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High-intensity workouts are paramount to building muscle—but the exercises you pick are also super-important. Sure, squats, deads, and presses are all solid options, but a little creativity can provide more bang for your buck to build maximum muscle in minimal time.
The key is combining the right movements and avoiding useless hybrids, like Bosu ball lunges with twisting lateral raises (don’t ask). These three exercises provide all the bang you could hope for—and none of them require a Bosu.
1. Kettlebell swings: Often used for conditioning—some high-level athletes rip out 50-plus reps at a clip—KB swings also provide plenty of muscle-building benefits. “Swings work the glutes and hamstrings but can also improve grip strength and add growth to the shoulders, lats, and pecs,” says Robert Ciresi Jr., an I.S.S.A.-certified trainer in Riverside, CA.
2. Good morning to squat: “This combo benefits a hinging pattern and a squat pattern, and requires lots of core stability,” says Jim Smith, C.P.P.S., owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning. Try it with a barbell or front-racked KBs. Expert tip: Go light.
3. Sumo-stance Romanian deadlift: This posterior chain developer also “improves functional hip mobility for the deadlift” due to the wider stance, says Smith. “Sumo RDLs build the hips, glutes, hamstrings, spinal erectors, lats, and enhance core stability.”
Need a great lower-body blast but don’t have much time? Knock out this three-exercise legs workout in 15 to 20 minutes.
Note: You can alternate the good morning to squat with dumbbell or barbell thrusters every other workout, using a moderate weight. You can also alternate between the sumo-stance Romanian deadlift and kettlebell swings every other workout, bumping up the reps to 15-20 per set.