12 Exercises for Muscle Strength to Start Your Day With

Blog Body Movement & Workout 12 Exercises for Muscle Strength to Start Your Day With

cover image
3.27.2024 0 comments

Strength training is the smartest thing you can do for better health.

It’s a game-changer in so many ways because it [1]:

· Balances your hormones

· Reduces stress

· Combats anxiety and depression

· Staves off the muscular waste caused by aging

· Protects your joints from injury

· Strengthens your bones and prevents osteoporosis

· Maintains your balance and flexibility

· Prevents cognitive decline

· Improves your heart and lung capacity

· Burns calories and fats

· Increases your stamina

· and so, so much more!

Your week should include at least 3-4 strength training workouts, though a truly fit, healthy person will do some form of muscle-building exercise every single day.

Not sure what to do? Don’t worry: we’ve got a full list of the best exercises that you can do to build muscular strength.

Comb through the list below to find the ones that suit your current fitness level and long-term fitness goals best, and add them into your weekly workouts. Within just a few months, you will see significant improvements in your health, guaranteed.

The 12 Best Exercises for Muscle Strength

1. Push-Ups: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps

Push-ups are hands down the best exercise you can do to build strength in your “push” muscles. They work using only your bodyweight, meaning you develop functional strength that will translate into more efficient movement in your daily activities.

They’re nice and simple to do, too:

· Get on your hands and feet. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders, and keep your legs straight, butt tucked in and core engaged.

· Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor. Don’t let your elbows flare out, but keep them tucked against your side.

· Lower until your nose and chest almost touch the floor, then push back up until your arms are nearly fully straight.

· Repeat.

You can add variations—diamond push-ups, incline/decline push-ups, wide push-ups, clap-ups, handstand push-ups, and more—to vary the angle of attack and muscle engagement. The more variety you work in, the more your chest, shoulder, and triceps muscles will grow.

2. Pull-Ups: Back, Shoulders, and Biceps

Pull-ups work all of your upper body “pull” muscles. They’re another excellent bodyweight exercise that will help you move your body more effectively through your activities of daily life. Plus, if you can knock out a full set of 10, it’s an excellent sign that you’re in good physical shape.

To do pull-ups:

· Grab the pull-up bar with your hands spread roughly shoulder width apart, your palms facing away from your body.

· Pull from your elbows to raise your body toward the bar.

· Pull until your chin passes the bar, then slowly lower yourself back down until your arms are at full extension.

· Repeat.

If push-ups are too easy to begin with, you can work in all kinds of variations [see: 2]. If they’re too hard, you can use a pull-up assist machine, or do pull-ups with your feet on a chair or bench to use your legs to support your weight.

3. Triceps Dip: Triceps

Triceps dips engage the triceps muscles along the backs of your arms, the muscles that both generate a significant amount of pushing power and make up more than 60% of your arm size. If you want “big guns” and a lot of strength in your arms, it’s a good idea to focus on building your triceps more than your biceps.

To do this exercise:

· Sit on a bench or chair, with your feet extended out in front of you and legs straight.

· Place your hands on the bench/chair and lift yourself off the seat. Slide forward until your butt/back is in front of the chair.

· Bend at your elbows to dip your body down. Lower until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Make sure to keep them tucked in behind you; don’t let them flare out.

· Push back up to full extension and repeat.

4. Barbell Curls: Biceps

Bicep curls engage the “pull” muscles in your arms directly, developing the strength that you’ll need to lift, pull, and carry heavy objects. They’re an absolute must if you want strong arms.

To do this exercise:

· Grab a barbell at roughly shoulder width and hold it with your palms facing outward (away from your body).

· Begin with the barbell hanging in front of your body. Without engaging your shoulders or back, curl the barbell up toward your chest, using only your arms.

· You’ll feel the natural stopping point when your arms can’t curl it any closer to your chest; that’s your signal to begin lowering it back down (under control!) to its starting point.

· Pause for a 1-count once it’s at the bottom of its arc, then repeat.

5. One-Arm Overhead Shoulder Presses: Shoulders and Core

This exercise is a variation on the shoulder press that forces your core to engage to maintain your balance. It’s a multi-muscle movement that becomes even more effective for developing core and shoulder strength.

Here’s what to do:

· Grab a dumbbell in your left hand and hold it at shoulder height.

· Plant your feet shoulder width apart and let your right arm hang down by your side.

· Press the dumbbell overhead, using your shoulder and triceps muscles. Your core—particularly your obliques and abs—will have to engage to maintain your balance with this one-sided movement.

· Complete your set on your left side, then repeat on your right.

It’s a game-changer to improve your balance, posture, and core strength.

6. Inchworms: Arms and Core

This is another multi-muscle exercise that will develop better mobility, strengthen your bones and joints, and help you develop functional strength. It’s not an easy movement, but it’s definitely one you’ll want to add into your workouts.

