5 Best Exercises for Muscle Gain: The Basis of Strength Training


Hey, there, welcome to my blog post about 5 Best Exercises for Muscle Gain.

In bodybuilding, all exercises are divided into the compound and isolating. Compound exercises form the basis of this sport.

The difference between the basic and isolating exercises is that when performing the compound exercises, several muscle groups are involved in work at once, as well as stabilizing muscles.

Compound exercises are designed to help gain muscle mass due to the fact that they cause muscle shock. 

Let’s discover together what are the best exercises that make your muscles grow like crazy!

Why Compound Exercises are so Special?

Compound exercises are multi-joint exercises used in strength training to gain muscle mass. It is best to start the weightlifting workout specifically with the compound exercises (after the proper warm-up), and not with the isolating exercises because first, there is a need to develop the body as a whole.

For maximum effect, in the future, it is recommended to include isolating exercises, but still, do not forget about the compound exercises.

Back Squats, Bench Press, Overhead press, Deadlift, and Bent-over barbell rows are compound exercises that lead to muscle growth.

Studies suggest that when they are performed, the body produces the most amount of testosterone.

These 5 exercises make up the basic weight training program. It should be noted that other multi-joint exercises can repeat and complement the basic compound exercises.

For example, the leg press is able to replace squats, and cable seated row can replace the bent-over barbell row.

The only exception is deadlift that it is impossible to replace it with any other strength exercise.

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Advantages of Compound Exercises  

Involve Many Muscles in The Work

The main upside of compound exercises is that when properly performed, they involve all muscle groups in the work, including the press and arms.

Contribute to Significant Muscle Growth

Performing compound exercises increase the growth hormone production, develop strength, and stamina. If these exercises are performed technically correctly, they have a positive effect on the symmetry of muscle development.

The result of training using compound exercises is not only a pumped-up muscle but also a powerful and athletic physique is formed.

Doesn’t Require a Lot of Equipment and Can be Done at Home

In order to perform compound exercises, no sophisticated training equipment is required. All is needed is a barbell, some weight plates, and in some cases, a power rack. 

Promote Neuromuscular Connection

The neuromuscular connection is extremely important for muscle growth.

Performing of the compound exercises positively affects the connection of the brain with muscles and as a result, contributes to muscle growth.

Disadvantages of Compound Exercises

The Risk of Joint Injury with Improper Execution

The main downside of compound exercises is that they really require perfect knowledge of the right execution technique.

Performing these exercises with a lot of weight significantly increases the risk of injury even with the slightest mistakes. That is why it is best to learn the correct execution technique of these exercises with a personal trainer.

The wrong technique can cause serious harm. Since multi-joint exercises are performed with a barbell and other free weight, there is a risk of sports injuries to the joints.

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In addition, many beginners tend to progress too quickly, unjustifiably increasing their working weight and conducting more frequent strength training than their body is able to support.

It must be remembered that the compound exercises could be performed no more than once every 48-72 hours. Otherwise, the result will be chronic overtraining.

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Compound Exercises: How They Work?

When performing multi-joint compound exercises with heavyweight, the entire body of the athlete is subjected to a high level of stress.

In addition to the muscles of the arms, body, and legs, the respiratory and even the central nervous system are included in the work. All this together provides a significant hormonal response, leading, ultimately, to muscle growth.

Training for muscle hypertrophy (that is, for mass gain) involves performing heavy multi-joint exercises a low number of times. Most often we are talking about 5-7 repetitions of exercises performed with the heaviest weight.

In order to kick off the process of muscle growth, it requires that the last repetition is completed, if not to failure, at least with great difficulty.

When performing compound exercises, the production of testosterone and growth hormone increases, as well as there is a powerful load on the respiratory and central nervous system.

It is important that the greatest efficiency for muscle growth is achieved with heavy strength training and performing a low number of repetitions of exercises.

This, in turn, requires not only the use of large working weights and the perfect follow of the correct execution technique but also proper nutrition and enough time for a full recovery.

This kind of training is especially recommended for Ectomorphs, naturally thin men who have difficulty gaining muscle mass. In their cases, it can increase body weight by 5-7 kg in 1-2 months.

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Multi-joint Compound Exercises

1. Deadlift

The deadlift is the number one compound exercise for putting on mass.

