An Exercise Routine Based on The Top 10 Lifts to Optimize Musculature and Athleticism


Recently, Bret Contreras wrote a post about what he felt was the most important exercise anyone could do, if you were absolutely limited to only doing one exercise. His answer is the low handle trap bar deadlift. He also came up with a list of the top three exercises (high bar back squat, conventional deadlift, and powerlifting-style bench press) and the top 10 exercises.

Since I’m not limited in the amount of exercises I can do, I created a routine based on all 10. You can download my template at the end of the post.

The only exercise I had to change is the trap bar bent over row because I don’t own a trap bar. I might also have to skip the farmers walk because I don’t own any farmer’s walk handles. The heaviest dumbbells I own are 70 lbs. so that might have to do the job.

I would like to point out that while this routine is based on Bret’s top 10 exercises, I created the rest of the routine¬†entirely on how I wanted it¬†set up. I’m not a personal trainer nor do I have professional expertise in the field of fitness.

I like three-day splits the best because they are easy to stick with, they give enough time for the body to recover, and working out any more days than that is usually unnecessary.

I went with 5-10 reps for each exercise because that’s the range typically believed best for hypertrophy, or at least that’s what Stan Efferding says, and looking at the size of that guy, I’d tend to believe him. The goal here is to lift the heaviest weight possible for at least 5 reps and if you can get to 10 reps or more, you need to add more weight. For most exercises, I strive to fail my last 2-3 sets at around 6-7 reps. A power rack is a must if lifting alone when doing exercises like bench press, military press and squats.

I grouped the exercises based on the areas of the body they work out.

So that’s it! Download the printable routine here and start tracking your progress.

I’m certainly open to any suggestions if you have any and if you end up using the routine, let me know what you think.