The 20 Greatest Exercises of All Time (CHANGE MY MIND!)

Have you ever wondered what are the 20 greatest exercises of all time? In this video, I am going to put together a list of what I feel are the 20 greatest exercises of all time and why I feel so strongly about them so that way you know exactly which ones you should be including in your workout routine. Not only that, I am going to give you some tips for each exercise that will help to make sure you are getting the absolute most benefit out of them.

In this list of 20 great exercises, there are going to be some exercises that you would expect anyone to include in the top 20 as well as a few exercises that you might be surprised to be given such a high honor. You can expect that some of the bigger, compound lifts are surely going to make the list – but you might be shocked to find some smaller, more corrective exercises within the rankings as well.

I believe that some corrective exercises hold more weight in their benefits than you might have considered before watching the video. Just because they are a smaller exercise that targets smaller, more neglected muscle groups does not make them any less important. In fact, I would argue that that is what makes them so much MORE important than people give them credit for.

That being said, let’s take a look at the list and see which exercises fall into the category of greatest of all time…

First up, we have the barbell squat otherwise known as the king of all leg exercises. To make sure you are getting the most out of this leg exercise, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Make sure that you are moving the pelvis and the ribcage together as a single unit. This will prevent the dreaded squat morning and make sure that the exercise remains fluid. Secondly, try to “grip the ground” with your toes to help create a stable base through the foot. Doing so will make sure that you remove any instability from the bottom of the kinetic chain.

Next up is the barbell curl. I like to add a little extra weight to this exercise and utilize the cheat variation because I can get a great overload on the biceps as well as taking advantage of my strength in the eccentric portion of the lift. One thing I like to do with the cheat curl is to keep a staggered stance – this is actually helpful for the cheat portion of the lift because it sets ourselves up to avoid excessive lean when bringing the bar up.

The dumbbell bench press is on this list of the greatest exercises of all time and for good reason. An awesome chest based exercise that is great for overloading the pecs and adds in a slight bit more adduction than it’s barbell-based cousin. Like the barbell bench press, it is important to take advantage of the use of your legs during the press by utilizing leg drive. Some people might argue that they avoid the dumbbell version based on shoulder problems they may have, but I often give the suggestion to play around with the speed or tempo of the reps as slowing them down may actually help solve a stability problem.

No list of greatest exercises could be complete without the inclusion of pullups. My suggestion on this exercise is to stop simply trying to increase the number of reps you can do on the exercise and instead add some weight to overload the movement. The weighted pull-up is a great strength developer and muscle building exercise when included into a routine. One tip that I would give with this exercise is to instead of pulling with your biceps and forearms, use the lats. My cue for this is to put your elbows in your back pockets on each rep.

If the squat is the king of all leg exercises, then the reverse lunge has to be considered the prince. By training through a staggered stance, we are making use of functional, real world movement patterns. Not only that but the exercise maintains an important versatility as well; not only does the lunge allow you to train with either a barbell or dumbbells to match your strength capabilities, you can also alter your torso position to better target different muscle groups.

Of course, there are many more exercises on this list to help you build muscle and get stronger. Be sure to watch the whole video to get the entire list and a breakdown on each exercise.

If you’re looking for a complete workout plan that includes the exercises featured on this list of the greatest of all time, be sure to head to athleanx.com via the link below and use the program selector to find the program that best matches your current goals.

If you’re looking for more videos on the best exercises for building muscle, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube via the link below and remember to turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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45 thoughts on “The 20 Greatest Exercises of All Time (CHANGE MY MIND!)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    *THE GIVEAWAY IS BACK* – I’m giving away my brand new complete 90 Day Beaxst PPL program to 40 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 40, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached! Clicking twice does nothing. Only one entry per video. Remember to watch to the end for more workouts.
    https://giveaway.athleanx.com/ytg/20-greatest-exercises

    If you don’t win, no worries, you’re not going away empty handed. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

    • Gg says:

      Jesus loves you all and is coming back soon!
      Believe in His death and resurrection and repent of your sins and be saved!
      Remember that He died and rose up again for you to be in heaven with Him!
      Have an amazing day ❤️❤❤❤❤

    • Kenan Turkiye says:

