There’s a lot of dogma when it comes to lifting weights and bodybuilding.
You have likely heard a lot of people tell you that there are “must do” exercises. Certain exercises that you must include in your workout no matter what.
Now I believe that the basic bodybuilding exercises are staples for a reason. They work. Things like the bench press, squat, bicep curl.
It would be difficult to say that they are not effective.
There are only so many ways you can move the body to work your muscles. Most exercises are variations of the same thing.
The barbell bench press. Dumbbell bench press. Bench press machine. Push-up. They are all different exercises technically, but they are the same movement.
I think that this catches a lot of people up, particularly people that are new to lifting and bodybuilding.
If there is one hard and fast rule that I’ve learned in all my years of lifting, it’s that there are no hard and fast rules.
Just because one exercise is great for one person does not mean it will be great for the other.
I’m going to tell you how to choose the right exercises for your body, so you can avoid getting caught up in all the dogma that comes along with lifting weights.
Decide on your goal
When it comes to choosing the right exercises for you, this is the place to start.
You have to figure out what your goal is in order to decide which exercises are going to be best for you.
Do you want to gain muscle? Do you want to gain strength? Do you want to bulk up or slim down? Do you want to improve your endurance?
These are all things that need to be answered before getting in the gym and crushing it.
If you don’t know what your goals are, you are going to be training without a plan.
Without knowing exactly what you are looking to accomplish, you are going to be in there moving weights just for the sake of moving them.
You will not be training with a purpose.
Once you do decide on what your bodybuilding goals are, you’re ready to get to the fun part.
Process of elimination
If I could give one piece of advice to new bodybuilders, it would be to try as many things as you can when you first start out.
Try every machine. Try every exercise. Look up as many as you can online. Watch what others are doing and try it. Even if it looks stupid, just give it a try.
This is all about learning what works best for your body and you will never know that without doing some experimentation.
This is where a lot of people get caught up. They hear a friend or professional bodybuilder tell them that they need to do a certain exercise to grow.
While some basic exercises work well for most people, there is no one size fits all when it comes to bodybuilding and lifting weights.
Go on YouTube and watch a few videos of professional bodybuilders working out. You will quickly see that they all do different things.
By trying everything, you are going to quickly find out what works best for you.
You Need To Feel the exercise
When are you are trying all the different exercises, you have to really feel each one.
You are going to find that some exercises just do not feel right. It usually has to do with the anatomy of your body. We are not all built the same.
I’ll use myself as an example. One of the ultimate “must do” exercises you hear about is the deadlift. All you hear is how you must do it if you want to be big.
The problem? Almost every single time I have tried to do it in my life, I got injured. I would throw my back out and be out of the gym for days if not weeks. I have a shorter torso, which is why I think it doesn’t work well for me.
Now why would I keep doing an exercise if I get injured every time? Seems pretty moronic to me.
Now the bench press is an exercise that I excel out because I have shorter arms. It works well for my body. It feels good.
Once you figure out what types of movements and exercises work well for your body, you will be able to make the right choices when it comes to exercises.
If there is an exercise that you are doing because you think you have to but aren’t feeling anything, then stop doing it! It’s not going to help you.
The ultimate goal of lifting weights is to get results, right?
Check your results
Once you are able to find which exercises work well for your body, you are almost there.
The last and most important part is to analyze which exercises give you the best results.
After narrowing down your exercise selection, you will be able to see which ones are helping you the most.
Maybe lat pull downs feel good but aren’t helping you grow too much, and you find that pull-ups are more effective for you.
Perhaps you find that dumbbell exercises give you better results than machines or cables.
Some things are just naturally going to be more effective for you than other things. I wish I had a better explanation, but that’s the truth.
Once you learn which exercises feel right and help you get great results, you are well on your way to success.
As you continue to work out and lift weights, always keep asking yourself whether the exercises you are doing are working.
I see so many people do the same thing year after year while getting zero noticeable results.
You will have to switch things up from time to time. Certain workouts will get stale and you will stop responding to certain things.
It’s a constant game of experimenting and change. Once you understand that, it starts to become fun. You become creative with your workouts.
Once that happens, your workouts take on a life of their own. When you understand your body well and learn to become creative, that’s when you start seeing the real results.
Hopefully this quick guide helps you choose the right exercises while avoiding the wrong ones.
P.S. How do you decide which exercises you are going to do in the gym? I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and comments below!