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  • Writer's pictureDennis Romatz

5 Most Popular Strength Training Exercises

Updated: May 31

Strength training is a cornerstone of fitness, offering a multitude of benefits ranging from increased muscle mass and strength to improved bone density and metabolism. Among the vast array of exercises available, certain movements stand out as staples in any effective strength training regimen.


From squats and deadlifts, which target major muscle groups with compound movements, to bench presses, pull-ups/chin-ups, and overhead presses, which sculpt and strengthen the upper body, these exercises form the foundation of countless fitness routines. In this guide, we delve into each of these top five strength training exercises, exploring their mechanics, benefits, and suitability for various fitness levels, along with sample workouts to help individuals incorporate them into their training routines effectively.


Whether you're a seasoned lifter or just starting your fitness journey, mastering these fundamental exercises can pave the way for achieving your strength and physique goals.


I'm Dennis Romatz, owner and personal trainer at Dennis Romatz Fitness. I've been a strength coach for more than 3 decades. All these years later, strength training is still one of the most important and beneficial fitness training programs I can have my clients participate in.


Join me as I detail my 5 most popular strength training exercises.


 

5 Most Popular Strength Training Exercises: 5 Core Strength Movements


Overhead Press
Overhead Press



  • What is it?: Squats are a compound lower body exercise that primarily target the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles.

  • How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest up, and core engaged. Lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your hips back as if you're sitting down in a chair. Keep your knees in line with your toes and your weight on your heels. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels to return to the starting position.

  • Who is it best for?: Squats are beneficial for individuals of all fitness levels, but particularly for those looking to build lower body strength and muscle mass.

  • Benefits: Improves lower body strength, enhances functional movement, boosts muscle growth, and increases overall calorie burn.

  • Example Workout:

  • 3 sets of 8-10 reps with a barbell

  • 2 sets of 12-15 reps with bodyweight squats



 



  • What is it?: Deadlifts are a compound movement that primarily work the muscles of the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and traps.

  • How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a barbell on the ground in front of you. Bend at your hips and knees to lower your torso and grip the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing down. Keep your back flat, chest up, and core engaged. Drive through your heels as you lift the barbell by extending your hips and knees until you're standing upright. Reverse the movement to lower the barbell back to the ground.

  • Who is it best for?: Deadlifts are great for individuals looking to build overall strength and muscle mass, particularly in the posterior chain.

  • Benefits: Strengthens the entire backside of the body, improves posture and core stability, enhances grip strength, and increases overall athleticism.

  • Example Workout:

  • 4 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight

  • 3 sets of 8-10 reps with moderate weight



 



  • What is it?: The bench press is a classic upper body exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

  • How to do it: Lie on a flat bench with your feet flat on the ground. Grip the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, lower it to your chest while keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body, then press it back up to full arm extension.

  • Who is it best for?: The bench press is best for those looking to build upper body strength and muscle mass, particularly in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

  • Benefits: Builds upper body strength and muscle mass, enhances pushing power, improves upper body stability, and contributes to a balanced physique.

  • Example Workout:

  • 5 sets of 5 reps with heavy weight

  • 3 sets of 8-10 reps with moderate weight



 



  • What is it?: Pull-ups and chin-ups are bodyweight exercises that primarily target the muscles of the back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and biceps.

  • How to do it: Grip an overhead bar with your palms facing away from you (pull-up) or towards you (chin-up), hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Engage your core, pull your shoulder blades down and back, then pull your body up until your chin clears the bar. Lower yourself back down with control.

  • Who is it best for?: Pull-ups and chin-ups are ideal for individuals aiming to build upper body strength and muscle definition, especially in the back and arms.

  • Benefits: Develops upper body strength and muscle mass, improves grip strength, enhances back and arm definition, and promotes functional upper body pulling strength.

  • Example Workout:

  • 3 sets to failure of pull-ups or chin-ups

  • 3 sets of 8-10 reps of assisted pull-ups if necessary



 



  • What is it?: The overhead press, also known as the shoulder press, targets the deltoid muscles of the shoulders, as well as the triceps and upper chest.

  • How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, grip the barbell or dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Press the weight overhead until your arms are fully extended, then lower it back down to shoulder height.

  • Who is it best for?: The overhead press is excellent for individuals looking to develop shoulder strength and stability, as well as upper body pressing power.

  • Benefits: Strengthens the shoulders, triceps, and upper chest, improves shoulder stability and mobility, enhances upper body pushing strength, and contributes to overall upper body development.

  • Example Workout:

  • 4 sets of 6-8 reps with a barbell or dumbbells

  • 3 sets of 10-12 reps with lighter weight for shoulder endurance



These exercises, when combined into a well-rounded strength training routine, can help individuals build overall strength, muscle mass, and functional fitness.


About the Author:  Dennis Romatz is an Internationally acclaimed personal trainer, online fitness coach and nutrition coach with more than 3 decades of strength training experience.

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