Every time someone approaches me asking for advice in starting a new workout routine, the best advice I can give is to stick to the basics. If you want a hard body, but don’t have excess time for lifting at the gym, there are two key exercises you need to focus on.
Stop spending so much time on the bicep curls and tricep kick-backs and focus on what really counts – squats and deadlifts. These two compound lifts are probably the most effective full body lifts you can do. Squats and deadlifts use more muscle groups under a heavy load than almost any other weight bearing exercises.
Because of their effectiveness, these exercises elicit the greatest hormonal responses – growth hormone, testosterone, etc. In fact, research studies have shown that the inclusion of squats into a weight-training program not only increase lower body strength, but also upper body development.
Whether your goal is to build muscle mass, lose fat, or improve athletic performance, the squat and deadlift need to be key components of your workout routine. Most people avoid the squat and deadlift – why? Because they are challenging! Go ahead, continue doing your little crunches, bicep curls, or calf raises, but I’m serving up some fitness realness right here and telling you that if you want to start to see results, aim your main focus on squats and deadlifts. Save all of those isolated small lifts for your breaks between larger compound lifts.
Squats and deadlifts should be done with free weights and not machines in order to build muscle more effectively. Machines don’t allow for your body to follow its natural, biomechanically correct range of motion. When doing squats and deadlifts, there are a lot of core muscles activated only when you use free weights. If you are serious about gaining muscle and burning fat, its time for you to add these serious lifts into your workout.
Check out these videos for demonstrations on proper form and execution: