Exercises for strength training: Everything You Need to Know

Exercises for strength training: Everything You Need to Know

Exercises for strength training works your muscles by using resistance, like a barbell or your own body weight. This strength-focused exercise program will make you stronger, leaner and more muscular as it involves moving heavy weights and exercising all the major muscle groups in your body.

And that is not all. This and other strength training can reduce your chances of getting hurt playing sports or doing other activities.

Start small with weight you can use, and then increase as needed: Choose a weight that is heavy enough as this will ensure you challenge your muscles to grow strong while also burn more calories throughout the workout.

Most people are concerned about Body Building and looking chiseled but one thing they forget is Strength begets size. There are tremendous reasons one needs to be strong. Be it for body building, power lifting, cross fit or any form of sport entirely. Strength training is very important when trying to build size. This is why body builders like Tom Platz, Stan Efferding and Arnold Schwarzenegger started their careers as Powerlifters.

Being strong doesn’t have to be a tough code to crack for sure as hell isn’t easy either, we won’t know if we don’t try. Now let’s get into this.

A journey to gain strength for bodybuilding

Strength Training 101

When carrying out exercises for strength training, there are principles which you must now and implement your workout such as Reps, Tempo, Frequency, Rest, Intensity and Exercise selection. We would change them slightly to focus more on strength.


It is ideal for strength training, reps to be kept around 1 -5. With anything more than that you would then be driving towards hypertrophy range.


The intensity has to be around 80% – 90%, training within this range of your 1rep max is best ideal for strength. This is not only most optimal when it comes to Body Building strength. It is also safe when training within this range to avoid injuries or joint pain.


For strength training, really long rest should be taken so as to hit the prescribed number of reps. Shorter rest intervals are more important for building muscle but when trying to build strength, rest adequately. This so you can lift the weight for the prescribed number of reps. Rest should be about 3-5 mins between sets. However, when you increase the load, a longer rest period is called for.


Tempo is a little different with strength training. It is not so important to follow a specific tempo because time under tension is not the issue. Your focus should be moving the weight. There is also something you want to consider when moving the weight and that is moving it as fast as possible. This is going to help you build explosive capacity and add to your strength.


When it comes to gaining strength, your frequency doesn’t have to be high as when it comes to Body Building. Depending on the intensity you use, if you are using an intensity like 100, 95, or 90%, you are going to keep your frequency a bit low. Maybe hitting an exercise once per week, but if you are going for max effort and your intensity is lower like 85%, you can add an extra day, hitting the muscle or the movement twice a week.

Exercises selection for strength training

We are familiar with the big lifts, the squat, dead lift, and the bench press and that’s why they are the basic power lifting moves.  Not only are these lifts very important in Body Building but they can get you stronger as well. Doing these highly demanding multi-joint movements in your workout early when your strength levels are high helps triggers a natural release of testosterone and growth hormone both of which helps builds strength.

You can also add some other exercises for strength training too such as; farmers walk, stone loading, tire flipping, overhead carries, overhead press, and many others. Doing these too can also help you in your journey of becoming stronger.

Let’s kick off

  • Squat

Squats have become very popular in all forms of lower body exercise. It works not only your legs, but also your back, core, generally your whole body.

But remember: “Safety is a must in this workout to avoid injury, especially in the lower back. If you are new or returning to the gym, it is usually best to start with just bodyweight and focus entirely on flexibility till your form is on track then you can start adding weight.

Exercises for strength training: Everything You Need to Know

How to do it:

  • With the barbell on a rack, step under it so that it rests across the back of the shoulders, hold onto the bar to balance. Raise up to lift off the rack.
  • Stand with feet slightly wider than the hip distance, toes slightly protruding.
  • Keep the knees aligned with the toes and focus on keeping the chest raised up.
  • Bend your knees and buttocks to lower your hips while keeping your back straight.
  • Then push yourself back to starting position.


Deadlift is a good exercise that works your back muscles.

Since this is a weight-lifting exercise, you can increase your strength by gaining weight from time to time.

Just make sure you start small, especially if you are new to it.

Exercises for strength training: Everything You Need to Know

How to do the deadlift

  • Stand in front of a barbell loaded weight, bend your knees, lean forward and grasp the barbell in a medium grip width, one hand in an over-hand grip, the other hand in an under-hand grip or both over-hand grip.
  • Keep the back straight to protect it from strain. Curving your back risk injuries.
  • Begin the lift by driving with the legs.
  • Straighten up until you are standing upright.
  • To lower the weight, bend the knees, lean forward from the waist and lower the weight to the floor.
  • Lower the weight quickly but controlled.

Flat barbell bench press

It is best to start with a compound movement at the beginning of your workout as this will allow you to move more weight while you are still strong. There is no denying that a heavy bench press is the king in building big chest

These exercises build weight and strength in the pectorals, front deltoids and triceps. The bench press is a basic compound exercise base for the upper body, producing growth, strength and muscle density.

