Intermediate Free Weight Training Exercises

intermediate free weight training exercises

     I have created a great list of old school common intermediate free weight training exercises. This super-feature includes a weekly training schedule in which you can group these exercises into. A lot of these exercises focus on the training dynamics of compound/multi-joint exercises.

These exercises provide greater potential for the release of  (Growth Hormone) this equates to increases in size and strength gains as an intermediate. But… this is only if you’re intensity and form is being challenged with each set from the exercises you choose. Feel free to inter-change the exercises, even the weekly routine to fit your goal and lifestyle.

Even though I will show a variety of exercises for each body part, I would suggest at the intermediate level, pick no more than (Three) exercises of 3 - 4 sets from each body part list for larger muscle groups, and 2 – 3 sets per exercise for smaller body parts. 

I have listed the free weight training exercises in order of importance, meaning: the best muscle mass and strength builder’s that release the most 'growth hormone', are listed at the top of each body part section.

The ones that fall under the top ones are also very important, to even and round weaknesses and increase your strength curve in each given body part at the intermediate level.

Be sure to assess your physique to see which muscle groups are weak and which are strong, and prioritize the weaker ones that you feel need it the most. your goal should be a deciding factor on want you want to achieve regarding the free weight training exercises...

Whether your trying to increase your strength and muscle mass to increase general fitness and athletic performance, or to increase strength and efficiency towards your favorite sports its all here.

The intermediate free weight training exercises are also set up for serious intermediate bodybuilders as the exercises are broke down into body part exercises with a full weekly schedule, as mentioned, the schedule and body parts can be substituted to match your intensity, goal and lifestyle.

Always start every work out by thoroughly warming-up and stretching before you go into the intermediate exercises.

Lets Start With Free Weight Training Exercises
For The Upper body 



Flat barbell press: Sets 3   Reps 8 – 10, works the mid-and overall chest cavity.

Flat barbell bench press

(Use a wider than shoulder width grip, movements should be fluid touching the chest with each rep, avoiding a lockout at the termination point of each rep).

Flat dumbbell press: Sets 2 – 3   Reps 8 to 10, works the mid-inner and outer central, pectorals. 

Intermediate dumbbell presses

(Flat bench exercises predominantly build and strengthen the entire chest. provide a full stretch in the bottom end, and as you bring the dumbbells together at the top squeeze your chest on each rep).

Flat bench flys: Set 2 – 3    Reps 8 to 10, flys work the inner and outer chest.

Flat bench dumbbell flyes

(With elbows slightly bent, lower the dumbbells into a deep stretch, pull the dumbbells up in a smooth action, creating an arc just over the central part of the chest, allow the dumbbells to touch before returning). Flat flys provide shape and define more muscle tone, to your pectoral development).

Upper chest:    ‘bench angle set at 20 to 30°’

Incline barbell press: Sets -3   Reps 8 – 10, works upper pectorals and front delts.

Intermediate Incline barbell press

(This exercise focuses the attention on increasing size and strength in the upper chest and front delts).

Incline dumbbell press: Sets – 3   Reps 8 – 10, works upper and inner pectorals.

Incline dumbbell press

Dumbbells allow for a longer range of motion and a deeper stretch in the incline movements. Allow the dumbbells to provide a full stretch next to the shoulders, drive the bells upward, as you reach midpoint begin bringing the bells together, pause and squeeze at the termination point of each rep).

Incline flys: Sets 2 - 3   Reps 10 - 12, works upper and inner pectorals and front delts.

Immediate dumbbell flies

(free weight training exercises like flyes, add shape and definition to the muscle size in the upper pectorals; with elbows slightly bent. Starting at the bottom in a deep stretch, pull the bells up, imagine hugging a barrel and squeezing at the top of each rep at the termination point).

Lower chest: bench angle should be set at a negative -20 to 30°

Decline barbell press: Sets 3   Reps 8 - 10, stimulates lower pectoral development.

(Decline movements predominantly ease some stress off the shoulders, focus is on the lower, outer pectorals, use a wider than shoulder width grip touching the barbell to the lowest part of the pectorals with each rep).

Parallel bar dips: Sets 3    Reps 8 – 10, this works lower pecs and shoulders.

Intermediate Parallel bar dips

(Dipping is not easy, but… This exercise does pay big dividends if you include it often enough, keep your legs back, lower deep into the exercise, then drive-up, if you can only get a few reps don’t worry, keep trying, you’ll get stronger).

Decline dumbbell press:  Sets 2 - 3    Reps 10 - 12, this exercise works the lower, inner/outer pectorals.          

Intermediate decline dumbbell press

(Dumbbells allow versatility of movement that the barbell does not. Stretch the chest cavity in the bottom end of the exercise, bring the dumbbells together at the top elbows slightly bent and contract momentarily).

