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4 Key Exercises That Build Strength

Fitness goals can be difficult to decide on. Even if you know what you would like to accomplish, you may not know what sort of routine to do to reach that goal. Even with research it can be difficult to decide. A great place to start could be with high-weight strength training. Besides the obvious benefits in performing routine day to day activities, strength training strengthens ligaments to decrease the chance of injury, builds muscle, improves physique, and bolsters self-confidence. There are more strength training routines than anyone could count, but here are four exercises that form the core of most strength training routines.

Squats

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Squats are getting a lot of attention lately for their booty benefits, but a great butt isn’t the only benefit. Squatting not only engages the various muscles and muscle stabilizers in the legs, but it also engages the core and back for stability. Squats and other compound exercises also increase testosterone release, which is important for building muscle, improving libido, and increasing bone mass.

Squats are a powerful tool for building muscle but can cause severe damage to the knees and back if performed incorrectly. Here is a great example video on how to squat properly.

Bench Press

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If moving furniture around the house is a struggle, then this may be the exercise for you. The bench press is vital to building upper body strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. This is another exercise that also includes the core to help stabilize the lift. Grip placement is important for the bench press as it determines what your focus is on the lift. A narrow grip will work on your triceps more, while a wide grip focuses on your pectoral muscles.  This is a proper example of a bench press.

Military Press

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The military press focuses on deltoids and triceps, but also includes core and legs to stabilize the exercise. You can perform this lift sitting or standing. Sitting is recommended for beginners as using poor form while standing could damage the back. It is best to start off light the first few times you perform this exercise to get a feel for the form. However, when performed properly, this is another great compound exercise to add to your strength-building routine. Here’s an example standing military press by fitness guru Scott Herman.

Deadlift

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Last, but not least, is the deadlift. This exercise improves grip strength and engages multiple major muscle groups in both the lower and upper body. It is a vital part of many strength-building routines and is arguably the best compound exercise. As always, establishing proper form before lifting serious weight is important. This video by Onnit Academy is one of the best example videos for deadlifts.

There are a few important things to remember before you commit to these or any other exercises. First, always try to achieve proper form before moving up in weight. The worst thing you can do is injure yourself trying to add that extra five pounds. However, these compound exercises provide greater benefits with heavier weight. Lifting heavy weight with fewer repetitions is usually the way to go for strength. For the military press, squat and deadlift, consider purchasing a weightlifting belt for added core stability and injury prevention. Lastly, and most importantly, always lift with a spotter if possible. A lifting buddy makes it easier to progress with competition and motivation. They also help break up any monotony during the routine and protect you from training injuries.

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