November 18, 2013 / The Josh Sway Bodybuilding Guide: Part 5, Other Exercises
In part 5 of our body building guide we discuss other exercises beyond the "big 3".
In Part 4 of the Josh Sway Bodybuilding Guide, I talked about 3 core exercises I think make the most sense for a beginner with a body building bent. In part 5, I am going to introduce several other exercises which together can help form a variety of workouts with potential to stay relevant throughout your entire bodybuilding life.
Remember, the three core exercises I discussed already where the Bench Press, the Squat, and Lat Pull Downs, so they are not included in this part.
Deadlifts are generally considered part of the "big 3″; however, I personally feel a lat pull down type exercises is more effective for someone with a bodybuilding bent. With that said, deadlifts are a tremendously valuable exercise that hits both the lower body and the upper body. It is one of the few "full body" lifts out there. Note, deadlift form is non-trivial and I recommend getting advice from a trained expert on how to deadlift properly. I also recommend thinking of a deadlift set as many "1 repetition sets". Reset your entire lift setup between each repetition or I find the risk of significant form breakdowns on heavy weight (and potential injury) is too great for all but experienced lifters.
2. Shoulder press (barbell or dumbbell)
The shoulder press, as the name suggests, involves pressing weight over head from around shoulder height. Shoulders are an important muscle both for sports and for looks, and shoulder presses of various types are some of the best ways to really work the shoulder muscle. I prefer to do them with dumbbells seated to better isolate the shoulder motion and not put too much of my full body into it, but each way has it’s positives and negatives.
3. Dumbbell rows
There is also the similar bent-over row exercise (two arm w/dumbbell or barbells) but I much prefer one arm dumbbell rows as I find they are easier to perform properly and with more consistency. Row exercises are very effective muscle builders for the lats, which are perhaps the most important upper body muscle for both body building and sport purposes.
4. Bicep curls
While the biceps are a small muscle, they are one of the most visible muscles in everyday life which is probably why there is so much focus on them. The gold standard muscle builder for the biceps are curls. There are many varieties (dumbbell, barbell, preacher, etc.) and while all have slight differences, in practice, it doesn’t make a huge difference which ones you use.
5. Tricep pushdowns
The tricep muscle is another main muscle that makes up the arm. It is also very useful for a variety of sports and as an auxiliary muscle in other lifts. I find for beginners, the easiest exercise to get going with are tricep pushdowns. Skullcrushers are also a similar exercise that is done with free weights (small barbell or dumbbells).
6. Stiff Leg Deadlifts
Hamstrings are a common weak point for many aspiring bodybuilders and athletes. This is part of why hamstring injuries are so common (an imbalance between quadricep and hamstring strength). Stiff leg deadlifts are a great way to isolate the hamstrings. I also like hamstring curls, which might be easier for a beginner.
7. Leg raises on dip machine
I much prefer leg raises than situps for ab work. I like to do them on the "dip machine" as I find this is the best balance between difficulty and actual difficulty due to the ab muscle. Hanging leg raises are fine, but I see no point in tiring out your arms and grip in what is supposed to be an ab focused exercise. Leg raises are a great way to hit the abs with a workout that is more difficult than situps (which may not provide enough stress on the large muscle fibers in the abs).
8. Calf Raises
Calves are a highly visible muscle in the summers and are also very useful in sports. The go-to exercise for the calves is calf raises. This is a very easy exercises to do technique wise and it isolates the calves very well. Do not overdo it though, as you do not want your calves being tired interfering with large muscle lifts such as squats and deadlifts.
There you have it, 8 other exercises to go along with my big 3 that can make up a myriad of complete work outs. Naturally, there are other lifts out there which have their pluses and minuses, but I am confident you can achieve the vast majority of the gains you want (even if you have very lofty aspirations) with these exercises alone! Stay tuned for part 6 where I look at constructing workouts)
Check out the other parts of our series here: