The 12 Best Mass-Building Exercises

best mass building exercises

Most people think that all it takes to build mass is show up at the gym, do some weights, and drink a protein shake after. This is only true when you know which movements are best for building mass, not to mention, there are a few more things that go into muscle growth.

You also have to think about giving your muscles the proper recovery time and maybe using a few other supplements in addition to protein. Things like creatine and glutamine can help recovery, while pre-workout might be the boost you need to get the pump you’re looking for.

Still, none of this matters without the right movements. Doing the best mass building exercises cannot be stressed enough.

If you’re not sure what these are, here’s a list of the top twelve – in no particular order.

1. Bench Press

The bench press is arguably the most classic gym movement there is. As such, it’s a good place to start off when you’re first getting into a gym routine or starting to focus on building mass.

Make the press a focal part of chest day and don’t be afraid to incorporate it into warm-ups for shoulders, biceps, or triceps, either. Just make sure you always have the proper form when doing a bench press, and a spot when trying to hit a new max.

2. Push-Up

As great as the bench press is, it doesn’t substitute the power of a good old-fashioned push-up. This movement still challenges your chest and helps build your core and arms, too.

Plus, it’s always good to work functional movements in whenever you can. There are plenty of muscular people in the gym that can’t hold a plank very long or do as many push-ups as you’d expect.

3. Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups

Speaking of functional movements, start doing more pull-ups and chin-ups. These work your entire back and your arms. They challenge your muscle strength and endurance with every single rep you do.

4. Bent-Over Row

If you start to feel like pull-ups and chin-ups aren’t really doing it for you, do bent-over rows and add a little more weight on each week. Make sure your form is correct and you complete the full range of motion, squeezing your back at the top.

This is one of the best back exercises for mass when you get it right. Keep your core engaged to stay steady for even better results.

5. Shoulder Press

Always remember that working your back and focusing on shoulders is not the same thing. You need to separate these muscle groups if you want your mass to not only come in quickly but be even.

The shoulder press is like the chest press’s big brother. It hones in on this part of the body to build mass and make you stronger. Whether you do few reps at high weight or low weight and more reps, you’ll still get the muscle growth you’re looking for.

6. Military Press

Most shoulder presses are done with free weights. You have one dumbbell in each hand to complete the motion. To do a military press, though, you need a barbell.

The military press targets the shoulders and the chest at the same time. You can do it standing up or sitting straight up against a raised bench for more support. The start of a military press is at the top of the chest – right around where you would lower a bar at when doing chest presses.

Then, you push straight up, kind of like doing a shoulder press. It may take you some time to get the rhythm down (considering most people have to look straight up or move a bit to avoid hitting their chin), but the motion will feel natural with practice.

7. Squats

Here’s another classic gym movement: squats.

Squats are amazing mass builders for the legs, but they also work the core. If you’re trying to put more of a focus on your lower body, do them at least twice a week or switch up the squats you do. Work on traditional squats one day then do hack squats or front squats the next.

8. Deadlifts

While you’re at the squat rack, you may as well do some deadlifts. But, you can actually warm up or wrap up your back workout with this movement, too!

This is because deadlifts are a full-body challenge. You need to activate the hamstrings to get a good pull, thrust your hips forward with a steady core, and finish at the top with an engaged back. It works everything, every time.

9. Bicep Curl

It’s nice to get a multi-muscle focus from time to time, but there’s nothing wrong with focusing on one thing at a time, either. When your day for doing a bicep workout rolls around, be sure the standard curl is a part of your routine.

The curl is the best way to target the bicep. It helps create those big, cartoon-like bumps you see on people when you get them right and do them over and over.

10. Dips

Don’t forget about your triceps as your biceps start to grow. Giving equal focus to each gives your arms an even look and helps create a nice proportion with the rest of your body.

Dips can be done with your feet on the floor and arms on a bench or elevated with your entire body off the ground and arms on two handles.

11. Barbell Pullover

If you prefer dips with a bench, or this is where you’d like to start out, do some barbell pullovers, too.

This motion requires you to lay on your back, raise a barbell above your head, then bring it backward toward your forehead. However, the full range of motion is to bring the barbell all the way back behind your head. It’s an intense burn on the triceps, which is just what you need to build these bad boys.

12. Calf Presses

This one may sound a little too simple, but face it: way too many people forget about their legs. They think squats and lunges are enough without breaking down this part of the body properly.

You have to do calf presses, too. It doesn’t matter whether you do them standing up, against a leg press, or even when going up the stairs. Just do them – and do them well.

The Best Mass Building Exercises and the Right Recovery for Them

It’s one thing to know what the best mass building exercises for certain body parts are, and another to know how to recover. Always make time to warm up and cool down no matter what you’re doing in the gym.

More than that, discipline yourself with what you eat for the absolute best results. To discover more reasons why eating right matters so much, click here.

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