T Nation

Exercises YOU Can't do Without


Everyone has them. There are select exercises that we perform daily that we absolutely love. Its these exercises we feel that extra bit of stretching, that major pinch. Its these movements that we view as Gold amongst a sea of an ever evolving BS movement industry. An industry dominated by half assed movements, shitty form, and momentum.

But advanced lifters often are particular to different movements, be the purpose being build, stature, proportions, mental, or whatnot, the preference remains. So, what are some favorites among us?

MIND YOU, i am not saying that these are The only exercises/the best exercises. We are talking favorites, exercises that you enjoy and have seen growth from personally. All exercises have their place and serve their purpose.

Chest- Hands down, i say my DB flys. Definitely a strong movement for me. Its my ideology that this is one of the best possible movements for the chest IF DONE PROPERLY. Why? Well, simply because the main function of the Pectorals is to pull your upper arm across your body, right? Bam, ergo, train for its function.

Back- My recent discovery of the Hammerstrength Isolateral Row Machine. The combination of Eccentric focus, with a Pinch N hold at the pinnacle, makes my back scream, as i can feel a full contraction and stretch through the entirety of the movement.

The lateral Deltoid- Incline Lateral raises. This puts your Lateral head into major isolation and focus while simultaneously allowing for a fantastic range.

There's a couple to get us started. Feel Free to split muscle groups into individual muscle targeting exercises..


rack pulls where at the top of the movement you squeeze your shoulder blades together are one of my favorite exercises for back. its one thing i rarely take out of my routine.

recently, ive been really diggin tricep training. favorites for that are in-human close grip in a smith machine and dead stop extension while laying on the floor (i think some people call them deadskulls?).


barbell curls and bench presses.


Squat - Bench Press


T-bar rows, old-school set-up with the barbell wedged into a corner and anchored with a dumbbell. Nothing hits my lats or middle back like those.

Bench dips are another staple. Pile up the plates on my lap and press like hell.


Reasons, variations, thoughts, feelings, etc. BODY, gentleman, WE NEED SUBSTANCE!


Front squats, every variation known to man. My quads are one of my best body parts, and I attribute that to these. Wide front squats to parallel, narrow front squats ATG, with or without plates under heels, paused ATG front squats, oly grip, no hands, BBer grip, they're all awesome and fun, and make people look at you with their "WTF?" face. They also are an excellent way to work legs without stressing the spine as much as back squats, and give you cool calluses on your shoulders. I think if everyone could front squat double bodyweight or more, the world would be a better place :slightly_smiling:


Dips and pull ups... They are probably my favorite exercises besides squat.

Dips and pull ups are awesome. I change up my lifts here and there but ALWAYS keep dips and pull ups as staples in my lifting.


Excellent! thats what these posts should look like. Wicked looking Medialis's in your avatar there, H4M


Deadlifts - I love every aspect of them. That moment when you mentally focus for a super heavy single / double / triple, feeling every muscle tense on a heavy lift, and that indescribable feeling immediately after a heavy set. I tend to do mine with a snatch grip and go fairly deep so they hit my quads too, but I'm also partial to sumo style deads too.

I'm also a huge fan of training back - I love any sort of rows and pulls, to the point that I can row more then I can bench [which I actually hate, and avoid - using flies, military press and such instead to hit my chest].


I love those exercises, which feel natural to do, where I don't feel any discomfort, just the great contraction and stretch, and the pump after them. These are:

Front squats for quads. Leg curls for hams. Hammer curls for bicep-forearms, and skullkruscherz for tris. Dumbbell work for chest, clean and press for shoulders, ANY type of rows-pullups for back.

And, for "accessory": hanging leg raises, hyperextensions, high-pulley cable crunches.


Heavy DB Floor Press done hammer grip (grappler?) style with the palms facing in. Explosive with a slow eccentric and paused at the bottom. These guys just improved all things pressing for me. Tris got a lot stronger and my bench shot up. I always get strange looks from people, like why the hell don't I just use a bench.


Favourite exercise I gotta say are SHIPS...
Just the feel of unracking the weight and pressing it upwards, the sound of it racking hard against the pins above when the rep is completed... hmmmmm nothing quite like it :slight_smile:
Also shoulders lately have been a weak point for me since I haden't been able to train them for about 3 months until recently, which gives me more motivation to go balls out on this exercise.

Also gotta love the bench press.... haha typical :stuck_out_tongue:


Deadlift, the feeling of lifting a heavy single/double is amazing.


Lateral raises, lateral cable raise and the incline lateral cable raise. My lateral delts are always playing catch up.


Sumo Deadlifts! i just love them. Sometimes i end up doing them two times a week.
I love loadin up the bar with 2x my body weight, taking off my glasses so everything becomes a bit blurry, and just stand over the bar for a little while. Going through the lift in my head, telling myself that nothing else matters. Its just me against the heavy ass metal on the floor, or rather me against myself.

And its not just the heavy lifting. I love setting up the bar with a little less weight, before i attack it and just rep out as many as i possibly can, before my grip or form goes to hell. I love putting the bar down, and don't understand why so many skinny teenagers and old guys with PMS are looking at me - Before i notice my shins bleeding, my sweat dripping and my loud heavy panting. AND i love how totally annihilated i feel after.

The other has to be DB bench press.
I'm usually a bit nervous of doing BB bench press, afraid of getting crushed under the bar after failing, so when in training alone I'm not able to push my self. i end up doing lighter and shorter sets than intended. - BUT that is all a thing of the past! I started doing DB bench Press a while ago and i simply love it! the mental block is gone, and I'm able to push myself to the edge and over, every single time. It doesn't matter if it takes a fucken century, those damn DB's are going up! I decide, and not the weights.
+ it has done wonders for my shoulder.


I'm really starting to love dips with a focus on tris (trying to stay upright as possible) they are bringing them up quite quick, and my arm is looking thicker in a very short amount of time from when i added them. I can't wait to see results when im doing them with heavy weights.

Also Seated Military Press. I don't like benching, but for some reason I find military pressing so fun, I guess pressing something overhead is more satisfying... And I make good progress on them, I'm now almost pressing what I used to bench 3 months ago. :slight_smile:


The Hammer Strength Dip Machine... for triceps.

The machine has directly correlated with great strength and size gains. Regular dips are nice, but I usually involve my chest in them too much, even with conscious thought not to. The ability to set it up in such a way that I can keep tension on my tris at all times is awesome, plus you can move some serious poundages on those, a la CG/Inhumans/JM presses.

Also, K-Pipe curls done with an EZ bar for forearms. I grip both hands (pronated) on the innermost "peaks" of the EZ bar. Hits just about everything really well except the brachioradialis, but that should get plenty of work through curl and bicep work, etc The dumbbell variation of this exercise creates a really awkward positioning for my wrist and hand while gripping the dumbbell, I find this one negates that while still keeping a HELL of a lot of duress on the forearms the entire time.


Incline Fly
Nule Kick
Leg Press
Smith Machine bb row
WA Latpulldown
zottman curls


*cracks whip