My Most Frequently used Strength Exercises


One of my most frequently asked questions is what my favorite weight room exercises are. While I don’t feel beholden to any one exercise and feel I could do without any of the following exercises I certainly have a short list of exercises that I like to use. Every athlete is different and different sports require different emphasis but my list remains largely the same across multiple populations. For most of the athletes I work with we tend to do about 2 lower extremity exercises for every 1 upper extremity exercise in a session. My basic weight training template is typically an explosive loaded movement followed by some form of lower body strength exercise, an upper body push or pull and either some loaded core work and / or hip extensor-posterior chain focused work. Nothing fancy….just doing the basics extraordinarily well.

So with those categories in mind, here are my most frequently used exercises over the course of an annual plan listed roughly in the order of frequency that they are employed. This list is by no means exhaustive and when you get in to specific variants of these particular list that I use the list could be ridiculously long. That said, here are the basic exercises that make my ‘most frequently used’ list:

Lower Body Explosive (typically 1-4 reps for first 3 exercises, 6-10 reps for the last 2; 5-10 sets)

  1. Power clean from floor
  2. Clean pull from floor
  3. Power snatch
  4. Kettlebell swing (Russian)
  5. Jumping 1/2 squat

Lower Body Strength (typically 3-8 reps; 4-8 sets)

  1. High bar back squat to below parallel
  2. Barbell split squat
  3. Front squat
  4. High box stepups
  5. Barbell reverse lunge

Upper Body Strength (typically 3-8 reps; 4-6 sets)

  1. Pullups (usually weighted)
  2. Bench press
  3. DB military press
  4. DB rows
  5. DB bench press

Core Strength (typically 6-10 reps ea side; 2-3 sets)

  1. Plate rotation walks
  2. Russian twists with a bar and short arc
  3. Standing partner push with controlled rotation
  4. Medicine ball rotational throw
  5. Pallof press

Hip Extensor Strength (typically 6-10 repse; 2-3 sets)

  1. RDLs
  2. Single leg RDLs
  3. Hip thrust
  4. Single leg hip thrust
  5. Glute-ham raise
Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young


📈Owner @AthleticLab 🏆Perf Dir @theNCCourage ⚽️Fit Coach @NorthCarolinaFC ➡️Proformance 📚Keynote Speaker & Author 📊Sport Science & Research🏃🏾‍♂️T&F 💪🏼S&C 🏋🏽‍♂️WL
Mike Young
Mike Young