Skip to content

7 Best Exercises To Boost Muscle Growth, According to a Bodybuilding Champ

Achieve bigger muscles with a former bodybuilding champ's go-to exercises.

Speeding up the process to achieve bigger muscles is, for many, a dream come true. With the right amount of dedication and exercise plan, that dream can become a reality. Eat This, Not That! spoke with the president at BIOptimizers and former bodybuilder champion, Wade Lightheart, and learned the seven best exercises to boost muscle growth. Who better than a bodybuilding champ to get the best muscle-building tips from?

Defined muscles don't come easy. But with the right exercises on deck, you'll be well on your way to an efficient game plan. "With a background in bodybuilding, these exercises target different muscle groups for a well-rounded approach," Lightheart tells us. "The metabolic benefits of muscle mass are huge. The more lean muscle you have, the more carbs your muscles absorb. Instead of turning the glucose you consume into fat through lipolysis, your muscles act like sponges for glucose, which has an antidiabetic effect. Lean muscle mass is also essential for healthy, lifelong weight loss. The calorie burn resulting from extra muscle tissue is one of the keys to successful weight loss over time."

Note that it's important to perform warm-ups before working out, focus on your form, and slowly add more weight over time. "A key factor in achieving sustained muscle growth is gradual weight increase as it will promote progressive muscle growth and challenge your muscles to adapt and grow stronger over time," Lightheart adds.

So roll up your sleeves, and get ready to work hard. Keep reading to learn the seven best exercises to boost muscle growth, according to a former bodybuilding champ. And when you're finished, be sure to check out A 69-Year-Old Trainer Shares the 7 Fitness Habits That Keep Her Looking 25.


illustration of pull-ups exercise

This first exercise helps strengthen and develop your upper body, specifically the rhomboids, lats, and biceps. "Pull-ups enhance muscle engagement and contribute to the sculpting of a well-defined back, a hallmark of any bodybuilder," Lightheart says. "Pull-ups also require little to no workout equipment. Simply find yourself a steady bar or branch, and you're good to go!"

RELATED: 5 Best At-Home Workouts To Shrink & Tone Love Handles


man doing dips from bar

Dips are excellent when it comes to activating the chest, triceps, and shoulders. Performing this exercise with proper form will stimulate a good amount of muscle activation in your triceps, which can lead to both definition and mass. "Additionally, dips provide a greater range of motion than other pressing exercises," Lightheart adds. "This extended range of motion activates stabilizing muscles, enhancing overall upper body functional strength."

Leg Presses

leg press machine

The leg press engages your hamstrings, glutes, and quads and helps you get a handle on leg training. "[This allows] for strategic targeting of muscle groups without the same axial loading as squats," explains Lightheart. "Unlike squats, leg presses minimize stress on the lower back while promoting muscle growth in the lower body."

RELATED: 10 Best Exercises To Melt Lower Belly Fat

Standing Calf Raises

calf raises

This exercise is quite important when it comes to supporting different athletic movements and promoting stability in your lower body. "This is best done with controlled movements, ensuring that the emphasis is on the calves rather than relying on momentum," shares Lightheart.

RELATED: 9 Lazy Ways to Lose Weight All Month Long

Hanging Leg Raises

hanging leg raise

Hanging leg raises focus on the entire abdominal area, specifically the lower abs. "The exercise engages the rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors, promoting strength and definition in the midsection," explains Lightheart. "The hanging leg raise is great for minimizing reliance on hip flexors and maximizing abdominal activation when performed correctly."


man swimming concept

Swimming is a low-impact but very effective full-body workout. You will receive muscle engagement, cardiovascular benefits, and increased lung capacity. "Swimming is a well-rounded and joint-friendly activity making it suitable for individuals at any age," Lightheart says.

RELATED: I Tried 4 Pairs of HOKA Sneakers & One Beats the Rest By a Mile

Battle Ropes

woman doing battle ropes

If you haven't trained with battle ropes before, they are not for the faint of heart. This full-body workout engages your legs, core, shoulders, and arms. This piece of equipment provides a versatile exercise to boost your overall fitness.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa