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- John Ashley
How This Longtime Fitbit User Learned That Wellness is a Journey, Not a Race

After fainting unexpectedly, former ultra-marathoner John Ashley found out he had an aneurysm near his heart. Find out how the longtime Fitbit user used his smartwatch—and Fitbit Premium—to monitor his health.

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- Deanna deBara
10 Minute Hacks You Can Use Today to Get Better Sleep Tonight

Getting a better night’s sleep doesn’t have to require a ton of time or energy. Here are some quick, simple strategies you can use today to get a better night’s sleep this evening.

The post 10 Minute Hacks You Can Use Today to Get Better Sleep Tonight appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Leandra Rouse
Healthy Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Pair rich chocolate with fruity tropical fruit flavors in this Avocado Mousse with Tropical Fruit Compote.

The post Healthy Recipe: Chocolate Avocado Mousse appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Fitbit Staff
Take Your Fitbit Luxe to the Next Level with SpO2 Tracking and Always-On Display Mode

It’s confirmed—we’re adding more reasons to love your Fitbit Luxe with new features like SpO2 tracking and always-on display. All you need to do is update your device!

The post Take Your Fitbit Luxe to the Next Level with SpO2 Tracking and Always-On Display Mode appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Fitbit Staff
Fitbit and Will Smith Partner Up to Drop an Exclusive New Premium Collection

Fitbit has teamed up with Will Smith for an exciting new partnership, and today he’s officially released his first collection of Fitbit Premium-exclusive whole health guidance. Find out more about StrongWill now—and follow along with Will on his journey to get in the best shape of his life!

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- Brittany Risher Englert
7 Ways to Stop Stressing the Little Things

It may be cliche, but not sweating the small stuff really is in your best interest for your mental, emotional, and physical health.

The post 7 Ways to Stop Stressing the Little Things appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Leandra Rouse
Healthy Recipe: Rice Noodle Ramen with Bok Choy and Chicken Tsukune Meatballs

Sometimes you need an easy recipe to help you reset the body. This Chicken Tsukune Ramen is heart healthy, gluten-free, digestive supportive, and most importantly, delicious.

The post Healthy Recipe: Rice Noodle Ramen with Bok Choy and Chicken Tsukune Meatballs appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Fitbit Staff
Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy Calm on Fitbit Premium Today

Introducing new ways to de-stress with Calm for Fitbit Premium.

The post Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy Calm on Fitbit Premium Today appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Kelsey Maloney
Why You Should Try Aromatherapy Today to Help With Stress

Learn all the ways aromatherapy can help relieve your daily stress—plus advice on DIY essential oils.

The post Why You Should Try Aromatherapy Today to Help With Stress appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Joel Feren
Hungrier than Usual? Your Sleep Routine May Be the Reason Why

Have you ever noticed a change in your appetite after a poor night's sleep? Here's why it happens.

The post Hungrier than Usual? Your Sleep Routine May Be the Reason Why appeared first on Fitbit Blog.

- Fitnessista
Friday Faves

Hi friends! Happy Friday! How’s the week going so far? Thank you SO much for your amazing Fit Team enthusiasm and welcome to our new members! I’m so pumped to have you on the team and I can’t wait to hear how you like the new platform + our upcoming November workouts. If you’d like…

The post Friday Faves appeared first on The Fitnessista.

- Fitnessista
088: Abs after baby with Daisy Andrea Bravo

Hi friends! Happy Thursday! I’ve got a new episode up on the ‘pod and today I’m chatting with Daisy Andrea Bravo about abs after baby. When you hear “abs after baby,” it’s easy to think about getting a six-pack (or getting your six-pack back) because that’s the messaging that we’re constantly bombarded with online. I’m…

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- Fitnessista
Fit Team is open! (Enrollment ends Sunday)

Sharing the details about Fit Team and our new membership site + app! Hi friends! Happy Wednesday! I have exciting news this morning: the Fit Team membership site is officially live!! I’ve been SO pumped to share this with you and working hard to get it together over the past couple of months. I’ll post…

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- Fitnessista
How Much Cardio Is Too Much? (A Clear Answer)

Running, biking and other aerobic exercise help improve your health and fitness. Find out just how much aerobic exercise is right for you and how much cardio is too much. Hi friends! How’s the morning going?? We had an awesome weekend at the pumpkin patch and lots of fun adventures. For today’s post, I updated…

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- Fitnessista
Friday Faves

Hey hey! How is it Friday already?! I’m not complaining that the week went by quickly, because I’m definitely looking forward to a low-key weekend. Sleeping in each Saturday feels like a magical gift. 😉 We’re going to apple picking (necessary) and I’m putting the finishing touches on the new Fit Team membership site. Access…

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- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
15-Minute Barre Workout (Full Body Barre Class, Optional Light Weights)
Get the boutique barre class experience at home with this 15-Minute Barre Workout! Six traditional barre exercises with a high intensity cardio kick to tone, strengthen and raise your heart rate. *You also can view this 15-Minute Barre Workout on Youtube. While you’re there, SUBSCRIBE to
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
5 Best Bicep Exercises (20-Minute Dumbbell Bicep Workout At Home)
The BEST Bicep Workout you can do at home to building bigger and stronger biceps! Standing dumbbell curls, hammer curls, crossbody concentration curls — the 5 best bicep exercises with dumbbells in a 20-minute biceps workout at home. A complete bicep burnout to build strong,
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
5 BEST Weighted Ab Exercises (10-Minute Abs, One Dumbbell)
This quick but intense ab workout targets every muscle in your core to build strong, defined abdominal muscles. No crunches; instead, we’re using unilateral training and weights to build muscle in the upper abs, lower abs, obliques, low back and glutes. These are the 5
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
30-Minute Upper Body HIIT Workout
Shoulders, biceps, back, chest, triceps and core — this 30-Minute Upper Body HIIT Workout with weights is a complete arm workout at home. Pairing strength exercises to tone your arms with upper body HIIT exercises to raise your heart-rate and burn calories!   *You also
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
30 Day Home Workout Plan #1
This FREE 30-Day Home Workout Plan for women will get you fitter and stronger! From full body HIIT workouts to leg days, arms days and rest and recovery days. Download your free full body workout plan with daily guided, videos on YouTube. All you need
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
30 Day Beginner Workout Plan #1
Download your FREE, 30-Day Beginner Workout Plan! Daily low impact, cardio and strength workouts you can do at home with a set of dumbbells to build muscle, burn calories, and boost metabolism. Download the 30-Day Beginner Workout Plan Here! Jump to Week 1 | Jump
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
40-Minute Athletic High Intensity Workout
This high intensity workout allows you to TRAIN LIKE AN ATHLETE — in your own home! A total body workout combining dumbbell strength training with bodyweight speed and agility drills. Exercise like an athlete with this full body HIIT workout! *You also can view this
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
15-Minute Cardio Workout At Home (No Equipment + No Jumping)
These are the 9 best cardio exercise you can do at home — no equipment and no jumping! This is a high intensity CARDIO WORKOUT AT HOME for ALL fitness levels. Raise your heart rate and burn calories with this quick, 15-minute full body cardio
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
10-Minute Lower Ab Workout for Women (10 Lower Ab Exercises)
The Best Lower Ab Workout For Women; from beginner abs (postpartum and diastasis recti friendly modifications) to advanced abs. Tone your lower belly using just your bodyweight with this guided, 10-Minute Lower Abs Workout. *You also can view this 10-Minute Lower Abs Workout on Youtube.
- Lindsey Bomgren, CPT
7 BEST Kettlebell Exercises for Women (45-Minute HIIT PYRAMID)
The 7 BEST Kettlebell Exercises for women to build muscle and torch calories at home! Strengthen your legs, glutes, hips, hamstrings, arms, back, abs and core with these powerful kettlebell moves. *You also can view this 45-Minute HIIT Kettlebell Pyramid Workout on Youtube. While you’re

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Why TRX Training Club is the Workout App You Need
Person performs TRX Lunge as part of TRX TRX Training Club

It’s lunch time on a Tuesday, and you could use a reset. After a 30-minute TRX Training Club℠ workout, you find your second wind. 

3 Ways to Maintain a Clear Mind and Improve Your Mental Health
Mountain landscape at sunset, with a lake and wildflowers in the foreground

Life is stressful. Work, family, health and finances can all exacerbate that stress, but there is no magic threshold that determines if you’re entitled to feel overwhelmed or anxious or sad. Your feelings are your feelings. You are allowed to experience whatever emotions bubble up. You’re allowed to take the steps you need to cope. So let’s talk about simple, free ways you can maintain a clear mind and improve your mental health.

Gear Spotlight: Why Gravity Cast Kettlebells Are Better
Kristin Leffel swings a TRX kettlebell

All kettlebells are not created equal.

How to Nail the TRX Handstand with Yoga Instructor Krystal Say
Krystal Say headshot. Krystal is facing the camera, smiling, wearing a black TRX tank top.

Krystal Say can remember her first handstands. She was playing outside as a child; tumbling, cartwheeling, and balancing. Even as an adult—with a career as a yoga instructor and TRX expert— she still sees the joy in handstands. Krystal loves tapping into that “childlike nature of freedom, of breaking the rules, of not having fear.” She also loves helping other people find their own joy in handstands. And she knows the fastest way to get someone off their feet and into a handstand is with the TRX Suspension Trainer™.

Our Top 5 TRX Training Club Workouts: Yoga Edition
Shauna Harrison uses TRX Suspension Trainer to support crow pose in yoga

We interrupt your strength-cardio-repeat fitness cycle with this important message: You need a yoga practice. TRX® can help.

20 Questions for Randy Hetrick: The Brain Behind TRX Bandit™
Randy Hetrick wearing a black t-shirt standing in front of a gray wall

More than 20 years ago, TRX® founder Randy Hetrick created the TRX Suspension Trainer™ out of necessity: he needed to maintain a pro-athlete level of fitness while deployed in remote locations around the world as a Navy SEAL. Randy’s had a few more stealth hits since the Straps came to market—perhaps you’ve tried the TRX® Xmount or seen his S-frame in a gym—but his latest invention is another tool destined to become ubiquitous in gyms and homes around the world: TRX Bandit™.

The Best TRX Tools for Training like an Olympian
Olympic gold medalist Michelle Carter uses the TRX Suspension Trainer outside

What does it mean to train like an Olympian? Is it a matter of mindset? Of access? Athletes like Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, and Florence Griffith-Joyner became household names for their Olympic achievements, earning massive endorsements and worldwide fame. But, of the 11,656 hard working athletes competing in Tokyo this year, most will never appear on a cereal box or have their own line of sneakers. They have to find a way to balance life, training, and 9-to-5 jobs. For many, that means finding workout gear they can use at home or on-the-go.

- Jordin Tinar
Mental health check-in…Let’s chat

Mental health is often left out of the conversation when it comes to health and fitness. However, with as many people as it impacts and the struggles that many people face due to its severity, it’s important that we destigmatize it and normalize the experience. As someone who has struggled with anxiety, Robin is very passionate about supporting both physical […]

The post Mental health check-in…Let’s chat appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
What if you started today? [a quick pep talk]

Many women fall into the trap of “when I have this” or “when this happens”, I’ll start. We all seem to think we need a fancy notebook, the newest workout gear, or a perfectly clear schedule to get started moving towards our goals, when all it takes is one small step right where you are. What if you started working […]

The post What if you started today? [a quick pep talk] appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
Give yourself permission to do less

In today’s world of social media, it’s easy to get caught up, feeling like we’re not doing enough – even with ten thousand other things on our plate. We get overwhelmed with having to get a new outfit for every event, needing to start a new workout plan, attempting new diets, and the cycle doesn’t stop. We’re faced with this […]

The post Give yourself permission to do less appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
making decluttering easy + taking control of your space with Allie Casazza

When we’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked, it can be difficult to know where to begin to regain a sense of calm and order in our lives. . An important place to start is at home and with our surroundings. . Decluttering our surroundings is a great step towards decluttering our lives of unwanted stress, work, and exhaustion.  Today’s guest, Allie […]

The post making decluttering easy + taking control of your space with Allie Casazza appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
The power of the ripple effect with Matt Long

Prioritizing your health and wellbeing is essential. It is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and everyone else around you. As busy women, it is easy to fall into the habit of taking care of others before considering our own needs. To change that, you have to be intentional about doing things differently. Start by […]

The post The power of the ripple effect with Matt Long appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
10-minute standing Pilates routine

By now, you probably know you don’t need any equipment to get a great Pilates workout, but what if I said you don’t even need to roll out your mat? That’s right, you can sneak in an effective workout in 10 minutes…all while standing. This 10-minute Pilates workout is a quick and effective way to get the blood flowing, strengthen […]

The post 10-minute standing Pilates routine appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
Are your habits providing relief or restoration?

Do you ever find yourself bored, tired, overwhelmed, or worn out? If so, this episode is for you. In today’s conversation, Robin shares what it looks like to find restoration in moments of needing a break. Robin reveals habits she’s found in her own life that aren’t serving her, and how she’s making a shift to find restoration vs. relief. […]

The post Are your habits providing relief or restoration? appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
Ask Me Anything

Each season brings a new set of habits, thoughts, and practices. In today’s episode, Robin responds to the questions you sent in over instagram! From dealing with adrenal fatigue, to creating pockets of silence, to managing self-care with 4 kids, Robin shares it all. She also unfolds how her current season of life has impacted her current habits and practices […]

The post Ask Me Anything appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
5 Pilates exercises for a strong core

There are so many reasons to love Pilates, but at the top of the list is how efficient and enjoyable it is. We can all take 10 minutes during a busy day, roll out our mat, and get in an amazing workout – without even breaking a sweat! And Pilates is widely known as one of the most effective ways […]

The post 5 Pilates exercises for a strong core appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Jordin Tinar
5 ways to add more fun into your summer

It’s easy to get caught up in our to-do lists. When we’re constantly striving to be productive, we often forget about the importance of having fun and the impact it can have on our mental and physical health. Having fun and laughing is proven to reduce stress, ease physical pain, boost your immune system, increase endorphins, and so much more. […]

The post 5 ways to add more fun into your summer appeared first on The Balanced Life.

- Sam Coleman
The 6 Major Bodybuilding Competitions and Divisions for Men & Women Explained

Are you looking to learn about the different bodybuilding organizations? Or maybe you are interested in competitive bodybuilding. It can be overwhelming because there are so many different organizations and competitions, and each of them has different goals, rules, and regulations. 

If you’re interested to learn about competitive bodybuilding and the following bodybuilding organizations, WBFF, NPC, ICN, NABBA, IFBB, and ANB, which are the major bodybuilding organizations, you've come to the right place. We are going to break everything down for you, nice and neatly. 

Without further ado, let’s go over the different bodybuilding and physique competitions and divisions.

Understanding The Different Bodybuilding Divisions and Competitions for Men & Women

We will first go over the main divisions in bodybuilding for men and women. Then, we will get into the different organizations and competitions for these divisions. 


The are three main divisions in bodybuilding for men: Men's Physique, Classic Physique, and Bodybuilding. 

men's bodybuilding


The Men's Physique division is actually relatively new. It was created back in 2013 for those who thought the bodybuilding divisions were "too big". And while it is new, it has exploded and is one of the most popular divisions. It makes sense considering you don't need nearly as much muscle mass to be in the Men's Physique division. Nevertheless, it is far from easy to do well in. In Men's Physique, you need to be muscular, very well-toned, and have great proportions. 

Within the division, there are different classes based on height.

Note: Posing is done in board shorts.


Classic Physique is the middle ground between the Bodybuilding division and the Men's Physique division. They are not as big as those in the Bodybuilding division, but they are considerably bigger than the men in the Men's Physique division. The men pose in boxer briefs so they can show off the legs better. 

Within the division, there are different classes based on height and weight.


The Bodybuilding division is the most muscular division. There is no weight limit. Within the division are different classes based on weight. It doesn't matter how tall you are, it's all about weight. Bodybuilding divisions use a specific kind of posing trunk that allows the entire legs and glutes to be seen (it's almost like a male g-string, but the butt area is more covered). 

Depending on the bodybuilding organization, there may be different classes, but the above are the general divisions. 


women's bodybuilding

There are five main divisions in bodybuilding for women: Bikini, Figure, Physique, Bodybuilding and Fitness. Trying to decide which division you should enter will depend on your physique, development and goals. Each division emphasizes different levels of conditioning, sizes and styles. 

Let’s look at each of the main women's divisions closer to determine which is best for you:


The bikini division is by far one of the most popular women's divisions. Because this bodybuilding division requires less muscular development it appeals to a wider variety of women. It’s perfect for those with the following genetics - small waist, curvy structure and long, shapely legs. 

And the judges are looking for curvy, balanced physiques that have some muscle tone. But also an overall physical appearance and charisma.

Note: Obviously this division applies only to women.


The focus of this division is on a developed physique. The goal is to achieve muscular symmetry and proportion. Competitors should have good muscularity, with separation but not excessively lean. This division is best for those with the following genetics - wide shoulders and a small waist. For women if you carry more muscle naturally this is likely the best choice. 


The women's physique division is perfect for those who find it easy to pack on muscle and achieve a higher level of muscle development. Judges look for symmetry, shape, proportion, muscle tone, and poise. 

Competitors will perform a 90-second individual posing routine to music as part of the final judging.


This division is for those that love building serious muscle mass. Competitors will be somewhat of a total package with a balance in size, symmetry, and muscularity. This is by far the most difficult division, and it takes a tremendous amount of dedication to build, maintain and perfect your physique and routine. It's arguably the least popular for women as well due to the perception of the looks the women achieve to enter into this class. 

Only some organizations will include this division.


You’ll often find gymnasts, cheerleaders, and dancers within this division - they have the muscle definition strength and have a routine to show off both. Unlike the Figure and Physique division, where your muscles are more for show, the Fitness division is about strength. You’ll perform a unique fitness routine, whether it’s dance, strength moves, or gymnastics to the music of your choice. 

We placed this division as number 5 because it is more than just about physique. 

Related: Top 25 Female Fitness Models to Follow

Like with men, some organizations will have different classes, such as the somewhat newly introduced Wellness division in the IFBB and NPC. More on this below in the respective organizations. 

The 6 Bodybuilding Competitions 

There are six major competitions that we will cover:


Every organization has different goals with different opportunities that will give you an outlet to achieve these goals. When you're looking to participate in any competitions, you’ll want to learn about their processes, opportunities and choose the best division for your body type and commitment. 

Let's go over each in-depth...

National Physique Committee, NPC

bodybuilding competitions

The NPC, or the National Physique Committee, is the most well-known amateur bodybuilding organization in the United States. As long as you are a member, you can participate in the competition for bodybuilding, fitness, figure, bikini, and physique.

Many of the athletes will move on to attend a professional IFBB event later in their careers if they’ve been successful in this competition. The NPC’s athletes often appear in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness and Muscular Development, to name a few.

The most popular divisions within the NPC are the Men’s physique and Women’s bikini fitness. Competitors in these two categories often appear in various magazines and marketing campaigns. While the NPC competitions are not for hardcore bodybuilding contests, they celebrate the amateur competitors’ achievements and host many events.


Men’s Physique

This is not a bodybuilding competition, but you’ll need proper shape and symmetry with excellent musculature and overall condition. Judges look for personality, confidence, and creativity with posing. 

The following are the weight classes for male competitors:

Bantamweight: up to 143 ¼ lbs. Lightweight: over 143 ¼ lbs up to 154 ¼ lbs. Middleweight: over 154 ¼ lbs up to 176 ¼ lbs. Light-Heavyweight: over 176 ¼ lbs up to 198 ¼ lbs. Heavyweight: over 198 ¼ lbs up to 225 ¼ lbs. Super Heavyweight: over 225 ¼ lbs.

Men’s Classic Physique

The Classic Physique is for competitors who have an excellent muscular physique and symmetry. In other words, they should have strong muscle development but not bulky. The judges are looking for marketability and personality, and stage presence is important. 



The Wellness competition is for athletes with more body mass in the hips, glutes, and thigh areas. The upper body is developed but not as developed as the lower body. This competition is about showing off the beauty of the female body and to show more body mass in their hips, glutes, and thighs. 

These are the different weight classes for female competitors:

Lightweight: up to 115 lbs. Middleweight: over 115 lbs up to 125 lbs. Light-Heavyweight: over 125 lbs up to 140 lbs. Heavyweight: over 140 lbs.


The competitors in Figure should have a V shape figure with a small degree of muscle definition. The judges look for symmetry and balance that shows the beauty of each contestant.


The Bikini competition is a foundation of muscles that gives shape to the female body - round full glutes, a slight separation between the hamstrings and glutes, and a small amount of roundness in the glutes. The judges are looking for muscularity, condition, symmetry, and balance, as well as presentation.

Women’s Physique

In the Women’s Physique category, women are lean and muscular, with a balance of the upper and lower body in a feminine way. Judges look for symmetry, shape, proportion, muscle tone, marketability, stage presence, and confidence. They’ll wear two-piece suits with V-shaped bottoms, and posing is similar to traditional bodybuilding such as quarter turns.


Male competitors must wear plain colored suits without fringe or wording. Female competitors must wear two-piece posing suits. Printed designs, fringes, lace, sparkle, and fluorescents are permitted. Posing suits must be V-shaped but not thongs. Competitors can bring their own music. Vulgar lyrics are not accepted. The only jewelry allows wedding bands and earrings.  You must be an American citizen to compete in a US-based NPC contest or at least have a green card. Canadian competitors must be a member of the CPA to participate in a competition. International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, IFBB

bodybuilding divisions

The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness, or IFBB, was founded in 1946 in Montreal by Ben and Joe Weider. The two brothers wanted to take the sport to the next level. Today IFBB has more than 170 national federations worldwide and holds over 2500 events globally. The competitors with the most success go to the IFBB Hall of Fame. 

This is the professional division. 

Note: The NPC is the amateur division of the IFBB.


Men’s Physique

This competition is for athletes who prefer a lighter physique through eating clean and weight training. Their physique will be less muscular but be well developed and aesthetically pleasing. They are in excellent condition. The judges are looking for the proper shape and symmetry, with musculature as well as personality and confidence. 

The classes are based solely on height:

Class A: up to and including 170 cm Class B: up to and including 173 cm Class C: up to and including 176 cm Class D: up to and including 179 cm Class E: up to and including 182 cm Class F: over 182 cm

Classic Physique

Classic Physique is for men who have taken muscularity and size beyond the level of Men’s Physique, yet not to the extremes of Bodybuilding. Classic Physique will emphasize good size, proportion, symmetry, pleasing lines, and a small waist. Essentially, the focus is on aesthetic qualities with great muscularity and definition.

Here are the different classes based on heigh and weight:

Up to and including 168 cm, Max Weight [kg] = (Height [cm] – 100) + 4 [kg] Up to and including 171 cm, Max Weight [kg] = (Height [cm] – 100) + 6 [kg] Up to and including 175 cm, Max Weight [kg] = (Height [cm] -100) + 8 [kg] Up to and including 180 cm, Max Weight [kg] = (Height [cm] -100) + 11 [kg] Over 180 cm: a) over 180 cm up to & incl. 190 cm: Max Weight [kg] = (Height [cm] -100) + 13 [kg] ; b) over 190 cm up to & incl. 198 cm: Max Weight [kg] = (Height [cm] – 100) + 15 [kg] ; c) over 198 cm:  Max Weight [kg] = (Height [cm] – 100) + 17 [kg]


The competitors in this division will train their bodies and muscles for maximum size while maintaining symmetry and balance. The athletes who have mass, muscle details and an excellent balance of physique will be the winners of this competition. The judges are looking for athletes without any weak points.

Here are the classes, which are based solely on weight:

Bantamweight: Up to and including 65 kg. Lightweight: Up to and including 70 kg Welterweight: Up to and including 75 kg Middleweight: Up to and including 80 kg Light-Heavyweight: Up to and including 90 kg Heavyweight: Up to and including100 kg Super-Heavyweight: Over 100 kg

Other Divisions:

Classic Bodybuilding

This is for competitors who don’t want to be overdeveloped. These competitors will have a lighter look of a “classic physique”. The judges are looking for physique, body proportions and lines, muscle shape, balance, and routine. You must have excellent muscle shape and definition.

There are five different height categories for this contest:

168 cm 171 cm 175 cm 180 cm over 180 cm

Games Classic Bodybuilding

This contest is for men who are less muscular compared to the Classic Bodybuilding category. Because muscle mass is limited, the judges are paying attention to overall physique and symmetry, and they look for muscle shape and condition, stage presence, and marketability.

Men’s Fitness

In this competition, the competitors will need to show both strength and muscle definition as well as flexibility and confidence. Judges look for an overall balance and strong, well-developed physique with excellent presentation.

This category has four height categories:

170cm 175cm 180cm Over 180cm


The IFBB selects Olympia contestants based on the highest-placed competitors at various qualifying competitions, which are known as the Olympia Qualifying Season.

As you probably know, the Olympia is for the best of the best in bodybuilding.

The qualifying season for each Olympia runs for a year. It ceases a few months before the competition, which is an annual event.

To qualify for most divisions at the Olympia an IFBB athlete must meet one of the following criteria:

Place in the top five in their division at the previous Olympia. Win any of the IFBB qualifying contests. Rank among the top three in total points awarded for second through fifth place at qualifying competitions.

"For certain divisions with more than 25 qualifying competitions, slightly different rules are used: The previous Olympia winner is automatically qualified, plus the winner of each qualifying competition and the top five in total points.

The IFBB Professional League also has the discretion to extend special invitations to other competitors. " - Wikipedia. 

This applies for both men and women divisions.  


Women Fitness

The competitors in this division have an overall athletic physique and less musculature. There are only two height categories – up to 163 cm and over 163 cm. Judges look for an athletic physique, strength and condition, confidence, and stage presence. 

Women Body Fitness

The competitors need to have a symmetrical athletic appearance for this competition, with a small amount of body fat. There are four body height categories - 158 cm, 163 cm, 168 cm, and over 168 cm. The judges are looking for a balanced physique, overall muscle development, confidence, and stage presence.

Women’s Bikini-Fitness

The competitors in this category are usually not bulky, however, they will need to have a nice body definition with some musculature. This competition is for women who stay in shape by eating healthy and weight lifting.

There are eight height categories for this competition:

158 cm 160 cm 162 cm 164 cm 166 cm 169 cm 172 cm Over 172 cm

Women’s Physique

The female athletes in this division will have an aesthetically pleasing bodybuilding-style body while still looking feminine. The two categories for this division are – up to 163 cm and over 163 cm. Judges look for a well-balanced and symmetrical athletic physique. As well as stage presence and confidence.

Women’s Wellness Fitness

In this category, women can have a muscular physique that’s bulkier than the other categories and have four different categories:

Up to 158 cm Up to 163 cm Up to 168 cm Over 168 cm

Other divisions:

Mixed Pairs

In this category, women participating in the female physique or female fitness category can compete with a male partner performing in a male bodybuilder competition. The judges are looking for symmetry, muscle size, definition, and skin tone. And will judge the couples based on how they complement each other’s physiques.

Children Fitness

This is the only sports division for children no older than 16 years old. Judges look for athletic performance, stage confidence, and personality. The more creativity used to display personality, the better the advantage for the competitor.

The age categories are broken down as follows for girls:

Up to 7 years Up to 8 years Up to 9 years Up to 10 years Up to 11 years Up to 12 Up to 13 years 14-15 years

The age categories are broken down as follows for boys:

Up to 7 years 8-9 years 10-11 years 12-13 years 14-15 years old


Athletes must have an IFBB international card and be of the country they are representing to participate in an IFBB competition. You cannot represent two countries in the same year. Athletes must obtain approval from their national federation to participate in the competition. No competitor is allowed to contact the organizer directly. All competitors must go to the official athlete registration before the show. All athletes must present a valid IFBB international card, a passport, a citizenship card, and a music CD during registration. You can choose any music, but it cannot contain any vulgar or offensive lyrics. World Beauty Fitness and Fashion, WBFF

physique competitions

Professional athlete Paul Dillett founded the WBFF, or World Beauty Fitness and Fashion. And because a professional athlete created this bodybuilding organization, it offers competitors the ability to grow through marketing opportunities with music, fashion, beauty, and fitness. 

But that’s not all. They also provide support for their partners to promote health, fashion, and entertainment as well. Because of their connections, athletes get sponsorships and marketing opportunities, and the events are more like fitness shows, with the best muscle models, both males, and females.

The WBFF has been raising the industry’s standards with professionalism and honesty to reach the next level in bodybuilding competitions. They don’t want to be just a fitness organization.


Muscle Model

The Male Muscle Model category judges athletes who are too muscular to be in the Fitness Model category but don’t have the muscle mass of a bodybuilder. And there are no weight limitations for this category, and they are judged on their physique, symmetry, conditioning, and muscle definition. 

When on stage, the muscle models will perform a T-walk for both the preliminary and final shows and will be required to perform quarter turns for the judges. 

Male Fitness Model

The men's fitness models category is judged on their symmetry, tone, and athletic physique. They’ll need good poise and posture with a masculine appeal. Competitors can wear plain or patterned square-cut shorts.

Transformation Division

The Transformation Division is for those transitioning into a healthier lifestyle and not ready for the advanced division. In order to participate in this division, you’ll need before and after photos and a brief bio about your personal journey to a healthier life. 


Diva Wellness

Diva Wellness is for competitors whose lower body physique is more developed. It’s focused on muscle and tone, and judges are looking for overall beauty and marketability. 

Diva Bikini Model

The Diva Bikini Model is a beauty contest for females with exceptional tone definition and slightly muscular looks. There is an over 35 years class. The judges are looking for a lean and firm physique that is scored on proportion, symmetry, balance, shape, and skin tone. Beauty and marketability are looked for as well. 

Diva Fitness Model

The Diva Fitness Model is for female competitors that have more muscle tone and definition than the Diva Bikini Model and less muscle or definition than a Figure competitor. The judges are looking for a classy feminine with athletic physiques, great marketability, and confidence on the stage.

Diva Figure Model

The Diva Figure Model is a blend of fitness and bodybuilding - shoulders, back, quads, and glutes with a small waist. If you have more muscle and definition than fitness models or Diva Bikini, then the Diva Figure Model competition is for you. The judges look for symmetry, presentation, marketability, incredible physique, and excellent stage presence.

Commercial Models

Commercial Models are for competitors between the ages of 17 to 45. This specialized branch of modeling can be especially lucrative. The judges look for beauty and marketability. The winners will pose for well-known magazines.


All competitors are required to use the official WBFF Beauty Service and official WBFF tanning service to participate. Models must wear shoes that are in line with the WBFF brand and compliment them. Clear stilettos are not allowed. You must be 18 years or older to compete in any WBFF category. Contestants are not allowed to invite guests backstage. No alcohol is allowed at the shows. First-time competitors will need to attend the WBFF amateur competition. WBFF requires approval of all props and costumes before the competition. International Competition Network, ICN

types of bodybuilding

The International Competition Network, or ICN, was initially created with a world-class level in mind back in the ’90s. Today they run about 40 competitions each year. However, their focus isn’t just about running events; it’s also about educating young people about being healthy. The goal of the organization is to help athletes naturally develop their physique.  

With eight independent state organizations, ICN is still one of the most critical Australian bodybuilding organizations. 


Fitness Model

Fitness Model competitions are more along the lines of a beauty contest rather than a bodybuilding competition. The competitors need to present themselves professionally as a model. Judges look for symmetry, body competition, stature, poise, and charisma, as well as marketability.

Men’s Physique

The competitors in Men’s Physique should be well developed with a muscular upper body that places emphasis on broad, round shoulders and a small waist. The judges are looking for symmetry, muscularity, stage presence, confidence, tan, and presence. 


Bodybuilding competitors in this competition will have large muscle groups, with great definition between the muscle groups. The judges are looking for vascularity, symmetry, and a well-balanced physique with excellent stage presence.


Bikini Model

The competitors in this competition will have a softer body but have a nice toned body with enough body fat that there is no clear six-pack and muscle separation. The women will be judged on emphasis on shape, symmetry, toned condition, stage confidence, and presence. 

Ms. Runway

The competitors are fit and healthy and perform in an evening gown. They are being judged on overall appearance, presentation, elegance, beauty, and confidence. 

Sports Model

The athlete in this division will have excellent muscular development from head to toe. Good tone and condition to show muscle separation and be less lean than a fitness competitor. The judges are looking for an overall model appearance, symmetry, fullness in muscle groups, stage presence, and confidence.

Swimwear Model

The competitors in this category will be in a one-piece outfit to showcase their bodies—a nice toned body without muscle separation or six pack abs. The judges are looking for beauty, symmetry, body composition, stage presence, and confidence. 


The Angels division is for all female competitors - Bikini, Fitness, and Figure competitors. In this division, competitors are able to express their personalities through creative ways, need to display confidence, and have excellent body composition. They are being judged on a combination of beauty and presentation. 

Fitness Model

Competitors in this category have developed muscularity with balance in the upper and lower body, and they will be less muscular than a figure competitor and lean. The judges are looking for a balance of beauty and musculature, along with six-packs, stage presence, and confidence. 

Classic Figure

This division is open to both Fitness and Figure competitors. The women in this division will be muscular and lean, and they will need to have a creative presentation. The judges are looking for overall symmetry, balance, and excellent stage presentation. 


This competition is open to both Fitness and Figure competitors and has to show a feminine side with a muscular and lean body. The judges are looking for symmetry, less bulk, good body structure, and stage presentation.


In this category, the competitors will have the bulk and muscle definition to showcase their musculature. Judges look for an excellent tone, symmetry, and body structure.


You can choose any color or design for the dress, and there are no restrictions. All competitors must be Australian citizens or have a residency visa. Any competitor with muscle implants or injections cannot participate. Same-day entries are not allowed. You must enter the day before. You must be a member of the organization to participate in the competition. The minimum age for all competitors, regardless of the category, is 15 years old. Athletes must be in the top 5 of any ICN contest to compete. National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association, NABBA

bodybuilding classes

The National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association, NABBA, was created in 1948 and is one of the original competitive bodybuilding associations. Competitors come from all around the world to compete for the title Mr. and Ms Universe. Legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Pearl, and Reg Park competed in the NABBA.


Men’s Sports Shorts

Competitors in this category need to be defined with abs but not a bulky physique. This is more like a beauty contest rather than a bodybuilding competition, and the judges are looking for a well toned body composition and symmetry. 

Men’s Bodybuilding

Competitors will have an overall muscular development and weigh a maximum of 80kg to participate. The judges are looking for symmetry of body composition and equal development of body parts.


Miss Bikini

In this competition, the women competitors will wear a one or two-piece bikini with a natural tan that shows off their physique. The judges are looking for musculature, beauty, and personality.

Miss Toned Figure

Miss Toned Figure is more of a beauty contest, and competitors should not have too much musculature and should allude confidence in their presentation on stage. The judges are looking for an athletic figure, balance, and symmetry. 

Miss Athletic Figure

For this competition, athletic and feminine women compete. Competitors should have muscle definition and low body fat, and the judges are looking for a healthy balance and musculature.

Miss Trained Figure

The competitors must have a trained look with a feminine shape, and they will have low body fat without being too developed or defined that it takes away from their femininity. The judges are looking for musculature, beauty, and well-balanced body definition.


You must be a member of the NABBA to compete.  Competitors can only compete in one contest. To qualify as a junior competitor, you must be 20 years old. Senior athletes must be over 45. Competitors are permitted to use tanning color. Unsportsmanlike behavior will lead to disqualification. The Australian Natural Bodybuilding Federation, ANB

fitness and figure competition

The Australian Natural Bodybuilding Federation, ANB, was created in 1983 by Robert Powel. He had a passion for strength training. The goal of this organization is to raise the standards of bodybuilding, health, and fitness. They offer support to the athletes with sponsorships and marketing opportunities. One of ANBs focuses is giving the athletes the ability to build a legacy of their own by giving them maximum exposure through their shows.


Fitness Model

The competitors in this category will have a little muscle definition, and they will not be as bulky as the classic bodybuilders. The judges are looking for a muscular body that has an athletic physique.

There are five different divisions:

Novice Under 25 Over 25 Over 35 Open

Physique Model

The competitors in this category will wear European trunks to show off their muscles. This is more about beauty, but the judges are looking for a well-balanced physique. Competitors will have more muscles than within the fitness model category.

There are five different divisions:

Novice Under 25 Over 25 Over 35 Open


The competitors should have well-defined muscularity and a six pack. The judges are looking for muscle definition, condition, symmetry, shape, and presentation. 

There are ten different divisions to choose from:

Novice Teen Junior under 22 Masters +40 Under 65kg Under 70kg Under 80kg Under 90kg  Over 90kg Open


Swimsuit International

This competition is open to all bikini and fitness models, and competitors are required to wear a one-piece swimsuit. Competitors should have muscle definition, tone, and athleticism. The judges are looking for symmetry, excellent stage presentation, and posing. 

Bikini Model

The competitors will need to be in excellent shape, demonstrate symmetry and stable conditions. The judges are looking for beauty, musculature, confidence, and stage presence.

Here are the five divisions:

Novice Under 25 Over 25 Over 35 Open

Fitness Model

Competitors will have an athletic appearance with a full six-pack and X-shape physique. The judges are looking for confidence, stage presence, and a more athletic physique compared to the other female categories.

This category has five divisions:

Novice Under 25 Over 25 Over 35 Open

Female Figure

The competitors in this category will have good muscle definition but not look like professional bodybuilders. Judges look for symmetry, musculature, condition, excellent stage presence, and body shape.

There are six divisions in this category:

Novice Under 25 Over 25 Over 35 Masters +40 Open

Theme Wear

Theme Wear is open to all female models; this category is about showing your personality through creativity. The judges are looking for creative costumes and props to show off in a fun way that compliments their physique.

Female Physique

This competition is open to all female competitors and models that have muscularity. This division has the most muscle mass. Competitors can show off how strong they are in this category. The judges are looking for symmetry, shape, condition, and presentation. 


In order to compete in any category, you must first win either an ANB national/Pro-AM event or a DFAC world event. Pro cards are valid for 12 months and enable you to participate. The renewal of the card is $175. It will cost $350 for an athlete to participate in a show. It will cost $250 for amateurs to compete. Competitors of an ANB Pro may be invited to shows to make a guest appearance. ANB supports natural bodybuilders and has a strong anti-drug policy. In Conclusion

Deciding to compete in any division or competition is a big decision that comes with a significant amount of commitment. Understanding your goals, level of commitment, and abilities is essential to making the right decision. 

Here are few factors that you’ll want to take into consideration when trying to choose the proper bodybuilding division and competition, 

Your body type.  Your body type is important to take into consideration when choosing a division, especially if you have limited time to prepare. But just because your genetics is better for one division doesn't mean you can only enter that division. If you have a reasonable amount of time to prepare, you can select any division that you want. 

How much time you’re able to commit? Training, nutrition, posing practice, wardrobe, and appearance require commitment every single day. Each category requires different levels of commitment - training for a bikini competition is easier than physique or fitness. The bodybuilder division requires the most commitment between training and extra practice sessions.

Do you enjoy performing? If you like being in the spotlight, choosing a division that has greater opportunities for posing might be the best option for you. Figure and physique both offer you the opportunity to perform a routine.

Related Content:

Clean Bulking Workout & Diet Plan to Build Muscle Cutting Workout & Diet Plan to Lose Fat Before Competition 5 Best Workout Splits for Bodybuilding How to Build Muscle 101
- Sam Coleman
Top 25 Female Fitness Models To Follow (2021)

If you are looking for some female fitness models to follow (on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and/or TikTok) so you can stay inspired and motivated, as well as have some great workout and nutrition ideas and advice, we think you are going to appreciate the list of women below.


These ladies are not only fitness role models, but they are also role models of motherhood, family, and life. Follow them to fill your feed with positive energy and motivation so you can stay accountable, dedicated, and hungry for success as you work toward your fitness goal.

Note: These ladies are in no particular order. They are all equally great! Also, we are only linking to the social they are most active on.

1. Sommer Ray

women's fitness models

We’d be surprised if you didn’t know Sommer Ray. She has more followers on Instagram than even many A-list celebrities. And not for no reason, she is absolutely stunning and funny. Plus, she is known for having one of the best booties on Instagram (and she’s not afraid to show it).

With her lighthearted and sometimes hilarious posts (which occasionally feature other big name celebrities and influencers), she’s a great break from the stress and drama on social media. Plus, she has her own line of workout gear to keep your gym looks on-trend.

You also love to see her relationship with her mom, who actually joined her in her first competition in the NPC back in 2015 when she was only 16 years old. Her mom is equally stunning.

If you aren’t following her already, check her out @SommerRay. We guarantee you have some friends following her already.

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2. Kayla Itsines

women fitness models

Kayla Itsines is a true motivator. An enthusiastic personal trainer, she’s all about making people look and feel their very best. Times named her one of the 30 most influential people on the internet.

Her balanced approach to fitness and wellness has allowed her to co-found the SWEAT workout community, inspiring users everywhere. She has signature 28-minute workouts that will kick your butt.

Follow her on Instagram @kayla_itsines for fun workout videos, powerful quotes, and mouthwatering food pics.

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3. Anllela Sagra

fitness models female

A former model in Colombia, Anllela Sagra traded the runway for the squat rack. Soon after (early 2010’s) she blasted on the fitness scene when she won several bodybuilding physique competitions.

To this day, she still has some of the most chiseled and impressive abs in the industry. As a fitness competitor, her dedication to strength training is super inspiring!

Join her massive following on Instagram @anllela_sagra.

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4. Valentina Lequeux

fitness models

Valentine Lequeux and her training program are all about instilling confidence and producing real results. As a personalized coach, she works with clients to improve training and nutrition for a real transformation.

Follow her on Instagram @valentinalequeux for inspiring photos and real talk about positive body image. 

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5. Anita Herbert

female fitness model

Anita Herbert is a fitness competitor from Hungary that’s all about lifting up other athletes.

She made waves in physique competitions in 2015 and 2016, securing 1st place in several events:

2015 NPC Southern States & CJ Classic, 1st and Overall 2015 NPC Miami Muscle Beach Contest, 1st and Overall 2015 NPC , 1st and Overall 2015 NPC Sunshine Classic, 1st and Overall 2015 NPC Tampa Bay, 1st and Overall 2016 IFBB Arnold Amateur North America, 2nd (Pro Card) 2016 IFBB Fort Lauderdale Cup, 1st 2016 IFBB Naples Pro, 3rd 2016 IFBB Pittsburgh Pro, 10th

If you want great workouts and valuable advice, follow her on Facebook at AnitaHerbertFitness. This girl is bar none one of the best in the business at physique sculpting. You can see this via posts of some impressive before and after photos from her FitQueen users and inspiration pics of her own success.

@anita_herbert on IG 

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6. Jena Frumes

fitness model female

Jena Frumes is an American model with a huge social media following. The New Jersey native rose to fame on IG after some work on ‘Wild N Out’. Since then, she’s been on high profile television shows and music videos and has launched her own line of merch.

What’s more, Jena recently had a baby with superstar Jason Derulo! And make no mistake, she wasted no time bouncing back from pregnancy.

You can follow her on Instagram @jenafrumes for inspiring pictures of her fitness and candid shots of their adorable family.

By the way, she’s friends with Sommer Ray, so you’ll see them hanging out together too 😉

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7. Katie Crewe

fitness girls

Katie Crewe (CSCS & CNP) inspires her followers with her dedication to fitness and her stunning new mom physique. As a dynamic fitness coach, she uses her energy and expertise to help her “Crewe members” reach their workout goals. She even has a Mom Crewe option for those ready to bounce back past-baby.

@katiecrewe on IG

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8. Krissy Cela

fit models female

Krissy Cela is in amazing shape and her Tone and Sculpt app can help you get there too. She’s also the founder of her very own activewear company, Oner. Krissy is also the author of her own book filled with fitness advice, recipes, and expert tips on staying healthy. Follow her for all of her wealth of fitness know-how.

@krissycela on IGKrissy Cela YouTubeKrissy Cela TikTok 

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9. Stephanie Sanzo

female fitness models list

Stephanie Sanzo, aka Steph Fit Mum, is an Aussie fitness celebrity and personal trainer. She was never really into the gym or physical exercise until she had kids and gained 25 kilograms (55lbs). It was then that she decided to start training. She quickly became hooked, even labeling herself a serious gym fanatic.

After 3 years of dieting and weigh training, she completely transformed her body. Along the way, she picked up a ton of followers who were inspired by her unwavering dedication and excellent results.

She had further success after joining a few minor competitions, starting in 2012. In 2013, she took second place in one of her physique competitions. All the while, she was raising two kids.

Although Stephanie stopped competing, her fitness career was really just beginning.

Nowadays, she is regarded as one of the most fit moms on the planet.

Following @stephaniesanzo on Instagram will give you access to some incredible workout routines. This super fit mom doesn’t shy away from powerful lifting and it especially shows in her impressive quads. Her typical workout posts are sprinkled with ones that feature helpful tips and advice on mindset and wellness.

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10. Michelle Lewin

female fitness models instagram

Michelle Lewin is one of the most famous fitness models worldwide. As a Venezuelan immigrant, her continued success is inspiring.

Her impressive career in NPC and IFBB physique fitness in 2014 put her on the map:

2014 Nordic Pro: 10th place 2014 PBW Championship - Tampa Pro: 4th place 2014 Europa SuperShow - Dallas: 3rd place 2014 Europa Show of Champions - Orlando: 12th place

She is known as the latin queen of fitness, blessing over 30 big name magazine covers with her superbly toned physique

She also founded the super-popular app FITPLAN, which is one of the most downloaded in the industry.

You can obviously check her out on IG, but we want to share Michelle Lewin's TikTok profile as the videos are super fun and motivating.

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11. Emily Skye bikini fitness models

Emily Skye is an international Austrialian fitness, beauty and swimsuit model. She is one of Facebook’s most well-loved fitness stars. And rightfully so, she competed in WNBF Miss Figure USA and Miss Fit Body USA and won them both. Not only that, but she did so after battling some health issues and troubles with her heart.

She is absolutely relentless in her pursuit of health and fitness. She is also a successful entrepreneur, running a successful supplement and protein bar line.

Her dedication, hard work, and self-belief is unparalleled. What’s great is, she knows how to pass those characteristics on, which is why she has become so well-known.

We highly recommend following her at

@emilyskyefit on IG

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12. Kelsey Wells female fitness models tiktok

Kelsey Wells is more than just one of the most well-known names in the fitness industry, she is a proud and dedicated wife and mom from Australia.

If you are a mother, or soon-to-be mom, you are going to love what she has to offer both for workouts and inspiration. She designed a famous post-pregnancy training program for mother’s to regain strength and love for their body no matter what stage of motherhood they are in.

Kelsey is truly as humble and inspiring as she is fit. Her feel-good attitude and women’s empowerment makes her a perfect fitness model to follow for a dose of honesty. Plus, her workouts are effective and innovative and sure to help you mix up your routine.

And if all that doesn’t excite you, we are sure her uber-toned physique will.

Follow her on Instagram @kelseywells.

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13. Chontel Duncan

top female fitness models

Chontel Duncan is a model, pro trainer and HIIT gym owner out of Australia. She is also a former beauty pageant participant and Miss Universe finalist, which won’t surprise you when taking one look at her.

She rose to fame after her documentation of her post-pregnancy transformation. She made headlines all over the world for having a six-pack well into her pregnancy and regaining them only one week after she gave birth. She was also super honest about the downside to all that.

All in all, @chontelduncan’s impressive frame, cheery smile, dynamic work ethic, sweet dedication to her family, and 100% authenticity will make checking in on her page regularly well worth your time.

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14. Jen Selter

list of female fitness models

Jen Selter has a no-negativity policy to keep her and her fitness at the top of its game. Becoming famous for her Instagram activity (she is the original Booty Queen of IG), she shared her love of working out and its stress-relieving benefits. Her physique has obviously paid off as well! Follow her on Insta @jenselter for her awesome posts on snack ideas, fitness goals, and day-to-day life.

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15. Paige Hathaway

top 20 female fitness models

You’ve probably heard of Paige Hathaway. This Minnesotan fitness sensation is one of the most well-known people on IG.

She has been featured on countless fitness magazines, such as Women’s Health, and has some serious accolades in physique competitions which helped propel her into success.

2011 Ronnie Coleman Classic Class C: 2nd place 2012 NPC Oklahoma City Grand Prix Class D: 2nd place 2013 NPC USA Championship Class D: 16th place 2013 NPC Junior USA Championship: 14th place

Obviously these competition are long in the past, but her body is better than ever these days.

Not only is Paige super strong, but she’s also mentally fit as well. Her posts on kindness and gratitude as just as helpful as her bicep and leg day advice. She also has a Fit in 5 Week challenge with custom workout plans that can help you jumpstart your fitness level.

Definitely like Paige Hathaway on Facebook and/or IG. Her posts truly motivate and inspire.

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16. Eva Andressa

top 10 female physique models

This Brazilian beauty is all about strength and physique. You won’t believe it, but Eva Andressa was a skinny teenager who worked extremely hard to sculpt one of the greatest female physiques in the game. Her body is proof that hard work and dedication pays off.

An accomplished fitness competitor, Eva is incredibly dedicated to her craft. While she hasn’t compete in a long time, she has some serious accomplishments under her belt:

2005 NABBA Brasil, Lobo Bravo Cup Champion, Figure, 1st 2006 NABBA Brasil, Parana, Figure, 1st 2006 NABBA, Brasil, Figure, 1st 2008 IFBB Brasil, Bodyfitness, 1st 2009 IFBB, Overall Champion Brazilian, Bodyfitness 2009 IFBB Peru, South American Championship, Bodyfitness, 3rd

Follow her to motivate yourself to reach your own goals. TikTok videos by Eva Andressa will make you want to head straight to the gym.

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17. Noel Arevalo 

physique models women

Noel Arevalo has an impressive resume. She is a NASM-certified personal trainer, powerlifter, and accomplished bikini competitor (placed 1st in GovCup Open and 16th in NPC USA Championships in 2015). She’s delt with some serious difficulties in life to, which makes her even more inspiring.

Follow @noelarevalo_ on Instagram for some great workouts that are great for all fitness levels. She also sprinkles in some motivating swimsuit pics with some truly stunning scenery. You can even train one on one virtually with Noel through her online Fit Queen Academy.

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18. Whitney Simmons

top bikini models on Instagram

When looking for both fitness and fashion inspo, following the Californian Whitney Simmons is an absolute must. The fun-loving athlete has great posts featuring her workouts and delicious meals. As a self-proclaimed psoriasis warrior, her strength is much more than physical. Follow her on Instagram @whitneyysimmons to check out her amazing workout gear and motivating advice! You can also check out her Youtube, where she actually rose to fame in the first place. 

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19. Tammy Hembrow 

hottest fitness models

Tammy Hembrow is a Trinidadian-Aussie who became famous back in 2014 when she documented her pregnancy on social media at only 20 years old. Now, she is a badass, super fit, highly successfully entrepreneur. She has her own line of workout wear as well as her own supplements. Her app Tammy Fit is also sure to get you into shape with her guided workouts and tutorials. Plus, her adorable family is as imposing as her abs. Follow her on Instagram @tammyhembrow for tons of motivating posts!

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20. Karina Elle

sexiest fitness models

Karina Elle is a fitness model, trainer, and former cross country runner and cheerleader from Florida. She was also a Bikini competitor who earned the highest degree winning the World Fitness Federation Pro Bikini Championship.

She’s been hot on the IG scene for many years and her popularity has never wavered. This is because she is genuine, inspirational, and extremely helpful for those who on their own fitness journey. Not to mention, she is extremely hot with her Asian/European looks and tall slender body.

Follow her for beautiful pics, great workouts (both at home and gym), and nutrition advice.

@karinaelle on IG 

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21. Massy Arias 

black female fitness models

Massy Arias is no stranger to struggle. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she moved to LA at the age of 16 for a better life with very limited English…and look at her now! Now, at 33 years young, she is proof that anyone can make it if they are determined and persistent. 

Follow @massy.arias on TikTok for inspiring clips and fun vids. As a mom and motivational speaker, Massy is all about healthy body image and mental well-being. Her online fitness programs focus on lifestyle changes that inspire happiness and confidence in her users for long-lasting results.

@massy.arias on IG

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22. Lauren Drain

fittest female models

Lauren Drain Kagan is a nurse, bikini competitor, certified personal trainer, and a registered nurse. But that’s not all, she’s also a best-selling author, wife, and mother. So her Instagram page @laurendrainfit is proof that you can do it all. Follow her for her motivating posts, inspiring before and afters, and some adorable pup pics!

In terms of her career in physique competition, which ended many years ago and helped boost her career as an influencer, she has some impressive accolades:

2014 WBFF Boston Bikini, 9th 2014 WBFF Canada Fitness, 5th 2014 WBFF NYC Bikini, 2nd 2014 WBFF Boston Bikini, 2nd 2014 WBFF Rhode Island Bikini, 1st (Pro Card)

Lauren Drain TikTok

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23. Daisy Keech

fittest women on Instagram

Daisy Keech loves the outdoors and her Instagram page @daisykeech is full of sunny pics and inspiring shots of her toned physique and incredible “peach”.

She got some heat a couple years ago with people online claiming her butt was fake (yes, it’s that peachy), but she went out of her way to prove them wrong with confirmation of 100% booty authenticity via the word of a well-known plastic surgeon. 

She’s as real as it gets. Check out her out on IG and also visit her Keech Peach Fit website for innovative workout programs and free downloadable recipes.

Daisy Keech TikTokDaisy Keech Facebook

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24. Amanda Lee

female fitness models to follow

Amanda Lee is a high profile fitness model and trainer with a body of a goddess. But make no mistake, she worked hard for it. She was a very skinny teenager. That said, she did have help being that her mom was a personal trainer.

She quickly rose to fame after a famous dancer tagged her. Now, she is a mega influencer with over double-digit millions of followers.

Follow @amandaeliselee for her stunning photos, workout ideas/advice and her lovely family who she is so very clearly proud of. 

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25. Elizabeth Zaks 

young female fitness models

Elizabeth Zaks fills her Instagram page with great at-home workouts and fun outfits. She bounces back and forth between playful and mindful for a diverse set of posts. We are talking funny videos, challenging workouts, nutrition tips, and more!

Follow her @elizabethzaks to make your feed even more motivating and fun.

Elizabeth Zaks TikTokElizabeth Zaks YouTube

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Must-Follow Female Fitness Models

Depending on your fitness goals, you can find the perfect fitness model to follow. These women have used social media to teach, inspire, and share their fitness journeys with the world. Use their posts as your motivation to smash your own fitness goals and, who knows, you might even have fitness followers of your own one day!

Let us know your favorite women's fitness models in the comments below!

- Sam Coleman
The Absolute Best Powerlifting Program For Pure Strength

Pure strength with no exceptions or unnecessary gimmicks. That’s what the best powerlifting program should focus on as that’s what the sport requires.  In this article, you're going to learn:

What powerlifting is Important variables of a powerlifting program The best exercises to build strength for powerlifting The strongest powerlifting routine you can follow

If you’re ready to double your numbers, carry on...

powerlifting workout plan What Is Powerlifting?

Before we talk about the best powerlifting program, we need to clarify what we’re talking about. The first topic of confusion that needs to be cleared up is powerlifting contains zero power movements. None. To be clear, in the world of strength and conditioning, “power” and “strength” are two distinct variables.

“Power” describes the ability to move weight relative to time. In other words, it refers to lifting fast. The most obvious choice to illustrate power movements are the Olympic lifts, the snatch and clean. In these movements, the athlete must generate a lot of force quickly to propel an object in the air. Another typical example is jumping (have you ever tried to jump slow?). 

On the other hand, “strength” simply refers to the ability to move a maximal amount of weight. As this is the goal, these movements don’t move fast. Think big movements like the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Wait a minute, those are the same movements used in powerlifting! 

There are some other physiological differences and alterations to training variables, but the easiest way to think about these is that “power” is fast strength and “strength” is slow strength.

So now that we know powerlifting isn’t really powerlifting, what is it? As stated above, powerlifting consists of lifting maximal weight across 3 different movements. Collectively, these movements are known as “The Big Three”.

The Big Three of Powerlifting:

You have probably heard the term “The Big Three” before, and it comes from the sport of powerlifting. These are the 3 biggest movements that are a sign of pure strength. Sure, there are some arguments on if these are the “best,” but we’re not here for semantics. These three movements allow you to move a lot of weight and are great predictors of overall absolute strength. These movements are:

The Squat The Bench Press The Deadlift What’s The Objective Of Powerlifting?

In the sport of powerlifting, the only goal is to lift the most weight you can in these 3 big lifts. Nothing else matters. The only factor that must be addressed is bodyweight as athletes compete in weight classes. To be clear, this has nothing to do with aesthetics; it’s merely to keep things as fair as possible as it obviously doesn’t make sense to have a 150lb athlete compete against a 200lbs athlete. However, some athletes may perform better by competing in a lower weight class while others perform better when moved up.

In a competition, you will have 3 attempts to execute one lift at a time with the heaviest lift going towards your total.  The total number of the heaviest attempts of all three lifts are added together and that’s your score. The order of these exercises are as above; The squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Generally, this is how the lifts will look in a meet.

1) The first lift will be heavy but something known as an “everyday max”. Simply put, this is a weight that you 100% know you can get any day of the week. The purpose of this lift is to just get some points on the board.

2) The second lift will be pushing the envelope some. This is closer to your “true max” which is a lift you can hit if everything is going well. 

3) The third lift is usually reserved for a PR. If you miss it, you still have the weight from the second lift, so it’s no loss.

While a full meet will include all 3 exercises, some other powerlifting competitions may only include one or two lifts. Plus, there are dozens of federations that all have different rules on how they hold meets. Regardless, that’s the basics of powerlifting.

Training Variables For Powerlifting

When it comes to training for powerlifting, the #1 rule is to improve your lifts. Therefore, if an exercise isn’t going to support one of these 3 movements, you’re not going to do it. With this concept in mind, this powerlifting program is going to use a 4-day split. Three of the days will consist of the squat, bench press, deadlift, and variations. The fourth day will consist of accessory work (aka assistance lifts) to support the 3 main movements and support an all-around program. By support, we mean improve those lifts.

Simple yet effective.

The three main lift days will utilize a quasi-form of DUP, or daily undulating periodization. DUP is a form of periodization that alters the intensity or focused training variable daily rather than a traditional block program. The three main lifts and their variations will rotate through these three training variables over the three days (that’s a lot of three’s). Therefore, each lift and it’s variations will hit every training variable. Below is how that looks like w/ the lifts:

Power/Max Velocity (Lift Variation) Strength (Main Lift) Hypertrophy/Volume (Lift Variation)

Using a DUP, either traditional or modified, have been found to be extremely effective in various powerlifting programs (study). It allows you to train every aspect of the spectrum simultaneously which should mitigate fatigue and allow for continual gains. Plus, it’s just more fun to train with some variety in your program.

The 4th day will include smaller exercises and isolation work. The main focus of these is for mobility, injury prevention, and strengthening the secondary muscles involved in the main lift.

Test Week For Your Powerlifting Program

In order to run an effective powerlifting program, you will need to find your training 1-rep max for each of the three lifts. So, what’s a training 1-rep max? Remember above, we spoke about it a little but let’s recap. A training 1-rep max is a maximum load you can confidently lift any day of the week. It’s definitely tough, but you are 100% sure you can do it. This differs from a “true max” in that a “true max” is a load you have purposely trained for.  Or, it’s a freak accident when the stars aligned and everything just went right.

We want to use a training 1-rep max because we want to be sure the number is low enough to give a suitable number to start with.  Often, trainees start too heavy on a program which leaves them nowhere to go. That being, you’re not straining so hard your popping blood vessels; you’re merely looking for an approximate number.

Now that we got that out of the way, here’s a workout routine to find your 1-rep max.

Perform a proper warmup that includes a general warmup, specific warmup, mobility, and muscle activation (see below). Perform 2 sets of 10 using only the bar. Place 50% of your estimate 1-rep max and perform 1 set of 10 reps. Add 50% of that weight (so now at 75% of your estimated 1-rep max) and perform 1 set of 5 reps. Add 20% of that weight (now at 90% of your estimated 1-rep max) and perform 1 set of 2 reps. Now add 5% of that weight (now at 95%) and perform 1-rep. Now, continue to add weight performing only 1-rep. The jumps will depend on the weights you have available as well as how hard you think it feels.

You will want to wait 3 minutes between each set up to step 5 (90% est 1-rep max) and then 5 minutes thereafter for all of these sets. 


You are not killing yourself on the experimental week. The purpose is to get used to the lifts and get a starting point. You are way better off starting 10-20 lbs too light then 10-20 lbs too heavy.  You are going to work into it so don’t rush it. 

powerlifting routine

The Best Powerlifting Training Plan To Build Strength

So now you know everything that’s involved in getting strong for powerlifting.  Therefore, we’re going to go through the most effective exercises to produce massive power.  We’re going to go through each of the main lifts and it’s variations you will use.  Next, we’ll go through the exercises you’ll use on the fourth day to address specific muscles and tissues vital for optimal performance. Let’s do this.

But first, let’s take a deeper dive into the 3 training variables.  Here, you’ll understand they’re purpose more so that you understand the accompanying lifts.  Plus, you’re going to learn the method of progressive overload you'll use.

The Main Purpose of The Different Training Days Of The Week:

As mentioned above, each of the main lifts will train 3 different aspects of performance on different days. Before listing all of the exercises, we will go over the details of what the goal is for each day.


The purpose of this day is to increase force and power output. While above, we mentioned that strength and power are actually two distinct variables, there is also overlap as they both rely on improving the function of the neuromuscular system.  Still, if you are able to generate high levels of force and improve your force development rate, you will be able to move weight easier when you train for strength. 

That being said, this day will implore two tactics for their lifts; resistance bands and maximal intent.

Attaching elastic bands to a barbell is a form of variable resistance that aims to accommodate the strength curve that exists when we lift. The strength curve simply refers to the phenomena where our body’s strength can vary depending on our biomechanics and joint angles. 

For example, during the squat, we are weakest at the bottom of the lift. However, as we begin to stand and extend our joints we become stronger. Therefore, theoretically, we don’t train the muscles optimally through an entire movement using a constant load as the load is determined by our weakest position. Using an elastic band for squats addresses this as the band will begin to stretch as we stand causing more resistance. Using variable resistance is a very powerful tactic to increase strength, and numerous studies have shown elastic bands to produce greater force outputs (study). 

Set For Set offers extremely high-quality Power Bands that would be perfect for your banded movements on this day. There are 5 different bands to choose from, with loads ranging from 10-170lbs. You can buy them separately or buy a package to save some money.

Yellow: 10-35lbs  Black: 30-60lbs     Blue: 40-80lbs     Green: 50-125lbs Gray: 65-170lbs   


When choosing what band to use, you will want the bands to account for 20-40% of the total load. There can be some variance as you will have a limited number of bands and weight plates to choose from, so you’ll be ok as long as the total percentage is somewhere between there.   

You notice that the load of the band has a range. When adding the weight of the resistance bands to the total load, you are going to want to add the highest number. For example, if adding the yellow resistance band to the total weight, you would add its max resistance of 35lbs by two, since you will use two bands. Therefore, if you add two yellow bands, you will have added 70lbs.

Remember that you only have so many combinations with bands and weight plates so the % may not be exact; you just want an approximate. You may even find that 70lbs is higher than 40% of your lifts; if so, go ahead and use it anyway and adjust the weights as necessary. As usual, spend a little bit of time to find a suitable band or combination of bands but don’t stress all day over getting it exact.

To get a more detailed explanation of using resistance bands for resistance training, check out this awesome piece from Set For Set: How to use bands for barbell exercises.

The other tactic we will use on this day is the concept of maximal intent. This basically means that when you lift, you will focus on pushing as hard as you can. Think about when you throw a ball or perform an Olympic movement where you complete the lift as powerfully as you can; same idea. As power is determined by the speed of a lift, this should theoretically produce greater power and force output. Further, this intent should cause demand for higher activation of the muscles. While there haven’t been many studies on this concept, the theory behind it is scientifically solid, and the experiments that have been performed show promising results.

To improve power, you are going to use a lighter load.  Again, power is related to time so using a lighter load that can be pushed faster will generate a higher force output. This exact load will vary slightly for movements, but it lays somewhere around 60-70%1RM. 

While this is light, you are going to use low reps. This is because you want every rep to be conducted at 100% effort. If you are fatigued, creating maximum power will be impossible, making the training useless. But don’t worry, you will make it up with high sets.  Every exercise is going to use a 6X3 rep scheme with 2:00-3:00 rest.

You can add a very small amount to the bar each week for progressive overload, such as 5lbs. However, the progressive overload from here will ideally come from faster barbell speed. This is obviously hard to measure without the correct equipment so you’ll just need to do your best. You can also videotape yourself to see how you look.


The strength day is to build strength in the competition movement. On this day, you are going to perform the traditional movements as is with some small caveats. For the squat and bench press, you will give a full 1-second pause at the bottom. This serves two purposes:

Lessen the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), thus demanding more output Prepare for a powerlifting competition as they require a full stop after the descent of the bar before pushing back up.

To progress on strength day, you will use a 5/3/1 rep scheme. What this means is that the first week you will train with 5 reps, the second week you will use 3 reps, the third week you will use 1 rep, and the fourth week will be a deload. In total, the rep scheme with load will look like this:

Week 1: 5x5 @ 85% 1RM Week 2: 3X3 @ 90% 1RM Week 3: 5X1 @ 95% 1RM Week 4: 5X5 @50% 1RM

For each set (other than the deload) you will rest 3:00-4:00


The main purpose of this day is merely to get in some high-volume work. These lifts will be slight variations in an attempt to target a primary mover. 

On this day, you will use a load of 60-70% at RPE 7 to judge your volume. RPE is a form of auto-regulation that uses a scale of 1-10 to guide your lifting based on how hard it feels. An RPE 7 means that something is getting hard but you could easily do more. The best way to explain it is to imagine lifting you 10RM seven times. 

RPE is an awesome way to manage fatigue so that you don’t overexert yourself. Again, the purpose of this day is just to get volume in, not exhaust you. 

Progressive overload from here will simply come from ideally adding more reps. However, this again is based on RPE so don’t add reps if you feel fatigued.

You will use a rest period of 2:00.

Squat And Squat Variations

Power/Max Velocity Session: Banded Back Squat

For your squat power/max velocity session, you’re going to perform banded squats with elastic bands. When performing squats, the optimal load for power occurs when using around 56%1RM. To make things simpler, you’ll just use 60%1RM for your total load.

Again, you will want to use resistance bands to account for 20-40% of the total load. For example, if your max squat is 200lbs, 120lbs is 60%. 20-40% of 120lbs would be 24lbs-48lbs. You only have the yellow bands which add up to 70lbs so you would just use that. Therefore, you would use 50lbs of resistance from bars and plates and 70lbs of resistance from the bands.

Rep Scheme: 6x3 @ 70% w/ 2:00-3:00 rest

Strength Session: Back Squat

For strength, you’re going to simply use the back squat, just like in competition. The purpose of this day, other than obviously get better at squats, is to optimize the training from the other two sessions. Therefore, this is an important session as this will allow you to maximize your potential.

Rep Scheme: 5/3/1 @ 85%/90%/95% w/ 3:00-4:00 rest

Hypertrophy/Volume Session: Safety Squat Bar w/ Hold

For your volume day, you’re going to perform squats with a safety squat bar (SSB). Using an SSB is a great option to add in volume while saving your back. There’s nothing dangerous about back squats if you do them properly. However, in this program, you’ll be doing them three times a week. This volume can be a lot for some people to handle; actually, it can be a lot for anyone to handle if you’re training hard.

The SSB will allow you to still get in volume with similar body mechanics while saving your back. However, you’ll take that safety measure one step further by setting up another barbell at about chest level. After unracking the SSB, you will grab the barbell and use it for support as you perform your lifts.

Rep Scheme: 3XRPE7 @ 70% w/ 2:00 rest

Related: The Complete Guide to Squatting

Bench Press And Bench Press Variations

Power/Max Velocity Session: Board Press W/ Bands

For the bench press max velocity session, you’re going to use bands with the board press. The board press is a variation where a board of desired height is placed on the chest, thus limiting the range of motion. However, it’s main purpose is to address sticking points in the bench press. 

Because you are not coming down to a full stretch, the advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle will be limited. You will be required to generate enough force to get through the sticking point in limited space. One common sticking point is a few inches off the chest and this is the area that this movement will address. 

You are going to want to use a board that’s a couple inches thick so that it’s just below this area. Doing so is going to teach you to generate enough force to be able to push through this point.

You are also going to implement the bands as well. However, because the ROM is a bit smaller, use 70%1RM with 20-40% load from bands. 

Rep Scheme: 6x3 @ 70% w/ 2:00-3:00 rest

Strength Session: Bench Press

The strength session is going to look very similar to the squat strength session; except you’ll be performing the bench press. Obviously. Therefore, the same rules are going to apply as when the barbell hits your chest, you will pause for 1 second before pushing. 

Rep Scheme: 5/3/1 @ 85%/90%/95% w/ 3:00-4:00 rest

Hypertrophy/Volume Session: Triceps Board Press (Close Grip) w/ bands

For the bench press hypertrophy session, you are going to use the triceps board press or close grip bench press, and utilize bands again and board again. While everyone associates the bench press with the chest, the triceps actually play a significant role as they are the primary movers from midway to lockout. To be clear, the triceps are involved in the entire movement, it’s just this section where their role increases. Regardless, if your triceps suck, you’re not going to complete the bench press. You don’t want that to happen, which is why you’re going to build the triceps muscle up with this movement.

When you choose a board, you want to use one that places the bar just below midway of the lift. As mentioned above, this is where the triceps start to become a major mover.

Rep Scheme: 3xRPE7 @ 70% w/ 2:00 rest

Related: The Complete Guide to Bench Pressing

Deadlift And Deadlift Variations

Power/Max Velocity session: Banded 2” Deficit Deadlift

The 2” deficit deadlift has you stand on a 2” block when performing this movement. Being a little bit higher will alter the biomechanics and lengthen the range of motion, both of which will make the movement harder. However, harder is a good thing as it will require much more effort to get the weight off the ground. Then when you return to the ground, the weight is going to feel easier.

One major benefit of the deficit deadlift is that it addresses the hardest part of the lift for most people; getting the weight off the ground. Another bonus is the deficit deadlift is going to train you to use leg drive. A common error in beginner errors is they pull too much and neglect to push. This means that they neglect to use their quads to push down into the ground when they pull the weight off the floor. However, as the deficit deadlift will require higher flexion in the hips and knees, the contribution of the posterior muscles will be lessened. This leaves the quads to pick up the slack.

After training with deficit deadlifts, you will have:

Improved the strength of your hamstrings and gluteus maximus Increased your power output and force production Improved hip extension Learned to engage your quadriceps correctly. 

All of these factors will contribute to increasing your 1RM.

The deficit deadlift is harder than conventional so use 60% 1RM.

Rep Scheme: 6x3 @ 60% w/ 2:00-3:00 rest

Strength Session: Deadlift

The traditional deadlift. Nothing fancy here. Just the king of exercises. 

Rep Scheme: 5/3/1 @ 85%/90%/95% w/ 3:00-4:00 rest

Hypertrophy/Volume Session: Barbell Romanian Deadlift

For the hypertrophy/volume session, you’re going to use the barbell Romanian deadlift. While the deficit deadlifts will target the quads, the Romanian deadlift will target the gluteus maximus and hamstrings: in fact, it’s one of the best posterior chain exercises you can do (study). This is awesome as the deadlift obviously depends on these muscles for maximum strength.

When compared to the deadlift, the Romanian deadlift tends to be a much better option for muscle hypertrophy regardless. This is mainly attributed to the range of motion, increased muscle tension, and ability to perform higher volumes. The deadlift is an awesome movement, but generally speaking, it’s not the best movement for high volume. 

This is the only exercise you’ll need to discover a good weight to use rather than base it off your 1RM. Find a weight that you can do 12-15 times. You’ll work into it so it doesn’t matter if it’s a little light.

Rep Scheme: 3x12-15 reps w/ 2:00 rest

Related: The Complete Guide to Deadlifting

For Sessions 1-3: The Barbell Rollout

For all three sessions, you are going to train your core with barbell rollouts at the end of the session. The barbell rollout is the single greatest exercise to strengthen your core (study). Every muscle in the core is activated to a significant degree to brace the spine and torso during the movement. As the core is heavily engaged in all of the above movements, you need to be sure yours can take the beating. Therefore, perform the barbell rollout after each exercise.

Session 4 (Accessory Work)

The fourth session will be smaller exercises and some isolation work to hit some specific areas, improve mobility, and provide an effective all-around program. Further, none of these movements are going to be performed with a heavy load. You do not want this day to impact the training of the other three days. Regardless, here are the movements you’re going to perform. While the movements look like a lot, you will move through them much quicker than the first three days as you’re only resting 1:00-1:30 between each set.

Further, progressive overload for these movements will come from increasing reps in the range given, and then adding weight. You then increase the reps to the top of the range again and add more weight.

Barbell Hip Thrust

The barbell hip thrust is perhaps the single best exercise to strengthen the glutes for hip extension (study). The glutes are primary movers in both the deadlift and squat, strengthening them vital for performance.  

Rep scheme: 4x8-10


The chin-up will address two factors missing from the first three days; vertical pulling and arm flexion. Vertical pulling is one of the bodies primary movements which should be included in any program for symmetry. While there are no pulling movements in powerlifting, a strong back is still necessary for stabilization in the squat and deadlift. Still, the lats are even used in the bench press. The last point is it allows full range of motion at the elbow to strengthen the biceps.

Rep scheme: 4x8-10

Related: Pull Up vs Chin Up


The Z-Press is an overhead press that is performed sitting down on the ground. First, this is going to cover your overhead pressing movement which is absent from the first three days. Secondly, the Z-Press requires significant mobility in the hips, posterior muscles, and thoracic spine. When taken all together, the Z-Press is going to:

Improve pressing strength Increase hip mobility Increase thoracic spine and upper back mobility Maintain healthy shoulders 

Rep scheme: 3X8-10 

Bent-Over Barbell Row OR Kroc Row

The primary purpose of these is to add a horizontal pulling movement. You can choose either a barbell row or Kroc rows. While Kroc rows are usually done with higher reps, you’ll just stick with 2x8-10. You will only do 2 sets of these, so get in, get them done, and move on.

Rep Scheme: 2x8-10

Rolling Triceps Extension

As mentioned, the triceps are a prime mover in the bench press. Therefore, it makes sense to give them a little extra attention. For this, you are going to use the rolling triceps extension. The rolling triceps extension to regular laying dumbbell triceps extensions is what the Kroc row is to dumbbell rows; it's a bigger, meaner version. When you perform the rolling version, you allow your arms to come back over your head and then powerfully come forward. This allows extra momentum to thrust a heavier weight up with arm extension.

Rep Scheme 2X12-15

Bicep Curls

The main purpose of this is to add more strength to the muscle of the biceps as well as the tendons and ligaments of the joint. It’s essential to keep this area strong and healthy to help prevent injury, especially during the deadlift, where biceps injuries can happen. 

It doesn’t matter what curl you use, hammer curl, rope attachment, EZ-bar curl; just choose one that’s comfortable and do it.

Rep Scheme 2X12-15

Leg Curls and Extensions

These are here simply to help strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings. Nothing complicated here, just get it done.

Rep Scheme 2X12-15

Mobility & Warm-Up For Powerlifting

The last piece of the puzzle is going to be performing a proper warmup. The main goal of a warmup is to:

Increase internal body temperature Improve acute flexibility of the muscle  Activate the muscles Increase mobility of the joints

Below is a warmup that includes mobility and muscle potentiation movements to prime you for your workout:

5-10 min .general warmup Dead bugs 1x10 Bird Dog 1x10 Glute Bridge 1x10 Lunges 1x10 Pushups 1x10 Banded Face Pulls 1x15 Banded Rows 1x15 Banded OHP 1x15 Ballistic Pushups 1x5 Squat Jumps 1x5

While this looks like a lot, you will jump from one to the next. The whole warmup should last 10-15mins. 

powerlifting program

The Best Powerlifting Workout Routine For Pure Strength

You now have a pretty good understanding of what you’re going to do so let’s see how it looks. Every day is going to have the same order of variables, it will only be the lifts that change.

Here is your weekly workout plan:


Warm-up & mobility Strength: Back Squat 5/3/1 Power/Max Effort: Board Press w/ Bands 6x3 @ 70% 1RM Hypertrophy: Barbell Romanian Deadlifts 4xRPE7 @ 60%1RM Barbell Rollout


Warm-up & mobility         Strength: Bench Press 5/3/1 Power/Max Effort: Banded Romanian Deadlift 6X3 @ 60% 1RM Hypertrophy: SSB Squats 4xRPE7 @ 70% 1RM Barbell Rollout


Warm-up & mobility Strength: Deadlift 5/3/1 Power/Max Effort: Banded Squats 6X3 @ 60% 1RM Hypertrophy: Triceps Board Press w/ Bands 4xRPE @ 70% 1RM Barbell Rollout


Barbell Hip Thrust 4x8-10 Chin-ups 4x8-10 Z-Press 3x8-10 Barbell Row 2x8-10 Rolling Triceps Extensions 2x12-15 Biceps Curl 2x12-15 Leg Curls 2x12-15 Leg Extensions 2x12-15        

Get Ready To See Your Strength Jump

Now all you have to do is train hard. This program is guaranteed to improve your performance as long as you follow the guidelines.

To recap:

Implement progressive overload as laid out for each session The “Strength Session” should be your hardest day. The other sessions require intensity and work but should not fatigue you. It's up to you which days of the week you workout and which you rest. You have 4 workouts per week and 3 rest days. Do not go too hard on Session 4, the accessory day Every 4th week is a deload. While this applies mainly to the strength movement, do not go extra hard on the other movements either. You can even lighten up on those as well With a deload week every 4th week, you can continue this program for as long as you are seeing good results. There is no set amount of time. If you want to build strength and power, you can run this until you start seeing diminishing returns (i.e. 3-12 months) or when you just want to start something fresh. 

The sport of powerlifting is relatively simple and  your powerlifting program should be too.  Keep it simple, train with intensity, add more weight, and be consistent.  Go get started.

Other Workout Programs:

- Sam Coleman
Walnuts vs Pecans, Which Is Better?

Walnuts and pecans are two of the favorite tree nuts consumed today. Because of their popularity, many people wonder what’s the difference between walnuts and pecans and is one better than the other? In this post we look at walnuts vs pecans in regards to health benefits, looks, tastes and nutritional content.

You might be hungry by the time you’ve finished reading so we gave you original SET FOR SET healthy recipes using both walnuts and pecans at the end. Enjoy!


walnuts vs pecans

Long story short, walnuts and pecans are extremely healthy nuts that have many similarities and also some notable differences. So, let's begin our in-depth comparison of walnuts vs pecans.

But first, let's quickly go over what exactly each nut is...


The walnut is a nut from the tree that belongs to the Juglandaceae family. There are two main types of walnuts, the Persian or English walnut then the less common black walnut. The walnut is the edible seed of a drupe or stone fruit (Indehiscent fruit with an outer fleshy part surrounds a hardened shell with a seed inside).


Most people would be familiar with the walnut and shell without the husks. After the walnut is fully ripe the husk is removed, leaving a wrinkly hard shell. Then the shell is opened to reveal the meat or what we think of as a walnut. Once the shell is cracked open there are usually two segments inside. The seed has a brown coat that contains antioxidants that protect the seed from rotting.

The walnut was called the “royal nut” during the Byzantine era. The more common Persian or English walnut originated in Iran (Persia) while the black walnut comes from eastern North America. The black walnut isn’t as prominent commercially due to the hard shell and poor hulling qualities. These days there are multiple walnut types which are hybrids of the original Persian walnut. China is the largest walnut producer in world.


Like the walnut, the pecan tree is also a member of the Juglandaceae family. The pecan is native to North America where the Native Americans frequently foraged, ate and traded them. When the first Europeans encountered them in the 16th century, they referred to the pecans as “nuez de la arruga” translating to wrinkle nut. 


Similar to the walnut, the pecan is a drupe or a stone fruit with a seed that’s surrounded by hard shell which is covered by a green husk. The United States and Mexico account for over 90% of the worldwide pecan production.

What’s the difference between pecans and walnuts?

Although pecans and walnuts share many similarities there are a few differences that are covered below.

We will now compare walnuts and pecans based on the following aspects:

Types Look Taste Nutritional Value (for this one we will declare a winner based on various values) Health Benefits Dangers Walnuts vs Pecans Types

Walnuts only come in two common varieties of the Persian/English or the black walnut. Pecans on the other hand, offer more than 500 varieties that have subtle differences regarding taste, texture, size and shape. The most common pecan types are the Desirable, Cape Fear, Moreland, Stuart and Natives. The variety of pecan is based on the growing environment and the native or wild pecans usually have thicker shells with smaller seeds.

Walnuts and pecans come from the same family, the Juglandaceae but about 44 million years ago new differentiations occurred which resulted in the pecan genus of Carya developing a different fruit and husk then that of the walnut genus Juglans.

Walnuts vs Pecans Look

Husks:  Pecans and walnuts are both covered by a green husk. The walnut husk is a little more round in shape while the pecan husks is more oblong.

Shells: The hard outer shells of the pecans and walnuts are both brown.

Walnuts: Have a light brown, rounded and bumpier than a pecan shell making it look older. Pecans: Have a harder, smoother and darker brown shell and are more oblong in shape. They also have a pointier top where they attach to the stem of the plant.

Meat, Seed, Nut: Both walnuts and pecans usually have two halves inside the shell and resemble the look of a brain.

Walnuts: A lighter brown more rounded with bumps and are a brain like shape that is coated by a brown skin that’s full of antioxidants. The flesh of the walnut often will break apart when opening the shell as it is more brittle. There’s a thin skin that separates the bumps and crevices of the walnut. Pecans: Usually a tad smaller than walnuts, darker color and have a more uniform shape. There’s usually one indented ridge down the middle of each halve. Walnuts vs Pecans Taste

Although walnuts and pecans often get mistaken for one another, their taste is rather different. You’ll see pecans used in more sweet dishes compared to walnuts.

What do walnuts taste like?

Walnuts have a more flakey buttery taste and texture. They offer a soft yet crunchy mouth feel with a slightly bitter after taste. Due to the high fat content, walnuts have an unmistaken nutty flavor.

You’re likely to see walnuts paired with recipes that use some type of sweetener like maple syrup, honey or fruit to balance out the slight bitterness. However, walnuts are also used in savory dishes and are enjoyed in the raw form as well.

What do pecans taste like?

Pecans are a bit chewier and dryer than walnuts. Pecans have a natural sweeter taste compared with walnuts. When pecans are heated, they will morph their flavor profile a bit and become a tad more savory. Some common pairings you’ll see them used with is sweet potatoes, fruits, salads. They’re also eaten raw and perhaps the most ubiquitous used in the form of pecan pie. 

Walnuts vs Pecan Nutritional Values

Walnuts and pecans are some of the favorite nuts that are consumed these days and for good reason; they taste great and are a super healthy food source.

Nutritional Value Per 1 Ounce

Walnuts (~14 halves)

Pecans (~19 halves)






20 mg


3.9 g

4 g


0 mg

0 mg


.45 mg

.3 mg


18.5 g

20 g

      Monounsaturated Fat

2.5 g

12 g

      Polyunsaturated Fat

13.4 g

6 g

      Saturated Fat

2 g

2 g


1.9 g

3 g


.82 mg

.7 g

Linoleic Acid (Omega 6)

10.8 g

6 g

Linolenic Acid (Omega 3)

2.6 g

.3 g


45 mg

34 mg


.97 mg

1.3 mg


98 mg

79 mg


125 mg

116 mg


4.3 g

3 g


1.4 mcg

1 mcg


.7 grams

1 g


1 g

0 g

Folate (B9)

6 % DV

2 % DV

Thiamine (B1)

6 % DV

15 % DV

Riboflavin (B2)

2 % DV

4 % DV

Niacin (B3)

2% DV

2 % DV

Pantothenic Acid

2% DV


Vitamin B6

8 % DV

4 % DV

Vitamin E

4 % DV

2 % DV


.9 mg

1.3 mg

Fat Content:

Both walnuts and pecans have similarly high total fat amounts but the breakdown of the fats is vastly different. Both nuts have the healthy polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat. These fats help to lower bad cholesterol which lowers risk of heart disease. The differences in the fat are that walnuts contain more than double the polyunsaturated fat compared with pecans. Besides being good for heart health, polyunsaturated fat also contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids which help with brain function and promote other health benefits. It’s important to note that the high fat content of both nuts will help you feel fuller for longer but if you overeat these nuts it could lead to weight gain.

Overall Winner: Tie both are a great source of healthy fats


These nuts offer a decent amount of fiber with about 2-3 grams per one ounce serving. This fiber helps you stay full. Both walnuts and pecans have a good nutritional make up to become a go-to for a healthy snack. The added fiber can also help ease constipation.

Overall Winner: Pecans


Both walnuts and pecans contain various vitamin content that is great for our health. A one ounce serving of pecans provides a whopping 15% DV of thiamine (B1). This helps to transform food into energy. Walnuts have roughly double the amount of B6 compared with pecans which promotes healthy metabolism and the creation of red blood cells. Overall, both nuts are a good source of B vitamins while also offering some amount of vitamin E which is an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage.

Overall Winner: Walnuts


Both walnuts and pecans provide an impressive amount of mineral content that the body needs to function properly. Pecans have more zinc and manganese compared to walnuts. The main benefits of these minerals are zinc is beneficial for boosting the immune system while manganese is essential for maintaining bone health. Walnuts have a higher mineral count in all other areas including calcium, iron, potassium which support bone and blood health. They’re also higher in copper, magnesium and phosphorus content which help promote better overall health.

Overall Winner: Walnuts


Both walnuts and pecans are decent sources of protein. Protein is essential in helping to building and maintain muscle mass. Walnuts have around 30% higher protein content.

Overall Winner: Walnuts

Calories & Carbs:

Walnuts and pecans have comparable calorie content because they are both high in fat. Due to the calorie density of these nuts, you should be cognizant of your intake because it might be easy to over eat as they are both delicious nuts.

In terms of carb content, they both have around 4 grams of carbs per one ounce serving. Walnuts and pecans are a good low carb nut that are also keto friendly.

Overall Winner: Tie

Health Benefits of Walnuts:

Walnuts provide numerous health benefits, below are just a few of the benefits that you can get from consuming walnuts regularly.

Better Heart Health: Walnuts are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids with more than any other nut. The omega 3 fat from all plants is call alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Walnuts contain ALA, linoleic acid and arachidonic acids. The only way to get ALA is through diet as it is an essential fatty acid (EFAs). A single serving of walnuts meets the recommended daily intake of ALA by the Institute of Medicine.

Improved Blood Fats: Consumption of walnuts has shown the ability to lower LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides. This study looked at daily consumption of 43 grams of walnuts over an 8-week time period led to reduced non-HDL cholesterol and ApoB (apoliprotein-B which is an indicator of how many LDL particles are in the blood, if too high then there’s high risk of heart disease). Therefore, aligning with the thought of regular walnut consumption reducing risk of coronary heart disease.

Aids Brain Function: There are multiple animal studies that link the regular consumption of walnuts to improved brain function which is ironic seeing how the walnut shape resembles a brain. It’s believed that the nutrients in walnuts help to lower the oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain. More studies need to be done in this area but it seems rather promising.

Make You Feel Fuller Longer: Walnuts may be able to help manage weight if consumed in moderate quantities. They have a decent amount of fiber and protein which can help to curb hunger. However, it’s important to note that walnuts are calorie dense and over consumption can lead to weight gain.

High In Antioxidants: Surprisingly, studies like this found that walnuts are one of the best antioxidant food sources. They offer the highest number of antioxidants found amongst any nuts. These antioxidant effects protect the body against damage from natural chemicals that cause disease.

Improve Gut Health: This study found that eating walnuts might be helpful in keeping your microbiota healthy. Having a healthy gut strongly correlates to overall good health.

Reduce Inflammation: Many diseases stem from inflammation including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Walnuts contain polyphenols that can counteract inflammation. This study shows a subgroup of polyphenols called ellagitannins that walnuts possess which might be the primary substance that fights inflammation.

Possibly Fight Cancer: The polyphenol ellagitannins mentioned above in walnuts are transformed in the gut by microbes into compounds called urolithins. These urolithins have anti-inflammatory properties which might help protect you against certain cancers. More research is needed in this area but we’re hoping that walnuts prove to be a natural way to help fight cancer.

Health Benefits of Pecans:

Pecans and walnuts are closely related so they share a number of health benefits. Below are a few more examples of how pecans can improve your overall health. 

High Antioxidant Content: Pecans, similar to walnuts offer a high number of antioxidants. For example, Pecans contain manganese a powerful antioxidant which is essential for brain function and nerve conduction. Antioxidants are important to help protect cells from free radicals. By protecting your cells with antioxidants, you will increase your immune system’s ability to fight off disease and infections.

Reduce Inflammation: Just like walnuts, pecans have been shown to reduce inflammation. Pecans contain healthy omega-3  and omega-6fatty acids that can help to alleviate the pain from arthritis. Pecans also have a decent amount of calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Provide Vitamins and Minerals: The nutritional breakdown of pecans packs a serious punch of vitamins and minerals. Besides the high amount of vitamins and minerals, pecans also have a considerable amount of fiber at almost 10 % of daily recommended intake per 1 ounce serving and are sodium free. All in all, pecans are a healthy and delicious food choice.

Better Heart Health: Similar to walnuts, pecans are another type of tree nut that may lower LDL and triglycerides according to this study. Lowering bad cholesterol can reduce risk factors of coronary heart disease. Pecans also have high amount of monounsaturated fatty acids that have shown promise of promoting heart health.

Promote Healthier Skin: Pecans contain ellagic acid and according to this study, this micronutrient is effective in fighting free radicals. It also helps to reduce inflammation while improving collagen health which is vital in maintaining a young healthy-looking skin.

Help Boost Brain Function: A study conducted at the University of Massachusetts Lowell found that pecans may play an important role in protecting the nervous system. The high level of antioxidants may slow the progression of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s Disease. More research is still needed here but adding a handful of pecans to your daily diet is recommended.

Walnuts vs Pecans Dangers

While both walnuts and pecans are healthy food choices, they can also spell disaster for some people. It is estimated the .2-1% of the population in the US have some type of tree nut allergy which would include pecans and walnuts. Allergic reactions to pecans or walnuts could be from mild hives to diarrhea, abnormal breathing, severe asthma attacks up to anaphylaxis and even death.

Walnuts and pecans can also lead to vomiting and/or diarrhea if you eat too many because of their fiber content. It’s also important to note that an over consumption of these nuts can lead to weight gain due to their relatively high calorie count.

Note: If taking medications, the tannins in walnuts might interfere with the absorption rate.

Recent Study On Walnuts:

We mentioned the ability of walnuts to help reduce risk of heart disease above. Here is a recent study published in American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, that showed promising results of lowering LDL cholesterol levels in healthy older people. This is not a small short-term study but rather a multiyear study that spanned a wide range of geographical locations, this makes the findings more impressive.

The Study

Who & Where:

708 healthy elderly adults consumed about ½ cup of walnuts daily for two years Ages between 63-79 68% Women 32 % Men Barcelona, Spain and Loma Linda, California Independent living

The Methodology:

This two-year randomized controlled study was conducted to determine the effect on lipoproteins on the healthy aging through the regular consumption of walnuts independent of the person’s diet and where they live.

Participants were broken up into two groups:

Active Intervention Group: This group added about ½ cup of walnuts to their daily diet Control Group: This group avoided the consumption of walnuts for two years

The participants had their cholesterol levels tested and analyzed by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy which measured the concentration and size of lipoproteins.

At the end of two years there was 632 of the 708 people completed the study with full lipoprotein analyses in 628.

The Results:

LDL dropped 7.9% in men and 2.6% in women The active intervention group who consumed walnuts had lower LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 4.3 mg/dL and total cholesterol dropped by an average of 8.5 mg/dL Walnut consumption also lowered total number of LDL particle by 4.3% and small LDL particles by 6.1%. These reductions mean there’s a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Intermediate Density Lipoprotein (IDL) cholesterol also lessened. IDL is also a lipid cardiovascular risk factor.

The researchers noted even though there wasn’t a huge decrease in LDL cholesterol, the participants were healthy and that people with higher blood cholesterol levels might see a much greater reduction in LDL if eating a nut enriched diet. "Prior studies have shown that nuts in general, and walnuts in particular, are associated with lower rates of heart disease and stroke. One of the reasons is that they lower LDL-cholesterol levels, and now we have another reason: they improve the quality of LDL particles," said study co-author Emilio Ros, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Lipid Clinic at the Endocrinology and Nutrition Service of the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona in Spain.

Note: For full transparency, this study was funded by the California walnut commission.

Recent Study On Pecans:

Pecans like walnuts have been shown to improve cholesterol levels to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. This study conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia was done to show the effects on cholesterol levels from eating a pecan rich diet.   

The Study


52 adults aged 30-75 with a higher risk for cardiovascular disease

The Methodology:

Researchers divided the participants up into three groups then compared results after an eight-week time period;

Group 1: Ate 68 grams of pecans daily along with normal diet Group 2: Substituted similar number of calories (~470 calories) of pecans daily from their normal diet Group 3: Didn’t eat pecans

After 8 weeks the participants ate a high fat meal to determine changes in blood lipids and the amount of sugar in the blood.

The Results:

Those who ate pecans saw an average 5% drop in total cholesterol and a 6-9% reduction in LDL Fasted blood lipids showed similar improvements in the pecan consumption groups Post meat triglycerides were lowered in Group 1 that added pecans Post meal glucose was reduced in Group 2 where pecans were substituted Key Takeaways

The researchers believe that the fiber and healthy fatty acids in pecans were responsible for the cholesterol reduction. Overall, the participants who ate pecans saw improvements in total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL.

are walnuts better than pecans

Walnuts & Pecans FAQs:

Are pecans keto friendly?

Yes, pecans are a keto friendly food. One serving of 1 ounce or about 19 pecan halves will give you 20 grams of mostly healthy fat, 3 grams of protein and only 4 grams of carbs. Due to the nutritional breakdown of pecans and the fact they can help you feel satiated. Next time you’re hungry grab a handful of pecans.

Are walnuts keto friendly?

Yes, walnuts are a keto friendly nut. One serving of ounce of walnuts or about 14 halves will give you just over 8 grams of fat, about 4 grams of protein and just about 4 grams of carbs. Walnuts are a healthy choice even on a keto diet as you get the benefits of the healthy fats and protein without going overboard on the carbs.

Which are better walnuts or pecans?

We wouldn’t say one is better than the other, both nuts offer some amazing health benefits. We suggest that you eat some pecans and walnuts to reap the benefits of both tree nuts.

How many walnuts should I eat a day?

You should eat 3-4 whole walnuts a day. This is roughly half of a one ounce serving but because we recommend you also eat pecans it should be enough to get the benefits while not over consuming calories.

How many pecans should I eat a day?

Try to eat half an ounce of pecans a day which would be about 4-5 whole pecans. Eating this amount of pecans combined with daily walnut consumption will go a long way to help you stay healthy.

which is better walnuts or pecans

Healthy Walnutty Date Energy Bites Recipe ½ cup Peanut Butter ½ cup Walnut butter 1 Tbsp Honey ¼ cup Flax seeds 1 ½ cup Rolled old fashioned oats ½ cup Chopped Dates (half need to be finely chopped, other half goes into food processor) ¼ cup Finely Chopped Walnuts Combine half of the dates, walnut butter, peanut butter, honey and chia/flax seeds in a blender or food processor. Blend until all ingredients come together into a smooth batter. You might need to scrape the sides down. (If batter is too thick add 1 tsp of water at a time until it becomes a little looser) Pour batter into large mixing bowl then stir in reserved chopped dates and chopped walnuts Place in fridge for up to 1 hour to cool and harden Roll into balls after removed from fridge Serve or store in refrigerator until ready to eat.

*Can keep in freezer in ziplock bags for up to 3 months. When ready to eat allow to defrost in fridge for up to 8 hours or thawed out.

healthy walnut recipe

Healthy Vanilla Pecan Protein Bites 1 cup Pecans (roasted for deeper taste) ½ cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut ½ cup Vanilla Protein Powder (whey or vegan) ¼ cup Almond Butter 10 Soft Dates (pitted) Place pecans (roast first if desired), coconut, vanilla protein powder, almond butter and dates* in food processor or high-powered blender. You may have to stop and scrape down sides. If batter/dough is too thick add 1 Tbsp at a time until workable. Line surface with parchment paper or wax paper. Let dough set up in fridge for up to 1 hour Roll dough into 1 inch balls Serve, or store in fridge in air tight container up to two weeks or freezer for up to 3 months

*If dates aren’t soft let them soak in hot water for up to 15 minutes then drain (your food processor will thank us later)

healthy pecan recipe 

walnuts vs pecans nutrition

Final Note

We hope you have a better understanding of the health benefits of walnuts and pecans now. Remember it’s not so much of a walnuts vs pecans; they both are awesome choices for a healthy snack that will boost your energy while giving you multiple nutrients needed to sustain a healthy life. Try to include these nuts into your daily diet but remember not to over eat as they are high in calories. Shoot for half an ounce each every day, this would be about 3-4 walnuts and about 4-5 pecans.

Let us know if you try to make either of the recipes above, we’d love to get your feedback!

Related Content: Plant Protein vs Whey Protein

- Sam Coleman
Here's Why Doing Heel Elevated Squats Can Be Good

You’ve probably seen people in the gym placing weights under the heels of their feet when performing a squat and wondered why. These are called heel elevated squats or raised heel squats and are a variation of the traditional squat.

To get straight to the point, by raising your heels, you'll be able to get deeper into your squat as it helps with flexibility. This is particularly useful for people with poor ankle (or hip) mobility, who'd otherwise not be able to have a large range of motion when squatting. 

If you don't know, a deeper squat means more muscle fiber recruitment, which means more muscle growth and strength.

But, that's not the only reason to do heel elevated squats. A lot of people who have no issue with mobility perform heel elevated squats simply because it does a good job of emphasizing the quads, which may need more attention than they are getting from a traditional squat alone. 

As with anything, there is the good and the bad, and this exercise has been surrounded by a significant amount of debate. So, let's uncover the advantages, disadvantages, and everything else you’ll need to know about this exercise, such as how to set it up, correct form, and other alternatives. 

raised heel squats

What Are Heel Elevated Squats?

Squats are by far one of the most beneficial exercises. They almost work your entire lower body, aid in losing weight, strengthening your core, and shaping your butt. The fundamental movement performed in a squat strengthens your tendons, bones, and ligaments around the leg muscles.

As fundamental, primal, and effective as the squat is, not everyone can squat properly, and it's not the be all end all of exercises. 

Now, on to heel elevated squats specifically...

Heel elevated squats are a version of flat squats, but by simply placing a weight under your heel and elevating it, you’ll experience a considerable change in the movement.

Generally, people elevate their heels with a weighted plate or small platform for three reasons:

Increase their squat depth Reduce the weight load from their hips and ankles Increase the demand on their quads.

These are all pretty great reasons to incorporate raised heel squats into your routine. For some lifters, it may also just feel better on their body to keep their torso upright and take a little stress away from the posterior side and hips.

However, raising your heels up when squatting isn’t for everyone. There are a few different reasons why you should incorporate this exercise into your routine, and they depend on your goals.

Note: Olympic lifting shoes are designed with a slight elevation in the heel. The reason weightlifting shoes are made like this is because it puts the lifter at a greater advantage through the ability to squat deeper and increase ankle range of motion. This is exactly what you are creating by raising your heels up a little using a small weight plate. So, if you have Olympic weightlifting shoes, you'll be doing the same thing, maybe just to a lesser degree depending on the shoe. 

elevating heels when squatting

What does elevating your heels do for squats?

Elevating your heels when performing a squat will do two things: Increase squat depth, and transfer force and emphasis to your quadriceps.

Heels elevated squats better activate the muscle fibers of your quads because it increases the range of motion at the knee while decreasing the range of motion at the hip. By going deeper into your squat through knee flexion, you will provide your quads with incredible stretching (eccentric) contraction in addition to full range concentric contraction. Achieving an optimal (full) range of motion is an essential part of building muscle and strength. 

Those with poor ankle mobility can not get deep into the squat, which means they are not activating their leg muscles as well as they should. This includes the glutes. So, elevated heel squats will be more effective for the entire lower body when compared to half squats done because of poor mobility. 

That said, the goal is to be able to squat with a full range of motion with your feet flat to the ground as that will provide the best overall muscle activation and is the most natural. So, you'll need to work on ankle mobility (and hip mobility) in the meantime if you are stuck only doing heel elevated squats due to form issues. When your mobility is up to par, you can squat with flat feet and then use heel elevated squats as a form of an accessory lift to hone in on greater quad development. 

What Muscles Do Heel Elevated Squats Work?

Squats are by far one of the most effective lower body exercises you can do. It is a multi-joint, compound exercise that works many muscles at one time, and allows for heavy loads, which is why it is so great at building strength and muscle mass, among other benefits like increasing bone density and calorie burn. 

The squat is the king of lower body exercises, the bench press is the king of upper body exercises, and the deadlift is the king of posterior chain exercises. 

As for muscles worked, a squat is going to work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, adductors, abductors, calves and lower back, with your quads and glutes being the primary movers and main target.

Then, you have supporting muscles that play a very important role in stabilization. The stabilizing muscles during a squat are your hamstrings (they take on an important stabilizing role on the descent), low back, spinal erectors, calves, abs, obliques, and your traps and rhomboids (scapula stabilizers).

As you can see, there are a lot of muscles at play.

With a heel elevated squat, you are working all of these same muscles too. However, you are shifting emphasis from your posterior side (glutes and hamstrings) to your quads. 

Heel elevated squats are also easier on your low back because you can keep your torso in a more upright position. 

For beginners, a flat foot squat is the ultimate lower body exercise and really all that's needed for quad and glute development. However, the exercise as a whole is evenly spread across many muscle groups, which is why it is so great for overall strength. So, as you become more advanced, you'll need more specificity in your workouts. By which we mean more isolated exercises. That way, you can really hone in on a muscle group to give it the volume needed to continue growing and getting stronger. 

Because of that, heel elevated squats can make sense for beginners who lack mobility and more advanced trainees who need extra quad specific work. 

Your quads are a big muscle group that includes the vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. They command and demand a lot of attention to grow and get stronger, which is why elevating your heels can make sense even for someone who can squat with a full range on flat feet. 

squat with heels raised

Should you squat with your heels elevated?

There are two groups of people who should be elevating their heels with plates when squatting.

The first are people who lack ankle mobility, as the heel elevated squat will allow them to increase the depth of their squat. 

The second are people who have reached a point where squats are not giving their quads quite enough activation and overload, so they need to add more quad specific exercises in their routine, in addition to regular squats. They will not stop doing standard barbell squats, they will simply add in some sets of heel elevated squats (or other quad specific squats like hack squats) after doing regular squats. For them, the heel elevated squat is simply an assistance lift/accessory exercise.

So, if you can perform a standard flat footed squat with a full range of motion and you feel your quads are getting enough activation from regular squats, then you don't need to do heel elevated squats. However, if you want to give them a try to see how it hits your quads, by all means. You can think of the heel elevated squat like you would a leg press or even a leg extension, albeit it is much more compound. 

Will they improve my squats?

If you lack ankle or hip mobility and you are using heel elevated squats to make up for that, then you need to think of it as a temporary solution. You should also be working on improving the mobility/flexibility of your ankles and hips, which you can do with some simple mobility exercises.

If you are using heel elevated squats as a way to better target your quads, then it actually can help improve your regular squats as with stronger quads, you will be able to lift more. You'll just also need to be placing extra emphasis on your hamstrings and glutes with other assistance lifts (such as stiff-leg deadlifts and hip thrusts). 

squats with heels raised

Benefits of Heels Elevated Squats:

We've already went through the benefits of squatting with your heels elevated, but let's recap in a more clear manner for those who like to skim articles.

#1: Improves depth of squats

One of the most significant benefits of the elevated heels squat is that you can go deep into your squat due to your ankles being in a more advantageous position. Essentially, it's like a sort of crutch to lessen the demand on ankle and hip range of motion. If you have poor hip or ankle mobility, you will immediately notice the difference. You will be able to go lower into the squat.  

This deep range of motion will help you to build both size and strength. When you go deeper into the squat, you provide your leg muscles (quads and glutes) with optimal stretching tension, which is necessary to build size and strength. And the deeper you can go with your squat, the more you can maximize your potential when it comes to building your leg muscles. 

#2: Elevated heel squats activate your quadriceps more

By elevating your heels, you are directly impacting your quads. This is because you have a greater range of motion at the knee, which the quads control.

The vastus medialis is one of the more common muscles in the quadricep muscle group to be underdeveloped, and this exercise targets it perfectly. 

#3: Reduces the stress on the lower back

Let’s face it, squats can put a great amount of strain on your lower back and lumbar spine, especially if you are going deep, heavy, and your form is not entirely on point.

Raised heel squats reduce this stress because your upper body remains way more upright throughout the squat. You don't have to worry as much about arching your back.

This is because your knees go over your toes and you will not be pushing your hips as far back. This allows your upper body to stay straight which reduces the pressure on the lumbar spine and the strain on the muscles of the lower back.

Not only does this prevent lower back injuries, but it can also be a good option for people who are worried about re-injuring their lower back yet still want to squat.

It also makes sense for some to move to heel elevated squats after doing sets of regular squats if your lower back has had enough. It can allow you to put less demand on your low back while increasing the volume of work on your legs. Often times, you low back will tire out before your quads. 

Disadvantages of Heel Elevated Squats:

While heel squats offer some important benefits there are some drawbacks to this exercise, and it’s important that you understand what they are before incorporating them into your routine. 

Let’s take a look at these disadvantages,

#1: Increases stress on knee joints

If you have bad knees and poor mechanics, this exercise might not be the best option.

This is because your knees may move a bit in front of your toes as you squat down, unlike a traditional squat where your knees should remain behind or in line with your toes.

Some people bring their knees too far forward during elevated heels squats. 

Furthermore, you are increasing the range of motion at the joint.

With that, it can extra strain on your knees. This is usually only an issue for people with bad knees. 

On the flip side, if your knees are weak, you want to strengthen your quads. So, as contradicting as it may seem, this exercise can help with that. You just need to start light and do high reps. You can also do other knee strengthening exercises before squatting. 

Related: Resistance Band Knee Exercises to Strengthen Your Knee Joint

Also, you need to make sure you are warmed up before doing squats if your knees are bad. When the blood is flowing and your body is warm, it's likely your knees won't hurt. So, do as many warm up sets as needed before getting into working weight.

If your knees hurt after your squat session, you should stop squatting and figure out how to fix your knee pain for good before getting back under the bar. A lot of people have chronic knee pain, so they just avoid squatting in general. If this is the case, you can consult a doctor or physical therapist. 

#2: Reduces activation of the posterior chain

The posterior chain includes your hamstrings, buttocks, and lower back. These three muscles work on hip extension. By elevating your heels, the stress of the load is transferred more to the quads and less to the hamstrings, glutes and lower back.

As such, if you were to do only elevated heel squats, it's not a complete enough lower body exercise. At least not compared to standard squats. You will need to do other exercises to target your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. This makes workouts a little less efficient.

That said, even with regular squats, it's still not enough for the hamstrings, so you'll need an additional hip extension exercise to target them regardless.

Hip extension exercise = deadlift, RDL, hip thrusts 

The point is, a standard flat foot squat is a more complete lower body exercise than the raised heels squat. 

#3: It doesn’t reinforce dysfunctional movement, but it doesn't promote it either

By squatting with your heels elevated, you are basically eliminating ankle dorsiflexion (the need to bend at your ankle), which is an essential movement to be able to do.

This doesn't mean that you are creating dysfunctional movement, but it also doesn't mean you are helping to establish good full range movement. 

For people who use heel elevated squats because they lack ankle mobility, it is simply a solution to squatting until you improve your range of motion. If you were to only squat with your heels elevated, you will never improve the mobility of your ankle, which is obviously not ideal.

However, if you have some specific long term limitation, heel elevated squats are fine to do for as long as you please.

Are heel elevated squats bad for knees?

Raised squats are not bad for your knees when done properly. You just have to avoid forward knee tracking. If your form is off due to your knees coming too far past your toes, you can create wear on your knee joint.

However, with proper form, this exercise can actually strengthen your knees because it targets the muscles around your knee. If you have bad knees or previously had an injury, it's always best to go slow or look for an alternative exercise to target the same muscles that will be less strenuous on your knees. 


A post shared by CLEA | ONLINE FITNESS COACH (@cleaearnshaw)

How To Perform Heels Elevated Squats

As with any new exercise, start by first ensuring that you are performing the exercise with the correct form. Use less weight until you perfect your form and range of motion.

If you can, record your movements or have a partner watch to form check.

1. You’ll need a weighted plate, dumbbell, or squat wedge to place under your heels. You’ll place the object of your choice under your heels. Only your heels should be on the platform. Be sure that you are standing with your feet slightly wider than hip-width and your toes on the ground.

2. Engage your core and glutes to maintain an upright posture. With your weight evenly distributed throughout your feet, inhale, and lower down into a squat. When lowering, be sure to push your hips backward as if you’re going to sit on a chair.

3. When you reach the bottom of the squat, exhale as you push upwards through your heels to return to starting position. Keep your core engaged throughout. Don't let your heels come up off the plate or platform as well. 

Best rep range: 5-8 for strength and hypertrophy & 8-12 for hypertrophy. Use a load that challenges you in the rep range (once you get the form down pat).

Raised Heel Squat Set Up

There are two different ways that you can raise your heels up.  The first is to put a metal plate under your heels to lift them up. The second is you can use a wooden block. There are some blocks made specifically for this exercise. 

When it comes to a weight plate, you don't want to use one that is too big. Generally, a 2.5lb or 5lb plate is enough. The thinner, the better. You can even use it as a form of progression, where you start with a thicker plates and move to a thinner plate until you can squat with no plate.

If you are doing heel elevated squats for the purpose of quad isolation, then use a 5lb plate. 

Another option is to wear elevated heeled weight lifting shoes. More on this in a moment. 

Tips for the Heels Elevated Squat

Following these simple tips will help to improve your form so that you can take advantage of the many benefits of this exercise and reduce the risk of injury. It’s always a good idea to record or have someone check your form when you perform any new exercise.

Keep your torso in an upright position throughout the range of motion. Slightly arch your lower back throughout the exercise. Be sure that your feet are completely square. Do not roll your feet in or out. Pay attention to the proper alignment of the knees. Do not allow them to collapse inward. Your toes should be in front of your knees during the lift.

heel elevated squats benefits

Are You Making These Common Heel Elevated Squat Mistakes?

Proper form is always important with any exercise - it reduces the risk of injury, and targets the specific muscles. Here are the most common mistakes people make when doing the raised heel squat,

Lifting your heels:

Stability is important,, and if your heels begin to creep up,, you’ll become less steady. When you lift your heels during a squat it’s likely that the barbell is moving forward, and you’re not as stable. Plus, you’re increasing the risk of injury to your knees, hips, and lower back.

You’ll need to make sure that the barbell is aligned above your hips and ankles. Be aware of the heel, the ball of the foot, and the outer ball of the foot. They should always have contact with the floor. By spreading your toes and gluing these three points onto the floor you’ll improve your foundation and improve your form.

Lifting your toes:

Lifting your toes places too much pressure on your heels, which results in overworking your posterior chain. This can affect many of your other exercises such as back squats, Romanian deadlifts, supermans, barbell hip thrusts, and reverse hyperextensions.

In order to keep your toes from lifting off the floor, you can try to strengthen your feet by using the tripod technique.

Arches Collapsing:

When your arches begin to collapse you are putting your knees at the risk of caving, which creates poor form and the potential of injuring your foot or ankle.  You’ll know that your arches are collapsing by looking at your inner and outer foot.

When looking at your outer foot, is it losing contact with the ground?

When looking at the inner foot, does the arch lose height at all?

You’ll need to be barefoot to see these things. Your feet will tell you a lot about your form. Ask a friend to check your form and watch your feet or record yourself and review it afterward.


A lot of people swear by weightlifting shoes. Weightlifting shoes have a raised heel and will provide you with a raised heel without adding the weight under your heel. This allows you to squat deeper, in a more upright position. The decreased demand for ankle dorsiflexion creates an increased knee flexion. The shoes also are very stable since they are perfectly flat on the bottom rather than arched like with running or basketball shoes.

Most will say to get weightlifting shoes if you can rather than squatting with your heels on a plate, but they are effectively the same. The benefit of use a weighted plate is you can control the height (making it more or less like a normal squat vs a quad specific squat) AND it costs nothing (good weightlifting shoes aren't cheap). If you are very serious about weightlifting and squatting, then it's a good investment. 

**Below are affiliate ads from Amazon where we will make a small commission on any purchases at no additional cost to you. We chose these because we know they are top of the line**

// Alternatives to a Heel Elevated Squat

Don’t worry if you’re not able to do a raised elevated squat there are plenty of variations that you can do that will allow you the same benefits.  Remember that no matter which exercise that you are performing proper form is essential. So take your time and be sure that you are mastering this before adding weights. 

Dumbbell Squats

are heel elevated squats bad

Dumbbell squats are an amazing exercise. They are simple to perform and places your center of mass lower, which makes going deeper easier. 

Also, it places less pressure on your joints, especially your back. 

You’ll start by holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands and then go down into a squat. When you perform the dumbbell squat, your center of mass is much lower compared to a traditional back squat. This allows you to fatigue your muscles without the fear of losing balance.

The downside to this variation is that you are not able to use as much weight as you can with a barbell, so this wouldn’t be a primary exercise for your lower body.

Cyclist squats

cyclist squats

The cyclist squat is just like an elevated heel squat but your feet are closer together, and generally the heels a little higher. This places the emphasis even more on your quads (shoulder width apart is more well-rounded for the legs, but with your feet close together like a cyclist squat, your torso is even more upright and your quads are absolutely the main focus). 

One of the reasons why the heels elevated squat is so great is because it targets your quadriceps and makes them work harder. That is what the cyclist squats can do for you as well. This exercise is a great alternative that will increase the size and strength of your quads.

To perform the cyclist squat you’ll start with a narrow stance and elevating your heels. With a barbell on your back, you’ll squat down, making sure that your torso is upright and your knees are forward over your toes. Just make sure you don’t squat with your heels too close together. I wouldn’t go any closer than 4 inches apart for safety reasons.

Low Bar Back Squats

squatting with heels raised

Certain squats require more ankle mobility. For example, a front squat and a high bar squat requires more ankle mobility.

If your issue with regular squats is ankle mobility, an easy fix might be to position the bar lower on your back, which is called a low bar squat.

With a low bar squat, the bar is resting on your middle traps whereas a high bar squat the bar is resting on your upper traps. You will also push your hips back more and your torso will lean forward more during a low bar squat.

Something to note is that while a low bar squat requires less ankle mobility, it requires more hip mobility and puts more pressure on your lower back. As such, if your issue with squatting is hip mobility and not ankle mobility, then a high bar or front squat is better for you. 


Test Your Mobility Ankle Mobility Exercises Hip Mobility Exercises

In any case, you need to see where your issues are. Do you have poor ankle mobility, poor hip mobility, or both? The most important thing to do is improve your mobility. Once you have normalized your joint's range of motion, you can perform squats properly. From there, if you stay consistent with squatting through a full range of motion, you will maintain good mobility as squats are a form of dynamic stretching (they move your through a normal/optimal range of motion, stretching your leg muscles).

In Conclusion:

Now that you know why heel raised squats can make sense and when you should do them, if this topic comes up with friends or at the gym, you can state the facts. This simple technique of adding something under your heels when performing a squat helps people increase their squat depth and it also can help more advanced lifters hone in on their quads because the load tension is shifted to the front and they can move through a greater range of motion at the knees. The only people who shouldn't really do heel elevated squats are those with bad knees.


Should I do heels or flat squats?

Both are really good, and squats are a staple in any exercise. Raised heel squats are great to target the quadriceps muscles and stretch the calf muscles. But, elevated heel squats shouldn’t replace your traditional squats. Think of heel elevated squats as an accessory exercise. 

Are elevated heel squats for glutes?

The elevated heel squat exercise is a great lower body exercise as it allows your torso to stay upright, targeting the front of your upper legs targeting your quads more than the glutes. That said, your glutes will be targeted as well and through a fairly large range of motion. 

​​What are some precautions I should worry about?

As with any exercise, there are some things that you need to be cautious of. Because you are elevating your heels you are shifting the focus more on your quads and that’s helpful if you need extra quadriceps work. You are also limiting the mobility of your ankles, and if you haven’t developed either it might be difficult for you to perform. You should practice this exercise without weights until you become comfortable and have proper form.

Why do raised heel squats hurt my knees?

By raising your heels, you’re increasing the range of motion at your knee. This targets more of your quadriceps muscle fibers. But if your form isn’t correct and your knees push too far forward in front of your toes, you can feel pain in your knees. But incorrect form certainly isn’t the only reason, and it could be from a previous knee injury.

Your Guide To Squatting: How To, Improving Form, Benefits, Muscles Worked & The Many Variations

- Sam Coleman
Coronary Heart Disease Study Shows It's Never Too Late To Get Active (With Infographic)

It’s never too late to start being active according to a large-scale study with more than 30,000 heart patients. We often hear about all the health benefits of staying active throughout our lifetime. Many older people who didn’t exercise regularly during their life might’ve thought that it might be too late to start but that’s not necessarily the case.

Coronary Heart Disease Study Shows That It's Never Too Late To Get Active

This study showed that those with coronary heart disease who changed to a more physically active lifestyle later in life is almost as beneficial to survival as being active for your whole life.

“Those with coronary heart disease may benefit by preserving or adopting a physically active lifestyle”, remarked the study’s author Dr. Nathalia Gonzalez of University of Bern, Switzerland.

The leading cause of death in developed nations is heart disease despite there being a number of actions people can take to prevent or reduce risk of dying from it. A typical type of heart disease is coronary heart disease also called coronary artery disease. The coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood can be damaged by buildup of fatty material called plaque. Then blood platelets (the cells that help with clotting) can stick to the damaged areas of the arteries lading to blockage of blood flow. This in turns leads to ischemia (lack of oxygen to the heart muscle cells) or a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

A number of scientific studies have identified multiple risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing coronary heart disease. This is important because if we know the risk factors, we are able mitigate some of them by changing lifestyle habits. Coronary heart disease isn’t always accompanied by any symptoms, the first sign of heart disease could be a heart attack or cardiac death. This unpredictability means that it’s imperative to start doing something about the risk factors that you can control.

coronary heart disease exercise

The most common risk factors for coronary heart disease are: Age (men over 40 * suffer from heart disease at high numbers / women over 45) Smoking Family history High blood pressure (hypertension) Diabetes Inactivity Obesity High bodyfat Unhealthy cholesterol levels Actions to manage risk factors: Eat healthy Exercise at least 150 minutes weekly Treat high blood pressure Manage blood sugar levels if you have diabetes Reduce fat Lower cholesterol coronary heart disease study The Study Explained

The main purpose of the study was to look at activity levels over time and their correlation to the risk of death in patients with heart disease.


33,576 patients with coronary heart disease split into 9 distinct groups Average age 62.5 years old 66% men 34 % women Median follow-up from baseline 7.2 years


Patients were divided into 4 groups based on their activity status at baseline(beginning) and follow-up.

Inactive over time Active over time Increased activity over time= Moving from inactive to active Decreased activity over time= Moving from active to inactive

Active: At least ~150 minutes of moderate activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly

Inactive: Less than above would be considered inactive

The activity levels were based on validated questionnaires at the two data collection points (baseline and follow-up)

The researchers studied the risks of all-cause death and death from cardiovascular disease compared to patients who were inactive over time.

The results related to all-cause death were as follows:

50% lower who were active over time 45 % lower for those who were inactive then became active 20% lower for those who were active then became inactive

The results related to death due to cardiovascular disease were as follows:

51% lower for those who remained active 27% lower for those who increased activity

According to Dr. Gonzalez "The results show that continuing an active lifestyle over the years is associated with the greatest longevity. However, patients with heart disease can overcome prior years of inactivity and obtain survival benefits by taking up exercise later in life. On the other hand, the benefits of activity can be weakened or even lost if activity is not maintained. The findings illustrate the benefits to heart patients of being physically active, regardless of their previous habits."

Coronary Heart Disease Infographic

coronary heart disease infographic its never too late to get active

Final Note

Coronary heart disease is a serious problem many people face throughout the world. Although we can’t change our genetics, we can control a number of the risk factors by making healthier choices. This study shows that it’s better to start getting active later than never.

Related Content:

Stationary Bike Benefits HIIT for Beginners Non-Running Cardio Workouts Time Efficient Workouts
- Sam Coleman
Smith Machine Squats: Correct Form, Benefits, Debate, and Variations

For those who regularly lift, a Smith machine squat is an intense subject of controversy. Compared to free-weight squats, smith squats are entirely different.

Not appreciating that difference is one way you can injure yourself. 

To address this topic, we plan on going through the proper form, technique, alternatives, and variants of smith squats. By the end of this article, you'll have an idea of how (and if) you should integrate them into your workout schedule. 

Smith Machine Squats

How To Do Squats on a Smith Machine

Thing first thing to note is that a smith machine squat is not like a free weight squat. Yes, you are squatting, but the form must be different due to the smith machine having a fixed bar path.

Put simply, you need to place your feet a little forward in front of your body. Just far enough so that when you squat down, your knees aren't going past your toes.

Your feet will not be directly under the bar like with a free weight barbell squat. A lot of people get under a smith bar and position their feet in line with the bar, as they would a free weight barbell squat, but this is a mistake. 

You can think of the smith machine squat like a hybrid between a free barbell squat and a hack squat. Your feet will be about 3-6 inches forward from what they are with a barbell squat. 

So, the first thing you should do is find your correct foot placement with an empty bar. Again, that's about 3-6 inches forward. There's a happy medium between too far forward and too far back, so find it. 

If you position your feet correctly, then the common "smith machine squats are dangerous" statement is untrue...or better yet, it's the same risk as it is for any exercise. Any exercise done with poor form can lead to injury. 

Smith machine squats are only bad if you try to do them like you would a free weight squat. This is because it puts too much pressure on your joints, particularly your knees and spine. If you place your feet forward, you don't run this risk. Be that as it may, there are other things to debate about the benefits and disadvantages of smith machine squats, but we will get to that later on in this article after we run through correct form and common mistakes...

Angled vs Straight Smith Machines

Another thing to note is some smith machines have an angled bar path while others are perfectly straight up and down.

Angled smith machines are usually 7-12 degrees inclined, which is still very up and down, of course, but having this slight incline of the bar path will allow you to have a more natural squat bar path. Nevertheless, your feet will still need to be a little forward, just not as much as with a straight bar path smith machine. 

An angled smith machine is best, and thankfully most commercial gyms have angled bar paths as it has become the standard. Again, the angled bar path allows for more natural movement for exercises like squats and presses. 

One thing to note about the angled smith machine is that you need to face a specific way, whereas with a straight smith machine, it doesn't matter. With an angled smith machine, your body should be facing away from where the bar is angled. So, when coming up from the squat, the bar is moving up and back. 

Related: How much does a Smith machine bar weight & Types of Smith machines

Now, let us walk you through the form step by step. 


smith machine squat


Generally speaking, you can go heavy with smith machine squats. Also, a Smith squat targets the muscles differently (more emphasis on the quads). Which is why many advanced lifters use them in addition to barbell squats.

In any case, when first starting out, go light to get the form down. 

Step One: Setup the Smith Machine

Before you start squatting, you'll want to be sure that the Smith machine is ready. This begins with the bar.

Your Smith bar should be level with shoulders, not your neck. The best position would be for your barbell to be located on your upper traps and rear delt when standing. So, it'll have to be set a little lower than that. That way you can lift it without needing to come up on your tip toes. 

You'll also need to be sure that the safety bar is set at knee level. The safety catch being at this level gives you enough room to work with and remain safe.

After that, you can load the bar with plates. But again, start light. 

Step Two: Starting Position

Get under the bar. The bar should be resting on your traps and rear delts, not your neck.

Position your hands at about shoulder width on the bar. You can adjust a little to find what's comfortable for you. 

Now, step your feet forward a little (approximately 3-6 inches forward from a normal squat stance). Your feet will be out in front of your knees with your legs straight. However, you can adjust this a little to find what position is best for you. 

Remember, start with an empty bar to find your foot placement. The goal is to keep your knees behind your toes when squatting and your back more upright (no rounding of the low back). Your knees and toes will be just about aligned at the bottom of the squat. 

As with a regular squat, your feet can be hip to shoulder width apart, and your toes can be straight forward or slightly pointed outward. Having your toes flared out may offer you a better range of motion.

The best stance is the one that is comfortable for you and that you can feel your quads really working. Everyone is built a little different. 

Your elbows should be aligned with your torso, but pointed back a bit.

Now, unhooking the bar will require you to lift up a little and rotate your wrists back. Make sure the hooks are out of the way (they will stay unhooked so long as you don't rotate your wrists forward). 

Once the bar is unhooked, it's time to inhale and descend. 

Step Three: The Descent 

As you descend, you'll want to push your hips back a little as you perform knee flexion (bend at the knees). 

Keep your chest up, shoulder blades retracted, and your head facing forward. This will ensure safety of your spine. 

As for how low you should go, ideally you want to have your butt about in line with your calves at the bottom, so a little past parallel. This will give you great stretching tension in your quads (and glutes), which is an essential aspect of building muscle and strength. 

The only exception is if you lack the mobility, in which case, go as low as you can and work on hip and ankle mobility in the meantime. 

There is a happy medium between to little range of motion and too much, so don't go TOO low. Again, a little past parallel is ideal, but parallel (thighs parallel with the floor) is also fine. 

Your knees should be about in line with your toes.

Feet flat on the ground.

No arch in your back.

Step Four: The Ascent

Exhale and drive up from the heels of your feet.

Do not forget to keep your spine straight, your elbows pointed, and your core engaged during this. 

At the top, your hips will come to neutral, but your knees will not fully lock out. Meaning, keep a slight bend in your knee when standing. 

Then, repeat. 

Best Rep Range:

Depending on your goal, you may want to focus on strength, hypertrophy or endurance. 

Strength: 3-8 repsHypertrophy: 6-12 repsEndurance: 12-15+ reps

Reps mean nothing without consideration for load. But rather than tell you a % of your 1 rep max, we will just say that the load should challenge you in the given rep range. Meaning you are coming close to failure (i.e. 1-3 reps left in the tank). 

Related: How to Progressive Overload

Seven Common Form Mistakes To Avoid on a Smith Machine

When performing Smith squats, form is vital. Below are five of the more common form mistakes you can make when squatting on this machine.

Form Mistake #1: Setting Up Like It's A Free Weight Barbell Squat

The biggest mistake we see is that people try to do a smith squat like a regular squat. As mentioned, your feet need to be forward, not your heel under the bar like with a free barbell squat.

This is just how it is with a smith machine due to the bar path. 

Form Mistake #2: Performing Your Movement Too Fast

The most common mistake that newbies make with any squat is performing the exercise too fast. If this is your first time performing the squat, staying precise and focused will enable you to focus on engaging your muscles.

This becomes more important on the descent, where your ability to control your movement down is an exercise alone.

When rising, do so at a steady rate. It's ok to explode a little but you don't want to do so in a way that has the bar coming up off your traps or that locks your knees out. 

Form Mistake #3: Rounding Your Spine

Regardless of what type of squat you do, curving your spine is a mistake. This is an easy way to hurt yourself. 

Always keep your back straight. Keeping your upper-back muscles engaged through scapula retraction and your chest up will enable you to prevent injury.

Also, getting your foot placement right from the start and not going to low at the bottom of your squat will help you to avoid any rounding of the back. 

smith machine squat form

Form Mistake #4: Allowing Knees to Cave In

When performing a Smith squat, do not let your knees to cave in.

Pointing your knees outward or inward is one way to cause a knee injury.

To avoid this, actively press your knees out as you squat up. Of course, this doesn't mean let your knees flare out, but the force should keep them in line with the direction of your toes. 

smith squat

Form Mistake #5: Leaning Forward

Leaning forward happens when you let your hips move faster than your knees. 

To stop yourself from leaning forward, practice slow and controlled movement. While many exercises benefit from an explosive finish, Smith squats aren't usually on that list.

smith machine squat vs barbell squat

Form Mistake #6: Pushing From the Balls of Your Feet or Coming Up On Toes

When you push from the balls of your feet, it puts strain on tendons and joints. To avoid this, you'll want to keep your toes down and focus on driving force from the heels of your feet on the ascent. 

Form Mistake #7: Shortcutting Your Range of Motion

The size of the load is less important than form when squatting. Studies have shown that deep squats are more effective than low range of motion heavy squats.

So, achieving a full range of motion comes first, then adding more weight. 

If you are looking for bigger muscles on your legs, make your squats deeper. When you have shallow squats, that shortcut won't help your legs.

smith squats

What Muscles Do Smith Machine Squats Work?

Smith machines work the same muscles as barbell squats, just the emphasis is different.

The primary movers are your:

Quadriceps (front thighs) Gluteus Maximus (and gluteus medius and minimus) Hip Adductors (Inside of your thighs) Lower back muscles (lumbar region)

We bolded the quads because they are the main muscle group targeted with a smith squat. 

smith machine squats muscles worked

Smith machines are compound movements, so supporting muscles are also in use:

Hamstrings Spinal erectors Hamstrings Calves Abs

HOWEVER, the stabilizer muscles, such as your abs and calves are working to a much lesser degree than with free weight barbell squats due to the bar being fixed. Essentially, you don't need to worry about balance and stabilizing the bar, so your supporting muscles are not nearly as activated. 

This study show that the stabilizing muscles are around 43% less engaged with Smith machine squats compared to free weight barbell squats. 

Basically, the smith machine squat really hones in on the primary movers (quads, and glutes to a degree). 

There are variations of smith squats that you can do to alter the muscles emphasized. We will show you several good variations of squats for a smith machine and what muscles are emphasized later on in this article. For the standard smith squat, it's your quadriceps that are most targeted. 

Here is how Smith machines target these muscle groups:


Your quadricep muscle group is made up of four muscles: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. The Smith squat will target the entire muscle group. 

With your feet being forward on a smith squat, your quads will be more activated than with a free weight barbell squat, which more evenly spreads the work across your legs (which is why it is a more complete strength exercise). 

Your quads will also be more activated with a narrower stance. That doesn't mean you have to go super narrow, but if you notice your quads aren't being activated well, it's probably because your feet are too far apart, causing the movement to be more abductor.  

Also, the deeper you go, the more your quads will be stretched. Stretching tension is essential for hypertrophy. 


The wider your stance, the more your hip abductors will work, which includes your glutes. 

However, with a normal stance, your glutes are still activated quite well, especially if you have a full range of motion. 

Hip Adductors

The hip adductors are going to be most engaged when the hips are flexed, which means at the lower portion of the lift. 

So, the lower you go, the more your hip adductor will be activated. 

Lower Back Muscles

Traditional squats are an excellent method to increase lower back strength. Smith machines aren't more effective than conventional squats in this sense, but the exercise can still help.

It is natural to feel a bit of soreness if you don't regularly work out this muscle group. Be sure not to start with a heavier weight to avoid back injuries.

Spinal Erectors (Secondary)

Spinal erectors enable you to keep your back straight and engaged. However, Smith machines are an ineffective way to work out your erectors.

Much of this comes from your erectors being worked by the need to stabilize during regular squats. You don't have this worry with smith squats. However, your erector spinae muscles will still be activated to keep your back straight. 

Oversall, smith squats allow for better engagement of your quads with less for your erectors and core.

Abs (Secondary)

Free weight heavy squats are good for your core because your core must work to stabilize your movement. With smith machines, this demand is removed. Because of that, your core will be working to a much less (approximately 40-50% less).

Either way, even with barbell squats, you still should be doing some ab/core specific exercises. Squats are not enough regardless for full ab and core development. Your core takes on many roles, so you need to work it through all movements (extension, flexion, anti-rotation, rotation, etc.). 

The point is, while barbell squats are great for developing overall core strength, if you want to work your abs and other core muscles fully, you'll need to implement some core-specific exercises.


Bodyweight Core Exercises Kettlebell Ab & Core Exercises Resistance Band Core Exercises Steel Mace Core Exercises Best Plank Variations Transverse Abdominis Exercises

Hamstrings (Secondary)

Because squats are a big compound exercise that targets your legs, beginners assume squats will cover everything below the waist. However, the hamstrings do not receive enough attention with squats, with or without a Smith machine.

Hamstrings are never fully engaged during the lowest or highest part of your squats. So, some hamstring focused exercises must be included, regardless of whether you use a smith machine or a squat rack. 

Related: Best Hamstring Exercises

Calves (Secondary)

The calves work in two ways with squats, during ankle flexion and for stabilization. As you don't need much in the way of stabilization with a smith machine, your calves will really only be working based on the ankle's movement.

So, the heavier you go, and the lower you go, the more your calves will be activated. 

Nevertheless, like with a barbell squat, if you want to build up your calves, you'll need to do some calf specific exercises like calf raises in addition to your squats. The good thing is you can use a smith machine to hit your calves with standing calf raises! 

Related: Best Gastrocnemius Exercises

smith machine squat benefits

Smith Machine Squats Benefits

A Smith Assisted Squat machine comes with many potential benefits. Below are some of the most common reasons why you should consider this machine.

Benefit #1: Increases Muscle Isolation

Placing your feet in front of the Smith machine enables you to focus on your quads and glutes. If you want even more emphasis on your quads, keep your feet closer together.

While there are other exercises for the quads, Smith machines are very effective at isolating the quads and glutes due to the ability to change body position and not worry about stabilization. There are also many variations so you can hone in on other muscles.  

This is why even pro bodybuilders use the Smith machine for squats. 

It's basically a compound exercise with isolation characteristics, or in other words, it's a great assistance/accessory lift. 

Benefit #2: You Do Not Need a Spotter

The bottom of every Smith machine has a catch system. This catch system acts as a sort of replacement for a spotter.

Basically, you can rerack the weight at any moment using the available hooks. 

That said, it's not usually recommended to go to failure with squats. This is how a lot of people get injured. They think, "well i can train to failure with a Smith machine since i can always rack the weight mid-rep", but unless you are very experienced in which case you know your limits and how your body feels, we don't recommend it. 

Nevertheless, it's good to know you have that line of safety when pushing yourself on leg day. 

Benefit #3: Experienced Lifters Can Lift More

Smith machines remove much of the need to stabilize. For experienced lifters, this means more weight and/or volume, and therefore, more significant gains. 

Benefit #4: Reduced Chance of Injury

Your chances of injuries are reduced because of a lifter's ability to focus on form and the catch system. However, this of course does not translate to a zero percent chance of injuries. Like any exercise, you need good form and technique. 

While there are many benefits to those who can use this machine properly, Smith machines are also a hotly debated topic.

What Makes Smith Machines So Controversial? Are Smith Machine Squats Really Bad?

Depending on who you ask, you may be told that you should avoid Smith machines at all costs. Josh Henkin, a 20-year fitness industry veteran, has been quoted with the following:

"My biggest problem with the Smith Machine is that people are convinced they are still doing free weight movements when they perform exercises on the Smith Machine." - Josh Henkin,

Mr. Henkin makes an excellent point; you should not treat Smith machines as equivalent to free weight exercise. 

Think of the Smith machine like you would a leg press machine, a hack squat machine, or any other machine.

For most people, especially experienced lifters, the Smith machine i just another tool in their arsenal. It's an assistance/accessory exercise to be done in addition to free weight training. 

Make sure your choice of exercise and machine is suited to your goals. If you are looking for increased quad and glute mass, Smith machines are convenient.

If you only have access to a Smith machine, then you'll need to do additional exercises. You can do bodyweight squats holding on to plates to grease the natural groove of a squat. If you have dumbbells, there are tons of good dumbbell squat exercises you can do. With that, you can have a pretty well-rounded workout routine with Smith squats included. 

Overall, there is no "all or nothing" approach when it comes to exercise. Provided you do it safely and change out your use of the machine; you will be fine.

Some Disadvantages To Smith Machines

When it comes to only using a Smith machine for squats, there are a few problems. Here are something you should keep an eye out for:

Disadvantage #1: Unnatural Movement & Lack of Stabilization Strength

Only squatting with a Smith machine could train your body into performing unnatural movements. Again, a Smith squat is not like a normal squat.

However, if you do not treat Smith machines as your only solution, this is a non-issue.

Another thing to note about Smith machines is the lack of immediate feedback. You could be performing incorrect movements for months and not know anything is wrong.

Moreover, the lack of demand for stability means you aren't strengthening important muscles needed for free weight squats.

You'll notice this big time when you switch to free-weight squats.

All that said, the same argument on natural movement could be made using many exercise machines, such as leg press machines. Practicing free movement with weights should be an integral part of your exercise routine, but it doesn't mean it has to be the only part.  

Disadvantage #2: There is Evidence To Free Weights Being More Effective

Regardless of someone's take on the Smith machine, studies do tell us free weights are better

A free weight squat will train many more muscles and much of those muscles to a significantly higher degree. 

That said, you can use the Smith machine to hone in on a certain muscle group for increased activation compared to a free weight squats. This is because free weight squats are more evenly and wide spread in terms of the muscles involved.

With Smith squats, you will see a high activation for the quads, but ~40% less for all of the stabilizing muscles involved in a squat.  

The point is, for getting in some more muscle-specific work and increasing volume, the Smith is effective. Just do not rely solely on Smith machines for your workout routine. You need free, natural movement too.


Yes, they are great to do in addition to free weight barbell squats. A lot of average lifters hate on the smith machine, but ask any pro and they will tell you it has its place, even with squats. It's a good accessory exercise for the quads, just like hack squats or leg presses are. 

As for doing ONLY smith machine squats (likely because all you have access to is a smith machine), well then we'd say it is ok. You just need to make sure you are doing other exercises for your legs. You'll need a posterior exercise for your hamstrings and glutes, such as stiff leg deadlifts or RDLs and hip thrusts. You will also need to work on free movement squats (you can do this with your bodyweight, plates or dumbbells) and your core. 

Smith Machine Squats vs. Barbell Squats - Main Differences

smith machine squat vs free weight

When comparing Smith squats to barbell squats, the primary difference comes from your feet position. With a Smith machine, you can bring your feet our in front of the bar to accommodate the bar path.

Barbell squats are free-weight squats. Having free weights means you have no bar supporting your stabilization. It is entirely up to you to keep the bar and your body balanced. 

When it comes down to it, a barbell squat is a natural, primal movement pattern and an overall strength exercise, whereas a Smith squat is an accessory compound lift that's more muscle specific. 

Nevertheless, you'll of course find many similarities. 

It works your lower body. The bar resting on your traps. Your hands at shoulder width. Your spine straight. Knee and hip flexion and extension.  SQUATTING down.

Depending on who you subscribe to, you will find reasons to love both forms of exercise. Given that the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tells us that there are benefits to the greater leg control in Smith machine use, it's best to use both in your exercise routine.

By alternating between barbell squats and Smith squats, you'll have solid strength and muscle confusion.

Related: Free Weight Squats Guide: How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits & Variations

For clarification, here are some facts and myths about Smith Squats:

Myth: Increases risk of injury through unnatural squatting pattern.  Fact: Not as good as free weight barbell squats for overall leg strength, but good for muscle isolation. Myth: Smith machine will not build muscle or strength. Fact: Smith machines don't activate stabilizer muscles like free barbell squats do. Smith Machine Squat Variations

Because of the versatility of Smith machines, you'll find that there are numerous forms you can choose. Below, we will go through these forms so you might understand how they benefit you differently.

Smith Machine Front Squat

smith machine squat variations

Comparing to the free weight barbell front squat, the front squat on a Smith machine is very effective for honing in on the legs, particularly the quads. This is because there is significantly less demand on the core so it's easier to focus your effort on the legs. 

It's also a good way to learn the movement itself. 

Here are the steps you can take to perform these squats.

How to do a Smith front squat:

The smith bar should be at collar bone height. Keep your feet are at shoulder-width distance. There are a couple grips that you can use. The crossed arm position pictured above is the easiest. You should have a 90-degree angle between the upper arm and torso. Inhale before you lift the bar, ensuring that your elbows remain pointed straight forward. Like a regular squat, you'll want to be sure your core is engaged and your shoulder blades are together. Rather than push your hips back, you will sit more straight down with a front squat. Dropping your butt and keeping your core and elbows in position is crucial to maintaining this squat. Breaking at the hips will cause your body to lean forward. So, focus on breaking at the knees and keeping tension on the quads. At the bottom (ideally at or just past parallel) exhale and drive force through the heel of your feet. Feet flat to the floor at all times. 

Note: You also have other options for gripping the barbell or positioning your arms...


smith machine front squat


squat smith machine

Smith Machine Zercher Squat

machine squat

The Zercher Squat is similar to a front squat but different because the load position. This alters how your muscles a stressed a bit. 

Nevertheless, it is a more quad specific exercise too. 

The benefit of a zercher squat is that it's easier to keep your torso upright and you can go really deep, thus maximizing stretch tension. 

Bodybuilders and powerlifters who use the Zercher Squat swear by its usefulness. Here are the steps you need to take to perform it:

How to do a Smith Zercher squat

A Zercher Squat involves your Smith bar to be at waist height. Once it is there, you can spread your feet, so they are slightly wider than a shoulder-length stance. Extend your arms underneath the bar and wrap them around with the bar resting in your elbows. The position of your arms should be nearby your shoulders. Much like all squats, keeping your eyes forward, core engaged, and spine straight is vital. Inhale before beginning the exercise. Dropping requires you to tense your glutes and abs while keeping your feet pressed into the floor. With a straight back and engaged core, drop down until your elbows are slightly inside of your knees. When your elbows have reached that position, that is one complete descent. Once your drop is complete, you'll want to return quickly to your starting position. While you raise, be sure all vital body parts stay in position (spine, feet, elbows). You'll want to keep most of the weight on your feet as you rise quickly.

Smith Machine Hack Squat

hack squat smith machine

The hack squat is another quad specific exercise, but it does a good job of hitting the hamstrings and glutes too. It's benefit, besides emphasizing the quads more than traditional squat, is that there is less pressure on your joints. This is because the barbell is not placed on your back, and thus spine. 

We recommend this one for more experienced lifters who need more volume for the quads after squats or for people with joint pain or issues. It's also a good way to learn the movement before moving to a free barbell. 

How to do a Smith hack squat:

Set the safety catches at lower calf level and set the bar down on it.  Stand in front of the barbell, facing away from it. Let the back of your legs touch the bar. Feet shoulder width apart.  Squat down and grab the barbell with both hands. This is the starting position.  Ensure that your core is tight, your spine is straight, and your knees are in line with your toes.  Drive up to standing through the heels of your feet while holding the barbell. Pause at the top. Then slowly lower the bar down to the safety catches and repeat. 

Smith Machine Chair Squat (Feet Forward)


smith machine hack squat

The chair squat is essentially the same as a hack squat but the bar is on your back. In terms of your legs, the muscles worked is pretty much exactly the same. 

You'll need to find the right foot placement, so practice without weight. Too far forward and you'll get that feeling like you are going to slide out when squatting down. Too close to center and you're not getting the same effect as a hack squat. 

In essence, you want it to feel like you are actually sitting down, but there's no chair to sit on. 

You can only do this kind of squat with a smith machine, as you can lean back into the bar. The hack squat machine, which you should use rather than this if your gym has one, puts your body in a very similar position.

Among quad exercises, Hack Squats are some of the more advanced options. Until you master the traditional squat, you ideally should avoid. 

How to do a Smith chair squat:

Start by ensuring that the safety catch is at the right level. You can do this with a standard squat with no weight, leveling the bar to where it safely lands. Get under the bar, lift it up, and rotate to unhook the bar. Position your feet forward so your knees are behind your toes. This will allow you to sit back and keep your knees behind your toes when lowering down.  Like any squat, ensure that your spine stays straight, and you have an engaged core. You will also want to ensure your abs, glutes, and hips are at the same level. You will want to squat to the point where you have a right angle between your shins and upper thighs. This squat is very similar to sitting down, only very low and in a chair that does not exist. From the lowered position, rise up by driving force through the heels of your feet. 

Smith Machine Sumo Squat

sumo squat smith machine

There is the Smith Machine Sumo Squat in cases where you want a squat that focuses on your glutes and hamstrings more. The difference between a sumo squat and a regular squat is the position of your feet.

Any sumo squat requires you to have your feet placed outside of your shoulder width. The wider feet placement enables you to dip lower in your squat, focusing on the glutes.

Otherwise, all other steps in this process match your general steps for using a Smith machine:

Ensure your spine is straight Keep your eyes facing forward Engage your core Inhale before you drop Exhale as you reach the end of your rise

You also want to be sure your knees point the same way as your toes.

You'll know your sumo squat has proper form when your upper legs are parallel with the floor (flat).

Smith Machine Box Squat

are smith machine squats bad

The box squat is meant to provide more work on your glutes. 

When you squat down, you come to a complete rest on the box or bench, and then drive up to a standing position while focusing on glute activation.  

Smith Machine Split Squat

smith machine split squats

The split squat is a good option for the smith machine as it allows you to focus more on your legs rather than balancing, which a lot of people have trouble with. 

As a unilateral exercise, you can fix muscle imbalances and asymmetries. Plus, the body positioning is great for hone in on your quads and glutes. 

You can also do Bulgarian squats on a smith machine to turn up the difficulty level...

how to do a smith machine squat

Smith Machine Leg Press

smith machine or leg press

In the case of leg presses, you'll find that their use with Smith equipment is situational. The use of a smith machine for leg presses pretty much comes down to limited access to leg press machines.

That said, it hits the muscles a little different than a leg press due to the angle. 

Overall, the Smith machine is an alternative option if you don't have access to an effective leg press method (like a leg press machine).

It almost goes without saying, using a Smith machine to leg press is more "dangerous" than with a leg press machine, but if you set the safety bars up, you'll be fine. 

In regards to muscles worked, leg presses are more effective at training hamstrings and quads. Typically, they are less effective at activating the glutes.

You'll also still want to combine this with some form of squat. Squats are known to activate more muscles than leg presses, so you do not want to remove squats from your routine.

How to do a Smith Machine Leg Press (Reverse Squat):

To perform a smith machine leg place, you'll want to start by removing the bar from the locks and setting the right weight. As always, start with smaller weights if this is your first time.

There is no safety bar during this workout, meaning this workout can crush you. So stick to the regular leg press machine if possible.

Once the desired weight is up, and the bar is a comfortable reaching distance from the floor, you can lay down. Position yourself so you can look up and quickly place the balls of your feet on the bar.

Start by inhaling and driving the way up using your quads. Exhale while you push the weight up and inhale as you bring the weight down.

One rep happens when your weight reaches its lowest point (the safety bar). Go for three reps of ten, going up to 20 if you are working towards endurance.

Wrap Up - Final Tips When Using Smith Machines

When it comes to squat exercises, Smith machine squats can be incredibly effective when used correctly. Like all exercises, it is essential to include them in your rotation.

However, how you include, it will depend on your goals. Remember that the best use of Smith machine squats is the growth of quads and glutes.

Smith machines will secondarily challenge other muscle groups. However, it does not act as an adequate replacement for standard squats.

We hope this guide helps you out. If it does, consider sharing it with your friends. Here is a quick wrap-up of additional tips to keep in mind:

The Smith machine squat is not the same as a free weight squat, so don't treat it as such. Ideally, you should work on free barbell squats, and use Smith squats as an accessory lift for your quads if they need it. The smith machine is a valuable piece of equipment if you know how to use it. Work with the angle of your toe to find out what is comfortable for you Your neck position should ideally be steady (staring at a wall). To assist in form, look down at your back pockets and remember they should stay level with your heels. If you have a previous wrist injury, consider using a thumbless grip. Test out multiple options to see what is comfortable. Never forget to breathe.

Related: 11 Best Smith Machine Exercises To Boost Your Workouts

- Sam Coleman
The Ultimate Back and Biceps Workout for Strength & Mass

In this day of modern training, everyone is all about sculpting a massive, thick back and the biceps that come along with it. Having a nice V-taper accompanied by massive traps shows that you're serious about your training and can instantly change how people perceive you. Plus, your back is responsible for building good posture and a large portion of common injuries and ailments can be traced to a weak back as the culprit. Therefore, you’re going to learn the best back and bicep workout for strength and mass here and now.

In this article, you're going to learn:

Back and biceps anatomy Functionality of the back and biceps Benefits of having a strong back The best exercises to add size and strength to the back and biceps.

back and biceps routine

Benefits Of Having A Strong Back

Before we learn what to do to get a strong back, it's essential to understand why having a powerful back is actually very beneficial to your health. Yes, having a V-taper is accomplished through building your back, and a thick back is a sign of dominance at the gym. However, it can actually improve your quality of life.

Weak back muscles are the root of a large percentage of common ailments that we hear about today. Sore lower back, poor posture, and joint pain, just to name a few. For example, in this study, a woman's chronic elbow pain was alleviated entirely after completing a program that only focused on strengthening her middle and lower traps.  In fact, weak necks and lack of proper scapular control (study) are two of the more common issues seen.  Still, a weak lower back brings in a host of other issues such as general pain or can be the trigger for other ailments below the waist.  Regardless, if none of this will be an issue after performing this back workout routine, 

Anatomy Of The Back:

The "back" consists of several different muscles which work in unison to manipulate your arms and add stability to your spine. In fact, your back is even active during movements that take place on the anterior of the body, such as bench pressing

Latissimus dorsi


Commonly referred to as "the lats" the latissimus dorsi muscles are two large, flat muscles located on the body's side. From about mid-back to the lower back, the lats connect directly to the spine. They wrap around to the side and travel upwards when it begins to taper off and links to the upper extremity. 

The lats have a lot of different functions, including:

Extension of the shoulder Adduction of the shoulder Horizontal abduction of the shoulder Internal rotation of the shoulder Assists in extension and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine

From an aesthetic perspective, developed lats are responsible for creating the V-taper as they can protrude out to the side of the body. This is why they're also referred to as "wings" on guys whose lat stick out from their sides

Trapezius muscle


The trapezius muscle; better known as the "traps". The traps are the one muscle whose size can have a dramatic effect on how jacked you look. If the area between your neck and shoulder is flat, you're not going to intimidate anyone. However, if you have massive boulders sitting there, you'll get respect immediately.

The trap's origin is located from around mid-back on the spine and runs up all the way up the neck and to the skull where it attaches to the external occipital protuberance. This is why it's also referred to as "the neck muscle". The traps run towards the side of the body, angling up towards the shoulder where it inserts to the scapula and clavicle. 

Besides making you look swole, the traps are extremely important for producing neck health and creating good posture and vital for scapular control. They are primarily responsible for:

Pulling the shoulders up Pulling the shoulders back during scapular retraction Creating a firm base for the scapula Protecting the neck.

Erector spinae

erector spinae

Have you ever looked at a lifter, and they seem to have a massive canyon in the middle of their back? What you're looking at is a well-developed set of erector spinea muscles sitting on either side of the spine. 

The erector spine is actually a series of 3 major muscles that work to manipulate the spine:

Iliocostalis- The iliocostalis sits lateral (outside) to the longissimus and flexes the spinal column to its side. It also extends the spinal column  Longissimus- The longissimus sits in between the iliocostalis and spinalis and is the longest of the three erector spines muscles. It flexes the neck and head as well as extends the spinal column  Spinalis- The spinalis is closest to the spine of all three. It flexes the neck and head as well as extends the spinal column 

This group of muscles sits on either side of the spine and travels up and down its entirety from the sacrum and hips to the base of the skull. Strengthening these muscles is of extreme importance for a healthy spine and posture. 

Rhomboid Major and Minor


The rhomboid major and minor are two small muscles that sit on top of each other and are shaped like rhomboids. For those not familiar with geometry, a rhomboid is a parallelogram with uneven sides and differences in angles.

These muscle origins come from the upper spine and are inserted on the scapula. While small, they play a critical role in scapular control. Both muscles work to manipulate the scapula, press the scapula against the thoracic wall, and retract the scapula. 

Not having strong rhomboids will prevent you from keeping stable scapular control, leading to a cascade of biomechanical deficiencies. Without proper scapula control, the upper extremities cannot operate off a strong base, thus causing irregular movements as well as causing the joints to overcompensate. 

Rhomboids are trained anytime you are retracting your scapula and bracing them. That's literally what they do, and it wouldn't be possible without them. This being said, as long as you use good form during your pulling exercises (you better be!), you'll train your rhomboids. However, it's always a good idea to throw in some mobility work and light movements to build your rhomboid's strength and endurance.

Posterior Deltoids

rear delts

While technically the deltoids are your shoulders, there are three heads; the anterior, acromial (sometimes referred to as medial or middle), and posterior.  We are worried about the posterior as it is actually part of the back (hence the name “posterior’) and works in conjunction with the other back muscles. 

The main function of the posterior deltoid is pulling the arm back at various angles.  The good thing is you don’t need to worry too much about including a specific exercise for the posterior delts.  This is because virtually every back exercise that involves the arms hit them already. 

Anatomy & Function Of The Biceps:

Everybody knows the biceps! The biceps are a large two-headed (bi) muscle that sit on the upper arm. These two heads are separated into the long head and short head, which is determined by their origin. The short head originates from the coracoid process of the scapula while the long head originates from the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula. The two heads then run down the arm and merge together in the mid-region to form one larger muscle mass yet still distinct from one another. In other words, the muscle fibers are never shared. Next, this one muscle mass runs down past the elbow and inserts the forearm's radial tuberosity and bicipital aponeurosis.


Function of the Biceps

The biceps are unique in that they actually cross two joints; the shoulder and elbow. Specifically, they cross the:

Proximal radioulnar joint of the elbow Humeroulnar joint of the elbow Glenohumeral joint of the shoulder

Together, the biceps work to manipulate the arm several ways:

Flexion of the elbow while supinated and pronated Supinator of the forearm Forward flexion of the shoulder (This explains why people will bring their elbows forward during curls as their shoulders!) Stabilization of the shoulder during carries (i.e. holding a bag) The 11 Best Back Exercises For Strength And Mass:

Some may blow the above anatomy and function off, which would be a grave mistake. Identifying the different muscles of a muscle group and their different parts is pivotal in creating the best workout plan. Knowing how the muscles function makes identifying the correct exercises a much easier task.

Therefore, let's get started in examining the exercises you'll want to use. We will be using these exercises in our back and bicep workouts.

1. Rack Pull

best back workout

The rack pull is a beast of a movement and is easily the best exercise to load some massive weight. Some uneducated lifters look at the rack pull as a "cheat" deadlift, but those "in the know" look at it as one, independent movement. While the movement is obviously very similar to the deadlift, the bar is set at a raised height of your choosing. Doing so essentially lowers the range of motion, meaning you can lift more weight. More importantly, the rack pull is basically the second half of the deadlift, where the back is more involved. Therefore, we want to set the bar at or slightly above knee level. If the setting above is a couple inches above your knee, choose the setting below the knee of it's closer. 

While this is going to hit your entire back, it's an exceptionally amazing exercise for the traps. Multiple studies have found that the trap musculature has the highest EMG activity during the deadlift when the bar travels from the knees to lockout. In order to get high activation, sufficient weight needs to be used so these are best performed with heavyweight, low reps, and high sets.

2. Snatch-Grip High-Pull

back and bi workout

If you pay attention to who has some of the most impressive upper backs, you will notice that Olympic lifters are on the top of the list. This is due to the massive force they are required to generate by their upper back during cleans and snatches. However, Olympic movements are extremely technical and take some good coaching. In other words, they are not suitable for everyone.

The snatch-grip high-pull basically takes out what you need of the movement and throws out the rest. The high pull starts with the bar on the ground like a deadlift would but you take a wider grip, like the snatch. You then explode up using the triple extension and use this power to assist your arms in pulling the bar up to shoulder level. You will need bumper plates for this movement as the bar is then put back on the floor using a controlled fall. These are best performed with low reps, multiple sets, and adequate rest between each rep (NOT SET, REP) as you need time to set up. In other words, take your time 

3. Chin-Ups

best back and bicep exercises

Chin-ups are the king of pulling exercises, and yes, I mean pulling. Many people will point to the pull-up (which is also excellent), but the chin-up wins when looking at the amount of muscle mass used and ability to load. Proof? What's easier to do; chin-ups or pull-ups? Unless you're one of the odd ones, you'll say chin-ups. Many people will incorrectly think that the pull-up is better because it's more challenging; however, the difficulty of an exercise doesn't dictate its effectiveness. In reality, chin-ups are easier as you're using more muscle mass. This means that you can place a greater load on it.  

Further, you're getting a killer bicep workout as well. Bret Contreas used EMG readings during an at-home analysis of pulling exercises. This included a ton of exercises, from deadlifts to hammer curls. Do you know which exercise caused the greatest EMG readings in the biceps? Weighted chin-ups!

back bicep workout

This was due because the flexion of the elbow goes through a full range of motion, and the body is able to be loaded significantly. Remember, this movement is relative to your bodyweight, so the activation should be similar for everyone who works in the 4-6 rep range; for some, this means weighted for others not.

In fact, chin-ups are such a good movement; you're going to train them twice as much as the other movements.

4. Barbell Front Shrugs

back and bicep workout for mass

To really finish hitting the traps, your best bet is going to be using barbell front shrugs. Using the barbell forces you to use a pronated grip with your hands out in front of the body. This does two things benefiting optimal trap growth:

Increase the range of motion- You will notice that when compared with dumbbell shrugs to the side of the body, there is much more movement involved with front shrugs. Requires you to retract your scapula- One of the reasons there is a larger range of motion is because your shoulders are pulled forward, protracting your scapula. Remember, one of the primary functions of the traps is scapular control. Therefore, not only are you pulling up, you're pulling up and back as you retract your scapula.

These factors make the barbell front shrug the highest rated exercise when comparing EMG readings. Still the barbell shrug is a movement that allows heavy loading. When performing these, you want to focus on using heavyweight with slow reps. Even though the range of motion is larger with front shrugs, it's still relatively small. Therefore, you want to use slow reps to get as much time under tension as possible.

5. Dumbbell Bent Over Row

back and bicep workout bodybuilding

Dumbbell bent-over rows are going to destroy your middle back; in a good way. Rack pulls and shrugs take care of your upper back and these dumbbell rows will hit your middle & lower traps while also getting a good workout in with your lats. Further, due to the unilateral nature of the movement, you will naturally get a bit of core work and fight your body from rotating. Regardless, the dumbbell bent-over row is an amazing exercise to train your back.

6. Lat-Pulldown On Your Knees

back and bis workout

The lat-pulldown with a bit of a twist. As the name implies, you'll perform the lat-pulldown while on your knees. Regular lat-pulldowns are great too but doing them from your knees provides an extra benefit. Because you are not able to brace yourself using your knees, lat pull-pulldowns from your knees require full bracing from your entire body, much like a pull-up. In fact, this study found the EMG readings from lat-pulldown from the knees had the most similar to a pull-up. However, this movement is going to focus on the lats.

7. T-Bar Rows

best back and bicep workout

We love T-Bar rows. While barbell rows are also awesome, T-bar rows tend to allow people to use more weight for some massive backs. Further, as the weight is on a pivot, they seem to cause greater activation than a barbell row where the weight is pulling straight down. If you don't have a T-bar-specific machine, you can use a landmine set-up; either will work.

8. Standing Back Rows

arm back workout

We already have dumbbell rows and the T-bar row, so there's no need to add another row; except this standing row. These are performed with a pulley machine and any handle can be utilized; Neural, straight bar, rope. Do yourself a favor and mix it up. Regardless of where these standout, you are performing them standing up, which demands a much higher degree of stabilization in your core (and body in general). 

9. Swimmers

back and bicep workout for muscle growth

Above, we talked about Olympic lifters having great backs. Do you know who else does? Swimmers! Swimmers basically just mimic the freestyle stroke using a load. They're fairly easy to perform and all you need is a pulley system. The most important aspect of this movement is keeping your arms straight and pulling your arms down; don't pull your elbows back. 

10. Face-Pull

back and arm workout

Face-pulls are a must for any athlete as they are a prime movement to increase the upper back's strength and endurance. Still, performing these movements regularly will significantly improve scapular control and your shoulder mobility. Face-pulls are best done with lower weight and high reps. Further, including a good squeeze at full contraction is always a good idea. When you perform this movement, really be mindful about pulling your scapula back.

11. Back Extension

back and bis

Last but not least are back extensions. To be clear, you will have trained your erector spine pretty good already in the above exercises. However, we want some specific movements, so we'll throw these in as your last back exercise. Still, since your back will already be pretty fatigued, you'll perform just 1 set to momentarily failure, and that'll be it.

The 2 Best Bicep Exercises for Your Back & Bicep Workout:

Your biceps will get a good workout with the above plan, but again, we want some bicep-specific (isolation) exercises that target elbow flexion.

1. Bicep 21's

biceps and back

The biceps 21 do the trick of smashing the biceps really well. Bicep 21's consist of doing 21 curls in 3 continuous sets of 7.

Set 1- Perform a half curl from the bottom position to midway (where your hand is even with your elbow). Perform this 7 times. Set 2- Perform a half curl from the midway position to the top position. Perform this 7 times.  Set 3- Perform full bicep curls 7 times

Because you have already put some heavy loads on your bicep earlier, it's a good idea to perform some lightweight exercises with maximal reps and bicep 21's do the tricks.

2. Bicep Rope Hammer Curl

arms and back workout

The 2nd bicep exercise you'll do are hammer curls with a rope. Performing the exercise with a rope adds just a little bit of extra resistance at the top of the movement, where you pull the rope outwards. This causes a bit higher activation. Again, your biceps have already worked heavily so you'll want to use lightweight and high reps.

The 4 Best Activation Exercises For Your Back and Bi Workouts:

Before you start slinging heavyweight with the exercises above, you need to get your back warmed up and your muscles activated. Doing so not only lessens the likelihood of getting an injury it can also improve the performance of your session by allowing you to lift more weight. 

Further, this is a great time to perform the mobility and lighter exercises we discussed above. 

1. Bird Dog

should i train back and biceps together

Bird Dogs are one of Stu McGills famous "Big 3" movements for back mobility and health. This movement is performed by getting in a quadruped knee position. You will then move one arm, and its contralateral leg. This is a fancy way of saying "opposite," so your right arm will move with the left leg and vice versa. Your legs will move backward in a straightening action so your leg will be parallel with your back at the top. The arms will lift up in front of the head like superman. However, for our purpose, you will also want to alternate by lifting it out laterally (the side) as well. This is going to loosen up your back and joints, activate your back muscles, and overall just create a robust core.

2. Scapular Pull-ups

best exercises for back and bi workout

Scapular pull-ups are pull-ups that are only using your scapula. You start this movement in a hang with your shoulder protracted. Now, keeping your arms straight, you will retract your scapula. Hold this position, and then lower yourself down. While this is an excellent exercise for warm-up and activation, it's also a great way to throw in some grip training which everyone should be doing.

3. Band Pull Aparts

back warm up

Band pull aparts are basically reverse flies using bands. They are going to train your entire upper back and improve scapular control. This will be a great way to start your back training exercise. Still, these are some of the best basic exercises you can do to add work volume to your upper back to improve posture. This is why you want to do these every day.

4. Banded Curls

pull workout

You'll then move into 1 set of banded curls till 80% failure. Nothing fancy here. You're just wanting to get the biceps warm, primed and ready to go.

The Best Workout Plan For Your Back And Biceps

Above we went over the best exercises you need to perform to grow the back you want. Now, we just need to schedule them into a workout plan. When writing a program for strength and muscle hypertrophy, there are a few variables we want to consider. 

Training Frequency:

Training frequency refers to how many times a week you're going to train a specific muscle group; in our case, it's the back and biceps. The optimal training frequency that maximizes the amount of quality volume seems to be twice a week. Training your back and biceps two times a week will allow you to train with high intensity but also mitigate fatigue.

Rep Scheme:

Often, people make the topic of rep schemes way too complicated. Should I lift heavy for strength or should I lift light for muscle growth? How about just doing both? 

First off, our understanding of the rep spectrum has changed quite a bit over the last few years. Originally we believed that if you want to get strong, you need to lift with a load of >85%1RM. In order to gain muscle, you need to lower the weight to <80%1RM. However, we now know that only one of those is correct, kind of. 

Studies have now shown that for hypertrophy, any weight can be used. Basically, volume is volume regardless if you're using 3RM or 12RM. However, moderate weights do allow you to produce more volume, so reps of 8-12 are still best, just through different mechanisms. 

However, for strength, you need to use those heavier loads. Some strength can be built with lighter loads when you're a beginner, but that won't last long. 

Still, strength and hypertrophy play off each other. A stronger muscle can allow more volume to build a bigger muscle. A bigger muscle has the potential to be a stronger muscle. A stronger muscle can….you get the point.  

Therefore, just do both. The beginning of the session will start with a heavyweight. As you progress, the exercises will get lighter.  

Order Of Exercises:

Your session should always start with the "biggest" exercises and then move down towards your most minor as the session progresses. 90% of the time, this refers to the movement that you will be using the most weight with. An example where this may not be the case are shrugs. Even though you can use a large load with shrugs, the range of motion is small.

back day

The Best Back and Bicep Workout For Strength And Size

You're going to have two sessions; session A and session B. You want to perform these sessions with 2-4 full days of rest in between. 

For reference: RPE = rate of perceived exertion. We use an 8 RPE for some exercises, which means you have ~2 reps left in the tank (80% failure rate) and you are using a challenging weight of 68-92% 1RM. So, if we write just 8 RPE, that means do as many reps until you reach 80% of your failure rate. If we state 8 RPE and a number of reps, choose a weight load that leaves you with just ~2 reps left in the tank in that rep range.

Back & Bi Warm-Up & Activation (To Do Before Both Sessions): Bird Dog: 1 sets x 10 reps/side Scapular Pull-ups: 2 sets x 5 reps Band Pull Aparts: 2 sets x 8 RPE (rate of perceived exertion) Band Bicep Curls: 1 set x 8 RPE Session A Rack Pulls 4 sets  4 reps Chin Ups (weighted if necessary) 3 sets 8PRE 7-10 reps Barbell Front Shrugs 4 sets 4-6 reps T-Bar Row 3 sets 6-8 reps Kneeling Lat-Pulldown 3 sets 8-12+ reps Back Extensions 1 set Failure Bicep 21 2 sets 7x7x7 Session B Snatch Grip High Pulls 5 sets  3 reps Chin Ups (weighted, if possible) 3 sets 8RPE (4-6 reps) Dumbbell Bent Over Rows 3 sets 6-8 reps Standing Cable Row 3 sets 8-10 reps Swimmers (or lat pushdowns) 3 sets 12+ reps Back Extensions 1 set Failure Rope Hammer Curls 3 sets 12-15+ reps Perform This With Any Program

You can utilize this with any other program you have. Obviously, when you are trying to concentrate on one area, other areas may need to sacrifice some time.

To give you an idea of how this workout can fit into various programs at a frequency of approximately two times a week...

PPL Split

You could do a 5 or 6 day PPL split:

5 Day:

Day 1: Push Day (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps Workout) Day 2: Pull Day (Back & Bicep Workout) Day 3: Leg Day (Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Core Workout) Day 4: Push Day Day 5: Pull Day Day 6-7: Rest- Start following week with Leg Day. 

~6 Day:

Day 1: Push Day (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps Workout) Day 2: Pull Day (Back & Bicep Workout) Day 3: Leg Day (Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Core Workout) Day 4: Rest Day 5: Push Day (Back & Bicep Workout) Day 6: Pull Day (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps Workout) Day 7: Leg Day (Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Core Workout) Day 8: Rest- Repeat

Body Part Split

If you have a 4 or 5 day body part split:

Day 1: Back & Bicep Workout Day 2: Chest & Tricep Workout Day 3: Legs & Shoulder Workout Day 4: Back & Bicep Workout Day 5: Chest & Tricep Workout

If legs and shoulders are more important for you to build up, you can switch them with chest and triceps. 

All in all, with smart programming, you can make it work. 

Another option, is to do one back and bicep workout per week, and alternate Session A and Session B each week...

For example:

Week 1: Back & Bi Workout Session AWeek 2: Back & Bi Workout Session BWeek 3: Back & Bi Workout Session AWeek 4: Back & Bi Workout Session B...and so on.

How To Use Progressive Overload For A Massive Back & Biceps

This program will be plenty to keep you progressing for a while using progressive overload. Every week, try to either throw on a little bit more weight OR add some reps. Either one is going to work but we want to address some specifics.

You'll notice that some of the exercises have a range (6-8). For these, you'll want to start using 3x6. Then, use the same weight and increase the reps until you can perform 3x8. Once you're able, increase the weight a bit so you go back down to 3x6. Now, simply repeat this process. 

Your chins are using what's known as RPE or rate of perceived exertion. This simply refers to how hard something feels. An 8RPE basically means 80% failure rate. However, the two days have two different rep schemes. Therefore, sessions will be heavier and one day will be lighter. You need to use weights (or assistance) to account for these reps. On your 3rd set, you can also take it a bit farther with reps. 

For the smaller exercises, you're really just trying to get in as much volume as you can. Therefore, these can be brought closer to failure, especially the 3rd set.

Once things begin to get stale, you can simply switch up some of the exercises with similar movements EXCEPT for rack pulls. The only alternative you could swap out for are block pulls. Examples of other swap-outs are;

Kneeling Lat Pulldowns→ Lat Pulldowns→Close Neutral Grip Pull Downs T-Bar Row → Seated Row Dumbbell Row→ Kroc Rows

Doing this will keep things interesting while also adding a slightly different stimulus. That being said, you should run as is (with progressive overload) for 3 months.

Now Go Earn It!

That's all you need. You have no excuse not to have a monster back now. Hit the gym, keep the intensity up, and watch your back and biceps grow with the best back and bi workout routine for mass and strength.

Related Content:

Best Latissimus Dorsi Exercises Best Trapezius Exercises Best Rhomboid Exercises Best Short Head Bicep Exercises Best Erector Spinae Exercises Rear Delt Dumbbell Exercises

back day workout

- Sam Coleman
100+ Studies Analyzed For Most Time Effective Workout Tips

Life is short and so is most people’s time that why this new research focused on time efficient training should get you excited. Designing Time-Efficient Training Programs for Strength and Hypertrophy: A Narrative Review was published in June 2021. A few of the most well respected names in exercise science poured over 100 different studies to generate some guidelines to follow if you’re short on time but still want to make strength and hypertrophy gains in the gym. Be aware that if you read this article, you won’t have any more excuses to why you can’t stay in shape or can’t hit the gym. In this post we’ll summarize the researchers’ key points so you can put science to practice.

What is the most time efficient exercise?

Strength training is beneficial for the vast majority of the population because of the numerous health benefits. However, up to a quarter of the world’s population is at risk for health-related problems due to inactivity. One common excuse for not staying in shape and following a regimented exercise program is the lack of time.

That’s where this study comes in, giving you the exact tips and tricks to maximize your efficiency. The researchers looked at how multiple variables could be altered to optimize training efficiency. Some of the variables they looked at were:

Training Variables (frequency, load, volume, rest periods, exercise selection, muscle action and tempo) Training Techniques (Drop sets, Rest-pause sets, Supersets) Training Volume Needed To maintain Muscle Mass and Strength Pre-warm up & Stretching Tips for Efficient Fitness Training

The researchers of this narrative on time efficient training looked at multiple aspects of strength training. They divided their findings into the following categories and gave brief recommendations on each topic. 

1. Training Frequency & Volume

The common recommendation is that people should train 2-3 times weekly. But new studies are showing that less frequent training can produce similar effects if training volume is the matched. Therefore, the number of times you train each muscle group can be reduced if you’re able to match training volume (sets x reps) or total volume loading (sets x reps x loads). With that said, higher training frequency can result in higher training volumes which enables the potential for more strength and muscle gains.

Training volume seems to be the dominant factor related to hypertrophy and strength gains as studies like this showed frequent short training sessions of 15 minutes in length might be comparable to regular training sessions.

Other interesting findings based on training frequency showed that muscle gains can be attained through training with low volume. This study showed that single set training once per week can be effective in increasing strength and hypertrophy. It’s important to note that different muscle groups have different responses to stimuli and the amount of volume needed for growth. Generally speaking, the lower body muscles will respond better to higher volume compared with upper body muscles unless the trainee is advanced. In this case the upper body muscles might require more training volume to grow.

The last area that was covered regarding training frequency was how many sets are needed per week for strength and hypertrophy gains. A meta-analysis was done which showed that hypertrophic gains were made in less than 5 sets (+5%), 5-9 weekly sets (+7%) and 10+ sets (+10%). This means that higher training volume will lead to more gains but you can still make progress with lower training volume. The researchers advised at least 4 weekly sets per muscle then adjust based on progress made.

2. Training Load & Repetitions

Training load is typically defined as the target reps to muscle failure or a percentage of 1 rep max. American College of Sports Medicine breaks down  reps as:

1-5 reps for power & strength 6-12 reps for strength & hypertrophy 15-25 reps for muscular endurance

New research has shown that hypertrophic response can be the result of wide rep ranges up to 40 reps, as long as they’re performed at a high intensity and total volume is sufficient. Seeing how the main purpose of this narrative is based on time efficient training, heavy-loads may be preferential because you’ll be doing less reps which takes less time. Overall, the most effective zone for muscle gain still seems to be in the 6-12 rep range.

3. Exercise Selection

Within exercise selection, the researchers broke it down into type of exercise and equipment used.

Multi Joint vs Single Joint Exercises

Most exercises can be classified as single joint (isolation exercises) or multi joint (compound exercises). We always recommend employing a mixture of exercises into your workout program. In general, multi joint exercises will produce more strength improvements in shorter time-frames according to this study.

If you’re short of time for training and want maximum results then you should prioritize multi joint big compound exercises.

Free Weights & Machines

Resistance training can be done with the use of a variety of equipment such as barbells, dumbbells, cable machines, Smith machines and so on. There is little scientific evidence to say that one training modality is far superior to the next.

However, free weights tend to make it easier to mimic real-life or sport specific movements.

Pros of free weights:

Great for multi joint exercises Allow for heavy loads Useful for all body types More versatile

Cons of free weights:

Bigger learning curve More injuries Spotter required

Pros of machines:

Easier for beginners Can train to failure Less chance of injury No spotter required

Cons of machines:

Less multi joint exercise options

Dumbbells and barbells both are great for strength and hypertrophy training. The main differences between these are that barbells allow for heavier loads to be lifted because the need to stabilize the weight is reduced. This study showed that resistance trained people could lift 20% heavier loads compared with dumbbells.

Overall, barbells will stimulate more muscle activation and will allow for lifting heavier loads. This means barbell exercises can also be more efficient when considering the limited time factor. Dumbbells are great for exercises that require more range of motion or to target specific muscles.

The researchers concluded that the best equipment for time efficient training would be dependent on a number of aspects including lifting experience, available equipment and targeted exercises.

Bilateral vs Unilateral Exercises

Many exercises can be performed bilaterally or unilaterally. Bilateral training is when you train both sides of the body at the same time, like squats or bench press. You can lift heavier loads as there is greater stability and more muscle mass involved. Unilateral training is where you perform exercises one side at a time like dumbbell bicep curls.

Both bilateral and unilateral exercises produce similar results when it comes to hypertrophy for both trained and untrained individuals. Therefore, with regards to limited training time, bilateral training will be more time effective and should be prioritized. The exception to this is if the person needs to train for more core-activation or to increase difficulty if training at home with limited equipment.

Elastic Resistance Bands

Elastic resistance bands a.k.a. loop resistance bands can be considered a time efficient alternative to free weights if not available. Resistance bands offer some invaluable benefits such as portability, cost and versatility. Multiple studies have shown that resistance bands will produce similar muscle activation to free weights in both single joint and multi joint exercises. However, if free weights are available for heavy load multi joint exercises, then that is the preferential option.

Related: Benefits of Resistance Bands

Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight training presents numerous benefits as they can be done practically anywhere and are good for your overall health. As for hypertrophy, there’s not much evidence to show that bodyweight training can stimulate muscle growth.

This study did show that certain upper body bodyweight exercises such as pull ups, chin ups and push ups can lead to muscle growth. However, there is the potential for bodyweight exercises to help with strength and muscle mass gain. Even though you can’t necessarily add external loads, you can change body positioning to make certain exercises more difficult. You can also train to failure with bodyweight exercises, this low-load high repetition method can be effective for hypertrophy training.

The researchers suggest that a well thought out bodyweight program could potential lead to muscular improvements.

More Resources On Bodyweight Training:

26 Bodyweight Leg Exercises 9 Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises 7 Bodyweight Back Exercises 21 Bodyweight Chest Exercises 4. Muscle Action

There are three types of muscle action concentric (when the muscle shortens), eccentric (when the muscle lengthens) and isometric (when there’s no change in muscle length). Each muscle action has its own merit. Concentric actions enables higher rates of force, eccentric actions allow for more power exertion and isometric actions offer the chance to apply force in pain-free joint angles. Most exercises will be the combination of eccentric and concentric actions which should also be used for the purpose of time efficiency.

5. Repetition Velocity (Tempo)

Repetition velocity is the time it takes to complete one rep or both muscle actions of the concentric and eccentric. General recommendations from American College of Sports Medicine for beginners and intermediates to complete exercises with a rep velocity of 1-2 second concentric 1-4 second eccentric phase. Many people assume that the more time under tension, the better chance for hypertrophy to occur. However, in 2015 a meta-analysis was done that showed similar hypertrophic gains for rep tempos ranging from .5 seconds to 8 seconds. This means that varying rep tempos can lead to hypertrophy but in regards to saving time you should aim for a faster velocity. The researchers recommend that you avoid super slow tempos over 10 seconds if training for strength, power or hypertrophy.

6. Rest Periods

Rest periods is the amount of time you will rest between sets. The rest period is vital for allowing the body to remove lactic acid and replenish the natural chemicals needed by your muscles for contraction. Industry standards for rest periods are as follows:

3-5 mins when training for strength 1-2 mins when training for hypertrophy Less than 1 minute when training for endurance

There’s been some interesting studies that show shorter rest periods can still lead to strength gains but the researchers recommend 1–2-minute rest intervals for untrained people and 2 or more minutes for trained people.

7. Training Methods

Lastly, the researchers looked at a few different time saving training methods. Although there are other training methods, they focused on supersets, drop sets and rest-pause sets.


Superset training is when you combine two exercises back-to-back without a rest in between. This type of training allows for more training volume in shorter time periods. Super sets can be done by pairing exercises on the same muscle group like squats and leg extensions or can be done with different muscle groups such as lat pull down and bench press. Because the purpose of this post revolves are training with little free time, we won’t consider supersetting same muscle groups to be a good approach. There is some evidence that supersets of antagonist and agonist exercises can improve strength performance. More research needs to be done to definitively say how the body responds to supersets.

Related: Chest And Back Superset Workout: Intermediate To Advanced

Drop Sets

Drop sets reduce rest time between sets. To do a drop set you will perform one set then reduce the load then perform another set then once more reduce load and do another set. Drop sets generally reduce the load 20-25% each set and 1-3 drops are used per exercise with each set going to muscular failure.

Drops sets need to be studied more but according to the scientists, drop sets enable shorter workouts with little to no negative effects on training volume or training outcomes. Therefore, drop sets might be a viable solution for those who have little time to train. It is important to note that you should approach drop sets with multi joint exercises with extreme caution as it could lead to potential injury.

Rest-Pause Sets

Rest pause training method is where you will plan rest periods in the middle of your sets. The are two common approaches to rest-pause sets as:

Perform 4-6 sets of 1 rep using a weight close to 1RM Perform 1 set to failure followed by 20 second rest then another set to failure. Repeat until desired reps are finished.

Rest-pauses are used so that there are short breaks for recovery when lifting heavy loads with high power output. The researchers believe that although the rest-pause method needs more study, that it can be a good training modality when time is of the essence. Once again caution is needed if using the rest-pause method with big multi joint lifts due to the high intensity.

What’s the least amount of training needed to preserve muscle?

Use it or lose it, many people might be familiar with this phrase related to weight training. The researchers pointed to this study which had 70 young (20-35 yrs old) and old (60-75 yrs old) men perform 3 sets of 3 different leg exercises 3 times a week.

Then the participants were split into three groups and proceeded to train for 32 weeks. One group didn’t train, one group did 3 sets of all exercises once a week and the last group did 1 set for all exercises once a week. Both of the maintenance groups maintained or increased 1RM. However, only the young participants maintained their hypertrophic gains. This means for time frames of up to 32 weeks young adults could maintain muscle mass and strength by one weekly session while older adults might need to increase weekly training volume to maintain muscle.

This matched other studies that suggested one training session of 3-4 sets for each exercise weekly may be enough to maintain muscle and strength for a while. The researchers noted that maintenance training volume could differ depending on the individual.

Are Warm Ups & Stretching Necessary?

The researchers looked at the topic of warm ups and stretching and whether they’re necessary if you’re pressed for time. The warms were divided into two types:

General Warm Up: For example, riding a stationary bike for 10-15 minutes to get the blood flowing and heart rate up. Exercise Specific Warm Up: This is where you’ll do some warm up sets of the exercise before attempting to lift heavier loads of that same exercise

The researchers looked to studies like this which showed both types of warm ups failed to provide any significant benefits in regards to fatigue or total maximum reps. Other studies showed that exercise specific warm up showed some positive benefits while the general warm up failed to produce any positive effects.

Therefore, they conclude that short exercise specific warm ups would suffice and that they are more important when lifting heavier loads.

Stretching is great for improving joint mobility. But in regards to saving time while training, stretching might not be imperative. Scientific studies don’t back the claims that stretching will reduce DOMS, prevent injuries or improve performance. Static stretching can actually reduce strength if done prior to lifting as demonstrated by studies like this. If short on time, then stretching shouldn’t be a priority in your workout programming unless your end goal is to improve mobility.

how to workout efficiently Final Note & Key Takeaways

It’s vital for your health to do some strength training even if it’s at a bare minimum. It's not easy to fit a structured strength training program into a busy life but it's possible to accomplish if you follow these key points:

Focus on bilateral multi joint exercises with at least 4 sets per muscle group per week with sets of 6-15 reps. Try to use some time efficient training strategies such as supersets, drop sets and/or rest-pause sets to save time while getting the same training volume completed. Keep warmups short and specific to the muscle group you're working that day.

Time Efficient Workout Protocols:

HIIT Training AMRAP Workouts EMOM Workouts Circuit Training
- Sam Coleman
9 Best Short Head Bicep Exercises For Upper Arm Thickness

If you want well-defined, thick biceps, targeting the short head of the biceps brachii is essential. And while you can’t completely isolate the short head, you can perform certain bicep exercises (aka curls) that provide the highest degree of activation for this muscle head, which is located on the inner side of your upper arm.

This article will guide you through the key points about the biceps and how you can effectively target the short head.

If you’re ready, let’s jump right in!

biceps short head exercises


Your biceps (or bi’s), more formally known as the biceps brachii, is a single muscle made up of two muscle heads (hence the word “bi”, which means two).

The two muscle heads of the biceps are called the short head and the long head.

Both muscle heads arise from the scapula (at different points) and converge to form a single muscle belly which is attached to your upper forearm.

For reference, a muscle “head” is simply the point of origin, and the “belly” is the central point where the muscle bulges. 

Here is a pic of the muscle and where the heads attach:

bicep short head exercises

If you want to get nerdy and specific, the short head of the biceps attaches to a bony protrusion on the scapula called the coracoid process. The long head attaches to the supraglenoid tubercle in the hollow of the scapula right near the shoulder joint. 

As you can see, the short head is on the inner side of the arm and the long head is on the top/outer side of the upper arm, both on the anterior side (front).

The main function of the biceps brachii is to flex the elbow (bringing your forearm up toward your upper arm by bending your elbow) and supinate the forearm (rotating your forearm/wrist outward).

As both muscle heads cross the shoulder joint, they also assist in flexion and abduction/adduction of the shoulder.


You can not completely isolate the short head. Remember, it is just a muscle head that shares the same muscle belly as the long head.

As a matter of fact, you can't even isolate the biceps brachii from the brachialis, as they share the same function.

Be that as it may, there are ways that you can emphasize the short head, meaning provide it with the most possible activation. 

The same is true for the long head, but since this article is about the short head, we will only be focusing on exercises that target the short head specifically.

exercises for short head biceps


Because the muscle heads come together to form the entirety of the biceps brachii, the short head and long head of the biceps are difficult to discuss separately. With that in mind, here are some key comparison facts about each.

This info will help to further clarify the natural function of your biceps and make you look even smarter at the gym if anyone asks about the biceps! 


The short head of bicep is located on the inside of your upper arm. The short head is wide and meshes with the long head to give the biceps a defined and wide appearance from the front view.


The long head of the bicep is located on the top and outside of your upper arm. The long head is slimmer than the short head and has a higher peak. The long head is the part of the biceps you notice when your arm is flexed, almost shaping into a sphere.

So, if you want to build a high peak in your bicep, that’s your long head, and if you want more width, that’s your short head. Targeting the short head during training will help make your biceps wider, which will give your upper arm a fuller appearance.


When the biceps’ short and long heads contract simultaneously, the elbow bends in the aforementioned process of flexion. However, there are certain functions that one head takes more control over.

The short head also acts as a fixator to stabilize the shoulder joint. The short head of the biceps supports adduction, the act of pulling the arm back toward the trunk of the body. The long head supports abduction, the process of moving the arm away from the trunk. The long head also supports the inward turning of the arm, a process called internal rotation.  HOW TO TARGET THE SHORT HEAD OF THE BICEPS?

While you can’t completely isolate the short head of the bicep, there are methods of emphasizing it when doing bicep exercises.

With consideration of the aforementioned differences in actions, you have four main ways to better target the short head of the biceps during elbow flexion (i.e. curls):

Curl with your elbows in front of your body (upper arm held up parallel with the floor). Curl with a wide grip. Curl with a supinated grip (palm held upward and outward. Curl with your arms held laterally toward your body. 

Even without weights, you can try these arm and grip positions real quick to see how your inner bicep (short head) is more activated and contracted.

Overall, when doing curls, just remember, the more supinated your hand, the more your short head (inner bicep) will be activated. And the more pronated your hand (palm in or down), the more your long head (outer bicep) will be activated. Nevertheless, both heads will be working regardless.

In regards to keeping your elbows up and out in front of you, there has been EMG research (electrical activity of muscles and nerves) done and this positioning shows to increase tension on the short head of the bicep. This makes sense as the short head plays a greater role in stabilizing the shoulder joint, which occurs when you are curling with your elbows held up in front of you.

short head biceps


If you want to create well-defined, full, thick biceps that look impressive from the front, then you need to make sure your short head is being activated during bicep exercises. 

The same is true for the long head. If you want to have a high peak in your bicep, you need to give your long head attention too. 

Together, your arms will look impressive from the front and side view. Plus, you will have a greater advantage of strength when performing big compound exercises or other physical activities. After all, well-developed, strong biceps are not just for looks, right!?

By effectively targeting both the long and short heads of the biceps during your training sessions, you will optimize your personal genetics, allowing your guns to get as big and strong as they possibly can!

If you are new to bodybuilding, set smart goals for your workouts and always try to ensure balanced workouts that challenge your muscles to grow and gain strength. After we go over all of the exercises for the short head biceps, we will offer you some important training tips and techniques. 


Now that you understand about the function and importance of the biceps, it’s finally time to jump into the 9 Best Short Head Bicep Exercises.

Note: There are actually more than 9 exercises, but some are simply slight variations or the same exact exercise but with different equipment, so we grouped them together. While it may seem redundant, changing up equipment or slightly altering an exercise training variable can make a big difference to your progression as variety is an important aspect of overloading a muscle to force adaptation and thus increase size and strength of the muscle.

1. Preacher Curls 

short head bicep exercises bodybuilding

The preacher curl is a great exercise for the short head of your bicep because it positions your elbows out in front of your body, which as we mentioned, provides greater activation of the short head. 

Another great thing about the preacher curl is that it eliminates cheating as your elbows are fixed in place and the arm position allows for a large range of motion, particularly benefiting the stretching phase of the movement (you can really get a great stretch in the biceps with a preacher curl). Studies show stretching tension is highly effective (if not the most effective) for hypertrophy. 

Now, in terms of equipment, using a barbell/ez bar, dumbbells, and cable for preacher curls are all very effective. The following form cues apply to all equipment variants of this time-tested bicep exercise.

How to do a preacher curl:

Keep your upper arms in contact with the angled pad. Keep your upper arms stationary. Begin each rep with your arms straight but unlocked. Be careful to not overextend your elbows. Use a wide grip to better isolate the short heads of your biceps. In full control with focus directly on your bicep, curl the weight until your forearms are vertical. Maintain stress on the short heads throughout this exercise. Pause for a count at the top of the motion and focus on short peak activation. Lower the weight to its starting position in a low and controlled manner. Bring your elbow to full extension to allow for a fully loaded stretch of the bicep. Pause and repeat.

what bicep curls are best for the inner head

Try one arm barbell preacher curls if you are strong enough. This is a big time bicep builder. 


short head bicep exercises dumbbells

The great thing about dumbbells is you can also easily supinate your forearms to the max at the top of the range to really get that full contraction.


bicep curls for short head

You can get an effective supination with a cable set up as well, and it’s easy on the wrists. Overall, we like to implement cable preacher curls just to give a different feel from the free weights. 

Don’t have a preacher curl bench? 

biceps short head workout

No worries, you can do single arm preacher curls on an inclined bench.

2. Wide Grip Curls

best short head bicep exercises

The wide grip hand position places the short heads of your biceps in a strong mechanical position so that they take on the greatest role when curling. You can do this with dumbbells, a barbell or an EZ bar. We like dumbbells and an EZ bar best simply because you can supinate your wrists in a way that is a little easier on the joint. But all three are perfectly good options for wide grip curls.

Do this exercise and you are guaranteed to blast your short head biceps in a brutally effective manner.

How to do wide grip curls: 

Stand tall & firm with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the barbell with a wide grip, keeping your elbows in toward your hips. Your hands should be out past your shoulders. FOCUS your attention on fully activating the short heads of your biceps. In a controlled manner, EXPLODE the barbell upward to the top position of the curl. At the top, pause for a second and FEEL your control over the barbell. Now, SLOWLY decurl the barbell down to the bottom position. Don’t lock your elbows out, leave a slight bend at the bottom of the motion. Repeat this process, slowly and with focus for 8 - 12 repetitions. Your biceps’ short heads should be ON FIRE during the last few reps!  3. Spider Curls

long head vs short head bicep exercises

Like preacher curls, spider curls place your elbows out in front of you. 

However, your body is in a different position and your elbows are free. 

While your elbows are not pressed to anything like a preacher curl, it’s still hard to cheat because you can’t use your shoulders or lower back to hoist the weight up in this position.  

Overall, this is a nice exercise to switch things up, keeping your biceps guessing with new stress, especially the short head, which is going to take on the lion’s share of the work. 

Another thing to note with spider curls is you’ll get a fantastic loaded stretch in your biceps, which again, is great for muscle growth. In fact, the spider curl may be the best bicep curl of all for stretching tension.

There are three ways to do spider curls:

Incline Bench Preacher Bench (go the opposite way that you would a preacher curl) Flat Bench 

The first two are the best options as they ensure your arms can fully extend. 

As for equipment, you can use a barbell, EZ bar or dumbbells. 

How to do spider curls: 

Regardless of what bench you use, the form is the same... 

Place the bench at about 60˚ (or flat). Lying on the bench with your stomach pressed to the back rest. Position your arms so your triceps are on the top of the bench and your elbows are off the bench and facing the floor. Curl the weight up as high as you can while keeping your elbows pointing to the ground. Very slowly lower the weight down until your arms are fully extended, feel the stretch in your bicep. Pause and repeat.


how to target short head biceps


best curls for short head biceps 4. Concentration Curls

short head bicep workout

Although concentration curls are great for your biceps as a whole, the combination of flexion and supination during this form of curl has proven through EMG studies to move the load favorably toward the short head of the bicep.

And besides being a great short head bicep exercise, the concentration curl in general is one of the best types of curls for bicep activation. This is because concentration curls allow for a large range of motion and maximum contraction. Each rep, you can really hone in on your bicep both on the negative and contraction phase. It’s as isolated as it gets, and the bracing of your elbow on your inner thigh prevents cheating. 

How to do concentration curls:

Sit upright on a flat bench. Spread your legs and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Grab a dumbbell in one hand. Rest the elbow of the active hand on the inner leg of the same side of the body. Let the dumbbell hang down freely between your legs without locking your elbow. Rock your body forward a little so you can see directly down your short heads. Slowly but powerfully, curl the dumbbell upward, stopping about 8 - 10 inches from your shoulder. Stop and hold the weight while twisting the dumbbell toward your face to maximally activate the short heads. Slow and controlled, lower the weight back to the start position. Hold a second there and then explode into the next controlled rep. Go for 8 - 12 reps until your arm feels like it’s on fire in the short heads but has not been injured. That’s when you’ll know you’re doing it right! inner bicep workout

Hanging curls

inner bicep exercises

The dead hang bicep curl is similar to a concentration curl in that you can really hone in on your bicep and build a strong mind-muscle connection. The big difference is your body position and your elbow being free. As such, it’s going to stress the muscle differently. 

You might think it allows for more cheating, but actually the hanging position removes the ability to use your back and shoulder for assistance, and as long as you focus on keeping your elbow fixed, the hanging positioning is fantastic for maximizing the load on the bicep.

5. Inner Bicep Curls

inner bicep curls

This is a great exercise for building the thickness of your bicep because it targets the inner bicep, which is your short head. The arm position works in a similar way as the wide grip, but it really takes supination to an even higher degree since you are using dumbbells and the way your shoulders are positioned automatically fires up the short head. Just move your arms and wrist to his position now without weight and you will see your inner bicep contract.

How to do inner bicep curls:

Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand up straight. Positioning your elbows to your sides and bring your forearm out laterally with your wrists supinated. Brace your core and really focus on your biceps as you curl the weight up. Keep your forearms supinated as you curl up. Squeeze at the top as much as you can and then slowly lower the weight back down while keeping your elbows fixed. Pause at the bottom to feel the stretch and repeat. 


exercises for inner biceps

You can also do this on an incline bench.

Cable Machine

You can do this exercise using a cable machine too.

You can even do it from a high angle, where your elbows are held up at shoulder level and out directly to your side and you curl toward your head.

Both are very effective at building that bicep girth. 

6. Incline Supinating Curls

inner biceps

The incline curl is one of the best bicep exercises of all, so we had to include it here. It’s not just great for the short head though, it’s also great for the long head. Nevertheless, if you want serious activation of your short head, and bicep growth in general, you need to incorporate incline curls into your routine.

For the short head specifically, make sure you are using a supinating grip. As you curl up, you need to really maximize the supination. And on the negative, hold the supination (keep your wrists turned outward) so that you can keep tension on the short head the entire time. 

You are really going to feel some serious tension in your biceps with the incline supination curl. 

How to do incline supinating curls (with emphasis on the short head):

Place the bench at about 45-60˚. It will not be as low of an incline as an incline bench press, which is 15-30˚. Lying your back against the bench and plant your feet into the ground. Hold the dumbbells with your wrists turned out and your arms fully extended to the sides. Curl the weight up while keeping your elbows fixed in place. As you curl up, really try to keep your wrists rotated outward (supination). Squeeze the heck out of your biceps at the top, pause, and then slowly lower them all the way down. Don’t stop short, let your arms come to full extension to maximize the stretching tension. Pause, then repeat.


short head bicep

Alternating arms each rep is a good way to concentrate on one side at a time. This can help you hone in on and fix muscle imbalances.


best exercises for inside biceps

You can also try with a flat bench.

7. Supine (Lying) High Cable Curls

inner arm exercises

This is another example of how you can switch things up to add some variety to your training. It may seem redundant, since we already have other exercises with elbows held in front of the body, but actually it’s not. You are going to definitely feel a difference with how your biceps are activated when doing a lying high cable curl versus the other exercises that also have your elbows out in front of your body. It’s excellent for optimizing both stretching and contraction tension. Just give it a try and you will see. It’s going to absolutely annihilate the short head.

How to do a lying high cable curl: 

Place a flat bench under the cable machine. Attach a flat bar to the cable pulley and set the pulley to a high position. Hold onto the with an underhand grip and then lay on the flat bench, straighten your spine, and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Grip width should be about 8 to 12 inches apart. With your elbows held straight up (upper arm kept vertical), curl the bar toward the top of your head. Hold the bar at your chin for a count. Slowly and purposefully allow the bar to go back up while keeping your elbows pointing up. Try to bring your arms to full extension to feel the stretch. Pause for moment, and repeat. 8. Chin Ups

can you isolate short head bicep

The chin up is obviously more than just a bicep exercise, it’s one of the biggest bang for your buck bodyweight exercises you can do. But in terms of the biceps, it’s stellar for targeting the short head of the biceps. As such, you can hit your short head bicep and a ton of other upper body muscles at the same time.

The reason chin ups are better for your biceps than pull ups is that you have a greater range of motion in your elbow. With pull ups, you are shortening the range of elbow flexion, thus isolating your lats more, whereas chin ups you are fully extending and flexing your elbows each rep, which is basically a bodyweight curl. 

Related: Pull Ups vs Chin Ups Muscles Worked

If you have back and arm day separate, this is a great way to hit the muscle twice in one week. As studies show, hitting muscle groups twice a week is best for hypertrophy, especially when you are a beginner to intermediate lifter. 

As for grip width, you can go narrow or shoulder width. Both are great for the short head of the bicep. Narrow should be a little easier, which means you can try to add some additional load by wearing a weighted belt. But, save that only for when you are truly ready, which we’d say is when you can do 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps. 

How to do chin ups:

Place your hands on the bar with your palms facing you. Allow your body to fully hang from the bar. Retract your shoulder blades to take stress of your shoulders, then brace your core and flex at the elbows to pull your body up toward the bar. Try to go all the way up so your chest is right next to the bar or even touching it. Ideally, you want to maximize elbow flexion. At the very least, get your chin above the bar. Pause for a second at the top, and slowly lower down to the starting position. Repeat.

Weighted Curls

bicep exercises for short head


Assisted Curls 

how to hit short head bicep 9. Bodyweight Curls (With Bed Sheet, Towel or Rope)

short head bicep exercises at home

We wanted to add this one in just in case you are stuck at home without any equipment or even a pull up bar. With just a bed sheet, towel or some kind of rope, you can perform bodyweight curls. 

It's a creative way to hit your biceps, but you need to be careful. 

This one uses a bed sheet wedged into the top of a closed door. Basically, you are going to curl your body to standing from a backward leaning position. The more you lean back, the harder it’ll be.

As you can see, this one involves keeping your elbows out in front of you, so it’s good for the short head of the bicep. 

How to do bodyweight bedsheet curls:

Wedge a bedsheet into the top of a door or some fixed and study object up above. The bedsheet should be coming down at angle toward you while holding it with your arms straight out and your body leaned back. Your upper arms should be parallel with the floor and your body leaned back (make sure the bedsheet is secured so you don’t pull it out and fall back on your butt and potentially hit your head). From here, using your biceps, curl your body to an upright position. Slowly bring your body backward until your arms are fully extended and repeat. Be sure to feel the tension in your biceps as you come backward.

BE SAFE. Only do this if you are sure your set up is firm and fixed. Give the bedsheet or rope a strong tug to make sure it doesn’t come loose mid curl or else you will end up falling backward.

Inverted Row 

If you have a safe set up for inverted rows, that’s another great option for your biceps. Plus, you can work your back muscles at the same time!

Related Content:

Kettlebell Bicep Exercises Resistance Band Bicep Exercises SHORT HEAD BICEP TRAINING TIPS: 

Follow these tips when training your biceps and you will be on your way to building some serious guns. 

1. Training Volume

It doesn’t make sense to do an entire workout just for your short head biceps, but we guess you already know this.

Aim to do 8-12 sets per week for your short head if you really want to build up some thickness in your biceps. You can break those sets up throughout the week or do them all in one training session. It really depends on your split. Just avoid overdoing it as if you do too many sets for your biceps in a row, you can cause unwanted strain and you’ll make recovery time slow.

There’s a happy medium for volume and frequency, so try to find that and you’ll see the most efficient results.

2. Rep Ranges & Load

The best rep range for the biceps is 5-20 reps. That’s obviously quite a big range. However, rep range means nothing without a consideration for load. Use relatively heavy weights for 5-8 reps, use moderate weight for 8-15 reps, and use light weight for 15-20 reps. Work through all spectrums of reps/loads as this will give your biceps the shock it needs to grow. Switching up rep ranges is an important part of progressive overload. By doing so, you will ensure your muscles are constantly being challenged.

Examples of good rep ranges and rest time:

5 sets x 5 reps with 120 seconds rest between sets 3 sets x 8-12 reps with 75-90 seconds between sets 4 sets x 12-15 reps with 30 seconds rest between sets

The weight load you choose should challenge you (bring you near, to or even past failure) with that rep range and rest time.

Note: Don’t go heavier than you can handle though! Good form and full range of motion trumps weight load. So, only move up in weight when you know you can do so with correct form.

3. Training Past Failure

There are certain exercises that you can train past failure with, and bicep curls are one of them. Don’t do it every set, but do implement some sets past failure. This is going to really give you the muscle building boost that your biceps need. The biceps can handle a lot of stress, so provide them with it.

Use an appropriate weight load that challenges you in the targeted rep range (i.e. 10 reps) and just try to get that extra rep in to make it 11. One rep may not seem like a big deal, but it can make a big difference for boosting strength, size and pushing past plateaus.

Note: It’s ok if you need to cheat a little on a rep that’s past failure, but don’t cheat every rep. Basically you want strict form and once you reach failure, you can give your self a little help to get that extra rep or two in. Just be careful not to do so in a way that puts pressure on your wrist, elbow or shoulder joint. 

All in all, it’s not that hard to train past failure with bicep curls. A lot of the time, you will stop before you actually reach failure. Just try to push your biceps to the limit in a smart manner. 

4. Variety

Besides chin ups, the bicep exercises for the short head are isolation exercises. When it comes to isolation exercises, variety is key. Unlike compound exercises, where you want to stick with the same lifts for a training cycle so you can progress, its ok to change up the isolation exercises you are doing or at least switch up the order each week. 

So, if you are doing an arm workout each week with 3 short head bicep exercises, you can switch things up pretty frequently.

For example:

Week 1: Incline Supinating Curls, EZ Bar Preacher Curls, Wide Grip Curls Week 2: Wide Grip Curls, Dumbbell Preacher Curls, Incline Supinating Curls Week 3: Inner Bicep Curls, Lying Cable Curls, Concentration Curls Week 4: Concentration Curls, Spider Curls, Inner Bicep Curls

All in all, the goal is to go in and crush your biceps. Choose a couple exercises and do a number of sets with an appropriate weight load in a challenging rep range and feel them burn. When you feel that your biceps are fried, move on.

Don’t overdo it, but don’t underdo it either. If your plan says to do something and you feel you need another set or two, then do it. Listen to your biceps, they will tell you when they’ve had enough. Just be sure to organize your split so that they have enough time to recover before the next session that is bicep-centric (i.e. back day).

Supersets: Implement supersets on arm days to speed up your workouts. You can do supersets of triceps and biceps as the two are opposing and it shouldn't affect effort. 

5. Mind-Muscle Connection:

It doesn’t matter how many sets and reps you do or how often you hit your biceps if you don’t have a good mind-muscle connection. It also doesn’t really matter what exercises you do. To build your biceps, you MUST know how to fully contract them and give them appropriate stretching tension as well. A lot of people have trouble using their biceps for curls, and they end up using too much forearm for the movement or cheat with jerky movements. 

The best way to really hone in on your biceps is to start light and really focus on the biceps. Move slowly and feel the contraction and stretch with each rep. Squeeze the heck out of your biceps at the top and allow for a full stretch at the bottom. You’ll know when your biceps are working correctly because the pump and burn will be incredible. 

bicep short head

Thank you very much for reading this guide on training and building up the short head biceps. We hope you find value in this information and that you’ll check out some of our other helpful articles. Until next time, have fun blasting the biceps short head with these exercises and training techniques. 

Related: The Ultimate Back and Bicep Workout

- Sam Coleman
Glute Kickback: 11 Variations, How To & Muscles Worked

If you are looking for a great glute isolation exercise, the cable glute kickback is definitely one of the best. It’s a simple exercise based on hip extension, which is a movement powered by your gluteal muscles. In this article, you are going to learn everything you need to know about glute kickbacks (cable, bands, and bodyweight) as well as alternative exercises that are equally great for your glutes…

glute kickbacks


Your glutes are one of the strongest muscles in your body and also one of the biggest muscle groups, consisting of three major parts - gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. They are responsible for the movement of your hips and thighs and are what helps you to maintain your balance when jumping, climbing stairs, or even just standing. 

Without strong glutes, you’d have poor stability and posture, you'd likely experience knee or hip pain, and you'd be unable to maintain balance standing on one leg. Moreover, weak glutes affect your physical performance. 

Having strong glutes will dramatically impact your day-to-day life. Plus, strong glutes equal sexy glutes, and who doesn't want an aesthetically pleasing backside.

Now, the questions is, do you need to isolate your glutes (or isolate them as best as possible as fully isolating them is impossible)?

The truth is, YES. Targeting your glutes and adding in exercises that specifically target your glutes will allow you to fully contract your glutes, which a lot of big compound exercises fail to do (or simply not to the same degree). They are great for really building a mind-muscle connection with your butt and increasing activation. 

So, if you want to improve the shape of your glutes and improve gluteal strength and activation, isolation exercises in the form of hip extensions are important. 

Note: If you want serious glute development, you also need to do big compound movements like squats and loaded hip thrusts, but glute isolation exercises like kickbacks should never be overlooked.

What Is A Cable Glute Kickback?

A glute kickback is an exercise that isolates the glute muscles and targets muscle groups in your lower body. Glute kickbacks can be done with bodyweight, bands, machines, and of course, a cable machine. For now, let's focus on the cable crossover machine. 

A cable glute kickback is one of the best glute exercises to shape and strengthen your gluteus maximus by isolating and focus the resistance on the muscles better than squats. Therefore, improving the pelvis’s stability makes this cable exercise one of the best, and it’s super easy to perform.

One great thing about the cable machine is that you can easily adjust the resistance and there are many variations that you can do. 

When you perform kickbacks, you’ll find a variety of techniques, alternatives, and cable glute kickback substitutes that allow you to build strength in your lower body. 

Whether you are looking to increase strength, muscle, athletic performance, or just want a good looking behind the cable glute kickbacks is the exercise to do it all. And the best part is that it doesn’t require a lot of weight. All you need to do is focus on proper form, execution, and full range of motion to get the most out of this exercise. 

Other Forms of Glute Kickbacks:

Glute kickbacks can be done in a very similar manner with resistance bands and booty bands (aka hip circle bands). You can do this by anchoring the band to and external object or holding it with your hands and with booty bands you just need to wrap them around your legs. 

You can also do kickbacks with just your bodyweight. As a beginner, this is the best place to start. You can get great activation by just focusing on good form and full contraction.

Finally, some gyms may have a machine specifically for kickbacks. 

Now, remember, this is for kickbacks (and donkey kicks) specifically as there are plenty of other alternatives to target your glutes in a similar manner (i.e. through hip extension), but more on that later...

Donkey Kick vs Glute Kickback, What's the Difference?

A donkey kick and a glute kickback are very similar and the terms are often used interchangeably. However, technically speaking, a donkey kick is a glute kickback with your knee bent at about 90 degree. There is no movement at the knee. 

Basically, a glute kickback is more versatile and can be done in various ways, whereas a donkey kick is a specific type of glute kickback.

glute kickback at home

What muscle do glute kickbacks work?

Kickbacks aren’t just for your gluteus maximus muscles. You’ll target several muscle groups with this simple yet very effective exercise, including your core.

Primary Muscle Groups: Gluteal Muscles

The gluteal muscles include the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, which are some of the body’s strongest and most powerful muscles.

kickbacks for glutes

Secondary Muscle Groups: Hamstrings

You’ll feel the hamstrings being engaged when performing this exercise, and you’ll likely, feel the calves and quads of your planted leg feeling a burn. This is because the foot planted is working hard to maintain your balance and stabilize the body during the exercise motion. When stabilizing your body, you’ll also engage your abdominal muscles.

glute kickback muscles worked What Are The Benefits Of Glute Kickbacks?

Besides glute kickbacks being the best at building a strong good looking booty, there are many additional benefits from whole-body stability, improved leg power, improved posture, improved athletic performance, and eases lower back pain.

Most people are under the assumption that squats and lunges are the only way to build stronger glutes. While those two exercises are essential exercises to any workout routine, they do not isolate the glutes. There are a lot of other muscles being targeted by the cable glute kickbacks that squats and lunges won’t target.

1. Strength Gains

If you’re looking to build serious lower body strength, then this is the single most important exercise that you can do. Stronger glutes improve your overall performance at the gym - by increasing your maximum deadlift or squat, increased stability and balance, faster running, and higher jumping.

The cable glute kickback exercise will build and tone your glute muscles, leg muscles, and core. 

2. Glute Isolation

By targeting or isolating specific muscles, you’re able to improve growth. This is what makes cable glute kickbacks better than squats when it comes to your glutes.

With the cable glute kickback, you are specifically targeting the gluteal muscles. You’ll feel the stretching and contracting throughout the movements when performing this exercise.

3. Increased Balance & Stability

You’re activating muscles in your core, ankle, calves, quads, and core. These muscles must be engaged in order to keep you balanced. By performing this exercise slowly and with the controlled motion, you’ll improve the connection with your mind and body, as well as increase greater muscle activation. 

4. Mimics Real-life Movement

Unlike most exercises, this exercise actually enhances your daily life. The movement in this exercise mimics movements that you perform each day, whether it’s walking upstairs, standing for long periods of time, or running, and makes these tasks easier.

5. Eases lower back pain

If you’ve been suffering from lower back pain, it’s likely that your hips are not properly aligned or not strong. Cable kickbacks will release the tension in your back.

6. Improved posture

Poor posture causes a handful of problems, including lower back pain, misaligned hips, and headaches.  Realigning your hips can help your posture, and this can be achieved through cable glute kickback exercises.

What about the benefit of using a cable machine?

The cable pulley machine simply makes life easier. You can easily adjust the resistance and getting into position (or switching up positions) just takes seconds. 

How to do a glute kickback on a cable machine?

You’ll find that there are three variations of the cable glute kickback exercise. The first is the standing cable kickbacks, which is based on just hip extension (no knee movement). The second is from a slight bent over position, which does have some knee extension. And the last is a kneeling cable kickback.

Remember, range of motion is important, as is fully contracting your glutes at the end range.

Generally speaking, the kneeling variation provides a larger range of motion, but at the same time, the standing versions allows for better, stricter form. 

Standing Cable Glute Kickback Technique (Hip Extension)

standing cable glute kickbacks

Starting out with the cable glute kickback, you’ll need to attach the ankle strap to the cable machine and set the pulley to the lowest position. 

Facing towards the machine with the strap around one of your ankles, set your feet apart.

Keep your body upright and hold onto the machine. Then, with your leg straight, raise it straight back. 

Remember, your glutes are in control of extending out the hip (pushing your leg straight back).

Raise your leg back behind you as far as you can go and hold for 1-2 seconds before lowering your leg back down. Repeat.

Bent Over Standing Kickback Technique

how to do cable glute kickbacks

Most people find this body position to be the best for glute activation. 

Starting out with the cable glute kickback, you’ll need to attach the ankle strap to the cable machine and set the pulley to the lowest position. 

Facing towards the machine, you’ll attach the strap around one of your ankles, set your feet apart just a little bit, and push your hips back so your bent slightly forward. Keep in mind that your glutes are hip extenders and in control of extending out the hip. So when you’re in a standing position, there’s less movement at the hip joint, and you won’t get as much out of the exercise.

Now push your butt back while holding onto the frame of the machine with both hands and extend your leg straight back until your body is straight and contract at the glute, holding for 1-2 seconds, then returning back to the start position.

Kneeling Cable Kickbacks Technique

kneeling glute kickback

Now for the kneeling cable kickbacks technique, you’ll need to grab a flat bench (this raised position will allow you to get a greater range of motion).

Note: We don't have the pic for this with a cable machine, but the form is the same.

You’ll place this bench in front of a cable machine and lower the pulley to the lowest position.

Now facing the machine, you’ll attach the ankle cuff to your ankle. And get onto the bench on all fours. 

You’ll push your attached leg back behind you with your heel. Keep your leg straight until your hip is fully extended and contract your glute muscles holding tightly for 1-2 seconds. 

And return to the start position to repeat.


Your form and control are two of the most important aspects of performing the cable glute kickback regardless of which technique you choose to use. Not the weight (which is why even bodyweight kickbacks are effective). 

Good form and contraction will allow you to target your glutes, minimize injury, and benefit from its amazing effects on your overall physical benefits.

More Cable Machine Exercises:

Cable Shoulder Exercises Cable Chest Exercises Cable Back Exercises HOW TO DO GLUTE KICKBACKS WITHOUT A CABLE MACHINE?

You don't need a cable machine to do glute kickbacks.

And there will be times that you won’t have access to a cable machine...i.e. you are at home or your gym took it down or its broken.

You can perform the same movement with your bodyweight or a resistance band, both from a kneeling or standing position.

Let us demonstrate... 

resistance band glute kickbacks

Resistance Band Glute Kickbacks:

With resistance bands, the same form applies. You have a few options as well...

Banded Kneeling Kickbacks

banded glute kickbacks

Standing Glute Kickback (Hip Extension)

glute kickback with band

Bent Over Kickbacks

glute kickback vs donkey kick

Booty Band Donkey Kicks 

banded donkey kick

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Bodyweight Glute Kickbacks:

The same exact form applies with bodyweight glute kickbacks too! Just make sure you move slowly, controlled, and really squeeze the heck out of your glutes. 

Standing Glute Kickback

standing glute kickback

Bodyweight Kneeling Glute Kickback

glute kickbacks without machine

Kneeling Donkey Kick

donkey kick for glutes

Glute Kickback On Bench (for greater range of motion)

glute kickback with bench 


Some gyms also have a glute kickback machine!

glute kickback machine

The glute kickback machine is easy to use and often found near the abduction machine. You’ll simply adjust the machine with the right weight and in the correct position for your height. Be sure that you are squeezing your glutes and keeping your form. 

How Many Reps To Transform My Glutes?

Ideally, you’d want to do between 10 to 15 reps and two to three sets is to do about 10 to 15 reps, with perfect form. When performing any exercise making sure you have perfect proper form is essential to targeting the correct muscles and minimizing injury. 

By starting off with a lightweight, you can perfect your form and then increase the number of reps and sets as you get better and stronger. You’ll know when to increase the weights if you can do more than 20 reps. If you cannot do five reps, then the weight is too heavy.

Be conscious of your form and how you’re lifting your leg when pulling the weights. If you find that you are making one of the common mistakes - swinging or using momentum, arching your back, or using too much weight simply, make the necessary changes to improve your form.

And don’t forget to engage your core; by contracting your ab muscles throughout the movements, you’ll have better control over your form, the exercise, and you’ll get the most out of this exercise.

This is how you should perform each rep in a single set,

➔ Slowly raise your leg in one or two seconds ➔ When you reach the top, squeeze your glutes and hold for one to two seconds. ➔ Then count for three to four seconds as you put your leg down

Don’t Make These 6 Glute Kickback Mistakes:

There are a handful of mistakes that you can make when performing this exercise. And you are making any of these mistakes; it’s likely you won’t benefit from the many advantages it has to offer.

1. Using Your Leg To Drive The Motion

Your leg is not supposed to be doing the work. Many people swing their legs to create momentum when performing the cable glute kickback. If you are doing this, it’s likely that you’re trying to lift too much weight. Your form, motion, and focus are important - focus on squeezing your glutes throughout the exercise motion and having control over your movements.

2. Not Following Through

Full range of motion is the most important part of this exercise. The bigger the range of motion, the better the rep.  When performing the cable glute kickback, a complete rep will consist of you extending your leg back until your leg and back are straight. The more tension you will bring to your glutes, the bigger gains. Be sure that you are paying more attention to form and full range of motion rather than weight.

3. Standing Up Straight

Another common mistake is standing up straight when performing the cable glute kickback. When you stand up, you can get the full range of motion during this exercise, which prevents you from targeting the glutes specifically. By bending over slightly to allow for a greater range of motion!

4. Using the Wrong Weights

One of the common mistakes is putting on too much weight, and as a result of this, you cannot keep your back straight. You need to arch your back to accommodate for the weight, which will hurt your lower back.  Lifting heavy weight will not increase your strength if you don’t have proper form or full range of motion. When the weight is too heavy, you’ll swing through the motions rather than using your muscles.

5. Moving the Upper Body

The only body part that should be moving is the active leg.

6. Opening the Hips

When you open your hips, you’ll notice that your body will begin to rotate outward. Be sure that your hips are perpendicular to the cable machine and that your torso is facing forward through all of your reps. Don’t allow your body to rotate at all.

Be aware of how much weight you are using, is your back straight, that you have a full range of motion, and are you rushing through your reps? If you’re using too much weight, not using proper form, and not completing each reps correctly.

glute kickback form

11 Cable Glute Kickback Alternatives:

Glute kickbacks are one of the best exercises for building strong glutes, but they are certainly not the only accessory glute builders out there.

Here are some glute kickback alternative exercises that you can do that will help to improve your lower body training efforts.

All of these exercises are based on hip extension and are meant to really hone in on the glutes as best as possible.

1. Hip Bridges

glute kickback alternatives


Start by laying on your back with your arms at your sides and palms facing down. You’ll then bend your knees then, tighten your glutes and raise your hips off the floor as high as they can go, and then return to starting position slowly and repeat. Be sure that you are focusing on squeezing your glutes hard at the top.

2. Single Leg Hip Bridges

glute isolation

Increase resistance by using just one leg!

3. Leg Up Hip Bridges

glute exercises

This is the same thing but with your feet elevated, resistance is increased. 

4. Hip Thrusts

hip extension exercises for glutes

Hip thrusts can be done with just your bodyweight. You can use just one leg at a time for a greater challenge too. However, if your glutes are getting strong, you will want to add a weight load in the form of a barbell, dumbbells or even just plates. 

5. Flutter Kicks

glute isolation exercises

Get onto a flat bench and let your legs hanging off the end. Hold onto the side of the bench with your arms and bring your legs up and down in an alternating fashion. Really focus on using your glutes to power the movement. Squeeze your glutes at all times. 

6. Step Ups

cable glute kickback alternatives

A step up is very similar to a glute kickback actually, but rather than kicking your leg back against resistance, you are using it to raise your body up.

With steps, if you are beginner, start with just your bodyweight. But, when and if you are ready, you can use dumbbells or even a barbell or EZ bar to increase resistance.

7. Bird Dogs

glute kickback benefits

Bird Dogs involve a glute kickback with arm extension. Basically, this is just a more dynamic exercise that will allow you to work other muscles like your core and back at the same time. It's also great for improving balance and coordination. 

8. Frog Pumps

butt isolation exercises

The frog pump is similar to a hip bridge but it involves a high degree of hip abduction. With that, you can increase the activation of your gluteus medius and minimus (side glutes).

9. Kneeling Cable Hip Thrusts

cable glutes

This exercise is a great way to create resistance through hip extension. You will feel an amazing contraction in your glutes with this one, as well as good stretching tension. 

This movement will help you to create strength too, which will translate to improvements in your squats and deadlifts (both of which involve hip extension just like this). 

10. Leg Back Toe Down Pulses

Get down on all fours. Be sure that your hands are directly under your shoulders, then extend one leg straight behind you, keeping your toes facing downwards. Squeeze your glutes to pulse your leg up and down.

11. Assisted Pull-up Machines

Yes, you can use the assisted pull-up machine to work your glutes. Simply hold on to the rack, and place your foot on the platform and push down. Extend your leg fully and squeeze your glutes. Hold for two seconds, then slowly bring your leg back up.

Integrating the Cable Glute Kickbacks & Alternatives Into Your Workout:

When integrating the cable glute kickback into your routine will offer you amazing results in the strength, size, and appearance of your glutes. It takes time to build muscle definition and increase strength.

You can improve your results by incorporating these isolated exercises into your routine and through proper nutrition. If you’re like most people, you are stuck in your comfort zone, and this eliminates room for growth and gains. Start targeting and isolating your glute muscles to increase your leg strength, stability, and look good.

Leg Days

Do you have an exclusive leg day? This might be the best day to include the cable glute kickback or one of its alternative exercises. However, you’ll want to take some things into consideration when choosing leg day.  

If your leg day is going to be heavy lifting, you might want to avoid doing the cable glute kickbacks, especially if you plan on performing lunges, squats, and deadlifts, as these exercises do engage the glutes.

However, if you plan on isolating your leg muscles, incorporating the cable glute kickbacks is perfect. 

Body Part Split

Are you on a traditional bodybuilding routine that consists of split body parts? If so, you’ll want to include this exercise on leg day, and be sure that you are performing this exercise before your heavy lifting to avoid the difficulty of performing them in good form after heavy lifting. 

Glutes-only Day

Your butt deserves a day of its own. Your glutes are one of your body’s largest skeletal muscles. Without strong glutes, you’ll have a difficult time increasing your max weight when it comes to leg exercises. This day could include cable adductions, cable clamshells, and others to give your glutes the attention they deserve.


8 Best Gluteus Maximus Exercises 10 Best Gluteus Medius Exercises 13 Best Gluteus Minimus Exercises

Set-Rep Structure

Much like your abs, your glutes are constantly being worked. Try the good, old-fashioned high-to-low rep method at the end of just about any workout day. It’s great for isolation days or any body part routine day as it aids in improving your overall physical strength.

We hope this post has inspired you to add glute kickbacks to your routine! Sometimes, you just need a little kick in the butt 😉 If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.

glute kickbacks cable machine

- Kiel DiGiovanni
Abs Explained: Can You Have A 10 Pack?

A common goal in the fitness community is to achieve the elusive 6-pack but recently we’ve been asked how to get 10 pack abs. The answer to this question is simple, be born with it or look towards a surgical solution (which we never recommend). No matter whether you were born with a 4 pack, 6 pack, 8 pack or 10 pack you’ll still have to put in the hard work and discipline if you want those abs to show and impress. Genetics determine how many “packs” of abs we can get but it’s up to you to get them popping! In this post we will cover the abs and the differences between a 10 pack and a 6 pack. We’ll also give you 10 of the best exercises you can do to get ripped, well defined abs.

 how to get abs

What are the abdominal muscles and their functions?

The abdomen contains 4 major muscles. The transverse abdominis, a portion of the abdominal wall that wraps around the trunk, the obliques, on the sides of the abdomen and the rectus abdominis in the center, the most notable and the one that is capable of showing a 10 pack. A common function that these muscles share is assistance with bodily functions such as defaction, urination and forced breathing.

Rectus Abdominis: This is the abdomen muscle that is responsible for creating that “pack” look. Whether it’s a 6 pack an 8 pack or a 10 pack it is still the same muscle. The rectus abdominis sits center stage in the abdominal region. It runs vertically down your stomach and is divided by a connective tissue called the linea alba. The outer edges of the rectus abdominis is the linea semilunaris that separates the obliques from the abs. The last component that makes up and defines the rectus abdominis are the horizontal tendinous intersections. The number of these tendinous intersections will determine how many abs you can potentially develop. The main function of the rectus abdominis is flexion of the trunk but it also helps with stabilization and maintaining the proper pelvis tilt. Transverse abdominis: This is the deepest muscle of the abdomen region.The transverse abdominis also referred to as the TVA or transversus abdominis is nicknamed the “corset muscle”. This muscle wraps around the abdomen and plays an important role in tensing the abdominal wall, bracing the internal organs in place and stabilizing the pelvis and lumbar spine. The transverse abdominis can help to make the stomach flatter which in turn might boost your chances of showing defined abs. Obliques: These muscles that run along side of the rectus abdominis are split into the external obliques and internal obliques. The internal obliques are found under and perpendicular to the external obliques. The internal obliques help with rotating and bending at the trunk, maintain the tension in the abdominal wall and reduce chest volume when exhaling. The external obliques are located on the outsides of both sides of the trunk. The function of the external obliques is to assist with rotation of the trunk and spine as well as lowering the chest downwards to the midsection. Is it possible to have a 10 pack of abs?

Yes, it is entirely possible to have 10 visible ab muscles or a 10 pack but not everyone can have a 10 pack naturally. The number of possible abs you can have is dependent on your genetics. With that said it’s possible to have anywhere from a 2 pack to a 12 pack. However, you will have to stick to a strict diet and exercise program if you have any hope of seeing your “pack” in the mirror.

This study was conducted to determine the variations of the tendinous intersections of the rectus abdominis in regards to the common patterns and locations to help guide surgical procedures. The number of these tendinous intersections directly correlates to your “pack” of abs. The study was conducted using cadavers, the percentage of different types of abs were as follows:

10 Pack:~1% (*no concrete studies on this but seemingly more rare than a 2 Pack) 8 Pack: ~22% 6 Pack: ~61% 4 Pack: ~15% 2 Pack: ~2%

Note: No cadavers in the studies had a 12 pack but it has been reported that in some autopsies 12 packs were present.

Let’s look at some examples of each of possible types of rectus abdominis muscles are organized:

4 Pack: This is when you’ll have 2 rows of 2 abs 6 Pack: This is when you’ll have 3 rows of 2 abs 8 Pack: This is where you’ll have 4 rows of 2 abs 10 Pack: This is where you’ll have 5 rows of 2 abs

Note: Keep in mind that not all abs are symmetrical and can look staggered or uneven.

What Causes Uneven Ab Muscles?

Uneven abs, staggered abs, or asymmetrical abs can generally be caused by three reasons; genetics, muscle imbalances from over/under training, and muscle dysfunction. The first cause, genetics is by far the most common cause of having uneven abs, and even if someone has uneven abs most people will never know as you'll need low body fat to recognize uneven abs. 

Most of our body parts are asymmetrical with subtle differences in shoulder heights, joint placements, arm lengths and more so uneven abs are usually just an aesthetic concern as they are often determined by genetics and not a medical condition. However, if you do have uneven abs from muscle dysfunction it can be an indication of scoliosis. The improper alignment of the spine can contribute to the transverse abdominis looking asymmetrical.

Is It Possible To "Fix" Uneven Abs? 

Because uneven abs are most frequently the result of genetics there's no real way of fixing uneven abs although you might be able to balance them out with slight improvements by targeting specific areas of the core. To do this you can focus on more rotational/ anti-rotational exercises to build up one side or another.

What’s the highest pack you can have?

A 12 pack is the biggest pack. Believe it or not there have been some recorded occurrences of people with 12 pack ab muscles during autopsies. Relatively speaking, the chances of having a 12 pack is very small if you take the overall percentage of people that have other type of abs. This coupled with the fact that most people don’t have low enough body fat percentage to ever see whether or not they had 12 pack means you'll probably never see this in person.

How To Test For 10 Pack Abs

To figure out how many abs you have you can complete the following self-test. You need to have a low enough body fat percentage to be able to perform this self-assessment. To do this test you should be sub 20% body fat so that you can actually locate and feel the tendinous intersections between your abs.

Now let’s see if you’re one of the lucky few who have the genetics for an 8 pack or even a 10 pack of abs.

10 Pack Ab Test

Stand up straight the grab the skin and fat at belly button level with your fingertips digging inwards. Pull the fat and skin outwards then contract your abs. Use your fingertips to rub up and down below the belly button. If you can feel ridge line at belly button level then you should be able to develop a full six pack. Keep moving downwards, if you can feel another line then you’ll be able to build up an 8 pack. Continue rubbing your fingers up and down as you move further south. If you find one more line then you might be in the rare group that can develop 10 pack abs.

Note: Just keep in mind that even if there’s no exact data about how many people can have a 10 pack, it’s most likely much less than a fraction of 1% of people.

How to Get 10 Pack Abs?

Whether you’re a girl or boy you can only get 10 pack abs if you’re born with them. Your genetics will predetermine how many abdominals or packs you can develop naturally. As mentioned above the number of packs you naturally can have is based on how many tendinous intersections you have. While the linea alba divides the rectus abdominis in two halves, the horizontal tendinous intersections determine how many packs you’ll have. If you have 3 horizontal bands stacked on top of each other then you’ll have a 6-pack. If you have 4 bands, you’ll have an 8-pack. You might be lucky enough to have 5 of these bands to be able to get a 10 pack of abs but it’s statistically probably not happening. The best-case scenario for achieving 10 pack abs is to create the illusion of having them, otherwise you’re relegated to invasive surgery.

People these days are having cosmetic surgery done to create this 10-pack ab look. They do this by implanting fake ab muscles that are sculpted to appear like natural abs. These inserts are usually made of a semi-solid silicone elastomer. Another medical procedure with the goal of getting abs is liposuction or abdominal etching to remove the visceral fat that sits over the rectus abdominis.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t willing to put in the hard work and dedication to get the abs they desire. Barring medical conditions, we all have the capability of achieving well defined abs but it’s not easy!

Can women have get a 10 pack?

Yes, women can get as many “packs” as men. The number of abs you can get is based on how many connective tissue bands you have that cross your rectus abdominis. Women are no different from men in this aspect and will average the same amount of abs regardless of the sex. It will be a little more difficult for women to get the chiseled abs due to hormonal and body composition differences.

Benefits of Strong Abs

Strengthening your abs will result in a number of benefits apart from looking great. Here are some of the benefits that come with building strong abs.

Stronger Core: By working your abs you will strengthen your core. Most actions you make throughout the day involve core activation in some regards. The core is engaged in bending, twisting, walking, running or just standing/sitting up and plenty of other daily movements.

Improved Athletic Performance: Playing most sports means you’ll be required to change directions, swing an arm, kick a leg, jump up, or catch something. All of these movements will engage the core muscles. By working on your abs and core muscles you can enhance your ability to transfer energy from your core to your limbs. A strong core also provides much needed stability and balance that are essential in sports and everyday life.

Look Better: Well defined abs whether a 4 pack, 6 pack or 10 pack of abs looks great. We’ve yet to meet someone with abs embarrassed to take off their shirt. If anything, abs can boost your confidence to levels you’ve never experienced. When you achieve the ripper abs look it is a symbol of your work ethic and discipline.

Support Better Posture: Your abs help to keep your body upright and can help to straighten up your posture. These days people sit at their desks too much and end up with a hunched over posture. Strong core muscles can support your lumbar spine enabling you to stand taller and reduce your chances of herniating a disc.

Reduce Lower Back Pain: Lower back pain is a problem plaguing much of society at one point or another. One cause of this major issue if weak ab muscles. By exercising your abs you will make your core more mobile and flexible which can help to lower your chances of experiencing back pain. You can take some of the burden off of your lower back by strengthening your abs.

Slimmer Waist: Generally speaking, if you have lower body fat and exercise frequently you will live a longer fuller life. This study tracked 100,000 people over the course of nine years and found that people with larger waists had double the risk of dying from any cause during that time frame.

Help Lift Heavier Weight: Ab exercises and workouts can lead to a stronger more mobile core which in turn can enable you to lift heavier weights. Your core provides strong foundation for certain exercises like overhead press, squats and deadlifts. By building up your abdominal strength you can reduce the chances of injuring your spine.

Improve Breathing: Your ab muscles work in unison with the intercostal muscles and diaphragm. When you work on strengthening these breathing muscles, you’ll also be working the abs. The abs also help to keep the tension of the abdominal wall so that the internal organs are situated in the proper alignment which helps to breathe easier.

Tips To Build Defined Abs

Do Ab & Core Exercises: The abs are just like any other muscle in your body in that you need to actively use them if you want to make them stronger. The beauty of abs is that you can work them more frequently than most muscle groups. You can even do ab exercises daily if you’re up to it. If you want to build your abs thicker then you should follow the same principles of progressive overload by increasing the total volume either through more sets and reps or adding resistance.

Perform Compound Lifts: you’ll speak with some trainers and fitness experts that will tell you that if you perform big compound lifts regularly enough then you won’t have to work on your abs. This is partly true. The big compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats and overhead press will engage your core muscles including your abs. Doing compound lifts will strengthen your abs, there’s no doubt about that. We do however recommend that people incorporate some ab and core exercises into their workout programs to make sure that they move through all planes of motion especially the transverse plane. It’s similar to working your other muscles, you should train with variety. You could focus only on bench press for chest development but it’s important to add a variety of exercises to build well-rounded pecs.

Eat More Protein: Protein will help you feel fuller for a longer period of time. You also need adequate protein intake if you plan on building muscle. To build muscle you should aim for .8-1 gram or protein per pound of bodyweight. To help meet this target you can try to supplement with whey protein or plant-based protein.

Proper Diet: This might be one of the most important aspects to focus on if you have any hopes of seeing if you have a 10 pack or 6 pack hiding underneath your belly fat. You should determine your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) to know how many calories you should consume daily to help lose fat. You might want to try dropping your total calorie intake by 200-500 per day to get to a caloric deficit which will help shed some fat.

A few nutrition tricks to help get you to a lower body fat percentage is to follow a cutting program or try intermittent fasting. It’s also usually easier to get shredded abs by eating less carbohydrates. At the end of the day, you will have to have a low body fat percentage to see your abs. For men, body fat should be sub 13% while females should be under 20%.

Do Cardio: To aid you in uncovering that possible 10 pack or 8 pack of abs you should start to do cardio if you don’t already. HIIT workouts are great to help lose fat fast. By doing intense cardio you will boost your metabolism and burn more calories faster.

Build Up Your Apollo’s Belt: Also known as the Adonis belt or iliac furrow, these V shaped grooves run from the hip bone to the pubis. Building this this will help to enhance whatever abs you’re showing. It will help to make it look like you have lower abs. Exercises like windshield wipers, reverse crunches, and planks can help to bolster this area.

Lose Fat: This is the number one thing you have to do if you stand any chance in seeing those abs pop out. Regardless of how many ab exercises you do all your hard work won’t be realized until you lose the layer of fat that is covering them up. Briefly touched on above, men would have to have lower than 13% bodyfat and women under 20%. These percentages are rough guidelines as different people have varying body compositions which can result in abs being visible with more or less fat percentages than the average.

Work On Lower Abs: The lower abs are often the hardest to develop and showcase as this is the region where most people hold the majority of their stomach’s visceral fat. If you’re able to build up this region of the abs then it will give you a better overall ripped look.

10 Best Exercises To Build Rock Solid Abs

Now that you know that you’re stuck with as many abs as you’re born with, we wanted to give you 10 of the best ab exercises to build those packs. Don’t fret if you can’t build a 10 pack of abs, these exercises will assist you in building up the abs you have.

These exercises will primarily focus on the rectus abdominis but we added a few transverse abdominis and oblique exercises in as well to make sure you have an even balanced approach to build up all your ab muscles.

1. Bicycle Crunches

This version of a crunch is awesome to work all the abs, especially the rectus abdominis. The bicycle crunch can torch your core while also burning calories as you’ll be moving your limbs throughout the movement. This study found that bicycle crunches activated the rectus abdominis better than 12 other common ab exercise methods. One of the best parts of this exercise is that you can do it while lying down unlike riding a bike where the seat can get uncomfortable after a while.   

bicycle crunchesHow To:

Lie down on your back Then clasp your hands together behind your head Start with your right leg extended and left leg bent then bring your right elbow towards your left knee Return back to starting position while extending your left leg and bringing your left elbow to your right knee Alternate back and forth for desired reps

Note: Don’t let your feet hit the ground until you've finished your desired reps.

2. Straight Vertical Leg Crunch

This crunch variation is fantastic to hit the rectus abdominis. These crunches are more difficult than standard crunches. Having your legs up in the air reduces the contact points between your body and the ground which lessens stability. Due to this less stable position your core muscles will be activated more.

ab exerciseHow To:

Lie down on your back then lift your legs up so they're pointing at the ceiling then lift your arms up parallel to your legs Engage your abs and lift your shoulders off the ground until your hands come close to touching your ankles Slowly lower to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Focus on lifting your chest upwards rather than just rounding at the shoulders.

3. Forearm Plank

The humble plank exercise comes in all types of variations which makes it a versatile bodyweight exercise that works the core. Planks target multiple muscles in the body and help us to work on our breathing. Your entire core will be challenged with planks which will help you to build up that 6 pack or 10 pack you’re sporting. Beginners can start with the forearm plank while intermediate or advanced people might want to try more dynamic versions where you’ll be lifting your arms or legs off the ground.

plank for abs

How To:

Get down onto the floor on hands and knees then place your forearms on the ground with your elbows stacked under your shoulders Extend your legs behind you with your feet hip width apart Hold this position with your core engaged and hips up so that your body is aligned in a straight line for as long as possible Repeat for desired reps

Note: Focus on keeping your core engaged the entire time so that your hips don’t sag.

Related: 29 Best Plank Exercises For Core Strength & Stability

4. Hollow Body Hold

Some of the top athletes in the world swear by this ab exercise. The hollow body hold isn’t an easy exercise, it requires you to hold both your feet and arms off the ground which creates a lot of tension on the abdominal muscles. This is a fantastic isometric exercise to work the core without placing stress on the joints. Not only will this work the rectus abdominis but will also hit the transverse abdominis, obliques, hip flexors, quads and erector spinae muscles. The hollow body hold is a great core exercise to strengthen and stabilize the lower back as well.


hollow body holdHow To: Lie down on your back Bring your arms up over your head while your legs are fully extended Contract your abs and push your lower back into the floor Lift your feet, head and arms a few inches off the ground Hold this position for as long as possible Repeat for desired reps

Note: You should look like a banana in the final position, don’t tuck your chin and make sure that your shoulders come off the ground.

5. Barbell Rollout

You can perform this ab exercise with a barbell or an ab roller. Using either piece of equipment will work your abs in the same way. Rollouts are an anti-extension exercise to target the abs which is unlike many ab exercises that rely of spinal flexion. This is a great ab exercise to work the entire core while improving your stability. Those of you looking to do ab exercises at home might be better off with an ab roller because it will take up less space and is cheaper.

ab rolloutHow To:

Set up the barbell with even weight plates on both sides Kneel down then grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip, shoulder width apart Roll the bar forward while lowering your torso towards the ground while keeping your back and arms straight Go as far forward as you can without letting your back arch, squeeze your core to bring yourself back to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your core engaged throughout the movement without letting your hips sag or your back arch.

6. Decline Crunch

This version of the crunch will really get those abs burning. With the decline bench crunch you will have to fight against gravity to crunch your body upwards which puts more tension and stress on the abs leading to the potential of stimulating more muscle growth.

decline crunchHow To:

Sit down on the bench then hook your feet in place Lie down with your back against the bench while keeping your knees bent Clasp your hands behind your head Crunch upwards by fully contracting your abs while keeping your lower back in contact with the bench Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Don’t use your hands to pull up on your neck, focus on contracting your abs to move your body up.

7. Decline Reverse Crunch

The decline the reverse crunch works your rectus abdominis through a wide range of motion which can really help get a full contraction. This exercise will work your core, hip flexors and even legs. If you really want to make this one burn, trying counting down from 10 while you lower your legs to starting position.

decline bench reverse crunchHow To:

Set up the decline bench at 30-45 degree angle Lie down on the bench with your head towards the higher side Reach behind you with both hands to grab the bench next to your head while your legs are fully extended in front of you Pull your legs up and tuck your knees in towards your chest at the same time while exhaling until your butt comes off of the bench Slowly return to starting position by going through the reverse motion Repeat for desired reps

Note: The easier version of this can be done on a flat surface by following the same cues from above.

8. Hanging Leg Raises

This is one of the more difficult ab exercises that you can do but you know what they say the harder it is, the bigger the reward. If you try to do hanging leg raises you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. This exercise is demanding on both your core and grip strength. You’ll be lifting the entire weight of your legs against gravity. You will be working the abs, hip flexors while the TFL, rectus femoris, pectineus and adductor longus assist with the movement. This is a more advanced exercise that takes serious grip strength and core strength to pull off.

hanging leg raise

How To:

Jump/reach up and grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip at shoulder width apart Lift your legs up in front of you by engaging your abs and hip flexors until your legs are at 90 degrees in front of you (or higher if you can) Slowly lower your legs to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your shoulders down and back throughout this movement and avoid swinging your legs upward. If needed pause at the bottom to break the momentum before lifting your legs again.

9. Captain’s Chair Weighted Knee Raises

Using a Captain’s Chair for ab exercises is amazing for targeting the core. You can focus on the exercise at hand instead of holding a pull up bar. You can perform this exercise in a slow controlled motion to get those abs working hard. Make sure that your feet are pointed upwards slightly to hold the dumbbell in place as you raise your knees.

 captains chair absHow To:

Get into position on the Captain’s Chair with your forearms on the pads and your back pressed into the backrest with your shoulders stabilized Start with your legs directly under you holding a dumbbell between them Lift your knees up by contracting your core and hip flexors until your upper legs are a little higher than 90 degrees so that they’re higher than your hip flexors Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: To make this easier you can do without any weight or resistance. Hold at the top to get an extra isometric contraction.

Related: 14 Captain's Chair Exercises Plus Workouts To Strengthen Upper Body

10. Cable Crunch

The cable crunch enables you to build some thickness in the abs due to the resistance you can add. This is a great exercise to work the rectus abdominis due to the amount of spinal flexion that is involved. Many people do this exercise improperly so make sure to pay attention to the cues below in order to get the most from this exercise.

cable crunchHow To:

Set the rope attachment on the cable at head height then set up the proper weight on the stack Step away from the cable machine at about arm’s length Grab the rope with both hands using a neutral grip Get down onto your knees then bring your hands up at your forehead Crunch your upper body down to your belly by contracting your abs Hold briefly at the bottom then slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Making sure you’re crunching down using only the strength from your abs not your lower back and arms.

Sample Ab Workout

This ab workout will primarily target the rectus abdominis to help you build up your abs. These ab exercises will work if you have a 4 pack the same way they will work for someone who might be blessed with a 10 pack of abs. 

You should follow this workout in circuit style by going through each exercise in order. One round is completed after you've done all exercises for the number of reps listed.  Then you will take a 1-2 minute break between rounds. Complete 3 rounds total.

Cable Crunch 3 set x 8 reps Decline Leg Reverse Crunch 3 sets x 10 reps Barbell Rollout 3 sets x 6 reps Hollow Body Hold 3 sets x As long as possible Most Famous 10 Pack Abs

The main man in the cover photo and below this paragraph sports the most famous 10 pack in the world. Mohamed Ali a.k.a Mr. 10 Pack is an IFBB Men's Physique Natural Athlete. You chouls check out his Instagram for some tips and tricks of building your abs, you won't be disappointed. 

10 pack

Final Note

Getting abs is hard, getting a 10 pack is almost impossible.Don't get caught up on how many abs you have. Focus on doing the right things to getting those abs showing. You'll have to train hard and eat right. Last thing, just remember one thing to not get discouraged, most people aren't walking around with ripped abs 365 days a year.

- Sam Coleman
5 Kettlebell Shoulder Workouts With 15 Exercises For Your Delts and Rotator Cuff

When training your shoulders, you need to look at things from all angles. By that we mean aesthetics, strength, mobility and durability. This is exactly how we approach kettlebell shoulder workouts. We choose kettlebell exercises that hit all aspects of shoulder development.

In this article, you are going to learn about the anatomy and function of the shoulder and what makes kettlebell training special. Then, we are going to demonstrate 15 kettlebell shoulder exercises for strength, size, stability and mobility, all of which we will use to create 5 unique, challenging and effective kettlebell shoulder workouts.

kettlebells for shoulders


In this article, we are going to be working on both strength and stability (and of course hypertrophy) of the shoulders. So, that means we need to look at the deltoids and the rotator cuff complex.


kettlebell delts

Your deltoid is a large muscle that lies over the shoulder joint. It’s what gives your shoulders a rounded contour. 

The deltoid, while one muscle, has 3 distinct sets of muscle fibers called heads.

The three muscle heads of the deltoids are referred to as the anterior (front), lateral (middle) and posterior (rear) delts. 

Each head of the deltoid produces different movement of the shoulder joint.

The anterior head’s main responsibility is shoulder flexion (lifting your arm up), horizontal flexion, and medial rotation.

The lateral head’s main responsibility is performing shoulder abduction (lifting your arm to the side).

The posterior head’s main responsibility is shoulder extension, horizontal extension and lateral rotation. 

And all three heads work together to produce abduction of the shoulder joint and overall stability.

In terms of exercises... 

Your anterior delt is going to work the most during movements that bring your arm up or forward, such as front raises and presses.

Your lateral delt is going to work the most during movements that bring your arm up to the side, such as lateral raises and presses with your elbows out to the side. 

Your posterior delt is going to work the most during movements where you move your arm down through resistance or back with your elbows out to the side, such as pulldowns, pullovers, and flys/rows (horizontal extension). 

Our goal is to incorporate all of these movements into our kettlebell shoulder workouts so that you can have the best possible development of your deltoids. 


kettlebell rotator cuff

Your rotator cuff (RTC) consists of 4 muscles called the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor muscle and the subscapularis.

These muscles work together to stabilize your shoulder joint and keep your humerus (upper arm bone) in your shoulder socket. They also assist in raising and rotating your arm. 