Upper Arms The Biceps

EZ-Bar curls

Barbell curls medium grip: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 8 - 10, works the mid-and inside biceps.

Intermediate barbell curl

(Hands shoulder width apart, ‘don’t heave the weight’; keep the back and shoulders straight, make the biceps do the work, don’t allow the barbell to come to the chest, keep the tension on the biceps, focus on the movement)

Wide grip barbell curls: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 8 – 10, this works the inside of the biceps.

Intermediate wide grip barbell curls

(Slightly wider than shoulder width grip will target the inside head of the biceps, keep the movement the same as you would with a regular barbell curl, keep the barbell back 6 to 8 inches from the chest, at the top, keeping tension on the biceps).

Seated alternating dumbbell curls: Sets 2 -3   Reps 8 – 10, works the mid/inside biceps.

Alternating dumbbell curls

(This exercise works the middle and inside of the biceps, be sure to supinate, turning the dumbbells inward at the top, keep the movements fluid, use the same speed for lifting and lowering on each rep).

Preacher curls performed with EZ bar: sets 2 – 3    Reps 10 - 12, lower biceps.

Intermediate barbell preacher curls

(The middle and lower portion of the biceps take the brunt of the effort here. With free weight training exercises like preacher curls; try to allow the biceps to stretch in the bottom and contract at the top of each rep).

Hammer curls French press bar: Sets 2 - 3    Reps 8 - 10, works the outside biceps.

Intermediate French curl bar

(Hammer curls predominantly stress the forearms, brachialis and outside head of the biceps, as you perform each rep, keep the focus on the outer biceps).

Standing dumbbell hammer curls: Sets 2   Reps 8 - 10, works the outside of the biceps.

Intermediate hammer curls

(With hammer curls stimulation is generally felt in the brachialis and outside biceps, but commonly gives a nice appeal of wider thicker looking biceps).

Note: Try to work the biceps from different angles to stimulate the inner and outer heads.

The Triceps

Parallel-bar Dips: Sets 2 - 3    Reps 8 – 10, this exercise works the inside triceps and shoulders.

Intermediate deep dips

(Body weight Dips can be toughies to perform, try your best, keep the trunk and legs straight, but... knees bent to keep you from swinging, lower yourself as deep as you can, push back out and squeeze on each rep).

Flat narrow grip bench press: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 8 – 10,

Intermediate narrow grip bench press

(Overhand grip 5 to 8 inches apart, this exercise stresses the overall triceps, pectorals and front delts. Keep your elbows close to your sides to keep tension on the triceps and less on the front shoulders. avoid locking out at the top).    

Seated dips: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 8 - 10, works inner and outer triceps/front deltoids.

Intermediate Seated dips

(Use a bench/chair, add plate weight if you need, seated dips use a lot of shoulder and triceps strength, lower into the exercise for a deep stretch in the bottom, drive up and squeeze the triceps at the top of each rep).

Triceps cable push downs: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 10 – 12, this exercise more-less isolates the mid-to-outside of triceps.

Intermediate cable push-downs

(Push-downs isolate most of the stress to the outside of the triceps, keep the elbows tight to your sides, don’t come past 90° with the forearms, fully extend and squeeze).

Tuesday: leg day

Intermediate leg day

Fronts of legs the Thighs

Barbell squats bar placed to the rear: Sets 3    Reps 8 – 10

Intermediate squats

(Arguably one of the best intermediate free weight training exercises, this works the entire body, particularly the quads, shoulders and glutes. Lower to parallel with the floor, drive with quads through your heels, try not to lockout the knees at the top).

Angled leg press: Sets 3   Reps 10 – 12, focuses on the lower front quadriceps.

Intermediate leg press

(This is a great alternative to squats. Foot position determines what part of the Quads your training, a ‘V’ stance, works the inside, feet pointed straight-ahead works the middle and outside of the quadriceps.

Machine hack squats: Sets 3   Reps 8 - 10, this works the quadriceps at the lowest part around the knees.

Intermediate hack squats

(Vary your toe position, meaning: moving the toes in or out slightly to place different emphasis on the inner and outer quads, this is a great exercise for carrot shaped legs).

Barbell lunges: Sets 3    Reps 10 - 12 per leg, stimulates the quads and glutes.

Intermediate barbell lunge

(With a barbell behind the neck, take a large step forward with one leg at a time to feel a full stretch, keep the toes ahead of the knee as you lower down. You can alternate each leg, or do all 10 to 12 repetitions with one leg, then finish with the other).

Leg extensions: Sets 3    Reps 10 - 12, primarily works and isolates low, around the knees of the quadriceps.

