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When it comes to building muscle I like to keep things simple.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of hot new products and exercises that promise to be the next best thing in muscle building. Theses fancy exercises and products use fancy “scientific studies” and explanations to show why they are the best new way to build muscle fast.

In this article, we’re going to get back to basics.

I am going to you three muscle building exercises you can’t afford not to do and why you should must be doing them if you really want to build muscle.

These three exercises are the foundations of building muscle and are essential for any serious training program.

You might find it hard to believe, but these three exercises alone can pack on a serious amount of muscle. I refer to these exercises as the “core” to any good program.

Whenever I start a muscle building program for a client I always start with these three basic exercises and build the program around them.

So without further ado, here they are…

The Top 3 Exercises to Build Serious Muscle Fast

top muscle building exercises

1. The Squat

Yep, I can already hear the groans… I don’t know many guys who love leg day.

But the reality is, whether or not you care about how your legs look, adding squats into your workout routine can actually help you build upper body muscles as well.

Bar none, the squat is the biggest exercise for packing on serious poundage. There’s no argument about it, period.

The squat is primarily a leg building exercise. You start the exercise with a barbell resting across your shoulders standing straight up. Then bending at the knees and hips you lower the barbell down until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. And then push the barbell back to the starting position.

The main muscle groups pulled into action for the squat are your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Secondary muscle groups include the lower back, adductors and, to a certain extent, your shoulder muscles.

As you can see many muscle groups are recruited for this exercise making it the biggest exercise and biggest potential muscle builder.

Like all the core muscle building exercises, you should make the squat the first exercise you do on your leg training day. Because it’s the biggest exercise, you want your legs to be fresh and ready.

If muscle building is your goal, aim for about 8-12 reps on the squat. Because you’ll be lifting heavy weights, a good warm-up is vital. Squatting is very stressful for the lower body, especially the knees, so 5-10 minutes on the treadmill and some lights squats first up are recommended.

2. The Bench Press

Okay, so we’re going from one of the least favorite exercises to most guy’s favorite exercise… the bench press.

The bench press is the king of upper body building exercises. For years the bench press has been used to measure a lifters strength. How many times have you been asked: “how much do you bench?”.

The bench is a simple yet extremely powerful exercise that targets the entire chest (pectorals), front shoulders (deltoids) and triceps. To perform a bench press you must lie on your back on a flat bench, grip the barbell at slightly wider than shoulder grip and press the bar straight down to your chest.

The bench press is the biggest upper body builder because it allows you to move the most amount of weight possible. This is its main advantage over the dumbbell press. With the help of a spotter, you can also push yourself to lift heavier weights.

There are also other advanced bench press techniques like board presses, bench press negatives, and chain presses.

Check out this post on how you can build a bigger chest in 4 simple steps.

3. The Wide Grip Chin-Up

If you were only going to do one exercise to work your back this would be it. The wide grip chin-up is the ultimate test of a lifters power to weight ratio. This muscle building exercise is very demanding on the body.

The wide grip chin-up primarily hits the lats but also targets the entire upper back, biceps, and forearms.

To execute this exercise you need a chin-up bar or assisted chin-up machine. Hold the bar in a wide grip (greater than shoulder width) with your palms facing away from your body. Start in a “hanging” position with your arms fully extended. Pull yourself up until you can get your chin over the bar and lower back to starting position.

Most people will not be able to do wide grip chin ups without some lat/back training first. You can use the assisted chin up machine or lat pulldown machine to strengthen your lats before attempting wide grip chin-ups.

This is the most demanding back exercise you can do so it must be the first exercise in your session.

Start Doing These Muscle Building Exercises Right Now

Like I mentioned previously in this article, these exercises are the biggest muscle builders and also the most taxing on your body so they must be done at the beginning of your workout to get the maximum benefits.

I recommend that you do up to 5 sets on each exercise and vary the way you perform these sets each week. For example, the first week you do pyramid up sets, the second week you pyramid down, and the third week you do straight sets.

This keeps your muscles from getting accustomed to your routine.

Good luck packing on some serious muscle!


Chris Cannon
Chris Cannon

Hey Chris Cannon here, founder of Free Muscle Building Tips. I hope you enjoyed this post. If you haven't done so already be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and get your free Six Pack Abs Secret Weapon Workout!