How to Build Muscle with Strength Exercises for Overall Strength

Learn how to build muscle with strength exercises. The sport of bodybuilding was popularized in the 1960s thanks to the muscular physiques of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Dave Draper, and later Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman, and Kevin Levrone.

People were first impressed by the bodies of these men, which symbolized strength and vigor.

They were indeed strong and fit, as bodybuilding developed out of weightlifting, strongman contests, and other strength sports, where strength and fitness were the main focus.

The first bodybuilders trained with improvised weights, used gymnastics and also practiced many cardio activities. See if for yourself; here’s a picture of Arnold doing handstand push-ups.


Today, bodybuilding competitions are all about muscle mass, definition and aesthetics. While most athletes are undoubtedly strong, many might struggle to meet the performance standards of CrossFitters, Powerlifters, Olympic Weightlifters, or elite-level Strongmen/women.

Excessive use of isolation exercises and too much muscle mass can alter the body’s natural mechanics. With free weights, you should focus on maintaining the correct range of motion, which builds coordination and muscle activation.

With machines, the trajectory is dictated by the settings.

Nonetheless, many core exercises used in bodybuilding are great tools for building strength, power, and overall fitness.

Usually, you can recognize bodybuilders who practice these staples (like squat variations, overhead presses, or pull-ups) because their muscles look more athletic and closer to the physique of performance athletes.

All of these exercises are used in general conditioning for various sports and are also part of CrossFit. Every man or woman who really wants to get (and not just look) fit should make sure it’s an important part of their workout.

Strength exercises

Overhead heavy lifting exercises should be part of the training routine of all individuals who aim for strength, power and athleticism.

They improve raw strength, explosiveness, stability and muscle coordination. Plus, they’re good foundations for both Olympic weightlifting exercises: the clean and jerk and the snatch.

Strict shoulder press (air press, military press)

Lifting heavy objects overhead has been a strength benchmark since ancient times. It became the sport of weightlifting in the 19th century. Initially, there were three events: strict shoulder press, clean and jerk and snatch.

The strict press was phased out in 1972 because some lifters, in order to engage the chest muscles and push heavier weights, overextended their backs in dangerous positions.

Nevertheless, various types of overhead presses are still used as accessory lifts in weightlifting training and also have a place in the strength and power routines of several sports. Unlike push-press or jerk variations, the athlete controls the weight throughout the movement, which creates constant tension in the muscles.

shoulder exercisesSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

In bodybuilding, the strict shoulder press is one of the main movements for the development of shoulders and arms. When performed correctly, this is a complex upper body exercise, as it requires stable foundations in the core and hip muscles.

A bulletproof core is one of the main foundations of the strongman sport. Many of these athletes stimulate their abdominal muscles by lifting heavy objects overhead.


push press

Unlike the strict shoulder press, the push press begins with the flexion and subsequent dynamic extension of the thighs. The success of the lift depends on the hip thrust, which makes it a full body exercise. It is used in weightlifting to teach proper dip and hip extension for jerks and to develop additional strength.

Read more: Push Jerk, Push Press and Strict Press – What’s the difference?

Track and field athletes, soccer players, martial artists and many other types of athletes all need a high level of explosiveness, which starts at the hips and can be built up using the hip press. to push.

Many bodybuilders do the push press unconsciously, using the leg push as a way to cheat on the final reps of strict presses.

Sometimes they use it as their main exercise to stimulate their shoulders with heavier weights and activate more muscle fibers. Overloading is one of the intensification methods used in bodybuilding.

Address mobility in overhead exercises

Some people might find overhead presses uncomfortable due to the anatomy of their shoulder joints. Machines and alternative exercises provide different ranges of motion that may ease discomfort. However, this should only be seen as a temporary solution.

Regular mobility exercises and learning proper techniques can improve range of motion and make the overhead press movement more comfortable. Addressing any mobility issues will have longer term benefits rather than ignoring the issue and sitting behind the machine.

Instead, we should turn our bodies into machines, to rephrase the famous CrossFit quotes.

Strength exercises in CrossFit workouts


5 rounds for charging

  • Complete 7 unbroken sets of this complex:
  • 1 powerful cleaning
  • 1 front squat
  • 1 Push Push
  • 1 back squat
  • 1 Push Push

Complete all 5 movements for 1 repetition of the complex. Complete the complex 7 times, without interruption (without letting go of the bar or putting it on the ground) for 1 round.

Perform 5 continuous rounds, increasing the weight and resting as needed between each round. The score is the maximum weight used for your 5th uninterrupted round.

Teresa E. Burton