What are the Big 5 exercises in order?

Discover the order of the Big 5 exercises with our guide. 'What are the Big 5 exercises in order?' Uncover the key to a full-body workout.

What are the Big 5 exercises in order?
What are the Big 5 exercises in order?

What are the Big 5 exercises in order?

The Big 5 exercises are a set of five key exercises that form the foundation of a comprehensive strength training routine. These exercises are designed to target multiple muscle groups and provide a well-rounded workout for individuals looking to build strength and enhance their overall fitness.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Big 5 exercises consist of the Deadlift, Bench Press, Squat, Shoulder Press, and Pull-Up.
  • These exercises are highly effective for building strength and promoting muscle growth.
  • Performing the Big 5 exercises in the proper order ensures balanced muscle development.
  • Incorporating compound exercises, like the Big 5, into your routine can lead to improved functional fitness and increased athletic performance.
  • Remember to focus on proper form, gradually increase weight and intensity, and allow for adequate rest and recovery to maximize the benefits of the Big 5 exercises.

Understanding the Importance of Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that engage multiple muscle groups, providing maximum efficiency and effectiveness in your workouts. By involving several muscles at once, compound exercises help you build functional strength and improve overall body coordination. These exercises also stimulate a greater release of growth hormones, promoting muscle growth and enhancing your metabolic rate.

One of the key benefits of compound exercises is their ability to mimic real-life movements. Whether it's lifting heavy objects, pushing, pulling, or squatting, compound exercises train your body to perform these activities more effectively. They also help build a solid foundation of strength and stability, which can carry over into various sports and daily activities.

Incorporating compound exercises into your strength training routine is crucial for balanced muscle development. Instead of isolating specific muscle groups, compound exercises engage multiple muscles simultaneously, leading to greater overall strength gains. They also provide a time-efficient workout as you can target multiple muscle groups in a single exercise, allowing you to get the most out of your training session.

Ready to take your workouts to the next level? Consider adding compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, and pull-ups to your routine. These movements will not only help you build strength but also improve your functional capacity for everyday activities.

The first exercise: Deadlift

The Deadlift is a foundational exercise in the Big 5 routine that primarily targets the muscles in your posterior chain, including your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It is a compound movement that involves lifting a barbell or dumbbells from the ground to a standing position.

To perform a deadlift correctly:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell close to your shins.
  2. Bend your knees and lower your hips while keeping your back straight.
  3. Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Engage your core and drive through your heels as you lift the barbell, extending your hips and knees.
  5. Keep the barbell close to your body throughout the movement and stand up tall at the top.

The deadlift is an effective exercise for building overall strength, improving posture, and enhancing athletic performance. It is important to start with lighter weights and focus on proper form to prevent injury and optimize your results.

Tips for performing the deadlift:

  • Warm up adequately before starting your deadlift session.
  • Focus on maintaining a neutral spine throughout the movement.
  • Breathe out as you lift the weight and breathe in as you lower it down.
  • Gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the movement.

The second exercise: Bench Press

The Bench Press is a compound exercise that primarily targets the muscles of your chest, shoulders, and triceps, making it an essential part of any strength training routine. By lying flat on a bench and using a barbell or dumbbells, you can effectively engage multiple muscle groups to build upper body strength and power.

Proper technique is crucial when performing the Bench Press to ensure optimal results and prevent injury. Start by lying on a bench with your feet flat on the ground, your back pressed firmly against the bench, and your shoulder blades retracted. Grip the barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, keeping your wrists in line with your forearms.

Lower the barbell slowly and under control to your chest, allowing your elbows to bend at a 90-degree angle. Pause for a moment at the bottom, then press the barbell back up to the starting position, exhaling as you do so. It's important to maintain proper form throughout the movement, keeping your back flat against the bench and your core engaged for stability.

When incorporating the Bench Press into your strength training routine, consider performing multiple sets and gradually increasing the weight as you progress. This exercise can be modified to suit your fitness level by using dumbbells instead of a barbell or incorporating variations such as the incline or decline Bench Press. Remember to warm up properly before attempting heavy lifts and listen to your body to avoid overtraining or strain.

The third exercise: Squat

The Squat is a foundational lower body exercise that primarily targets the muscles in your legs, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. It is a compound movement that engages multiple muscle groups, making it an essential exercise in any strength training routine. Performing squats regularly can help increase lower body strength, improve mobility, and enhance overall athletic performance.

