Weight Lifting Exercises: See Pictures, Descriptions and "Must Know" Tips on Selecting Effective Exercises

Choosing the right weight lifting exercises can have a major impact on your results, but at the same time, the concept of "exercise selection" is given too much hype. Its true, different exercises serve different purposes, they're not all created equal. It is important to make the right selections and then arrange them in the proper sequence(order) in your workouts.

You have the choice of Compound vs Isolation, Machine vs Free Weight, Bodyweight, Kettlebells, Swiss balls and TRX...pretty soon your head starts spinning from the possibilities!

The truth is, if two different exercises provide a similar load/tension on the same muscle group, it is very difficult to say that one exercise is more "effective" than the other. Even though all weight lifting exercises are not created equal, they tend to give similar results if you categorize them by muscle group and relative intensity. Below is an example to make things more clear... 

Lets take the chest muscle and compare Dumbbell Chest Flies vs Weighted Pushups, both chest exercises. We'll assume that the load/intensity is such that you can complete about 10-12 repetitions to failure on each exercise. Since both of these exercises work the chest quite heavily and the relative intensity is similar(10-12 repetitions to failure), you'll find that both of them will stimulate chest growth in a similar way, at least in beginner trainees and those who haven't lifted for a long time.

Of course, both of these exercises would feel completely different, and the Pushups will work your front deltoids(shoulders) and triceps as well. But the point is, given two exercises that target the same muscle group and performed at similar intensities and rep/set schemes, the growth response will be quite similar for beginner trainees.

At the same time, different exercises do emphasize different regions, such as the upper, lower and outer chest, so the visual results you see, the shape you achieve can be somewhat different based on the exercise variation (keep in mind that stressing about "shape" and "emphasis" mostly applies to intermediate/advanced lifters...beginners shouldn't worry about it).

The most important thing you need to know is that when choosing your exercises, pick 1-2 compound exercises and 2-3 isolation movements for a major muscle group, which gives you more than enough exercises to rotate over a few months for that muscle group. You really don't need a whole lot of different moves & angles the muscle magazines try to show you, trying to trick people into believing that there's a "magic" exercise that unleashes insane growth in a muscle. Don't fall for muscle mag hype! 

Our 4 Part Weight Lifting Tips Series answers the question of exercise selection and sequence in a little bit more detail, especially Part 2, so try to look over that before jumping into a routine. When you're ready, get started by choosing a muscle group below:

Abdominals

Biceps

Chest

Neck

Lats

Lower Back

Back

Shoulders

Traps

Triceps

Calves

Glutes

Quadriceps

Hamstring

 

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