Although we all have preferences when it comes to choosing our favorite way to get fit, whether it be CrossFit, HIIT workouts, endurance exercise like running or cycling, or something else alltogether, there are certain exercises that every man should be doing. To find out what the most crucial, best moves are for guys, we turned to the experts for their wealth of knowledge on fitness trends that are here to stay. But asking a trainer to pick his or her favorite move is right up there with asking a dad which child is his favorite. It’s not easy. But we went ahead and asked anyway and got some pretty great answers.
Unlike fad workouts, these 8 moves have stood the test of time and whether you’re a body builder or marathoner, they can help you get fitter and stay injury-free. So here are some of the best, expert-recommended exercises to get you building muscle mass, burning fat, and transforming your body in no time.
“When done correctly, the deadlift will engage your hamstrings, glutes, core and traps with each rep,” says celebrity trainer Mark Harari, owner of Pulse Fitness Studio in Sherman Oaks, Cali. Once you’ve mastered the basic movement, you can try one of these 5 best deadlift variations.
a) Stand in front of a bar with your shins touching it, feet shoulder-width apart. Squat, keeping weight back in heels, lowering butt toward floor, and grab bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. With a neutral spine and forward gaze, draw shoulders back and down, open chest.
b) Slowly begin to stand back up, keeping back flat, arms extended, abs engaged and bar as close to legs as possible. As the bar passes your knees, push hips forward to return to standing. Slowly reverse motion back to start.
2. Barbell Squat Snatch
“Executing this move properly requires a potent cocktail of strength, mobility, athleticism, coordination and power. It can elicit great changes in body composition and, like other big-muscle lifts, trigger the release of key hormones,” notes NYC-based trainer Adam Rosante, author of The 30-Second Body: Eat clean, train dirty and live hard. The only catch? You should find a coach to teach you how to do a proper Barbell Squat Snatch first, says Rosante.
a) Stand in front of a bar with feet about shoulder-width apart. Squat, pushing hips behind you, keeping back flat, chest open and gaze forward, and grab bar with an overhand grip, hands more than shoulder-width apart.
b) Pressing into heels, pull bar up to just above your knees, and then thrust hips forward, extending knees, and explosively press bar toward ceiling.
c) Squat down slightly to drop hips and place body under the bar as you extend arms overhead, elbows locked. Reverse motion back to start.
3. Med Ball Slams
“Slamming a heavy medicine ball as hard as you can over and over again is an amazing full body exercise,” notes Los Angeles-based celebrity trainer Lacey Stone. “Plus, it’s a great way to unleash all of your power in one move.” Check out these other 3 effective medicine ball moves you should be doing, too.
a) Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a medicine ball in both hands, arms extended in front of you.
b) Lift ball overhead, go up onto your tiptoes, and then lower arms and heels slowly as you slam ball on the ground below.
4. Alternating Reverse Lunge Rows
“This exercise strengthens your entire body, hitting the glutes, quads, back and arms with every rep, all while encouraging mind/body coordination,” says celebrity trainer Patrick Murphy, who has worked with Jason Segel and Mario Lopez. And that’s important since the brain is such a determinant in how fit you can and will become.
a) Loop a heavy resistance band around a stable object at chest height (or use a cable machine) in front of you, and grab handles with both hands, palms facing in. Walk back, away from anchor, until arms are extended in front of you and band is taut.
a) Lunge back with right leg, bending both knees, and then pull handles toward chest, sending elbows behind you; squeeze shoulder blades together.
b) Extend arms and return to start. Switch sides and repeat.
5. Turkish Get-up (TGU)
“The TGU involves almost every joint in the body and can be performed under a heavy load or with your own bodyweight,” says Josh Stolz, a Tier 4 trainer at Equinox in New York City. “It is a great core strengthener, works stability and mobility in your shoulders, improves hip mobility and can be used as a strength, conditioning or corrective exercise.”
a) Lie faceup on floor with right knee bent, foot flat on floor, left leg extended, holding a dumbbell (or kettlebell) in right hand, left arm extended at a diagonal by side, palm down. Press weight straight overhead, directly over shoulder, and then roll to your left, shifting weight onto left elbow and forearm.
b) Keep gaze on dumbbell as you straighten left arm and press up, into left hand. Press hips up into a bridge, bend left knee and sweep leg behind you, placing knee on floor directly under your hip.
c) Lift upper body, shift left leg and torso to face forward (in a lunge), and then slowly stand up. Reverse movement back down to start; switch sides and repeat.
6. Elevated Split Squat
“A lot of guys neglect their legs, and it’s important to keep your lower body strong,” says Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego and lead training advisor for Under Armour. “This is a unilateral movement, which helps you detect imbalances so you can work to correct any inefficiencies.” Here are six other key moves for unilateral strength training.
a) Stand in front of a bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in. Lift right leg behind you, placing the top of your foot on the bench. Take a big step forward with left leg.
b) Keeping upper body tall and abs engaged, lower back knee toward floor, bending front knee; hold for 2 counts, and then squeeze glutes as you rise back up. Do 8 reps; switch sides and repeat.
7. Spiderman Pushup
“Performed with correct form and technique, this is not only a great muscle strengthener for the chest, shoulders and triceps, but also your core, as you alternately lift and move your legs off the floor and forward while maintaining stability,” says Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and creator of the 7-Minute Workout. It’s also great for shoring up hip mobility, super important for every guy but particularly for runners with tight hips.
a) Start in push-up position, with hands under shoulders, legs extended behind you, back flat, abs engaged and toes tucked under.
b) Bend elbows, lowering chest toward floor, as you bring right knee up to meet right elbow.
c) Extend leg behind you as you press back up to start. Repeat, this time pulling left knee up to left elbow.
8. Bar Dips
“Bar dips are an awesome exercise because they work so many upper body muscles—your chest, shoulders, upper back, triceps—at the same time,” says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts. Find out how to get thick with dips here.
a) Stand in front of parallel bars, and grasp one bar with each hand. Press into hands, until arms are extended and feet are lifted off floor, ankles crossed.
b) Slowly bend elbows behind you, stopping when they reach 90 degrees; extend arms to complete one rep.