To properly execute a squat, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Lower your body by bending at the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees stay aligned with your toes and tracking over your feet. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly below, and then push through your heels to return to the starting position. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your core throughout the movement for optimal form and stability.

Incorporating squats into your workout routine can provide a variety of benefits. Some of these include:

  • Increased lower body strength and power
  • Improved muscle definition and tone in the legs and glutes
  • Enhanced functional movement patterns and balance
  • Boosted metabolism and calorie burn
  • Strengthened bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis

Remember, proper form is crucial when performing squats to prevent injury and maximize results. If you're new to this exercise, it may be helpful to seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional to ensure you are using the correct technique. Gradually increase the weight and intensity of your squats over time to continually challenge your muscles and progress in your strength training journey.

The fourth exercise: Shoulder Press

The Shoulder Press is a compound exercise that primarily targets the muscles of your shoulders and arms, helping to develop upper body strength and stability. This exercise involves pressing a weight overhead from shoulder level, engaging the deltoids, triceps, and upper back muscles. It is an essential component of the Big 5 exercises, providing a comprehensive workout for the upper body.

To perform the Shoulder Press, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and holding a barbell or dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Keep your core engaged and press the weight straight up overhead until your arms are fully extended. Lower the weight back down to shoulder level and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Proper form is crucial for the Shoulder Press to ensure safety and effectiveness. Avoid using excessive momentum or arching the back during the movement. Engage your core, maintain a neutral spine, and fully extend your arms at the top of the movement for maximum muscle activation.

By incorporating the Shoulder Press into your strength training routine, you will not only strengthen and sculpt the muscles of your shoulders and arms but also improve overall upper body strength and stability. Remember to start with a weight that challenges you but allows you to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. As you build strength and progress, you can gradually increase the weight to continue challenging your muscles and achieving your fitness goals.

The fifth exercise: Pull-Up

The Pull-Up is a compound exercise that primarily targets the muscles of your back, including your latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and biceps, helping to improve upper body strength and posture. It is considered one of the most challenging yet rewarding exercises in the Big 5 workout routine. When performed correctly, the Pull-Up engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it an excellent choice for those looking to build functional strength.

To perform a Pull-Up, start by gripping a horizontal bar with your palms facing away from you, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended. From this position, engage your back muscles and pull your body up towards the bar until your chin is level with or above the bar. Slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

If you're new to Pull-Ups or find them challenging, you can modify the exercise by using an assisted Pull-Up machine, resistance bands, or performing eccentric (negative) Pull-Ups. Gradually work towards unassisted Pull-Ups to continue progressing and building strength.

Tips for performing Pull-Ups effectively:

  • Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
  • Focus on pulling with your back muscles rather than relying solely on your arms.
  • Avoid using excessive swinging or momentum to complete the movement.
  • Control the lowering phase of the exercise to maximize muscle engagement.
  • Gradually increase the difficulty by adding weight or performing variations such as wide-grip or chin-up variations.

Incorporating Pull-Ups into your strength training routine can help develop a strong and well-rounded upper body. Combine them with the other Big 5 exercises in the recommended order to create an effective full-body workout that targets all major muscle groups. Remember to prioritize proper form and gradually increase the intensity and difficulty of your workouts over time for continued progress and results.

The order of the Big 5 exercises

The specific order of the Big 5 exercises is crucial for optimizing your strength training routine and targeting different muscle groups effectively. By following this specific sequence, you can ensure balanced muscle development and maximize the benefits of your workout.

1. Deadlift: The first exercise in the Big 5 routine is the deadlift. This compound movement targets multiple muscle groups, including your back, glutes, hamstrings, and core. It is an excellent exercise for building overall strength and improving your posture.

2. Bench Press: Next up is the bench press, which primarily focuses on your chest, shoulders, and triceps. This pushing movement helps develop upper body strength and is a staple in any strength training routine.

3. Squat: The squat is considered the king of lower body exercises. It works your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Additionally, squats also engage your upper body muscles, making it a highly efficient compound movement.

4. Shoulder Press: The shoulder press targets your deltoids, triceps, and upper back. By incorporating this overhead pressing movement, you can develop strong and well-rounded shoulders while also engaging your core for stability.

5. Pull-Up: The final exercise in the Big 5 routine is the pull-up. This challenging movement primarily targets your back muscles, including your latissimus dorsi. Pull-ups also engage your biceps, shoulders, and core, making it an excellent exercise for upper body strength and stability.