      Jeff has more subcribers than the population of about 15 european countries,
      some of them below:

      Greece 10,423,054
      Portugal 10,196,709
      Belarus 9,449,323
      Serbia 8,737,371
      Bulgaria 6,948,445
      Moldova 4,033,963
      Albania 2,877,797
      Macedonia 2,083,374
      Malta 441,543

    • qwerty uiop says:

      Hey Jeff Jonni Shreve is still using you for views in his thumbnails. You were in his recent vid thumbnail even though you werent mentioned lol

  2. Cardiac Drummer says:

    Thanks for helping us start the 2023 year strong. Not everyone has the resources to have a PT. Thanks for the free advice and showing us the science in how/why to exercise

    • Music Man says:

      You don’t need a PT to gain muscle. I couldn’t imagine you working out 40 years or 30 years ago when there was no internet or YouTube and you had to rely on magazines where the people in there were pretty much all on roids.

    • Hercules Brofister says:

      it is important that you at least get it diagnosed by a professional so you know more likely what the problem is.

    • Cardiac Drummer says:

      @Hercules Brofister Agreed. No worries here, I have had multiple PT sessions post-op shoulder surgeries and have been educated of what to and not to do. Having said that, I really do wish my younger self was more careful instead of trying to do impressive pull-up maneuvers

  3. Patronus_TTV says:

    These exercises are cool and all, but you being able to talk while doing weighted pull ups and hanging legs raises was the most impressive part of the video.

    • Gg says:

      Jesus loves you all and is coming back soon!
      Believe in His death and resurrection and repent of your sins and be saved!
      Remember that He died and rose up again for you to be in heaven with Him!
      Have an amazing day ❤️❤❤❤❤

    • Kenan Turkiye says:

      @Gg Jesus Christ the Messiah, peace be upon him, was taken up into Heaven and will be sent back.
      The word Christ comes from the Greek word ”christos” which means chosen,
      The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word ”messiach” which also means chose.

      Who chose him?
      His Creator, who happens to be The Creator.

      Worship only the One and Unique Creator who Jesus Christ the Messiah, peace be upon him also worshipped, as Jesus called on people to worship The Lord/Creator/God and not himself.

      Best wishes.

    • Kenan Turkiye says:

      ….and Jesus Christ the Messiah, peace be upon him, did not speak English, nor did he speak Latin, nor did he speak Greek, nor did he speak Hebrew, but rather Aramaic.

  4. Justin L. says:

    Athletic stance, hinging, placement of hands and feet, stabilizing certain muscles for certain exercises, balancing out exercises with additional correctives… It’s all so great to keep hearing this repeated on these videos. Getting the hang of it can completely change the effort and intensity of the workout for the better.

    • Gg says:

      Jesus loves you l and is coming back soon!
      Believe in His death and resurrection and repent of your sins and be saved!
      Remember that He died and rose up again for you to be in heaven with Him!
      Have an amazing day ❤️❤❤❤❤

  5. Zac Carter says:

    Weighted dips! Very surprised you didn’t include those considering how great of a push exercise. You have them in almost every other push/chest video.

  6. Luke R says:

    I’d have to throw weighted dips in there as my top exercise, they light up my entire upper body.
    Good to see the love for reverse lunges, they’re miles better than split squats, which I think are a terrible exercise

    • irfuel says:

      what’s the problem with split squats? I did a bunch of Bulgarian split squats and although I hate the exercise, it’s extremely effective.

  7. FireFoxuser2 says:

    Thank you for going back to basics and covering the most important exercises. This is much more valuable than some crazy complicated exercises that most people won’t benefit from

  8. Gary Michael Flanagan says:

    Thanks Jeff!! I started cleaning up my diet and learning how to use correct form in 2017 and you have changed my life. I am now the leanest guy in my gym and you have always been my inspiration for what I want my physique to look like. It’s fun to get lean and watch all the muscles expose which is part of the fun of getting really lean. I do believe in not bulking, but in recomping by going into a slight surplus periodically which I have done successfully since 2017. For anyone looking to change their life, you have to find a motivator first. Whatever that is and then stick to a solid diet and do enough exercise to notice a difference. One mistake I made was doing keto for 2 years. I believe keto can work awesome to initially drop a lot of weight, but I should have transitioned right away to a higher carb low fat approach. It took me a few years to not fear the carbohydrates. But definitely don’t fear them. If you keep fat decently low you will have much more energy for the gym on a low fat approach. Thanks Jeff!! You are one of the only influencers I trust and I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for so many of us. You don’t BS and keep us from getting hurt too.

