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Technically speaking if your goal was to maximize hypertophy 100% and you could determine that a specific movement was the absolute BEST possible option for a given muscle… I suppose that’d be a “must” for you.
But in practical terms – as long as you’re training sufficiently hard and progressively on exercises where the targeted muscle is getting close (or all the way) to failure – then there are no individual exercises you absolutely HAVE to do.
General movement patterns sure, but not any one variation of those patterns.
There’s a lot of talk about “optimal” exercises on social media these days, and I’m part of that too as I do post certain exercise variations/form tips to help you get the most from your training.
But also remember that exercise effectiveness operates on a spectrum – it’s not this black and white thing of “you must use THIS optimized version or you won’t get results”.
Yes, there ARE certain lifts that genuinely are garbage, but once you get up into the realm of exercises that are “pretty good”… the difference between “pretty good” and “optimal” probably won’t be too significant in the long term.
This is especially true depending on your goals.
If like most people here (including myself) you’re a recreational lifter who takes their training reasonably seriously but not THAT seriously to where every 0.01% of progress is considered critical… then you really don’t need to obsess too much about getting things “perfect”.
Trying to do so could even work against you if it means performing a bunch of stuff you hate doing or that is highly inconvenient.
Again, context is key here. Just remember that:
– Exercise effectiveness is shades of gray rather than black and white.
– The difference between “pretty good” and “optimal” is probably not as big as you think.
– Enjoyment is a factor to consider for the sake of long term adherence.
– How specific you NEED to be with your exercises depends on your individual goals.
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