By following this specific order of the Big 5 exercises, you can ensure that each muscle group is appropriately targeted and avoid overworking any particular area. Incorporating compound movements like the Big 5 exercises into your strength training routine is key to achieving overall strength, muscle development, and functional fitness.

Creating a well-rounded strength training routine

While the Big 5 exercises are a solid foundation for a full-body strength training routine, it's essential to include other exercises and variations to maximize your results. By incorporating a variety of exercises, you can target different muscle groups, prevent plateaus, and ensure balanced muscle development.

One important aspect to consider when creating a well-rounded routine is to include exercises that work different muscle groups. This means incorporating exercises that target not only the major muscle groups, such as the chest, back, legs, and shoulders but also the smaller stabilizing muscles. Compound exercises, which involve multiple joints and muscle groups, are particularly effective for full-body workouts.

Here are some tips for adding variety and balance to your strength training routine:

  • Include exercises for all major muscle groups: In addition to the Big 5 exercises, incorporate exercises like lunges, bent-over rows, tricep dips, and bicep curls to target specific muscle groups.
  • Try different equipment: Incorporating free weights, resistance bands, and machines can provide different levels of resistance and help keep your workouts engaging.
  • Include bodyweight exercises: Push-ups, planks, and bodyweight squats are effective exercises that can be done anywhere and require no equipment.
  • Don't forget about core exercises: Strengthening your core is essential for overall stability and can be achieved through exercises like planks, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches.

Remember to listen to your body and adjust your routine as needed. It's important to progressively increase the intensity and challenge of your workouts over time to continue seeing results.

By incorporating a variety of exercises and variations into your routine, you can ensure a well-rounded and effective strength training program. This will not only help prevent boredom but also target all muscle groups for balanced development and maximize your overall fitness gains. So, while the Big 5 exercises provide a strong foundation, don't be afraid to explore and add other exercises to keep your workouts fresh and challenging.

Maximizing the Benefits of the Big 5 Exercises

To get the most out of your Big 5 workouts, it's important to focus on progressive overload, maintain proper form, and allow sufficient time for rest and recovery.

1. Progressive overload: This concept involves gradually increasing the demands placed on your muscles over time. You can achieve progressive overload by increasing the weight you lift, doing more repetitions, or reducing the rest time between sets. This ensures that your muscles are constantly challenged and stimulated to grow stronger.

2. Maintain proper form: Performing the Big 5 exercises with correct form is crucial for maximum effectiveness and safety. Proper form ensures that you are targeting the intended muscles and minimizing the risk of injury. If you're new to these exercises, consider working with a qualified trainer to learn the correct technique.

3. Allow sufficient rest and recovery: Building strength requires time for your muscles to repair and grow. Adequate rest and recovery periods between workouts are essential for optimizing the benefits of the Big 5 exercises. Aim for at least 48 hours of rest between training sessions to allow your muscles to fully recover and adapt.

By following these key principles of progressive overload, proper form, and adequate rest, you can maximize the benefits of the Big 5 exercises and achieve impressive strength gains. These exercises, when performed correctly and consistently, can help you build a strong foundation and improve overall fitness.


The Big 5 exercises provide a solid foundation for a full-body strength training routine, targeting major muscle groups and promoting overall strength and fitness. Incorporating these exercises in the proper order can help you achieve your fitness goals effectively.

Starting with the Deadlift, which primarily works the lower body and posterior chain, you'll build a strong foundation of strength and power. The Bench Press follows, focusing on the chest, shoulders, and triceps, enhancing upper body pressing strength.

The Squat, a fundamental compound movement, engages the entire lower body and core, developing leg strength and stability. The Shoulder Press, an overhead pressing exercise, targets the deltoids and triceps, fostering upper body pressing strength and stability.

Lastly, the Pull-Up, an excellent upper body pulling exercise, engages the back, biceps, and shoulders, promoting overall upper body muscular development and strength.

By following this order, you'll benefit from a balanced and comprehensive workout, ensuring that all major muscle groups are targeted and developed harmoniously. However, it's important to note that these exercises alone may not provide a complete strength training routine. Incorporating other exercises and variations is crucial to create a well-rounded program that addresses your individual needs and goals.

So, if you're looking for a challenging and effective strength training routine, consider incorporating the Big 5 exercises in the proper order. With consistency, progressive overload, and attention to proper form, you'll be on your way to achieving your desired strength and fitness levels.

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