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15 Best Strength Training Moves That Can Help You Build Muscle

Eine Frau macht Kreuzheben
Content Editor & Certified Trainer
Lisa studied journalism and is a certified fitness and health trainer, as well as a meditation coach! She spent many years working for different lifestyle and fitness magazines, and she writes articles for us on the topics of working out, fitness, lifestyle and mind.

The key to effectively building muscle is to combine strength training with a protein-rich diet. If you want to your muscles to grow, you have to regularly exercise them to exhaustion and challenge them constantly with new training stimuli. If you want some more theoretical background knowledge, we also recommend our article: Hypertrophy: How Muscle Building Really Works. In this guide, we’ll show you the 15 best exercises for getting the most out of training all your muscle groups.

It’s worth remembering, though, that training is only half the story if you want to get your body in shape – getting your nutrition right is just as important. Muscle growth can only occur if you consume enough nutrients. One great post-workout meal with everything your body needs is our Whey Protein.*

Here are our top 15 exercises for building muscle that you can do at the gym or at home:

#1 Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most important basic exercises in weight training and the reason it’s so effective is because it works the entire body. You can do it with barbells or dumbbells, and a high-strength resistance band is also suitable for home use. Different variants of this exercise target different parts of your thigh muscles and glutes. A deadlift with your feet close together is called a Romanian deadlift, while with them wide apart, it’s called a sumo deadlift.

Muscles: thighs, glutes, lower back, core

Breathing: Inhale on the downward movement, exhale on the upward

Remember: Keep your legs just slightly bent, back flat and straight, and push your hips back during the downward movement.

#2 Squat

The squat is another basic full-body exercise. The best way to train in the gym is with a barbell in a power rack and you should definitely ask a trainer to show you how to do it when you’re starting out. At home, you can also use dumbbells or simply squat with your own body weight.

Muscles: hamstrings, quads, glutes, core

Breathing: Inhale on the downward movement, exhale on the upward

Remember: Keep your back upright, and get your hips down level with your ankles, squatting low to the ground.

Don’t like squats? Here are 7 effective squat alternatives!

#3 Bench Press

The bench press is another important basic exercise. Although the focus is on the upper body muscles, especially the pectoral muscles, the core also has to work hard. Use a barbell or two dumbbells. You should ideally do the exercise on a weight bench but alternatively, you can do it lying on the floor, as a floor press.

Muscles: chest, arms, core

Breathing: Inhale on the upward movement, exhale on the downward

Remember: Press your feet, buttocks and shoulders firmly into the ground, tense your abs.

When it comes to muscle building, our Creatine Powder are great training partners. They can boost your physical performance during intense workouts**, helping you get the most out of your strength training.

#4 Pull-Up

Pull-ups are both one of the most effective and one of the most challenging exercises in strength training. They challenge your body from head to toe, not just your arms! Only when you build up complete tension will you be able to pull your body upwards under your own power. If you can’t manage a pull-up yet, find out more here: 6 Moves to prepare for pull-ups

Muscles: arms, upper back, core

Breathing: Inhale on the downward movement, exhale on the upward

Remember: Always start in a dead hang, tense your abs and glutes.

#5 Shoulder Press

The shoulder press is the ultimate exercise for a strong back. Again, you can choose between barbell or dumbbells, or a resistance band to do the exercise at home. The great thing about this exercise is that it will also hone your six pack!

Muscles: shoulders, arms, upper back, core

Breathing: Inhale on the downward movement, exhale on the upward

Remember: Retract your shoulder blades, keep your back flat and straight, tense your abs.

#6 Rows

Rows are a great exercise for the back muscles, and also work your arms. Barbell rows are just as effective as dumbbell rows, or you can train just as well on the cable machine. If you don’t have the appropriate weights to hand, grab a resistance band.

Muscles: back, arms, core

Breathing: Inhale as you release, exhale as you pull toward you

Remember: Retract your shoulder blades, keep your back flat and straight, and tense your abs.