  9. Albertungui GG says:

    Great list. One of my favourites is also push ups. I know there are better options with weights, but I think it is a very complete and satisfying movement.

  10. Gym Garage Man says:

    Managed to maintain decent amount of muscle last 30 years by doing multiple STYLES of PUSH UPS!!!

  11. C B says:

    One thing I always admired about athlean is he’s a natural body builder and didn’t take any roids. His physic is what you get as a normal human who works hard and eats right. At least he’s not like 99% of the other dudes that say “follow my program, eat like me and you’ll get my results”. All those clowns forget to mention the special ingredient, roids!! I’ve fell victim to these scandals. I’ve believed in my idols and followed their plans, not getting same results. If only they’d tell you they also take roids. I know it’s taboo, but also if you’re selling packages to look like me, stop false advertising , and let people also know that if they really want those results they “need” to take roids. All the professionals are juiced. I didn’t know that before. And I’m not talking just about Olympian’s. All those pros are juicing . Some sort of something, even hgh as example. It’s just gross how they’ll sell programs and never tell people the real reason behind their results.

    • Kenan Turkiye says:

      Jeff has more subcribers than the population of about 15 european countries,
      some of them below:

      Greece 10,423,054
      Portugal 10,196,709
      Belarus 9,449,323
      Serbia 8,737,371
      Bulgaria 6,948,445
      Moldova 4,033,963
      Albania 2,877,797
      Macedonia 2,083,374
      Malta 441,543

    • Andrew James says:

      And frankly, I would rather have Jeff’s body than be a roided up monster. Health is the primary concern, being cut is nice, but looking like you have diverse interests in life is also desireable. If the goal is sexual attractiveness, there’s no end of studies that show women aren’t looking for a Michelin Man-type body.

  12. Robs Videos says:

    Im surprised the dip didn’t make the list, it’s a great chest movement that also gives a good stretch. Great video Jeff!

    • Mihir S says:

      Exactly my thoughts! Dips are known as the upper body squat. They work the chest, shoulders and triceps unbelievably well. To include an exercise like the waiter curl and exclude the dip was ridiculous.

  13. Num Num says:

    Push
    2:20 DB Bench Press
    6:10 Cable Lateral Raise
    10:25 Lying Triceps Extension
    14:30 DB/BB Push Press
    16:55 Crossover

    Pull
    1:15 BB Ch*at Curl
    3:20 Weighted Pullup
    7:00 Single Arm High Cable Row
    8:35 DB Waiter Curl
    12:25 DB Pullover
    13:35 Facepull
    15:15 Rotator Cuff External Rotation
    16:15 DB High Pull > Upright Row
    17:55 BB Dead Row

    Leg
    0:20 Squat
    4:00 DB/BB Reverse Lunge
    5:20 Deadlift
    7:45 BB Hip Thrust
    11:40 Reverse Hyper

    Abs
    9:40 Hanging Leg Raise

    • Kenan Turkiye says:

      @Num Num lol I know you’re joking, but anything that was created and who themselves need are feeble, who has a beginning and an end, can not be The Lord (as in the One and Unique Creator only worthy of worship).

      But the word ”lord” can be used in different was as in ”lord of this manor/house”, ”lord of the court”, ”lord of such and such business” etc,
      neither of them meaning ”The Creator”
      so, in that regards we can say that Jeff is the lord of exercises. : ))

  14. King Joffrey says:

    Thank you Jeff, you’re videos are always the best, and have helped me a lot, I will be doing all of these and incorporating them into my routine.

  15. Maximillain Thermidor says:

    Jeff, you are the best, man! I have been following the PPL program for several weeks and I’m already noticing significant changes to how my body looks. That’s proof how effective that is.
    I’ll sure be using this video as well to correct some mistakes I have into with the PPL program exercises.

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