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Best Exercises For Your Weight Lifting Program

By Shawn Lebrun


Use these proven exercises in your weight lifting program to build muscle mass and gain strength.

Abs

Leg Lifts

Lie flat on your back. Place your hands, palms down, under your buttocks. Keep your lower back rounded and slightly raise your shoulders off of the floor. Keeping your legs slightly bent, raise them about 12 to 16 inches off the floor. With control, lower them back until they are about 6 inches away from the floor. Repeat until you have completed your desired repetitions. This exercise can also be performed by keeping your legs straight. Don't arch your back.

Incline Sit-Ups

Lie on a decline bench or an adjustable sit-up bench. With your hands placed in front of your chest or behind your head, sit up and curl your upper body towards your knees. Hold this position for a moment before lowering your body back to the starting position.

Back

Barbell Shrugs

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, grab a barbell and hold it to the front of your thigh. Keeping your back straight, tilt your head forward and with a shrugging motion, pull up with the shoulders and lift the bar as high as possible. Focus on contracting the trapezius muscles while doing this move.

Reverse Barbell Rows

Similar to the standard bent-over row, the difference is that you reverse your grip. Bend over at the hips. Grab barbell and pull up and in towards your midsection. Squeeze and contract your back while performing this move. Keep knees bent slightly to remove pressure from lower back, reducing the chance of injury. This move hits the inner and outer back.



Rear Shrugs

Grab the barbell and stand with the bar behind you, feet shoulder width apart. Raise the bar up as high as you can along your back, while keeping your elbows back. Hold this position, and then return the barbell to the starting position and repeat.

High Pulls (Cable Pulldowns)

Sitting straight up, arch your back and take a wide grip on bar. Pull the weight down to the top part of your chest. Do not use your arms to pull the bar down. Instead, pull with the back. Squeeze and contract through out the movement. This hits the outer back for width and thickness. Note: There is another exercise called high pulls, but it's not to be confused with cable pulldowns.

Dumbbell Rows

This movement is similar to a bent-over barbell row except you use dumbbells. Begin by placing your left leg on a bench, keeping your knee straight, and your left arm on the bench, with your arm straight. Grab a dumbbell in your right hand, with your palm facing inwards. Holding the weight in your hand, slowly bring it up to your rib cage area. Bring the weight back down to the starting position and repeat.

Biceps

Barbell Curls

This is the best exercise to use in your weight lifting program to build your biceps. Hold the barbell in front of you, shoulder-width apart, with your knees slightly bent and your elbows back. Slowly curl the bar up towards your shoulders and then slowly bring back down to start position. Make sure you squeeze the bicep throughout the mo the pad, keep your heels on the plate and push back up.

Close EZ Bar Curls

This movement is similar to the barbell curl except you use a special EZ bar. Use a close grip here and again, make sure you squeeze the bicep throughout the curling movement and avoid using momentum to swing the bar up.

Calves

Standing Calf Raises

Place feet close together, on the ball of your foot(the part just behind the big toe) on the toe plate of the calf raise machine, keep knees locked and then raise the weight using just your calf not your butt or your knees, come up all the way and then back down all the way to stretch the calf. Do not relax the muscle at any time. always keep tension on the calf even when stretching.



Seated Calf Raises

Using the seated machine do the same move as with the standing machine but use the seated machine, it hits the outer portion of the calf as opposed to the standing raise which hits more of the inner calf.

Chest

Flat Bench Press

By far, this is the king of all chest exercises to use in your weight lifting program. Lie on a flat bench and position your legs at the sides of the bench, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. Slowly lower the weight to your chest. Exhale as you raise the weight and inhale as the weight is lowered. Avoid arching your back.

Flat Dumbbell Flyes

Lie on a flat bench and grab two dumbbells. Your palms should be facing inward. From the starting position at the top, slowly lower the weights following a semi-circular motion until the dumbbells are out to your sides. Be sure to keep your elbows slightly bent to take pressure off them.

Close Grip Bench Press

While lying on a flat bench, grab the bar with a grip between 8-12" wide. Slowly lower the bar to your lower pecs and then back up to the starting position. Keep your elbows in and close to body. Control the weight in the downward motion, never relaxing the control.

Incline Dumbbell Press

Lie on an incline bench and grab two dumbbells. Slowly let the weight come down to where the bottom of the dumbbell is just below the pec line where you should feel the stretch in your pec but not in your shoulder.

Legs

Squats

Squats are the most effective exercise you can use in any weight lifting program. While in the squat rack, place the bar on your back just above the traps, step back and set your feet about shoulder width or maybe a little wider, toes pointed forward, keep your head up and then squat the weight down till your thighs are parallel to the floor, make sure your back is flat and never relax your back while squatting, push the weight back up to the start position.

Leg Presses

Keep your feet close together on the push plate of the machine. Press the weight all the way up till just prior of the full extension of the leg, keeping tension on your thighs while doing this move. Lower the weight all the way down, keep your butt on the pad, do not raise your hips or roll your hips up off to your sides. Concentrate on using the rear section of your should. This targets the rear delt.

Leg Curl

On a leg curl bench, curl the weight up and flex the hamstring at the top of the movement, slowly lower the weight down and stop just before total extension keeping the tension on the leg bicep throughout the movement. You can also do a leg curl standing up on a standing leg machine. Lean forward if you can and curl the leg all the way up squeeze the leg bicep, then slowly lower the weight down to just before full extension similar to the lying leg curl.

Leg Extensions

Extend the thighs all the way up in the movement and lower slowly. Do not jerk the weight or try to use to much.

Stiff-Leg Deadlifts

Stand with your feet about shoulder width, grab a barbell and stand straight up while holding the bar. Keep your knees locked and concentrate on keeping your butt back and up, now bend at the waist while keeping knees locked and butt up, lower the weight till just past your knees, (about three quarters of the way down your leg) and then back up to the start position.

Shoulders

Military Press

While using a seated press bench have someone assist you with lifting the barbell. From the over head position slowly lower the weight in front of you till it reaches your upper pec, then press back up to the over head or start position. This move hits the entire shoulder for overall size and thickness.

Bent-Over Laterals

Bending over at the waste, knees slightly bent, grab 2 dumbbells. While in this position lift the weight out and upvement and don't swing the weight up using momentum.

Triceps

Nose Breakers

Lie on a flat bench and grab a barbell using an overhand grip. With your grip about 12" apart, start by keeping the bar up away from your body at arm's length. Bending at the elbows, lower the weight toward your forehead. Nosebreakers are also commonly known as "skullcrushers". Skullcrushers

Dips

Position yourself between a set of parallel bars and lift yourself so that you are held erect by your arms, with your elbows at your sides. Keeping your elbows into your sides, lower your body down as far as possible. Press your body back up until you lock out your elbows.

Tricep Pushdowns

Standing in front of cable machine elbows tight at your sides. Slowly push the weight down and extend arms, squeezing the tricep then back up to start position.

That was some of the most effective exercises you want to use in your weight lifting program for the most muscle and strength gains possible.

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