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Best Exercises with Weights. Compound and Isolation Exercises

Best Exercises with Weights. Compound and Isolation Exercises

Last time I was talking about anabolic steroids and how harmful they can be for your health. This time I want to talk about the Best Exercises with Weights and what mistakes you should avoid. Knowledge is very important when training with weights, especially if you are a beginner and if you don’t have any previous experience in training with weights.

Knowledge how to train and execute exercises correctly is very important because it might help you to avoid injuries and get better and faster results.


Compound Exercises

Doesn’t matter, if you are a beginner or advanced I would recommend concentrating on compound exercises. What is a compound exercise? The compound exercise involves multiple joints and more than one muscle group. You can lift heavier weights when executing compound exercises because you engage at least two muscle groups when executing the compound exercise.

For a beginner compound exercises are most beneficial, they can help to burn more calories because more and larger muscle groups are engaged. Your muscles need energy while you work them out, that’s why working out more and larger muscle groups can help you to burn more calories. Compound exercises are very hard to execute and require lots of effort and energy.

Examples of compound exercises can be such as deadlifts, dips, pull-ups, squats, lunges, bench presses, shoulder presses.


Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercise engages just one major muscle group and involves a single joint movement. Because you are working out just one muscle group, you have to use lighter weights while executing isolation exercises. That requires less effort and energy than executing compound movements and this is the reason why we burn fewer calories.

I would recommend including isolation exercises for more experienced people who are aiming to tone their muscles, targeting certain muscle groups to look leaner. If your goal is to lose weight or build strength and muscle size, I would recommend avoiding isolation exercises or keep them to a minimum.

Examples of isolation exercises are such as flies, front raises, lateral raises, bicep curls, triceps extensions, leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises.

Best Exercises with Weights


Best Leg Exercises with Weights

Squats with barbell or dumbbells. This is one of the best exercises for losing body fat and increasing muscle mass and strength. People don’t like and avoid this exercise, because it is very hard to execute and requires lots of effort. Primary muscle group you are targeting: quads. Secondary muscle groups you are targeting: glutes, hamstrings and lower back.


People executing squats are making these mistakes: working with too heavy weights, squatting not deep enough and leaning to the front too much. Better to use lighter weights, but squat at least until your legs and but are in a horizontal position with the floor, keep your back straight and don’t lean too much forward, keep weight epicentre to your heels and control your negative, do not squat too fast.


Best Back Exercises with Weights

Deadlifts with the barbell. This exercise is ‘’king’’ of exercises. People avoid this exercise because it is very hard to execute and requires a lot of energy. It is great exercise and you should be doing it all the time because almost all body muscles are involved in performing this exercise. Primary muscle groups you are targeting: hamstrings, glutes, lower back. Secondary muscle groups you are targeting: most of your lower and upper body, arms, traps, lats, deltoids.


People executing deadlifts are making these mistakes: working with too heavy weight and arch their back too much, which can lead to an injury. You must keep your back straight and your bar as close as possible to your body. You have to control your weight.


Best Chest Exercises with WeightsBarbell chest press

Chest press with barbell or dumbbells. The chest press is one of the most popular and best compound exercises for chest. This exercise is very popular among people because it targets smaller muscle group and it’s easier to execute this exercise. Primary muscle group, you are targeting: chest. Secondary muscle groups you are targeting are shoulders and triceps.


People executing chest press are making these mistakes: engaging shoulders too much, arching back, because working with too heavy weight, engaging triceps too much. Before executing bench press, push your chest out and shoulders back, don’t arch your back too much, control the weigh and don’t drop weight on negative too fast, do not take the bar to narrow, because you will engage less of your chest and more of your triceps.


Best Shoulder Exercises with Weightsdumbbell shoulder press

Shoulder press with dumbbells or barbell. The shoulder press is one of the best exercises because it is a compound movement and you can lift heavier weight. Primary muscle group you are targeting: shoulders. Secondary muscle group, you are targeting: triceps.