While these muscles are small and deep unlike the deltoid which is a superficial muscle with a lot of growth potential, your rotator cuff should not be overlooked. Strengthening these muscles is very important for overall shoulder health, mobility and durability.

The beautiful thing about training with kettlebells is due to the nature of its design, they do a fantastic job of strengthening the rotator cuff muscles because they require more shoulder stability. 

So, with kettlebell shoulder workouts and exercises, we are going to be filling two needs with one deed, strength and hypertrophy of the deltoids AND strength and mobility of the rotator cuff complex. This is true and complete development of the shoulders.


Kettlebells are fantastic for the shoulders on multiple fronts. With kettlebell shoulder workouts, and kettlebell exercises in general, you can gain strength and size in your deltoids, as well as optimal range of motion, AND you can strengthen and improve mobility of your rotator cuff complex.

Kettlebells do a fantastic job of targeting the delts - i.e. overhead presses, bottoms up presses, snatches - and due to how they are designed, the load positioning, and simply how they are used, they require greater stability demands which automatically digs deep into your shoulders to strengthen your rotator cuff complex.

Moreover, kettlebell training often involves exercises that move you through multiple planes of motion and through large ranges of motion, which enables you to optimize your shoulder mobility and its strength through all movement functions. 

All in all, kettlebells are great for both strengthening and developing your deltoids as well as strengthening and mobilizing your rotator cuff complex.

Are kettlebells hard on your shoulders? 

On the whole, kettlebells are great for shoulder health as they provide strength, mobility and stability, which leads to overall shoulder durability. However, if used improperly, meaning with poor form and/or too heavy of weight, you can hurt your shoulder. That said, this is true for any equipment or even bodyweight and calisthenics training.

If you are coming off an injury, be sure to start light or consult your doctor or physical therapist. 

Remember, the shoulder is a complex and complicated joint. It’s a joints that is very susceptible to injury. So, be sure to learn the movements correctly and then increase weight load. If you do this, you will not only avoid injury, but you will make your shoulders incredibly resilient to it.

kettlebell shoulder stability


Like dumbbells, kettlebells can build up the shoulders both in terms of strength and size, as well as fix muscle imbalances that often develop with equipment like barbells. 

But what makes kettlebell training special, particularly for the shoulders, is its unstable nature. 

Although dumbbells are good for shoulder stability too, as you will be using your arms independently of each other, they are perfectly balanced with a load that is placed directly over the palm of your hand. A kettlebell is not. Kettlebells make your often under-utilized stabilizer muscles fire off at a much high degree.

Not only does this help you maximize the strength of your shoulders, but more importantly it helps you to build injury resilience. And while you’d think this would make kettlebells more dangerous for the shoulder joint, it is actually the opposite. Because you must balance the kettlebell and really focus on stability, you will find the path of least resistance when moving a kettlebells, which is safest. So, you get all the gains without the strain. 

Related: Benefits of Kettlebell Training


To train your shoulders with kettlebells, you must focus on a few things...

Strength, Stability, and Range of Motion (mobility).

This means full concentric and eccentric contraction, isometric contraction, unilateral exercises, explosive movement, and so on.

Moreover, you must work your shoulders through all movement patterns and functions. That way, you can hit all of the muscles that surround your shoulder joint (deltoids and RTC). 

Shoulder Flexion, Extension, and Abduction.

So, when doing a shoulder workout, you want to have a variety of exercises that hit the muscles from different “angles” and that focus on strength as well as stability.

The 15 kettlebell shoulder exercises below achieve just that. We have kettlebell press variations, stability based exercises, flys, rotational movements and more. Our goal is to build your shoulders to be strong, aesthetic, mobile and durable.


Here are 15 of the best kettlebell shoulder exercises for strength, hypertrophy and rotator cuff stability. After we run through all of the exercises, we will incorporate them into various kettlebell shoulder workouts. 

Exercise 1: Half-Kneeling Overhead Press (0:15)Exercise 2: Kneeling Windmill (0:51)Exercise 3: Halo (1:40)Exercise 4: Sushi Roll (2:07)Exercise 5: Rotational Press (2:47)Exercise 6: Kettlebell Shoulder C.A.R (3:19)Exercise 7: Kettlebell Rear Delt Fly (4:05)Exercise 8: Single Arm High Pull (4:37)Exercise 9: Hang Snatch (4:57)Exercise 10: Hang Snatch with Rotation (5:22)Exercise 11: Bottoms Up Press (5:57)Exercise 12: Crossbody Lateral Clean (6:21)Exercise 13: Seated Press (6:48)Exercise 14: Kettlebell Dead-Bug (7:21)Exercise 15: Tactical Snatch (7:50)

Exercise 1: Half-Kneeling Overhead Press

kettlebell shoulder press

The half-kneeling overhead kettlebell press is a fantastic exercise for shoulder strength and hypertrophy. It completely eliminates the possibility of using your legs to help lift the kettlebell overhead, which is great for deltoid isolation.

Of course, your triceps and upper chest will be activated as well when pressing overhead.

Another great thing about this exercise is the half-kneeling position and the fact that you only use one arm at a time. This position is stable for single arm presses, yet at the same time, it quickly highlights any errors and imbalances. And this doesn’t just apply to your shoulders, but also your core and glutes as they must be activated to maintain spine and hip stability. 

All in all, it’s a very well rounded exercise for a shoulder workout. It will help you build shoulder, core and hip strength and stability while also honing in on asymmetries. 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: This is an all around deltoid exercise, but it is especially targeting the front and side delts. It is also good for rotator cuff stability.

How to do a half-kneeling overhead kettlebell press:

Get into the half-kneeling stance. Your front and back leg should be at a 90˚ angle with your back straight. Dig the ball of your back foot into the ground for stability. Note: If you are pressing on your left side, your right foot is forward, and vice versa. For this how to, we are pressing on the left side. Bring the kettlebell into a front rack position. So, your palm will be facing in and the bell will rest on the outside of your forearm. Be sure to maintain a nice, tall position and squeeze your glutes and abs at all time to keep upright and squared forward. Press the kettlebell up overhead. As the kettlebell is pressing up, you are bringing your shoulder out laterally and rotating your hand forward, so when your arm is extended up overhead, your palm is forward and the kettlebell is directly above your shoulder. Slowly lower your arm back down to the racked position through the same path of motion and repeat. 

Note: If you feel like you are sinking or folding during the lift, even when really focusing on having good form, it’s likely that you are using too heavy of a kettlebell or you are fatigued. Stop when your form breaks down. i.e. If you aim for 10 reps but your form starts to fault at 8 reps, then stop the set there and rest, then see how many you can do with good form on your next set if you plan to have another. 

Best Rep Range: The kettlebell half-kneeling overhead press is most effective in a range of 5-12 reps. Use a kettlebell weight that challenges you in this rep range (of course, a heavier kettlebell for the lower end of the range if possible). Also, start with your weaker side and match the reps on your stronger side so you can fix any imbalances in size and strength. 

Exercise 2: Kneeling Windmill with Press 

kettlebell shoulder strength

The kettlebell windmill is one of the best shoulder stability exercises there is. It’s a go to among kettlebell trainees and athletes alike.

With the half-kneeling position, you'll place more emphasis on the shoulder than the hips and lower body, as a standing kettlebell windmill demands much more from the lower body. 

As such, we like to do kneeling windmills for overall shoulder health. This exercise, along with Turkish Get Ups, is the ultimate durability movement. Having good shoulder durability is just as important as having powerful shoulders that can move heavy loads explosively.

The kettlebell windmill digs really deep into the shoulder in an isometric manner, working all of the small muscle fibers around your shoulder capsule as well as your deltoids. Moreover, it does so through rotation of the shoulder joint as you will be leaving your arm straight up as your torso moves toward the ground. 

But that’s not all...

With this particular exercise, we also added a press into the movement. So, first you press and as the kettlebell comes overhead, you perform the windmill. With that, you also get deltoid activation through isotonic contraction (lengthening and shortening - stretching and contracting). This turns the windmill into a durability and strength and hypertrophy exercise. It’s basically an all-in-one movement for the shoulders. PLUS, like any windmill it works your obliques and core for spinal stability and boosts your hip mobility! 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front, Side, Rear Delts, Rotator Cuff Complex. 

How to do a kettlebell windmill with shoulder press:

The instructions are for the left side. Place your right knee down on the floor with your leg shooting straight backward. Place your left leg straight out to your side with your knee fully extended. Keep your left foot flat to the ground. Bring the kettlebell into the front racked position on your left side. With your torso upright and tall, keep your abs and glutes tight and press the kettlebell up overhead while rotating your torso to the left and lowering your side body toward the ground. When the kettlebell is up overhead, your right hand should be able to touch the floor and your left and right arm should make a straight line up and down. From here, continuing lowering your torso toward the ground until your elbow touches the floor (if you can). The movement is at the hips, so you are shooting your hips back, not laterally flexing your torso. Keep your eye on the kettlebell at all times and keep your arm fully extended overhead. Return back to the upright position slowly while simultaneously lowering the kettlebell back to the racked position. Repeat for the desired reps then perform the same number of reps on the opposite side (you can rest between sides). 

Best Rep Range: Aim for 5 very well controlled windmill presses on each side. Usually 3-6 reps is the best range for this exercise.

Exercise 3: Halo

kettlebell shoulder exercises

The kettlebell halo is a great shoulder and upper back mobility exercise. We usually like to start our workouts with this exercise as it ensures the shoulders are primed and fluid for what’s to come. 

Note: While it’s mainly a mobility exercise for the shoulders and scapula. It is also an effective exercise for strengthening your deltoids, rotator cuff muscles AND even your core.

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front, Side, Rear Delts

How to do kettlebell halos:

We are demonstrating the halo from a tall kneeling position. Get into a tall kneeling position. Your torso should be upright and tall with your glutes and core tight. Hold the kettlebell bottoms up with your hands on the horns of the handle (on the sides right under the top of the bell). From about chest height, bring the kettlebell up and over your right shoulder, behind your back and then back down over your left shoulder back to the starting position at chest level. For each rep, you bring the kettlebell around your head the opposite way. Be sure to keep your ribs tucked at all times and your head looking straight forward. The movement is completely at your shoulder joint and scapula.

Best rep range: Aim for 10-20 reps each way. This exercise is meant to be light weight. Focus on good form and improving range of motion. 

Exercise 4: Sushi Roll

kettlebell shoulders exercise

This is an exercise we like to call the Sushi Roll, courtesy of Jarrod Cardona of The Training Spot in Orlando. 

It’s very similar to an arm bar, but both legs will be straight out. 

Like the arm bar, this exercise is great for strengthening your shoulder stabilizer muscles (rotator cuff) as well as opening up your chest.

Also, because your legs are straight out, it places a higher demand on your stability (and with that shoulder stability). 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Rotator Cuff Complex - subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus)

How to do a kettlebell sushi roll:

From a side lying position on the floor, grab the kettlebell with your left hand and then roll back to a supine position (lying with back on floor). This just ensures your safely get the kettlebell into place. Bring your right foot to the floor with your knee bent and keep your left leg straight out. As you press the kettlebell up with your left arm, extended your right leg straight out to bring it together with your left leg. Your right arm should be out and up to the side. Now, your left arm will be pressed straight up with the kettlebell in line with your shoulder. So, from here, you are going to roll to your right side (keeping your right arm in place and your left arm extended up). Roll all the way to your side while keeping your left arm directly up perpendicular with the floor. Pause for moment, then roll back down to the supine position and repeat. Do the same number of reps to the opposite side.

Best Rep Range: 5-8 reps on each side. However, as little as 3 reps can still be effective depending on the weight. 

Exercise 5: Rotational Press 

kettlebell shoulder presses

Here we have the single arm kettlebell rotational press. It takes the standard overhead press and turns it multiplanar as you will be rotating while you press overhead. 

The standard single arm kettlebell shoulder press is great for core strength as you are pressing with just one side requiring your core to activate for spinal stability (to avoid lateral flexion - aka bending to the side). With the rotation, you take the demand for core strength up several notches.

Overall, this is a very dynamic exercise that is going to force control through your entire kinetic chain, from the ground up. As you press the kettlebell, you are rotating your hips and torso to the opposite side of the pressing arm. Because you are not just rotating at the torso, but also the hips, your working side’s leg must rotate in the same direction by coming up onto the ball of your foot. This makes it a very athletic movement. So, for our athletes out there who want to build pressing power and core, hip and glute strength through rotation, this is an excellent kettlebell exercise to incorporate into your shoulder workouts.

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front and Side Delt (Rear Delt secondary) 

How to do a kettlebell rotational press:

Get into a standing position with your feet hip width apart and hip neutral. Position the kettlebell in the front rack position on your left side. Bring your right arm up laterally to your side (even with your shoulder) for balance. At this point, your body is perfectly squared forward. From here, press up with your left arm while simultaneously rotating to your right side. As you rotate, your left leg, hips and core should follow the same path of motion. Your right foot will shift slightly in that direction as well so your right thigh is shooting in the same direction as your left. When your left arm up extended up overhead, slowly lower it back down to the racked position while simultaneously rotating back to the squared forward position. Repeat for a number of reps and then perform another set on the opposite side when ready. 

Best Rep Range: 6-15 reps 

Exercise 6: Kettlebell Shoulder C.A.R. 

kettlebell rotator cuff exercises

C.A.R. stands for Controlled Articular Rotations. So, this kettlebell exercise strengthens your shoulder through a perfect expression of what the joint is capable of. 

On the whole, this is a superb exercise to achieve and maintain greater control over your shoulder mobility, as well as to improve your shoulder stability and durability, and thus overall shoulder health. It’s also a great way to self-assess your movement capacity and build kinesthetic awareness at the shoulder level. 

We like to use this as a warm up exercise to prime the shoulders via tension and force through a wide range of motion. This range of motion is not one that is often focused on by beginners, so this will prep and teach your mind and body of its importance.

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Rotator Cuff Complex, Front Delt, Side Delt 

How to do kettlebell shoulder CARs:

Get into a standing position with your feet hip width apart and hip neutral. Starting on your right side. Bring the kettlebell to the front rack position. Keeping the bell resting on your forearm, bring your elbow up and out so it is directly out to your side and just above shoulder height and then continue through this path of motion moving your elbow slightly back behind you and then down and back to the starting position, all the while keeping your head, torso and hips squared forward. Think about it like you are drawing a circle with your elbow as the kettlebell rests on the back of your forearm. Repeat for a number of reps and then do the same on the opposite side.

Best Rep Range: Aim for 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps each side. 

Exercise 7: Kettlebell Rear Delt Fly

kettlebell rear delt exercises

You are probably used to seeing people do rear delt flys from a bent over position when using free weights. However, this one is done from a tall standing position. 

It’s a simple exercise, but it’s definitely not easy if appropriately loaded.

The reason this works so well for the rear delts is due to the kettlebell positioning. Unlike a dumbbell where the load is evenly distributed at the center of your hand, the majority of the kettlebells weight is positioned behind your hand, so when performing the fly motion, it does really well to activate your rear delts like this.

Another thing to note is that your middle delts will be significantly more activated than with a bent over rear delt fly from the standing position simply due to gravity. Your side delts will be working to keep your elbow up laterally. 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Rear and Side Delts.

How to do a kettlebell rear delt fly:

Get into a standing position with your feet hip width apart and hip neutral. Position the kettlebell in the front rack position on your right side. Bring your left arm up laterally to your side (even with your shoulder) for balance. While keeping squared forward, bring your elbow up and to the side so it is in line with your shoulder and move it back as far as you can comfortably go. Really squeeze your posterior delt as you move your elbow up and back. You’ll need to keep your core tight as well (which also makes this exercise good for core strength, like any single arm kettlebell exercise). Slowly return it back to the starting position through the same path of motion in reverse. Repeat for a number of reps and then perform the same amount of reps on your left side. 

Best Rep Range: We like to use a higher rep range for this one. Aim for 10-15 reps. 

Exercise 8: Single Arm High Pull

kettlebell middle delt exercises

The kettlebell single arm high pull is total body exercise, but it does emphasize the shoulders due to the pulling motion. 

This exercise is going to work your hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, and quads thanks to the swinging motion. The first half of the movement is a kettlebell swing (the high pull is a progression to a single arm kettlebell swing, so be sure to master the swing first). 

As you swing the kettlebell up past your hips, you are going to start pulling the kettlebell up in line with your shoulder, bringing your elbow to shoulder level and then back behind you. With that, you are going to work your abs, rhomboids, lats, traps, arms, and shoulders.

In terms of the shoulder movement. It’s sort of like a hybrid front raise, lateral raise, and fly/row. As such, you are going to hit all three heads of your deltoids effectively. 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front, Side, and Rear Delts

How to do single arm kettlebell high pulls:

Stand about a foot and half behind the kettlebell. Feet shoulder-width apart, or even a little wider is fine, with toes facing forward, or slightly pronated outward (whatever feels more natural for you). Put a little bend in your knee, shoot your hips back, chest down, and back flat. This is a hinge pattern. So, with that, our hamstrings and glutes should be active immediately, before even touching the bell. Bring your hands forward and grab the handle of the kettlebell with your right hand. Put the kettlebell at a slight angle towards you. Set your shoulder blades back so your lats are tight, core is braced, quads are tight, and glutes are engaged. Hike the bell back like its a football, so it goes   between the leg. As soon as your hands go past your quads, drive your hips forward and propel the bell up and forward. As the kettlebell comes up, pull the kettlebell toward your right shoulder. Keep your wrist straight and horizontal with your elbow high at about shoulder level. When the kettlebell is above your shoulder and your elbow back behind you (body still squared forward), push the kettlebell back out along the same path of motion and let it drop back down into the lower portion of the kettlebell swing. Allow the kettlebell to swinging through your legs and repeat. After a set number of reps, perform the same number of reps with your left arm.

Best Rep Range: 8-16 reps (but as many as 20 can be effective as long as form stays on point) 

Exercise 9: Hang Snatch

kettlebell front delt exercises

The hang snatch is another full body ballistic exercises that emphasizes shoulder strength and stability. 

It should be noted that you are not pressing the kettlebell overhead, you are pulling it overhead from a swinging motion between your legs.

So, it’s an explosive exercise for your shoulders on the way up. You are whipping it up overhead by driving your elbow up. This is great for the front delts and even your upper chest (it’s a forward flexion motion of the shoulder joint), and the side and rear delt play an important role for stabilization, as does your scapula and back muscles.  

However, you'll want to slowly lower the kettlebell down to a front rack position like you would with a shoulder press. As such, your deltoids will be working in the same way they would with an overhead press on the eccentric phase.

Furthermore, as with any swing and single arm swing, your hamstrings and glutes will also be activated through hip extension and your core for stability. 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front, Side, and Rear Delts 

How to do a hang snatch:

The set up for this exercise is just like a kettlebell swing. You start with the kettlebell on the floor and hike it back between your legs and then whip it forward by extending at the hips. As the kettlebell comes back through your legs, you are going to pull your elbow up explosively to bring the kettlebell overhead. It is one smooth, dynamic motion using both lower and upper body force. Pause for a moment when the kettlebell is overhead, then slowly lower it down to a front rack position like you would a kettlebell shoulder press. From here, let the kettlebell drop down and between your legs and repeat.

Note: A “hang” snatch means you are not bringing the kettlebell to the floor like a standard snatch. Moreover, this variation involves a slight swing (it’s not as exaggerated as a normal kettlebell swing, but the motion is there so you can produce more power from your lower body and thus load with a heavier bell).

Best Rep Range: 5-12 reps

Exercise 10: Hang Snatch with Rotation 

kettlebell side delt exercises

This is the same base movement as the previous exercise but with rotation added into the movement. 

So, as you snatch the kettlebell overhead, you are going to rotate at your torso in the direction of the working side. Your hips will remain squared forward.

Note: The rotation should begin when the kettlebell is moving past your shoulder height. 

When your arm is up overhead, your core will be twisted so your shoulders are almost at 90˚ from center in the direction of the kettlebell’s side.

From here, you rotate back to forward position with the kettlebell still overhead, and then lower the kettlebell to the racked position and repeat. 

With all that, you are working all of the same muscles as a regular hang snatch in addition to your oblique sling system, giving you more power and explosion through rotation. 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front, Side, and Rear Delts

How to do a kettlebell hang snatch with rotation:

The set up for this exercise is just like a kettlebell swing. You start with the kettlebell on the floor and hike it back between your legs and then whip it forward by extending at the hips. As the kettlebell comes back through your legs, you are going to pull your elbow up explosively to bring the kettlebell overhead. As the kettlebell comes up past your shoulder, start to rotate at your core while keeping your hips squared forward. When the kettlebell is completely overhead, your shoulders should be almost at 90˚ to the working side. Note: The overhead snatch with rotation is one smooth, dynamic motion using both lower and upper body force. Pause for a moment at the top in rotation and then rotate back to squared forward (with the kettlebell still overhead). Once you are squared forward, slowly lower the kettlebell to the front rack position and repeat with the swing.

Best rep range: 5-10 reps (Note: you'll be using a lower weight than you do with a standard hang snatch).

Exercise 11: Bottoms Up Press

kettlebell overhead press

The bottoms up press is an excellent kettlebell shoulder exercise created by famed kettlebell coach Pavel Tsatsouline. 

Holding the kettlebell in this position offers various benefits.

First, it places more demand on your rotator cuff muscles (and core) as to stabilize the kettlebell in the bottoms up position. 

Second, because the kettlebell is in this position, you will automatically be working on greasing the groove of your pressing motions, finding the path of least resistance and most stability. 

Lastly, the bottoms up press is actually easier on your elbow and shoulders as the pressure is directly in the palm of your hand (similar to a dumbbell), forcing you to keep your wrists straight and your elbows in a good position (as you’ll be pressing from a neutral grip with your elbows forward).

Note: It’s also a great alternative and rehab movement for those who have shoulder pain when pressing with their arms in a lateral position. 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front & Side Delts

How to do bottoms up presses:

From a standing position, hold the kettlebell bottom up, with the hand directly in the palm of your hand. Hold your opposite arm out to your side to help with balance. With your wrist in a neutral position and your elbow out in front of you (like a hammer grip), press the kettlebell up overhead. Lower it back down slowly while maintaining its balance and repeat. Perform the same number of reps on the opposite side.

Best Rep Range: 8-15 reps 

Exercise 12: Crossbody Lateral Clean 

shoulder exercises with kettlebells

The crossbody lateral clean is a ballistic rotational exercise.

Before trying this exercise, make sure you have mastered the clean first. It is a very technical total body movement that emphasizes the core and shoulders. 

Rotation will occur at both the hips and torso, making this a very effective exercise for athletes who do rotational sports. Nevertheless, it is effective for any trainee as this will help you build power, strength, mobility and stability through all three planes of motion, and most importantly the transverse plane. 

In regards to the shoulders, the crossbody rotational clean motion does a great job of enhancing mobility while also building dynamic strength and stability. Not only will it make your shoulders more powerful, but it will make them more fluid as well.

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Deltoids & RTC

How to do the crossbody lateral clean:

Bring the kettlebell into the front racked position (we will explain this using the left arm). From a squared forward stance, shift your right foot slightly to the right then bring your left heel off the ground and rotate your hips and torso to the right side as you push the kettlebell forward out of the racked position, swinging it down and back around. As the kettlebell comes down and back to the left, rotate your hips and torso all the way to the left side (almost 180˚) and clean the kettlebell back to the racked position. Continuing pushing the kettlebell out of the racked position, swinging it across your body and rotating in both directions for a number of reps and then repeat to the opposite side (using your right arm). 

Note: Be sure to watch the video as this exercise is best learned through watching it. We also have a Kettlebell Training e-Guide with a step-by-step instructional video for this exercise and many others (including workouts).

Best Rep Range: 6-12 reps (start light until you get the form down pat).

Exercise 13: Seated Press

shoulder workout with kettlebells

This seated press doesn’t require any bench or seat. You will be doing this from the floor.

By sitting on the floor, you are taking your legs completely out of the equation, allowing for the best possible deltoid isolation. 

The movement itself involves shoulder flexion and abduction so it’s going to emphasize your anterior (front) and lateral (side) delts. 

With that, the kettlebell you are using will feel harder than when doing a standing press, simply because your body is at a biomechanical disadvantage.

Shoulder muscles worked: Front & Side Delts

How to do a single arm kettlebell seated press:

Sit on the floor with your torso upright. You legs can be extended out and to the sides as seen in the pic for best stability. Bring the kettlebell to the racked position with your right arm. From here, while keeping your core tight (this is also a great exercise for core strength), press the kettlebell overhead. The motion of the press will be up and out (shoulder flexion and abduction). Slowly lower the kettlebell back down to the racked position through the same path of motion and repeat. After you finish the set on your right side, perform the same number of reps on your left side. 

Best Rep Range: 8-15 reps is best but as low as 6 reps and as much as 20 reps can be effective as well, so actually 6-20 reps. 

Exercise 14: Kettlebell Dead-Bug 

shoulder kettlebell

This might look like a core exercise, and that’s because it is, but it is also good for your shoulders, chest, and lats. 

We like to do this exercise at the end of a kettlebell shoulder or upper body workout to really burn out the shoulders and get the core working through flexion which is great for the abs (as all the other exercises have focused on core rotation or anti-rotation, which is great for the entire core, but especially the obliques). 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Side & Front Delts.

How to do the kettlebell dead bug:

Lie down flat on the floor holding the kettlebell at the sides of the handle with your palms facing in and touching the top of the bell (bottom of the bell to the ground). Keep a little bend in your elbow and knees. Perform a cruch while simultaneously pulling the kettlebell overhead to above your chest and bringing your knees to your upper ab level. Your knees should almost meet your wrists. Squeeze your abs and then slowly lower your legs and your shoulder blades to the ground as you bring the kettlebell back overhead to the ground. Repeat for a number of reps. 

Best Rep Range: 10-20 reps

Exercise 15: Tactical Snatch 

best kettlebell exercises for shoulders

The tactical snatch is just like the hang snatch but more dynamic as you will be switching hands as the kettlebell comes up. This forces you to really focus on shoulder stability and is great for coordination as you shift the weight contralaterally each rep to your other hand. 

Don’t attempt the tactical snatch until you’ve first mastered the hang snatch. 

Shoulder Muscles Worked: Front, Side, and Rear Delts

How to do a tactical snatch:

The set up for this exercise is just like a kettlebell swing. Start with the kettlebell on the floor, and with your left arm, hike it back between your legs and then whip it forward by extending at the hips. As the kettlebell comes back through your legs, swing it up to about shoulder level then switch it to your right hand and bring it up overhead. Pause for a moment when the kettlebell is overhead, then slowly lower it down to a front rack position. Push the kettlebell out of the racked position and let it swing down between your legs, then explode at the hips bringing it back through your legs and up, and just like you did with the left hand, switch it from the right hand to the left hand and bring it up overhead. This is all one, smooth, dynamic motion. Continuing alternating sides each rep. 

Best Rep Range: 16-24 reps (so, 8-12 each side). 

Do kettlebell swings workout shoulders?

The kettlebell swing is not actually a shoulder exercise, but it does work the shoulders. Just not like beginners may think. Although you are bringing the kettlebell up to shoulder level with your arms, the force is created by your hips (glutes and hamstrings) through explosive hip extension. That said, your shoulder will be working to stabilize the kettlebell and keep your shoulder joint in place. Furthermore, they will be moving through a large range of motion, which is great for mobility. On top of that, you still do get some good deltoid activation even though you shouldn’t be using your shoulders much to swing the kettlebell up. The heavier you go, the more this becomes apparent.

Related: What Muscles do Kettlebell Swings Work? 


Using the kettlebell exercises above, let’s create 5 effective workouts that you can do. Each workout will use a different protocol (workout structure). Moreover, each workout will have a selection of exercises that provide the best variety for the shoulders as to eliminate redundancy and hit all angles. 

Be sure to warm up before any workout.

Kettlebell Shoulder Workout #1:

This workout is based on sets and reps, which we’d call a traditional protocol.

Halo: 2 sets x 20 reps (10 each way) Hang Snatch: 3 sets x 8-10 reps each side Seated Press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps each side Crossbody Lateral Clean: 3 sets x 8-10 reps each side Dead Bug: 3 sets x 10-12 reps

Rest 30-90 seconds between sets.

Kettlebell Shoulder Workout #2: 

For this one we are going to use a circuit protocol. There will be 3 circuits, each with 3 exercises and done for 3 rounds. Once one circuit is done for 3 rounds, you move on to the next until all three circuits are completed.

20 seconds rest between exercises in the circuit, 30-60 seconds between rounds and 60-90 seconds between circuits. 

Circuit 1:

Kettlebell C.A.R. x 6 reps each side Halo x 16 reps (8 each direction) Sushi Roll x 5 reps

Circuit 2:

Tactical Snatch x 16 reps total Crossbody Lateral Clean x 8 reps each way Rotation Press x 8 reps each side

Circuit 3:

Bottoms Up Press x 8 reps each side Single Arm High Pull x 6 reps each side Half-Kneeling Overhead Press x 6 reps each side Kettlebell Shoulder Workout #3:

This is a HIIT workout. It is total body with emphasis on the shoulders.

The interval time scheme is 30/15, meaning 30 seconds work followed by 15 seconds rest until the workout is over.

So, as soon as you complete an exercise for 30 seconds, you rest 15 seconds then move on to the next.

Each exercise will only be done once. This is one large round.

Total Workout Time: ~11 minutes

Halo Kettlebell Rear Delt Fly (Right) Kettlebell Rear Delt Fly (Left) Tactical Snatch Bottoms Up Press Crossbody Lateral Clean (Right) Crossbody Lateral Clean (Left) Rotational Press (Right) Rotational Press (Left) Seated Press (Right) Seated Press (Left) Kneeling Windmill with Press (Right) Kneeling Windmill with Press (Left) Sushi Roll (Right) Sushi Roll (Left) Kettlebell Shoulder Workout #4: 

This is an As Many Rounds As Possible workout. 

You will have two sets of AMRAPs, each done for 6 minutes. You will rest 2 minutes between the first and second AMRAP. So, the total workout time is 14 minutes. 

Only rest when truly needed during the AMRAP. The goal is to push yourself.

Record how many rounds you complete so if you do this workout again, you can attempt to do more.


Rotational Press x 5 reps each side Halo x 10 reps Single Arm High Pull x 5 reps each side 


Seated Press x 5 reps each side Dead Bug x 5 reps Crossbody Lateral Clean

Again, you can rest during your AMRAP, but try to keep it short. i.e. if you need a quick rest, take 10-20 seconds and get back to it..or simply slow down your pace. 

This is meant to be a quick workout to burn those delts, as well as calories!

Kettlebell Shoulder Workout #5:

This is a mixed protocol shoulder workout. It contains 3 blocks. Each block has a different protocol.

You will rest 2-5 minutes between blocks.

Block 1 (Stability Workout):

Halo x 20 reps (1 set) Kneeling Windmill x 5 reps each side (1 set) Kettlebell CAR x 8 reps each side (1 set) Sushi Roll x 5 reps each side (1 set) Bottoms Up Press x 10 reps each side (1 set)- Rest 60 seconds between exercises.

Block 2 (EMOM - Every Minute On The Minute):- Tactical Snatch x 8 Reps for 6 minutes

Block 3 (Sets x Reps):

Seated Press: 5 sets x 10 reps each side Rear Delt Fly: 5 sets x 10 reps each side- Rest 30-60 seconds between exercises

Related: SFS FIVE Kettlebell Workout Package

kettlebell workouts for shoulders


The shoulders can handle quite a bit of volume. Ultimately, you should aim to train your shoulders for 8-20 sets each week, but this can be divided into different training sessions. 

For example... If you do two upper body and two lower body workouts each week, you could split those sets into two sessions. If you do shoulder specific workouts, you could get the total volume (sets) done in one workout. If you do full body workouts, you could split it up into 3 or 4 sessions.

All that said, for best development of your shoulders (both strength and size), there is a happy medium between volume and frequency. Ideally, you want to aim for training your shoulders twice a week, so your total weekly volume would be split into two sessions that are spread apart by a couple/few days. 

Note: Beginners can see fantastic results with higher frequency and lower volume per workout, whereas more advanced trainees need to emphasize volume more. For most intermediate lifters, the middle ground between volume and frequency is optimal (which would call for a training split like an upper lower or some hybrid form of a body part split like chest/shoulders, back/arms, legs/core). 


You don’t have to do kettlebell only shoulder workouts of course. You can mix them into your routine just like you would any other equipment (i.e. barbells, dumbbells, cable machines).

If you are more of a conventional lifter, you will see some great results if you add some kettlebell exercises into your workouts. Kettlebells will hit your shoulders differently and that is always great for progression and shocking your muscles.

If you are an avid kettlebell trainee, then you can stick to kettlebell only workouts, but we’d recommend mixing in other equipment as well. As you become advanced, variety is a very important aspect of progressive overload. Plus, it’s always nice to keep things fresh. 

More Kettlebell Training Resources:

Kettlebell Leg Exercises Kettlebell Bicep Exercises Kettlebell Tricep Exercises Kettlebell Chest Exercises Kettlebell Ab Exercises Kettlebell Deadlift Variations 50 Best Kettlebell Exercises

Final Note

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about kettlebell training or shoulder workouts. 

Be sure to check out our Kettlebell Training e-Guide and our SFS FIVE Kettlebell Workout Package which has 5 full length follow along workouts that we are sure you’ll love (and make for the perfect weekly routine).

Buy Kettlebells from SET FOR SET

kettlebell shoulder training

- Kiel DiGiovanni
My 3 Day Fast Guide: Before and After, How To, Benefits & Tips

For a while I’ve wanted to try a 3-day fast to see how my body responds. I understand the benefits of fasting and have done intermittent fasting and up to 36 hours in the past but I was curious to see if there were any noticeable differences with a 3 day fast. In this post I’ll cover my experience with my first 3-day fast. I will break it down by my overall hunger, energy, ketone, weight loss and waist size. I hope that those of you who’ve considered trying a 3 day fast will get some valuable insights by reading this article.

Note: Before we get into it, fasting isn’t for everyone! Speak with your doctor before starting a fast. If you want to fast for extended periods of time, 7 or more days it should be supervised by professionals. We don’t recommend fasting for the sole purpose of losing weight. There are better alternatives for weight loss.

3 day fasting

What is fasting?

Fasting is when you stop eating for a period time. This might best be described through the word breakfast where you didn’t overnight and then broke fast with a meal in the morning. People have been fasting throughout time. There’s a number of reasons that people fast including religion, for overall health, medical reasons and for weight loss. One thing to make sure is clear; fasting is not starvation. Fasting is something you will choose to do for whatever reason whereas starvation is usually out of your control. These days IF or intermittent fasting has become a mainstream tool to aid people in losing weight and feeling better all around.  

What’s the difference between intermittent fasting and a 3 day fast?

The main difference between intermittent fasting and a 3 day fast is that the 3 day fast is a consecutive time period of 72 hours while intermittent fasting is based around the concept of seesawing back and forth of eating then fasting then eating again.

A few of the most common intermittent fasting protocols that you might come across are:

Eat Stop Eat: This is where you will have a 24 hour fast 1-2 times a week.

16:8 Method: This might be the most popular IF technique as it’s easier to follow. You’ll simply have 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of an eating window daily. If you’re getting proper sleep then this one should be easy to stick with. A tad more rigid version would be to switch up these times to 18 hours of fasting and 6 hours of feeding.

The Warrior Diet: With this IF technique you’ll be fasting for roughly 20 hours a day and will eat one large meal at night.

12:12 Method: This might be the best IF programming for newbies to get used to fasting for set periods of time. The name describes exactly what it is, you can eat during a 12 hour period then fast for the other 12 hours. If you get used to the 12:12 then you might want to gradually step up to the 14:10 where you’ll decrease your feeding by two hours and increase the fast by the same amount.

5:2 Diet: This isn’t technically a fasting protocol as there aren’t any set fasting time frames. With this one you will eat a regular diet for 5 days a week then drastically reduce your caloric intake for 2 days, only eating 1/5th of the normal amount.

Benefits of Fasting

There are multiple benefits of fasting which is why it’s become so popular in the health industry over the past decade. Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of fasting below:

Reduces Inflammation: Fasting helps to reduce inflammation in the body by lowering the monocytes in the blood. Chronic inflammation can lead to many health-related issues such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease. We tend to over eat these days which contributes to increased inflammation. Fasting can help to mitigate this. Supports Weight Loss: Fasting can help to lose weight and fat. By refraining from eating for lengths of time, it will make it easier to stay at a caloric deficit. Being at a caloric deficit is the same idea of following a cutting diet program. Studies like this  showed how fasting can help to significantly reduce weight. Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Unfortunately, this condition has become common place in today’s society. Fasting can reduce insulin resistance which in turn, can help to lower blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting reduced fasting insulin levels by 20-31% while fasting blood sugar was reduced by 3-6% in prediabetic people. It should be mentioned that these positive results might not be the same across both genders. Boosts Metabolism: Fasting has been shown to increase metabolism which will help to burn fat and lose weight. With a heightened metabolism the body will process food more efficiently. Anti-Aging: To avoid tissue aging and diseases the body cycles through and replenishes its cells through the process of autophagy. This cellular repair is vital for us to live longer healthier lives. Fasting has been shown to extend lifetime of people who consume less because of the reduced toll on your digestive system.   Improves Heart Health:  Fasting has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The positive benefits of fasting on heart health can’t be understated. This study suggests that people who incorporate fasting into their lifestyle for the long term can be more than 70% less likely to have heart failures compared to people who’ve never fasted. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels: Insulin production will decrease as you fast because the body will look to other sources of energy rather than carbs. When you fast, the body will turn to using stored fat for energy. Fasting can also help to lower insulin resistance which can aid in balancing out blood sugar levels so you don’t fall victim to drastic spikes and crashes. Boosts Hormone Production: Human growth hormone (HGH) actually increases when fasting. HGH is a hormone that the pituitary glands produce to help with cell repair, metabolism, muscle growth, strength gain, muscle recovery and body composition. This study showed that after 3 days of fasting HGH levels skyrocketed 300% and after one week of fasting the HGH levels had exploded to a whopping 1,250% increase. Neurological Enhancements: Fasting can lead to clearer thoughts and better overall brain functioning.  IF helps to increase the production of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is a protein vital to a healthy brain.  In fact, fasting may help to prevent and/or reduce risk of stroke, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Dangers of fasting

Fasting isn’t for everyone and it should certainly be taken seriously. Fasting drastically lowers calorie intake which can result in all those amazing benefits that I just mentioned but there are also some pitfalls to be aware of when making big changes to your diet.

Some common side effects of fasting can be:

Dizziness Low Blood Sugar Fatigue & Weakness Muscle Aches Headaches

Note: Long term fasts can bring a slew of other more serious side effects.

benefits of a 3 day fast

What is a 3 day water fast?

A 3 day water fast is almost exactly that. We say almost because many people would still consider it a 3 day water fast if water, black coffee or tea is consumed. You will abstain from consuming anything else for 72 hours straight. Diet sodas and the like are off the table when it comes to a 3 day water fast. In my case I bent the rules and consumed some coffee and tea.

Benefits of 3 Day Water Fast

Fasting delivers a number of benefits that were mentioned above but you may be asking, “why should I fast for 3 days if I can fast for 16 hours and get all those amazing benefits?”. Perhaps the biggest reason to try the 3 day or longer fast is to help unlock the full power of autophagy. This cell recycling process takes longer than the common intermittent fasting time periods.

Fasting for 16 hours might not be enough to result in autophagy. This is based on the individual and their metabolism but it can take two to four days to achieve significant autophagy. In some animal studies there’s been findings that autophagy can take place after 24 hours of fasting while peak levels were noticed at around 48 hours of fasting. However, the exact science and timing still isn’t clear on the optimal length of a fast to trigger and exploit autophagy.


People who don’t have any health conditions and aren’t part of an at-risk group can give fasting a shot. It’s good to step outside our comfort zones once in a while. People who are looking to unlock some of the health benefits mentioned above should try fasting. Even skinny fat people will reap some benefits of fasting and should give it a go. Maybe a 3 day fast isn’t necessary for most people but at least some form of IF should be followed if you’re adamant about your long term health.  


We’re not medical experts and wouldn’t give medical advice but we can look to various studies to see what the science says about fasting. You should always consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your eating and exercise habits. People who have health conditions such as diabetes shouldn’t fast as it can cause dangerous fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Many people would also say that pregnant women or those breastfeeding shouldn’t attempt fasting. However, there are many pregnant or breastfeeding women around the world that do fast for religious reasons. There are multiple studies like this that show pregnant women who fasted during Ramadan resulted in no negative effects of fetal development. Generally speaking, a few other groups of people that shouldn’t fast can include people with chronic diseases, elderly and children.

How to do a 3 day fast

Before you embark on a 3 day water fast you should take the proper precautions to ensure you stay healthy and get the most from it.

You will only be drinking water, tea or coffee over the next 72 hours, no other diet drinks or food allowed.

Next, you’ll need to decide when to start your 3 day fast. In my case, I started after dinner on Sunday night so it will end on Wednesday evening around 8pm. Choosing your start time for your fast is totally up to you and your lifestyle.

Many people that work 9-5 jobs during the week like to start on Thursday night and finish on Sunday. This way they can kind of just relax at home on Saturday and Sunday when energy levels might be low. I wish I had followed this little tidbit of advice. By my third day energy levels were low and sitting in the office for a full day of work followed by a commute home via a crowded metro wasn’t the best choice. Next time I do a 3 day fast I will make sure the second and third day are free from commitments so I can just rest up and binge some Netflix.

Try not to binge eat or eat a large amount of carbs prior to beginning your 3 day water fast. The goal of the 3 day fast is to get your body into ketosis. This only happens when your body has depleted its glycogen levels. So, if you eat a big pasta dinner with a side of garlic bread then cap it off with a nice fat slice of tiramisu it will take a longer time for your body to get to the ketosis point.

Eat a relatively small meal prior to you fast and limit the carbs. For example, I ate a simple chicken stir fry as my last meal before beginning my fast.

We also need to remind you that a final prep tip and precaution is to run it by your doctor before you attempt this 3 day water fast.

3 Day Fast Prep

To get ready for my first ever 3 day fast I scoured the web, listened to a few podcasts and read a few e-books written by doctors.

Most advice was aligned with the fact that you should abstain from binge eating prior to starting the fast if you want to reap the most benefits. This wasn’t too difficult for me as I don’t overeat all too often.

I’d also consider myself semi-prepared for this short journey I was about to embark upon because I usually skip breakfasts and have a14-16 hour window between dinner and lunch the following day.

Pre Fast

I woke up at a normal time for Sunday at 8:30am. I proceeded to read the news and check some emails. By 9:30 I made a black coffee, fed my dog and watched some Youtube videos. Over the next few hours, I began writing this post and did some research on scientific studies revolving around 3 day water fasts.

By 12 it was time for me to eat something so I met my friend for lunch. It was her turn to choose the restaurant so we ended up at a local Chinese restaurant that serves some delicious food.

I may have made a little mistake here because I ended up eating some carbs in the form of pork dumplings accompanied by some tofu and spare ribs.  Usually, you should try to go into a fast by consuming less carbs so that your body can make an easier transition to depleting glycogen levels. I’ll try to keep the rest of the day carb free, more on that in a few hours.

After lunch I got back to research and writing plus a mixture of Sunday chores (laundry, sweeping, mopping and dusting).

In the evening I completed a gym session of push exercises following the 7/3 method. Without going into too much detail about what it entails. The 7/3 method is a workout protocol that is effective and efficient. This study described the 7/3 method and the positive results. In a nutshell, the 7/3 protocol is

Chose a weight around 60% of your 1RM

Perform one exercise in this way:

Set 1: 3 reps 15 second rest Set 2: 4 reps 15 second rest Set 3: 5 reps 15 second rest Set 4: 6 reps 15 second rest Set 5: 7 reps

2 minute rest then repeat one more round before moving onto the next exercise

After my workout I made a simple stir fry, spoke with my parents then went to sleep after watching an episode of Squid Game. My fast officially began at 8 pm on Sunday evening and will finish at 8 pm Wednesday night, wish me luck!

Starting my 3 Day Fast Starting Weight: 198 lbs (89.8 kg) Starting Ketone Level: .4 mmol/L Waist: 34 ½  inches (88cm)

Note: I took a multivitamin each day of my fast.

Day 1

Woke up at 8. Slept well, feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything that this week brings. Made an espresso, took the dog for a walk then got ready to go to work. Energy levels feeling normal and not hungry at all. This is probably because I usually skip breakfast anyways.

It’s now 3 pm about midway through the day as I’m sitting at my computer, I still feel full of energy and have no trouble concentrating on my work at hand. I’m experiencing a little hunger at this point but nothing I can’t handle so I made some green tea to help stave off my appetite. Back to work I go, will check in this evening.

24 Hours In

It’s now 9 pm on Monday evening and I’m about 24 hours into the 3 day fast, one third down two thirds to go. My weight is just over 195lbs so I’ve dropped 3 lbs since weighing myself after dinner last night.

I’d rate my energy levels a little lower than full and my appetite at 2/10. Will finish up the day with some more water, a few emails then off to bed by 11. Still no bowel movement.

24 Hour Weight: ~195 lbs (88.7 kg) 24 Hour Ketone Level: .8 mmol/L 24 Hour Waist: 34 ¼  inches (87cm)

Day 2

Slept well, woke up at 7:45 with my energy levels still intact, sleep ring clocked in at 95%. I noticed a little stomach rumbling at this point but nothing too crazy. Still haven’t had a bowel movement since starting the 3 day fast. Overall, not very hungry at this point. Feeling productive, got ready and went to work. Browsed Reddit on the subway then grabbed a black coffee just before walking into the office. Co-workers trying to tempt me into eating some delicious pastries they had brought in but I had no desire to break my fast, let’s go!

It’s now 3 pm and I could go for a bite to eat. I’m beginning to feel lethargic and a little weak when standing up too quickly from my desk. I’ve been pounding water and even threw a little salt in my last glass. All in all, my mind has been clear the entire day but I have felt a little anxious.

48 Hours In

Around 8 pm, just about 48 hours to the dot from beginning my fast I was sitting at home watching an episode of Billions when my heart started beating faster and I felt energized out of nowhere. I stopped watching the show to start writing a new blog post centered around abs and more specifically 10 packs abs and if that’s even a thing. I then went for an hour walk around my neighborhood, water bottle in hand. I continued to work on the computer until I my eyes started to twitch a bit. I figured this was my body telling me it’s time to step away from the blue light and try to get some sleep.

I ended up going to bed around midnight, as I laid down, I felt like my stomach was completely empty which gave me an almost hollow feeling. Another day without a number 2. I must’ve passed out rather quickly because next thing I knew I…

48 Hour Weight: ~193 lbs (87.8 kg) 48 Hour Ketone Level: 1.2 mmol/L 48 Hours Waist: 34 inches (86cm)

Day 3

…woke up at 6am with some drool on the pillow. Rise and shine, I was now headed into the home stretch. I’m usually not up this early so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my time before heading to the office. My energy level felt low at this point and I seemed a little slower moving around than normal.

Today was hot and wearing a mask didn’t make it any less pleasant but I soldiered on to the office. The subway ride wasn’t very an enjoyable experience today to say the least, I made it, sat down at my desk and then started my work.

It’s now 3pm and the work day seemed to drag on, at this point I’m ready to eat something Not sure I’m hungry or I just miss the act of eating, might be more of the social aspect I’m missing as my coworkers all came back from lunch with a boisterous energy. Anyways, I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, only 5 more hours to go. One thing that I have noticed is that I seem to have exacerbated my foot tapping while sitting. I'm not sure if this was because I was nervous or excited to be coming close to my end goal.

72 Hours In

And, it's in the books I made it through my first 3 day fast.

72 Hour Weight: ~190 lbs (86.4kg) 72 Hour Ketone Level: 1.9 mmol/L 72 Hours Waist: 33 ½ inches (85 cm) My 3 day fast before and after Results

before and after water fastAs you can see in my before and after 3 day fasting picture above I definitely lost some bloat. Most of the total weight lost wasn't fat but I did drop 8 pounds in 72 hours and just a little over an inch off my waistline.





198 lbs

 190 lbs


34 ½ inches

 33 ½ inches

Ketone Level

.4 mmol/L


Post Fast 73 Hours In

For my first “meal” I had a bowl of beef bone broth, and let me tell you it was absolutely delicious! The saltiness and deep flavor really hit the spot. I felt reinvigorated!

To break your 3 day fast you should eat something light like a bowl of bone broth, miso soup or a piece of fruit. You can gradually start reintroducing foods as time passes. It’s generally recommended to take about half the time of your fast until you return completely to your old nutrition habits. In the case of a 3 day fast it should take 1.5 days before eating what you previously ate.

This slow reintroduction process will help you to avoid stomach problems. The key point here is to avoid shocking your system by over eating. Once again, the answer to this and many questions surrounding nutrition is subjective as everyone’s bodies will respond differently.

3 day water fast

75 Hours In

The bone broth went down well and I feel almost back to normal. The next thing I ate a few hours later was 3 eggs and a natural Greek yogurt. It was nice to be able to finally chew some food again. A spent a few hours surfing the web then hit the hay at midnight. 

Day 4

I didn't sleep that well last night, it may have been because I ate close to bedtime after not eating for three days. Which reminded me that next time I do this 3 day fast to start earlier in the evening on the first night.

I skipped breakfast as I usually do then had a nice grilled chicken Caesar salad for lunch around 1:30 pm. Finished out the work day strong and resumed my normal schedule of hitting the gym around 6. Pre-workout I had a nice vanilla hydrolzed whey protein shake with a scoop of peanut butter. I didn't feel any loss of power or strength. It felt great to get a workout in while working up some sweat.

After returning home I made a simple baked salmon dish served with some cauliflower rice and roasted broccoli. Boy did I miss some good tasting food. Some people will say they didn't miss eating during their three day fast or was never hungry but that's not me. Growing up in a household with a first generation Italian parent means life is food and food is life.

Feeling recharged and refreshed I'm looking forward to tomorrow as it's Friiiday and I can resume my normal eating. By the way, I was finally able to use the bathroom but unfortunately no Earth shattering shit.

Thoughts on My First 3 Day Fast

More Discipline Than Expected: I wasn't too sure if I'd be able to make it the full 72 hours without eating. I was pleasantly surprised by my discipline and restrain from breaking my fast even when there were temptations all around me. Achieving this goal I set out for myself reassured me that I'm able to pull off small feats with a little determination and dedication.

Would Be Better To Do With Someone: Solo fasting while living with someone who isn't fasting can make it a tad more difficult to stay on the right course. I think it might be a nice thing to have if there was someone to go through this experience with me. It might've made me more accountable or motivated and I would've loved to hear from someone else in real time about what they were feeling like over the 3 days. 

Not As Bad As I Imagined: Before starting this 3 day fast I thought it was going to be absolute hell. While I didn't love everything about it, I did find it interesting to see how my body reacted without food. I thought I was going to become irritable but I didn't have that feeling at all. The hunger seemed to come and go over the period of the 3 days but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I thought about eating a nice steak about halfway through.

Will Do Again: Fasting provides some many amazing health benefits. I was already a fan of intermittent fasting before but now that I know that I can complete a 3 day I'll be sure to do it again. This extended fast almost felt like a detox. It also made it seem like there were more hours in the day for some reason. I think I'll do one 3 day fast every 3 months and one 24 hour fast once a month from here on out.

Tips & Tricks for 3 Day Fast

Work Your Way Up: A three day water fast isn’t the same as not eating for a few hours during the day. You should gradually build up your tolerance to fasting by following some of the IF methods above. For example, you can start with the 12:12 method for a few weeks then move up to the 16:8 for another few weeks. Once you’re comfortable doing these daily fasting techniques you can try the eat stop eat fasting method where you’ll be fasting for 24 hours straight.

Postpone If Unwell: Don’t attempt to pull of a 3 day water fast if you aren’t in the best of health. It might go without saying but if you’re not feeling well or you haven’t cleared it with your doctor then you should wait until you have the green light and are feeling 100%.

Don’t Over Exercise: Don’t try to be David Goggins or Cam Haines on an extended fast. Even if you’re used to intermittent fasting you should be advised that the 3 day water fast is a little more intense. Instead of your normal workout program opt for some yoga or dynamic stretches. Tim Ferris recommends that you’ll get into ketosis quicker if you take a 3-4 hour causal walk the morning after beginning your fast to help deplete glycogen levels faster.

Don’t Binge Eat Before or After: It’s better to start your 3 day water fast after a light meal the night before instead of pigging out to prepare for the foodless days ahead. The more carbs or sugar you eat prior to your fast, the longer it will take for your body to get into ketosis. The same goes for breaking your fast. Don’t over eat! You should break your fast by eating something light and easy to digest such as miso soup, bone broth or a smoothie. Gradually increase the amount of food you consume for the following 1.5 days after crossing the finish line.

Schedule Properly: Don’t make the same mistake I did. Try to time your 72 hour fast on days where you don’t have many commitments. It’s smart to do this when you don’t have to be out running errands, going to work or have any social engagements. This will also give you time to follow the tip of taking a nice long walk during day 1 to help burn the glucose in your system.

Stay Hydrated: Adequate water consumption is key to a successful 3 day water fast. Besides being an absolutely necessary substance for your body to function properly, water will help to curb your appetite if you feel yourself starting to get hungry. At all costs you need to stay hydrated, a common amount might be 8 glasses of water daily but you might need more. Just be aware of how you feel then make necessary adjustments. If you’re thirsty, drink!

Don’t Cut Caffeine*: If you normally drink coffee or tea then you should continue to do so during your “water” fast even if it’s not technically water. Trying to contend with a headache from caffeine withdrawal while completing your first 3 day fast isn’t ideal. Just make sure not to go over board on the caffeine as it could make you feel dizzy or nauseous.

Check Your Ego: If you feel like something’s not right or you’re not feeling well then you should stop your fast immediately. Don’t jeopardize your well-being by completing the fast. You can always give it another go in the future. Visit your health care provider if you experience any issues during your 3 day fast.

Track Your Progress: Next time I do a 3 day fast I will be more prepared. I did this 3 day fast on a whim so I only had a tape measure and a scale. The best way to see how your body reacted to the fast is with real hard data. You might want to consider getting the following items ready to measure the results.

Ketone Meter: To test your ketone levels so that you know exactly when you're in ketosis. These can be purchased online for anywhere from $30-$100. The ketone test strips won't be as accurate as the blood test. Body Calipers: These can come in handy to test your body fat and how much you were able to reduce it over the 3 days. Heart Rate Monitor: This would come in handy to reduce your nerves when doing a 3 day fast. It will help put your mind at ease when your heart beat spikes or lowers. Sleep Tracker: Sleep is one of the most important aspects of life so it would be great to have some data about how your sleep is effected by your nutritional choices. Fasting FAQs

Will A Three Day Fast Reset The Immune System?

Yes, a 3 day fast can have some profound effects on a compromised immune system. This study found that prolonged fasting of at least 48 hours broke down a substantial amount of white blood cells. This triggers stem cell regeneration of new immune cells. The study also produced results that prolonged fasting lowered the enzyme PKA which is related to aging and increase risk of cancer and tumor growth. It’s also important to note that the toxic impact of chemotherapy was reduced by fasted for 72 hours.

How Much Muscle Will I Lose During A Fast?

With IF combined with resistance training you can maintain lean body mass according to this study.  In fact, IF and resistance training can maintain lean body mass while reducing body fat as long as there’s proper protein consumption and balance of energy.

Muscle loss during a fast is largely dependent on the individual’s body composition, starting point, overall health, pre-fast diet and fitness level. For a 3 day water fast muscle loss will be minimal because during this relatively short period of time the body will consume stored carbohydrates with associated water weight. For longer fasts muscle loss could reach .4 lbs a day once full ketosis is reached around the third day.

How Often Can I Fast?

You can fast as often as is healthy and beneficial for you. Some people have been intermittent fasting for decades. IF can become a lifestyle with no end date in sight. We think it's good to mix up your nutritional plans just like your workout programs. You might want to try IF then mix in some longer fasts once a month.

Will Fasting Change My Bowel Movements?

Fasting my result in some bowel movement changes. Different people’s bodies will have different reactions to fasting. The affects could range from diarrhea to constipation to relatively no changes whatsoever.

It’s important to stay hydrated during your fast to help alleviate possible issues revolving around bathroom visits. Breaking the fast is where you need to be cognizant of what you eat, how much and at what frequency to reduce you chances of experiencing stomach discomfort and/or diarrhea.

What Should I Eat Before Beginning My Fast?            

In essence you could eat your normal diet before you begin a 3 day fast but if you want reap the most benefits and make the fast a tad easier then you should try to begin with your liver glycogen partially or completely depleted.

During a fast your body will enter ketosis, this is when your liver glycogen is depleted so that your body uses ketone bodies for energy rather than glucose. If you don’t want to follow a ketogenic diet that is extremely low in carbohydrates then you should try to consume the following foods prior to your fast:

Legumes Protein Healthy Fats *Fruit (if craving for sugar)

What Should I After My Fast?

There are varying opinions on what foods you should eat after breaking a 3 day water fast. However, there is a common guideline that everyone agrees on. You should never break your fast with a binge eating session. You should gradually introduce foods to your system as a large meal might cause some uncomfortable stomach issues. Some people have smoothies or smaller snacks in intervals through the hours following a 3 day water fast. The longer the fast the longer it may take until you will feel comfortable eating larger meals. It’s important to note that it’s vital to monitor post fast eating for longer fasts because you could experience re-feeding syndrome where the body is negatively affected by fast changes in fluid and electrolyte levels.

You can break your 3 day fast with bone broths or fresh fruit and vegetable juice made with no preservatives. If you want something to chew on, stick with simple raw fruits and vegetables for the first day after your fast then start introducing soft cooked foods and vegetables. You may also want to have some natural yogurt with probiotic enzymes to help get your gut biome re-balanced.

Will My Metabolism Slowdown From A Fast?

No, it’s actually the other way around. Fasting will boost your metabolism. This study showed that healthy men increased their metabolism by a whopping 14% by performing a 3 day fast. It’s thought that the increased metabolism during fasting might be due to the increase in the production of norepinephrine which is a hormone that promotes burning fat.

How Long Can I Fast?

Long-term fasting should be medically supervised as there are some risks associated with not eating for long stretches of time. If you plan on fasting for 7 days or more then you should do so under the guidance of professionals. A fun fact about fasting: The longest recorded fast took place in 1971 by the name of Angus Barbieri who didn’t eat solid food for 382 consecutive days. He went from 456 pounds down to 180 pounds. We don’t recommend this course of action but thought it would be interesting to know about.

Should I Use Salt Or Electrolytes During My Fast?

With a 3 day fast your sodium levels will drop but probably not low enough to be dangerous according to studies like this. However, longer fasts electrolytes and other safety measures should be taken. To err on the side of caution I started the mornings with a big glass of water with a pinch of salt plus a multivitamin.

Can I Exercise While Fasting?

If you’re doing a 3 day fast then it might be a good idea to avoid anything other than light exercise. Because the body is relying on stored energy you might not have enough in the tank to power through a normal workout. If you feel like you need to get some activity in try a nice walk, yoga or dynamic stretching session.

How Much Weight Will I Lose During My Fast?

Everyone’s bodies will react differently to fasting but generally speaking, yes you will lose weight. IF is a sustainable method of losing weight and/or fat. We don’t recommend that you turn to fasting for the main purpose of losing weight. Weight loss from fasting is one aspect but there are more health focused benefits of fasting than purely the pursuit of losing weight. With a 3 day fast you will lose some weight but it will most likely be put back on once you begin eating again.

3 day fast weight loss

What I learned about my first 3 day fast

The 3 day fast wasn't easy for me but it opened my eyes to life. It wasn't exactly a spiritual awakening but it did give me some mental clarity around some issues that have been bothering me.

With all said and done, I would recommend trying a 3 day fast.

If you're thinking of trying a 3 day fast or any other type of fast, make a comment below. Or if you've just finished completing a fast we'd love to hear about your experience.

- Sam Coleman
How Much Does a Smith Machine Bar REALLY Weigh?

You might think the answer for “how much does a Smith machine bar weigh?” is as simple as two words - a number followed by a unit of weight (lb or kg) - but actually there is no standardized weight for a Smith machine barbell. It can be anywhere from 6 to 45+ pounds...As such, we need to break this question down in-depth to provide the answer you desire.  In this article, we are going to look at the different types of Smith machines, how they are made, and what the barbells generally weigh based on that. We will also go over the bar weight of some of the most popular Smith machine models for home gyms and commercial gyms, as well as Smith machines at gyms like Planet Fitness and LA Fitness. And if you still don't get your answer, we will explain how you can easily measure the weight of the Smith machine bar yourself. 

how much does a smith machine bar weigh

To start, let's look at what a Smith machine actually is...


A Smith machine is a weight training machine with a barbell that is fixed within a set of steel rails, permitting it to move strictly up and down in a vertical (or near vertical) path. 

The barbell on a Smith machine has two hooks, one on each side, that rotate so you can lock the bar in place along a series of lockout points. This allows you to start with the bar at different heights and it provides a measure of safety for the lifter as they can quickly lock the bar to get out of an exercise.

The main purpose of a Smith machine is to take the demand of stabilizing the bar out of the equation. Not only is this good for beginners who may have stability issues with free weight barbell exercises, but it also allows you to really hone in on the primary muscles targeted by each exercise. For example, with back squats, you can focus on your quads and glutes without concern for balance, leaning too far forward, or falling back. 

