjustable benches on the first three workouts, use mid-position bench angles rather than simply repeating the same bench angle you used on the barbell movement.

1. Mass-Building Middle Chest Workout

Most guys are focused on building a big chest, so they naturally drift toward the bench press as their first movement. This session, along with the rotating mass workouts, work great for guys who want those routines. In this workout, all the exercises are focused on the beefy middle chest targeted by slightly different bench angles.

After the barbell bench press, do the dumbbell press on an adjustable bench so you can slightly raise the angle to a very modest incline. In addition, use a Hammer Strength chest press, but sit crosswise on the machine rather than straight on, allowing you to push across your body, which works your middle-chest fibers in a fashion they’re not accustomed to. You’ll do these one arm at a time before finishing off with a single-joint exercise for the middle pecs to chase that muscle pump.

Middle-Chest Focused Workout
Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip

4 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 8-10 reps

Incline Dumbbell Press

3 sets, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12 reps

Leverage Chest Press

3 sets, 8-10, 10-12, 10-12 reps


3 sets, 12 reps

2. Mass-Building Upper-Chest Workout

Whether you’re targeting your upper pecs because they’re lagging or you cycle through various regions of your chest periodically for growth, this workout hits the incline multiple times. It’s worth noting that the incline bench presses don’t simply repeat an angle you’ve already done; they include modest and steeper bench angles.

Whether you’re targeting your upper pecs because they’re lagging or you cycle through various regions of your chest periodically for growth, this workout hits the incline multiple times.

The incline barbell bench provides a fixed bench angle, so decrease the degree of incline significantly when you hit your dumbbell bench press. In addition, do the Hammer Strength incline chest press by sitting crosswise on the machine so you can push across your body and up, torching your upper chest a in an unique way. Do the movement one arm at a time, then finish off with a single-joint exercise for the upper pecs to get that muscle pump.

Upper-Chest Focused Workout
Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip

4 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 8-10 reps

Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12 reps

Leverage Incline Chest Press

3 sets, 8-10, 10-12, 10-12 reps

Incline Cable Flye

3 sets, 12 reps

3. Mass-Building Lower-Chest Workout

The recipe here is similar to the upper-chest-focused routine, but it’s flipped: You’ll perform movements that target the lower chest region from different decline angles. Remember to adjust the angle between your first and second presses, perform your Hammer Strength exercise unilaterally across your body, and finish the session with a pump-chaser.

Lower-Chest Focused Workout
Decline Barbell Bench Press

3 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 8-10 reps

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12 reps

Leverage Decline Chest Press

3 sets, 8-10, 10-12, 10-12 reps

Cable Crossover

3 sets, 12 reps

4. Rotating Mass Workouts

Each of the three workouts above focuses on an individual area, which is great for variety and bringing up a lagging region. But some trainees want to follow a chest program that hits all three major angles in a single workout. This bunch of workouts is for you.

The downside to a program like this is that whatever’s done first will be done when your energy levels are the highest. As you progress through your routine, you’ll become increasingly fatigued, meaning the third exercise will never be approached with the same level of energy as the first.

To address that, rotate the first exercise in your workout between an incline, flat bench, and decline press over the course of three chest workouts. One week, you go heavier on inclines, the next week on flat bench, and the next on declines. You’re likely to discover that you’re able to push heavier weights than you normally can with a movement that’s always been locked in the third position in your routine as you elevate it to the number-one spot.

Rotate the first exercise in your workout between an incline, flat bench, and decline press over the course of three chest workouts.

You can also easily rotate which exercise comes in the second and third spots as well.

These workouts involve only free-weight exercises, which are the most challenging. Again, they follow a reverse-pyramid structure, so you’re taking more total sets to failure.

Finish off each one with a single-joint exercise for 12 reps (the upper end of the hypertrophy range) to build a muscle pump. The bench angle of your last exercise should match the angle of your first exercise.

