the forgotten muscle building phase

The Last 5 Exercises You’ll Ever Use

Musk and his team have finally accomplished the impossible and established the first human settlement on Mars. But wait, nobody told them that there were Martians waiting all along for us to find an effective way to travel between the two planets. The main agenda of theirs, ‘Capture the weak earthlings.

A few of such earthlings have been saved and named ‘Earth Warriors’ and the goal? To get stronger and save the planet from these Martians.

The catch here? Access to very limited equipment for training.

Wait, am I even serious? Maybe. Maybe not.

The goal here is clear though, there are no upsides to being weak. Who in their right mind would actively want to be weak and frail? Not you definitely as you have come to this blog to learn all about muscle building and getting strong.

Let’s address the issue, why do we remain weak even after hitting the gym on a regular basis? Mainly because we do not end up picking exercises that make us strong.

Add to that the different variety of new equipment, exercises, routines, etc. taking birth every other day; you simply try everything and end up gaining nothing in terms of your strength and muscle.

In this article, I shall be sharing FIVE exercises that will make you STRONG as hell. Yes, just FIVE. The best part about it? You could do a minimal gym set-up in your garage as well and do these exercises. It is that easy to set them up. One thing though, these are not your 100 rep bicep mega set kinda exercises.

Let’s get started:

#1 – The ‘almighty’ bench press

Equipment you need: A barbell, a bench, and some weight plates.

Every gym bro loves their chest and every gym bro religiously starts their week on Monday by following the sacred rule that ‘Monday is a chest day’.

The first exercise they pick? The BENCH.

The bench press is one of the very few massive strength builders in your upper body pressing. And many people think that it is just a chest builder.

Let me tell you something, if you think that the bench is just a chest activating exercises, you have been doing it wrong.

A correct bench press set up and execution engages your chest, triceps, shoulders, back and even your glutes.

As this movement is such a huge strength builder, you see a famous sport known as Powerlifting have it as one of their three cornerstones.

This would be your exercise #1 in the toolkit to build massive strength.

the last 5 exercises you'll ever use bench press

#2 – The ‘ass to grass’ squat

Equipment you need: A barbell, a squat stand/rack, and some weight plates.

Another cornerstone of a Powerlifting meet, the SQUAT.

One of the massive lower body strength builders and yes, you even get rid of the  ‘chicken legs’ taunt from other fellows.

And like the bench, the squat engages many of your muscles like your quads, your glutes, your erectors, your hamstrings, your calves, and your abdominals.

Now one major reason that even though you may be doing this exercise in your routine but not gaining strength? You half-ass it.

I have seen literally 95% of the people in the gym who do the squat and never hit a depth satisfactory worth even calling it a squat in the first place.

Some info: In powerlifting, men and women tend to carry a massive amount of weight on their backs and attempt something known as a one-rep max or 1RM. These efforts are deemed unsatisfactory if their hip crease is not in line or below the knee in the bottom position.

If you want to build good lower body strength, ass to grass your squat. Hit the depth. Yeah, it won’t be easy. I get it. And you need to get it that to build massive strength, you need to do things that are not considered easy.

#3 – The ‘uncommon’ pendlay rows

Equipment you need: A barbell and some weight plates.

Do you know what is a barbell row, right?

Now include a slight bend forward, take out the swinging and jerking out of it, make it more controlled. Tada, you have the pendlay rows.

The pendlay rows are a great strength and muscle builder for your back and assists greatly in all your pulling movements, both inside and outside of the gym.

The strict nature of this movement builds positional strength and make your pulls stronger.

And unlike the barbell rows, you reset the bar with every rep and pull with a good form. This minor tweak to the often shaky and wobbly barbell rows makes the world of a difference to this entire exercise.

This exercise engages your rhomboids, traps, rear delts, and even the lats and biceps to a certain degree.

A single major back builder after all.

the last 5 exercises you'll ever use barbell row

#4 – The ‘weird looking’ hip thrusts

Equipment you need: A barbell, the bench, and some weight plates.

The very first time I saw this exercise myself, even I thought, “Hmm, this looks weird!”

