Gaining size isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your body is built to survive, not to look like an Olympia competitor, so putting on—and holding on to—muscle mass is a complicated, multilayered affair that can vary from person to person. But one thing everyone can do to maximize their ability to add new muscle is to choose the right exercises—the type that will break down muscle tissue and trigger the hormonal responses that send your body into overdrive, also known as the muscle-building anabolic state.

The following eight exercises are among the best for putting your body in an anabolic state to build muscle mass. In most cases, a barbell or a pair of dumbbells will be your tool of choice so these workouts don’t require any fancy equipment, just good old fashioned heavy iron.