Rotating Mass Workout 1
Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip

3 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 8-10 reps

Incline Dumbbell Press

3 sets, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12 reps

Decline Dumbbell Bench Press

3 sets, 8-10, 10-12, 10-12 reps

Dumbbell Flyes

3 sets, 12 reps

Rotating Mass Workout 2
Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip

4 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 8-10 reps

Decline Barbell Bench Press

3 sets, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12 reps

Barbell Bench Press – Medium Grip

3 sets, 8-10, 10-12, 10-12 reps

Incline Dumbbell Flyes

3 sets, 12 reps

Rotating Mass Workout 3
Decline Barbell Bench Press

3 sets, 6-8, 6-8, 8-10 reps

Barbell Bench Press-Wide Grip

3 sets, 6-8, 8-10, 10-12 reps

Barbell Incline Bench Press Medium-Grip

3 sets, 8-10, 10-12, 10-12 reps

Decline Dumbbell Flyes

3 sets, 12 reps


While we love a good abs workout, a killer core isn’t just about a flat stomach. (See: Why It’s Important to Have a Strong Core) That also means paying attention to your sides, or, more specifically, your obliques. Strong obliques (built by an oblique workout like the one below) will improve your posture, support your lower back, and make you feel tightened up all around your midsection. Plus, cut-outs and crop tops are still holding strong in the fashion world—and they’re perfect for showing off chiseled obliques.

But crunches won’t do you any favors here. We tapped trainers with sick abs from across the country to share their best oblique workout moves. (Also try these 4 Oblique Exercises from J.Lo’s Trainer.) Get ready to sweat! 

How it works: Perform these obliques exercises once through for a killer obliques workout, or pick your favorite and work them into your regular routine.
You’ll need: a 12- to 15-pound kettlebell, Plyo box or another elevated surface, set of 5-10 lb weights. Optional: small exercise ball (which you can also use for these advanced abs and obliques exercises).

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1. Breakdancer

breakdancer obliques exercise

“This exercise not only tones those obliques but also gets your heart rate up by adding some cardio, which will help you shed extra layers and reveal your waistline faster,” says Jenn Seracuse, director of Pilates at FLEX Studios (and the model demonstrating these oblique workout moves).

A. Start in on all fours with knees underneath the hips and wrists underneath shoulders. Exhale to engage the abs and lift the knees to a hover off the mat.

B. Kick the right leg under body and across to the left as you rotate hips to the left and drop left heel to the mat. Simultaneously, reach left arm up. Return to all fours and hover. Do as many reps as possible for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

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2. Side Plank with Hip Dips

side plank best obliques exercise

Jeff Schultz, director of training at Pinnacle Sports Inc., swears by this oblique workout move. “It’s a great multi-muscle core strength and stability exercise. It hits the obliques, abs, and back muscles.” (Related: Why Side Planks Are the Best Obliques Exercise Ever.)

A. Start by lying on one side, propped up on one elbow, keeping body in a straight line, feet stacked on top of one another, hips lifted.

B. Lower slowly down until hip barely touches the ground, then lift back up. Do 10-12 reps, holding last rep for 15-30 seconds before dropping. Repeat on opposite side.

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3. Elevated Mountain Climbers

elevated mountain climbers obliques exercise

You might not think of mountain climbers as an obliques exercise, but it totally counts: “This move targets your obliques and abdominals, while also increasing pelvic mobility and cardiovascular strength,” says Jimmy Minardi, founder of Hamptons-based Minardi Training

A. Find an incline, like a bench, stair, or plyo boxand position hands on the incline slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull one leg in toward chest.

B. Alternate leg positions by pushing hips up while immediately extending forward leg back and pulling rear leg forward under chest. Do 2 sets of 30 reps.

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4. Windshield Wipers

windshield wiper obliques exercise

“As a bonus, this oblique exercise definitely works your upper body, too,” says Astrid Swan, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer. (Like her style? Here are some bonus weighted abs and obliques workouts from Astrid.)

A. Start in a decline plank position off of a bench, stair, or plyo box with hands under shoulders, core engaged.

B. With a straight right leg, lift up and keeping leg straight drag over towards the outside of right hand, tap toe down to the floor and lift back up to return to starting position. Do 3 sets of 10 and repeat on the opposite side.

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5. Oblique Side Sit-up

kettlebell sit-up obliques exercise

“I originally saw this move in my Brazilian JiuJitsu training,” explains Dasha Libin Anderson, trainer and creator of Kettlebell Kickboxing. “Soon after seeing its amazing ab benefits, I put it into all of my Kettlebell Kickboxing workouts!” (P.S. this isn’t the only way to use a kettlebell as part of your ab and oblique workouts.)

A. Start kneeling, sitting to the side of knees. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell tightly at chest.

B. Engage core and squeeze glutes to raise up to kneeling position, keeping weight at chest. Then sit back down. Repeat on opposite side. Perform as many reps as possible in 1 minute. Do 3 sets.

