Alternate dumbbell curls are on the list. / Instagram
What would a Cbum workout look like if he could only do 10 exercises forever? It’s one of bodybuilding’s enduring “desert island” questions to limit yourself to just ___ number of exercises. One? 5? 10? 20? Which would you pick? Four-time and reining Classic Physique Mr. Olympia Chris Bumstead recently sat down for an interview with popular YouTuber Chris Williamson, and Williamson hit Cbum with the big hypothetical: “If you only had 10 exercises for the rest of time—it’s all you have in your library—to stay as muscular as possible, give me the list.” What follows are Bumstead’s 10—and only 10, for the rest of his life—bodybuilding exercises with his explanations for each choice.
“Just overall leg growth. They help glutes, quads, a large portion of the legs. Barbell back squats, super simple. If it’s my whole life [of doing just 10 exercises], I might actually do Smith machine squats, because it’ll help my knees and be a little bit easier [on my joints]. Plus stability. And people hate me for that, but I love squatting in the Smith machine.”
“Deadlifts just to get something that’ll target my hamstrings, so I don’t have to take out another [one of the] 10 for something too hamstring focused. And [deadlifts are] glute and back focused.”
With a neutral grip. “So I can hit my back and biceps in one.”
4. INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS
“I find incline is a little bit better on your shoulders, so if it’s the only exercise you do, you won’t f**k up your shoulders that much. And dumbbell [as opposed to barbell], it’ll keep you a little more symmetrical.”
5. SEATED DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS
“I think that’ll help your triceps and shoulders a lot.”
6. CLOSE-GRIP BENCH PRESS
After a long pause. “Maybe a close-grip flat bench: different part of the chest and the triceps.”
7. DUMBBELL CURL
“Self-explanatory. How do you want to live without doing dumbbell curls for the rest of your life?” Standing, alternating, and supinated [revolving hand from facing thighs at the bottom to facing forward at the top].
8. BARBELL ROW
“That’ll help with stability and core, as well, and then lower back and, obviously, upper back.”
9. HANGING LEG RAISE
“To make sure your core is getting hit and you’re not f**king up your back.”
10. SIDE LATERAL
“And then?” Pause. “This is a tough one. I’m trying to focus on either lateral raises or an overhead triceps extension, because I haven’t had a lot of specific triceps. I’d probably do lateral raises just to get some meaty delts.”
CBUM WORKOUT: 10 EXERCISES ONLY
Analysis: Chris Bumstead’s “10 exercises only” leaves room for debate. It’s light on lower body work with squats the only true leg exercise. That said, deadlifts provide flexibility, as he could do them conventional-style (involving more back), sumo-style (involving more quads and glutes), and Romanian or stiff-leg (involving more hamstrings). Calves are the one missing body part. Cbum acknowledged this, quipping with a grin: “Maybe I’ll do some stairs on the side [to work calves].” We love that he chose hanging leg raises as his one ab exercise, as scientific studies rank it the best of all abdominal exercises. We also love that the four-time Classic Physique Mr. Olympia opted to include side laterals in his top 10. Others with different priorities will disagree. One more leg exercise instead? But for a classic physique V-taper you need to cap off the delts, and nothing does this better than side laterals.
All in all, this is a good list. Luckily, you don’t have to choose only 10 exercises to do for the rest of your life, but Cbum’s exercise choices point you towards the ones you should include in your broader bodybuilding routine.