Another interesting feature of the Smith machine is that most have a lower starting weight than an Olympic barbell. An Olympic barbell will always weigh 45lbs (with exception to women’s Olympic barbells). With a Smith machine, the bar can weigh anywhere from 6-45+ lbs (although 15-25lbs is the average for Smith machines at commercial gyms). 

The difference in weight comes down to how the Smith machine is made...

While all Smith machines will have a fixed barbell and safety hooks, some Smith machines use a counterbalance mechanism (which also varies in how much its counterbalanced) AND the angle of the rail and bar material varies as well. 

Obviously you are here reading this article to learn about the weight of a Smith machine bar, so let’s dig in and see how they differ among all the sellers and how you can know how heavy the Smith machine bar you are using is.

What is the starting weight of a Smith machine? 

Let’s just make this very clear. There is NO standardized weight that a Smith machine barbell should weigh. It’s not like an Olympic barbell that is standardized universally at 45lbs (20kg). As such, the starting weight of a Smith machine (meaning the bar only, without plates) will depend on the specific Smith machine you are using. Thankfully, you have us to help you find out the bar weight of the most popular kinds of Smith machines as well as how you can easily measure the weight if the Smith machine you are using is different than the ones we discuss here.

Pro Tip: A lot of Smith machines label the bar weight on the side of the machine, so check around the machine first. If not, look up the Smith machine you are using online to see if the manufacturer has the barbell weight listed, many do. 


You might be wondering, “but wait, is it even necessary to know the weight of the Smith machine bar?”.

We say, YES. For sure.

So, let’s just quickly go over why knowing the bar weight for a Smith Machine is important, just in case you are ready to give up on getting an exact answer. 

Knowing the bar weight of the Smith machine you are using is just as important as knowing the weight of a regular barbell (which most of us know by heart) or dumbbells. If you want to progressive overload (make percentage/incremental increases to the weight you are lifting each week/session), then you need to know how much you are lifting and that includes the bar.

Also, knowing the actual weight of the bar is important for determining what your starting weight is for any given exercise. For example, if you can do 40lb dumbbell shoulder presses, then knowing the weight of the Smith machine barbell will help you choose how much additional weight you need to load on the bar.

It’s really that simple. If you like accuracy in your lifts, which is important for progression, then you should know how much you are lifting. 

Here are two other frequency asked questions...

Should I count the weight of a smith machine bar?

Yes, you should definitely count the bar. With Smith machine bars weighing anywhere from 6-40lbs, you need to know the weight to know exactly how much you are lifting. 

Is Smith machine true weight?

The Smith machine is definitely a true weight, but it shouldn’t be compared to a free weight barbell lift. Because the stability demands are taken out of play with the Smith machine, the feeling of the load won't be the same. That said, if you are going to use a Smith machine regularly, then you will want to increase the weight over time, so knowing the baseline you are lifting is essential for progression. 

So, you aren’t comparing the weight of a Smith machine to other equipment, you are comparing it to your previous weeks' Smith machine lifts.

That said, you can get an idea for how much to lift on a Smith machine based on how much you can do of a similar exercise with a barbell or dumbbell. The amount won’t be too far off. Generally, you can do 10% more with a Smith machine than you can with dumbbells or a free weight barbell. But, it’s probably best to start with a similar or even lesser weight just to be safe, then progress from there. 

Related: Barbell vs Dumbbell, What are the Differences?

how much does a smith machine barbell weigh


Smith machine bars can weight anywhere from 6lbs to ~45lbs, but the average range is somewhere between 15-25lbs at most commercial gyms. 

The reason for the big differences in bar weight is the bar material, counterbalances, and angle of rails (although the angle of the rail doesn’t play a huge factor in the weight off the bar).


The type of steel used for many Smith machine bar is different than that of an Olympic bar.

Olympic bars are made out of high strength steel as they must be able to handle a lot of stress on their own without bending (or with flex).

The tensile strength is higher for an Olympic bar, and with that, the weight of the bar itself is greater. Smith machine bars have additional support with the clamps, bearings and slides, so they don’t need the same tensile strength to carry the same amount of weight. 

So, a Smith machine bar is generally a little lighter, but it’s not as if a smith machine can’t handle the same weight as a barbell. Most commercial Smith machines have a 600-1000lb max capacity, which is right on par with Olympic barbells.

In regards to the barbell size, they are the same as an Olympic bar, with exception to some less expensive residential style Smith machines which have 1 inch sleeves. Any commercial Smith machine is going to have 2 inch sleeves just like an Olympic barbell. In fact, some smith machines actually use an Olympic barbell. 

In summary, generally speaking, most Smith machine bars are a little lighter than an Olympic barbell because they don’t need the same tensile strength. For most, the bar itself will weigh 25-40lbs (if you were to remove the bar from the Smith machine, that’s how much it would weigh). Then you can also factor in the bearings, clamps and hooks, which may add an additional couple pounds. 

HOWEVER, some Smith machines use counterbalances, and if they have this mechanism, even if the bar weighs 40lbs, they can make it function as less.

Let us explain...


If you are talking about high-end new Smith machines, which many commercial gyms have, then it's likely the bar is counterbalanced.

Typically, residential-made Smith machines don’t have counterbalances and commercial-made Smith machines do. So, if you are working out at places like Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, Life Time, Equinox, or Gold’s Gym, then the Smith machine is probably counterbalanced. And if you have a home gym Smith machine, then it’s probably not.

A counterbalanced bar will feel lighter, generally 6-20lbs. The reason for the range is how much it is counterbalanced.

Either way, you should definitely be able to feel the difference between a bar that is counterbalanced and a bar that is not when it is unloaded. 

So, how do counterbalanced Smith machine barbells work?

Think about it like a balancing scale. The bar is on one side of the scale and a set of weights within the Smith machine on the other. But, rather than have them weigh an even amount, the barbell purposely weighs more.

So, let’s say the bar itself weighs 40lbs and the set of weight on the other side weighs 20lbs, then the bar will feel, and for all intents and purposes, weigh, 20lbs when using it on the Smith machine.

The manufacturer may decide to counterbalance it more or less. There is no standardized method for this, which is why counterbalanced Smith machine bars usually weigh anywhere from 6 to 20-25 pounds.

Be that as it may, there is some certain logic that must be followed. For one, you obviously don't want to counterbalance the bar to make it even. I mean, you could make it even, which would leave the bar weighing 0lbs, but then the bar would fly up the top of the Smith machine at the slightest touch. In fact, it would do this similarly even at just a couple pounds.

Once you get to 6lbs+, it proves to work just perfectly.

Now, the benefit of having it on the lower range of this counterbalanced scale is that the starting weight is good for people who are new to training. Thus, the Smith machine is accessible to all fitness levels, as more advanced/stronger trainees can simply add plates to get the weight they need, and as you can remember, a Smith machine can handle very heavy loads...

It’s actually quite impressive that a high-end counterbalanced Smith machine can range from 6lbs (the barbells starting weight) to 1,000lbs (max load capacity)!

Anyway, moving on... 


While you might think a Smith machine bar moves perfectly straight up and down, many Smith machines have their rails set on a slight incline. 


The intention of using a slight incline bar path is that it better matches the natural movement path for big compound movements like squats and bench press.

Note: Usually commercial Smith machines have an incline (7-12˚) and residential Smith machines are perfectly straight up and down.  

Now, besides offering a potentially more natural movement path, the slight incline also changes the weight of the bar...ever so slightly. 

The more vertical the bar, the more you feel its full weight. 

So, Smith machine bars that have a slight incline will make the bar feel like slightly less. That said, it is very minimal. After all, even a 12 degree incline is still very steep. It may only make it feel 1-2lbs less. Nevertheless, if we are getting technical, it does change the weight of the bar. 

The point is, yes the angle of the rail plays a role in the weight of the bar, but it’s minimal. The main purpose of the angle is for the bar’s path of motion, not its weight. 


To simplify things, there are two main types of Smith machines, residential Smith machines and commercial Smith machines. 

In general, the characteristics of residential and commercial Smith machines are as follows...


Perfectly linear No counterbalance Bushing glide system Bar takes standard or Olympic plates (so 1 inch or 2 inch sleeves) Bar weight = ~30+lbs

smith machine weight of bar

Residential Smith machines usually have a 400lb max weight capacity. 


Angled (7-12 degrees) Counterbalanced Bearing glide system Bar takes Olympic plates (2 inch barbell sleeves) Bar weight = 6-25lbs What is the starting weight on a Smith machine

Commercial Smith machines have a max weight capacity that ranges from 600-1000lbs

Besides these two main categories, of which there are many sellers and slight characteristic differences, you also have All-in-One Smith machines and 3D Smith machines.

All-in-One Smith machines are like residential Smith machines but they include cable pulleys, an adjustable bench, and other attachments. They can range in quality. Many are very high-end and expensive and may actually have an inclined rail.  

smiths machine bar weight

3D (3-dimensional) Smith machines are something relatively new to the industry, and not often seen. They are capable of moving both horizontally and vertically, so they are not limited to moving just up and down. For the purpose of this post, we are not including 3D Smith machines, but if you want one or have one, you should be able to find the bar weight via the manufacturer’s website or on the machine itself. If not, contact the manufacturer and they will tell you.


Although there are many manufacturers and brands of Smith machines out there, there are just several big players. Moreover, commercial gyms usually stick to these sellers. So, we can actually make a list of the most popular Smith machine bar weights. 

But, let’s first go over some of the most popular gyms and what their Smith machine bars weigh and then we can look at a few big name manufactures for both commercial and home gyms.

How Much Does Planet Fitness Smith Machine Bar Weigh?

The Smith machines at Planet Fitness will have the bar weight written on the side of the machine. So, you can just have a look, but they should range from 15-20lbs.

Note: Some PF gyms may have heavier bars, as we’ve seen members claim their Planet Fitness gym’s Smith machine weighs 35lbs. 

How Much Does La Fitness Smith Machine Bar Weigh?

LA Fitness will have a commercial Smith machine with a counterbalanced barbell. Most LA Fitness gyms have a Smith machine with a bar weight of 15-25lbs.

How Much Does The Smith Machine Bar Weigh At Your Gym?

“Your Gym” is obviously not a commercial gym brand name 😉 But, it’s safe to say your gym's Smith Machine bar weighs 15-25lbs.

If you want to find out exactly how much it weighs, we will teach you a few simple methods to measure the bar’s weight further below, but first, let’s look at some of the biggest manufacturers, as we may list the one you are using...

Marcy Smith Machine Bar Weight:

Marcy is a brand known for producing home gym equipment. They sell all-in-one Smith machines, not commercial Smith machines. However, they do make their all-in-one Smith machines with angled bar paths and counterbalanced weight.

Most Marcy Smith machines have a bar weight of 16lbs, but the SM-4033 model’s bar weighs about 36lbs and the Diamond Elite MD-9010G weighs 25lbs.

Body Solid Smith Machine Bar Weight: 

Body Solid has a range of Smith machines from inexpensive residential models to high end commercial.

They have residential Smith machines (model PSM144X & PSM1442xS) with a standard barbell that weighs 32lbs, angled Smith machines with Olympic sized barbells that weigh 25lbs (model GS348Q & GS348QP4), and a high end commercial gym Smith machine with a counterbalanced barbell that weighs 6lbs (model SCB1000). 

Nautilus Smith Machine Bar Weight:

Nautilus is a huge brand that most of you probably know. They sell a high end commercial Smith machine that you’ll find at some gyms, and the bar weighs approximately 15lbs.

Matrix Fitness Smith Machine Bar Weight:

Matrix is another Smith machine that you will find at many commercial gyms. Their most popular model, the Magnum Smith Machine, has a bar weight of 25lbs. 

Matrix’s Varsity VY-M49 Angled Smith Machine's bar weighs 25lbs. And, Matrix’s G1 FW161 Smith Machine’s bar weighs 44lbs 

Hammer Strength Smith Machine Bar Weight: 

Hammer Strength is a commercial Smith machine brand with a model that you will find at gyms all over the world. Their Smith machine has a 7 degree bar path angle and a counterbalance system that sets the bar’s starting weight at 20lbs (9kg) and a max capacity of 650lbs.

Now let’s look two of the most popular home gym brands... 

Hoist Smith Machine Bar Weight:

Hoist is a popular brand especially for home gyms, even though they make commercial quality Smith machines too.

Their all-in-one Smith machine (Mi7Smith Functional Training System) has a bar weight of 30lbs.

Their two most popular commercial Smith machines, CF 3753 and CF 3754, have bars that weigh 25lbs and 52lbs respectively.

Force USA Smith Machine Bar Weight: 

Force USA sells all-in-one Smith machines for home gyms. They use a regular Olympic barbell that weighs 45lbs (20kg). It is not counterbalanced, so that is its true weight.

planet fitness bar weight

We’d have to go on and on and on to list all of the Smith machine bar weights out there, and even then we couldn’t get them all as not all manufacturers list them on their sites. So, if you didn’t see the Smith machine you are using above, which is highly possible, and you want to nail down the exact bar weight, then here’s how you can measure it yourself...


There are three straight forward methods to measure the weight of a Smith machine bar. You can use a regular step-on bathroom scale, a hanging scale, or a rope with plates. 

The only issue with the above is if the Smith machine in question is at your gym because bringing in a scale and measuring it may come off as just a tad bit weird, as will tying a rope to the bar to figure out the weight like a mad scientist. Nevertheless, we are going to teach you how. We just recommend that you either ask an employee first so they know what’s going on or you do it during a time when not many members are there.

1. Bathroom Scale 

Option 1:

Place the scale on the floor, then place the barbell on your upper back like you would a squat and step on the scale.

Record the total weight. 

Then, weigh yourself without the bar and subtract that from the total weight of the first measurement. EASY!

Option 2:

For this one, you need a flat, hard box (like a plyobox) as well.

Place the box at the center of the bar path. The box is used simply to bring the scale to a height that reaches the bar as Smith machines have several inches of free space from the floor to where the bar’s lowest position starts. 

From there, place the bathroom scale on the box and then bring the bar down to the scale and let it rest on it.

Whatever the scale reads is the weight of your barbell. 

2. Hanging Scale 

It doesn’t get more accurate than this method. The only issue is, not many people have a hanging scale (aka fish scale).

If you DO happen to have a hanging scale (or you buy one), then you can wrap a strap around the bar, hook the strap to the hanging scale, and hang the bar from the scale to get its total weight.

3. Rope & Plates 

If you have a thin rope, you can tie it around the middle of the Smith machine barbell then throw the other end over the crossbar of the machine.

Bring the bar up high (i.e. chest level) and hook it in place. You want the loose end of the rope to be touching or near the floor. 

Then, just tie some weight plates to the loose end of the rope and unhook the bar to see if it balances with the weighted end of the rope. If it doesn’t, add or remove some weight from the rope until it does.

Once the bar is perfectly balanced with the amount of weight tied to the rope, you have your bar weight.

i.e. If you have 15lbs of plates tied to the rope and it is balancing perfectly with the bar, your Smith machine barbell weighs 15lbs.


It’s safe to say that most Smith machine bars at gyms weigh between 15-25lbs. However, Smith machines made for home gyms vary greatly and can be as much, if not more (with the added weight of the clamps and such) as an Olympic barbell.

If you didn’t find the bar weight info you need for your Smith machine here, we’ve given you the info needed to figure out how much it weighs (either measure it yourself or contact the seller). Another pro-tip is just to look at the stickers on the machine! You’ll be surprised how many Smith machines state the starting weight on the machine itself and people just don’t care to look.

In any case, we applaud you for wanting to know how much a Smith machine bar weighs because those who pay attention to the specifics usually progress the fastest and achieve the best results. If you still have questions about Smith machines, please feel free to contact us!


11 Best Smith Machine Exercises Smith Machine Squats: Correct Form, Benefits, and Debate

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- Sam Coleman
HIIT For Women: 5 Workouts, Exercises, Benefits & Tips

Whether you are just getting into high intensity interval training or you are looking for new HIIT exercise and workout ideas, LADIES we have you covered. In this article, you are going to learn everything you need to know about HIIT. Specifically, HIIT workouts for women.

HIIT workout for women


HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. In a nutshell, the workouts involve intervals of intense exercise that get your heart rate up high (approx. 85-90% max heart rate) followed by rest or active rest. For example, 20 seconds intense burst of exercise, 10 seconds rest, repeated for a certain number of rounds. 

The ultimate goal is to have a period of near max heart rate followed by a rest period that doesn’t allow your heart rate to drop below ~65% max. So, by the time your heart rate starts to hit 65% or so, you will perform another intense set to bring it right back up.

The concept is quite easy, but the workouts are NOT. That said, the workouts can be tailored to different fitness levels.

There are plenty of ways to go about high intensity interval training. They can be done with sprints, cycling, bodyweight exercises or even weights, using various work-rest intervals. The myriad options for creating HIIT workouts allows you to always keep things fresh and challenging.

Now that you know what HIIT is, it’s important to understand the “science” behind it...

The general purpose of HIIT is to burn calories, lose weight and even build muscle.

It’s quite different from traditional cardio (steady state low intensity running or cycling). HIIT workouts are anaerobic NOT aerobic, meaning your muscles don’t use oxygen as their primary source of energy. Like weight training, due to the shortage of oxygen for energy consumption, your body relies on glucose and creatine phosphates (ATP) to fuel your muscles with energy. As such, HIIT is more like weight training than cardio. BUT, it does share some major benefits with cardio, as it does weight training.

If you combine weights with HIIT at the same time, things can get really serious! 

Finally, it should be noted that because HIIT is so intense (it’s in the name, right?), you can’t have long workouts like you can cardio. Work intervals are generally no more than 60 seconds and the entire workout around 20 minutes or less. Thankfully, that’s all you need to have positive effect with HIIT. It’s not like cardio where you need 30+ minutes to actually get an effect.


HIIT is just as good for women as it is for men. In fact, many experts claim that HIIT is especially beneficial for women because (if done properly) it is fantastic for hormone balance, muscle retention, and bone density. Not to mention, stress management.

All things us women need.

What’s more, research shows that women burn more fat during HIIT than men AND they can handle more work in the gym when it comes to fat loss. Basically, women are better at burning fat during workouts than men, but not during rest, which makes HIIT even more attractive for women. 

Now, of course, HIIT is also great for men. However, that doesn’t mean the workouts have to be exactly the same. High intensity interval training can be effectively tailored to women based on their fitness level and strength, which is why we’ve made this HIIT guide specifically for females. 


The benefits of HIIT for women are twofold considering...

Women have more potential for burning fat during intense workout than men (and they can handle more workload with this kind of training). Women are more susceptible to thinning bones, which HIIT helps combat. Women have monthly hormonal changes, which HIIT can help mitigate. 

AND, they get all the same benefits of HIIT as men too, which are... 

1. Efficiency 

HIIT workouts achieve a lot in a short period of time. With just ~20 minutes of high intensity interval training, you can burn as many calories as a long duration traditional cardio workout does in around 40 minutes. Plus, you get additional benefits that cardio can’t give you, such as muscle growth. 

Now, it’s not to say that HIIT is better than cardio, but in terms of calorie burn, it’s definitely more efficient. On average, long duration low intensity cardio burns around 10 calories per minute, whereas HIIT burns 15-20 calories per minute. However, the point of how HIIT burns more calories doesn’t end there... 

2. Metabolism (EPOC) 

After a HIIT workout, your post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) will be much higher, which means for hours after your workout you will be burning calories at a considerably higher rate. This is because your body is working to restore itself back to pre-exercise levels.

As such, the calories burned with a HIIT workout must also include the EPOC, making it even greater than a traditional cardio workout which doesn’t create the same reaction. 

Overall, this has a great effect on your metabolism, which will help you to shed fat and keep it off.

3. Muscle Growth 

HIIT is puts a lot of stress on your muscles similar to weight training, which means it can also promote hypertrophy (muscle growth). If you continue making your HIIT workouts a little more difficult over time, you can continue building muscle and strength. At the VERY least, HIIT will ensure you maintain muscle mass (and strength), unlike cardio where if done in certain ranges of time and speed can potentially cause some muscle loss. 

4. Versatility & Scalability

HIIT workouts are both versatile and scalable.

In terms of versatility, you can use different workout times, workout formats and intervals, exercises, and even equipment. This ensures your HIIT workouts never become stale.

As for scalability, because they are so versatile, you can make them progressively harder. HIIT workouts can be highly effective from beginner all the way to elite levels.

On top of all that, HIIT will help you build a strong and healthy heart, improve flexibility and range of motion (bodyweight HIIT workouts are like a form of dynamic stretching), stronger bones, and overall athleticism (balance and coordination). PLUS, you’ll get a serious flow of endorphins soon after you finish!

hiit for women

FAQs About High Intensity Interval Training: 

Is HIIT really better than cardio? 

HIIT and traditional cardio have plenty of similarities in that they are both effective for burning calories and thus losing fat. HIIT just does so in a more efficient manner. 

Because of that, HIIT and cardio are often interchangeable.

BUT, the two are different. Cardio isn’t just about burning calories, it’s about cardiovascular health.

While HIIT has some benefit on cardiovascular health, it’s not to the same degree as long duration low intensity cardio simply due to the nature of the two workouts (cardio is low intensity which keeps you in the cardiovascular range and provides your muscles with oxygen for energy, HIIT doesn’t). 

HIIT also isn’t just about burning calories, even though it is superior in terms of calorie burn efficiency. It helps promote bone density, muscle growth, strength and more. Basically, you can think of HIIT like a hybrid of cardio and strength training. 

As such, we can’t say HIIT is better for cardio because they are different. Ideally, you should be doing both.

However, if the question is which is better for burning calories quickly and overall fat loss goals, HIIT reigns supreme because it can help you build muscle and keep your metabolism running strong, which is crucial for staying lean. 

Is HIIT more effective for weight loss?

HIIT is highly effective for weight loss because it causes you to burn more calories at rest long after the workout is over and it boost your metabolism through this and the fact that it promotes muscle growth. Most people want to lose weight in the form of fat, in which case HIIT is more effective for that kind of weight loss.

Are HIIT workouts good for belly fat? 

HIIT is great for losing belly fat. While you can’t spot reduce fat, HIIT is shown to be the most effective form of exercise for fat loss. Studies show it will significantly reduce abdominal and visceral fat mass with regular practice.

Remember, all the ab exercises in the world won’t help you get a nice toned stomach or six pack unless you bring down your body fat percentage. If you want that, you need HIIT. 


HIIT workouts can range from 4 minutes up to 30 minutes, but the best average time length is around 10-20 minutes.

Beginners should start with around 10 minutes for HIIT workouts. However, as you become more advanced, you can work your way up in time (and/or intensity of the exercises itself - i.e. rather than doing sets of air squats do jump squats).

Overall, you need to listen to your body. Remember, HIIT is supposed to be INTENSE. Your body can only sustain a high level of intensity for so long. At some point, intensity will diminish, so when you go on too long and your workout is no longer intense, it won’t even be a HIIT workout anymore. AND if you try to push yourself too far, overuse injuries can occur.

Like with any kind of exercise, you need to start somewhere and then progress. A 5 minute very high intensity workout will be much better than a 10-15 minute mediocre intensity “HIIT” workout. 


Two to three HIIT workouts per week is good. Essentially, you want to give your body at least a full 24 hours of rest and recovery between session. This includes other kinds of strength training workouts that you may be doing.

If you are a beginner and you are already doing some form of resistance training, start with just one HIIT workout per week, then work up in frequency from there. 

If you plan to only do HIIT workouts, then you could probably be safe around 3-4 workouts per week with a schedule as follows:

Monday: HIIT Tuesday: Rest Wednesday: HIIT Thursday: Rest Friday: HIIT Saturday: Rest Sunday: HIIT

That said, it’s likely you'll want to do other kinds of workouts, so we will go over how to incorporate HIIT into an existing routine a little further below.

Can I do HIIT everyday?

If you are doing HIIT correctly, which means very high intensity, then NO. It’s definitely not recommended to do it every day. HIIT is taxing on your nervous system, so you'll need adequate time to recover or else you will end up overtraining, mentally burned out, and your efforts for muscle growth simply can’t occur considering you aren’t giving yourself enough rest for repair.

All that said, something like a 5 minute HIIT workout is probably more than doable for most fit individuals. In the end, you really just need to listen and understand your body. If you need rest, take it.

hiit workout for female beginners


It really depends on the individual, how hard your HIIT workouts are, how often you are doing HIIT and what other physical activities you are doing. However, generally speaking, with 2-3 HIIT workouts a week, you should see some great results in as little as 4 weeks. If you stick with 2-3 HIIT workouts per week, especially in addition to other moderate intensity resistance training, you will get into the best shape of your life before you know it. 


A lot of women like to just do a few HIIT workouts each week in addition to some form of long duration cardio. If that’s the case, aim for 2-4 HIIT workouts each week, spread out so you have enough recovery time in-between sessions. 

If you want to do some weight training along with HIIT, then an ideal workout schedule will look like something as follows:

Monday: Lower Body WorkoutTuesday: RestWednesday: Upper Body WorkoutThursday: HIITFriday: RestSaturday: Full Body WorkoutSunday: Rest


Monday: Lower BodyTuesday: Upper BodyWednesday: RestThursday: HIITFriday: RestSaturday: Lower BodySunday: Upper BodyMonday: RestTuesday: HIIT...and so on


Monday: Full Body Weight TrainingTuesday: RestWednesday: HIITThursday: RestFriday: Full Body Weight TrainingSaturday: RestSunday: HIITMonday: RestRepeat

Long duration cardio can also be mixed in during mornings of full body weight training days.


For more advanced...

Monday: Upper Body WorkoutTuesday: Lower Body WorkoutWednesday: HIITThursday: RestRepeat

There are so many ways to go about programming HIIT into your workouts. Ultimately, if you are doing a 10-20 minute HIIT workout, you want to give yourself 24 hours before your next workout. If your weight training sessions are intense too, then you need to also give your body and muscles the rest it needs before doing HIIT. 

That said, if you want to do quick HIIT finishers a few times a week, then you could throw in a 5 minute HIIT after a couple of your moderate intensity resistance training sessions per week. That should be more than doable in terms of recovery. 

We will provide various examples of HIIT workouts for women that work with different routines.

HIIT workout for women at home


Let’s first go over some great HIIT workouts for ladies of different fitness levels, then we will run you through how to build your own HIIT workouts, which includes some of the best HIIT exercises to use. 

HIIT WORKOUT #1 - Female Beginners At Home No Equipment: 

This HIIT workout is particularly great for women who are beginners. 

For this HIIT workout, it is full length, meaning you can throw it on your TV, tablet or phone and follow along to it. The video includes a timer so you know exactly when to start and stop, as well as demonstrations of the next exercise in line during rest periods.

Workout Details:

10 Exercises 45 Seconds On 15 Seconds Off 1 Round

1. Power Squats2. Side Shuffle with Touch3. Lunge to Knee Drive4. Jumping Jacks5. Lateral Walk with Hop6. High Knee with Pause7. Good Morning Lunge8. Step Back Burpee9. Knee Push Up10. Elevated Mountain Climbers

Easier Alternative Movements Included

Total Workout Time: 10 minutes

If you want more follow along HIIT workouts like this, please be sure to leave a comment, like and subscribe to our Youtube Channel!

HIIT Workout #2 - Female Intermediate At Home No Equipment:

This HIIT workout takes things up a notch. It involves shorter intervals because the exercises are harder and more explosive and intense. This is a good HIIT routine for women who are already in pretty good shape. 

Workout Details:

10 Exercises 20 Seconds On 10 Seconds Off 2 to 3 Rounds (no rest between rounds)

1. Jump Squats2. Mountain Climbers3. High Knees4. Star Jumps5. Plank Jacks6. Burpees7. Butt Kicks8. Tuck Jumps9. Side Plank with Dip (left)10. Side Plank with Dip (right)

HIIT Workout #3 - Female Intermediate to Advance With Equipment:

For women who need a seriously challenging HIIT workout, add some equipment into the mix. 

The best equipment for HIIT workouts are dumbbells or kettlebells. However, flat loop resistance bands can also be great!

Because dumbbells are the easiest to access for most, let’s use dumbbells for this intermediate-advanced HIIT routine.

Workout Details:

Equipment: A Pair of Dumbbells

Choose an appropriate weight based on the exercises below and your strength level. You want them to be challenging yet sustainable for 4 rounds. That said, you can switch to a heavier pair or lighter pair mid workout, quickly, if needed.

5 Exercises 30 seconds On 15 seconds Off 4 Rounds 

1. Thrusters2. Renegade Rows3. Burpees4. Reverse Lunge with Curl5. Sit Up with Overhead Press

HIIT Workout #4 - Sprints (Distance):

Sprints make for an amazing HIIT workout. In fact, it is one of the most popular ways to do HIIT, and all it involves are SPRINTS, which makes it extremely accessible and all levels of fitness can do it.

You can control the difficulty simply by how much work you do, how fast you push your sprints, as well as using an incline for your sprints as you become more advanced.

Option 1: 10 x 50m Sprints 

Sprint the 50m then walk back to your starting line and immediately sprint again. So, your rest time is the walking distance back, which should be about ~30 seconds. As such, this workout involves greater rest time than working time, BUT the sprints should be INTENSE. 


5 Minute Dynamic Warm5 Minute Speed Walking or Jogging- You must warm up before sprint workouts

Sprint 1: 60% max speed Sprint 2: 70% max speed Sprint 3: 75% max speed Sprint 4: 80% max speed Sprint 5: 85% max speed Sprint 6: 90% max speed Sprint 7: 90%+ max speed Sprint 8: 80% max speed Sprint 9: 75% max speed Sprint 10: 70% max speed

Difficulty level: beginner-intermediate 

Option 2: 10 x 100m Sprints 

5 Minute Dynamic Warm5 Minute Speed Walking or Jogging- You must warm up before sprint workouts

Sprint 1: 60% max speed Sprint 2: 70% max speed Sprint 3: 80% max speed Sprint 4: 90% max speed Sprint 5: 90%+ max speed Sprint 6: 90%+ max speed Sprint 7: 90%+ max speed Sprint 8: 80% max speed Sprint 9: 80% max speed Sprint 10: 70% max speed

Rest time: Just the walking distance back to the starting line of your 100 meters. 

Difficulty level: Advanced 

HIIT Workout #5 - Sprints (Time):

20 second sprints, 90 seconds rest

This can be done anywhere outside or on a treadmill.

Just run 20 seconds. Distance doesn’t matter. But it is good to keep track of distance as each set or even the next workout you can try to run a little farther. That way you know you are pushing yourself.

After each 20 second set, rest for 90 seconds. Ideally, you will be walking during that 90 seconds. Don’t just stand still (you can walk back to the starting line to keep track of distance or just keep moving forward and see how far you can go!).

Beginner: 7 sprint sets total

Increase difficulty: 

If you like this workout, the next time you do it, try to add 1 more set. However, at some point, you can only increase the number of sets so much. So, to make things more difficult, you can also increase the time or do this workout on an incline. You could even do this on an inclined street or a hill.

Hill sprints are the ultimate sprint HIIT workout, but save it for when you are more advanced because they are BRUTAL.

Treadmill Sprints: 

One of our favorite ways to do sprints on a treadmill is with the treadmill OFF. That’s right.

Get on the treadmill. Don’t turn it on.

Then, holding the front handles, power the belt (get it moving) simply by moving your legs with all your might. As you get going, it’ll be moving just as if it was turned on. 

So, for this one, you do 15 seconds on, 45 seconds off. Aim to do 15-20 sets. It’s killer. 

We like this option of leaving the treadmill off for a few reasons:

It’s a lot harder (it’s essentially like doing sprints on an incline) When you stop, you don’t have to worry about jumping off the treadmill or pressing buttons to get the speed down to walking. When you stop, it stops as you were powering the belt manually. 

How often can I do sprint HIIT workouts?

Don’t do more than two sprint workouts per week. As a beginner, start with just one. If you want to do more HIIT workouts each week, then also do some bodyweight exercise HIIT workouts, not just sprints. Sprints tend to be the most taxing on the body.

hiit for girls


To build a HIIT workout, you need to consider a few things:

Exercises: What exercise(s) are you going to choose. A HIIT workout can involve one or many exercises Interval Time (workout format): Work and rest periods Total Workout Time: How many intervals/rounds 

So, let’s go over each of these points briefly. 

Best HIIT Exercises for Women:

The best HIIT exercises for women and men are going to be big compound movements and explosive exercises. The only real difference between what exercises women should choose in comparison to men is if the woman in question has some limitations. For example, a lot of women have trouble with upper body strength movements like push ups. It’s important that you can perform the exercise with high intensity and explosive power when doing HIIT. So, if you lack strength in certain areas, then choose alternative exercises that you know you can perform powerfully.

Here is a list of some of the best bodyweight-only HIIT exercises for women:

Sprints High Knees Burpees Tuck Jumps Mountain Climbers Jumping Lunges Bicycle Crunches Lateral Skiers Butt Kicks Jump Squats Star Jumps Jumping Jacks Flutter Kicks Plank Jacks Russian Twists

The great thing about the above exercises is that they are suitable for all levels. Intensity can be controlled and easier alternatives can be made.

For example, as a beginner, a full burpee may be too difficult, but a half burpee (without the push up and/or jump) is doable for nearly anyone. 

Related: Best HIIT Exercises for Beginners

As long as you are getting your heart rate up very high, then it doesn’t matter if you are doing as many reps as the next person. Each person’s fitness level is different, so the look of your “high intensity” will not always be the same as someone else’s. 

Best Equipment for HIIT workouts:

Battle Ropes (waves and slams and other battle rope exercises make for a great HIIT workout) Dumbbells (a pair of light weight dumbbells will have you rocking!) Kettlebells (Kettlebells for HIIT is quite possibly the best! And all you really need is one!) Medicine Balls & Slam Balls Steel Mace Resistance Bands

Save equipment based HIIT workouts for when your HIIT game is 100% up to par. Bodyweight HIIT is more than enough for most beginner and intermediates. That said, it can be fun to switch things up by adding in a piece of equipment. 

Best HIIT Workout Formats: 

It really depends on what the exercises are. Is it a core focused HIIT? Is it a sprinting HIIT? Are you using equipment or just bodyweight movements?

Generally speaking, the best HIIT workout formats (and thus intervals) for bodyweight exercises (and exercises with relatively lightweight equipment) are...

20/10: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off is HIIT interval structure called Tabata. You can do Tabata workouts with one or many exercises incorporated. As you only have 10 seconds of rest, it is usually best done with less exercises or even just one exercise (i.e. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 10 rounds doing just Jump Squats, Battle Rope Waves, Burpees, or High Knees, etc.) 30/15: 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off. This is another popular option. Usually for the 30/15 format, the workout will involve multiple exercises, not all are explosive, as 30 seconds of work is a long time in the HIIT world. The 30/15 format is also good for HIIT workouts that involve equipment like dumbbells. 45/15 or 40/20: 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off OR 40/20. This is a good format for beginners as the movements will generally be less impactful so longer time is needed. In this case, a workout from 10-20 minutes for a beginner with a 45/15 format is good. On the other hand, this interval can be great for people who want to do a really tough yet quick HIIT workout. An advanced female athlete could really REALLY drain themselves with a 5-10 minute HIIT workout doing big explosive movements with a 45/15 or 40/20 format.

Other HIIT style formats are Every Minute On The Minute (EMOM) and As Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP) Workouts. 

As for sprints, it’s usually the opposite in terms of work and rest time. For example, a sprint HIIT workout may be sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 90 seconds OR sprint for 15 seconds, rest for 45-60 seconds, sprint for 10 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. However, rest is not usually a complete standstill, it often involves either walking or jogging. 

Essentially, with sprints, you want to give it your all for a duration of time or distance (50-100 meters at most) and then rest just enough so your heart rate doesn’t go below 60-65%. If you are in really good shape, you can simply lower your rest time after each sprinting interval. 

Total Workout Time:

As we’ve already discussed, you really want to give it your all when doing a HIIT workout. As such, HIIT workouts will not be effective if they are too long. 

Keep your HIIT to around 5-30 minutes. 

As a beginner, we recommend somewhere in the 10-20 minute range.

Why do we not choose 5 minutes for a beginner? Well, typically beginners will not be able to really push themselves hard enough for a 5 minutes to be as effective.

Putting it all together: 

Choose a workout duration (i.e. 10 minutes). Figure out a work/rest interval and the exercises that best suit that workout duration. Calculate the number of rounds if needed. GO, GO, GO 

hiit exercises for women


Some studies show that you will actually burn more fat and overall calories in a 12-14 hour period when you do HIIT in a fed state, while other studies suggest that fat oxidation does increase during fasted HIIT.

In the end, to lose weight, and therefore fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit over time. So, it doesn’t matter if you eat or not in terms of fat and weight loss, but it does in terms of performance...

Some people may do just fine with a HIIT workout in a fasted state. Especially if they are used to exercising fasted. However, most people will see significantly better performance if eating a little 30-60 minutes before a HIIT workout, and with better performance comes better results. 

So, see what works for you. If you are going to do just a quick 5-10 minute HIIT workout, doing it fasted if you’d like might be perfectly fine for you. But, if you plan to do a serious HIIT workout for 10+ minutes, we do recommend getting something in your stomach. 

Yet, don’t eat too much beforehand or your workout will also suffer. It’s never easy to do an intense workout with a full stomach.

Therefore, the perfect meal before a HIIT workout is something like a banana, scoop of peanut or almond butter and a protein shake.


Absolutely. Do your best to eat within 15 to 20 minutes of finishing your HIIT workout. Remember, HIIT is similar to weight training in that your muscles are going to be stressed and need fuel to recover. Get some protein and healthy carbs in after your HIIT workout and you are good to go.

Also, drink plenty of water. Hydration is a must for HIIT.


As you can see, there are so many benefits women can reap by doing HIIT and the options for HIIT workouts are endless. This makes HIIT accessible for nearly every lady out there. Not to mention, fun! Yes, maybe a brutal type of fun, but the feel-goods you get after are so worth it. 

So, if you have any interest at all to do HIIT, get your workout gear on and get it in! Train hard, train smart, and the results will follow.

- Kiel DiGiovanni
13 Best Pull Up Alternatives That Work The Same Muscles

Pull ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises for the upper body, point blank period. However, we do believe your training should include variety of exercises in order to make continuous progress. That’s where pull up alternative exercises come into play. Whether you can do a pull up or not, it’s important to train using a mixture of exercises. In the post we’ll cover 13 of the best alternatives to pull ups that work similar muscles, helping you to build a strong back and eventually become a pull up professional.

alternative exercises for pull ups What’s a pull up?

The pull up is one of the quintessential bodyweight exercises that can tell you a lot about your fitness level with regards to your upper body strength. A pull up refers to a closed chain movement where you start in a dead hang on a bar with a pronated grip (palms facing away) then you pull your body up until your chin is above the bar and your elbows are by your torso.

People are often confused about what the difference is between pull ups and chin ups. And still to this day, depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer. For example, if you ask us, Guinness Book of World Records or countless other trainers in the fitness industry they’ll say that pull ups are done with a pronated grip while chin ups are done with a supinated grip (palms facing towards you). However, if you speak with the Us Marine Corps or the World Pull up Organization, they’ll consider both grips as pull ups.

To keep everyone on the same page, from here on out we’ll consider pull ups using an overhand or pronated grip while chin ups use a supinated or underhand grip. 

Related: Pull Ups Vs Chin Ups: Muscles Worked, Differences & Which Is Better

Why are pull ups important?

Pull ups are an important exercise because it’s a bodyweight exercise that demands you lift your entire body mass upwards. Pull ups strengthen multiple muscle groups in one exercise making it an efficient and effective exercise to help build functional power in the upper body.

We’ve all seen movies where the character is struggling to hang on to a ledge, bridge or landing gear of a helicopter. Now imagine yourself in a situation like that, would you be able to pull yourself up if you needed to? If you can’t do a pull up yet, pull up alternatives will help get you to that point. If you can already do pull ups then exercise alternatives to pull ups can help you do more and/or build up more upper body strength.

How many pull ups should I be able to do?

There are no exact formula regarding how many pull ups you should be able to do but we can look at the averages for different groups of people below:

Children: 6-12 should be able to do 1-2 pull ups Teenagers: Boys 13-18 should be able to do 3-8 pull ups. Girls 13-18 should be able to do 1 pull up or 1 5-9 second flexed arm hang (hang with chin above the bar) Adults: Men should be able to do 8 pull ups but if they can do 13-17 this would be considered strong and fit. Women should be able to do 1-3 pull ups while 5-9 reps would be thought of as strong and fit. Can pull ups be replaced with alternatives?

Pull ups are one of the best upper body exercises around and shouldn’t be replaced but there are a number of pull up alternatives that should be added to your workout plan. In reality, pull ups should be done in conjunction with other  horizontal and vertical pulling exercises if you really want to build up your back.

We recommend that if you can do pull ups you should do them. However, not all people can perform full unassisted pull ups. Don’t worry we have you covered, we summarize a pull up progression plan that will get you on the right track to performing pull ups on your own.

Can I train my back without a pull up bar?

Yes, you can train your back without a pull up bar with a variety of exercises and equipment. Resistance bands offer a range of back exercises that will work back muscles like a pull up would. You can also use other traditional gym equipment to train your back such as the cable machine for lat pull downs or the Smith machine for bent over rows, dumbbells for single arm rows, barbells for Yates rows and even towels for row variations.

There are plenty of ways to train your back without a pull up bar. So, if you don’t have a pull up bar or can't do a pull up then you should definitely be working on some of the pull up alternatives that we cover later on.

Related: 21 Best Cable Back Exercises For Strength & Hypertrophy

What muscles do pull ups work?

Pull ups work a variety of muscles in the upper body including:

Primary muscles (movers):

Latissimus Dorsi: This is the largest muscle in your back. This paired broad, flat triangular muscle stretches across the width of your mid and lower back. Commonly referred to as the lats, the scientific name in fact comes from Latin latissimus meaning “broadest” and dorsum meaning “back”. A well-built lats creates the tapered V look.

The main functions of the lats is adduction, extension, transverse extension, flexion from an extended position and medial rotation of the shoulder joint. The lats also have other functions in the body but for the sake of this post we’ll focus on how it functions when it comes to pull ups. The lats attach directly to the spine so when the arms are in a fixed position overhead the lats are primarily responsible for pulling the trunk upward and forward.

Biceps Brachii: This two headed muscle is comprised of the long and short head that act on both the elbow and the shoulder joint. In the case of pull up the biceps help turn the forearm out so that your can grip the bar with a pronated grip. It also helps the lats pull us upwards. The narrower the pull up grip the more your biceps will be engaged.

Brachioradialis and brachialis (forearms): These muscles found in the forearms play a role in pull ups. The brachioradialis is a forearm flexor when the forearm is semi-pronated, or when the palm is perpendicular to the ground like in a pull up position. The brachialis and the brachioradialis work in concert with the biceps to flex the forearm at the elbow.

Infraspinatus: This is a rotator cuff muscle that acts as a stabilizer of the glenohumeral joint during shoulder abduction.  

Lower Trapezius: The traps are a large triangular muscle in the upper back that stretches from the base of the skull to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine and laterally to the spine of the scapula. Retracting the scapula is the main function of the traps. The lower lat muscle fibers assist in depressing the scapular which is the opposite movement of shoulder shrugs.

Secondary muscles:

Rear Deltoid: This muscle found on the back of the shoulder helps to pull our shoulders back during pull ups. At the bottom of a pull up it’s important to release the tension and come to a dead hang so that the rear delts and shoulders have to work harder to generate the momentum to lift your body upwards.

Rhomboids: This back muscle found in the middle of the upper back between the shoulder blades is vitally important in providing stability to the shoulder girdle and with arm movements. They help to pull the scapula back during a pull up.

Levator scapulae: This long slender muscle starts at the top of the spine and runs down the sides of the neck to the scapula. The main function is to elevate the scapulae.

Pectoralis Major/Minor: These muscles that form the chest primarily help with pushing or pressing movements. However, when performing pull ups the pecs help to assist the lats as you pull up towards the bar.


Rotator Cuff Muscles: (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor): These muscles work to stabilize the shoulder joint while doing pull ups.

Triceps: This three headed muscle on the back of the upper arms is responsible for extension of the elbow. While doing pull ups the long head of the triceps help pull your body towards the bar.

Obliques: Located along the side of the rectus abdominis in the abdomen area. These muscles help with bending and twisting of the trunk. Hanging from a bar while doing a pull up engages the obliques.

Erector Spinae: This is a collection of muscles; the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis located in the center of the back that are centered around the spine. The primary function is trunk extension, think of deadlifts or back extensions. While doing pull ups these muscles help to keep the body using proper posture.

Benefits of pull ups

The point of the post is to highlight pull up alternatives which will also have the similar benefits of pull ups. Below is a sampling of the positive effects of doing pull ups.

Build Strong Back: The primary movers in pull ups are the back muscles especially the lats. A strong back can help improve your posture and make every day tasks easier to complete. Plus a well-built back looks great on both men and women.

Work Multiple Muscles: Pull ups are one of the best compound exercises that you can do. This bodyweight compound exercise activates many muscles in order to complete the movement. Besides the major back muscles, pull ups also work the shoulders, core and arms. Working multiple muscles in unison will result in better coordination and more strength overall. If you’re in a rush and want to get an effective upper body workout in then pull ups can be a staple exercise in your arsenal.

Boost Grip Strength: Holding your bodyweight up on a bar then performing a pull up requires you to have a grip that’s strong enough so you don’t slip and fall. Building grip strength is one of the most important and most neglected parts of many people’s training programs.

The old saying, “you’re only as strong as your grip” is true. Most people’s grip will give out before the main muscles they’re training. For example, with deadlifts you’ll see that many people can’t do them without wrist straps because of weak grip. All your upper body lifts will improve if your grip strength does.

Burn Calories: Pull ups are a compound exercise where many muscles are engaged which requires more oxygen and calories to be burned. Your lungs and heart work harder which will improve your cardiovascular capability. Also, because pull ups are a great exercise to build lean muscle mass, you will boost your metabolism. The more muscle mass you have the more energy they require even at rest.

Versatility: Pull ups can be done with only two things; your bodyweight and a bar. Not all exercises are created alike, pull ups have some amazing health benefits and you can do them or similar exercises that work the same muscles by doing pull up alternatives.

How to Do a Pull up Reach up and grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip (palms facing away) slightly wider than shoulder width apart Start from a dead hang where your arms are straight Retract your shoulder blades and pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar and your elbows are by your torso Briefly pause at the top while squeezing shoulder blades down and in Slowly lower yourself down until you’re back to the dead hang position Who should do pull up alternatives?

In short, everyone should be performing pull up alternatives whether or not they can do a regular pull up. The key to building strong functional muscles is to use variety in terms of reps and sets, load, grip, body positioning, equipment used and tempo. The pull up alternatives in we provide in this post give you a range of exercises that can be done at home or the gym.

Why Can’t I do a pull up?

There could be a number of reasons why you can’t currently do a pull up. Let’s remember that pull ups are a hard exercise but with the right work ethic and training plan you will be able to do pull ups in a few months. Here’s a few common reasons why you might not be able to do a pull up.

You’re injured: if it hurts when attempting to do a pull up then you might have an injury you weren’t aware of. Pull ups are tough but they shouldn’t cause you pain. Pain when doing pull ups would usually be felt in the joints such as the wrists, elbows or shoulders. Pull ups require a degree of shoulder mobility so you should make sure that your shoulders are healthy before attempting pull ups. Make sure to consult with a doctor if this is the case before continuing any physical exercise. Overweight: Pull ups require one thing: you must be able to lift your bodyweight up through a full range of motion. This is difficult if you’re carrying a lot of extra weight. Usually losing weight will help you to do a pull up in a shorter amount of time. It is true that some overweight people do have the muscular strength to do a pull up but, in that case, losing fat should help do even more reps. You can try to lose fat with a cutting program or even intermittent fasting. Lack of Grip Strength: Grip strength is essential to performing pull ups. If you can’t hold onto the bar at a dead hang for more than 10-20 seconds, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do a pull up. You should start incorporating more grip work into your training program. Improper form: Doing a traditional pull up necessitates proper form and muscle engagement. A common mistake we see people make is tilting the head up which throws the body out of alignment by pushing your shoulders forward thus putting more stress on the neck. You should be looking forward throughout the movement. Weak Back: Your back muscles are mainly responsible for lifting your body up to that bar, so it’s vital that you train these muscles often enough. You should be working the back muscles with enough volume and frequency so that you strengthen them over time. We usually recommend you hit all major muscle groups twice a week with a range of 10-20 total sets. Keep in mind that rep ranges to gain strength and hypertrophy should be around 6-12 reps. Grip Too Wide: Your hands should be on the bar just slightly wider than shoulder width. All too often we see people with their hands way too far out to the sides which makes the pull up much more difficult to execute. Pull Up Progression

For some of you that are reading this, you’re here because you want to learn pull up alternatives but others might want to know how to work their way up to doing a pull up. If you’re part of the latter then you can check out our full post on Pull Up Progression.

To summarize how to follow a 9+ week pull up progression plan:

Weeks 1-3

Practice Australian pull ups or bodyweight inverted rows

Start at a high angle where the bar is at your navel until you can do 3 sets of 10 reps. Move your feet down so the bar is halfway between navel and chest then do 3 sets of 10 reps Last step is being able to do a full inverted row of 3 sets of 10 reps

Week 3-4

Continue working on the inverted rows

Add dead hangs to the mix (3 grips-close, normal, wide).

9 sets(3 sets each grip) x 10-60 seconds or as long as you can hold

Add shoulder depressions

5 sets x 10 reps

Weeks 5-8

Band assisted pull ups (start with heavy resistance band and work your way down to light resistance)

5 sets x max reps

Add Negatives (start with chin over the bar then lower to dead hang as slow as possible)

5 sets x 8 reps

Week 9+

Try unassisted pull ups

13 Best Pull Up Alternatives

The following 13 pull up alternative exercises and variations will hit your lats plus a handful of other muscles that are also involved with executing a perfect pull up. You'll also see we included pull up alternatives that can be done at home with no pull up bar or other equipment.

1. Inverted Row

This bodyweight exercise is a perfect pull up alternative because it uses the same muscles as a pull up. There’s a reason why the inverted row is part of the pull up progression plan. All you need is a low bar, railing or even a sturdy table to perform this exercise if you’re not at the gym.

The beauty of inverted row is that they’re easier to do compared with a pull up. They also allow for multiple tweaks to make the exercise easier or harder. You can readjust your body positioning to change difficulty and the angle in which you target the lats. Standing up taller with a taller bar makes it easier while the more you bring your feet out under the bar coming closer to parallel with the floor, the harder it gets. You can also place your feet on a raised platform to make it more difficult.

inverted row How To: Set up bar at desired height Sit under the bar the reach up and grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width Bring your feet out so that your body is in a straight line with your core engaged and hips up Retract your shoulder blades and pull your lower chest up to the bar Slowly lower to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your body in a straight line throughout the movement, don't let your hips sag.

Suspension Trainer Inverted Row

This exercise is the same as the above except for the fact you will be forced to use more stabilizer muscles to pull your body upwards.

suspension inverted row

2. Wide Grip Lat Pull Down

The lat pull down mimics how a pull up works but instead of pulling weight up with your lats you’ll be pulling it down. Lat pull downs are great to get extra volume in this range of motion even after you’re fatigued from pull ups. You can really focus on contracting and squeezing your lats when doing lat pull downs. Also, for people who can’t yet do an unassisted pull up, the lat pull down is perfect because you can set the weight or resistance at an amount that’s manageable.

wide grip pull up alternative

How To:

Set knee pads at correct height, sit down and set pin in weight stack Reach up to grab the bar with an overhand grip using both hands wider than shoulder width apart Pull down on the bar while keeping your back straight and chest up until you elbows are at your sides and the bar is at your upper chest Slowly let the bar return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your core engaged and head forward throughout the movement and try to control the bar on the up back up in a 2-3 second timeframe to get maximum eccentric contraction and longer time under tension.

3. Bent Over Rows

There are numerous variations of rows but the bent over row takes the cake for building muscle and adding size to the back. You can perform bent over rows with either an overhand or underhand grip. With the overhand grip you’ll be hitting the upper back muscles more like the rhomboids and the traps. With underhand grip your emphasize the mid back and lats more.

best pull up alternatives

How To:

Slightly bend at the knees and hinge forward so that your torso is over the bar Keeping a neutral back, grab the bar using an underhand grip with hands shoulder width apart While maintaining the bent over position, pull up through your elbows until the bar reaches your upper abs Slowly lower the bar to starting position where your arms are fully extended Repeat for desired reps

Note: Engage your core and maintian a neutral back throughout the movement.

Smith Machine Bent Over Row

This is the same exercise as above but you'll be able to focus more on your lats as you're reomving some need for stabiliziing muscles to work due to the fixed movement on the machine.

smith machine pull up alternative

Related: Best Smith Machine Exercises

4. Lat Push Down

The lat pushdown is an exercise that works the lats without elbow flexion. This exercise will also hit the posterior deltoid, teres major and a little of the triceps.


pull up alternative without pull up bar

How To:

Set up the bar on the cable machine higher than head height Reach up and grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip wider than shoulder width apart Step back so that your arms are fully extended and there’s a stretch in your back Keep a slight bend in your elbows and knees with your chest up and back arched to stretch your lats Push the bar down towards your hips until the bar reaches your thighs In a slow controlled manner let the bar return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Make sure to focus on using your lats to drive the bar down rather than your triceps.

5. Single Arm Lat Pulldown

This is a great unilateral exercise that works the lats and other muscles involved in pull ups. You can really get a good stretch in the lats with this one plus work the lower lats more.

By doing single arm exercises like this you’ll be able to notice if there’s any weakness on one side vs the other. If you do spot a muscle imbalance on one side then you can work on improving it until both sides are equally strong. This exercise allows for a complete range of motion which can help stimulate new muscle growth.

single arm pulldown

How To:

Set cable with stirrup at head height the grab the stirrup with a neutral grip Get into half kneeling position with your active side’s shoulder aligned with the cable and your arm fully extended so that there’s a stretch in the lats Pull down through your elbow until your elbow is to your side while squeezing your lats at the bottom Slowly let the cable return to starting position where your arm is fully extended Repeat for desired reps then switch sides

Note: Change up your grip to overhand for more emphasis on the upper back or underhand to target the lower lats more.

Cable Crossover Lat Pulldown

This is a simalal exercise to the single arm lat pulldown but you'll get more of a stretch in this version due to the wide grip positioning.

cable pull up alternative 6. Close grip V Bar Pulldown

This lat pull down variation requires a neutral grip that forces your elbows to be drawn down and tucked to your sides. This movement leads to greater shoulder extension. You’ll also be leaning back slightly so that you can pull more weight which can lead to building stronger lats, making the V bar pull up a great alternative exercise.

v bar pull up alternative

How To:

Set up V bar on the cable machine Get into position on the seat then reach up to grab the bar with a neutral grip Keeping your core tight pull down through your elbows while concentrating on squeezing the lats as you lean back slightly until your hands are at your upper chest Slowly return to starting position by reversing the movement

Note: Don’t round your back to pull the weight down, keep your chest up as you pull down.

7. Close Grip Chin Up

With the close grip chin up you’ll use the same muscles as you would for a pull up but you’ll redirect some of the tension to the arms. In this movement you’ll hit your lower lats and biceps more. This exercise should be easier to pull off compared to a traditional pull up making it a great pull up alternative.

chin ups

How To:

Reach up to grab the bar with both hands using an underhand grip with your hands 3-6 inches apart Starting from a dead hang with your shoulders depress, pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar Slowly lower to starting position with arms fully extended Repeat for desired reps

Note: Remember to keep your head straight throughout the movement to avoid straining your neck.

8. Assisted Pull Ups

Assisted pull up are exactly what the name suggests, pull ups that are done with some type of assistance. Assisted pull ups are great for beginners who can’t complete a pull up or can’t do enough pull ups to get a good workout in. You can do assisted pull ups in three ways; with a machine, with bands or with a partner.

Let’s take a brief look at each of these options:

Pull Up Assist Machine

With the pull up assist machine you should first determine what a good starting weight to choose in the weight stack. For example, if you set the weight at 50lbs then it will take 50lbs off your bodyweight. The amount of weight you choose will be largely dependent on how close you are to being able to do an unassisted pull up. If you’re far away then you will probably start somewhere with the weight around half your bodyweight or more.

Try doing a set of 6-12 reps and if it’s too easy/hard then make necessary adjustments. Over time you should gradually lower the amount of counter weight until you’re able to do unassisted pull ups. You should be able to do at least 5 reps of unassisted pull ups before you move one from the assisted versions.

assisted pull up alternative

How To:

Set the pin in desired weight stack amount Get into position by grabbing the bar over head with both hands using an overhand grip (pictured above is the chin up with underhand grip) slightly wider than shoulder width apart Place your knees on the padded platform Lower down to start at a dead hang position Retract your shoulder blades and pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar and your elbows are by your torso Briefly pause at the top while squeezing shoulder blades down and in Slowly lower yourself down until you’re back to the dead hang position Pull Up Assisted With Bands

The second way of performing an assisted pull up is with the help of loop resistance bands. Loop resistance bands are a great tool to assist with pull ups because there’s the capability to change the amount of assistance by using different bands or band combos. Bands are also nice because you can carry them with you to use at the gym, at home or even outside at a park.

Start with a heavier resistance band then work your way down to the lighter resistance band as you progress. Overall, the resistance band pull up is a perfect alternative for beginners.

band assisted pull up alternative

How To:

Loop the band over the bar to set the anchor point Get into position by grabbing the bar over head with both hands using an overhand grip (pictured above is the chin up with underhand grip) slightly wider than shoulder width apart Step your foot onto the band then place your other foot on top to lock it in place Retract your shoulder blades and pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar and your elbows are by your torso Briefly pause at the top while squeezing shoulder blades down and in Slowly lower yourself down until you’re back to the dead hang position Partner Assisted Pull Ups

This version of the assisted pull up requires you to have an extra set of hands. You can use this pull up alternative if you don’t have a pull up assist machine or bands at your disposal. You just need someone willing to hold your legs as you perform the pull ups.


Reach up grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip hand slightly wider that shoulder width apart Bend at the knees to lift your feet behind you. Have your partner hold your ankles to help push you upwards Follow same cues from regular pull up 9. Dumbbell Pullover

The pullover is good for stretching the lats while the shoulders are extended. This exercise is a hybrid that will work your lats and your chest. The first part of the lift targets the lats while your pecs become involved as the weight moves past your head. Your triceps with also get a nice workout with this one without having to constantly press down and extend at the elbows like most triceps exercises.

pull up alternative dumbbell

How To:

**You can position your body two ways with this exercise(fully lying on the bench or perpendicular to the bench with only your upper back in contact)

Grab a dumbbell then get into position with your upper back against the bench and your head hanging off the edge Hold the dumbbell by making a triangle with your hands with your palms against the weight or by gripping the handle with a neutral grip Start with the weight directly over your head with your arms straight towards the ceiling Reach the dumbbell behind your head, keeping a slight bend in your elbows, until your arms are stretched behind you Pull up and over your head back to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your arms stationary without movement in your elbows.

10. Seated Cable Row

This exercise is great for the lats as it mimics the bent over row. The big difference here is that you’re in a seated position which removes the lower back muscles from assisting with the lift. This means you can really hone in on using your lats to lift the weight. This variation of the seated row can be executed with multiple grips and equipment.

seated pull up alternative

How To:

Set up chosen attachment to pulley Sit down then grip the bar using an underhand grip then push your butt back so that your arms are fully extended and there’s a bend in the knees. Pull back through your elbows without leaning or rocking backwards until your hands are at your sides Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your back straight and dont rock your bodyweight to pull the weight, focus on using your lats.

11. Renegade Row

The renegade row is a fantastic pull up alternative with dumbbells. This full body exercise works some of the same muscles of a pull up including the obliques, rhomboids, lats and triceps. An added benefit of this exercise is that while building upper body strength you’re also improving balance and stabilization in the core and shoulders.

renegade row

How To:

Set up two dumbbells (preferably hex dumbbells rather than round) on the floor shoulder width apart Get in to position with your hands on the dumbbell handles and your shoulders stacked above Row one side upward by pulling back through the elbow while balancing on your other hand and feet until the lifted dumbbell is at your ribs Slowly return to starting position then repeat movement with the other arm Repeat for desired reps alternating with each arm

Note: Spreading your legs out further with make this exercise easier by giving you a wider base. Try to use hex dumbbells so the dumbbells don’t shift.

Related: 12 Types Of Dumbbells Which Is Best For You?

12. Dumbbell Kroc Row

This exercise is also called the single arm row is perfect to move your lats through a wide range of motion. Because you're only using one arm at a time you can really focus on the mind-muscle connection. This unilateral exercise will also work the core as you will have to stabilize yourself throughout the motion.

dumbbell pull up alternative exercise

How To:

Grab a dumbbell with your left hand using a neutral grip Place your right hand and knee on the bench with your left leg to the side of the bench Your shoulders should be slightly higher than your hips. Start with your left arm fully extened then pull through your elbow until your hand is next to your ribcage Slowly lower the weight to starting position Repeat for desired reps then switch sides

Note: Keep your hips forward and core engaged throughout the movement.

