You may not be familiar with some of the terminology used in bodybuilding. Along the same line, you should know what certain exercises are and how to safely perform them. There are all sorts of exercises you can perform – so many, in fact, space prevents us from listing all of them. However, learning the basics can be a great help.
Dumbbell Bench Press
Sit on the edge of a flat bench with the dumbbells resting on your knees. In one smooth motion, roll onto your back and bring the dumbbells up to a position slightly outside and above your shoulders. Your palms should be facing forwards.
Bend your elbows at a ninety-degree angle with your upper arms parallel to the ground. Press the weights up over your chest in a triangular motion until they meet above the center line of your body. As you lift, concentrate on keeping the weights balanced and under control. Follow the same path downward.
Standing Military Press
For this exercise, you will use a barbell. Stand with your legs about shoulder width apart and lift the barbell to your chest. Lock your legs and hips and keep your elbows in slightly under the bar. Press the bar to arm’s length over your head.
Lower the bell to your upper chest or your chin depending on which is more comfortable for you. This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells or seated on a weight bench.
Lying Tricep Push
Sit on a flat bench holding a curl bar with an overhand grip. Lie back so that the top of your head is even with the end of the weight bench. As you are lying back, extend your arms over your head so that the bar is directly over your eyes. Keep your elbows tight and your upper arms stationary throughout the exercise.
The biggest key to this exercise is keeping your upper arms in a fixed position. Slowly lower the bar until it almost touches your forehead. Press the bar back up in a slow, sweeping arc-like motion. At the finish, lock your elbows completely.
Side Lateral Dumbbell Raise
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your side. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms turned toward your body. Keep your arms straight and lift the weights out and up to the sides until they are slightly higher than shoulder level. Then slowly lower them back down to your side again.
Keep your palms turned downward as you lift the dumbbells so that your shoulders rather than your biceps do the work. Make sure you are lifting the dumbbells up rather than swinging them up. Don’t lean forward while doing this either or you risk injury to your back.
This exercise is best done with a special preacher curl bench, but you can do this without it with a little modification. Sit at the end of the weight bench, and place something such as a firm pillow or a few pillows under your armpits on your lap. Hold the curl bar in your hands with palms facing upward. Don’t hunch over the pillow, sit as straight as you can.
Using a shoulder-width grip, grasp the bar with both hands. Curl the bar upward in an arc. Be careful not to swing or rock to get the bar moving. You need to be using your muscles to lift the weight, not momentum. The goal of this exercise is to work the biceps.
Bring the bar up to your chin keeping in mind that the resistance is greatest during the beginning of the lift. Lower the bar slowly working the muscle on the way down as well. You can also do this with dumbbells or work one arm at a time.
Seated Dumbbell Curl
Sit at the end of a bench with your feet firmly on the floor. Keep your back straight and your head up. Start with the dumbbells at arm’s length with your palms facing in. Curl the weight up and twist your wrist once they pass your thighs. Squeeze your biceps at the top and then slowly lower the weight.
Do not swing the dumbbells down; lower them as you are working those muscles! You can do this standing, but the seated position prevents bad form.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row
Start with your right foot flat on the floor and your left knee resting on a flat bench. Lean forward so that you’re supporting the weight of your upper body with your left arm on the bench. Your back should be flat and almost parallel with the floor.
Reach down and pick up a dumbbell with your right hand. Your left arm should be locked at the elbow so it will support the weight of your upper body.
Before starting, look straight ahead instead of at the floor so you can keep your back straight. Tighten your abs to keep your body from turning to the side as you lift the dumbbell. Concentrate on pulling your elbow back as far as it can go. The dumbbell should end up roughly parallel with your torso.
After you’ve rowed the dumbbell up as far as you can slowly lower it back to the starting position. Switch arms after one set.
Stand straight up with your feet at shoulder width. Hold two dumbbells with your arms hanging at your sides. Droop your shoulders down as far as possible. Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go then slowly return to the starting position.
You can also rotate your shoulders by going up in a circular motion from front to back and then back down again. This can also be done holding a barbell.
Standing Calf Raises
This can be done with a specific machine found in a gym or adapted for use without the machine. Stand up against a wall with your body facing the wall and your palms down on the wall and your feet flat on the floor.
Keep your body straight and slowly lift up your heels until you are standing on the tips of your toes. Hold the contraction briefly then slowly return to the starting position with your feet flat on the floor.
Lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground, or resting on a bench with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. If you are resting your feet on a bench, place them three to four inches apart and point your toes inward so they touch.
Place your hands lightly on either side of your head keeping your elbows in. Don’t lock your fingers behind your head! Push the small of your back down in the floor to isolate your abdominal muscles. Begin to roll your shoulders off the floor.
Continue to push down as hard as you can with your lower back. Your shoulders should come up off the floor only about four inches, and your lower back should remain on the floor. Focus on slow, controlled movement – don’t cheat yourself by using momentum!
Dumbbell Hammer Curls
With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your arms hanging at your sides, and palms are facing each other. Keep your elbows locked into your sides. Your upper body and elbows should remain in the same place during the whole lift.
Keep your palms facing each other, curl the weight in your right hand up in a semi-circle toward your right shoulder. Squeeze the biceps hard at the top of the lift and then slowly lower. Do not turn your wrists during this lift! You can also do one arm at a time and/or alternate.
Incline Dumbbell Press
Sit on the edge of an incline bench set at about a 45-degree angle. Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and place them on your thighs. Then, one at a time, raise them up to your shoulder level while you press your back and shoulders firmly against the bench.
Press the weights back up to a point over your upper chest, with your palms facing forward. Lower the weights slowly. Inhale as you lower the weights and exhale as you lift.
Rest a barbell on the upper portion of your back, not your neck. Firmly grip the bar with your hands almost twice your shoulder width apart. Position your feet about shoulder-width apart and your toes should be pointing just a little outward with your knees in the same direction.
Keep your back as straight as possible and your chin up, bend your knees and slowly lower your hips straight down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Once you reach the bottom position, press the weight up back to the starting position.
Don’t lean over or curve your back forward! You can use a belt to help reduce the chance of lower back injury. You can put your heels on a 1-inch block to further work the quads. You can also use a wider stance to work the inner quads even more.
Upright Barbell Row
Stand upright and grasp a barbell with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Let the bar hang straight down in front of you. Keep your body and wrists straight. Pull the bar straight up towards your chin, keeping it close to your body.
Concentrate on either pulling with your traps or the front of your shoulders, depending on what you want to work most. Lower slowly to the starting position. Don’t cheat by leaning forward or backward. Don’t swing!
Front Dumbbell Raise
Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing backward. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows throughout the exercise so that your arms are straight, but not quite locked.
Lift the weight in your left hand in front of you in a wide arc until it is slightly higher than shoulder height. With a smooth, controlled motion, lower the weight while simultaneously lifting the weight in your right hand, so that both arms are in motion at the same time.
Do not cheat by swinging or leaning backward! This lift can also be done with two dumbbells at the same time or a barbell.
Stiff Leg Barbell
Place a barbell on your shoulders. Keep your head up and your back completely straight. Bend at your waist with your legs locked, until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Return slowly to the upper position. This can also be done with your knees slightly bent.
One Leg Barbell Squat
Use a 12 to 18-inch box or bench for this exercise – the higher the box, the more difficult the exercise. Place a barbell behind your head at the base of your neck. Grasp the barbell with both hands with a wider than shoulder-width grip.
Stand approximately 2 to 3 feet from the box and turn so that the box is directly behind you. Reach one foot back and place your toe on the box. Keep your opposite foot flat on the floor and point your toes forward. Stand up straight. Keep your back tight and your chest out throughout the entire exercise.
Keep your head and neck in line with your torso so that you are looking forward. Your shoulders should be directly over your front foot. Keeping your front foot flat on the floor, sit your hips back (like you are going to sit in a chair), bend your knee (of your front leg), and lean forward slightly at the waist.
Lower your body in a controlled fashion until your thigh (of your front leg) is parallel to the ground. If you have difficulty lowering yourself down this far, lower yourself until the knee of your front leg is bent 90 degrees. At this point, your knee should be directly over your toe, your hips should be sitting back, and your chest should be directly over the middle of your thigh.
Now, leading with your head and chest, raise yourself by pushing your hips slightly forward and up toward the ceiling, and straightening your leg. Return to the starting position. At this point, your shoulders should be directly over the front foot.
Place a barbell on your upper back. Lift your chest up and look straight ahead. Position your right leg forward in a long stride. Your foot should be far enough in front of you so that when you bend your right knee, your thigh and lower leg form a right angle.
Slowly bend your knees, lowering your hips so your rear knee just clears the floor. Pause briefly in this position, then slowly straighten your legs and raise your body back up to a standing position. Complete a full set, then switch legs and repeat, or alternate legs for each rep.
Make sure your knee does not travel past your toes in the down position! This can also be done with dumbbells in each hand instead of using a barbell.
Barbell Tricep Extension
Hold a barbell with hands a little closer together than shoulder width. Lie on an incline bench and position your head at the top. Press bar overhead to arm’s length. Lower the bar in a semicircular motion behind your head until your forearms touch your biceps.
Keep your upper arms close to your head. Return to the starting position. This can also be done with the straight bar, 2 dumbbells, seated or standing or with 2 dumbbells and your palms facing in.
The exercises listed above can be done either in a gym or in your home. If you are going to join a gym, they will have many specialty machines that will work specific parts of your body. Employees at the gym can help you with proper use of the machines.
Now that you know what exercises to do, let’s look at a couple of sample workouts.