Skip to content

6 Best Exercises To Build Muscle Mass, According to a Top Trainer

The time-tested moves to add strength and size, no matter your level.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Everyone can benefit from more muscle mass, no matter their age. It's not necessarily about looking like a huge bodybuilder; it's about increasing your strength to handle every type of physical activity, building a lean and healthy body, burning calories, strengthening your bones and joints, and even maintaining your activity levels as you get older. To get fantastic results, look no further than these exercises to build muscle mass.

These are the proven movements that pack on the strength and power across your entire body. Even better, we're sharing specific variations that are approved for almost everyone, even if you're newer to fitness or working through a few movement restrictions. Add these exercises to build muscle mass to your training routine, and you'll see the difference quickly.

Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss 7 Best Exercises for Men to Gain Muscle Without Equipment.

Front Squats

man doing barbell front squats at the gym

Squats are the king of exercises to build muscle mass. They blast your lower body and even your upper body as you have to carry the weight throughout the movement. Start with a front squat to maintain a more upright posture, which can take the stress off your lower back.

To set up, grab a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Roll your elbows under and in front of the bar until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Take the bar out of the rack, and let it rest in front of your neck on the meaty part of your shoulders. Keep your chest high and elbows up and squeezed together.

Stand with your feet planted shoulder-width distance apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom of the movement, drive through your heels, and keep your knees apart. Keep your chest high and elbows up and squeezed together throughout.

High-Handle Trap Bar Deadlift

close-up of trap bar deadlift

Deadlifts add size to practically every muscle at the rear of your body—and the stronger you get at the deadlift, the stronger you'll get at practically every other exercise. Using a high-handle trap bar makes it easier to get in the center of the load. Plus, you don't have to bend over as much, which can help if you don't have great flexibility.

To begin, stand at the center of a trap bar with your feet placed hip-width distance apart and your toes straight ahead. Keep your knees soft, and bend at your hip as you grab the handles. Keep your shins perpendicular to the ground and your lower back flat. Drive through your heels, and push your hips forward to stand straight up. Squeeze your glutes at the top. Reverse the movement to lower the weight.

The Ultimate Muscle-Building Workout Every Man Over 40 Should Try

Dumbbell Bench Press

man doing dumbbell bench press

The bench press is an incredible way to build mass in your chest, your arms, and your shoulders. Using dumbbells as opposed to a barbell will help you build more stability in your shoulder joints, go easier on your shoulders by using a neutral grip, and remove any imbalances.

To get started, lie on a workout bench with your chest up, your shoulders squeezed together, and your feet flat on the ground. Drive the dumbbells upward, keeping your shoulders back. Drive through your heels as well, keeping your glutes on the bench.

Chest-Supported Row

chest-supported rows

To pack on the muscle mass, don't overspecialize on the muscles in front of your body—focus on the muscles at the rear. For that reason, rows are an awesome pulling exercise to pack on slabs of muscle all around your upper back. They can even help you improve your posture.

Set an adjustable bench to a short incline, and lie face down with a dumbbell in each hand, or use a T-bar row. Start the movement by pulling your shoulder blades together, and row. Don't let your elbow pull past your ribcage.


man doing chin-ups outdoors

Chin-ups are an essential exercise for adding upper-body muscle. In fact, if you can't do 10 bodyweight chin-ups with proper technique, don't even bother doing bicep curls—you'd get more benefit from chin-ups alone. They even increase your grip strength, which carries over to almost every other exercise.

Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing toward you, and start by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pull yourself up, and lead with your chest.

5 Ways To Build Muscle Density & Boost Your Strength

Landmine Press

landmine press exercise illustration

Pushing weights overhead is an old-school method to pack on size and sculpt a strong-looking physique. But many individuals lack the upper-body mobility for a proper barbell overhead press. Instead, use a landmine because the weight moves overhead on an arc so you can avoid tough ranges of motion.

To get started, place one end of a barbell in a landmine. At the other end, stand facing the landmine, grab the other end with one arm, and hold it near the same shoulder. Drive the barbell overhead without twisting. Finish all your reps on one side and alternate. To make this exercise more difficult, add weight by sliding small plates on the end.

Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Esquire, GQ, and Men’s Health and the founder of GroomBuilder, the destination for men who want to transform their bodies for their weddings. Join the free 5-day course to burn fat and build muscle for the big day! Read more about Anthony