Best Exercises for Muscle Mass

Updated July 6, 2020

Are you tired of being one of the smallest guys at the gym? I’m sure you are, and I know how you feel. I was one of them. I was your typical hardgainer, fully equipped with small bones and a pathetic bench press. Until I discovered the power of these 4 lifts.

Now please understand, these aren’t the only lifts under the sun if you want to get big. No sir! But they are powerful, growth inducing compound movements and should be a staple of every wannabe muscle stud’s training routine.

Enough blathering. let’s get down to building muscle.

Squats – The King of Mass

If you want to get big, you have to squat. Game over, the end. And I’m not talking half-squats or quarter squats here; I’m talking ass deep, thighs parallel to the ground squats.

Squats are like a mass building truth-o-meter. If you don’t or won’t squat, you’re telling the world: I don’t want to get big and strong. If you have any excuses right now as to why you won’t squat, such as:

  1. I heard squats are back for your knees.
  2. I heard squats are bad for your back.
  3. Squats are just too damn hard and I refuse to do them.

…please, listen to me for a moment. Squats are good for the knees, give you a strong back, and turn your body into anabolic, muscle growth-inducing machine.

I challenge you to slap 300 pounds on your back and just stand in the squat rack. Steady. Steady. Just stay there. Don’t rack the weight just yet. Can you feel your glutes starting to cramp? Your knees getting weak? All these physical stresses are sending one big signal to the brain. What is that signal? GROW!

And please don’t use a pad when squatting.

traps meme

Deadlift – Brute Strength, Raw Power

Want a good judge of how strong someone truly is…tell them to go pick up a heavy rock. This is deadlifting.

The deadlift is a close second in importance behind squats. Regular deadlifting with give you an incredibly strong back (which is an amazing health benefit as you age), and slabs of muscle.

This exercise is so intense that many commercial gyms ban you from performing it. Why? Is it dangerous? It can be if you don’t do your homework and use horrible form. But you won’t do that, will you? Nope. You’ll do your research.

With good form, the deadlift is as safe as any other compound lift. And with slow, steady progression of weight – and in combination with frequent squatting – you will gain muscle at an alarming rate.

Bench Press – Beach Body Builder

How much do you bench?

Most everyone who’s ventured into a weight room is familiar with the bench press. Outside of having great looking biceps, most guys want killer pecs. The bench press will help you build slabs of muscle on your chest, as well as thick triceps and strong shoulders.

Adding weight to the bench press can be a tedious process, but the journey is well worth it. No other upper body exercise does more to create a stunning, muscular physique then the bench press.

But be warned – most lifters have horrible benching form. You know the drill. Guys adding more weight then they can handle to the bar, bouncing it off their chest, and having a buddy help them with a forced rep. Don’t be this guy. You won’t gain muscle, and you might get hurt.

The Military Press – Key To Powerful Shoulders

Ever seen a bodybuilder with thick, round shoulders and traps that look like mountain peaks? Sure you have. And do you know the best exercise under the sun for building both great delts and traps? Of course you do, it’s the military press.

While the bench press strongly hits the front of your shoulders, the military press destroys your side delts, as well as placing a great degree of stress upon your trapezius muscles and triceps.

The military press has many worthwhile variations. You can perform this movement standing or seated, and in front of your head (called the military press), or behind your neck (called the BTN press – behind the neck press).


The squat, deadlift bench press and military press are the cornerstone of every great workout routine. Failure to utilize these exercise is a surefire way to slow your muscle gains. In fact, these exercises are so powerful that you could almost literally do nothing else, train hard, and look like a beast.

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