The more sophisticated gyms become these days with all sorts of cool looking and fancy machines, the more I notice how new bodybuilders don't even learn the basic movements that will give them the best bodybuilding gains. If muscle building is your goal, there are 10 bodybuilding exercises that you will need to master in order to maximize your muscle building at the gym.
These exercises build a huge amount of muscle due to the fact that they provide the most neuromuscular stimulation. What this means is that in order to be able to perform them, the body needs to recruit an incredible amount of muscle fibers. (For more information on this subject, please take a look at: Choosing The Right Bodybuilding Exercises For Maximum Gains)
The best part of it is, that these exercises can be used with just the body weight alone. Thus, even in a case where you have no access to a gym, you can use these exercises to get you started in bodybuilding, or to maintain your muscle mass in case that you are traveling during vacation (or business) and have no access to a gym.
As you become stronger in these you can start adding weight, and I promise you, that as you get stronger, your muscle mass will increase dramatically as well!
Top 10 Bodybuilding Bodyweight Muscle Building Exercises
Bodybuiding Exercise #1: Lunges
The lunges are in my opinion, the best leg developer in existance. Due to all of the balancing required in order to execute this exercise, it provides the highest amount of muscle stimulation to the lower body. The exercise is versatile as if you press with the ball of the foot, then you emphasize quadriceps stimulation (the front of the leg) while if you press with the heel you will emphasize glute/hamstring stimulation (back of the leg).
This exercise can be done one leg at a time, alternating between legs, and as walking lunges. You can start only with your body weight and then you can start adding weights via the use of dumbbells or barbells.
Learn how to execute the lunges: Lunges Exercise Description
Bodybuiding Exercise #2: Squats
Squats are another incredible leg developer, as well as an overall body developer as well. When performed with a bar on the back, you will need practically every muscle in the body in order to perform this exercise.
You can use various forms of this exercise, using dumbbells, a barbell and even a weight belt. In addition, you can use various stances: close (which emphasizes the outer thighs), medium (which emphasizes all of the quadriceps equally) and wide (which emphasizes the inner thighs). Just like lunges, if you press with the ball of the foot you will emphasize the quadriceps, and if you press with the heels you will emphasize the glutes/hamstrings.
Learn how to execute the squats: Squats Exercise Description
Bodybuiding Exercise #3: Wide Grip Pull-Up to Front
Nothing will get you a wider back than wide grip pull-ups to front. This exercise is the absolute best for creating back width and thickness also. I always advise to perform it to the front as to the back, it is too hard on the rotator cuff.
You can change the width of the grip thus affecting slightly different back muscles. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width.
At the beginning, if you cannot execute the pull-ups, you can either use a pull-up assist machine or have a spotter help you up. It is more than worth it to put all of the effort necessary in learning this exercise as the results you will get will be nothing short of amazing. I have never failed to add size to anyone's back (men or women) due to the fact that my back routines are pull-up based.
By the way, as you get stronger I suggest that you start adding resistance to this exercise by using a weight belt. The stronger you become, the wider your back will get.
Learn how to execute the wide grip pull-up: Wide Grip Pull-Up Exercise Description
Bodybuiding Exercise #4: Close Grip Chins
The close grip chin-ups performed with the palms of the hands facing you are a great exercise for either the back or the biceps depending on how you perform it.
For emphasizing the back, it is important that you lean back (around 30-degrees) and stick your chest out as you perform this exercise. On the other hand, performing it with the torso straight (at a 90-degree angle in relation to the floor) will mainly emphasize the biceps. The biceps version is one that I hardly ever see anyone perform, and to be honest, this is an exercise that will build more biceps mass than any curling motion.
Just like with the wide grip pull-ups, you can also play with the grip width on this exercise in order to introduce variation and hit the muscle from different angles.
Learn how to execute the wide grip pull-up: Close Grip Chin-Ups Exercise Description
Bodybuiding Exercise #5: Push-Ups
As known as the push-up is, this is an exercise that I hardly ever see used at the gym. However, this is another great exercise that when properly done, can produce more stimulus than even the bench press itself.
In order to add weight, you can either use a weight vest or you can have a trainer partner slightly push you down.
You can also change the angle of the exercise by placing you feet on a raised platform such as a bench. In addition, by placing your hands closer, you target more the triceps and the inner chest.
Learn how to execute the push-ups: Push-Ups Exercise Description
Bodybuiding Exercise #6: Parallel Bar Dips
Parallel bar dips are another incredibly exercise for both the chest and the triceps depending on how you do it.
In order to target the chest, lean forward around 30 degrees or so and keep your elbows flared out slightly. For targetting the triceps, keep the torso as straight as possible and the elbows in.
In order to add weight, you can use a weight belt. At the beginning however you can have a trainer partner help you on the way up or you can use a chin/dip assist machine.
Learn how to execute the parallel bar dips: Chest Dips Exercise Description