This the is second installment of Best Dang Exercises to Build a Better Body and Be More Awesome of the Train to Be Awesome series.
In the first edition I revealed the Best Dang Exercises for the Chest, Shoulders, Back, and Abs in addition to the criteria for determining which exercises would make the cut.
Today you’ll get the best exercises for the quads, hamstrings, and glutes plus my favorite deadlift variations. Deadlifts are one of the ultimate strength training exercises that will make you more awesome, so they get their own video.
Before you proceed, let’s recap the criteria for exercises that made the cut and can be qualified as the Best Dang Exercises:
- Allows for progressive loading.
- Big, compound exercises that provide most bang for the training buck.
- Most people can learn proper form quickly.
- Most people can perform the exercise safely without a spotter.
- Does the exercise allow you to Train to be Awesome? (e.g. Focusing on the Weight on the Barbell & Not the Scale)
- I must be able to do the exercise(s) in my home gym.
Now that you know what qualifies to receive Best Dang Exercises and Be More Awesome status, let’s jump in.
The Best Dang Exercises
Once again, for simplicity, the exercises are categorized according to the main muscles worked during the movement. For example, even though goblet squats (especially when you squat low) work the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, they’re considered to work the quads, primarily.
Deadlift variations are the exception and are categorized according to the movement (pulling a barbell off the floor from a dead stop). Plus, they’re really awesome so they have their own video.
The following video contains demonstrations for my favorite bilateral (uses both legs simultaneously) and unilateral (single leg) quad-dominant exercises.
As you can see, whether you have barbells, dumbbells, or just your bodyweight, you can perform a variety of quad-dominant exercises.
Hamstrings and Glutes
This video contains my favorite bilateral and unilateral exercises for the hamstrings and glutes that use barbells, dumbbells, and just your bodyweight.
It’s possible you’re wondering why I only included the bodyweight versions of glute bridges and hip thrusts. Personally, I prefer those variations over loading them with a barbell. I don’t enjoy loading a barbell, shimmying my way underneath it, and then having the bar dig into my body. Even though I’ve used plenty of padding to alleviate the discomfort, I still don’t like it.
I stick with the single leg variations of glute bridges and hip thrusts and load them with chains draped over my waist, a weight plate, or a kettlebell or dumbbell.
Here’s another video showing three different bodyweight hip thrust variations that range from beginner to more advanced.
Deadlifts and the many variations are arguably one of the best exercises for not only building a great body, but for being more awesome. Anyone who has deadlifted their bodyweight or more for the first time knows just how empowering and all around badass deadlifts truly are.
My two favorite deadlift variations I use most often are trap bar deadlifts and rack pulls with the bar set a few inches below the kneecaps. The reason I prefer those two variations is because most people can learn and maintain proper form during the exercise.
Conventional deadlifts are an amazing exercise, but some people (due to body structure, injury, mobility issues, etc) can’t pull a straight bar from the floor properly. I believe in doing exercises you can perform pain free, and definitely safely. Choose the deadlift variation(s) that work best for you.
Build a Better Body & Be More Awesome
To finish this Best Dang Exercise series, be sure to check out the Best Dang Workout Program Design to Build a Better Body and Be More Awesome so you can design your own strength training programs for maximum results. The article also covers how many days per week you should workout and the best workout splits.