Fitness exercises

The more you know about different fitness exercises, the faster you will reach your goals! Every gym offers different types of fitness exercises. It’s important to know what type of fitness exercises you can perform and how they contribute to achieving your goals.


In this article the following topics will be explained:


1. Types of fitness exercises: free weights vs machine
2. Cardio exercises

3. Compound exercises

4. Push and pull exercises

5. Overview of every exercise per muscle group


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1. Types of fitness exercises

All exercises that you find in the gym can be divided into free weight and machine exercises. Machine exercises are all the static exercises for building muscle mass and strength including the cardio machines.

Free weights

The most used free weight exercises are dumbbells and barbells. But there are many other exercises that fall within the free weight category such as the swiss ball, steps, rope, weight bag, kettlebell, TRX, rope, punching bag and jump rope.


And even your own bodyweight can function as a free weight, for example when you perform pull ups or crunches.



The advantage of including machine exercises in your workout is that you can really isolate and focus on a specific muscle. Because the machine allows only one specific movement you don’t lose energy by having to adjust your motion. Therefore you can focus all your energy at performing the exercise.


The downside is that you don’t work out other muscles that are situated close to the focus muscle. When you use free weights you train not only the focus muscle but also the muscles around it.


2. Cardio exercises

The most common cardio machines that you find in any gym are the treadmill, rowing machine, cross trainer, exercise bike, stepper and arm bike. These machines are mainly used as a warm up before weight training, to burn calories or to increase stamina. 


Heart rate

If you want to lose weight you should keep a heart rate between 60% and 75% of your maximum heart rate.


To calculate your maximum heart rate you subtract your age from 220. So for example if you are 45 your maximum heart rate is 220 – 45 = 175

When you want to increase your stamina your heart rate should be between 75% and 100% of your maximum heart rate.


3. Compound exercises

A compound exercise trains more than one muscle at the same time. It doesn’t isolate one single muscle. While performing a compound exercise you either train different muscles within the same muscle group or different muscles that belong to different muscle groups.


These are the best and most effective compound exercises:


Bench press

The bench press can be performed with a barbell and dumbbells. You workout the chest muscle but also the muscles in your arms such as the triceps.



The deadlift is a back exercise but while performing the deadlift you will also train your leg and arm muscles. The deadlift can be performed with a barbell and dumbbells.


When performing a squat you train all the muscles in your leg: the calves in your lower leg, the hamstring and quadriceps in your upper leg and the glutes in your buttocks.


Overhead press

The overhead press (or military press) is an excellent shoulder exercise. But when you perform this exercise while standing you also train your triceps, back and core.


4. Push and pull exercises

All exercises can be divided into push and pull exercises. The nature of the muscle that you are training determines if it is being trained via a push or a pull exercise.


Push exercise

A push exercise is an exercise that trains the muscle when the weight is being moved away from the body. Muscle groups that are trained via push exercises are the legs, triceps, shoulders and chest.


A good example of a push exercise is the bench press. The real pain starts when you are pressing the weight up.


Pull exercise

A pull exercise is an exercise that trains the muscle when the weight is being moved towards the body. Muscle groups that are trained via push exercises are the biceps, back and abs.


An example of a push exercise is a dumbbell curl. You train your biceps when you move the dumbbell towards your upper arm.


5. Overview of every exercises per muscle group

 For each muscle group there are over 15 different exercises that help you reach your goals:


upper leg muscle group exercises
lower leg muscle group exercises
chest muscle group exercises



back muscle group exercises



biceps muscle group exercises
triceps muscle group exercises
shoulders muscle group exercises
abs abdominals muscle group exercises