Basic exercises – what are they and what are the benefits of them?

Apr 16, 2021 by Adam Addison
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We often hear from various fitness bloggers that without doing basic exercises, there can be no growth. What confirms their effectiveness? In this article we will try to answer this question, as well as figure out how to do basic basic exercises and how to integrate them into your training process.

What are basic exercises?

Basic exercises are those in which several muscle groups are involved in the movement at once and at the same time flexion or extension of several joints occurs at once. Due to this, the body receives a stronger training stress, and the desired result is achieved much faster. In basic exercises, you can use more working weights, which is why they are considered to form the strength “foundation” of an athlete.

The best basic exercises for different muscles

There are both basic and isolation exercises for each muscle group. Basic exercises are especially important for beginner athletes. So you will quickly establish a certain strength base, with which it will be easier for you to build muscle, improve the functionality of your body or increase record weights in strength movements. But even experienced athletes are not recommended to abandon the base, in any case, it should make up a large part of your program.

It should be noted that not all athletes will benefit from regular basic exercises. Many of these (such as deadlifts and squats) put a lot of axial load on the spine. They are not recommended for herniated discs and protrusions, especially in the lumbar region. In addition, performing these exercises with large working weights is a rather traumatic activity, and the slightest deviation from the correct technique can not only aggravate existing health problems, but also cause new ones.

For beginners who train without a coach, it is also better not to include deadlifts and squats with a barbell in their program, since it will be quite difficult to learn the technique from scratch on your own. It is better to first develop skills in working with iron using simpler basic exercises, and only then move on to complex ones. Or immediately start working with a coach.

Below is a list of basic exercises for each muscle group. They are suitable for both men and women, the most important thing in them is adherence to the correct technique.

Basic leg exercises

Let’s talk about basic leg exercises first. After all, many ignore this muscle group, but in vain.

Barbell Squat

Barbell Squats – is one of the foundational exercises in many sports. In this movement, almost all muscle groups in your body work in one way or another. The main dynamic load falls on the quadriceps, hamstrings, spinal extensors, gluteal muscles and adductors of the thigh. When working with a serious weight, a significant static load falls on the abdominal muscles, shoulders and trapezius muscles.

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Leg Press

The platform leg press cannot fully replace heavy squats with a barbell, but the load on the legs is no less here: the front, back and inner thighs and gluteal muscles work. Perfect for beginners who find the squatting technique too difficult at the beginning.

The most important thing in this exercise is not to overdo it with the working weight. This will make it more difficult for you to control the correct position of the knees. If you put them inside the trajectory of movement, you risk injury to the ligaments.

It is also important to work at a comfortable amplitude. Do not try to lower the platform as low as possible. The geometry of most simulators is designed in such a way that at the lowest point you will have a rounded spine in the coccyx area. This is an extremely traumatic position. At the top, you do not need to straighten your knees to the end, leave them slightly bent.


You can perform lunges with your own weight, with a barbell or dumbbells. In any variation, you will engage all areas of the leg muscles. Depending on the width of the stride, the direction of movement and the position of the foot, you can slightly emphasize the load in one area or another: with a shorter stride, the emphasis is on the quadriceps, with a wide stride, on the hamstrings.

If you perform a step in such a way that at the lowest point the angle between the lower leg and the thigh of both legs is 90 degrees, the load is equally distributed on the front and back surfaces of the thigh.

Sumo Deadlift

This is a variation of the classic deadlift, in which the emphasis is shifted to the legs (adductors, quads and hamstrings), and the back works to a lesser extent. This is achieved through a wider stance of the legs. The range of motion in the sumo stance is slightly shorter, but this does not eliminate the powerful static tension in the abdominal muscles, back, traps and arms.

The correct technique for performing the sumo deadlift involves a deep crouch in the starting position and maintaining a straight back throughout the entire exercise. This will minimize the risk of back injury or umbilical hernia.

For non-powerlifting athletes, it is best not to use a grip as it can also cause spinal injury. Use a regular straight grip, you can connect the straps if the weight is too heavy.

Romanian thrust

It is often mistakenly called deadlift, although in reality deadlift is an ordinary classic deadlift. In the Romanian version, the legs remain slightly bent throughout the approach, the work is mainly carried out at the expense of the extensors of the spine and biceps of the thigh. That is why is exercise can be attributed to the basic one on the back. The gluteal and other additional stabilizers (trapezium, calf, etc.) are also well included.

It is not necessary to perform this movement on fully extended legs, it is fraught with injury. The angle at the knees should not change throughout the entire set. The slope must be performed to a comfortable point, stretching is different for everyone, you should not do it through pain. It is also important not to hunch your back, if you cannot do this, reduce your working weight.

Another version of this exercise is with dumbbells, the technique is identical here, but the emphasis is more on the gluteal muscles.

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