If you don’t have the time to do other exercises and perform only the deadlift, you will still see the result in muscle growth, since the deadlift involves the maximum number of muscles in the work.

Here is a quick video on how to perform the deadlift correctly:


To learn more about deadlifts, read my How to Deadlift with a Barbell: 5 Tips for Beginners

2. Back Squats

Back Squat with a barbell is a compound exercise for the development of leg muscles, from the gluteal muscles and quadriceps of the thigh to the calves.

Here is a video that shows the correct execution technique of the back squat:



With the right technique, the spine and abdominal muscles are also included in the work, and this is a great exercise that forms a steel press.


Recommended Read:

9 Best Leg Exercises For Men: This Is What Professionals Do

Leg Workout At Home – 4 Exercises That You Can Do Without Weights!

3. Bench Press

The bench press is a key exercise for developing the muscles of the chest, triceps, and the front of the deltoid muscles.



Depending on the angle of the bench and the width of the arms on the bar, various bundles of the pectoral muscle may be included in the work.


Recommended Read: 5 Best Chest Exercises For Men: Simple&Easy For At-Home Workout

4. Bent-over Barbell Row

The bent-over barbell row is a compound exercise for developing the muscles of the back and giving it visual width.

When done correctly, deltas, pectoral muscles, forearms, and numerous muscles are also included in the work.

Take a look at this short video to see how the bent-over barbell row should be performed:



Recommended Read: 8 Best Back Exercises for Men to Do at Home: The Secret of Back Muscles Growth Revealed

5. Overhead Press

The overhead press is also called the army bench press and it develops the shoulder girdle, deltoid muscles, arms, improves posture and strengthens the muscles of the abdominal press.

This compound exercise forms the classic sporty body shape with broad shoulders.

Take a look at this video to see more about how to execute correctly this exercise:



Concluding Thoughts 

These are, in brief, 5 best exercises for muscle gain. The distinctive feature of compound exercises is that several muscle groups are involved in the work.

Thanks to this, the athlete gets the opportunity to work with large weights, which is a powerful impetus for muscle growth. Performing compound exercises is a must for those who want to achieve significant results in muscle growth.

Compound exercises help to get in shape after a long break and prepare the muscles for drawing relief.

I want to finish this post with this video of Ben Pakulski, who is talking about The Best Exercises for Building Muscle:



I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and now, you know better what are the best exercises for muscle gain.

If you have any questions or thoughts about the above aspects, or you have something to add or share your story, please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you asap.

If you liked this article and think it might be useful for someone else too, please share it with your friends and family through social media channels.

All the best,

Ionut Voicu

2 thoughts on “5 Best Exercises for Muscle Gain: The Basis of Strength Training”

  1. Hi, Voicu,

    I remember when I first started working out. I hurt my back while doing squats. I must confess I’ve never been a fan, but I know it’s one of the best exercises out there.

    I do all of the compound exercises you mention and I agree with you that they’re great for muscle growth. Now, I have a question. Regarding squats, would you recommend wide stance or narrow stance? Does it really matter how far apart my legs are from each other?

    Thanks for putting this list together and sharing it. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi, Enrique,

      I am sorry to hear about you got hurt while your workout. In fact, you are not alone, there are a lot of people, including me, who get injured during exercise and this is mainly due to the wrong execution technique or using excessive loads.

      With regard to your question, yes, the position of the legs is important in the exercise. Especially for beginners. The starting position of the classic squat is with your feet shoulder-width apart, and the toes slightly turned to the sides (about 30 ° from the center).

      Squats with a widespread of legs (the so-called “sumo-style squats”) are not recommended for beginners, as they increase the load on the lower back.

      Sumo style deep squats require good physical condition with well-developed and well-stretched muscles, especially if you plan on doing with weights.

      There is also a difference in muscles that each of these exercises target. Thus, if you do the squat with shoulder-width apart, it will work more front and back of the thigh, while sumo squat puts more load on the inner part of the thigh, as well as buttocks.

      In order to learn how to squat correctly, I would suggest to use the average working weight and perform the exercise in 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps.

      If you are interested to learn more, stay tuned, as I plan to add more detailed content about each of the exercises.

      Hope this helps!



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