Fundamental weightlifting exercises

I’m gearing up for a winter in the gym, and looking for some advice on the basics of weightlifting. What are good exercises that work the maximum number of muscle groups at the same time? I’m not that interested in developing a workout plan that addresses each and every muscle in the body, I’d be happier keeping it simple and doing just a few different broad-purpose lifts.

Specifically, what’s the score with the deadlift? I see that its one of the three common powerlifting exercises, and its something I’ve not really done before. Would a workout plan that was grounded around the squat, bench and deadlift cover a sufficiently large number of muscle groups? If not, what is the most glaring omission?

I can’t talk about the dead lift (my guess is that it would mostly work the hamstrings and possibly strain the lower back), but probably a good way to address this is to just think of the muscle groups and make sure you have an exercise to correspond.

Your workout sounds like it would be missing work for back and abs, if you’re referring to bench work as chest press or flyes. I would suggest push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups. I think full squats are great for the entire leg and buttocks if your knees and back can take it. Maybe also a general exercise for shoulders as well, like side arm raises.

With the sit-ups, you might also consider leg lifts and twist sit-ups for your lower abs and obliques.

The areas I would consider to be worked in a general manner would be:
Lower Body (personally, I do the lower body as one because I build muscle there real easily), but you might break it out as buttocks, hamstrings, quads and calves

Lastly, I would say a quick workout would consist of (not sure of technical names of moves):
–Bicep Curls (I think pull-ups work the biceps as well as the back)
–Overhead Tricep Curls (I think push-ups work triceps pretty well, too)
–Chest Press or Dumbell Flyes (reclining) and/or push-ups
–Bent Rows (Back) or Upright Row (can be done with barbell)
–Side Arm Raises (shoulder, slightly bent arms)
–Sit-Ups with a twist
–Leg Lifts
–Full Squats with or without weight

I guess a REAL simple overall workout would be:
–Side Arm Raises
–Leg Lifts
–Full Squats

Hope that helps!

I think that squats, bench presses or push-ups, and pull-ups or cable pull-downs are the exercises that work the most muscles. Like Heart on My Sleeve, I also think you need to do some core work, like sit-ups and arch-ups. Dead-lifts are not absolutely necessary, but they do work your back, hips, and legs in ways that most other exercises don’t, and they get you in shape for helping friends move. Nothing screws more people up than moving day, it seems.

Your arms get worked with pull-up and bench press movements, so you don’t need to specifically address those. Bench press also works your shoulders, as do squats (indirectly) and dead-lifts. Dead lifts also work your your upper back. Cable rows or bent-over rows are better, but we’re keeping things simple. Those 5-6 exercises will work just about all your main muscle groups pretty well.

I disagree with Heart on the flyes; I think they’re a waste of time. You never get enough strain on your pectorals to actually do anything. You’d be better off doing another set of bench presses, or a variation on that exercise.

AST Sports Science has a lot of information on exercise execution and they also put the exercise plan together that I’m mostly using now, Max OT.

In terms of the number of muscles used, the deadlift beats every other exercise except the snatch, but that’s not something that’s appropriate for a beginner. The real core lifts are the deadlift, the squat, the bench press, the barbell row, chin-ups and military presses/dips. If you’re serious about this sort of thing, go hang out at T-Nation.

Thanks for the advice, makes a lot of sense. I’m going to aim at the squat, deadlift, bench, chin-ups, military and some sit-ups as the base, plus whatever else I’m in the mood for on any given day.

Nice link to T-Nation, Ultrafilter. Looks like a cool site, but way too hardcore for me. I enjoy lifting, but I’m happy to be a part-timer :slight_smile: