What are the best exercises

The 6 world's best muscle building exercises - which ones are missing in your training plan?

Which muscle building exercises do you have in your training plan? If one of those six is ​​missing, you're probably wasting potential.

How do you recognize the champions - fitness exercises that are good for what? The “Big Six” concept gives you the answer.

Because the “Big Six” are not only among the most effective muscle building exercises in the world. They also help you find the right balance.

So that it is easier for you to get slim, stay fit and ... look good naked.

tip: Do you like fitness with M.A.R.K.? Then download the free HomeGym Guide. There you will find out which equipment you can use to train the 6 exercises perfectly at home. Click here.

The Big Six: The 6 Most Effective Muscle Building Exercises In The World?

The concept of the “Big Six” is based on the research of Dr. Richard Schmidt ("Motor Learning and Performance").

The two fitness coaches Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove have adapted it in their training guide “The New Rules of Lifting”, which is well worth reading.

Let's remember.

When a muscle building exercise meets the following four requirements, it is one of the fitness exercises that will really move you forward:

  1. she is functional. The exercise depicts everyday movement patterns.
  2. She claimed a lot of muscle mass at the same time.
  3. You involvedmore than just a joint.
  4. You needmuch energyto carry them out.

The “Big Six” meet all four criteria. And they can do more than that:

The Big Six make the difference betweenShow muscles and oneathletic body out.

They help you to develop muscles that keep you fit and efficient in everyday life and advance your favorite sport.

Why six? Because each of these fitness exercises represents a fundamental human movement pattern. Whether jumping, running, pushing and pulling - each of the muscle building exercises imitates an everyday function.

You will see that the concept of the Big Six is ​​anything but rigid. There are variants and alternatives for each of the six muscle building exercises.

Each of the big six stands for a whole category of muscle building exercises that form the foundation of an effective training plan.

The Big Six at a glance:

  1. Squat
  2. Lunges
  3. Deadlift
  4. To press
  5. Pull
  6. Trunk rotation

In this article you will get to know each of them in detail:

  • What kind of muscle building exercise is it?
  • Which muscles does it use?
  • What do you need her for (besides helping you look good naked)?
  • How is it carried out technically correctly (selected video tutorial)

Here we go…

Top Muscle Building Exercises # 1 - Squat

What is the squat?

They come in many flavors:

  • In the gym you usually see the classic variant with the Barbell on the shoulder (see photo).
  • However, you can also do the squat with a setDumbbells perform on the outstretched arm.

The dumbbell variant feels a bit strange because you have to spread the dumbbells a little to the side so they don't collide with your knees while you bend them. A good alternative for HomeGym is if you don't have a barbell yet.

When you train with heavy weights, however, the upper body muscles have to do a little more work than with the barbell squat.

Which muscles does the squat use?

The great thing about the squat is that it covers almost all of the muscles in your lower body in just one movement:

  • The Quadriceps, the front of your thigh, is the most challenged. Its job is to straighten your knees again from the bent position.
  • In addition, the squat also demands the large, powerful muscles that surround your hip joints: theGlutei (Bum) and the hamstring muscles (Back of thigh). The deeper you can squat, the more you challenge these muscles.
  • Another key player is yours lower back: He keeps your upper body upright while you crouch and get up again.

A multitude of other muscles keep your entire body under tension when you squat - from theFeet about the Calves, Abductors and Adductors(Thigh inside and outside), Abdominal muscles up tomiddle back.

What are the benefits of squats in real life (besides looking good naked)

Fitness coaches know that their athletes can improve jumping performance better with squats than with any other fitness exercise. Studies confirm this (and yes, of course there are alternatives to the squat) .12

Perhaps you are now wondering what is the point of being able to jump higher if you actually want to look good naked?

Imagine you were 90 years old.

The year is 2067 and you are sitting in your comfortable armchair (yes, the design was still modern in 2020!) In your living room in front of the 4D television. This armchair is so comfortable that you could sit in it forever and watch reps of your favorite series.

But suddenly a natural need overcomes you. You try to get up. The need becomes more urgent. You try to get up again, but the stunted muscles in your lower body simply cannot muster the strength to lift you out of the chair.

