A List Of The Best Weight Training Exercises For Each Muscle Group

The most common and straight forward way of categorizing weight training exercises is simply in terms what muscle group or body part an exercise targets.

While some explaining was necessary to properly show the difference between free weight exercises, body weight exercises and machines, and compound exercises and isolation exercises, and of course the different weight training movement patterns, very little explaining is needed here.

In fact, all this is going to be is just a big list of exercises for each muscle group with virtually no explanation whatsoever.

So, let’s get to it.

In no specific order, here’s a list of what are considered to be the best and most often used exercises for each major muscle group…

A List Of The Best Chest Exercises

  • Flat Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Incline Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Decline Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Flat Chest Press Machine
  • Incline Chest Press Machine
  • Decline Chest Press Machine
  • Dips (on parallel bars with slight forward lean)
  • Push-Ups
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes
  • Decline Dumbbell Flyes
  • Pec Deck Machine
  • Cable Crossovers/Cable Flyes

(Compound chest exercises also target the triceps and shoulders secondarily.)

A List Of The Best Back Exercises

  • Pull-Ups
  • Chin-Ups
  • Lat Pull-Downs
  • Bent Over Barbell or Dumbbell Rows
  • T-Bar Rows
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Chest Supported Barbell or Dumbbell Rows
  • Chest Supported Machine Rows
  • Inverted Rows
  • Barbell, Dumbbell or Machine Shrugs

(Compound back exercises also target the biceps secondarily.)

A List Of The Best Shoulder Exercises

  • Seated Overhead Barbell or Dumbbell Press
  • Standing Overhead Barbell or Dumbbell Press
  • Overhead Machine Press
  • Arnold Press
  • Barbell, Dumbbell or Machine Upright Rows
  • Dumbbell, Cable or Machine Lateral Raises
  • Dumbbell, Cable or Machine Front Raises
  • Barbell, Dumbbell, or Machine Rear Delt Rows, Raises or Flyes

(Compound shoulder exercises also target the triceps secondarily.)

A List Of The Best Quadriceps Exercises

  • Barbell or Dumbbell Squats
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Front Squats
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Split Squats
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Lunges
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Step-Ups
  • Leg Press
  • Machine Squat/Hack Squat
  • Leg Extensions

(Compound quad exercises also target a significant portion of the lower body/posterior chain.)

A List Of The Best Hamstring Exercises

  • Barbell or Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Straight Leg Deadlifts
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Sumo Deadlifts
  • Glute-Ham Raises
  • Hyperextensions
  • Cable Pull-Throughs
  • Good-Mornings
  • Leg Curls

(Compound hamstring exercises also target a significant portion of the lower body/posterior chain.)

A List Of The Best Biceps Exercises

  • Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Curls
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Preacher Curls
  • Seated Dumbbell Curls
  • Incline Dumbbell Curls
  • Hammer Curls
  • Concentration Curls
  • Cable Curls
  • Biceps Curl Machine

A List Of The Best Triceps Exercises

  • Dips (on parallel bars, elbows close to body, without forward lean)
  • Flat Close Grip Bench Press
  • Decline Close Grip Bench Press
  • Close Grip Push-Ups
  • Laying Barbell or Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
  • Skull Crushers
  • Overhead Barbell or Dumbbell Triceps Extensions
  • Cable Press-Downs
  • Bench Dips

Additional Notes

So, there you go, a big list of exercises for each muscle group. I eventually plan on writing descriptions of each along with pictures and videos showing proper form at some point in the future, but for now it’s just a big list.

And this is in no way meant to be the definitive list of EVERY exercise in existence, by the way. While it is pretty damn comprehensive (especially in terms of what is considered best and most popular), some stuff has been left out.

I mean, for a majority of the exercises mentioned, I could have listed various minor variations of each based on the type of grip (pronated, supinated, neutral), how wide or narrow the grip or stance is, the specific placement of the bench/seat height, and on and on and on.

However, to avoid being unnecessarily repetitive, I decided not to get THAT specific. So, if you’re looking for additional exercises beyond what’s on this list, just know that minor variations (like the ones I just mentioned) can be made to many of them if desired.

Also keep in mind that, in the case of all compound exercises listed above, additional muscle groups are targeted secondarily. (I explain this more here.)

What’s Next?

Now that we’ve gone through the major aspects of the exercise selection process, it’s time to go over one last important aspect of determining exactly what exercises are best for you. Here we go…

What Are The Best Exercises For My Workout Routine?

(This article is part of a completely free and awesome guide to creating the absolute best workout routine possible for your exact goal. Check it out: The Ultimate Weight Training Workout Routine)

Need a workout routine that's already proven to work? Get one: The Best Workout Routines

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