The Five Absolutely Most Important Exercises for Bodybuilders

If you want to build huge mass naturally, there’s no getting around the need to really throw around some big weights with the big compound exercises that ideally should be at the core of any weight lifting program. Here at Viking Bodybuilding, we really do believe – after many years of experience and research – that if you want to get big, you have to lift big. It’s as simple as that. And you have to focus on the big lifts, giving less focus to auxililliary exercises like cable crossovers and bent over lateral raises and all that jazz. Don’t get me wrong – those movements are valid exercises for building muscle, but probably not what  you want to build a program around. That should be done around stuff like these five beauties:

  1. The Deadlift. If the king of all exercises isn’t the mighty squat, then it’s The Deadlift. Deadlifts build power, strength and mass throughout the body, and whether you’re a tennis player, an athletics competitor or a bodybuilder – or my grandmother, for that matter – you should be doing deadlifts. There really aren’t any substitutes for them. Make sure you know what you’re doing when you’re performing the exercise, though, or you will, as they say, find out the hard way why there is a “dead” in deadlifts.
  2. The Squat. We’ve already brushed upon it: this might be the king of exercises. Just like it’s cousin the deadlift, this thing is not for sissies. It’s for the men among us. All jokes aside, though, it really is an exercise that should be done by pretty much everyone. The problem for some, though, is that it’s simply too hard. As for me, I love it. I love how it makes me feel. It kinda makes me feel like Godzilla. And that’s a good thing.
  3. Chins / Pull Ups. Hanging from a bar and lifting yourself up builds big, strong arms and a barndoor back like very little else. Want to walk around with that coveted V-shape that will impress the heck out of anyone looking at you from any angle? Want to feel strong and athletic? Want good pulling power for your next BJJ event? Want to climb trees like monkey on caffeine?  Then do your chins and pull ups.
  4. The Bench Press. Ever been asked how much you can bench? Who hasn’t? The bench press is pretty much the most widely known resistance exercise in the world. The thing is, though, this exercise really is quite fabulous for building upper body strength, mass and power. And who doesn’t like to boast good numbers here?
  5. The Standing Press. While we love our bench pressing as much as the next guy, we love this exercise even more. Why? Well, for one it’s more natural movement than the bench press: In nature, you will rarely find yourself lying down on a bench and pressing stuff from your chest. Standing straight up and pushing a huge weight toward the sky, however, is a different matter all together. It also works almost the whole body; the stablizers that remain dormant while you do your benching gets a ton of valuable work here, and that’s the kind of stuff that translates into bigger muscle overall. The body understands that it needs to change, and responds not only by making your delts and triceps bigger and stronger, but by supermanifying the entire body. So refuse to give in to the inertia that tells you do find a bench and a set of dumbbels that you can press while sitting down. Instead, stand up straight and do your presses like a real man.

The typical Mr Olympia champion spends a great deal of time on the big basic lifts – and can usually move some serious weight too. Take a look at Ronnie Coleman’s 800 pound deadlift, for instance:

Don’t spend all your time doing fancy exercises in fancy machines. Take a note from the greatest bodybuilders in history and get strong like a monster. The only way to do that is to perform the exercises listed here These really are the most important exercises for any bodybuilder. While we won’t stop you from doing the lifts that will help you focus on one particular muscle or muscle group (actually, at some point you will probably have to do at least some of them if you want to look like a bodybuilder – and not a weightlifter), we will ask you to keep your focus on these lifts. and build your training routines around them. These powerhouse exercises are the building blocks of bodybuilding success. Do them with all your heart.


  1. Elliot says:

    You’re absolutely right here, great advice, stronglifts 5×5 recommends these exact exercises and that thing’s been running since the 50′s…


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