Exercises for strength training: Everything You Need to Know

How to do the barbell flat bench press

  • Lie on a flat bench, with your feet on the floor to balance with medium grip width.
  • lift the bar off the rack while holding it at arm’s length.
  • Lower the bar slowly and control until it touches just below the chest.
  • Then press the bar upwards until your arms are fully locked.


This exercise is good for widening and lengthening of the lats. No real equipment is needed other than the pull bar, which makes this a great exercise that can be done almost anywhere.

You can also incorporate different variations of pull ups to make it more challenging, such as adding weights, changing the grip position, or increasing your speed and reps.

How to do a pull-up

  • Start by hanging from the bar with your arms straight.
  • Pull yourself up from the bar with your arms until your head is above the bar, then lower your body again until your arms straight.

Bent-over row

This exercise is great for building upper body strength, it also requires you to engage your core and leg muscles to stay in a stable position during exercise.

Exercises for strength training: Everything You Need to Know

How to do a barbell bent-over row

  • Standing feet a few inches apart, hold the barbell with a wide over-hand
  • bend forward until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your back straight, face up and let the bar hang about the length of your arm.
  • Using primarily the back muscles, lift the bar upwards until it touches the upper abdomen.
  • Then lower it under control and return to the original position.

Farmer’s walk

The farmer’s walk builds muscle ridiculously fast, reduces body fat, increases strength and performance on the big weights, and has lower risk of injury. The farmer’s walk involves all the muscle groups in one movement. The forearms too get an intense workout too which helps to improve your grip strength, which helps to improve gripping strength, while the biceps and triceps should work to stabilize the elbow and shoulder joints.

The muscles in the back and shoulders are heavily targeted as well, especially the traps. The core muscles too also receive their own fair share, your abs work harder to support you and the additional weight, it also a great exercise for the abs. it is Keeping your abs strong during this exercise is necessary to protect the lower back and prevent any shear stress or vertebral buckling.

Because the farmer’s movement requires movement, the quadriceps, muscles, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and calf muscles are widely used.

Gear required

You can do it with bars of a dedicated farmer, or heavy dumbbells and kettlebells. You can even use water jars, sand buckets, traps or the Dead-Squat® Bar. It does not matter, as long it is heavy and safe, and it presents a challenge


How to do farmers walk

  • Stand tall with the weights held by your sides. Keep your back straight. Take quick, short steps as you walk the set distance, which may be limited by the size of your gym,
  • Just pick up the heavy weights, go as far as possible and repeat.

Start with some heavy dumbbells or kettlebells (20 to 30kg), and if that is not enough for the load, take a small barbell and load it. Some gyms will have special walking barbells that is being used for farmers walks.

“Farmer’s Walk” by milesizz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Going long distances on a single trip or increasing the number of trips will also increase the challenge. It is an exercise in pure strength and it is a very easy exercise to do

Lateral raise

Muscles worked: Shoulders

Incorporate lateral raises to your workout as a finisher, lateral raises develop the medial delts which are what gives you that nice round shoulder look. Lateral raises are the best exercise to isolate the medial deltoid properly.

How to do it

  • Stand with your arms facing your sides, with your palms in. Raise the arms straight (pinky leading the way) at shoulder height.

Important factors to consider when embarking on exercises for strength training

  • Warm up

Before embarking on exercises for strength training, it is always important to warm up to make sure your nervous system is fired up. Remember that it is not a real exercise. it’s just made for the blood to run and release you, so warm up with a lightweight and then gradually increase till your main exercise That way you will be sure to prepare your muscles for exercise.

Warming up properly will help reduce the risk of rips and tears and bring more red blood cells – hence oxygen and nutrients – to the muscles during exercise

  • Rest and recovery

Your body produces growth hormone when you sleep which will help you recover from your workout session. Sleeping at least 7-8 hours every day is sufficient for growth and recovery.

  • Progression is key

No matter what exercise routine you are doing, always remember progression is important. Progression will make you stronger and bigger. Don’t just go about adding too much weight, add small increments each week or a couple of rest, as long as you are progressing, you will grow.

  • Eat more

Eating for strength differs from eating for size, your focus should be on the best diet to support your strength gains. Now is not the time to eat for abs, your diet should have a balanced diet of calories, protein, and carbs. If you want to see the best results from a training program, a healthy diet is important, a good diet of macronutrients, protein (key), carbs and fats, calories are essential. Get everything you need to know about eating properly.


Now that you know the exercises for strength training and how to use them, focus and work hard on your training. If you do this well you will produce excellent results.

The benefits of strength training are far better – and they are important for you to live a long, healthy, and injury free life.

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