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6. Supine Obliques

supine crunch obliques exercise

“I love this oblique workout move because it isolates and strengthens the obliques by keeping them fully activated over the entire range of movement, while also keeping the lower back fully protected,” says Julie Jacko, Ph.D., owner and founder of Barre/Motion Miami. (Related: What to Do If You Have Lower Back Pain From Running)

A. Lie on back, extending arms straight up overhead.

B. Keeping core engaged, lift legs into tabletop position, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Without changing the angle of knees, tilt knees left and lower feet until toes tap the floor. Lift legs back to tabletop and repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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7. Curl with a Twist

obliques exercise barre curl twist

This is Core Fusion co-founders Fred DeVito’s and Elisabeth Halfpapp’s go-to obliques workout move. “This exercise is a sneak peak from one of our favorites from our book, Barre Fitness: Barre Exercises You Can Do Anywhere for Flexibility, Core Strength, and a Lean Body

.” (Try this arms and abs barre workout for more obliques wokrouts like this.)

A. Lay down with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hips-width apart. Holding either a small exercise ball or light weight, point elbows out to the side and curl up, pressing lower back down into the mat. Hold for 10 seconds, engaging the abs.

B. Twist upper body to the left while keeping the back of the waist on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.

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8. Toe-Heel Reaches with Weights

dumbbell side bend obliques exercise

“Make this tough oblique workout move even tougher by playing one of your favorite high-energy songs, ideally 130 to 140 BPMs, and moving along with the tempo of the beats,” suggests Matty Maggiacomo, a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp. (Related: 10 Fast Tracks For Your Playlist)

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. With a 5 to 10 lb weight in each hand, reach right arm to right toe, followed by left arm to left toe.

B. Then reach right arm along the back of leg towards right heel, followed by left arm towards left heel. Avoid bending too much from the hips. Perform this move slowly for 30 seconds, faster for 30 seconds, then double-time without weights for 30 seconds.

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9. Plank Hip Twists

plank hip twist obliques exercise

“For this full-body move that specifically focuses on the obliques, pretend you’re bringing your hips up and over a beach ball for wide exaggerated twists,” says Sarah Koste, a personal trainer based in New York City. (P.S. there are a million other plank variations that do double duty as oblique workouts too.)

A. Hold a forearm plank position, legs squeezing together for an extra inner thigh bonus.

B. Twists hips up and over midline, alternating left to right. Do 10 reps, 3-4 sets.

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10. Single-Sided Mountain Climber

single-side mountain climber obliques exercise

“These mountain climbers fire up one side at a time, so you get an extra burn from the oblique workout,” says Joe Buffa, a trainer at KORE in New York City.

A. With hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, pull right knee over towards left elbow.

B. Switch, pulling left leg in towards left elbow. Your right hip should be slightly lower than the left. Do as many reps as possible for 45 seconds. Repeat, bringing knees toward the right elbow. Do 4 sets per side.


We love that CrossFit has popularized box jumps again. The exercise builds explosive power, trains your fast twitch muscle fibers, and makes you more athletic. 

What we don’t love? The fact that most people do them wrong, according to Men’s Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour.

Follow the jumping, landing, and dismounting tips in the video above, and you’ll safely build more strength, stability, and power from start to finish. Keep an eye out for additional ways to increase single-leg strength and starting strength, too. 

Once you nail the correct form, add box jumps to your workout. For maximum power, do sets of 3 to 6 reps every 2 to 3 minutes. For a conditioning stimulus, go for 10 minutes straight, alternating which leg you step off the box with each time.


Even though you’ll be forced to use less weight with a military press than with an overhead press, you get a better core workout during the exercise. Strengthening your core muscles in this way will have the added bonus of making you able to handle more weight when you do tackle the overhead press or push press.

Before we go into further detail on how to perform the military press it’s worth noting that the term is often used to describe any overhead press done with strict form, but we’re going to take a stand and say you need your feet together to call it a true military press. After all, who stands to attention with their feet shoulder-width apart?

How To Warm Up Before The Military Press

Never go straight into heavy overhead presses. The ball and socket joint of the shoulder and the muscles that surround it are easy to injure, and this is one of the quickest ways to do that.

Prep your body by doing two sets of 20 shoulder dislocates with a broom handle and then two sets of 30/30 light push presses – that’s 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest. Do the two sets with no break, then rest for two minutes. Repeat once more and you’re ready to start working your way through your military press sets – starting light, of course.