Kroc Row with Bands

Follow the same cues from above except for the set up below:

Stand on the band with your front foot then loop around your other foot Bring your other foot back behind you so that your leg is straight Reach down to grab the band with the hand on same side as back leg and place your inactive hand on your knee for added stability Follow cues from above exercise


pull up alternative no bar

Related: 8 Resistance Band Back Exercises & Full Length Workout

13. Towel Rows

The towel row is a great at home pull up alternative because you don’t need anything except for yourself, a towel and a sturdy anchor point. With this no bar pull up alternative make sure you have a good grip on the towel, a longer towel will enable you to move through a larger range of motion.

pull up alternative at home

How To:

Wrap your towel around a secure anchor point then grab it with both hands using a neutral grip Put your feet close to the bottom of the anchor point then lean back until your arms are fully extended Pull through your elbows until your hands are at your sides Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: You can also do this exercise on a vertical column for the anchor point. To make the exercise more difficult you should anchor the towel lower and lean back more.

Single Arm Towel Row

This version of the towel row will work one side of the body at a time but you'll follow the same cues as above. The biggest difference here is that it will be more difficult to perform becuase you're using one arm. You'll also need to focus on anti-rotation to keep your body aligned without having your inactive side leaning back.

pull up alternative no equipment

Bent Over Towel Rows

With the bent over towel row you will execute with the same body positioning as the bent over row. The key focus point here is to apply force and contraction to the muscles as you pull your hands away from each other and pull your elbow upwards. Constant tension is needed to reap the beneifts of this because not weight is being moved.

pull up alternative at home without equipment

Related:  7 Best Back Exercises With A Towel (No Bar Needed)

Pull Up Alternative Workout

This workout consists of pull up alternative exercises that work your back and other major upper body muscles through a range of motions and with different grips. We based this workoutu around the idea that you're looking to gain muscle size.

Note: Take 60-90 seconds rest between sets.

Wide Grip Lat pull Down 3 sets x 8-10 reps Kroc Rows 3 sets x 6-8 reps (each side) Assisted Pull Ups x AMRAP (as many reps as possible) Dumbbell Pullover 3 sets x 10 reps Inverted Row 3 sets x 10-12 reps How often should I do pull up alternative exercises?

In general, you should target major muscle groups twice a week. This also pertains to pull up alternative exercises. You should have at least 24 hours rest between workout sessions. Depending on what your end goal is, your sets and reps will change. Go for lower reps higher weight of 1-5 reps for strength and power. Use a rep range of 6-12 for hypertropy and strength gains and 12-20 for muscle gain and endurance. As we mentioned before it's beneficial to mix up rep and sets ranges to keep the workouts fresh and your muscles responding to new stimuli.

Related: How many Exercises, Sets & Reps Should I Do Per Muscle Groupd & Workout?

What can I substitute for Crossfit pull ups?

Crossfit makes a few recommendations for pull up alternatives including jumping pull ups, negatives, ring rows, pull-downs and assisted pull ups. Regardless of the exercise you choose, make sure you follow the proper form to get the most from the exercise.

pull up alternative kettlebell


Pull up alternative exercises can help you to build strength and muscle. Use some of these exercises in your training program and you're sure to see your pull up ability improve. No more excuses, even if you don't have a pull up bar or you're working out at home without access to a cable machine or barbells/dumbells you can still do some pull up alternatives. Grab some bands or a towel and get to work!

- Sam Coleman
The Ultimate 7 Day Workout Split Guide

Working out every day is definitely not something everyone can do OR should do, but if you have worked up to be able to do a high frequency of 7 days per week and you just simply love exercising and/or being in the gym, then a 7 day workout plan can work for you.

In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about working out 7 days a week and what are your best options in terms of workout splits. After we go through all of the pertinent information, we will provide three different 7 day workout plans based on various splits and routines, fitness levels and overall goals.

Let’s begin this with the basics...

can i workout everyday


A workout split is simply a way to organize your weekly workout schedule by separating the muscle groups or body parts that you are training into different days.

The benefit of using a workout split, rather than just training your full body each workout, is that you can mitigate fatigue and optimize recovery. Basically, you can work certain muscle groups while others recover.

This is obviously important if you want to workout many days a week with proper intensity and volume, especially 7 days. 

Splits also allow you to increase the volume of work (reps, sets, exercises) for each muscle group and will generally offer more variety in your training. Depending on your split, the volume per workout will differ, as will the frequency of how many times a week you hit your muscles.

What's more, splits make it easier to organize your routine in a way that ensures each muscle and body part is getting adequate stimulus (and from all angles and movement patterns) each week.

Overall, the main reason splits make sense is because they help you stay organized and on track (much better to stick to a plan than to do random workouts) and most importantly they make managing fatigue levels easier, which optimizes recovery, AND they allow for more versatility in terms of exercise selection, volume, frequency and intensity. 


There are many different types of splits out there. Basically you can organize your training in whatever way you’d like. However, there are some tried and true workout splits that have decades of proven success from both fitness professionals and your average gym enthusiasts alike. 

The most popular training splits are:

Upper Lower Split Push Pull Leg Split Body Part Split (aka muscle group split or bro split) 

Of course, full body workout routines are among the most popular options as well.

Each of these splits offers something unique. 

The upper lower split is kind of like a happy medium between volume and frequency. FYI - Full body workout routines optimize frequency.

Generally an upper lower split will have you hitting each muscle group twice a week.

The push pull leg split leans a little more toward volume, but it’s very versatile in that you can play around with how many days a week you workout to increase frequency. With a push pull leg split, you can hit your muscle groups 1, ~1.5 or 2x per week depending on how many days a week you want to workout (i.e. a 5 day PPL can be M, T, W, Th, F which would be Push, Pull, Legs, Push, Pull, then you start the following week where you left off at, Legs). 

The body part split focuses on volume at the sacrifice of frequency. For most body part splits, you'll usually only hit each muscle group once a week, but you'll be doing so with more volume, which generally is more total weekly volume than splits that have you hit each muscle group more than once.  

Related: 5 Best Workout Splits (With Plans)

Frequency vs Volume

For beginners to intermediate lifters, studies show hitting each muscle group twice a week is best for hypertrophy, even if the total weekly volume is a little less. This is why a full body or upper lower split makes sense for most people. 

In terms of volume, it is also a very important aspect of building muscle and strength. As your muscles get bigger and stronger, they will need more volume to become overloaded and thus continue to grow. 

As such, generally speaking, full body workouts or upper lower splits are best for beginners, as well as some intermediate lifters or more advanced athletes who are simply trying to maintain muscle, gain strength, or cut fat AND splits like the push pull leg split or body part split are better for those who are big and strong already and need more volume for hypertrophy (although a push pull leg split can go either way due to its versatility).

So, basically, any routine can be good for intermediate and advanced athletes, but we recommend beginners to use a split that doesn’t sacrifice frequency as frequency is important for streamlining results. Protein synthesis, which is a process for building muscle levels off within 48 hours, so if you wait too much longer than that to hit the muscle group again, you are essentially slowing down your efforts. 

Workouts Per Week

Besides the way you organize your workout routine (the split), you need to consider how many days a week you’ll be working out. This is arguably the most important factor as it will help you determine how to best organize your routine.

1 day per week is simply not enough (but it's surely better than nothing), and we believe 2 days is almost in that same boat, but can work for some people. 

However, most people will fit into the 3, 4, 5 or 6 days per week category. 

Notice how we didn’t say anything about 7 days...just wait.

With 2-6 workout days per week, you can choose various splits. 

For example:

2 days (upper/lower split OR just 2 full body workouts) 3 days (push pull leg OR even a sort of body part split like chest/back, shoulders/arms, and legs OR full body) 4 days (upper/lower split, a body part split of sorts, OR even a 4 day push pull leg, as well as a full body routine) 5 days (bro split OR a 5 day variation of an upper/lower split or push pull leg split OR a ULPPL split, which is an upper lower push pull leg split combining the two together) 6 days (body part split OR push pull leg split that has you do push pull legs twice a week OR an upper lower split that has you do upper lower workouts three times a week) 

As you can see, most of these splits are very flexible so you can adjust them to any number of workouts per week. It all depends on your goals and fitness level for what is right for you. So, when choosing a workout routine, you need to consider how many days per week you can/should workout, and then figure out a split to make a routine.


What about working out 7 days a week?

What splits make sense for 7 workouts per week?

Is working out 7 days a week even good, and if so, for who? 

Let’s find out...

We are first going to cover all of the pertinent information about training 7 days a week and answer some of the most common questions. Afterward, we will lay out plans for three effective 7 day workout splits, each of which are based on different goals and fitness levels.

7 day workout split


While working out seven days a week is not the best choice for most people, you most certainly can train seven days a week if you have the right split, variety, and you are eating enough and sleeping right. Moreover, you need to have worked up to this high frequency of training. You can't just go from 2-3 workouts per week to 7. 

But, let’s break this down more to get a clear understanding if training seven days a week is right for you. 

Are you a beginner to working out? If so, you will find out working out 7 days a week is not the most efficient or effective choice. You can see a lot better results with 3-5 productive workouts each week. 

Do you want to build muscle? If you want to build muscle mass, then you need to damage your muscles through overloading them with stress (in the form of resistance), which means they will need time to rest and recover. Even with a split that gives you plenty of rest between muscle groups and doesn’t involve much or any real heavy lifting, most people will see better results with a 3-5 days per week schedule. Doing a lot of volume is just as taxing as high intensity (heavy weight loads), if not more so. Moreover, even if you are not targeting a muscle group specifically on a certain day, many exercises incorporate muscle groups outside of the primary muscle group (i.e. bench press is for your pecs but it’s going to hit your shoulders too).

Do you want to get stronger? Lifting heavy is taxing on the body. You could do 5 strength training session per week as an intermediate to advance lifter, but 7 days of heavy lifting just doesn’t make sense. That said, a few days of heavy lifting mixed in with some lower intensity workouts can work. 

Are you doing just bodyweight workouts? Bodyweight workouts are generally easier on the body and nervous system, with exception to HIIT workouts. So, if you are doing calisthenics type training, you should be fine to do bodyweight exercises each day.   

Now, let’s look at when and how working out 7 days a week, specifically with weights, can make sense.

Should you train 7 days a week?

Honestly, if you want to workout and/or be in the gym every day, you can make it work simply because of that. Do what makes you feel good and happy. You’ll just have to structure your weekly routine in a way that is sustainable. For example, you can’t do an intense workout every single day of the week but you could do seven low to medium intensity workouts with the right split if you are already in good shape OR you could do a few tough workouts along with a few easy workouts. 

You also have to ask yourself if working out every day is more important than your overall goal. For example, if your goal is to build as much muscle mass as possible, you may have to sacrifice a day or two (or even three) in the gym to rest BUT if your goal is maintenance, general health, staying lean, and just feeling and moving better, then you can definitely workout seven days a week by planning a proper routine that manages fatigue well. Some more advanced trainees may even be able to see some good gains on a 7 day split when done in cycles (i.e. not year round, but maybe a month of working out 7 days a week).

Ultimately, if you plan to workout every day, here are some general rules to follow:

Don’t hit a muscle group more than three times per week. Do a variety of different things in your workouts. Take in enough calories and drink a lot of water. Sleep at least 8 hours a night. Don’t train balls to the wall everyday. You are going to need to alternate between tougher days and easier days, and play around with volume and intensity. Listen to your body and take a rest day or a couple rest days (or even a rest week) when needed.

Overall, you just need a strategic routine, and that’s what we are going to provide you below. 

Can beginners workout every day? 

We really don’t recommend beginners to workout every day unless you are doing low intensity workouts like jogging, cycling, or yoga. As a beginner, if you workout 7 days a week, make at least 4 of those days low intensity. That said, if you want to be smart about your fitness, just start with 2-3 days a week of 30-40 minutes of moderate-to-high intensity workouts. Then you can ramp it up in terms of frequency from there and play around with intensity. Your goal should be to work up to around 1-2 hours of aerobic work per week and two to three 30-40 minute strength training session for overall general health and fitness (i.e. 2-3 strength training sessions with 2-3 cardio session per week). FYI - cardio sessions are best around 30-40 minutes.


Here are some prerequisites for training 7 days a week:

You are already in good shape and health. You are sure you can get plenty of sleep each night. Your schedule allows for 30-60 minutes per day to train. YOU HAVE WORKED UP TO 7 DAYS PER WEEK. Don’t just go from 0 to 100, meaning if you haven’t been working out for a while, you can’t just jump into training every single day. You need to work up to this high frequency over time. So, if you are already training 5-6 days per week, another 1 or 2 days is definitely doable, but if you are at 3-4 days per week right now, start by adding another day or two to your plan and stick with it for a month or so before jumping up to 7 days per week*** 

Here are some goals where training 7 days a week can make sense:

You are an athlete or person who wants to improve in many areas of fitness and movement skills. You want to lose weight. You want to maintain your shape and stay in good health. You want a little boost of endorphins every day.  You want to pack on as much muscle as quickly as possible (but won't stay on the routine for an extended period of time). 

Who shouldn’t train 7 days a week?

Beginners People who want a sustainable and easily manageable hypertrophy plan People who want to progressively get stronger 

With a 7 day workout plan, you can build muscle and you can get stronger, but it won’t be sustainable. So, if you are into strength training or bodybuilding, only use a 7 day plan for a short training cycle. You can implement a short 7 day workout plan every 6-12+ months as a way to shock your body. Just be sure to give yourself the rest you need.  

All in all, if you like to workout or be in the gym every day and staying active, but you know how and when to turn intensity up and down and can listen to your body when it’s time to rest, then you can workout 7 days a week and potentially see some great improvements in size and strength or at the very least get super lean. 

For those of you who aren't convinced yet whether working out every day is the right choice, let's go over why it could be good...

7 day workout routine


There are plenty of great benefits to getting a daily sweat session in, so let’s go over them for your consideration:

1. Avoiding the sedentary lifestyle 

Most adults spend around 70% of their waking day sitting down. This is a huge reason for the obesity problem in America (along with poor nutrition, of course).

The vast majority of American adults only take about 3,000-4,000 steps a day.

For reference, "sedentary" is considered less than 5,000 steps per day, "low active" is considered 5,000 to 7,500 steps per day, "somewhat active" is considered 7,500 to 10,000 steps per day, and "active" is anything more than 10,000 steps per day.

However, being sedentary or active doesn’t just come down to how many steps you take, it is just one effective indicator.

For reference, 1 minute of weight lifting is the equivalent to 133 steps (so 30 minutes is ~4,000 steps) and an aerobic workout is 145 steps per minute.

So, whether you workout several days a week and get your steps in on the remaining days (we’ll consider it working out everyday) or you do some form of physical activity every day and keep your steps as is, you will be out of the sedentary zone and that is going to be great for your overall health and longevity. 

2. More likely to reach your weight loss, body fat percentage, and body composition goals

By staying active every day, you will have a great improvement in your metabolism and in turn you will shed off fat and/or keep it off. With that, you will see great results in your body composition. Your muscles will be fuller and denser, your bones will be stronger, and your body fat percentage will be in the healthy range.

3. Daily Mood Boost

We all know that working out releases endorphins. That natural high after a workout is a fantastic feeling, so why not get it every day. Not only will this make you feel good right after your workout, but it helps keep stress, anxiety and depression at bay. Working out is huge for keeping good mental health, especially considering the endorphins are combined with a more positive self-image.

4. Brain Boost

Exercise has been proven to improve brain function. As long as you are keeping your workouts to a manageable level in terms of fatigue, you will see an awesome improvement in memory and problem solving ability. In the long run, keeping fit and healthy by working out can help protect you from ever-scary neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Let’s keep your brain synapses firing strong with daily physical activity.

5. Positive Health Chain Reaction 

For most people, exercising, eating healthy and sleeping right go together like Moe, Larry and Curly. When you exercise, you make a conscious decision to invest in your health, and you won’t want to ruin the hard work with unhealthy foods. Moreover, after a long day and a good workout, you are bound to get some restful sleep. In the end, people who workout tend to eat better and sleep better. And both eating healthy and sleeping well are vital for living a long, healthy, and productive life. You can thank daily exercise for this positive chain reaction. 


Really, there are only two potential downsides to working out every day.

One, if you aren’t recovering properly due to inadequate rest time, your progress can stall or even reverse. For example, if you are trying to gain muscle, but you aren’t recovering properly, you may actually lose muscle. Remember, muscle growth occurs during recovery. That said, as long as you have the right routine that allows your muscles to have adequate time to repair themselves, you can make exercising every day work for you. 

And two, you may end up with a mental and physical burnout. If you are doing high intensity workouts every day, you are going to burnout pretty quickly, both mentally and physically. It’s hard to overtrain with 4-5 days of workouts per week, but it can occur if you do intense workouts and have poor recovery habits. When overtrained, not only will your body feel fatigued and tired, your mind will too. Just like working out benefits the mind, too much of a good thing can negatively impact it too. This is why varying your workouts in terms of the muscles targeted, the type of exercise, and the intensity is so important to avoid fatigue, overtraining, and mental burnout. 


If you do decide to workout every day, you need to pay attention to what your body and mood is telling you. Here are a few signs that you are working out too much or you simply need a rest:

SERIOUS DOMS: DOMS is delayed onset muscle soreness, which is a normal part of working out. However, if your muscles are sore, you won’t want to target them during your workout, and while you could just focus on other muscles, for many exercises, those sore muscles may have no choice but to work (i.e. your shoulders during chest exercises and vice versa). More to the point of muscle soreness, if you are noticing your muscles are unusually sore, and for more than a few days, that probably means you are not recovering optimally and a rest is needed OR at the very least, you need to take a break from the weights and do something else like a jog, hike, yoga, or mobility routine. All in all, if you feel super sore all over, take a rest day or two to get back to 100. MOOD & ENERGY IS OFF: If you are feeling irritable and fatigued, you are most likely overdoing it or you just aren’t getting enough sleep, in which case you need to take a rest day. And while working out can make you feel better, mentally speaking, if the irritability is coupled with fatigue (i.e. your body feels heavy and sluggish), it is likely because of too much exercise. So, you’ll have to pay attention to what’s causing your irritability, as in some cases, like work stress, the workout can help your mood. APPETITE CHANGES: If your appetite is off, both up or down, it can be a sign that something is off. Yes, you’ll be more hungry if you workout, but if you have cravings for junk that you normally don’t, it’s probably due to poor recovery and a lack of sleep. Lack of sleep is shown to cause the hunger-stimulating hormone gherlin to increase. Conversely, overdoing it in the gym may actually reduce your normal appetite. PERFORMANCE DECLINE: If you notice your performance is declining, it’s time to take a few days or week off. Give yourself the time needed to let your body completely recover. You’ll have more appreciation for working out after the break. 


Not splitting your muscle groups and body parts correctly. Not taking sleep and diet seriously. Not altering the intensity of your workouts. Not methodically varying your workouts (i.e. weightlifting, cardio, mobility, sports, and other physical activities). NOT working up to the frequency of 7 days.

We are going to break down our plans strategically to avoid these mistake. Yet, the nutrition and sleep is on you (although we will give you some advice on that as well). 


Our 7 day workout plans work because:

We split the muscle groups appropriately to allow for optimal recovery. We alter the intensity so that you have tougher days and easier days, which will help you avoid fatigue accumulation while still achieving real results. Our goal is not just to workout for the sake of working out, we want you to see considerable results, but to do so in a sustainable manner at such a high frequency of 7 days. Similar to the aforementioned point, we provide the right variety of workouts and exercises so that you can achieve your goals without overreaching and overtraining. Our workouts are efficient, avoiding unnecessary fluff and redundancy to ensure you are right in the “Goldilocks zone” for workout durations. We implement rest periods strategically, as well as program cycles, which make working out 7 days a week actually doable. 

Ultimately, our goal is to make your fitness as well-rounded as possible.

Let us get you into the best shape of your life, fast. 

7 day workout plan


There are many ways to go about organizing a workout routine for 7 workout days per week. You could do three or four full body workouts per week, a push pull leg split, an upper lower split or a body part split, each with some form of cardio and mobility training or other physical activity mixed in so you can have tough workouts and easy workouts mixed together.

Because there are so many possible 7 day split options, we have decided to provide you various routines based on different goals and fitness levels. That way you can choose what best suits. 

Option 1: 7 Day Workout Split for Early-Intermediates (people who have been training for ~1+ years) - Upper Lower Split, 4-8 week long

Option 2: 7 Day Workout Split for Intermediates (1-2+ years of training) - Body Part Split, 4-12 weeks long.

Option 3: 7 Day Workout Split for Intermediate-Advanced (2-3+ years of training) - The Big 6 Split, 4-8 weeks long.


As an early-intermediate (or a beginner on the cusp of being an intermediate), we are going to keep the 7 day workout plan short. The duration of this plan is 4-8 weeks. Start with 4 weeks of training with this 7 day split, and then assess how you feel and your progress before continuing with another week. 

Each week you will have 4 strength training sessions, 2 cardio sessions, and 1 mobility session. The weightlifting portion of the plan is based on an upper lower split.

Here’s how the weekly schedule will look: 

Day 1: Upper Body Workout (Strength Focused) Day 2: Lower Body Workout (Strength Focused) Day 3: Cardio Day 4: Upper Body Workout (Hypertrophy Focused) Day 5: Lower Body Workout (Hypertrophy Focused) Day 6: Cardio Day 7: Mobility Workout


If you are feeling overworked, then take a day or two off and get back to the plan.** Strength focused workouts will emphasize lower rep ranges and heavier loads using compound big-bang-for-your-buck exercises. Hypertrophy focused workouts will emphasize moderate rep ranges with moderate loads using both compound and isolation exercises. Cardio workouts will vary (just don’t do the same type of cardio back to back - more on this below) If you decide to do this plan for 8 weeks, we highly recommend you take 2-4 days off after week 4 and then continue for another 4 weeks. If you really feel great, you can just power through without any rest days for 8 weeks.


On strength days, focus on getting stronger by adding a little weight each week. On hypertrophy days, focus on reaching the top of your rep ranges for all sets and the bottom of your rest time range before increasing weight load (i.e. if it’s 3x15 reps with 60-90 seconds rest, then you’d want to be around 15 reps for all three sets and 60 seconds rest before increasing the load - this allows for sustainable progression). As for cardio, don't worry about progression, as your time for cardio will be set, but you will vary cardio to keep things fresh.

Below is a guideline of the repetition spectrum based on specific training goals: 

Power: 1-3 reps using 70-95% 1RM Strength: 4-6 reps using 80-90% 1RM Hypertrophy: 8-15+ reps using 75-65% 1RM Endurance: 15+ reps using 50-60+% 1RM

Endurance will be gained in the hypertrophy range, as will hypertrophy in the strength range and vice versa. The above is simply the major emphasis of the rep range/load.

It should also be noted that certain muscle groups do better in specific rep ranges (in terms of hypertrophy) simply because of the muscle fiber slow and fast twitch ratio.

Upper Body Workout (Strength): Bench Press (BB or DB): 3-4 sets x 6-10 reps Pull Ups (Weighted if possible): 3-4 sets x 6-10 reps Seated or Standing Shoulder Press: 3-4 sets x 8-10 reps Overhand Bent Over Rows: 3-4 sets x 6-10 reps Hanging Leg Raises (or Leg Raises if you can’t): 2 sets x 6-10 reps


Do warm up sets before you get to you workout sets. Rest as long as needed between sets, but aim for 1.5-4 minutes. The goal is to lift heavy. Focus on good form and full range of motion first, heavier weights second. You can implement escalated sets, where you increase the load and decrease the reps each set, but keep within the rep range. After 2 or 4 weeks, you can switch up the order of the exercises (but leave hanging leg raises last). Lower Body Workout (Strength): Squat (ideally back squats): 5 sets x 5-8 reps Deadlifts: 5 sets x 3-6 reps Hip Thrusts: 5 sets x 6-10 reps


Do warm up sets before you get to you workout sets. Rest as long as needed between sets, but aim for 1.5-4 minutes. The goal is to lift heavy. Focus on good form and full range of motion first, heavier weights second. You can implement escalated sets, where you increase the load and decrease the reps each set, but keep within the rep range. After 4 weeks, you can switch up the order of squats and deadlifts, putting deadlifts first. Cardio Workout #1:

Choose jogging, cycling, or rowing. The goal is to do low intensity long duration cardio, which means after your cardio session you should be comfortably tired, not exhausted lying in a pile of sweat on the floor, or in other words, aim for 60-75% of your max heart rate consistently for the length of the cardio session.

Length of time: 30-45 minutes (up to as much as 60 minutes is ok, no more than that). 

If you play a sport, you can also opt to do that sport on this day (i.e. pick up basketball game). However, an intense game can end up being too taxing on the body, so proceed with caution. 

Upper Body Workout (Hypertrophy): Arnold Presses: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (30-90 seconds rest) Seated Underhand Rows: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (30-90 seconds rest) Incline DB Bench Press (or Decline Push Ups): 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (30-90 seconds rest) Close Grip Pull Down: 2 sets x 10-15 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Cable Chest Fly (middle): 2 sets x 10-15 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Lateral Raises: 2 sets x 15-20 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Rear Delt Fly: 2 sets x 15-20 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Trap Raises: 2 sets x 15-20 reps (30-90 seconds rest)


Focus on full range and time under tension. Don’t speed through reps with poor form. You can switch up the order of exercises 1-4 each week. You can also switch up exercises 5-8 each week. Leave the core exercises for the end, and if you’d like you can change up what core exercise you do.  Lower Body Workout (Hypertrophy): Leg Press: 2-3 sets x 15-20 reps (30-60 seconds rest) RDL: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (30-90 seconds rest) Split Squats: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (30-90 seconds rest) Leg Curls: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Leg Extensions: 2 sets x 15-20 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Standing Calf Raises: 2 sets x 15-20 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Seated Calf Raises: 2 sets x 15-20 reps (30-60 seconds rest) Planks x Side Planks: 2 sets x 30 seconds each (30-60 seconds rest)  Cardio Workout #2:

Same rules apply as the previous cardio workout, but choose a different medium (i.e. if you ran on a treadmill for cardio workout #1, then do cycling for cardio workout #2). 

Mobility Workout:

You are going to do a full body mobility routine to end the week. This is essentially an active recovery day.

Mobility training is going to give you a greater joint range of motion and freedom of movement, decrease your risk of injury, reduce muscle tension and soreness, improve your posture and movement efficiency, and increase your overall coordination and energy levels. 

Here are three full body mobility routines that you can choose from: 

10 Minute Full Body Follow Along Mobility Routine 14 Minute Full Body Follow Along Mobility Routine  10 Minute Full Body Follow Along Mobility Routine 

Note: You’ll notice the mobility routines are labeled as warm ups/decompressions in Youtube, but they are in fact mobility routines and perfect for this active yet low intensity day focused on mobility and flexibility. You can switch up which one you do each week.

Feel free to do some more specific static stretches after the routine as well. For example, if your legs feel particularly tight during the mobility routine, pick a few different static stretches for your legs.


Working out 7 days a week is already hard on the nervous system, so HIIT is typically better for workout splits with lower frequency. That said, 4 days of weight lifting per week can work with HIIT. Essentially, you can replace one of your cardio days with HIIT. HIIT workouts are efficient and effective, so they are a good option on days where you are short on time. A 10-15 minute HIIT workout can be just as effective in terms of fat loss as a 30-40 minute low intensity cardio session since HIIT provides the afterburn affect, which essentially means you’ll be a higher amount of burning calories at rest long after the workout is over.

All that said, only do HIIT when you really feel up to it, as if you do a super intense HIIT workout, it can throw off your routine considering your body will need time to recover.


If you are an intermediate lifter (been lifting for more than 1-2 years), the duration of this plan can be 4-12 weeks. It’s up to you how you feel.

Each week you will have 5 strength training sessions with the option of 2 cardio sessions or 1 cardio and 1 mobility session.

In regards to the split, we are going to be using a body part split because it will be medium intensity, which is going to help you sustain this high frequency of weightlifting. 

The focus on this 7 day workout plan is hypertrophy without fat gain. However, strength gains should also occur as we are going to include some strength sets into your routine.

For reference, here are the rep ranges and load spectrums that you will be working in:

Power: 1-3 reps using 70-95% 1RM Strength: 4-6 reps using 80-90% 1RM Hypertrophy: 8-15+ reps using 75-65% 1RM Endurance: 15+ reps using 50-60+% 1RM 

Note: The above is simply the major emphasis, as strength and size can be gained in any rep range. It should also be noted that certain muscle groups do better in specific ranges (in terms of hypertrophy) simply because of the muscle fiber slow and fast twitch ratio. 

Here’s how the weekly schedule will look:

Day 1: Chest Workout Day 2: Back Workout Day 3: Arm & Ab Workout Day 4: Cardio/Aerobic Class or Mobility Workout Day 5: Shoulder Workout Day 6: Leg Workout Day 7: Cardio or Mobility

While you will only be targeting your muscle groups once a week, they will be high volume workouts. Moreover, there will be some crossover of muscles, so many muscles will be worked more than once per week. For example, you will do deadlifts on back day, which of course is also a posterior leg exercise.

Be sure to keep the routine in this order as it is designed for optimal recovery of agonist muscle groups (muscle groups that work together for compound exercises/movements).


Do at least one cardio workout each week. However, some weeks can be two times cardio and one time mobility. Remember, strength training if done with a proper range of motion is a form of dynamic stretching, so mobility and flexibility training can be implemented for days where you feel somewhat tired and need something easy and/or if you are feeling tight. 

Be sure to switch up your form of cardio each session or week. You can rotate between something like jogging, cycling, elliptical, rowing, etc. The goal is to do low intensity long duration cardio (30-60 minutes). This will keep you in the fat burning zone. 

Other options for cardio are a fun sport you like or hiking or even a short HIIT session.

Related: Non-Running Cardio Workouts

As for mobility routines, here are three 10-15 minute full body mobility routines you can follow:

You can also do a Yoga class if your gym has them! But yoga can be quite challenging!


We will be using different rep ranges, but the major focus is on hypertrophy.

In regards to progression, the following should be implemented in order: range of motion, tempo/time under tension, maximizing rep range, decreasing rest time, and finally increasing weight load. If you feel your workouts are too easy, you can increase the weight load the following week. Ideally, each week your workouts should be just as hard as the last, but not because you are overtraining or not improving, but simply because you are making them a little more difficult each week. If you were to keep the same exact rep ranges, rest times and loads, your workouts would become easier, and you can’t progress like that.

Assuming your range of motion is optimal...A logical progression would look like this (using bench press as an example):

Week 1: Set 1 at 15 reps, Set 2 and 13 reps, Set 3 at 12 reps with 70% 1RM and 90 seconds rest time between sets Week 2: Set 1 at 15 reps, Set 2 at 15 reps, Set 3 at 15 reps with 70% 1RM and 90 seconds rest time between sets It's time to decrease rest time to the bottom of the range Week 3: Set 1 at 15 reps, Set 2 at 12 reps, Set 3 at 11 reps with 70% 1RM and 60 second rest time between sets Week 4: Set 1 at 15 reps, Set 2 at 15 reps, Set 3 at 15 reps with 70% 1RM and 60 seconds rest time between sets It's time to increase weight load (i.e. by 5-10lbs)

This is just a quick example, and may not be this perfect (for example, you may want to jump from 90 seconds rest to 75 seconds), but either way it shows how to make your workouts a little more difficult each week for sustainable progression and thus overload.

Another option you have is to increase the total volume over time by adding more sets. For example, on week 4, you could increase some exercises from 2 sets to 3 sets or 3 sets to 4 sets if you feel that exercise needs more volume. 

Now, let’s get into the workouts. 

Chest Workout: Flat Bench Press (BB or DB): 3 sets x 6-10 reps Incline Bench Press (BB or DB): 3 sets x 8-12 reps Chest Dips: 3 sets x 10-15 reps Cable Fly Low to High: 2 sets x 10-15 reps Cable Fly High to Low: 2 sets x 10-15 reps Cable Fly (Middle) or Dumbbell Fly (flat): 2 sets x 10-15 reps Push Ups: 1 set x max rep burnout

Rest time: 60-90 seconds between sets and exercises

Back Workout: Deadlifts: 3 sets x 3-6 reps Pull Ups or Chin Ups (weighted if possible): 3 sets x 6-10 reps Overhand Bent Over BB Rows: 3 sets x 8-12 reps T-Bar Rows or Close Grip Seated Rows: 2 sets x 10-15 reps Rear Delt Fly: 2 sets x 15-20 reps Face Pulls: 2 sets x 10-15 reps Single Arm Farmer’s Carry: 2 sets x 30-60 yards (meters) each side 

Rest time: 60-90 seconds between sets and exercises 

Arm & Ab Workout: Barbell Bicep Curl: 3 sets x 6-10 reps Hammer Curl: 3 sets 8-12 reps Reverse Curl: 3 sets x 10-15 reps Close Grip Bench Press: 3 sets x 8-12 reps Tricep Pushdowns: 3 sets x 10-15 reps Tricep Overhead Extensions: 3 sets x 10-15 reps Hanging Leg Raises: 2 sets x 6-10 reps Plank: 2 sets x 30-60 seconds Side Plank 2 sets x 30-60 seconds

Rest time: 30-60 seconds

Feel free to change up your core exercises each week. Here are some of our favorite core exercises: 

Shoulder Workout: Standing or Seated Overhead Press: 3 sets x 8-12 reps Arnold Press: 3 sets x 10-15 reps Lateral Raises: 3 sets x 15-20 reps Plate Front Raise with Twist: 3 sets x 10-15 reps Trap Raises: 3 sets x 15-20 reps Wall Handstands: 2 sets x max hold

Rest time: 30-90 seconds

Leg Workout: Back Squats: 3 sets x 6-10 reps Split Squats: 3 sets x 8-12 reps each side RDL: 3 sets x 8-12 reps Hip Thrusts or Glute Bridges: 3 sets x 8-12 reps Leg Extensions x Leg Curls: 3 sets x 10-15 reps Standing or Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets x 15-20 reps  3. ADVANCED 7 DAY WORKOUT SPLIT

This advanced routine can also work for intermediates. We think this 7 day workout plan is a very interesting and creative approach to working out every day. You can run this plan for 4-8 weeks to see how it works for you.

This plan is designed to build strength and muscle. It focuses on the 6 most fundamental human movements (horizontal push, horizontal pull, vertical push, vertical pull, squats, hip hinges) and core/rotation will be added in where appropriate. 

To best explain it, let us first show you the 7 days routine:

Day 1: Bench Press Day Day 2: Squat Day Day 3: Pull Up Day Day 4: Accessory Day Day 5: Deadlift Day Day 6: Overhead Press Day Day 7: Bent Over Row Day

As an intermediate-advanced trainee, we won’t be breaking down an exact plan for you (meaning every single exercise), as this plan allows for variety. But we will give you the essential information.

The basic principle is this: Each day focuses on one main lift, and thus attempts to build strength in that lift and basically kill the muscles associated with that lift. With that, based on the big 6 exercises we’ve chosen, you will essentially be hitting each muscle group twice a week (at least to some degree, with one day having certain muscle groups as the major emphasis). 

As for Accessory Days, it involves accessory lifts, which can be smaller compound movements and isolation exercises to hit specific muscles that need more attention, such as your side delts, triceps, biceps, etc. Whatever muscles you feel are lagging for you specifically.

The order of the routine is strategic, as you obviously don’t want to do squats and deadlifts back to back or bench press and overhead press back to back or pull ups and bent over rows back to back. That said, you can change up the order of the days, but keep this same strategy in mind as it will allow you to put the best energy into each day and recover properly.

Notes before starting:

Exercise 1 and 2 will be the same exercise except on Pull Up Day. The difference is that you are changing the rep range and upping the load. Essentially, the first group of sets for the exercise will be hypertrophy-strength and the second sets of the exercise will be strength-hypertrophy.  Work up in weight each set. When you reach the second group of sets, you can do as many sets in that rep range as you feel comfortable with or until you have killed the muscles for that exercise (for a lack of a better word). However, you can switch things up on some weeks too by doing more sets in the hypertrophy-strength range rather than the strength-hypertrophy range. We strategically chose the rep ranges for each day. Certain muscle groups need different rep ranges/loads. 

So, let’s look at how each workout day looks...

Bench Press Day 

On bench press day, you have two options that you can do, flat bench or incline bench (slight incline 15˚). You can also alternate between using dumbbells and barbell. 

At Home Alternative Exercise: Push Ups 

Obviously the major focus of this workout is bench press. 

Bench Press: 5 sets x 10-15 reps at 65-75% 1RM Bench Press: 5-10 sets x 5-10 reps at 80-90% 1RM Horizontal Pushing Exercises: 2-3 sets x 8-20 reps Horizontal Pushing Exercise: 2-3 sets x 8-20 reps

As for exercises 3 and 4, you can choose any horizontal pushing exercise you’d like on that day, such as cable flys, dumbbell flys, decline presses, push ups, and so on. If your chest is really wiped out, you can just do one exercise rather than two or you can do none at all. 

Related: Complete Guide to the Bench Press

Squat Day 

We highly recommend sticking with barbell back squats for the duration of this plan. However, if you have some limitations, you can perform another quad dominant movement in its place.

At Home Alternative Exercise: Bodyweight Squats (i.e. Air Squats or Jump Squats)

Back Squats: 5 sets x 8-15 reps at 60-80% 1RM Back Squats: 5-10 sets x 3-8 reps at 80-90% 1RM Quad Dominant Exercises (i.e. Lunges, Split Squats, Leg Press, Hack Squats): 2-3 sets x 10-20 reps 

Related: Complete Guide to the Squat

Pull Up Day

For pull up day, you will be doing various types of pull ups. Essentially, you want to mix up your sets with pull ups, chin ups, and neutral grip pull ups. Moreover, you can alter grip width.

If you can, work in weighted sets as well.

At Home Alternative Exercise: If you have a pull up bar, the same exercises apply. However, for those who don’t have a pull up bar, get yourself to a park or somewhere that has a pull up bar. Every community should have one. 

Pull Ups: 5 sets x 5-10 reps Chin Ups: 5 sets x 5-10 reps Neutral Grip Pull Ups: 5 sets x 5-10 reps 


Start with the more difficult exercise (wide grip pull ups) and weighted sets (after warming up) and work your way to bodyweight only sets. Performing a quick core workout (preferably with some rotational exercises) after your 15 sets is optional.

Related: Pull Ups vs Chin Ups Muscles Worked

Accessory Day 

An accessory day is totally up to you. You’ll have to see which areas of your body you want to work on. The beauty of this plan is all the other days are made up of the big 6 compound lifts which hit all 6 fundamental movements (horizontal pulls, horizontal pushes, vertical pulls, vertical pushes, quad dominant, hip/hamstring dominant).

As such, we like to do smaller compound exercises and isolation exercises for areas that may need a little more attention for growth. This may be a good day to do a little core work too.

An example workout is as follows:

Cable Lateral Raises: 3 sets x 15-20 reps Bicep Curls: 3 sets x 15-20 reps Tricep Kickbacks: 3 sets x 15-20 reps Trap Raises: 3 sets x 15-20 reps Calf Raises: 3 sets x 15-20 reps Rear Delt Flys: 3 sets x 15-20 reps

You’d be using relatively lightweight here and focus on time under tension. 

Alternatively, you can take a break from weightlifting and have a cardio day.

Deadlift Day 

The primary exercise is the standard barbell deadlift. Deadlifts show best results when performed in relatively low rep ranges with heavy loads, so you will notice the lowest rep ranges on Deadlift Day.

At Home Alternative Exercise: Glute Bridges/Hip Thrusts & Nordic Ham Curls

BB Deadlift: 5 sets x 6-10 reps at 65-80% 1RM BB Deadlift: 5-10 sets x 1-5 reps at 80-95% 1RM Hip/Hamstring Dominant Exercise (i.e. RDLs, Hip Thrusts or even Leg Curls): 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps 

Related: Complete Guide to the Deadlift

Overhead Press Day

For this, we recommend the standard overhand grip overhead shoulder press (aka OHP) However, you can alternate between standing and seated overhead presses. You can also alternate between using dumbbells or a barbell.

At Home Alternative Exercise: Pike Push Ups 

OHP: 5 sets x 15-20 reps OHP: 5-10 sets x 10-15 reps


Another interesting option for shoulders specifically is to do something like:

20 sets x 20 reps with 30-60 seconds between sets using the same weight (only going down in weight truly if needed). 

You’ll be sore as heck after this kind of high volume low rest shoulder workout. We only recommend this for Overhead Press Day because of the anatomy of the deltoids. Something like this would not be ideal for deadlifts (although it could potentially be effective for bench press, squats, and row days, which you can test out).

Notes: Performing some core workout after your sets is optional. 

Related: Complete Guide to the Overhead Press

Bent Over Row Day

This day is all about the best possible horizontal pull exercise, the BENT OVER ROW. 

With this one, you can alternate each week by doing different variations, such as overhand bent over rows, underhand bent over rows, Pendlay rows or Yates rows.

At Home Alternative Exercise: Inverted row 

Bent Over Row: 5-10 sets x 12-15 reps Bent Over Rows: 5-10 sets x 6-12 reps 


You can change up the type of bent over row each week. If your total sets for this day are on the lower end (i.e. 10-15 sets) and you feel like you need more, then you can add another horizontal pull after your bent over rows, such as single arm rows, seated rows, or t-bar rows. 


As you can see, this plan does not include cardio. However, if cardio is important to you, you can add 20-30 minutes of cardio a 2-3 times per week. Some of these workouts will be only 30 minutes long, so you can do some incline walking or light jogging after on a treadmill or you can take a nice brisk walk outside after. Alternatively, you could do a little cardio in the morning a couple times a week or replace an accessory day with a cardio day.

7 day workout plan gym


For all three 7 day workout plans above, if your body is feeling fatigued and performance is dropping, then take the rest you need. You can take 1-7 days off and then get back to the plan. Listen to your body and rest when needed (even if it’s just one day off and then you continue where you left off). 


Be sure to do dynamic warm ups before lifting weights. 3-5 minutes of dynamic stretching and 3-5 minutes of light cardio is good, then do as many warm up sets as you need. 


We aren’t going to break down a complete plan like the one above, but as we said, there are plenty of ways to go about working out everyday. 

Here is a prime example for someone who wants to get lean and athletic.

Day 1: Full Body Workout Day 2: HIIT Sprints Day 3: Mobility Training Day 4: Full Body Workout Day 5: Cardio Day 6: Agility Drills & Plyometrics Repeat


Day 1: Full Body Day 2: HIIT Day 3: Mobility Day 4: Lower Body Day 5: Upper Body Day 6: HIIT or Cardio Day 7: Mobility

The options are plentiful. Work on what you desire to improve at or what you find fun. 


Any sport (i.e. basketball, tennis, golf!) Boxing classes Aerobic classes Yoga Spinning Hiking NUTRITION & RECOVERY TIPS: Aim to get 8 hours of good sleep per night. Fuel your body with plenty of food, using a well-rounded macro diet. If you want to lose weight, then aim for just slightly below maintenance level and if you want to build muscle then go around ~500 calories above. If your diet is not on point, it’s going to be hard to workout 7 days a week for any decent period of time. Best supplements to take for working out everyday are protein powder, creatine, L-glutamine, and BCAAs (although protein usually includes BCAAs). Drink lots of water. 


If you think you are ready for a 7 day workout plan, then give it a go. But again, only start this if you are at an appropriate fitness level and don’t go from not working out at all to working out every day. Work your way up to a 7 day training split. Moreover, we don’t recommend it year round unless you really know when and how to implement rest periods.

Have questions about working out everyday? Feel free to reach out to us by email.

7 day exercise plan

- Kiel DiGiovanni
21 Best Weight Bench Ab Exercises (Plus a Workout)

When was the last time you used a weight bench for ab exercises? You’d be surprised in how many ways you can use a bench to do a variety of ab exercises that hit the major muscles of the abdomen. You might as well get some ab work in between sets if you’re already using the bench. In this post we’ll cover the abdominal muscles, benefits of ab exercises, then we'll show you 21 of the best bench abs exercises plus a sample ab bench workout that you can incorporate into your training.

ab workout on bench What are the abdominal muscles and their functions?

The major muscles in the abdomen are the rectus abdominis which runs vertically in the center A.K.A the six-pack muscle, the transverse abdominis that wraps up the trunk of the body and the obliques that run along the side of the abdomen. These abdominal muscles have different functions and purposes that are covered below.

Transverse Abdominis: The transverse abdominis sometimes called the transverse abdominal or abbreviated as TVA are the deepest muscles found in the abdomen region. The transverse abdominis gets its name from the way in which the muscle fibers are situated in a horizontal alignment. You can think of the transverse abdominis as something like a corset that wraps around your abdomen and is responsible for tensing the abdominal wall, stabilizing the pelvis and lumbar spine and to hold the internal organs of the abdomen.

The transverse abdominis is one of the most important muscles in the core. Without the stability produced by the transverse abdominis we wouldn’t be able to move our limbs, women would have trouble giving birth and our stomachs would protrude from our bodies. The TVA is also thought to help with lifting heavy weights as it braces the core.

Obliques: The obliques are comprised of the internal and external oblique muscles. Even though they share a name they have somewhat different functions in the body. These muscles make up 2/3 of the muscle layers that surround the abdominal wall while the transverse abdominis makes up the last third. Now, let’s have a look at both obliques and what their functions are below.

Internal Oblique: The internal obliques are thin sheets of muscle on both sides of the abdomen area beneath and perpendicular to the external obliques. There are three types of muscle fibers in the internal obliques; the posterior, anterior and lateral fibers dictated by the origin.

The internal oblique has multiple functions in the body including supporting the rotation and bending of the trunk, counteract the diaphragm to reduce upper chest volume while exhaling and helps to maintain abdominal wall tension. When contracting both internal obliques pressure is increase in the abdomen which results in bodily functions such as forced breathing, defecation and urination. It’s important to note that weak internal obliques can increase the chances of suffering from abdominal hernias.

External Oblique: As you could’ve guessed the external oblique is situated on the outside on either side of the trunk. The external oblique muscle starts at the lower ribs and extends to the pelvis. It helps to form the lateral part of the abdominal wall. The function of the external oblique is to assist with movements such as twisting the trunk, rotating the spine and bringing the chest downwards.

Many core muscles work together to move our bodies through various planes of motion and the external oblique is no exception. If contracted on both sides the external obliques assist in bending forward along with other bodily functions like defecation, urinating forced exhalation and child birth. When the external oblique contracts on one side in concert with the internal oblique it leads to rotation of the trunk towards the opposite side. Lastly, the external oblique and the back work together to bend the torso sideways.

Rectus Abdominis: The rectus abdominis is the abdominal muscle that gets the most attention and praise because it is the 6-pack muscle that people desperately try to achieve. When people think of abs this is the muscle that they’re thinking about. Located in the front of the abdominal wall this muscle is only visible at low body fat percentage. It starts at the rib cage and extends down to the pubic bone. The rectus abdominis and the pyramidialis muscle comprise the anterior abdominal muscles. The rectus abdominis is a paired muscle (runs on both sides vertically) that is divided in the middle by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba. The linea semilunaris separates the rectus abdominis on the outside edges from the obliques. The 3 lateral lines that divide the rectus abdominis into the 6-pack are the tendinous intersections.

The primary function of the rectus abdominis is flexion of the trunk but it also assists with stabilization and controlling the tilt of the pelvis. And like the other abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominis helps with the bodily functions of urination, defecation and forced breathing.

Are benches good for ab exercises?

Yes, benches are good for abs depending on the type of bench. The flat bench, adjustable bench or ab bench would be the best for performing ab exercises or workouts. Also, some Olympic benches allow for ab exercises but definitely not all of them. Let’s have a look at the different kinds of benches and their functionalities.

Flat Bench

This is the most common bench you’d find in a gym. This is simply a flat bench without any attachments or functionalities other than being a flat surface to do multiple exercises on. With the flat bench you can work every muscle group in the body. This can be a great tool to implement some ab exercises, which we will get into later on.

Olympic Weight Bench

These benches usually are a little wider and longer to accommodate larger more muscular people. Olympic weight benches can come with a variety of attachments such as a bench press rack, squat rack, knee pads to lock legs into place for ab exercises or for leg extensions and more. Olympic weight benches can allow for some ab exercises depending on the make and model.

Preacher Curl Bench

This is used for preacher curls or other bicep exercises mainly and doesn’t offer much of a utility for anything else.

Ab Bench

This is a bench that is made for ab exercises but can also be used for strength training exercises such as decline bench press. Ab benches of different functionalities with some able to become a flat bench, incline bench or decline bench. Ab benches with have knee rollers to lock your legs into place when doing ab exercises if called for.

Adjustable Bench

The adjustable bench is similar to the flat bench except if has the added capability of adjusting the angle to form a decline or incline bench. These adjustable benches come in all sorts of designs but will usually have a seat portion of the bench then you can pull a pin to adjust the height and angle of the other portion of the bench. Some of these adjustable benches are only able offer flat bench and incline bench while some you can turn into flat, decline and incline. The adjustable bench offers many possibilities when it comes to ab exercises.

What’s the best Ab exercise for a 6-pack?

The best ab exercises for a 6-pack will directly target the rectus abdominis. In this study American Council on Exercise (ACE) sponsored research to compare 13 of the most common ab exercises to determine which were the most effective through EMG data of the rectus abdominis and the obliques. The results showed that the bicycle crunch exercise, knee raise on a Captain’s Chair, and crunches on the exercise ball ranked the best three in that order for activation of the rectus abdominis.

The top three exercises for the obliques were the Captain’s Chair, bicycle crunch and reverse crunch. Needless to say there are plenty more ab exercises, variations and exercises with equipment that weren’t tested. However, what we do know from this study is that a variety of ab exercises that put constant tension of the ab muscles are the most effective. People’s bodies tend to respond differently to exercises so you should experiment with some of the different bench ab exercises to see what works best for you.

Related: Abs Explained: Can You Have A 10 Pack?

Can Planks Give you a 6-pack?

Planks alone won’t necessarily give lead to building a six-pack. However, planks can definitely help in getting you to a building a six pack if you combine with other ab exercises, compound lifts and proper diet. Planks alone can help to boost stability, flatten and tighten the abdominal area. They’re also great because besides just working the core, planks are somewhat of a full body exercise as they engage your glutes, thighs, back and shoulders.

Related: 29 Best Plank Exercises for Core Strength & Stability

Can I do ab exercises every day?

Abs unlike other muscles in the body can be trained at least 3-5 days a week or you can train them daily. The reason why you can train your abs with a higher frequency is because we use these muscles in our every day life so it’s hard to get them fatigued to a point where they need an extra 24 hours to recover. By training the abs you’re also counterbalancing the tightening of the hip flexors and lower back muscles. It’s unlikely you’ll over-train your abs with just bodyweight alone. If you want to try to build thicker abs you’ll need to add some type of resistance then follow the process of progressive overload.

Benefits Of Abs Exercises

Besides looking great, strong abs offer a number of benefits. Here's a sampling of some of the most common benefits of performing ab exercises.

Strengthen The Core: The ab muscles make a good portion of the core muscles so when you perform ab exercises you will be adding to your core’s overall strength. A strong core is necessary for every day life activities plus it will help to reduce your chances of experiencing lower back pain.

Movements that you perform in daily life such as vacuuming, shoveling, raking, picking things up, putting things away, bending, twisting, standing up/sitting down from a chair are all motions that require the abs to be engaged. Strong abs help to make all these activities easier to do. Functional strength starts in the core so if you want to move through life effortlessly and worry free of injuries while doing normal every day tasks then you should spend some time doing ab exercises.

Reduce Back Pain: Weak ab muscles lead to your lower back muscles having to compensate for them and thus have to work harder to support your trunk. The ab muscles and lower back muscles have a close relationship so it works both ways. Weak abs can lead to lower back fatigue which in turn can exacerbate back pain or increase your chances of straining the lower back. Strong ab muscles can help to control anterior tilt of the pelvis. In the situation where the pelvis is tilted, too much pressure can build up on the discs in the lower back so it’s important to keep a balance here to relieve the pressure. Lastly, strong abs can actually help lessen back pain if you’re already suffering from it.

Related: 5 Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Improve Athletic Performance: The ab muscles enable us to move our trunk through various planes of motion. Many sports require movements where you’ll be bending, twisting and rotating at the core, this is where your ab muscles come into play.If you have healthy, strong abs you’ll be able to perform better all around. Ab muscles are partly responsible for the capability of creating efficient movement of the limbs as stronger muscles equal more stabilization in the center of the body.

Promote Good Posture: One of the functions of the abs is to keep the core of the body stabilized and upright, working in tandem with the spine. Slouching and poor posture is plaguing present day society due to sedentary lifestyles. This poor posture can lead to back pain, one way to turn this trend around is to strengthen the ab muscles which can help improve posture enabling you to stand up taller. You will feel better and look better with better posture.

Enhance Balance & Coordination: The ab muscles work with other muscles such as the pelvis, hips and lower back muscles to keep you upright and stable. Strong abs mean better stability. The body needs to constantly readjust itself to refrain from leaning or swaying so whether you’re walking on uneven ground or doing some dynamic exercises that require you to move in multiple directions, strong abs make this easier to execute.

Boost Confidence: Let’s be honest here, a flat strong stomach looks good on both men and women. While not everyone has the dedication, desire and genes to get a ripped six-pack, a flat stomach is an attainable endeavor. Ab exercises don’t necessarily make you lose fat in the abdominal area but they can help to tighten up the stomach area. Also as explained above, strong abs will have you standing taller with better posture which leads to more confidence.

Improved Breathing Control: The ab muscles are directly responsible for forced breathing. Breathe easy with stronger abs muscles. The abs keep your internal organs in the proper position to encourage efficient breathing. The breathing muscles of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles have a symbiotic relationship with the ab muscles so you should work on strengthening both. There have been some amazing results for controlled breath work such reducing resting heart rate and lowering stress.

Enhance Lifts: When bracing for heavy lifts such as deadlifts, squats and overhead press, the ab muscles play an important role to stabilize the body allowing you to complete the lift. You can lift more weight and mitigate the risk of injuring yourself by developing strong abs. Think of your core as the foundation of your temple, if you want to build a strong temple you must reinforce the foundation.

Better Protect Organs & Nervous System: The ab muscles act as somewhat of a shield that brace and protect some of our vital organs and the central nervous system. When you build the ab muscles, you’re essentially making this fortification stronger and thicker. This added protection is good for overall well-being.

21 Best Weight Bench Ab Exercises

Below are 21 ab exercises and variations that can be done with the help of a bench. These exercises will help you build a strong core, let's get into them!

1. Bench Crunch

The bench crunch is an easier variation of the crunch because you don’t have to suspend your legs in the air. You’re able to use the bench as a crutch so you can purely focus on the contraction of the abdominal muscles.

bench crunch

How To:

Lie down on the bench Bring your hands up behind your head then clasp your fingers together If your bench has the leg holders then bring your legs up into position. If you’re using a simple flat bench then bring your legs up with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your lower legs are parallel with the bench Crunch your body up by contracting your abs but keep your lower back in constant contact with the floor Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired number of reps

Note: Don’t pull up with your hands on the back of your head, use only your ab muscles to crunch your body up towards your legs.

2. Weighted Floor Crunch

This is the same movement as the bench crunch except for the added resistance. You can hold a weight plate, dumbbell or kettlebell. Follow the same cues from the crunch except you'll have the weight behind your head, try not to strain you neck in this position.

weighted crunch

3. Crunch Hold

The crunch hold is the same exercise as the bench crunch expect for the fact you will be pausing at the top of the movement to get the benefits of an isometric exercise. This version of the crunch puts constant tension on the abs muscles. Try to watch the clock on this one so that you know if you’re making progress in holding the crunched position for longer times as you progress.

crunch hold

How To:

Lie down on the floor perpendicular to the bench Lift your legs up then place your calves on the bench Bring your hands up behind your head then clasp your fingers together Crunch your body up by contracting your abs but keep your lower back in constant contact with the ground. Hold at the top of the movement for as long as possible Slowly lower to starting position Repeat desired reps

Note: Use only your ab muscles to hold yourself in the crunch position.

4. Oblique Crunch

The oblique crunch is a variation of a crunch that engages the obliques to help lift and bend your upper body towards one side. Since bending and twisting are a common place in every day life it’s good to mix in some oblique centric exercises into your ab workout.

oblique crunch

How To:

Lie down on the floor perpendicular to the bench Lift your legs up then place your calves on the bench Bring your hands up behind your head then clasp your fingers together Crunch your body up by contracting your obliques then rotating the trunk so that your elbow points towards your opposite knee but keep your lower back in constant contact with the ground. Slowly lower to starting position Repeat desired reps alternating to each side

Note: Focus on squeezing your obliques at the top of the movement.

5. Decline Crunch

Like the previous ab exercise you’ll need a bench that can be sat at a decline for the decline crunch. This version of a crunch is more challenging than a regular crunch as you’ll be lifting your upper body up at an angle therefore putting more stress on your rectus abdominis.

decline crunch

How To:

Get into position on the ab bench with your feet looked into place and your back against the bench Bring your hands together behind your head Crunch your body up towards your feet while maintaining contact with your lower back to the bench Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Focus on the contraction of your abs to bring your upper body up towards your feet.

6. Decline Bent Leg Reverse Crunch

You’ll need a bench that can be set up with a decline to perform this exercise. The decline bent leg reverse crunch targets the lower abs and is made more difficult by performing it on a decline bench where you’ll have to expend more power to lift your legs towards your chest compared with doing a bent leg reverse crunch on a flat surface.

bent leg reverse crunch

How To:

Lie down on decline bench with your head towards the top then reach behind you to the sides and grab the bench so that your elbows are pointing towards the ceiling Keeping your legs together, bend your knees at 90 degrees Crunch your knees up towards your head while keeping your upper back in contact with the bench Slowly lower to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Don’t use your momentum to swing your legs up, move with purpose in a slow and controlled manner.

7. Decline Sit Up

The decline sit up is the next step up in difficulty from a regular sit up because you’re moving through a wider range of motion and going against gravity. The body position of a decline sit up works more muscles than just the core and increases spinal flexion. In this version having your arms up straight add an extra challenge as you’ll be using upper body and lower body muscles at the same time.

decline sit up

How To:

Set up the bench on a 30-45 degree decline Get into position on the bench with your knees bent and feet locked in Raise your arms straight up towards the ceiling Lift your torso up towards your feet while keeping your back straight until you’re sitting upright Slowly lower down to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Don’t round the back like you would with a crunch, this motion requires you to keep your back straight.

8. Decline Twisting Sit Up

This version of the decline sit up adds and extra layer of complexity as you’ll rotate the trunk. This extra movement within the decline sit up works your transverse abdominis and obliques as you’re moving through the transverse plane of motion. Most people don’t include enough of these rotating movements in their workouts so we highly recommend that you make more of an effort to do transverse exercises to strengthen the core.

decline twisting sit up

Set up the bench on a 30-45 degree decline Get into position on the bench with your knees bent and feet locked in Clasp your hands behind your head Lift your torso up towards your feet while rotating at the trunk and crunching down with your albow poiting across your body Slowly lower down to starting position Repeat for desired reps alternating the rotation to each side

Note: Make sure to stress the cross body rotating movement to activate your obliques.

Here is an easier modification of the previous exercise because you're on the floor resulting in a lower range of motion.

Twist Sit Up

Twisting bench Sit Up

9. Reverse Crunch on Flat Bench

The reverse crunch on a bench is a great exercise to work the ab muscles without putting much tension on your spine or neck. All in all a perfect exercise to hit the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and external obliques.

flat bench leg pull in

How To:

Lie down on your back on a bench with your arms next to your sides and legs straight in front of you hanging off of the bench Pull your legs in and contract your abs while tucking your knees up towards your chest as you exhale until your butt is lifted off the bench Slowly return to starting position by reversing this motion Repeat for desired reps

Note: Pay attention to contract your abs at the top of the movement.

Below is the harder variation of the reverse crunch because you're fighting against gravity and adding a larger range of motion...

Decline Reverse Crunch

decline bench reverse crunch

10. Incline Leg Hip Raise

Blast the rectus abdominis with this exercise. Besides working the core muscles, your hips and leg muscles are also activated. If you really want a challenge, try to lower your legs from the top position to starting position while counting to 10.



Incline leg hip raise

 How To:

Lie down on a decline bench with your head towards, legs straightened out below you then top then grab both sides of the bench Slightly bend knees and lift legs so that your feet are pointing towards the ceiling Lift your butt off the bench while exhaling and push feet upwards so that your feet are above your head Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Move in a slow and controlled manner as you raise your legs and lower them.

11. Leg Bench Side Bridge

This side bridge with your feet elevated on a bench with get those obliques and spinal stabilizers working extra hard so that your hips don’t drop towards the floor. This exercise will train the quadratus lumborum which is a deep back muscle that provides stability to the spine. Last but not least, the hip abductor also is engaged in this exercise.

elevated leg side plank

How To:

Lie down on your side perpendicular to the bench Bring your legs up on the bench so that your lower leg’s ankle is in contact with the bench Brace yourself with your elbow and forearm on the ground directly under your shoulder with your hand pointing away from you. Keep your body in a straight line and hold this position for desired time Repeat for desired reps on both sides equally

Note: To make this exercise easier you and move closer towards the bench so that more of your legs are on the bench which reduces the stress on your muscles.

12. Elevated Side Plank

This plank variation is a killer oblique exercise. Besides just working the obliques, you’ll also be hitting the shoulders and hips to keep your body in a straight line. The side plank is a great core exercise that doesn’t put any pressure on your lower back plus it activates the quadratus lumborum a spinal stabilizer muscle. Overall, the side plank requires core strength, coordination and balance making it an awesome ab exercise.

elevated side plank

How To:

Stand to the side of a bench then place your closest arm’s elbow on the bench so that it’s under your shoulder Extend your legs so that your body is in a straight line, keep your core engaged and your hips up the whole time Hold this position for desired time Repeat desired number of reps Switch sides

Note: Don’t let your hip sag towards the floor the higher the bench is the more difficult this exercise is so make sure you can do a regular side plank for at least 20 seconds before you attempt this version.

