4 muscle building workouts you should add to your routine to boost gains, according to personal trainers

An athlete carrying two kettlebell weights in a farmer carry position in a gym
To perform a farmer or suitcase carry, hold one weight in each hand on either side of the body, near the hips, and walk forward with your chest up and core engaged. Variations include carrying a weight on just one side, or carrying the weights overhead. MoMo Productions/Getty Images
  • Exercises like goblet squats and farmer carries are sometimes ignored because they seem simple.
  • But trainers say underrated exercises can be among the most effective for building muscle.
  • Other less popular moves, like power cleans and single leg deadlifts, can also boost your gains.

You may be missing out on some of the most effective exercises for building muscle, according to personal trainers.

Some highly effective moves often aren’t included in popular workouts because they seem too simple or too complex, experts say, but learning them can take your gains to the next level.

No specific exercises will magically make your muscles pop overnight. Gaining muscle requires patience, good nutrition, and progressive overload.

However, underrated exercises, like carrying, goblet squats, power cleans, and single leg work can build full-body muscle, experts say.

Farmer carry/suitcase carry

Deceptively simple, carry exercises are not only effective, but accessible to nearly all fitness levels.

Carries build full body muscle, improve posture, and strengthen your core and grip, according to Noam Tamir, founder and CEO of TS Fitness in New York City.

The exercise mimics everyday movements, like bringing groceries inside or schlepping heavy luggage. With a weight in each hand, you simply walk forward, keeping your chest up, forcing your whole body to work to stabilize.

“It might seem too simple to be effective but it’s a lot harder than people think,” Irving “Zeus” Hyppolite, personal trainer and founder of House Of Zeus in New York, told Insider.

An athlete performing a goblet squat with a kettlebell in a gym mirror
A goblet squat is a simple, effective way to add weight to a basic exercise. Michael Edwards/Getty Images

Goblet squat

A simple variation on a basic movement, goblet squats are a great way to add weight and work more muscles at once, according to Hyppolite.

To do it, hold a single weight, such as a dumbbell or kettlebell, with both hands in front of your chest, and bend your knees to 90 degrees or below. Then, stand back up.

The goblet position prompts your core and arms to engage, while helping you lift heavier, which can lead to rapid muscle growth in the legs, arms, and back, Hyppolite said.

Single-leg deadlift

If you’re not already doing deadlifts, it’s time to learn – they’re one of the most efficient exercises for building full-body strength and muscle, Tamir told Insider.

Take them to the next level by focusing on just one leg at a time, keeping your hips square and your core braced.

Single leg work requires balance and stability, and can help fix a weak side. People may avoid single leg work because it requires easing up on weight, but lighter doesn’t mean less of a workout.

“So many people dictate effectiveness based on how high their heart rate goes, but that’s not the only factor,” Tamir said.

Leave your ego at the door and maintain excellent form, and you’ll likely see benefits for your max-effort lifts too.

An athlete holding a barbell in a front rack position
Power cleans aren’t just for weightlifters or CrossFit athletes. Learning them can give you an explosive, full-body workout. FlamingoImages/Getty Images

Power clean

Based on an Olympic weightlifting skill, power cleans may seem intimidating, but don’t have to be.

“Most people think only athletes or CrossFitters need to do power cleans, but the reality is this one exercise trains your fast-twitch muscle fibers, kicks up your central nervous system, builds strength, and improves metabolic conditioning,” Hyppolite said.

The movement involves recruiting the posterior chain muscles to lift a weight from the floor or mid-thigh and dropping into a partial squat to catch the weight in front of the shoulders.

The technique takes a little coaching to learn, but once you do, power cleans have major benefits for your muscles and your metabolism. The exercise works nearly all leg muscles, from glutes to calves, as well as your abs, back and shoulders. The explosive power also jacks up your heart rate, torching calories and improving your overall ability to work hard in the gym.

You can use any type of weight for power cleans, such as a barbell, sandbag, dumbbells, or kettlebells.