Yep, you read that right. This is the first article in the Train to Be Awesome series will show you the best dang exercises to build a better body and become even more awesome.
In this edition you’ll get the best exercises for the upper body (chest, back, shoulders) and abs. The other installment covers the Best Dang Exercises to Build a Better Body and Be More Awesome – Deadlift Variations, Quads, Hamstrings, and Glutes.
Be sure to use these exercises to create the Best Dang Workout Programs to Build a Better Body and Be More Awesome, too.
Best Dang Exercise Criteria
First, the lists for best dang exercises is not all-inclusive. I want to state that now before someone gets all huffy because their favorite exercise(s) isn’t on the list.
Here is the criteria I used for deciding which exercises to include on the Best Dang Exercise lists.
- Allows for progressive loading. If you want to build a better body and get more results in less time, you must be able to improve your performance, so that means the exercise must allow you add more weight over time or perform a more challenging variation. For example, a push-up works well because you can add weight or perform a more challenging variation. However, a triceps kick-back will only allow you to increase the weight to a certain point before you risk injuring your joints or just can’t increase the weight since it’s such a small muscle.
- Big, compound exercises that provide most bang for the training buck. This article is about the best dang exercises for building a better body and allowing you to be awesome. Hoisting a heavy dumbbell overhead via a push press will provide more bang for your buck than a skullcrusher. Not saying the skullcrusher exercise is bad, it just won’t produce the results a push press will.Remember, if you’re going to do isolation exercises, you’ve gotta earn them.
- Most people can learn proper form quickly. I included exercises that can be learned quickly. For example, it’s easier to learn how to properly perform a pull-up compared to a barbell hang clean.
- Most people can perform the exercise safely without a spotter. Notice I said “most people”. Some people just do stupid things. But most people could safely perform a dumbbell bench press if they were training solo compared to a bench press if they didn’t have a power rack to protect them. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of a guy getting stapled to the bench when training alone.
- Does the exercise allow you to Train to be Awesome? Bodyweight chin-ups are awesome. Squatting your bodyweight for the first time is awesome. Calf raises, while effective for building nice lower legs, are not awesome. (Note — I did include some abdominal exercises that hardly make you “awesome”, but I wanted to include my favorites since people would ask for them anyway).
- I must be able to do the exercise(s) in my home gym. I have a power rack, barbell set, adjustable dumbbells, weight bench, back extension, a few kettlebells, resistance bands, suspension trainer, and some other odd and end toys. The only exercises included are ones I can do with this equipment.
So you get a grasp on the criteria above, let’s compare two wildly popular “chest” exercises — Barbell Bench Press versus Push-up.