Exercises that help build muscle

Exercises that help build muscle

6 min read


31 May 2023

Grab your cheat sheet

  • What is the best type of exercise for muscle growth
  • 10 great Exercises for muscle hypertrophy
  • Exercises you can do at home to build muscle
  • The quickest way to build muscle
  • High-flying entrepreneurs regularly recommend ‘working smarter, not harder’; they may be talking about business ventures, but this ethos is just as valuable for your workouts. 

    Hectic lives full of socializing, work and family responsibilities prevent most of us from committing to five resistance training sessions each week. That doesn’t mean we can’t see serious muscle growth. 

    It just takes a little know-how and planning.

    Your diet is just as important as your weight training (if not more important). You have to ensure you are getting enough protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis during and after your strength training. 

    Check out our blog post on “What is the best way to get protein into your diet?”

    And make sure you are taking enough rest days to allow your muscles time to recover and heal. 

    Once you have both of those right, it’s time to plan out a powerful resistance training program. One of the first things we recommend is to focus on compound exercises, i.e., exercises that work for multiple muscle groups at the same time. 

    So what exactly are compound exercises? 

    And what other exercises help you build muscle?

    What is the best type of exercise for muscle growth?

    When you enter a gym, you have three options:

    • Cardio
    • weight machine
    • free weights. 

    It’s the latter that you should be focusing on if you want to build muscle, fast.

    Does cardio build muscle?

    Cardio is vital and it does build muscle, but as the name suggests, a run or cycle will do more for your heart and cardiovascular fitness than your major muscle groups. 

    If you don’t do very much exercise at the moment, you will see good initial muscle growth just from cardio. Aerobic exercise is a vital part of any workout routine. But as time passes, resistance training is a must if you want to continue building more muscle and strength.

     Free weight vs. weight machines

    The reason we recommend free weight over machine weights goes back to the idea of using multiple muscle groups. Weight machines spot-train certain muscles and provide a level of stabilization. You don’t, therefore, have to use your core muscles to lift the weight. 

    There is a place for this type of exercise (some muscles are hard to isolate with free weights), but this should be a limited element of your training program. 

     Free weight vs. weight machines


    Think about what you have to do to perform a heavy squat - you can really feel it throughout your legs and glutes, in your core, your back and in your shoulders. Your whole body is working to raise that bar! 

    10 Great Exercises for muscle hypertrophy

    Compound exercises work your skeletal muscle cells, which connect to your bones and enable you to perform a wide range of everyday functions with efficiency. So not only will they help you see visible results quickly, they’ll also make you feel stronger and you will be able to carry groceries and climb the stairs with greater ease.

    1. Squat



    Squats are usually kept for ‘leg day’, but they work your upper body too, particularly your abs. So much so it is not recommended to do a core workout the day before your squat routine. Be careful with your form here, and seek advice if you aren’t sure. You have to be careful to protect your knees and back during squats.

    2. Deadlift



    As mentioned above, form really matters here. Make sure you have your glutes fired up before you perform your deadlifts to prevent strain on your lower back.




    You might find when you first start performing the bench press that you have to keep the weight quite low. Don’t be fooled, several of your upper body muscles will be working really hard to move the bar.

    Don’t compare your weight here to squats and deadlifts; just stay consistent and build it up slowly.

    4. Weighted lunge

    Weighted lunge


    Weighted lunges work a variety of lower body muscles, and they can also be great for improving the muscles that stabilize and protect your knees.

    5. Hanging knee raise

    Hanging knee raise


    Hanging knee raises are a great core workout, but unlike some of the traditional core exercises, they work other muscles, such as your forearms.

    6. Bent-over row

    Bent-over row


    Everyone wants great abs, so we tend to spend a lot of time working towards a flatter, more toned stomach. But the more ab work you do, the more you need to train your back muscles. An unbalanced core can lead to back and neck pain; the bent-over row is a great way to increase strength in your back and shoulder muscles.

    7. Dips



    You might see some gym goers training dips with a weight attached to their waist, but for most, this is unnecessary. Get your form right and your dips low, and only add weight when it starts to feel too easy.

    8. Weighted bench step ups

    If you hike or play a sport that requires sprinting, weighted step-ups will really increase your power. Or if your goal is simply an impressive pair of legs, this is the exercise for you!

    9. Press



    There are a variety of forms of the press: there’s the push press and the strict (military) press, and both can be done with either a bar or a dumbbell (alternating arms or with two dumbbells). All forms are a great muscle-building movement and variety stops you from getting bored!

    10. Power clean

    Power clean


    We have left the mighty power clean to the end of this list as it’s one of the hardest to master. However, once you’ve got it right, the muscle growth and calorie burn potential are worth the careful training. Speak with a personal trainer or fitness expert who has experience in teaching power cleans before you start. Start with low weight and build up slowly to avoid injury.

    An important thing to remember when lifting weights is that you have to make sure you progressively overload, i.e., you lift heavier weights as time goes by. This is the only way to encourage continued muscle hypertrophy.

    Exercises you can do at home to build muscle mass

    The exercises above all require gym equipment, but there are plenty of body-weight exercises you can do at home. These don't require equipment or use relatively cheap equipment that’s easy to store at home. Each of the strength training exercises below is great for building muscle mass :

    • Plank and side plank
    • Press-ups
    • Burpees
    • Calf raises (with a lightweight)
    • Walking lunges 
    • Tricep dips
    • Squat jumps
    • (Slow) Mountain climbers 
    • Resistance band exercises row
    • Resistance band shoulder press

    The quickest way to build muscle 

    If you want to look good, feel strong and perform both sports and everyday activities more efficiently, focus on compound exercises using multiple muscle groups. However, you can't do it with exercise alone; a high protein intake is a must when trying to build muscle quickly.

    Dietary protein is where we find the essential amino acids vital for muscle hypertrophy. If you are performing resistance training twice per week or more, you may need a lot more protein than you realize. A great way to ensure you maximize your muscle growth potential through diet is by using protein supplements such as whey protein shakes. 

    The Crazy Nutrition TRI-PROTEIN formula is a high-quality whey protein shake developed to give your muscles multi-stage fuel release. This ensures your workouts are never wasted.