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Resistance Training

5 Primary Exercises for Resistance Training

By Sal Di Stefano on Apr 6, 2021 10:15:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time


If you want to get leaner, stronger and more fit with a sculpted body then you should practice resistance training. This form of exercise uses resistance in a way to specifically build muscle and strength. The resistance used for this type of training can include your own bodyweight, bands, free weights or machines. Resistance training is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of exercise precisely because of how effective it is in relation to the amount of time that needs to be spent doing it. Just 2-3 days a week can produce pretty remarkable results for most people.

Although there are thousands of exercises that can be utilized for resistance training, it’s important to note that they aren’t all considered equal. To put it plainly, some resistance training exercises are extremely effective at producing results while other resistance training exercises produce little results. How do I define what would be considered “effective?” Exercises that build the most strength, muscle and speed up the metabolism the most for fat loss.

Below I list the top 5 most effective resistance training exercises anyone can and should do. If you are following a resistance training routine make sure to include them in your weekly routine. Before we continue its important to add that ALL resistance training exercises must be performed correctly with good form and technique and you need to have the required strength, mobility and stability to perform them safely. Never do an exercise you can’t perform safely.


Squats, especially barbell squats, are known as “the king of all exercises” in strength circles for good reason. Done properly, squats build amazing lower body strength and muscle, they train the core to stabilize properly and they help with posture. There is no other traditional resistance training exercise that is as functional. This means the strength you gain from squats is easily carried over into your everyday life. People who practice squats regularly develop amazing glutes and legs along with strong lower back and core muscles. In men, studies have even shown that barbell squats cause testosterone to spike more than any other exercise.


The deadlift activates most of the muscles of the entire body with special focus on the posterior chain. This group of muscles are all of the muscles of the backside of your body starting at your ankles and finishing all the way up to your neck. When practiced properly and frequently, deadlifts build an almost injury-proof lower back. Contrary to popular fear-based opinion, the deadlift is safe and effective for anyone so long as it is performed properly and by someone who is strong and stable enough to perform them.

Overhead Press

Being able to fully extend your arms overhead without shoulder or neck pain is very important, especially as you get older. Overhead presses train this fundamental movement to become strong and stable. When done properly overhead presses develop the shoulders, triceps and the upper back along with some core tightening effects. Get good at proper overhead presses and your posture will also improve.

Horizontal Press (bench press/pushups)

Pressing a weight in front of your body (as with a bench press), or pressing your body away from a solid object that is in front of your body (as with a pushup) works many of your body muscles including your chest, shoulders and triceps. This exercise is a favorite among regular gym goers because it develops strong and nice-looking upper bodies.


Pulling a weight towards your torso (as in a barbell or dumbbell row) or pulling your body towards a fixed object (as in a body row) is easily one of the most effective posture building exercises that exists. These days, with the amount of time we spend on our computers and on our phones, it’s easy to see how forward shoulder posture is exploding. This rolled forward hunched posture leads to neck and upper back tightness. Plus, it just doesn’t look good. Practicing rows regularly pulls the shoulders back, develops nice arms and reduces neck and upper back weakness and tightness. This exercise is always a special focus for clients of mine.

If all you did was practice the exercises listed above 2-3 days a week for about 45 minutes, you would get excellent results. There is no other combination of resistance training exercises that would give you the same results. That being said, you must also train yourself appropriately. Train too hard, not hard enough or use bad technique and your results will reduce tremendously while your injury risk will increase tremendously. Always listen to your body and train it in a way that feels proper for your level of fitness.

The Resistance Training Revolution | By Sal Di Stefano

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Sal Di Stefano

Sal is one of the hosts of the Mind Pump Podcast. At the age of 18 his passion for the art and science of resistance training was so consuming that he decided to make it a profession and become a personal trainer. By 19 he was managing health clubs and by 22 he owned his own gym. After 17 years as a personal trainer he has dedicated himself to bringing science and TRUTH to the fitness industry.

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