People executing shoulder press are making these mistakes: lifting to heavy and overarching back too much, lifting dumbbells or barbell not vertically. Try to arch your back just a little, lower your arms at least until your elbows are at the same level as your shoulders. Control the negative, don’t drop your weights too fast.


Best Arms exercises with weights

Close grip bench press. This is one of the best compound exercises for triceps. Primary muscle group, you are targeting: triceps. Secondary muscle groups you are targeting: shoulders and chest.


People executing close grip chest press are making these mistakes: engaging chest too much, arching their back when lifting too heavyweight. Make sure your grip is a little narrower than shoulder width, but not too narrow, because you can hurt your wrists. If your grip is too wide, you are engaging your chest too much.


Reverse grip pull up. One of just a few compound exercises for biceps.  Extra weights can be used if you find it easy to lift up to your body weight, while accessories like resistance bands can be used when lifting up to your body weight is too heavy.  Try to keep your body straight, control your negative movement and make sure you are in a full range of motion.


Don’t forget that executing all these exercises is very important to keep correct form and control your weight on negatives if you can’t control weight or keep correct form, it means the weight is too heavy for you. I have introduced you to my best exercises with weights, how to perform them and what mistakes you have to avoid. I hope all this information will help you out moving towards your goals.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Marius Mickevicius

Founder of ihealthylifestyle

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12 thoughts on “Best Exercises with Weights. Compound and Isolation Exercises”

  • Great post! You’ve got it spot on here. I agree with the importance of compound movements! I saw that you mentioned deadlifts work the lower back. I do get some pain occasionally in my lower back even when lifting light and focusing on my form. I was wondering do you have any exercises you recommend for lower back, with or without weights. I’ve been doing rack pulls and back extensions, however is there any more exercises that can help?

    • I’m sorry to hear that you have lower back pain while doing dead-lifts. Did you had injury before? It is very important to do good warm up before doing dead lifts, do at least three sets as a warm up, first just with barbell, second but 10 kg plates on and third out 20 kg plates on. Do not do to heavy, if you feel back pain that means weight is too heavy for you! Dead-lift is very good exercise, but also very dangerous and can cause serious injuries! And always do lots of stretching exercises for your lower back at the end of your workout, that should improve your muscle flexibility!

  • Great post! I like the way you laid out each exercise and their benefits one by one. Right now I’m focusing on kick boxing for my exercise but I’ll definitely incorporate some weights later on in my program. I’ll be sure to check out this site for more tips when I start.

    • Thank you! Kickboxing or any other kind of sport is very good. It is most important to stay active and keep moving, do not become lazy, because these days people active less and less, more people are working in the office and after work we tend to sit on the sofa watching TV.

  • Hey there,

    I am a frequent gym hitter and I truly enjoyed your article.
    I managed to pull out some really cool advice.
    My favorite exercise is the chest press with barbell. I feel the pump long after finishing the gym session.

    • I’m really glad that you could find valuable information in my article. Chest press with barbell is a great exercise, however my favorite exercise is incline dumbbell press, I think that one works best for me.

  • Great article Marius,

    I have difficulty doing leg exercises not because of knee pain but lack of mobility. I have found that keeping my back straight as I can, following your advice helps me to get a better workout for my quads (I can feel the burn more!). Thanks for that.

    • Hi Derek, if you have lack of mobility you have to do stretching exercises every day, that will help you increase mobility. Soon I will post new article about stretching and you could have a look.

  • It’s a really good post!
    It helped me give me a better prospective on how I should exercise and not just focus on using machine and cardio.
    Thank you so much for your help!

    • Exactly, best way to exercises is using free weights and it doesn’t matter what your goals are, to lose weight or to gain muscle mass. Especially if you doing compound exercises with free weights, that increases metabolism massively and your body still burns calories up to 24 hours after your workout. And after doing cardio, your body stops burning calories after few hours.

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