To do this exercise:

· Start with your feet together, hands by your side.

· Bend forward at the waist and place your hands flat on the floor.

· Walk your hands out in front of you to Plank position, using your shoulders, arms, and core to maintain your balance. Keep your butt tight and don’t let your back sag.

· Once you reach plank position, hold for a 1-count then walk your hands backward to your starting position, push up off the ground, and straighten.

· Repeat.

7. Planks: Core

Planks are all about developing core strength and endurance. The more time you spend in Plank position, the longer your muscles will be able to remain engaged without tiring or cramping.

The Plank itself is fairly easy: just get on your hands and feet, with your back straight, butt tucked in, and hold for 30-60 seconds.

But once you’ve mastered the Plank, you can add in some variations:

· Side Plank

· Side Plank with Leg Raise

· Walking Plank

· Plank Jacks

· Plank with Spidermans

· Plank to Upward Dog

· and more!

The more you plank, the stronger your core muscles will become.

8. Supermans: Lower Back

Supermans are an amazing movement to strengthen your lower back muscles. They’re low-impact, incredibly easy to do, but highly effective at developing strength in the muscles that so commonly are injured or fatigued during sports. If you have back problems—or want to prevent back problems—this is the movement to do!

For this exercise:

· Start on your stomach, lying on a Yoga mat, blanket, or carpet.

· Extend your arms over your head and straighten your legs.

· Use your back muscles to lift your chest and extended arms off the ground, at the same time lifting your legs (to the thigh) off the ground.

· Hold for a 1-count, then lower.

· Repeat.

You’re guaranteed to feel the burn in no time.

9. Squats: Quads

Squats are the most effective exercise to build raw power in your leg muscles. That power will translate into better performance when running, jumping, and playing sports, and will develop balanced musculature on your upper and lower body.

To squat:

· Stand with your feet spread shoulder width apart, your back straight, and head up. Grab weights if you can, or start with just bodyweight if necessary.

· Bend at the knees and hinge your hips backward to keep your upper body straight and upright while you lower into the squat.

· Pause once your knees reach a 90-degree angle, then use your leg muscles to propel yourself upward.

· Pause at the top for a 1-count, reset if necessary, and repeat.

The more squats you do, the more leg power you will build, guaranteed.

10. Lunges: Quads, Hamstrings, and Glutes

Lunges hammer those quads like squats do, but also get your glutes and hamstrings more involved. You’ll develop better strength around your knees and along the backs of your legs in addition to the front of your legs.

To lunge:

· Start with your feet together, hands by your side. Hold dumbbells if you can work with weight, or do them using just your bodyweight.

· Step your right foot forward slightly beyond a “natural” step length.

· Once your foot is planted, lower your body until your front knee reaches a 90-degree angle and your rear knee lightly touches the floor.

· Push off that front leg to step back into your starting position.

· Alternate between your right and left legs.

11. Calf Raises: Calves

Your calves are a smaller muscle group, but they’re so important because they work with your quads and hamstrings in every single lower body movement—whether you’re running, jumping, or playing sports. Developing strong calves is crucial for being a better runner, snowboarder, skier, basketball player, soccer player, and, of course, strength trainee.

For this exercise:

· Stand with your feet spread shoulder width apart, your toes pointing forward. Start with bodyweight, but add weight as you can.

· Push up onto your toes, rising as high as you can. You’ll feel the burn in your calves.

· Lower back down until your heels almost touch the floor, then push back up again.

· Repeat.

12. Burpees: Full Body

Last, but definitely not least, you want to add burpees into your workout routine. Burpees hit nearly every muscle in your body (all but your back and biceps) and develop explosive strength thanks to the jump at the end. It’s also an excellent cardiovascular workout that will push your heart and lungs to their max.

To perform this truly killer exercise:

· Stand with your feet planted shoulder width apart, hands by your side.

· Squat, place your hands on the floor, and jump your feet backward to Plank position.

· Do a Push-Up, and once back in Plank position, jump your feet forward until they’re right behind your hands.

· Begin to straighten your legs, and finish with a jump into the air, reaching your arms overhead to add extra height.

· As you land, drop straight back into the squat and repeat it all over again.

You will feel the pain of this exercise in no time, but it’s one of the best full-body movements to develop muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance.

These twelve exercises should be the foundation of any workout you do. You can always mix and match, trying out variations as your fitness improves or based on what equipment you have available. But because they are the most effective exercises for building each muscle, they should be the cornerstone of your resistance training workout.

Do them regularly—and well—and you’ll see visible developments in your strength, endurance, cardio conditioning, and muscle growth within a matter of months.


We created ZONIA because we believe that everyone deserves to be empowered with the education and tools to be healthy and happy. Zonia's original videos and personalized transformation programs by our health & wellness experts will help you achieve this mission. Click on the button below to get started today: