Shoulder While nearly any movement can leave lifters lying in a pool of sweat riddled with soreness, some are simply more important than others. Bicep curls may be key for building a set of bulging arms, but they do little when it comes time to move that heavy couch. By comparison, total-body exercises like squats and deadlifts come in handy on a daily basis. From the muscles they work to the functions they serve, the following exercises form the foundation for any successful routine. Read on to find out how you can incorporate them into your workout, no matter your fitness level.

1. Deadlift
While the name of the exercise certainly doesn’t imply “fun”, the deadlift is one of the most popular exercises among trainers for one reason — it’s effective. By forcing lifters to pick up a weight from the floor, this complex exercise works nearly every muscle in the body and builds on a fundamental movement pattern: the hip hinge. According toTony Gentilcore, CSCS and co-founder of Cressey Performance, the deadlift is “a key component for general movement quality” that’s crucial for coordination, posture and alignment. And, whereas most lifters are inherently quad-dominant (meaning their quads are stronger than their hamstrings), the deadlift emphasizes development of the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes and hips, which can help prevent injuries down the road. Keep in mind: Since the deadlift is extremely technical, it’s important to start with a light weight to really emphasize form.

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