Mens Health

Chris Bumstead’s 10 Best Exercises to Build Muscle

By Chris Bumstead

4X Classic Physique Olympia Champion

Q: If you were forced to choose just 10 exercises you could do for the rest of your life to be as muscular as possible, what would they be and why?

1. Squats. The barbell back squat is the best exercise for overall leg growth: quads, glutes, even some hams. If this is for the rest of my life, I think I’d opt for Smith machine squats because they would be easier on my knees. People hate when I say that and give me shit because the Smith machine isn’t as “hardcore.”

2. Deadlifts. I would do these more so for the hamstrings as opposed to the back. I would also be doing deads for the back and the glutes. It’s a true compound movement.

3. Pull-ups. These would hit the back and biceps well. My preferred grip would be neutral, or hands facing each other instead of over or underhand. I get a better contraction in both the lats and biceps with that grip.

4. Incline Dumbbell Press. I find these are easier on my shoulder joints, so if I’m doing just one pressing movement for chest for the rest of my life, this would be it. I choose the dumbbell version over incline barbell presses because each side has to work equally hard and that promotes symmetrical development. Most people get better results and fewer shoulder issues using dumbbells here rather than the barbell.

5. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press. It’s great for your shoulders and triceps, and the position of your hands allows them to be to at your side rather than in front of you as with a military press. Less shoulder pain, more gains.

6. Close-Grip Flat Bench Press. This will hit a different part of the chest than the incline presses, and of course it targets the triceps very well.

7. Dumbbell Curls. Come on, who would want to keep lifting if you can’t do curls? I would do these standing and keep a supinated grip with palms facing forward rather than the rotating style. I would also alternate arms as I curled instead of curling with both arms at once.

8. Bent-over Barbell Rows. These are excellent for building thicker lats, and they also help with core strength and stability.

9. Hanging Leg Raises. I would want to make sure I was working my core as well as my abs. A strong core is critical to avoiding lower back injuries. One reason I chose these over crunches or any other abdominal movement is that they target the lower abs better, which is an area most trainers struggle with. Also, just the act of hanging from the bar is good for your shoulders and spine.

10. Lateral Raises. Overhead presses are a great basic movement, but you still need to do lateral raises to get those meaty, round, full looking delts.

If I could have picked 11:

11. Overhead Triceps Extensions. I’d like these just to have something more specific for the triceps.


Q: Did your parents really wait in line to get your autograph as the last Olympia?

They did. They waited for an hour, and when they got to the front of the line and I saw them, I was like, “What the heck are you guys doing that for?” My mom said, we didn’t want to bother you, we just wanted a picture. I reminded her that she had a VIP badge and could come backstage at the show or do whatever she wanted. That’s a prime example of the humility they raised me with. They never expect anything, and they are always quietly there in the background to support me. My dad is still my number one role model. Growing up, he would never ask for help. He’d be outside the house building a fence, and I would go out and ask, hey dad, do you want me to help? And he’s like, sure, I would love that, thanks! But he never would have asked me to help him even if he wound up doing it all by himself.

‘That’s a prime example of the humility my parents raised me with. They never expect anything, and they are always quietly there in the background to support me. My dad is still my number one role model.’

Instagram @cbum

YouTube: Chris Bumstead

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By: Team FitRx
Title: Chris Bumstead’s 10 Best Exercises to Build Muscle
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Published Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2023 16:31:27 +0000

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