Military Press Form Guide

  1. To make the most of this lift, it’s best to do it in the squat rack so you don’t have to heave the bar off the floor and into position. So start with the barbell set up in the rack at mid-chest height.
  2. Grab the bar with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, palms facing forwards. With barbell overhead presses you might find it easier on your wrist to use a hook grip, where your thumb is over the bar rather than under it. Try both versions to see what you’re more comfortable with.
  3. Stand close to the bar and bend your knees so you’re in a quarter squat, contract your core and glutes and drive up with your legs to stand and take the bar off the rack support. This means your lower back is protected when you pick up the weight. Take a couple of steps back so you’ve got room to raise the bar.
  4. Stand with your feet together, like a soldier on parade and squeeze your glutes and core muscles hard to give you a solid base to press from. Keep them tensed throughout. If you start to go soft in the middle you’ll lose power, arch your back and put pressure on your spine. If that starts to happen, set the weight down.
  5. With the bar level with your chin, make sure your elbows are pointing forwards rather than flaring out to your sides. This means you’ll recruit more of your front and side deltoids and pec muscles to help you lift heavier and with more control. As you press up and lower down, try to keep your elbows pointing forwards.
  6. Now’s the time to drive, soldier. Take a sharp breath in, tense your glutes and torso, and drive the bar straight up, breathing out as you press. As you near full extension, push your head forwards so your biceps align closely with your ears to ensure good form and ensure you don’t arch your back.
  7. As you lower the bar under control to chin level, move your head back slightly so you don’t clip your forehead on the way down. Keep your core tensed throughout the set. Once you’ve put the weight down you can relax. At ease, soldier. Good job.

Military Press Form Tips

Make sure you drive your feet through the floor. Think of each press as a leg press or back squat. You want to drive down through your feet to create stability and tension in your lower body. This creates a rigid frame, which means more strength can be transferred upwards into your arms as you drive the bar above. So actively tense your glutes, quads as well as your core during every rep.

Use these form tips from strength coach Mike Causer to get more weight overhead and keep challenging your core and deltoids under the bar.

Breathing tips

“Taking a deep breath before you start the lift will help stabilise your ribcage and shoulder blades,” says Causer. “Breathe out as you press the weight up and breathe in as you lower it.”

Grip tips

“Grip the bar with your hands just more than shoulder-width apart so you can lock your arms out comfortably. Any wider and you’ll lose drive.”

Balance tips

“Aim to keep your forearms vertical throughout the move to keep the weight balanced and put the load through the elbow rather than the wrist.”

Pressing tips

“Keep your elbows vertically in line with your ears – don’t move them forwards or backwards – to make sure you press the weight up through the shortest possible distance.”

Lowering tips

“Don’t go below your chin. If you lower the bar too far you’re likely to excessively internally rotate your shoulders and you’ll take the emphasis of the weight off your deltoids, so only go as low as your chin.”

Common Mistakes With The Military Press

Overloading The Bar

The military press is a difficult, technical lift with little room for error. To avoid making your way into a gym fails compilation video, select a weight that allows you to perform strict, controlled reps.

Abs-olutely Crucial

When pressing the bar overhead, don’t forget to keep your core engaged. Not only does this protect your lower back from excessive strain, but the central placement of the abdominals within the body also makes their activation pivotal for strength. Forget to engage the core and you won’t lift sufficient weight.

Work All Angles

The shoulder muscle comprises three heads: the front (anterior) deltoid or delt, the middle (medial) delt and the rear (posterior) delt. Too much vertical and horizontal pressing places excessive strain on your front and middle delts, which in the worst case scenario can result in internally rotated shoulders. Ensure your rear delts are gaining enough stimulation by performing resistance band pull-aparts for two sets of 20 to 30 reps. Not only will your posture benefit, but you’ll be able to retract your shoulder blades more effectively, making you better at performing the military press.

Military Press Variations

Dumbbell military press

Using for dumbbells rather than the barbell makes your core work even harder to keep you balanced as you press the weights overhead with your feet together. It’s also a good way to highlight any imbalances in your muscles, because you could well be relying on one side of your body to do the bulk of the work when pressing a barbell overhead. When each side has its own weight to lift, that will iron out any strength discrepancies in no time.

Suitcase press

If you want a shoulder press that forces your core to work even harder – therefore demanding that you have your form absolutely perfect when you do military presses – try the suitcase press. Get into military press position, holding a barbell to the side of your head in one hand. You’ll need to have your hand in the middle of it to stop it toppling, and you’ll have to go super-light. Press it, making sure you don’t tilt your body to either side, then lower under control. As with the dumbbell version, working one side at a time ensures you’ll make balanced strength gains.


