The 6 Foundational Weight Training Exercises

April 22, 2023

There’s an endless variety of weight training exercises to choose from. Regardless of the part of the body you want to train, there are different ways to get the job done. That said, six foundational weight training exercises form the core of many weight training programs.

The Importance of Mastering Foundational Weight Training Exercises

Foundational weight training exercises serve as the basis for more advanced and challenging routines—mastering them will help you build strength and power, becoming the strongest, best version of yourself.

Let’s look at each of these foundational weight training exercises in detail:

  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Carry


1. Squat

The squat is a lower-body exercise that works the entire leg, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Although it’s primarily considered a lower-body exercise, squats also engage the core muscles and help build strength and balance throughout your body.

To perform a squat, stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.

Bend your knees slowly, keeping your back straight and chest proud. Stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor (however, your depth will vary, and working into deeper squats can be something you work toward with your personal trainer at Xtend Fitness).

Then, as you push back up to standing, squeeze your glutes at the top without overextending your back.

2. Hinge

The hinge is another lower-body exercise that primarily works the back of the legs, such as the hamstrings and glutes. The hinge movement is one we see in exercises like deadlifts or kettlebell swings.

With hinging movements, your hips are the focus. Your hips should move back and slightly down as you hinge while keeping your back flat and chest up.

To practice the hinging motion safely, stand with feet hip-width apart. Then, push your hips back as if lowering yourself into a chair while keeping your knees slightly bent (again, depth will vary).

Keep your weight in the heels of your feet and avoid leaning forward or arching the lower back—this is what we call “hinging at the hips.”

3. Lunge

The lunge is a lower-body exercise that primarily works the quadriceps and glutes. The lunge is similar to the squat in some respects, but the primary difference is it emphasizes the strength and balance of one leg at a time.

Several lunge variations include forward, backward, and side lunges. Each will work the quads, glutes, and core differently.

4. Push  

The push exercises are usually upper-body movements that target the chest, shoulders, and triceps—think of exercises like pushups or bench presses.

The goal with pushing motions is to drive energy from your legs into your upper body to move weight away from your body (or yourself away from an immovable object, like the ground).

Here are some examples of push exercises you might have tried before:

  1. Pushups
  2. Dips
  3. Chest presses
  4. Chest flies
  5. Overhead presses
  6. Front raises
  7. Lateral raises
  8. Bent arm lateral raises

5. Pull

The next foundational weight training exercise we come to is pull exercises. These require you to pull something toward your body using force generated by your back and arm muscles.

Here are some pull exercises you might be familiar with:

  1. Deadlifts
  2. Bent-over rows
  3. Pull-ups
  4. Lat pulldowns
  5. Single-arm dumbbell rows
  6. Kettlebell renegade row
  7. Dumbbell pullover
  8. Bicep curls

6. Carry

Don’t underestimate the power of carrying exercises. One example is the Farmer’s Carry—a killer way to develop whole-body strength, including core muscles and grip strength.

These exercises involve carrying a weight in your hands (like kettlebells or dumbbells) while walking for a certain distance or time. This exercise improves balance, coordination, and posture, and it strengthens the entire body.

Contact Xtend Fitness

Now that you know these six foundational weight training exercises, it’s time to put them into practice and begin building strength, power, and confidence!

If you’re ready to get started, contact Xtend Fitness today and set up a consultation with one of our personal trainers. We’ll create a plan tailored to your goals and help you become stronger and more balanced every step of the way.

Ready to begin your journey? Contact us today to start building strength and confidence.

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