When you are talking about what are the best exercises, there’s definitely a hierarchy. You have your cables, your machines. but at the core of weight training, there are 5 key lifts that are known as the big 5. Also known as compound lifts, the big 5 work multiple muscle groups at the same time, making them some of the most effective exercises you can do when it comes to building strength. The big 5 lifts include:

  1. Overhead Press
  2. Deadlift
  3. Bench Press
  4. Squat
  5. Pull-Up

What are the benefits of using these lifts?

The big 5 lifts train not only intramuscular but also intermuscular systems, which improves muscle coordination and allows you to work on numerous muscle groups at once. This means instead of working on a different muscle each day, you can get a full-body workout every time. You’ll be building functional strength by using your muscles to do big, powerful movements that cross over into everyday life.

How to incorporate these lifts into your training?

As strength building works best with lower rep counts, the most recommended workout for the big 5 lifts is a 5×5 workout. As the name suggests, this workout includes 5 sets of 5 reps of each of the big 5 lifts, making it super easy to remember. You should aim to do this workout 2-3 times a week, with rest days extremely important to strength building, as it gives the muscles time to repair and recover. You can add to the weights of these lifts as your strength develops.

So whether your goal is fat loss, building muscle, athletic performance, or just trying to get in shape make these 5 lifts the pillars of your routine and you will hit your goals in no time!

Bonus: Two more exercises I would add if I had to would be the bent over row and dips.