If your posterior chain training needs a kick in the ham, this list is for you. Check out our top 10 most effective hamstring exercises according to you!

Despite the hamstrings arguably being the most important muscle group for athletes, they are often laggards in physique competitions. You may see an entire lineup of bodybuilders with massive upper bodies and thick quads, but few will have well-developed hamstrings.

Most people think hamstrings only serve one function: knee flexion. In reality, the hamstrings are not one single muscle, but a group of muscles with multiple functions. The hammies’ most important function is hip extension, which is vital for explosiveness, sprinting, jumping, and even low-back health.

If you’ve been slacking on your hamstring training, or your posterior strength needs a kick in the ham, this list is for you. We’ve gathered the top 10 hamstring movements in the Exercise Database based upon user ratings. If your favorite isn’t on the list or is ranked lower than you would like, just log in and rate your top exercises!


1. Clean Deadlift

The deadlift is, not surprisingly, our champion. The “clean” version of the setup is slightly different from your conventional deadlift, placing more tension on the hamstrings (as opposed to the low back). Your butt will tend to be a little lower and your hands a little bit wider. In a clean deadlift, which simulates the positions needed in the first phase of a clean, your shoulders will be a little in front of the bar, your shoulder blades retracted, and you will have to use your lats to keep the bar close to the body. You may use a little less weight in this setup than your regular barbell deadlift, but it is great for training the posterior chain.

2. Romanian Deadlift From Deficit

While called a Romanian deadlift, this is actually a stiff-legged deadlift. The knees should be slightly bent and then stay that way. When you “bend over,” your hips will move back only a little bit. Bend around the hips, letting the shoulders go forward. Some people will intentionally round their backs on this movement to train their erectors; just as rounded-back good mornings are used. I would save this technique for advanced lifters who know what they’re doing.

3. Kettlebell One-Legged Deadlift

A unilateral approach to the hip hinge allows us to reduce the load on the back while still fully recruiting the hamstrings. The biggest mistake on this movement is rounding of the spine. Remember: the entire upper body should be rigid, rotating around the hip. No roundy backy!

4. Power Snatch

While the snatch is a full body movement, upward acceleration of the bar relies heavily on the power of the hamstrings. A full snatch is difficult to learn, but most can probably learn a power snatch, where you receive the bar above a full squat (or even standing). The reason this movement is so good for hamstrings is that the first two phases of it are essentially a deficit deadlift and a Romanian deadlift, both of which are huge hammy killers.

5. Hang Snatch

The hang snatch is similar to the power snatch, but it eliminates the initial pull from the ground to the knees. I recommend beginning standing upright with the bar hanging, and then pushing your butt back until you are in pulling position (as opposed to just starting in your pulling position). If the first part of this movement feels very much like a Romanian deadlift, then you are doing it right.

6. Floor Glute-Ham Raise

The poor man’s version of the glute-ham raise is significantly harder than the original. You can’t quite get all the benefits of the full version off of the floor, but this will be the hardest knee flexion exercise you can do. Most people won’t be able to do this movement at first, so I recommend using a band, a training partner, or using a push-off to bring the difficulty down a notch.

7. Power Clean From Blocks 

Like our other Olympic movements on this list, the power clean involves explosive hip extension driven by the glutes and hamstrings. There are several benefits to pulling off of blocks instead of the floor, but the primary reason to do so is that most people will not have the mobility and the technique to pull from the floor without some fault in their technique. In some cases, it might be better to focus the movement to the most important part.

8. Lying Leg Curls 

The leg curl is a classic bodybuilding movement to isolate the hamstrings from the rest of the posterior chain. Unless your machine has a cam on it, your leverage usually improves making the movement easier during peak contraction. If this is the case, I typically will put a band around the rollers so that tension will increase through the range of motion.

9. Romanian Deadlift

The key in the Romanian deadlift is to move your butt back. Think of it as a horizontal movement, as opposed to a vertical movement like our other deadlifts. In this style, our butts move back with the knees slightly bent. Done correctly, even with no weight, by the time your hands reach the knees, your hamstrings should feel like they are going to rip off. If you can touch your toes, you are doing it wrong. Keep your head up, trying to create as much distance between your chin and your butt as you can.

10. Sumo Deadlift 

We started our list with a deadlift, so it’s appropriate to end on one. The very wide stance of the sumo deadlift takes some of the load from the back and transfers it to the hips. The setup makes it easier to maintain proper position, and it is fantastic for developing hamstrings and glutes.