The 15 Best Lifts To Get Ripped And Ready

This is the time of year to get shredded and stay that way all summer long. You have busted your ass waiting for the hot weather so that you can show off all of that hard work and can’t allow it to soften up now. So you need to counterbalance all of that partying that awaits you at every weekend barbeque. (Hey, you gotta live a little!)

So what you need to do is not worry about bulking up now (that should have happened while we were shoveling snow) and concentrate on engaging the muscles with detail in mind. Working them with slower and stricter reps with maximum time under tension is the best way to do that, as well as including a good number of isolation movements. 

1 – HANGING LEG RAISES (ABS) – 4 Sets, 10 Reps Each

The best exercise to get (or keep) that six pack, hanging leg raises will hit your entire abdominal wall and especially the lower abs. Don’t worry too much about how many reps you do, but rather the quality of the ones you can do. This is a difficult movement and you want to make the most out of every rep.

Adding weight is not necessary and you want to bring your legs straight out in front of you up to a 90-degree angle. Hold it for a second and bring them back down.

2 – HIGH CABLE CURLS (BICEPS) – 3 Sets, 15 Reps Each

“Hey, are you using both sides?” You’ll get that question if your gym is crowded or doesn’t offer many cable stanchions, but this one is worth being selfish for. Do them together and squeeze it at the top of each rep to get the blood directly into the bicep muscles.

Some say that a peak is genetics, while others say that you can work towards one. You’ll never know until you try and this is one of those exercises that will give you the answer.


Integrate at least one overhead movement to engage all three triceps heads and this one will totally isolate them. You have to keep the weight at something that you can handle with one arm and this is a very different exercise than its two-hand counterpart, which allows you to put up some heavy weight.

4 – PEC DEC (CHEST) – 3 Sets, 12-to-15 Reps Each

Pressing exercises are all compound movements that will engage your shoulders and triceps as secondary muscles, so it’s a good idea to isolate the chest (especially the inner portion) with the pec dec.

5 – LAT PULL DOWN (BACK) – 3 Sets, 12-to-15 Reps Each

It’s not easy to isolate the lats so you have to take what you can get. At least with lat pull downs, you can change the grip width up and squeeze it at the bottom of the rep to (hopefully) feel a pump.


Rounding out your side deltoids is key for widening what you hope is a V-taper and this exercise really isolates and taxes them. Seated is a better choice than standing since you will be using less momentum. And the key here is to not allow the weights to touch your sides at the bottom of the rep, keeping the tension going.

7 – UPRIGHT ROWS (TRAPS) – 3 Sets, 12 Reps Each

Bring that bar up as high as you can and pause at the top right under your chin for maximal results. And leave a slight bend in your elbows at the starting position to keep the traps engaged.

8 – LEG EXTENSIONS (QUADS) – 3 Sets, 12 Reps Each

Squats and leg presses will add meat to your thighs, but you also have to do some other exercises to bring out the detail and that teardrop. Leg extensions is the right one for the job and you want to pause at the top with your knees locked and squeeze the shit out of it.

9 – SEATED LEG CURLS (HAMSTRINGS) – 3 Sets, 12 Reps Each

These are the better alternative to either the lying or standing machines and you can really tighten and hold it at the bottom of the rep with these. Adjust the height so that you can lock out your knees at the top and that will give you a real nice stretch.

10 – STANDING CALF RAISES (CALVES) – 4 Sets, 15 Reps Each

Hit ‘em often and hit ‘em hard. Your calves are very resilient and not the easiest muscle to get results with, so use every single rep to tax them to the limit. Standing raises have a long range of motion and is the go-to movement.

11 – REVERSE WRIST CURLS (FOREARMS) – 4 Sets, 15 Reps Each

Hold the bar behind you and curl it all the way and back down. This will hit both sides of your forearms and give you those nice lines in them.

12 – SCOTT CURLS (BICEPS) – 3 Sets, 12-to-15 Reps each

Use an E-Z Curl bar and tuck your armpits at the top of the incline portion of the bench with your knees firmly under it. When you do curls with the incline in this fashion, it takes your shoulders out of the mix and puts all of the attention on your bis – exactly what you want.

13 – WEIGHTED DIPS (TRICEPS/CHEST) – 3 Sets, 12 Reps Each

You can do these with just your body weight, but try to hang a little on your waist with the leather belt and chain that your gym should have. These will blow your arms up and also hit your outer chest.

14 – LOW CABLE CROSSOVERS (CHEST) – 3 Sets, 12-to-15 Reps Each

Set the cables at the bottom rung and hold the D-handles with an underhand grip, palms facing each other. When you bring them together, keep it tight at the top and really feel your inner chest pump up.

15 – BARBELL FRONT RAISES (SHOULDERS) – 3 Sets, 12 Reps Each

Try these in two different ways: standing and lying on an incline bench. You’ll really feel it in your front delts and that will give you those striations everyone will notice.