And then I learned a bit more about it and then I performed them, and my stand now would be that if you are not doing this exercise, you are missing out.

Sure, it does look a bit weird when you see someone doing it in the gym for the first time but after learning the benefits of the hip thrusts, you wouldn’t care about how weird or unusual this amazing strength building movement looks to others.

The hip thrust is that one single exercise that teaches you optimally how to extend your glutes.

Why are glute extensions so important? The glutes are designed to both extend the hip as well as pull your leg back behind your body. They are one of the strongest muscles in your body if you develop them well.

If you have strong glutes, you automatically get stronger at the movements that require hip hinging like the squat, the deadlift, or even making a 20-meter dash to catch the subway.

If your glutes are not-so-developed, it means that you have compromised in the departments of speed, strength, and power.

And yes, who does not like to look at some fine developed glutes?

Hip thrusts effectively engage your glutes, your hamstrings, your hip flexors, your lower back and even your quads to a certain degree.

#5 – The ‘difficult’ loaded chin ups

Equipment you need: A pull-up bar/a power rack, a weight belt, and some weight plates.

When it comes to looking massive from the behind, it is all about the V-taper.

Physique or bodybuilding athletes seem to be overly obsessed with the V-taper. Two main reasons: it makes you look jacked and it gives you that ‘X-frame’ look provided you have developed legs. Which, if you apply this piece into your training, would definitely be the case.

The other benefit of this exercise? MASSIVE guns.

And yes, this will be a loaded movement as you’ll add some weight and it will be hanging from your crotch.

Two things that are extremely crucial:

  1. In the bottom position, do not make it a dead stretch. Even though your arms would be extended and in a straight line, do not stretch them. Let your shoulders be a bit loose. If you do not, goodbye healthy shoulders.
  2. Your reps need to be as strict as possible if you want this exercise to do the intended work. Do not half rep it as if you cheat, you are just cheating yourself. And do not jerk while doing the movement. Read the first line again of this pointer, keep it STRICT.

You can do these with a variety of grips like the wide pull-up grip, the palms facing each other neutral grip, and the supine grip where your palms are facing you.

If you want the safest and most effective grip, go for the neutral one.

Weighted chin-ups work your lats and your biceps.

the last 5 exercises you'll ever use chin up

The exercises now out of the way, let’s talk about how and if could you create an effective training plan for strength using JUST these five exercises?

Of course, you can.

And it is one of my favorite split to use when training during a busier work schedule.

The days would be split into lower body session, upper body sessions and rest/active recovery days.

If you want to follow a similar routine, your week would look like this:

Day 1 – Lower body

Squat – 5 sets of 5 reps

Hip thrusts – 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 2 – Upper body

Bench press – 3 sets of 12

Pendlay rows – 5 sets of 5

Weighted chin-ups – 3 sets of 10

Day 3 – Rest/Active recovery

Take a full rest day or do some light cardio for 30 to 45 minutes. I like to go for a swim session for 30 minutes usually.

Day 4 – Lower body

Squat – 3 sets of 12 reps

Hip thrusts – 5 sets of 5 reps

Day 5 – Upper body

Bench press – 5 sets of 5

Pendlay rows – 3 sets of 12

Weighted chin-ups – 3 sets of 10

Day 6 – Rest/Active recovery

Day 7 – Full rest

Make sure that if you are following this routine, you are getting adequate rest and sleep and before lifting, you are ensuring proper warm up before you start hitting those heavy sets.

Let’s also talk about the logistics. If you would have carefully observed the equipment needed list for these exercises, all you will ever need is a power cage/rack, a bench, a barbell, a weight supporting belt, and weight plates.

Want to set up a garage gym and yet have effective workouts? You have a tiny shopping list.

And more importantly, these are the areas of the gym that are not usually crowded as people love to use new and fancier equipment and line up for the same.

So yes, you would look BETTER and be STRONGER if you chose to just stick to these five exercises for the rest of your life.

About the Author

Pratik Thakkar is the co-founder of GetSetGo Fitness. He is known to apply evidence-based practices to help his online coaching clients build strong and lean physiques.

You can find Pratik Thakkar at Get Set Go Fitness.