So nature takes its course ... in your lap and the soft armchair.

I know who would go to the gym today to avoid a mishap in their favorite armchair in ‘years?

But the thing is, it's not like you suddenly wake up one day in the morning and can't get up anymore. Muscle loss happens gradually.

If you do not train your muscles, you will lose more and more strength with advancing age, until at some point you can no longer get up the stairs, no longer be able to play with your grandchildren or can no longer get out of the chair.

Technique video squats

My colleague Johannes Kwella shows you the correct squat technique in the following technique video.

Top Muscle Building Exercises # 2 - Lunges

What are lunges?

You hold the weight either sideways (Dumbbells), on the shoulder (Barbell) or you just do the exercise body weight through (for example as a "split squat" in TRX training):

  • In the starting position you stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Take a long step forward and lower your body until your back knee almost touches the floor.
  • Then you push yourself up again with your front leg and go back to the starting position.
  • The upper body remains upright all the time.

TheSplit squat is an alternative in which one leg is already in the front in the starting position (see photo). Then you lower your body and push yourself up again without leaving the lunge.

Another variant is the Step upwhere you climb up and down on a platform (e.g. a weight bench).

Which muscles do lunges use?

Lunges use the same muscles as squats, so the two exercises are closely related when it comes to muscle development for “looking good naked”.

But the pattern of movement is completely different.

The Hip flexors, these are the muscles on the front of your pelvis, lift your thighs upwards. (Opposite are the Hip extensor, the gluteal and hamstring muscles that straighten your body when it is bent forward.)

Because most people spend much of their day sitting down, the hip flexors are often shortened. In some people, they are so shortened that they practically block the hips.

The tighter your hip flexors are, the harder it is for you to jump or take big steps - for example, if you want to cross a small stream while hiking.

Lunge steps give you more hip mobility because they stretch the hip flexors first and then quickly contract them.

This enables the “shortened” among us to regain a natural amplitude of movement.

Lunge steps not only keep you strong, but also supple and flexible.

What is the benefit of lunges in real life (besides looking good naked)

In almost all sports (okay, chess is excluded) you do lunges.

Either to the front or to the side:

  • A soccer player almost always does lunges in all possible directions.
  • Think of the tennis player who barely catches a difficult ball with a lunge.
  • Sprinters need to be able to take big, powerful (lunging) steps.
  • Imagine the beach volleyball player taking a big lunge and digging for a ball.

Even if you don't play any of these sports, lunges give you more freedom and agility in everyday life. If you lack that, your steps become shorter and you lose mobility.

Then at some point you may only be one step away from assisted living, where you sit in a comfortable chair and watch TV all day ...

Technique video lunges

The following technique video shows you how to do the lunges correctly with a barbell. The movement pattern for the other variants is very similar.

Top Muscle Building Exercises # 3 - Deadlifts

What is the deadlift?

In the deadlift, you bend forward over a barbell or pair of dumbbells and lift them off the floor by straightening your body over the hip joint.

Note: The lady in the photo hyperextends her cervical spine by looking forward. Ideally, you leave the spine in its natural position throughout the exercise. That is, she should look better at the ground in this position.

What muscles does the deadlift use?

Like the squat, the deadlift is demanding complete muscular system Your lower body.

However, the strong ones dominate here Hip extensor, so theGlutei(Bum) and the hamstring muscles (Back of thigh).

Your lower back takes on an important stabilizing task - together with the deep abdominal muscles - while you bend your body at the hip joint and then stretch it again.

YourTrapezius also plays an important role. It is shaped like a diamond and runs from the neck over the shoulder blades to the middle back. During the deadlift, he pulls your shear blades together.

Ultimately, you have to be able to hold the weight - without yours Forearm musclesSo nothing is going on here.

What is the benefit of deadlifting in real life (except: looking good naked)

The deadlift is probably the most useful fitness exercise around. Could you really imagine living a self-determined life without being able to lift heavy things off the floor?

After all, you want to be able to transport moving boxes, carry a chair to the other side of the table or pick up shopping bags without bursting your intervertebral discs.

Deadlifts (and its many variations) keep your back and hips strong and resilient.