13. Elevated Leg Plank

The elevated leg plank will strengthen the abdominals, shoulders and back muscles. The erector spinae, transverse abdominis and rectus abdominis all get worked to execute this isometric hold.

elevated leg plank

How To:

Get into plank position perpendicular to the bench with your elbows on the ground under your shoulders Lift your legs up behind you and place your toes on the bench Hold this position for desired time Repeat for desired reps

Note: Don't let your hips sag towards the floor, maintain a straight line with your body without tilting your head.

14. Half hollow Body Hold

The hollow body hold is one of the tried-and-true isometric core exercises that challenges everyone who attempts it, gymnasts swear by this exercise to build abs and core strength. This half body hold is a modification where you won’t have your arms above your head therefore reducing the amount strain on the core muscles.

flat bench ab exercise

How To:

Sit perpendicular to the bench Bring your legs up and together out in front of you then lean back so that your body forms a banana shape with your hands to your sides Hold this position for desired time Repeat desired reps

Note: Keep your body in a stationary position while looking up towards the ceiling. Don’t cheat by using your hands to support the position.

15. Self Assisted Inverted Pullover

This exercise will work muscles from your arms and chest to your back and core down to your legs. This is a perfect movement to engage multiple muscle groups while hitting the abs.

leg raise

How To:

Lie down on your back in front of a bench Reach up behind your head to grab the leg of the bench then raise your legs 6 inches off the floor Lift your legs up off the floor while contracting your hip flexors and core muscles until your legs are pointing up towards the ceiling Slowly lower to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Squeeze the upper body muscles to help create a stable movement.

16. Knee Tuck Ups

This ab exercise is good to work the core muscles and burn some calories at the same time. If you want a little more of a challenge then try this one without holding onto the bench.

Seated bench leg raise

How To:

Sit on the edge of a bench while grabbig the edges next to your hips Lean back and lift your feet off the floor. At this point your body will be in a straight line, this is the starting position. Bend and lift your knees towards your chest as you sit up until your knees are close to your chest Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your core enegaged and focus on contracting your abs to take some of the tension off your hip flexors.

17. Bench Reverse Crunch Circle

This ab exercise takes body control and strength to properly perform. If done properly you will be strengthening the ab muscles while improving hip flexor control. The bench reverse crunch leg circles aren’t an easy exercise to pull off. This version is harder than the traditional leg circles that you’d do while lying on the ground, due to the body positioning of using the bench. Your core muscles have to work harder to execute this motion. Your upper body is at a greater angle in relation to your lower body so by the time you get halfway through the movement you will be in a V position.

leg circles

How To:

Sit on a flat bench in the middle so that your body is perpendicular to it Sit with your back straight then lean back slightly while gripping the edge of the bench with both hands to your sides then bring your legs together out in front of you Lift your legs up and to the side while keeping your upper body stationary. Move your legs in a circular motion so that at the top of the movement you’re in V position with your feet at head level then continue the circular motion until you end up at the starting position Repeat desired reps with an equal number of complete circles done in both directions

Note: Keep your legs straight and together throughout the movement. If you want to do an easier modification you can move through the same motion with your knees bent at 90 degrees.

18. Seated Flutter Kick

Flutter kicks on the bench is an effective exercise to build the core muscles including the lower abs. Other muscles engaged in this exercise are the glutes, hip flexors and quads as you'll be raising your legs one at a a time. This version of flutter kicks is a little more difficult then performing them on the ground because your upper body is at more of an angle which puts constant tension on the ab muscles.

flutter kicks

How To:

Sit perpendicular on the bench the grab the edge of the bench next to your hips Lean back then bring your feet off the floor Lift one leg at a time to head level then lower it to starting positions as you lift your other leg Alternate legs lifted in a controlled manner Repeat for desired reps

Note: Keep your abs and core muscles engaged throughout the exercise. Don't swing your legs with momentum and keep your upper body stationary.

19. Seated Alternate Crunch

This exercise is similar to the previous exercise except in this one you will be moving your upper body in unison with your legs. This dynamic ab exercise will keep constant tension on the core while working the hip flexors and thighs. It will take some coordination to get the cadence down but once you do, you're golden.

alternating crunch

How To:

Sit perpendicular on the bench then lean back and bring your feet off the ground. This is your starting point where your core should already be engaged. Simultaneously lift one leg up while moving your chest towards that leg.  Once your knee is at chest level you can ad a clap between your legs to help keep the rhythm. Slowly lower your leg and upper body to starting position then repeat with the other leg Alternate back and forth for desired number of reps

Note: You can keep a slight bend at the knees throughout the movement.

20. Lying Leg Raise w/ Hip Thrust on Flat Bench

The lying leg raise works the abs, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors and lower back muscles. This movement places the majority of the emphasis on the hip flexors but it does hit the lower abs. Make sure you keep your legs straight throughout the movement and avoid using momentum to swing your legs up, slow and controlled is the way to go here.

lying leg raise

How To:

Lie down on your back on the bench with your legs hanging off the edge. Place your arms to your sides with your palms down to help with stability Lift your legs towards the ceiling while keeping your back against the bench At the to of the movement slightly raise your glutes off the bench Slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: The extra contraction at the top of this exercise is where you'll get the most work in for your abs so make sure to focus on the contraction here.

21. Weighted V Sit Up

This exercise will test your core, glutes, hip flexors and thighs. The added resistance can hep to build more strength in these muscles, especially the hip flexors and thighs. 

weighted twisting crunch

How To:

Sit perpendicular on a bench and place a dumbbell between your feet then place your hands to your sides on the bench to help with stability Lean back and lift your legs out in front of you holding the weight, this is the starting position with your body in a straight line Crunch up while exhaling, bringing your knees and chest towards each other Once your knees reach chest level, slowly return to starting position Repeat for desired reps

Note: Start with a light weight that you can execute 10 perfect form reps with before you trying increasing the weight.

Related: 30 Best Bodyweight Core Exercises From Beginner to Advanced

How To Program Bench Ab Exercises Into Your Workout Program Include a variety of movements that touch on rotation, lateral flexion and spinal flexion Choose 3-5 exercises to focus on Add resistance if you want to build thicker abs with the like of dumbbells, bands, kettlebells and machines Switch up your ab routine every 3-4 weeks Use a variety of exercises, reps/sets, sequence, resistance, tempo, type of contraction, body positioning Ab Bench Workout

In this ab bench workout you'll hit all major muscles in the abdomen area plus your lower back, glutes, hip flexors and even some leg muscles.

The key to getting the most from ab exercises with or without a bench is to perform them in a slow controlled manner while you really focus on contracting the ab muscles to do most of the work.

To complete this ab workout on a bench, you will run through this circuit 3 times with as little rest as needed between exercises. Take a 1-2 minute break between sets.

Decline Crunch: 3 sets x 15 reps Elevated Side Plank: 3 sets x As long as possible Incline Hip Raise: 3 sets x 10 reps Leg Circles: 3 sets x 5 reps (circles in each direction) Half Hollow Body Hold: 3 sets x As long as possible Will ab exercises help me lose stomach fat?

No, unfortunately ab exercises alone won’t result in fat loss in the stomach area. Sometimes people have the misconception that by working out their abs that their stomach fat will be reduced but this study showed no significant results in fat loss from ab exercises alone. You will need to eat healthy and exercise to reduce stomach fat. Whether you’re skinny fat or overweight and have just begun a cutting program, ab exercises should be a component of your workout program but this won’t solve the issue of reducing stomach fat.

Is it possible to work the upper and lower abs separately?

Although it might feel like you’re working your upper or lower ab muscles independent of one another, it’s not technically feasible to do so. You can target the upper or lower abs more or less in different exercises. For example, if you stabilize the hips then lift only the trunk, this will engage the upper ab area more than the lower abs while the internal obliques are also heavily involved in this lifting motion. On the flip side, if you perform reverse crunches where your pelvis is coming off of the floor, the lower abs and external obliques are targeted more.

bench for abs

Final Note

Working on your abs can help to make you a stronger, healthier person. We’re all about efficiency and efficacy so next time you’re at the gym or working out at home give a few of the ab exercises with a bench a try.

Check out some more resources on building a strong core:

Core Stability Training: Best Rotational & Anti-Rotational Exercises 20 Best Kettlebell Ab Exercises & 4 KB Core Workouts 5 Resistance Band Core & Ab Exercises For A Killer Workout Steel Mace Core Workout 17 Killer Core Exercises (With Tips)
- Sam Coleman
20 Best Kettlebell Ab Exercises & 4 KB Core Workouts

While kettlebell training in general is great for your core and abs, your core muscles take on many roles and action so to really train it in its entirety, it’s important to incorporate some core specific exercises into your routine. 

On that note, we’ve put together for you 20 of the best abdominal and core kettlebell exercises along with 4 highly effective core workouts. 

All in all, this article is going to teach you everything you need to know about your core muscles, what are the different types of core exercises, and why training your core through all of its actions is so important. We are also going to teach you how to lose fat with kettlebells so you can slim down your waist and get those abs and obliques showing loud and proud.

kettlebell exercises for abs

Table of contents:

Core anatomy Types of core exercises Are kettlebell good for abs? Core Strength VS Six Pack Abs & Losing Belly Fat How to lose belly fat & slim waistline 20 Best Kettlebell Ab/Core Strength Exercises Kettlebell Core Strength Workouts Kettlebell Fat Loss Workout CORE ANATOMY:

Your core is so much more than just your abs, even if they are the star of the show due to their prominence in low body fat individuals. When discussing core strength, which includes the abs, you need to look at all of the muscles of your core - front, side and back.

Your core can be broken down into seven sets of muscles:

Rectus Abdominus (abs a.k.a. the six pack) External Obliques Internal Obliques Transversus Abdominis Multifidus Quadratus Lumborum Lumbar Erector Spinae 

With that, your side body and your low back is just as much a part of your core as the front of your abdomen. 

Note: The pelvis, hips and glutes, among other muscles, play a key role in core strength as well, but for the sake of simplicity, we will be focusing on just the muscles above. That said, these muscles will also be involved, and thus strengthened, during core training. 

kettlebell core exercises

Function of Your Core Muscles:

As a whole, your core is responsible for giving you strength and stability when twisting or bending (front, back, left and right). 

These actions can be categorized as such:

Trunk Flexion (bending forward or curl up) Trunk Extension (standing up straight from a bent over position or bending backward) Trunk Rotation (twisting left and right) Lateral Trunk Flexion (bending to the side) Compression of the abdomen (drawing your stomach/belly button into your spine) Spinal Stability (keeping your spine stable during movement). Anti-Movements (more on this below) 

With a strong core, you will have injury resilience through spinal stability, better balance and coordination, and a greater ability to transfer force along the kinetic chain. A strong core is a strong body. It is arguably the most important area of the human body, yet one that is surprisingly often overlooked.

The additional benefit of a strong core, if you have low enough body fat, is your muscles will be best developed to produce that impressive shredded ab and oblique look.

types of core exercises

Types of Core Exercises:

To build optimal core strength, you must focus on all the aforementioned actions, as together, this will allow you to strengthen all of the muscles of your core to their greatest potential.

Let’s look at the actions of the core to see which muscles they target specifically, as well as what exercises are based on these actions. 

Trunk Flexion: 

Trunk flexion primarily targets your rectus abdominis (your abs). 

Exercises like crunches, sit ups, hanging leg raises are examples of trunk flexion.

Trunk Extension:

Trunk extension primarily targets your erector spinae as well as your multifidus (your low back, extensor muscles).

Back extension exercises are examples of trunk extension. 

Trunk Rotation:

Trunk rotation primarily targets your internal and external obliques (the sides of your core). 

Exercises like woodchoppers and Russian twists are examples of trunk rotation.

Lateral Trunk Flexion: 

Lateral trunk flexion primarily targets your obliques, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae

Exercises like side bends and side crunches are examples of lateral trunk flexion.

Compression of Abdomen:

Compression of the abdomen primarily targets your transverse abdominis

Hollow body holds and planks are examples of exercises that involve compression of the abdomen. Compression of the abdomen occurs in many exercises as it helps keep the body and spine firm and strong. 

Spinal Stability: 

Spinal stability involves resisting movement to keep the spine stable. While your multifidus is a primary muscle in spinal stability (being that it is the muscle that runs directly along your spine), your entire core will work to keep your spine and trunk stable. 

Because spinal stability involves different aspects of resisting movements, let’s break this down further... 


Trunk flexion, extension, rotation and lateral flexion are actions that move your spine and core. ANTI exercises are the opposite, they resist these movements. 

Anti Core Movements:

Anti-Flexion Movements (i.e. reverse plank) Anti-Extension Movements (i.e. front plank) Anti-Rotation Movements (i.e. pallof press or single arm plank) Anti-Lateral Flexion Movements (i.e. side plank or single arm farmer’s carry)

Just as being able to move with strength and power through flexion, extension, rotation and lateral flexion is important, resisting these movement is too. 

So, core training should emphasize these “anti” exercises just as much as they do the others.

Your core must be trained through all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, and transverse) to produce movement as well as to resist it. With the above actions, you will achieve that. 

In summary, the kettlebell core exercises in this article include trunk flexion, anti-flexion, extension, anti-extension, rotation, anti-rotation, lateral flexion, and anti-lateral flexion, and with these, you will naturally incorporate compression of the abdomen and spinal stability. This is truly complete core training. 

Related: Core Training - Rotational vs Anti-Rotational Exercises

kettlebell exercises for core

FAQs about ab exercises:

Since a lot of people ask us how to target the lower, upper and side abs/core/stomach, let us quickly go over this, using kettlebell exercises as an example where it makes sense.

How to target lower abs? 

The lower abs are activated best with exercises that lift your legs up for trunk and spine flexion. Exercises like the reverse crunch, kettlebell dead bug, leg raises/hanging leg raises are good for the lower abs.

How to target upper abs?

Your upper rectus abdominis is best activated with exercises that involve trunk flexion by moving your upper body towards your legs, as well as anti trunk flexion. So, exercises like crunches, kettlebell overhead sit ups, and front plank variations are good for your upper abs.

Note: Planks will also be good for your entire core (front, sides, back).

How to target your side abs?

We are only stating this question as it is often worded, but to be clear, your side abs are not really a thing. The side of your core would be your obliques. Exercises that target your sides are trunk lateral flexion, anti-lateral flexion, rotational and anti-rotational movements like side planks, farmer carries, woodchoppers, kettlebell twists, halos, single arm planks, kettlebell single arm renegade rows, pallof presses, and so on. 

These exercises are all included in the actions we discussed above - trunk flexion, extension, rotation, lateral flexion, and the anti movements of these.  

Related: Abs Explained: Can You Have A 10 Pack?


Kettlebells are fantastic for strengthening your abdominal muscles. In fact, they are good for your core on many levels. 

In terms of core strength, kettlebells are great because the exercises are very dynamic and often unilateral, which requires a lot of stabilization by the core muscles. This applies to exercises that are not even directly meant for the core. This means you will constantly be training your core with kettlebells. 

Then, of course, you have kettlebell ab and core specific exercises, which are extremely versatile, as you will see below. You can do kettlebell core exercises from ground, kneeling, and standing positions, as well as walking based exercises like single arm carries. With that, you can train your core through all planes of motion and fundamental movement patterns with optimum resistance and tension, thus giving you the most well-rounded core training possible. 

On top of all that, kettlebell training is great for fat loss. Without low body fat, you won’t be able to see your abs and obliques. Sure, your core can be strong, but it won’t look impressively shredded. With kettlebells, you will often be doing big compound and complex movements that burn a ton of calories. Moreover, some of the best kettlebell workouts are low rest, like HIIT workouts, that will have you burning calories long after your workout is over, keeping your metabolism strong and highly active. 

So, with a combination of general kettlebell workouts and exercises, kettlebell HIIT, and kettlebell ab & core specific exercises, you will have the look and strength in your core area that rivals that of pro athletes (and that you've always dreamed of). 


A lot of people ask us if kettlebells are good for the core and how to lose belly fat with kettlebells (and if kettlebell core exercises will help them lose belly fat and slim down their waistline). 

So, let’s break this down...

There is a big difference between core strength and six pack abs and a slim waistline. All the core exercises in the world won’t make you lose belly fat and give you an impressive six pack if you aren’t eating right.

Core and ab exercises with kettlebells (or bodyweight or any other equipment for that matter) will make your core stronger, more powerful, more stable, and resilient. But they won’t help you to lose belly fat. Well, not directly. 

To burn belly fat, you need to burn more calories. You can not spot reduce fat, meaning just lose fat in your belly. You will lose it all over (but if your belly has the most fat, it will appear like you are losing fat mainly in your stomach). 

So, while kettlebell ab specific exercises will help you burn belly fat in that they will help you burn calories just like any other exercise, they are not the most efficient and effective exercises for burning calories. The best way to burn more calories in effort to lose fat (and belly fat) is big compound kettlebell movements such as front rack squats, thrusters, snatches, and so on. 

Another great way to burn fat is to do keep your rest time short as you perform full body exercises. HIIT workouts are great as they are intense and involve a lot of muscles working at once, which burns calories fast. Plus, after a HIIT workout (which can range from 10-20+ minute), you will get an after burn affect, where you burn a higher amount of calories at rest. 

In addition to working out to burn fat, you must diet properly. In fact, diet is the most important aspect. You could lose belly fat by simply dieting right. And by dieting right, we mean eating at a calorie deficit (consuming less calories than you burn each day).

The reason working out is good is that you can eat a little more, which is always nice, and by working out, you can keep your metabolism higher (again, allowing you to eat more while still losing fat) and you to maintain muscle mass as you work toward your belly fat loss goals. 

As for core exercises, they will ensure the muscles of your midsection are as best developed as possible so you can really have that nice chiseled look when your body fat is low enough to show them. 

All in all, if you want a six pack and a slim waist, you must eat at a deficit (ideally healthy food and high protein) and train hard. The core exercises we are going to show you are meant to improve your performance in the gym, sports and daily life better. Working out productively requires a strong core. Plus, in the long run, you will be very happy you have a strong core because a strong core equals longevity of movement, strength and overall an injury-free life. 

Related: 5 Full Length Single Kettlebell Workouts


If you want a six pack and slim waist, here are the steps you must take now.

Step 1: Figure out your daily calorie expenditure (TDEE) - be sure to take into account your daily activity level, then eat 200-500 calories less than that each day.

Step 2: Workout 3-5 times a week doing big compound exercises with low rest time. Aim to do high intensity workouts (like HIIT) or at least moderately intense exercise with heavier weight. Full body kettlebell training is great. 

Step 3: Add in kettlebell core exercises to your routine or do 2-3 10-20 minute core and ab workouts per week. This will ensure that your muscles are as primed and developed as possible for when your body fat is low enough to show themselves. A well-developed mid-section will look at lot better when you have low body fat. It’ll really help give you that chiseled look.

That’s it!

kettlebell exercises for waistline FAQs about kettlebell fat loss (belly fat loss & slim waistline):

Although we’ve already answered these questions for the most part, here are some common questions with quick answers. Sort of like a TLDR to the above sections...

Are kettlebell good for losing belly fat?

Kettlebells are great for losing belly fat due to the way most kettlebell training is structured. Kettlebell workouts typically involve full body or at least big compound exercises with low rest time. This is great for burning fat, and thus belly fat. Remember, you can't spot reduce fat.

How do I tone my stomach with kettlebells? 

Do high intensity kettlebell workouts, eat at a calorie deficit, eat plenty of protein to keep muscle loss to a minimum or not at all, and perform kettlebell core exercises each week (2-3 times for a total of 10-20 sets per week of various core exercises that hit all of the core actions we’ve went through earlier in this article).

How to slim waistline with kettlebells? 

If you want to slim your waistline, you need to lose fat. To lose fat, you need to eat at a calorie deficit and workout to keep your metabolism high. Apart from that, you can’t change your waist’s bone structure. But what you can do is build up certain muscles that will give you the appearance of a smaller waist. With broader shoulders, lats, and a chest, and bigger gluteal muscles, your waist will appear slimmer. For men, you will have that nice V-taper and women that ever-sexy hourglass shape. 

What kettlebell exercise is best for weight loss?

Big compound, multijoint kettlebell movements are best for weight loss. They will burn the most calories, boost testosterone, keep metabolism high, and help you to build muscle. Don’t forget, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest (better metabolism with optimal BMI). 

Kettlebell exercises like thrusters, squats, cleans, snatches and swings are best for weight loss as they will use up the most energy (calories) and are great for total body muscle and strength. Be sure to use heavy weight (relative to your strength and size) kettlebells where you can and a full range of motion for best results. If you can’t use heavy kettlebells, then maximize range of motion and keep rest time to a minimum.

Related: Lose Weight Fast With Kettlebells

Do kettlebell swings burn belly fat?

Kettlebell swings will not burn belly fat directly. Remember, you can’t spot reduce fat. However, kettlebells are a high intensity exercise that burn a lot of calories, so they are great for fat loss. One recent study showed that you can burn 400 calories in 20 minutes by doing just kettlebell swings. In other terms, around 20 calories per minute OR 100 calories per 100 kettlebell swings. Of course, this depends on how intense you are moving and how heavy the kettlebell, but this gives you the general idea.

Besides fat loss, kettlebell swings are fantastic for core strength and explosive hip power. 

Related: What Muscles Do Kettlebell Swings Work?

ADVANTAGES OF USING KETTLEBELLS FOR CORE WORKOUTS Accessible For All Fitness Levels: Kettlebells can be used to train your abs and core no matter what fitness level you are. For certain core exercises, the resistance will be purely based on the weight of the kettlebell, which means you can control how much resistance you are placing on your core. This is great as you can start light and progress, which means an exercise can be good for all levels. Then, you have exercises where kettlebells add resistance on top of your bodyweight’s resistance. While these types of exercises might not be best for beginners, as bodyweight alone would suffice, it allows more advanced athletes to continue progressing in core strength. As such, there is plenty of versatility in how you can use kettlebells to provide resistance to your core, making them great for beginner to advanced trainees. Core Strength Progression: Just to emphasize one of the points above, with kettlebells, you can progress in core strength as you can incrementally increase resistance. Variety: There are so many ways to use kettlebells for core exercises. While there are many great bodyweight core exercises, when you add a kettlebell into the mix, the variety of core and ab exercises becomes more than twofold. You can hit your core from all angles and planes of motion and through all actions that your core act on - flexion, extension, lateral flexion, rotation and all the anti-movements. Constant Core Work: With kettlebells, you will be hitting your core even when you are not specifically training your core. This is particularly noticeable when using heavy doubles or doing single kettlebell exercises. To give you an example, when you are performing a single arm press, you are working on your deltoids, obviously, but you are also training your core through anti-lateral flexion OR when you are doing bent over single arm rows, you are hitting your back and arm muscles while training your core through anti-rotation. Core stability plays a huge role in pretty much every major kettlebell movement.

What kettlebell exercises burn belly fat?

Who should do kettlebell ab exercises? 

Kettlebells are suitable for all fitness levels and the great thing is, they are available at pretty much every gym and if you workout at home, you can get some kettlebells for a good price online. 

Now, in terms of beginners, we recommend that you stick with bodyweight core exercises until you gain enough core strength for more advanced kettlebell core and ab exercises. There are plenty of ways to use your bodyweight to hit your core effectively. That said, some kettlebell exercises will allow you to train your core more effectively, even if you lack core strength. For example, walking with a kettlebell in one hand while keeping your torso upright right and squared forward may actually be more effective for a beginner than a side plank simply because the side plank may be too difficult. On the other hand, doing a bodyweight sit up will obviously be easier than a sit up with a kettlebell held at your chest or overhead.

So, certain kettlebell exercises will be great for beginners, while others too advanced. As such, we will label the difficulty of the exercise below.

TIPS BEFORE GETTING STARTED:  Be sure to warm up before doing ab and core exercises, especially if you are adding resistance with a kettlebell. Your lower back will be particularly susceptible to injury if you don’t warm up properly. This is why core exercises are usually done at the end of workouts. If you are doing a stand-alone kettlebell ab and core workouts then do some dynamic stretches first and 3-5 minutes of movement to get your body temp up. Stick with exercises that are suitable for your fitness level. For many kettlebell ab exercises, it will require existing core strength, so if your core is weak, then a bodyweight version of the exercise will be best. As mentioned before, there are some exercises that you can do with kettlebells that are easier as. For example, an 18lb kettlebell is lighter than your bodyweight, meaning that if the exercise has you fighting the resistance of your body, compared to an exercise that has you fighting the resistance of the kettlebell, the body one would be harder. Some exercises will add the weight of the kettlebell to the resistance of your body, which is obviously harder than just your bodyweight resistance alone. So, pay attention to the difficulty level. Be sure to perform the exercises with PROPER FORM and focus on the correct muscles being targeted. We will give you step-by-step how to’s and the primary muscles worked so you know what to do and focus on. When in doubt, start light. Don’t use too heavy of weight for core exercises, rather choose the appropriate weight for your fitness level and the exercise at hand. The priority is range of motion, form and overall good clean reps and sets with the right amount of volume (we will mention the best rep ranges or time under tension for each kettlebell ab exercise).  20 BEST KETTLEBELL AB & CORE EXERCISES 

There are many kettlebell exercises for your abs and core, but rather than give you countless exercises or exercises that you probably have seen over and over again, we’ve narrowed our selection of core exercises down to 20. These are 20 of the best kettlebell ab and core exercises that you can do.

We’ve organized the exercises by ground/plank, kneeling, standing and walking. So, we are going to work our way from the ground up. 

Note: The fitness level doesn’t mean only that level should do the exercise, it just is a basic accessibility. So, a beginner exercise can still be highly effective for an intermediate or advanced trainee.

Here is a compilation video of the exercises. Below this video is a breakdown of each exercise.


1. Overhead Sit Up (0:05)2. Single Arm Overhead Sit Up (0:21)3. Dead Bug (0:35)4. Pullover (0:46)5. Single Arm Renegade Row (1:00)6. Renegade Hold (1:17)7. Plank Pass Over (1:26)8. Plank Pull Through (1:42)9. Half-Kneeling Woodchop (1:52)10. Half-Kneeling Windmill (2:00)11. Windmill (2:09)12. Turkish Get Up (2:24)13. Halo with Rotation (2:44)14. Around The World (3:03)15. Single Arm Side Load March (3:09)16. Single Arm Front Rack March (3:19)17. Single Arm Overhead March (3:34)18. Single Arm Side Load Carry (3:44)19. Single Arm Front Rack Carry (3:50)20. Single Arm Overhead Carry (3:58)

1. Overhead Sit Up

kettlebell sit up

This is a kettlebell overhead sit up. It is a more advanced version of a regular sit up as you are adding resistance to your bodyweight with the kettlebell (plus, you get added shoulder strength and stability). With this kettlebell exercise, which is an ab specific exercise, you are going perform a sit up through a full range of motion, meaning you go from lying on the ground in a supine position to sitting straight up, all while holding the kettlebell straight up with your arms fully extended.

Primary Muscle: Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Hip Flexors

Level: Intermediate 

How to:

Lie down in a supine position, with your legs spread apart a little wider than shoulder width. With both hands on the horns of the kettlebell, press it straight up so your arms extended and perpendicular with the floor. Press your glutes and hamstrings into the floor and lift your chest up off to sit straight up. As you come up, try to keep your arms perpendicular with the floor so that when your back is straight up, your arms are up overhead. Slowly lower your torso back down to the ground. When your shoulder blades and head are touching the ground, that’s one full rep. Then, repeat.

Best rep range: Aim for 8-12 reps, but even as few as 5-6 reps is effective.

2. Single Arm Overhead Sit Up

kettlebell ab exercise

This is the same ab exercise as the last one, but you’ll be holding the kettlebell with just one arm. With that, the dynamics of the exercise change quite a bit. By using one arm, the kettlebell will be positioned to the working arm’s side, which will mean that as you sit up, you will need to resist rotation. As such, this is a great exercise for both your abs and obliques. It is both an anti-rotation and flexion exercise for strengthening your abs and working on midline spinal stability. Moreover, it will help you with shoulder alignment.

Primary Muscles: Rectus Abdominis (upper and lower abs), Transverse Abdominis, Obliques, Erector Spinae, Multifidus

Level: Intermediate to Advance

How to:

Lie down in a supine position, with your legs spread apart a little wider than shoulder width. Hold the kettlebell handle so the bell is resting on your forearm and press it straight up. The kettlebell should be aligned with your shoulder. Perform a sit up while trying your best to not allow for trunk rotation. Come up until your back is straight up. Slowly lower back down while trying your best to keep your chest squared forward. Come all the way down to the supine position with your shoulder blades and head to the floor, then repeat. Be sure to perform the same number of reps on the opposite side.

Note: This exercise can also be done with rotation.  Similar to a Turkish get up. This will place more emphasis on your obliques while taking away from your spinal erectors.

Best rep range: Aim for 8-12 reps, but even as few as 5-6 reps is effective. 

3. Dead Bug

kettlebell abdominal

The kettlebell dead bug is a simple yet effective exercise for total core and lumbopelvic stability. It’s an exercise that hones in on the deep muscles of your core (transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, and erector spinae) while reinforcing contralateral limb movement and good posture. 

Primary Muscles: Transverse Abdominis, Rectus Abdominis, Erector Spinae, Hip Flexors, Obliques

Level: Beginner

How to:

Lie down in a supine position, with your legs spread apart a little wider than shoulder width. With both hands on the horns of the kettlebell, press it straight up so your arms extended and perpendicular with the floor. Bring your legs up so your thighs are perpendicular with the floor and your shins parallel with the floor. You are now in the starting position. While maintaining the kettlebell straight up over your chest, bring your right leg down, extending at the knee until your leg is straight and a couple inches from the floor. Your left leg will remain at 90 degrees. Then, bring your right leg back to the starting position and perform the same movement with your left leg while your right leg remains up at 90 degrees. This is one full rep. 

Note: This exercise might seem easy, but if you move slowly and really focus on keeping your core engaged, with your abdomen compressed, and avoid raising your back off the ground, you’ll be shocked how well this one hits your core.

Best rep range: Aim for at least 20 reps (10 each leg).

4. Pullover

kettlebell core workout

While you’d typically think of this exercise for your chest and lats, it is an effective way to hit your upper abs as well. The goal is to keep your back to the floor and abdomen compressed as you move the kettlebell back and up slowly.

Primary Muscle: Rectus Abdominis (upper abs), Intercostal Muscles (muscles between your ribs)

Level: Beginner

How to:

Get into a supine position with your knees up and feet flat to the floor. Hold onto the horns of the kettlebell with both hands and press the kettlebell up over your chest. Put a bend in your elbow. This is the starting position. While keeping your torso and legs fixed, as well as your elbows fixed, bring the kettlebell down and reward behind your head. When the kettlebell just about touches the floor behind you, raise it back up and over your chest.

Note: The movement will occur only at your arms, everything else is stable. Be sure to focus on core engagement and compression as you lower and raise the kettlebell. Don’t forget to breathe too! 

Best rep range: Aim for around 10-15 reps, with a very slow tempo. These are not speedy reps. 

5. Single Arm Renegade Row

kettlebell plank exercises

Now we are into the plank position. Like any front plank, it is an anti-extension exercise, but as this one involves planking with one arm, it is also anti-rotation. It is an advanced exercise considering you are planking with one arm and rowing with the other, so you have to not just resist rotation from your bodyweight, but also the kettlebell. On top of the core work, you also get some bicep and back/lat work in. 

Primary Muscles: Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Obliques, Erector Spinae, Glutes, Shoulders, Lats, Pecs

A lot of muscles work on this one! A plank is always a total body (isometric) exercise as is, and this one takes it up a notch.

Level: Intermediate to Advance

How to:

Get into a plank position. Don’t arch your back, try your best to keep your neck and spine to legs straight. With a kettlebell line up directly underneath your right shoulder, lift your right hand off the floor and grab the kettlebell by the top of the handle using a neutral grip. While doing your best to keep your hips and torso squared forward, row the kettlebell by pulling your elbows up past your back. Hold for a moment or two with your elbow in flexion, then slowly lower it back to a dead stop on the floor (keep your hand on the kettlebell). Repeat for a number of reps on your right side, then do the same amount of reps on your left side (after a rest if needed). 

Best rep range: The row is a slow movement and you will hold the top position for a second or two each rep, so aim for 5-10 reps each side.

6. Renegade Hold 

kettlebell plank

The renegade hold is just like the single arm renegade row but the focus is on holding the row at the top for as long as you can. Basically it’s an isometric plank row for core strength and stability. Like the single arm renegade row, you will be working your core through anti-extension and anti-rotation. 

Primary Muscles: Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Obliques, Erector Spinae, Glutes, Shoulders, Lats, Pecs

Level: Intermediate to Advance

How to:

Get into a plank position. Don’t arch your back, try your best to keep your neck and spine to legs straight. With a kettlebell line up directly underneath your right shoulder, lift your right hand off the floor and grab the kettlebell by the top of the handle using a neutral grip. Do your best to keep your hips and torso squared forward, row the kettlebell by pulling your elbows up past your back. Hold the row position for as long as you can, just like any other plank.

Best rep range: Aim for 20-30 seconds per set. This may mean you perform the row and hold 3-4 times. The goal is to hold it up for as long as you can while keeping your hips and torso squared forward, but it’s ok to set the kettlebell down to give yourself a quick break and then row it back up and hold again. This will allow you to get your sets into the 20-30+ second range. Plus, your core will still be activated even when you set the kettlebell down. 

7. Plank Pass Over kettlebell exercises for lower stomach

The plank pass over is certainly harder than a regular front plank, but easier than the renegade hold, although it does work the core in a similar way. Basically, the pass over movement forces you into a single arm plank, which adds an anti-rotation element into the planks standard anti-extension and core compression action. What’s more, as you are alternating between your right and left arm each time you move the kettlebell, you can hit both sides in one set, rather than needing to do a set for each side.

Primary Muscles: Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Obliques, Erector Spinae/Multifidus, Glutes, Shoulders, Pecs 

Level: Beginner to Intermediate 

How to:

Get into a plank position. Don’t arch your back, try your best to keep your neck and spine to legs straight. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand, lift it up, and move it over to your left side. Place your right hand down, then pick up the kettlebell with your left hand and move it to your right side. Continue alternating from your right to your left while doing your best to keep your back straight, glutes and core tight, and hips and chest squared forward.

Best rep range: Aim for around 20 reps (10 pass overs with each arm). This is a slow movement, so take your time with each pass over. Ultimately, the goal is to hold the plank position for 20+ seconds each set. 

8. Plank Pull Through 

ab workout with kettlebell

The plank pull through is very similar to the pass over but its more dynamic and you’ll be using one arm at a time for each set, which means the anti-rotation aspect is continuous, as you will remain on one arm for the duration of each set.

Primary Muscles: Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Obliques, Erector Spinae/Multifidus, Glutes, Shoulders, Pecs

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

How to:

Get into a plank position. Don’t arch your back, try your best to keep your neck and spine to legs straight. Grab the kettlebell with your right hand, then drag it to your left side and immediately back to your right side. Continue dragging the kettlebell from your right to your left side and back for the duration of the set while keeping your hips and chest squared toward the ground. Try not to let your butt come up, keep your back to legs as straight as possible. Repeat on the opposite side.

Best rep range: Perform as many reps as it takes to be at around 20+ seconds. The action is not about how many times you move the kettlebell, the movement is about holding the position for anti-flexion, ab compression and anti-rotation purposes, the dragging of the kettlebell simply facilitates that demand on your core. 

9. Half-Kneeling Woodchop

kettlebell rotational core exercise

Here we have an intense rotational kettlebell core exercises made more foundational through the half-kneeling position. The wood chopper movement itself trains your core for rotational power and the half-kneeling position forces you to keep your hips stable and strong as you do so. With that, you will be hitting your core and glutes (your gluteal muscles work to keep your hips stable), as well as your shoulders. All in all, it’s a great movement for rotational power and core stability, hip stability and overall balance and coordination. 

Primary Muscles: Obliques, Transverse Abdominis, Glutes

Level: Intermediate to Advance 

How to:

Get into a half-kneeling position, with your left leg forward at 90 degrees and your right leg back at 90 degrees with your knee to the ground. Hold the kettlebell by its horns and with your arms extended down to your right side near the outside of your thigh. Swing the kettlebell up to your contralateral side, while rotating at your torso but keeping your hips squared forward. When the kettlebell reaches the top, stop the movement by contracting your core, then let the kettlebell swing back down to the starting position, pause and repeat. 

Note: Use your core to both facilitate the movement and stop the movement.

Best rep range: 8-15 reps is typically best for woodchoppers.

10. Half-Kneeling Windmill 

kettlebell oblique exercises

The windmill is a fantastic frontal plane exercise for improving strength and stability in your obliques (side of your torso), glutes and shoulders. It also helps you to build hip, hamstring and thoracic mobility and flexibility.

The half-kneeling position simply lowers the range of motion and will help you to learn this movement easier. It’s a good starting point for the standard standing kettlebell windmill. It is also good for placing more of the emphasis on your core. 

Primary Muscles: Obliques, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus

Level: Intermediate 

How to:

Get into a half-kneeling position but with your back leg slightly angled inward for a more stable base of support. Put your kettlebell into the rack position and then press it overhead with your arm fully extended. While keeping your eyes on the bell, hinge at your hip (like a deadlift) and slowly lean your torso down to the side and touch the floor at a point directly in line with your shoulder. You may go deeper into the windmill if you have the mobility to do so, bringing your torso even further toward the ground. Drive up through the legs by squeezing the glutes until you are back in the tall half-kneeling position with your torso upright. Be sure to keep your core tight at all time so that your spine remains straight (no lateral flexion, the movement of leaning to the side is purely at the hips). Repeat on the opposite side.

Best rep range: The windmill is a very slow and controlled movement, so you can do anywhere from 3-8 reps each side. Most people actually stick to the 3-5 rep range. Start light and over time you can work up in weight.

11. Standing Windmill

oblique exercise with kettlebell

When you are comfortable with the half-kneeling kettlebell windmill, you can progress to the standing windmill. You can practice it unloaded first just to be sure your form is good before using a kettlebell. With the standing windmill, you will have a greater range of motion, which will cause you to feel a deeper stretch in your legs and hips. Beyond that, the same core, hip, and shoulder strength and stability benefits apply. 

Primary Muscles: Obliques, Rectus Abdominis Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Hamstrings

Level: Intermediate to Advance 

How to:

Standing with your feet about 1.5x shoulder width apart, turn your left foot outward. Press the kettlebell overhead with your right arm letting the bell rest on the outside of your forearm. Your left arm will be hanging down at your side. Brace your core and push your hips back and toward your ride side as you lean toward your left side slowly reading down to touch your left hand to the floor. Try your best to keep your right leg as straight as possible, but your left leg can have a slight bend in the knee. As you are coming down, be sure to keep your head turned towards the kettlebell with your eyes set on the bell. Pause at the bottom then drive force through your heels to come back up to the starting position. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the exercise and your spine long. Repeat for a set number of reps, then switch sides.

Note: The movement is at the hips, so your spine should be long, meaning you are avoiding flexion of the spine. When you touch the ground, your left arm should be in line with your right arm as it is held up toward the sky.

Best rep range: Perform sets of around 3-5 reps on each side. 

12. Turkish Get Up 

best kettlebell exercises for abs

The Turkish Get Up is more than just a core exercise, it is a full body, multiplanar exercise meant to bulletproof your body. That said, it definitely places emphasis on core strength, stability, and mobility (which together improves durability), as well as shoulder strength and stability.

This is one of the most important kettlebell exercises there is. Every kettlebell trainee should learn and implement the Turkish Get Up into their routine eventually. It will be a primary exercise for your training for the long run.

When breaking down the exercise, you can see why it’s so good for your core, and you will notice how it combines various core exercises seen in this article, such as the single arm sit up and the windmill, into one complex movement. Therefore, working on other exercises like the single arm kettlebell sit up, half-kneeling windmill, and single arm overhead farmer’s carry will improve your ability in the Turkish Get Up. 

Primary Muscles: Total Core Exercise

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

How to: 

The Turkish Get Up is a complex movement which would take an entire article itself to discuss proper form, which is exactly what we’ve done here: Learn all about the Turkish Get Up with Step-By-Step instruction on how to do it

Note: Be sure to watch the video and pay strict attention to the form. Go light to start so you can get the form down pat. 

Best rep range: Turkish Get Ups can be effective anywhere from 1-10 reps, but the average is around 5 reps. To give you an example, you could do 5 sets x 1 rep each side with a heavy kettlebell, or 2-4 sets x 5 reps each side with a moderately heavy kettlebell, or 1 set x 10 reps each side with a moderately light kettlebell.

13. Halo with Rotation 

best kettlebell exercises for core

The standard kettlebell halo involves moving the kettlebell around your head while keeping your torso fixed and squared forward. It is great for shoulder health and core compression, anti-extension, and anti-rotation. The halo with rotation is all that plus more since it adds rotation with each rep. So, you perform a normal halo, but as the kettlebell reaches your front and center at your upper chest, you bring it down to your side as you rotate your torso in the same direction, after which you reverse the movement the opposite way through the same path of motion. With that, you also get to work on rotational strength and stability. 

Primary Muscles: Obliques, Rectus Abdominis (upper abs), Erector Spinae 

Fitness Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Note: If you don’t know how to do the halo, learn it first before adding rotation.

How to:

Get into a tall-kneeling position (you can also do this exercise standing) and hold the kettlebell bell up with your hands on the horns of the handle. With the kettlebell held up at your chest, bring it up and around your head in a controlled manner. As it reaches the front and center, start to rotate your torso and bring the kettlebell down to your side, feeling the tension in your obliques. Pause at the bottom, then reverse the motion bringing it back up in the same direction then up and around your head and down to the other side. So, you’ll be rotating to your left then right, alternating sides/direction each rep.

Note: This is not an explosive rotational exercise, it is about powerful, stable, fully controlled rotation. 

Best rep range: Perform around 10-20 reps (5-10 each way).

14. Around The World

anti-rotation kettlebell core exercises

Although the kettlebell will be rotating around your body, this is not a rotational exercise, it is an anti-rotational exercise (and anti-lateral flexion and extension). So, as you swing the kettlebell around your body, you will resist the twist, keeping your torso squared forward and upright at all times. 

Primary Muscle: Rectus Abdominis, Erector Spinae, Internal Obliques 

Level: Beginner

How to:

Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart and hip in a neutral position. With your arms extended down in front of you, bring the kettlebell into one hand and swing it around your back. As the kettlebell reaches the other side behind your back, switch hands and bring it around your body full circle. With each rep, you will pass it from your right to left hand to complete one revolution around your body. The pass should occur at the centerline of your front and back side. Reverse directions after a set number of reps.

Best rep range: 20 reps in both direction. The is a dynamic exercise, so you will use speed, but in a controlled manner as to keep your body upright and squared forward at all times. 

15. Single Arm Side Load March

kettlebell core strength

The single arm side load march is a basic yet effective anti-lateral flexion exercise. It’s great as you can progress simply by increasing the weight of the kettlebell.

The marching will also help you build hip stability. Altogether, it’s a fantastic exercise for balance and coordination. 

Primary Muscle: Obliques, Erector Spinae/Multifidus, Abs, Glutes 

Level: Intermediate

How to:

Stand tall with a kettlebell held in your right hand down at your side. Your feet can be together or at hip distance. Raise your right knee up to about hip level, pause, then lower it back down. Then, raise your left knee up to hip level, pause, and lower it back down. Continue alternating raising your legs up. Switch the side the kettlebell is on the next set. 

Note: For balance, you can bring your free arm out to your side. If you lose balance, don’t worry about it, just reposition yourself and continue. 

Best rep range: 10-20 marches per side. 

16. Single Arm Front Rack March

kettlebell core stability

This is the same exercise but the position of the load changes. With the kettlebell in the front rack position, you are working anti-lateral flexion as well as anti-flexion. It’s also more difficult simply because you have to keep the kettlebell held up in this position. 

As with the other march exercise, it is great for core strength, hip stability, balance, and coordination.

Primary Muscle: Obliques, Erector Spinae/Multifidus, Rectus Abdominis, Glutes

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

How to:

Stand tall with a kettlebell held in the front rack position. Your feet can be together or at hip distance. Raise your right knee up to about hip level, pause, then lower it back down. Then, raise your left knee up to hip level, pause, and lower it back down. Continue alternating raising your legs up. Switch the side the kettlebell is on the next set. 

Note: For balance, you can bring your free arm out to your side. If you lose balance, don’t worry about it, just reposition and continue.

Best rep range: 10-20 marches per side. 

17. Single Arm Overhead March 

kettlebell abs

This is the next progression of the kettlebell march. With this one, you will be holding the kettlebell overhead. This load position requires anti-lateral flexion, and the march places emphasis on hip stability, and thus balance and coordination. Essentially, it is just a more advanced version of the exercises above, with additional focus on shoulder strength and stability. 

Primary Muscle: Obliques, Erector Spinae/Multifidus, Rectus Abdominis, Deltoids, Glutes 

Level: Intermediate to Advance 

How to:

Stand tall with a kettlebell held in the front rack position. Your feet can be together or at hip distance. Press the kettlebell up overhead. It will remain in this position for the duration of the set. Raise your right knee up to about hip level, pause, then lower it back down. Then, raise your left knee up to hip level, pause, and lower it back down. Continue alternating raising your legs up. Switch the side the kettlebell is on the next set. 

Note: For balance, you can bring your free arm out to your side. If you lose balance, don’t worry about it, just reposition and continue. 

Best rep range: 10-20 marches per side. 

18. Single Arm Side Load Carry 

kb ab exercises

This is a very similar exercise as a march, but rather than bringing your knees up high, you are simply walking with the kettlebell held in place. 

The carry, aka farmer’s carry, is a great exercise for building total body strength. This variation places the load on just one side, thus doubling down on the demand for core strength and stability through anti-lateral flexion. 

As with the march, the difficulty of this exercise can simply be increased by increasing the weight of the kettlebell you are using. 

Primary Muscle: Total Core (with emphasis on obliques) 

Level: Beginner

How to:

Hold the kettlebell in your left hand down directly at your side. Arm fully extended. Simply walk forward maintaining your torso upright, squared forward as you do so. 

Best rep range: Aim for 20-60 yards (meters) per side. If you don’t have space, simply walk back and forth.

19. Single Arm Front Rack Carry

kb core exercises

Besides increase the weight load, you can make the farmer’s carry harder by changing the load position. This one places the load in the front rack position, which will increase the demand on core strength and stability. 

Primary Muscle: Total Core (with emphasis on obliques)

Level: Intermediate

How to:

Bring the kettlebell into the front rack position. Walk forward maintaining your torso upright, squared forward as you do so. 

Best rep range: Aim for 20-50 yards (meters) per side. If you don’t have space, simply walk back and forth.

20. Single Arm Overhead Carry 

standing kettlebell ab exercises

The final progression of the single arm farmer’s carry is the overhead position. This is the most difficult version. It is not only harder on your core, but it also brings the demand for shoulder strength and stability into play.

Primary Muscle: Total Core (with emphasis on obliques)

Level: Intermediate 

How to:

Bring the kettlebell into the front rack position. Then press it up overhead. Walk forward keeping your torso upright and squared forward as you do so and the kettlebell up overhead the entire time. 

Best rep range: Aim for 15-40 yards (meters) per side. If you don’t have space, simply walk back and forth.

More Resources on Strengthening the Core:

21 Best Weight Bench Ab Exercises (Plus Workout) 23 Transverse Abdominis Exercises & Stretches To Strengthen The Inner Core  Other Kettlebell Core Exercises 

There are plenty of other ab and core exercises that you can do with kettlebells. Essentially every bodyweight or cable pulley ab exercises can be modified in some way to be done with kettlebells. 

Even more so, kettlebell training is special in that basically every kettlebell exercise works your core to some degree. 

This is true for both doubles and single kettlebell exercises. With doubles, if you are using a heavy kettlebell, your core will need a lot of strength to keep your torso stable, whether that’s through anti-flexion, anti-extension, or anti-lateral flexion.

As for single, one arm kettlebell exercises, they essentially double as core exercises. 

For example...

If you using a single kettlebell from a standing or tall-kneeling position, you are performing anti-lateral flexion...

standing kettlebell core exercises

If you use a single kettlebell from any bent over position with your torso at or near parallel with the ground, you are performing anti-rotation...

kettlebells for abs

On top of that, there are many multiplanar kettlebell exercises that involve rotation... 

Such as, single arm rotational kettlebell swings...

kettlebell ab workout

...and rotational overhead presses. 

kettlebell upper ab exercises

All in all, by nature of the implement’s design itself and the way kettlebells are used, there are so many good core exercises with kettlebells. If you use kettlebells for long enough, you are bound to have a powerful core.

More Kettlebell Training Resources:

Kettlebell Leg Exercises Kettlebell Shoulder Exercises Kettlebell Bicep Exercises Kettlebell Tricep Exercises Kettlebell Chest Exercises Kettlebell Deadlift Variations 50 Best Kettlebell Exercises 4 KETTLEBELL CORE WORKOUTS 

Here are 3 core workouts for beginners, intermediate and advanced trainees.

Choose an appropriate kettlebell weight based on your strength. When it doubt, start light. 


Plank Pass Over: 2 sets x 20 reps (10 each side) Dead Bug: 2 sets x 20 reps (10 each leg) Around the World: 2 sets x 20 reps each way Single Arm Side Load March: 1 sets x 20 reps (10 each leg) Single Arm Side Load Carry: 1 set x 30 yards


Circuit 1 x 3 Rounds:

Overhead Sit Up x 8 reps Plank Pull Through x 8 reps each side Single Arm Front Rack March x 8 reps each side

1 minute rest between rounds and next circuit. 

Circuit 2 x 3 Rounds:

Dead Bug x 10 reps Half-Kneeling Windmill x 5 reps each side Single Arm Front Rack Carry x 30 yards (both sides) 

1 minute rest between rounds. 


Turkish Get Up: 5 set x 1 rep each side (heavy load) Single Arm Overhead Carry: 2 sets x 50 yards (heavy load) Plank Pull Through: 2 sets x 30-60 seconds (set 1 left side, set 2 right side) Overhead Sit Up: 3 sets x 10 reps Halo with Rotation: 1 set x 20 reps


This is a tabata workout for your abs. Tabata is simply 20 seconds work followed by 10 seconds rest and you continue like that for the duration of the workout. This workout is geared towards intermediate to advanced trainees.

4 Rounds20 seconds on10 seconds off

Total workout time: 8 minutes 


Overhead Sit Up Around the World Renegade Hold Dead Bug

Change sides/direction each round. So, for round one, renegade hold on the left, then round 2 renegade hold on right, and for round 1 around the world to your left and round 2 to your right.

No rest between rounds. Just continue with the 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off until all 4 rounds are completed. 

kettlebell exercises for belly fat


Kettlebell fat loss workouts are not ab focused, but they will involve plenty of core work, especially if you do a single kettlebell exercises.

Our favorite fat loss workout with kettlebells is full body HIIT using a single kettlebell. 

HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training. 

With HIIT, you will burn calories in a very efficient manner. A 20 minute kettlebell HIIT workout is the equivalent of 45-60 minutes of long duration low intensity cardio.

On top of burning calories while working out, you will burn calories long after the workout is over due to the after burn affect (EPOC). This is really what makes HIIT so effective. Essentially it is a metabolism booster.

On that note, below is a single kettlebell HIIT workout that you can follow along to. It is a fantastic workout for building muscle, losing fat, and building core and total body strength.

23 Minute Kettlebell HIIT Workout:


- 5 Exercises (each side)- 30 seconds work- 15 seconds rest- 3 Rounds


- Snatches (Right)- Snatches (Left)- One Hand Swings (Right)- One Hand Swings (Left)- Cleans (Right)- Cleans (Left)- Racked Squats (Right)- Racked Squats (Left)- Push Presses (Right)- Push Presses (Left)

So, when you complete all of the above exercises, that’s 1 round. Then you will do another two rounds. Again, 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off until all three rounds are completed. 

Total Workout Time: ~23 minutes

Related: HIIT with Kettlebells


For those who train with kettlebell in their regular strength training routines, because kettlebells are so effective at hitting your core during compound movements, you will not need to do too much additional core focused work. This is especially true if you perform heavy single kettlebell exercises. 

That said, doing a quick core workout at the end of your regular strength workouts once or twice a week is great if you really want to take your core performance to the next level. In this case, it would make sense to focus on core exercises that involve actions you are missing in your normal routine, such as rotational exercises.

If you don’t train with kettlebells much, but you want to use them for core workouts, then you can do 2-3 core workouts per week. Even 5-10 minutes per workout is enough.

Ultimately, we recommend doing around 15-40 minutes of core training per week (spread out through the week) OR 10-20 of core specific exercises sets in total each week (be sure to perform different core exercises that train you through all the various core actions we mentioned earlier in the article).

If you have any questions about kettlebell training, please feel free to reach out. 


Master the kettlebell with our Single Kettlebell Training e-Guide Get our SFS FIVE Kettlebell Workout Package (5 full length follow along kettlebell workout classes) 

Buy Kettlebell from SET FOR SET

kettlebells for core

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- Team LSF
Pumpkin Spice Sweet Cream Cold Brew

pumpkin spice cold brew It may be fall but it is still REAL hot here. If you want to get all the fall vibe, but are over the heat and basic pumpkin spice lattes… I’ve got you. Say goodbye to basic – and loads of excess sugar! This pumpkin spice sweet cream cold brew recipe […]

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- Team LSF

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- Team LSF
Grow Your Booty in 31 Days

grow your booty Your peach is real cute, but tbh, we could all use a little lift! This Booty Challenge is going to help you lift, tone, and grow your booty in 31 Days. I’ll be giving you FREE daily workouts designed to transform your backside, new fall inspired recipes, and a chance to win […]

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- Team LSF
- Team LSF
30 Days of Self Care for You

30 Days of Self Care Don’t let the post-summer blues get you down. As we lean into fall this is the time to refocus on YOU. Slowing down, letting go of what’s not doing it for you anymore and spending 30 days of self care to fill you up. It’s not always easy to find […]

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- Team LSF

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- Team LSF
Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes

protein pancakes As soon as September hits I’m always ready to dive into all the fall feels. And nothing screams cozy fall mornings quite like pumpkin spice. Basic it may be, it’s the best and you know it. These Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes are not only a perfect treat, they’re packed with protein so you […]

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- Team LSF
How to Connect with the #TeamLSF Community

#TeamLSF community Need new friends? Same! When I went through my own weight loss journey I felt totally alone. Like no one REALLY understood what I was going through or WHY I was making so many changes. I truly believe having a solid support system and women to help hold you accountable is the key […]

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- Team LSF
Workout for your Cycle | Phase-Based Training

Phase-Based Training Your body changes throughout your menstrual cycle. No surprise there, right? So why is it that so many women — myself included, for a long time! — expect the same performance and results from their bodies all the time, regardless of where they are in their cycle? Like, when your PMS has you […]

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- Parul Dube

Top 10 Facts About Obesity You Probably Didn’t Know HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that at least 2.8 million adults die every year due to being overweight or obese. In addition, 44% of diabetes cases, 23% of heart diseases and 7-41% of particular instances of cancer are attributable to overweight and obesity. Obesity means that a person carries too much weight, specifically fat, […]

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- Parul Dube
What to eat this Navratri 2021 and Stay Healthy?

What to eat this Navratri 2021 and Stay Healthy? HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

The beginning of the festive season is here and along with the arrival of goddess Durga, it is time to meet family, friends and make memories. The spirit of Navratri is at its peak, still wondering how to fast for nine days and keep yourself healthy? Avoid having fried and oil-laden foods, switch to healthier […]

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- Parul Dube

Why You Cannot Outrun a Bad Diet? HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Food is the foundation of how our body looks and feels from within. Therefore, what we eat directly affects how we look and feel. If you spend innumerable hours hitting the gym and still fail to see any significant results, maybe it is time to modify your bad diet. Your diet plays a vital role […]

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- Parul Dube
7 Foods to Improve Fertility in Women

7 Foods to Improve Fertility in Women HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Lifestyle, Diet and various other factors heavily impacts Fertility of a women. While food alone cannot cure all the problems, it can undoubtedly support and maintain your overall health. Eating an excellent, well-balanced diet is the key to a healthy and fit body. However, many times the infertility problem has nothing to do with a […]

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- Parul Dube

All About The Right Food Plate Method HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

How do you choose your cutlery or your favourite plates? More often than not, we all choose our cutlery based on its design and colour. But do you know how important it is to select the right plate size for an overall healthy body? Yes, it is true. If you want to reduce and manage […]

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- Parul Dube

Top 10 Ways to Make Hydration Fun! HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Just as plants dry out and die without sufficient water, similarly, humans need water to stay alive. Water is the elixir of life. A human body contains 75% of water, and it is as vital as blood. Therefore, proper hydration is the key to a healthy body and a stable mind. Water is essential for […]

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- Parul Dube

7 Food Swaps for Quick Weight Loss HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Does embarking on a weight loss journey mean giving up your sweets, French fries and red meat? Not necessarily. Creating space for better nutrition doesn’t necessarily require a total overhaul or giving up on your favourite foods. Here are seven food swaps that may help you in cutting down on unhealthy calories. 1. Eggs or […]

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- Parul Dube

How to Speed Up Your Weight Loss Journey? HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Getting fit and in shape is something that we all desire. However, our hectic lifestyle and wrong food habits make it almost impossible for us to stay healthy. But as they say, it is never too late to turn things around in your life. So start now, start at whatever age you are, whichever place […]

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- Parul Dube
Top 10 Healthy Alternatives to Butter on Bread

Top 10 Healthy Alternatives to Butter on Bread HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Who does not love a crispy butter toast with a hot cup of tea or coffee? Biting into a buttery piece of bread is the best feeling in the entire world. However, the sense of guilt or stress just after having that one-tablespoon of butter is equally unpleasant. We Indians love our ghee and butter. […]

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- Parul Dube

Why Exercising is Important if You Have Diabetes? HealthifyMe Blog HealthifyMe Blog - The definitive guide to weight loss, fitness and living a healthier life.

Diabetes has become a widespread epidemic. A sedentary lifestyle, increasing prevalence and incidence of unhealthy eating habits, and stress can induce this disease. It can also result from genetic defects in insulin, pancreatic disease, surgery, infections, and drugs or chemicals. Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a group of conditions resulting in too much sugar […]

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- Tarun Preet
How To Completely Eliminate Sugar From Your Diet
How To Completely Eliminate Sugar From Your Diet In one of my previous posts about sugar, I said sugar is like Mr. India, invisible it is 😉 , yet present in most of the things that we think have no sugar. Sugar makes you addicted to it and you crave for it more and more. […]
- Kanan
Low Carb Sugar Free Chocolate Recipes
Low Carb Sugar Free Chocolate Recipes When I began my weight loss journey, one of the most difficult task for me was to control my sweet tooth without adding to the carb count. Since I was on Atkins Diet Program and was losing loads in a jiffy, I didn’t want to hamper my progress because […]
- Vinita
How to look curvy and toned?
How to look curvy and toned? Hello All!! Every girl dreams of the perfect hourglass figure but the saddening truth is that it is the rarest kind of figure. About 8.4% of women have been bestowed with a perfect hourglass figure. Now don’t lose hope as help is on your way! You can follow healthy […]
- Guest Post
Home Remedy To Manage High Blood Pressure
Home Remedy To Manage High Blood Pressure Blood Pressure is the pressure in which the blood pumps from heart into the arteries. A healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg. If this pressure is high i.e., when it is above 140/90 mm Hg, the increased force of blood flow strain the arterial walls […]
- Devieka
How to Stop Procrastinating On Your Fitness Goals
How to Stop Procrastinating On Your Fitness Goals Are you one of those dieters who say “Only this one time more—” or “ will surely restart from tomorrow…” to yourself at the slightest thought of taking a break from workouts or when you want to indulge in your favorite food? Then you are a victim […]
- Vinita
Edible Flowers For Health
Edible Flowers For Health(Repost) Hello everyone…. Today’s post is being reposted for its interesting content value. Nowadays we are all into using natural products in almost every sphere of life so I thought of posting this old post of 2014 again for your knowledge and info value. (Kanan) Edible Flowers For Health Once upon a […]
- Raveena
Diabetes Diet For Indians
Diabetes Diet For Indians Diet tips with a free diet menu Hey everyone, Today I am going to be writing on a very interesting topic and a very common disease  among Indians, DIABETES. Diabetes is a very common disorder and is of many types commonly known as type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. We plan […]
- Kanan
Best Low Carb Summer Vegetables
Best Low Carb Summer Vegetables Come summers and we see a change everywhere in dresses, footwear and food too. This is the season of a wide variety of vegetables. I am being asked repeatedly by vegetarian dieters about which vegetables to be had on a low carb diet protocol. So here is a list of […]
- Dr.Sahiba
Papaya and Sun Melon Summer Fruit Drink Recipe
Papaya and Sun Melon Summer Fruit Drink Recipe (Repost) Hi everybody, You know what is the best thing I like about summers (apart from the occasional breezy days)? It’s my frenzy experiments with summer drinks and shakes. I literally use just about anything that crosses my sight to prepare a new taste for myself. And […]
- Tarun Preet
Love Thy Body Love Thyself
Love Thy Body Love Thyself (Repost) Ps. This is another beautifully written inspirational post from 2014 and I am reposting it because despite helping people to lose weight and stay healthy, we strongly believe in the fundamentals of self acceptance. In this old post Tarun talks about self acceptance and loving oneself unconditionally. Read on… […]