Ranking The Best Muscle Building Exercises: From Beast To Least

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It’s time to sort through your muscle building workout routine and see if your exercise selection suck. This article will rate movements from beast to least.

It’s time to tune up your training routine. This article will rate exercises for each muscle group from “beast” to “least.” Here is the scale:

  • Beast – Typically a compound exercise that allows the use of heavier weight, provides a long term opportunity for progressive overload, and has a reputation for yielding big results.
  • Better – Not the most potent movements on the block but still very effective and can build plenty of muscle mass. A good choice to further punish a muscle after the hard work has been done.
  • Least – These exercises should only be used to end a body part workout, or when no other options exist. Typically “least” exercises do not allow for much progressive overload, and/or offer little bang for your buck.

To maximize the muscle building process, you need to make better choices. Start by looking at your current training routine to see if it’s peppered with a fair amount of beast exercises. I recommend at least 2 beast exercises per major muscle group, per week, and at least one beast exercise per minor muscle group, per week.

Beast exercise recommendation

  • Major muscle groups: 2 beast exercises per week. Major muscle groups include back, shoulders, chest and quads.
  • Minor muscle groups: 1 beast exercise per week. Minor muscle groups include hamstrings, triceps, biceps, calves, abs, and traps.

For the back, I typically recommend 3 beast exercises per week. It is good to have a deadlift variation, heavy row, and some sort of pull up or inverted row. You may also choose to use 3 beast mode exercises for quads each week.

After the insertion of beast mode movements, it’s now time to consider the rest of your exercises. If you are using any movements found in the “least” category, consider removing them and swapping in a “better” category lift. Only use “least” category movements when you have no other options, or to finish off a muscle group after a hard workout.

Each section below contains exercise recommendations for each body part. They are minimum, but reasonable recommendations. If you want to add in another exercise for major body parts per week because you feel it’s necessary, have at it.

Bench Press

Chest exercises: beast to least

  • Split training weekly minimum recommendation – 2 beast exercises, 1 better exercise and 1 least exercise.
  • Full body weekly minimum recommendation – 2 beast exercises, 1 better or least exercise.

It should be no shocker that the bench press (and variations) are at the top of the list. Dips fall into the beast category as well. They were once considered the “upper body squat”, and should not be dismissed.

You will also notice that I rank exercises such as machine bench presses above dumbbell flyes and cable crossovers. Understand that I am not telling you to never use these “least” exercises. My main point is to choose the beast and better movements first.

If you want to finish off your workout with flyes, pec dec or crossovers, have at it. You’ve already destroyed your chest, so a finisher using a least exercise won’t be a bad thing at all.

  • Beast – Bench press, incline bench press, dips, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press.
  • Better – Machine bench press, decline bench press, Smith machine bench press.
  • Least – Dumbbell flyes, cable crossovers, pec dec, push ups.

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