Short guide to choosing exercises in the weight room

Who I am
Joe Dispenza

Author and references

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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