The 6 best exercises in the gym in order

Richard Kelly 18th November 2019

When considering all the exercises in the gym, all the machines and cardio equipment, what six should form a staple to your training, if you have no time to train anything else?  What gives you the biggest bang for your buck?

Squats

Probably the most fundamental exercise in the gym, and often call the king of movements.  These should form a regular staple in your training regime.  They work all the muscles in your lower body and much of your core, and enable you to train with significant load which has strength and weight loss benefits. 

Deadlifts

Deadlifts activate the entire posterior chain, which is a fancy way of saying they work the body from the heel to the back of the neck.  Great for improving posture, they also serve as a means to improve jumping and explosive actions, as well as an exercise that can work a lot of muscle on the body.  Great for both strength and weight loss. 

Overhead Press

Overhead pressing with good form is more an indication of upper body stability and mobility than any other movement.  And having strong shoulders is an indication of good posture.  A good overhead press requires strong and mobile shoulders, as well as strong core and arms. 

Pull ups

Pull ups are the ultimate show of strength versus body weight.  You can be incredibly strong in absolute terms, but lack the ability to do a pull up.  Equally, you can be very lean and have an ideal weight, but not be strong enough to do a pull up.  Pull ups not only show you how strong you are relative to your body weight, but they also engage much of the muscles in your upper back, helping with posture as well as ascetics. 

Barbell Row

I only put this below pull ups because I believe the technique is harder to achieve and therefore most people will struggle to create a stable platform to do the movement at a load which challenges their body.  None the less they are crucial for improving posture and creating a strong back. 

Bench Press

Many people would have expected the bench press to sit at least at number three in this list, but for me bench press does less than the exercises above.  It gets it’s high position due to the amount of muscle activation it has, which is good for strength and weight loss, but because of the bench under you it has much less need for stability than compared with the other exercises on this list.  Nonetheless, as a pressing action for strengthening the chest, arms and shoulders it is a vital component. 

What exercises do you consider to be most important in your routine?

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