How to build a freakishly Strong Physique with just 5 Exercises (Part 1)

Divya Kothari
3 min readApr 3, 2023

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But first, STOP training like a bodybuilder!

My 11-month body transformation with 5 exercises

No disrespect for bodybuilding!

I’m a fan (I just don’t do it though).

In fact, my journey into the physical culture began with Bodybuilding.

Long before I discovered Parkour, MMA, Calisthenics, Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Strongman Training, etc., I was listing hundreds of exercises from Arnold’s Encyclopaedia and simulating thousands of variations out of them.

Bodybuilding is a ‘sport’.

It is a discipline that only a dedicated athlete can fully adopt and do justice to.

Bodybuilding athletes train for appearance — size, proportion and symmetry.

They’re scored and judged for that, nothing else.

They get no extra points for being super strong, flexible, or anything else for that matter.

Sure, there are bodybuilders who are incredibly strong, but that’s a choice.

Either they like to be strong or because of the bigger and denser muscles it helps them develop.

It is true that any form of resistance training will help you build some strength.

However, to be freakishly strong, you have to lift un-ordinary amounts of weight.

For an average folk, being strong is not a choice, its a real world necessity.

Training for muscle pump is fine, periodically.

No harm in training for aesthetics.

It just doesn’t have to be the focus of your training.

If you’re not going to compete in a bodybuilding competition, you have no business training like a bodybuilder.

Yes, you can build size and strength with bodyweight movements

What should you do then?

Focus on becoming strong.

Do few things great.

What exactly?

The Five Basic Human Movements (popularized by the legendary coach of coaches — Dan John)

  • Push
  • Pull
  • Squat
  • Hinge
  • Carry

Almost all compound movements you can think of fit within one or two of these categories.

When you think of single-joint isolation-type exercise options, you get a thousand different options to pick from.

With fundamental human movements, you’re talking of multi-joint compound movements, which effectively leaves you with these five categories to pick variations from.

It makes exercise selection so much easier, isn’t it?

And there are several other benefits to this:

a. They aren’t very technical. With a little practice, you can master them quickly.

b. You can do them anytime, anywhere, with minimal equipment.

c. They’re multi-joint exercises, often using the entire body. Great for muscle building, and fat loss alike.

d. They have a direct carryover to real-world activities like cooking, playing, working, carrying groceries, climbing stairs, etc.

e. You develop an aesthetically pleasing, well-rounded, and proportionate physique because you’re not isolating any muscle group. All of them work relative to their size and capacity.

I love this style of training for one more reason:

It’s primitive!

Being able to push something away from you, pull something towards you, squat something off the floor, pick (hinge) something off the floor, and carry something for a distance is normal use of the body.

It’s a fundamental pre-requisite to a great quality of life.

It is an insurance cover for bad, unforeseen, life-threatening circumstances.

If you’re strong enough to do all of the movements above with a load equal to your bodyweight, you’re capable of saving your’s or someone’s life.

As Mark Rippetoe said:

“Strong men are harder to kill, and more useful in general.”

There are serious risks to being weak and lanky, virtually none with being strong and durable.

Tomorrow, I’ll elaborate on each fundamental movement listed above, so you’ll know what to do and how to.

Stay tuned.

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Divya Kothari

Direct-Response Email Copywriter for Fitness Brands ✍️ | SignUp to Thursday Newsletter on Psychology, Persuasion, Writing: iamdivyakothari.com/newsletter