Technique video deadlift

Mistakes are often made in the deadlift that, in the worst case, can lead to injury. Here is a detailed technical tutorial that you should take a look at in full.

Top Muscle Building Exercises # 4 - Pressing

What is pressing?

There are many push exercises in the gym:

  • pushups: You push your torso up off the floor.
  • Bench press: You lie on your back on a bench and push a weight up from your chest and lower it again.
  • Overhead press: You push a weight straight up from your shoulders (see technique video, below).
  • Dips: Your bent arms are behind your torso and you are pushing your body up by stretching your arms and bringing them into line with your torso.

There are a number of other variants for each of these muscle building exercises.

Which muscles does pressing work?

Pushups and bench presses are considered "chest exercises," while overhead presses are considered "shoulder" and dips are considered "triceps".

But all pressure exercises have one thing in common: They start at the shoulder joint.

Dips, push-ups and bench press work out thefront portion Yours Shoulder muscles, while pressing both the front as well as the middle portion Stressing your shoulders.

Pushups, bench presses and dips are challenging Chest muscles in connection with the front shoulder. Pressing overhead bypasses the chest and puts even more strain on the shoulders.

All four exercises require the Tricepsto stretch your arm at the elbow joint.

What are the advantages of pressure exercises in real life (except: looking good naked)

A strong force of pressure helps you in many sports, for example boxing, shot put or basketball (think about it).

Many people believe that the two most prominent pressure exercises - bench press and overhead press - place completely different loads on the body.

Of course: Everyone who trains knows that the shoulders, for example, do not develop the same way when you bench backs than when you press overhead.

But as soon as you leave the gym and as soon as it comes to the function goes, the lines blur. In “real” life, you rarely push straight forward or straight up. Most of the movements take place somewhere in between.

Imagine if you wanted to push a broken down car. You are probably positioning your torso at a 45 ° angle to the ground while you put your feet into the asphalt.

Some of the strength comes from the legs, but you also have to push: with your chest, shoulders and triceps.

Your training plan should therefore address these muscles from different angles.

Technology video overhead press

Standing overhead press - one of the most effective pressure exercises - is more technically demanding than the bench press, for example, and one of my personal favorites. In the following video tutorial, Johannes shows you how to do it technically correctly.

Top Muscle Building Exercises # 5 - Pulling

What is drag?

Like the pressure exercises, you can do pulling exercises at many different angles:

  • At theLat pulldown - one of the most popular pull exercises in the gym - you pull the weight down perpendicular to your shoulders.
  • At the Pull-up you pull your body vertically up to a bar.
  • Rowing exercisescomes in many colors and shapes: In the gym, you can sit at a machine and pull a weight towards your body. On the cable pull you can pull a weight towards you while sitting or standing from various angles - with one or both arms.
  • At the Dumbbell or barbell rows you usually bend your body forward at the hip joint and align your torso almost horizontally. Then you pull the dumbbells to the corresponding side of the body or the barbell to the stomach or chest.
  • Then there are Coatings, in which you hold the weight overhead while lying on your back (on the cable pull you can also do this while standing). Then pull the weight over your head in an arched motion until it is in front of your torso.

Which muscles does pulling use?

The two major muscle groups of the upper back are theLatissimus Dorsi (“Lat”) and theTrapezius muscles:

  • The Lat is a shoulder joint muscle that you can find once on the right and once on the left. He pulls your front or overhead extended arm back towards your torso.
  • The Trapezius muscles are responsible for the shoulder blades. You pull them together (as in rowing), down (as in pull-ups or lat pulldowns), or up (as in shoulder raises).
  • The Biceps and some Forearm muscles support your lat muscles (and indirectly also the trapezius muscles) with every pulling movement. For the reasons mentioned here, pulling exercises are also better suited for the development of your biceps than biceps curls alone (for some people biceps curls are even completely dispensable). As you train your back, the biceps grow naturally with you - to the extent that they are needed.

What is the benefit of pulling in real life (other than looking good naked)

One of the most functional games (and an excellent strength exercise) is the good old one Tug of war.

