Short guide to choosing exercises in the weight room

    Short guide to choosing exercises in the weight room

    By Dr. Francesca Fanolla

    The choice of isotonic toning exercises, in the weight room, is remarkable and often creates discomfort, especially in those who adopt the 'do it yourself' (training without the guidance of the instructor and a training card), as well as in the instructor himself who has to select certain exercises and exclude others.
    It is well known that, for the achievement of strength (maximal, explosive, etc.) and for hypertrophy, the choice can only fall on those exercises which, due to biomechanical predisposition and physiological action that determine on the body and muscle and general metabolism, have always been considered the 'basic' exercises of training in the weight room. But for a person whose sole objective is the simple achievement and maintenance of good physical shape in terms of strengthening and toning (with a moderate hypertrophy), what are the recommended and most efficient exercises for each muscle group?
    Personally, based on my personal experience and belonging to that theoretical-practical line of instructors not dedicated to either Bodybuilding proper or Power-lifting, I stick to some guiding principles and rather simple and 'traditional' selection criteria. in the choice of exercises. Furthermore, I am of the idea that we should never fossilize for too long in the practice of the same exercises, but always and in any case adopt, when the body adaptation allows and requires it, the variation of both the exercises used and the methodology used. training, as well as the objectives themselves (training periodization).
    Therefore, my personal choice of exercises is based primarily on the number of exercises: greater for the larger muscle groups, such as those of the legs, chest and back, and less for the smaller muscle groups, such as those of the shoulders and back. arms, and for the abdominals.
    As regards, instead, the choice of exercises, the main criterion that I most frequently adopt is that of distinguishing between two-joint (and multi-joint) and mono-joint or complementary exercises.
    The bi- or multi-joint exercises, as the term itself indicates, are movements that involve two or more joints and, consequently, a greater number of muscle groups (eg: flat bench presses with the involvement of the joints: scapolo- humeral and radio-humeral).
    Those defined as mono-joint (or 'complementary' because, as a rule, always associated with one or more multi-joint) are exercises that, in their movement, involve only one joint and, specifically and directly, only one group main muscle (for example: the crosses on the bench with dumbbells, with exclusive involvement of the scapulo-humeral joint and of the pectoral muscles in primis).

    Here are grouped in a table the single-joint and two-joint or multi-joint exercises for each muscle group:








    Dumbbell crosses on bench

    Barbell bench press

    Cross over to cables

    Dumbbell bench press



    Chest press

    Ground bendings





    Forward lat machine with pronated wide grip


    Lat machine forward with a narrow supinated grip


    Rowing with dumbbell or barbell




    Side stands

    Slow forward with barbell

    Front raises

    Military press with dumbbells


    Shoulder press


    Pull to your chin

    Lateral raises with torso at 90 °



    standing barbell curl

    standing barbell curl * (with cheating)

    Curl your bench Scott


    Curl alternate

    Alternate curls (with cheating) *

    Concentrated curls


    Curl the cables



    Push down to the cable

    Close grip presses on a flat bench

    Stretches on the head

    Dips to the parallels

    French press

    Push-ups between benches

    Stretches behind


    Legs and buttocks

    Leg extension


    Leg curl

    Leg press

    Abductor machine


    Adductor machine

    Sagittal lungs


    Step up-step down

    Back extensions for buttocks

    the four-legged

    Pushes of the pelvis from supine decubitus


    Glutesu machine




    Sit ups



    Put raise


    Notes: * the barbell curl or standing dumbbell curl, although mechanically they are mono-joint exercises, can be considered almost bi-articular if the 'cheating' technique is adopted which, with the compensating movement of the torso and shoulders in forward, it also calls into question the deltoids and the scapulohumeral joint, as well as that of the elbow.

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