#1 Lunge

Lunges are a classic leg exercise. Like squats, they train the core as well, so they are a great full-body exercise. The big advantage of lunges over squats is that you work unilaterally; in other words, one side at a time. This is even more challenging for your deep muscles, and it improves your balance. You can do the exercise just with your own body weight or use a barbell or two dumbbells for more intensity.

Muscles: hamstrings, quads, core

Breathing: inhale while bending, exhale while returning to starting position

Remember: don’t let your front knee go further forward than your ankle, and keep your torso upright

#2 Curtsy Lunge

The curtsy lunge is an effective variation of the classic lunge that focuses more on the outside of the legs and buttocks. This unilateral exercise also uses your core muscles – perfect for a strong midsection. Grab two dumbbells for the extra burn!

Muscles: Hamstrings, quads, glutes, core

Breathing: inhale while bending, exhale while returning to starting position

Remember: don’t let your front knee go further forward than your ankle, let your back knee touch the ground next to your front heel, and keep your torso upright

Good recovery is the decisive push for your muscle building. Replenish your body with all the important amino acids, like the ones in our Recovery Aminos.

#3 Donkey Kick

Donkey kicks deliver the ultimate “kick in the ass” as this glutes exercise targets your entire back. For more intensity, add a loop resistance band above your knees.

Muscles: Hamstrings, glutes, lower back

Breathing: inhale while lowering, exhale while lifting

Remember: Flex your feet and thrust your ankles upwards, keep your core engaged, avoid hollowing your back.

#6 Glute Bridge

Another classic lower body exercise is the glute bridge. This exercise effectively trains the hamstrings and glutes. If you want to step up a level from the bodyweight variation, you can rest one or two dumbbells on your pelvis.

Muscles: hamstrings, glutes, lower back

Breathing: inhale while lowering, exhale while lifting

Remember: thrust your buttocks all the way up and keep them off the ground when lowering, keep your shoulders and heels firmly on the ground

#11 Wall Sit

The wall sit is a killer exercise for your hamstrings, quads, calves and glutes. Start with your own body weight; if that’s not challenging enough for you, add a dumbbell, either resting it on your thighs or holding it in front of your torso.

Muscles: hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves

Breathing: inhale and exhale without interruption

Remember: Keep your back straight and touching the wall, press your heels firmly into the floor, keep your knees above your ankles, and legs at 90-degree angles.

#12 Bicep Curl

If you want to specifically define muscles or bulk up, isolation exercises are a useful addition to your strength training. Bicep curls – probably the most popular exercise for strong arms – are an indispensable part of your exercise program.

Muscles: arms, core

Breathing: Inhale on the downward movement, exhale on the upward

Remember: Retract your shoulder blades, tuck your elbows firmly into your waist, keep your back flat and straight, and tense your abs.

#13 Tricep Dip

If you’re doing bicep curls, tricep dips are never far away. This isolation exercise is also an essential part of an effective arm workout that specifically targets the backs of your arms. You’ll soon be saying "Hello toned upper arms!"

Muscles: arms, upper back, core

Breathing: Inhale on the downward movement, exhale on the upward

Remember: Retract your shoulder blades, point your elbows backwards, keep your back flat and straight, and tense your abs.

#14 Crunch

Although almost all strength exercises automatically work your core, it can never hurt to challenge your abdominal muscles that extra little bit. Crunches are a particularly effective exercise for your core.

Muscles: abs

Breathing: Inhale on the downward movement, exhale on the upward

Remember: Press lower back into the floor, retract your shoulder blades, and tuck your chin into your chest.

#15 Plank

The plank – also known as the arm support or forearm support – is the perfect ending to any strength workout and is an absolutely killer exercise for your whole body. You can do it on your palms or your forearms. And if you want to take it up a notch, try the plank rock variant where you shift your weight forward and back again in a controlled manner.

Muscles: abs, back, shoulders, glutes

Breathing: inhale and exhale without interruption

Remember: Make sure that your elbows or palms are directly below your shoulders, tense your abs and glutes, keep your body in a straight line, and push your heels away from your body.

*Proteins contribute to muscle growth.

**Creatine increases physical performance during successive short-term, high-intensity exercise. A daily intake of 3 g of creatine has a positive effect.

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