It's fascinating how your biceps and upper back muscles work together in their natural harmony during the tug of war:

  • You start the pulling movement by straightening your torso at the hips - as with Deadlift.
  • Then you pull with your upper back - as with the Dumbbell row.
  • The last part of the movement is dominated by the biceps - as in the Bicep curl.
  • You rotate your entire body over the core muscles - as with Cable pull wood chopping (see below).

Tug of war is not too different from the sequence of movements inrowing - an exercise that is not called “rowing” for nothing because it does Rowing a boat imitates. 😉

Pull exercises help you get better climb. The climbing movement looks like this:

  • First you pull yourself up with your upper back.
  • The last part of the movement is dominated by the biceps.
  • Here too, grip strength is crucial, otherwise nothing will work.

Useful if you have fun climbing, climb trees or want to be able to hold on to a cliff. For Stone Age man, this ability was vital in trying to escape high altitude so as not to become a saber-toothed tiger's low-carb meal.

Technology video rowing

Bending barbell rows are one of my favorite pulls, along with pull-ups. You will learn the right technique in this video.

Top Muscle Building Exercises # 6 - Core Rotation

Some muscle building exercises are specifically designed to train core rotation:

  • You can lie on your back on the floor and lower your legs to the side by rotating your hips.
  • A more demanding variant with a similar movement pattern is the windshield wipers (see below).
  • Or you can keep your lower body fixed and rotate your upper body as with Russian twist or Chopping wood on the cable pull (see below).

There are also very effective trunk rotation exercises in which you don't rotate the trunk, but instead hold it in place.

When you are actively rotating your torso prevent, you train these muscles in the same way - as with Renegade Rows and other exercises that involve pulling or pushing one arm (see above).

Which muscles does the trunk rotation require?

You have two muscles that rotate and flex your waist: theouter and the internal obliques.

The inner ones lie under the outer oblique muscles of the abdomen. The muscle fibers each run diagonally across and enable flexion and rotation:

  • When you turn your upper body to the left bow, you stretch the inner and outer oblique abdominal muscles on the right. When you straighten up, they contract.
  • When you turn your upper body to the left rotate, the outer oblique muscles on the right and the inner oblique muscles on the left contract.

Your Six pack muscle (rectus abdominis) is also involved in torso rotation, as are some of the smaller muscles of the lower back.

What advantage do torso rotations bring in real life (besides looking good naked)

Aside from chess, I can't think of any sport that doesn't involve torso rotation.

Tennis, squash or golf are obvious examples. A right-handed player uses the outer oblique muscles on the right and the inner obliques when striking.

But even in everyday life you are constantly rotating your torso:

  • You rotate your waist when you swing your legs over the edge of the bed to get up in the morning.
  • You rotate your waist when you get in the car and later get out again.
  • You bend and rotate your waist when you pick up your children or pick something up.

A strong core not only helps you in everyday life and in almost all sports, it also helps you avoid injuries. (Plus, he can look damn good ...)

Technique video torso rotation

The Chopping wood on the cable pull (English: “Cable Wood Chop”) is one of my personal favorite torso rotation exercises. The technique tutorial is from Scott Hermann, a US fitness coach.


Proper strength training is one of the factors that counts in trying to look good naked.

Many people invest a lot of time in their training and see little success.

Stagnation and training plateaus can arise if your training plan is not based on the movement patterns for which our body was created - the “Big Six”.

And you know them now:

  1. Squat
  2. Lunges
  3. Deadlift
  4. To press
  5. Pull
  6. Trunk rotation

When the Big Six is ​​part of your routine, you're not just training the muscles that help you look good naked. You also train your coordination - in the way that nature intended for us.

Question: Are the “Big Six” already part of your training routine? Which exercise is your favorite? Or do you still see a gap in your training plan that you want to close now (which one?)? Write a comment.

  1. Murphy, et al .: The Ability of Tests of Muscular Function to Reflect Training-Induced Changes in Performance. Journal of Sports Science, 1997; 15-2, pp. 191-200 [↩]
  2. Nuzzo, et al .: Relationship between countermovement jump performance and multijoint isometric and dynamic tests of strength. J Strength Cond Res .; 2008 [↩]

Category: Muscle buildingTags: fitness, gym, fitness training, basic exercise, strength training, muscle building training, muscle growth, training, training theory, training plan, workout