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50 Go-To Exercises for Your Gym Routine

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It’s easy to walk into a gym like ours and completely be overwhelmed with equipment. To be honest, it would even intimidate me if I was seeing it for the first time. As a result, many members don’t venture out much. They just use what they know – no matter how little that is. So, it’s time to start working out with more purpose, so you can get the best results possible.

In Tuesday’s blog, “How to Set an Effective Workout Schedule” I talk about varies ways to break up body parts so you can design a workout based on your schedule. Well, as promised, today I will be giving you a hit list of exercises you can use in your routine.

First, in this list, I categorize exercises by body part, with the largest muscle groups first. When you are lifting weights, you don’t want to work your small muscle groups before you work your large muscle groups – because your small muscles will be too tired to lift the heavier weight required to work the larger ones. Large muscle groups include chest, back and legs. Small muscle groups typically refer to all your arm muscles.

muscle anatomy

Next, you’ll notice that in each group, I first list one exercise that doesn’t require equipment (if possible). I also list alternative machines or tools to help you find what works with what you have access to. Now realize, there are SOOOO many more, but these 50+ exercises are the most common – and good for starting a beginner to even advanced routine.

If you are doing a full-body workout, you may only choose 2-3 exercises per body part, and only do 2-3 sets of each (depending on your time). If you are working out several times a week, and breaking up body parts more, you may do all the exercises in each specific body group for that day for 3-5 sets to add intensity, and extend the length of your workout.

gymbossLastly, rest time is super important. You can take a very basic workout and majorly boost intensity if you reduce your rest time. We use the GymBoss Interval Timers (set at 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off) at our club so our members are being pushed to work hard and rest little.

So that brings me to reps. You can do 12-15 reps for upper body and 15-20 reps for lower body OR you can use the interval timer to go as hard and fast as possible and not even worry about counting. Just remember, if you could do a few more reps, you likely need to up your weight.

Top 50 Exercises:

OK, so here you go! Here are 50 different exercises mentioned below with some tips to help you design your workout schedule. (PS: It’s actually more than 50 exercises, but TOP 50 sounded better than Top 51. Ha!)

CHEST:
Push Ups
Barbell or dumbbell Bench Press (flat bench)
Incline Dumbbell or Machine Chest Press
Dumbbell Fly (Pec Dec Machine or Cable Crossovers)
Do at least 1 pree & 1 fly

BACK: 
Pull Ups or Assisted Pull Ups
Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs (preferably with wide bar)
Seated Row Machine
Bent Over Row (dumbbells or barbell)
Do at least 1 wide grip & 1 close grip.

LEGS: 
Squats (Air Squat or Barbell Squat, hits all muscles)
Leg Press Machine (hits all muscles)
Walking Lunges (dumbbells, quads and glutes)
Leg Extension Machine (hits quads)
Leg Curl Machine (prone/lying, seated and/or standing, hamstrings)
Straight Leg Deadlifts (Dumbbells or Barbells, for hamstrings)
Weighted Calf Raises (or Calf Raise Machine)
Do at least 1 exercise per body part (quads, hams, glutes)

SHOULDERS:
Handstand Push Up or Pike Press
Military Press with Barbell or Shoulder Press Machine
Arnold Presses or Shoulder press with dumbbells
Upright Rows
Lateral Raises
Rear Delt Raise (or Reverse Fly or Reverse Pec Dec Machine)
Do at least 1 press, 1 raise (front or lateral) and the rear raise.

TRICEPS:
Dips (or Bench Dips)
Tricep Pullovers (with dumbbell or curl bar)
Tricep Press (on cable with bar, V handle or rope)
Tricep Kickbacks
Do at least 2 exercises.

BICEPS:
(Equipment needed)
Straight Bar Curl
Preacher Curl or Bicep Curl Macine
Dumbbell Curl
Concentration Curls
Do at least 2 exercises.

ABS:
Traditional Sit Ups
Crunches
Weighted Crunches
Bicycle Crunches 
Leg Raises  or Hanging Knee Raise (advanced) for lower abs
Oblique Crunch (sides/obliques)
Choose 2-3 exercises. 

LOW BACK & CORE:
Plank
Side Plank
Back Extension  or Ham/Glute Developer Machine
(PS – I don’t like the way this exercises is demonstrated, but it can give you an idea)
Choose at least one.

Remember to read: How to Set an Effective Workout Schedule” for help on scheduling your workout schedule for the week. 

Have fun, train with confidence & #getafterit!

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  1. Joey

    Thanks for this list. I usually train with my brother but going to the weight room by myself leaves me a little lost. I’ll be taking this with me next time :)

  2. Lida

    Fab post, Im starting weights after few years, your WO routine on your website helped with this post to follow, no excuse:) Hitting the gym!!! Thank you Bonnie

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      that’s so good to hear!! YAY!

  3. beka @ rebecca roams

    Awesome post! Thanks Bonnie, I am fairly new to the whole lifting/strength and this helps me a lot

    1. Bonnie Pfiester

      Excellent!! I’m SOOOO happy!

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