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5 Best Weight Lifting Exercises

Weight lifting can seem complicated to some people, but it doesnt have to be. Building a foundation of the basic exercises is just as important as doing a bunch of different exercises. Now I will say, these are the 5 best weight lifting exercises in my opinion. If I had to teach myself to lift weights again, these would be the 5 exercises I would choose to teach first

  1. Dumbbell Bench Press
  2. Pull-up/Pull Down
  3. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  4. Dumbbell Skull-Crusher
  5. Dumbbell Curl

You might be wondering why I chose dumbbells for all these workouts, but there is a method to my madness. Over the years, I have used mostly dummbells when doing these exercises for many different reasons. First, it allows me to change the angle of my hands instead of them being at one angle while gripping a bar. Also, I enjoy the amount of freedom dumbbells allows for different angles and range of motion. Im left hand dominant, so my right side has always been weaker than my left. Dumbbells allow me to work each side independently to eventually close the gap in strength between my right and left sides. Now lets get into it….

Dumbbell Bench Press

The Bench Press is widely known as the King of all chest exercises. The bench press is an effective exercise for chest development because it allows you to use heavier weights and target the chest muscles from different angles, more so than pushups. It also works the muscles of the shoulders and triceps, since those muscles assist in the pushing motion of a bench press.  Furthermore, the bench press increases overall body strength and power, which can help to improve performance in other exercises.

One of my biggest reasons I like the dummbell bench press rather than the barbell bench press, is because it can be done safely without a spotter. If I feel good that particular day and I want to try to use heavier weights, I can try the heavier seight myself and not have to worry about getting stuck underneath a bar with a lot of weight on it. If you have a workout partner with you who can spot you, great! Not everyone has that option, so using dumbbells for bench is not only better for overall development in my opinion, but its a safer option when lifting by yourself. 


Pull-ups are probably the hardest body weight exercise you can do, but they are the best for back development in my opinion. If a pull-up is something we arent able to do yet, there are many modified versions that can be done to help get you to doing a pull-up, such as cable pull downs, or using an assisted pull up machine. 

Pull-ups are a compound exercise, meaning they target multiple muscles in the upper body. This makes them an effective exercise for back development, as they target the lats, rhomboids, biceps, traps, and other muscles of the upper back. Pull-ups also involve a great deal of stabilizing muscles in the body, which helps to improve overall body strength. Pull-ups are an excellent exercise for improving posture, as they work the muscles that help to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders back. Pull-ups can also help to improve your grip strength, as your hands and forearms must work to hold your body in place throughout the exercise. 

If you cant do a pull-up YET, try using an assisted pull-up machine to gradually train yourself to get to a full pull-up. Also, just hanging onto the bar and holding yourself can dramatically help you get to that pull up as well!

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Shoulder Pressing can be tricky. What I mean by tricky is, if not done correctly or done with too much weight (when starting off), can easily lead to injuries that can last a very long time. Im speaking from experience. My right shoulder has been slightly injured for years now and I injured it trying to shoulder press and bench press too heavy. Since this exercise can lead to injuries easily, I would teach myself not only the correct form, but also to not worry about the amount of weight I’m doing. 

Again, I chose dumbbells over barbell shoulder press due to being able to change hand angles to allow for a different range of motion. Ultimately, the shoulder press being a compound movement (multiple joints moving throughout the movement) is what makes it a foundational exercise that should be learned correctly. 

Dumbbell Skull-Crusher

These sound worse than they are. I promise no actual skull crushing will occur. 

The dumbbell skull-crusher is my favorite tricep exercise for many reasons. Using dumbbells for the skull crushers allows each arm to get worked independently, allows for different hand angles, and can be done by yourself without having to worry about a spotter. This is also a favorite of mine because personally, Im able to feel the weight throughout the whole rep, giving me better mind-muscle connection. 

Dumbbell Curls

The curl will forever be the king of bicep exercises. Many people choose to do alternating dumbbell curls, but I actually enjoy curling simultaneously until failure. Once I reach failure with curling borth weights at once, I will alterante to make sure I get a few extra reps. The dumbbells allow me to change angles throughout the movement to see if I cvan get greater stimulation by doing different angles. 

Build a Foundation

These are the 5 best weight lifting exercises I would recommend if I was to teach myself over again when I was younger. Building a foundation is important when building anything, A foundation is the strong base we build to allow us to build even higher and become better. These exercises are what have given me the foundation I have today, and the building never stops. Build EVERY DAY!

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Stay Blessed

6 Responses

  1. Thanks so much for breaking this down in such a clear, easy-to-follow way.  I’m just now starting weight lifting; I’m told it’s good for women to strengthen our bones and also prevent injury as we get older.  Plus burn more calories! LOL I really appreciate the help here.  By the way, your website looks absolutely incredible – the images are fantastic!  Thanks again, Debra

    1. Thank you Debra! Thats amazing that you’re beginning your weight lifting journey. Thats exciting when I hear of someone who is trying to better themselves; especially through weight lifting. Weight lifting is very important for men and women especially as we age. You hit the nail on the head. It helps keep bone density, which will help against fractures, as well as keep your muscles strong to combat the aging process. 

      Thank you for the compliment on the website! I have a great mentor who has helped guide me with the website. Have an amazing day!

  2. Hello there, I just read the article “5 Best Weight Lifting Exercises” on Be Carnivorous and I have to say, I’m impressed! I’ve always been a fan of lifting weights and the idea of finding the best exercises to improve my routine has me hooked.

    Now, let me ask you this: have you ever walked into the weight room and just felt lost? I know I have! There are so many exercises to choose from, it can be overwhelming. So, the idea of having a list of the best weight lifting exercises is a game-changer.

    I mean, the article does a great job of breaking down the exercises and explaining why they’re so effective. But here’s the thing, everyone’s body is different. So, I can’t help but wonder, will these exercises work for everyone or are they better suited for certain body types? These are the questions I want answered!

    In my own experience, I’ve tried a lot of different weight lifting exercises and I can attest to the benefits of finding what works best for your body. It just makes the entire weight lifting experience more enjoyable and effective. But, again, it’s important to listen to your body and make sure you’re doing exercises that are safe and effective for you.

    Overall, I think this article is a great starting point for anyone looking to improve their weight lifting routine. But, like with any exercise, it’s always best to consult with a professional and make sure you’re doing what’s best for your body. Kudos to Be Carnivorous for sharing this valuable information and helping us all get a step closer to our fitness goals!

    1. Thank you Bob for reading and your amazing input! I couldn’t agree more on most of your points. You asked if this exercise routine is suitable for everyone and I believe it can be. The only difference is possibly the pull ups, which could be replaced with cable pull downs. Thanks again for taking the time to read! Have a great day!

  3. I really appreciate this article because I am a firm believer in the benefits of dumbbell reps. I have lifted weights since I was about 12 because of various sports and for physical fitness.  Recently, as I have aged, I began to experience headaches and was told by a neurologist not to do resistance training with a bar.  Apparently, the stress of simultaneous, bi lateral exercises can do damage to the spine over time.  This is particularly true if form is not correct.  I began to use dumbbells exclusively, at lower weights, and my headaches have cleared. You are correct.  The angle of the exercise is easy to change with dumbbells.  I also think that the control both for the positive and negative part of the rep. is much greater providing more benefit.  I hope lots of people see this article and try dumbbells.

    1. Wow! I wasn’t aware of all that! Thank you so much for your personal experience! Im so happy that you were able to find medical relief through the power of exercise! Thanks for reading!

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