This will include both isolation and compound movements, as well training all sections of a given muscle
The upper trapezius is best trained with SHRUGS.
DB or Cable shrugs. Super heavy shrugs are largely a waste of time, you’d be better off dead lifting.
The upper traps are attached to the CLAVICLES & scapula, not shoulders, raise clavicles as high as possible on every rep.
John Meadows has the best advice on shrugs.
- Use DBs
- Pause at top
- Moderate weight
- moderate reps 8-15 range
Middle and Lower Traps
For mid traps, the best compound is seated row with overhand pronated grip.
I recommend an 8-12 rep range for these.
John Meadows shows a version with independent handles.
If you want to target lower traps directly, the Y-raise is the best exercise.
Long lever arm means weight will always be light, best done for 10-15 reps.
Anterior Delts get worked during ANY kind of Horizontal chest pressing.
Best compound exercise to train them is reverse Grip DB Press.
@MarcLobliner has a good video demonstrating these 6-12 range for reps.
For medial + anterior delts
Shoulder pressing obviously, you want to press in the plane of scaption, not elbows straight out to sides.
High Incline DB Press or Seated Smith machine Press works great.
More stability=Greater muscular force output.
Front Delt Isolation
Front raise works best, a lot of ways to do this, plate, cables, DBs.
Go slow and maximize muscular tension, momentum reps are pointless.
Medial Delts: Lateral Raises
Many people notice better results from lateral raises than they do from shoulder pressing.
Same principle: slow reps, maximum mechanical tension.
Take your sets to positive failure.
Cables and cuffs work excellent.
Posterior delts get trained during ANY kind of horizontal row, but they can be targeted directly.
Machine Rear delt fly works well, best done for higher reps 15-20 rep range.
Bent Over DB raises also work.
Best movement that hits all 3 divisions of pectoral muscle is the Decline DB press.
Flat DB Press also works about as well 6-12 rep range.
Lots of debate over targeting “upper pecs”. Upper pec exercises typically work front delts way more than they do upper pectorals.
Reverse grip DB press works upper pecs very well (posted a few posts up).
Incline Cable fly is best for isolation.
Arms, Biceps and Triceps
Best strategy for arms is High intensity training, SLOW reps, reach positive failure or High reps, also to positive failure
“Heavy arm training” = bicep or tricep tear, not worth it.
Biceps are most brain dead simple muscle to work, do supinated curls
DBs, or cable, EZ bar works as well. Everyone with “Stubborn” biceps eventually learns that slower is better.
For Forearms, you do hammer curls. Same principle as biceps.There are no secret bicep or forearm exercises.
Triceps comprise about 2/3rd of upper arm mass.
Classical cable pushdowns do work all 3 heads, if your triceps cant grow from those, blame your genetics.
Lying DB Tricep extensions are 10/10 exercise as well, do not ever do less than 10 reps though.
Dips work triceps very well, compound exercise that also works chest and shoulders though.
If you are very strong on dips, you will have some level of respectable tricep development.
Once you can do high rep bw dips, do them weighted 6-10 rep range.
Some people advocate training only long head of the triceps.
Tricep long head gets trained during any pressing exercises, whether it’s necessary to isolate them is debatable.
I prefer stable movements, better force output.
JM Press is great exercise for this.
Lats are the biggest one, primary muscle to grow for size, width.
Best compound movement is neutral grip pullups, or pulldowns, Single arm rows also work, from overhead position.
Dorian demonstrates using hammer strength pulldown.
Braced 1-arm cable rows have become popular, these work fantastic, very joint friendly.
If doing 1-arm DB rows, do NOT do them half kneeling on bench, very awkward, possibility for injury.
Brace body, do them with more upright torso.
Rhomboids are not superficially visible , and already get trained during any horizontal row, no need for special exercises for them.
Back muscles are immensely powerful, I recommend 6-10 rep ranges, contract them HARD against meaningful loads.
Easiest muscles to train. The rectus abdominus and obliques all perform the same action, flexion of the spine and shortening distance between ribcage and pelvis.
Impossible to isolate “lower abs” its all the same muscle basic crunches suffice
Now we get to Legs, let’s start with
Gluteus Maximus muscles, hip extension is a major function.
For isolation, glute extension machines are best, very uncommon machines though, but use it if you have one available.
Best compound movement is the reverse lunge.
Very athletic exercise, builds hamstrings as well.
Lunges work well in the 8-20 rep range. Low rep range gets ugly fast, don’t compromise form for weight.
Glute Bridge is very popular, but I never like because of how awkward it is to setup, but many people love it, definitely get results doing it.
Other good glute exercises are 45 degree reverse hyperextension, glute dominant squat, Horizontal leg press, and step ups.
Lower body muscles I like moderate to high reps, 10-20 range.
If you want to go heavier you can, do what suits your goals
Very easy muscle to train, only need 1 or 2 good exercises.
Leg extensions are the best isolation exercise, sheer force is nonsense,
10-20 reps, these 100% build mass and strength, don’t believe the unfounded criticism.
Compound movements, a quad dominant squat, with heels elevated.
You WANT knees to shift forward, increase knee flexion.
High bar, heels elevated, looks like this.
VMO squats like Ben Patrick advocates are great quad exercises.
Ben shows a few versions here.
Seated leg curl is best isolation exercise, puts hamstrings in stretched position.
Lying leg curl also works.
Nordic leg curl can be done, very challenging though, worth doing if an athlete .
Nordics have become very popular.
Good video on how to start doing them
-GHR I don’t consider it a great exercise, the machine is massive, very cumbersome. Not necessary to do, and doesnt even work glutes at all.
Only two ways to train calves.
- Standing Calf raises
- Seated Calf raises.
These emphasizes Soleus, very good for achilles rehab.
No Calf secrets.
- 8-12 reps,
- train them consistently,
- progressive overload applies.