So you want to put on the maximum amount of muscle you can, in the minimum time, and don’t want to be wasting your efforts on any exercise which delivers anything less than optimal results, right?
Of course, while there is no singular ‘magic bullet’ exercise which works the entire body to build muscle everywhere, there are 4-5 main exercises are known as ‘compound exercises’ which build maximum amount of muscle throughout the body.
The reason why compound exercises work so well is twofold. Firstly, because the movement being performed throughout the lift uses several muscles (compound) rather than just one muscle (isolation), then more muscles are worked as a result. Secondly, because more than one muscle is used in a compound lift, you are naturally stronger during compound lifts as more muscles are engaged in the movement, so you can lifter higher amounts of weight, which also means muscles which are weaker on their own are also put under more stress and pressure than they’d be able to handle all on their own.
Ask any bodybuilder or power lifter which exercises work best to put on the most strength and mass, and you can bet they’ll say compound.
Now to the meat of the issue – what are these compound exercises I speak of, and what muscles can they build?
- Bench Press: Primarily an exercise for the pectorals, the bench press also works the triceps and anterior deltoid. Not only that, but the support muscles it works the biceps, neck, lats, the lower back and abs.
- Squats: The squats are the main exercise for the legs, and work the quads, hamstring, and gluteus maximus (butt), and also to some degree as support muscles, the shoulders, and spinal erector muscles.
- Dead lifts: The main exercise for working the lower back muscles, also works the quads to some degree because of the way in which the legs are used to power up before the lower back muscles take control and straighten up. The traps are also involved in this movement to some degree.
- Bent Over Rows: The muscles which are visible from the front under the arms which stick out and make a bodybuilder look like he can’t put his arms down by his sides are the lats. Bent over rows work the lats, and also the posterior (rear) head of the deltoid.
- Shoulder Press (Military Press): Works the medial (side) and anterior (front) heads of the deltoid primarily and also the triceps.
By no means exhaustive, keeping things basic, the aforementioned 5 exercises will hit pretty much all major muscle groups in the body, thus allowing you to gain more muscle mass without having to target each muscle directly. Therefore – more bang for your buck.