As a powerlifter, nutrition coach, and former IFBB Pro League standout, Stan Efferding‘s knowledge of exercise selection is among the best on the planet. In a recent YouTube collaboration, Efferding listed and justified his top 10 exercises for lifelong muscle-building with Chris Williamson.
Having made waves in multiple sports, Efferding’s power and persistence inside the gym and kitchen turned him into a figurehead of fitness. In the realm of bodybuilding, Efferding is best known for winning the World’s Strongest Pro Bodybuilder Mr. Olympia title in 2010. He also cemented himself as a powerlifting great, who at one time, held the all-time raw world powerlifting records in the 275-pound-class.
“The White Rhino” has remained a pillar of knowledge for the sports community since his retirement. Carrying immense strength into his 50s, Stan has taken to social media a number of times to show off not just sheer power but longevity.
Focused on bettering the lives of his clients, Efferding has thrived as a coach. He created a nutritional regimen he calls “The Vertical Diet,” a practical system designed for those who demand higher caloric needs on a daily basis. Instead of nutrition, Efferding recently took a closer look at 10 key exercises for muscle growth that can be used for a lifetime.
Stan Efferding Shares His Customized List of 10 Exercises He Would Use for a Lifetime
Below, you can find a list of Efferding’s exercise picks as well as his reasoning behind each option:
- High bar back squat
- Cambered bar ‘good morning’
- Bulgarian split squat w/ dumbbells
- Incline dumbbell press
- Dips (added weight optional)
- Seated curls
- Chest-supported row
- Viking press
- Side lateral raises
- *Extra* Calf raises
1. High bar back squat
“I’ll tell you for me personally because I use a lot – I use my anthropometry, my long femur length compared to… I would probably need to do a high bar squat to effectively train my quads. My glutes are preferentially developed from a low bar squat. High bar squat would be a big one for me.”
2. Cambered bar ‘good morning’
“The cambered bar good morning, it’s one of my favorites, you can go on Instagram, I’m crushing the good morning. That’s where you put the weight up here and you bend forward and try to keep the legs relatively straight, it’s for the hamstrings.”
3. Bulgarian split squat w/ dumbbells
“I would put in one more quad exercise, it would probably be a unilateral movement,” said Stan. “I like the Bulgarian split squat the best because I can do repeat repetitions with the same leg. That’s why I like them [because everyone hates them].”
4. Incline dumbbell press
“Now we’re going to move to a chest exercise. I like the incline dumbbell press, just a slight incline dumbbell press. I did a lot of heavy benching in my career and I never built my pecs as well as when I trained with Flex Wheeler using incline dumbbell presses. They allow more depth and independent rotation of the shoulders.”
5. Dips (added weight optional)
“I just love that incline dumbbell so much. Some people like to do flyes, not a big fan of flyes. I might throw a dip in there because I’m going to hit some triceps at the same time too, nice and deep. If I’m working triceps I’m trying to keep my feet underneath me, if I’m working chest, I’m trying to keep my chest forward.”
6. Seated leg curls
“I like seated preferentially, usually on the standing curl and on the lying curl, the weight stack bottoms out before you get a full extension before the hamstring really gets stretched,” said Efferding. “On the seated curl, you lock yourself in, especially if you lean forward on it. You can get a full extension and not bottom the weight stack out.”
7. Chest-supported row
“I like a chest-supported row. I used to do a lot of t-bar rows which really helped my deadlift but there was a lot of cheating. The range of motion is not as good, meaning extending the weight isn’t nearly as good, you’re pulling on your lumbar by the time you get that weight extended.”
8. Viking press
“I like a Viking press and a side lateral. That’s a standing shoulder press. It’s a pivoted bar. I can’t shoulder a bar, I don’t have the flexibility,” said Stan Efferding.
9. Side lateral raises
“Yeah, the handle doesn’t concern me. It could be a normal grip or neutral. Side lateral raise is a good one.”
10. Chin Up
“A chin up. I don’t care do I have to pick one. I’ve got to be specific about it… I would probably do reverse grip so I can mainly get more bicep out of it, get a little extra benefit.”
* Extra* Seated calf raises
“The only one that leaves is calves. I’ve always struggled with calves,” said Efferding. “If given the option, I’d throw in a seated calf [raises].”
Efferding hadn’t been the only notable bodybuilder to break down his top 10 list of essential exercises. The trend began in July with reigning four-time Classic Physique Olympia Chris Bumstead. From there, it didn’t take long for the fitness community to pick up on the idea. Even ATHLEAN-X’s Jeff Cavaliere offered his ‘alterations’ to ‘Cbum’s’ list.
Nick “The Mutant” Walker delivered his own top 10 exercise picks recently. Similarly, former seven-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath did the same when he joined Chris Williamson on his YouTube channel in August.
Given the dynamic nature of exercise, it’s no surprise that Stan Efferding’s list looked nothing like Bumstead’s, Walker’s, and Heath’s. However, he believes these movements are essential following years of wear and tear from powerlifting and bodybuilding.