Intermediate leg extensions

(Keep in mind: vary your toe position (inward or outward), on the foot-pads. This allows you to feel the movement in different parts of the quadriceps, give a good contraction at the top of each repetition. Machines make life easy: so, keep the tension on the legs).

Dumbbell walking lunges: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 10 - 12 (per leg)

(Lunges primarily work the quads, glutes and high on the leg biceps also, make the lunge a good stretch, try not to allow the knee to travel past the toe and push out of each lunge with the quads).

Rear-Upper Leg Biceps

Barbell stiff-legged dead lifts: Sets 3    Reps 8 – 10, works rear legs, back and shoulders.

Intermediate barbell deadlifts

(Stiff-legged dead lifts are one of the great classic free weight training exercises, this compound movement really stretches the rear leg biceps or “hamstrings”, use a under/overhand grip and allow for a full stretch in the bottom, use the shoulders, upper back and hips, to do the pulling).

Dumbbell stiff legged deadlifts: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 8 – 10, stresses the rear leg biceps.

Intermediate dumbbell deadlifts

(Dumbbell dead lifts are another variation of free weight training exercises that provides a deep stretch to really stimulate the hamstrings, avoid standing straight at the top, once you've broken into your first rep. keep the tension continuous on the hamstrings with the shoulders throughout the exercise).

Lying Leg curls: Sets 3    Reps 8 - 10, curls emphasize the lower and mid part of the leg biceps.

Intermediate leg curls

(You can vary your toe position inward and outward on this movement, directing the attention to both inner and outside areas of the rear leg biceps. Try to keep your pelvis on the bench, as you curl the weight up. Squeeze the hamstrings momentarily at the top, avoid allowing legs to rest at the bottom. Again, it’s about constant tension).

Wednesday Live life, 'Day Off'


Upper Back

Intermediate upper back

Rowing is the way to developing upper back size and thickness:     

Bent over T-bar rows: Sets 3    Reps 8 - 10, works the lats, biceps and rhomboids.

Intermediate T-bar rows

(Keep your upper back and shoulders straight, allow yourself to be bent over, but not hunched over. Pull the weight to the upper stomach maintaining good form and a full stretch on the return of each exercise).

Bent over barbell rows: Sets 3   Reps 8 - 10, works the lats, rhomboids and biceps.

Intermediate bent over barbell row

(This is classic multi-joint free weight rowing exercise, as with all rowing exercises, be sure to keep the back and shoulders straight, not hunched over. Trunk should be parallel with the floor, pull the bar to your upper abdominals and release).

Bent over dumbbell rows: Sets 3     Reps 8 - 10, stresses the lats and rhomboids.

Intermediate bent over dumbbell row

(Keep the knees slightly bent, palms facing to your rear move the dumbbells simultaneously, as high as you can to the sides of the rib cage, keep the movements smooth and apply a deep stretch with the dumbbells at the bottom on each rep).

These types of free weight training exercises develop strength and thickness in the upper and mid back; they are undisputedly great exercises.

Wide grip chins: Sets 3    Reps 8 - 10, works the extreme outside of the lats/rhomboids and traps.

Intermediate wide grip chins

(Chinning is toughie for some men and women, as it is a bodyweight-based exercise. This exercise is great for developing outer back width and higher inner back, detail).

Seated cable row: Sets 3    Reps 10 - 12, works upper and lower lat tie-ins and biceps.

Intermediate seated cable rows

(Again, with all intermediate free weight training exercises like rowing; a full stretch of the lats is imperative for new growth to occur, think yoga master in the stretch, and weightlifter as you pull the weight back).

These exercises build upper back strength and thickness.

Wide grip cable lat – pull down's: Sets 3   Reps 10 - 12, stimulates outer back, rhomboid, trap and rear shoulder development.

Intermediate LAT pulldown's

(You can perform this exercise, pulling to the front or rear, pulling the LAT bar to the rear of the neck stimulates the rear delt’s trapezius and inner back. Pulling the bar to the upper chest stimulates the outer back, rear delt’s and biceps).

The Trapezius

Barbell close grip upright rows: Sets 2- 3   Reps 10 - 12, works the highest part of the traps next to the neck.

Intermediate upright rows

(To properly stimulate the trapezius keep the movement of this exercise, fluid and constant, allow the barbell to fully stretch at the bottom, pull the bar to almost chin height).

Barbell shoulder shrugs: Sets 3    Reps 8 - 10, this stimulates the mid and high part of the traps next to the neck.

Intermediate barbell shrugs

(Hands shoulder width apart, arms straight, raise the shoulders towards the ears, this builds strength and mass across the rear traps and entire shoulder girdle).

Cable rope pulls: Sets 2 - 3    Reps 10 -12, free-hand free weight training exercises like rope pulls: are still a great movement for adding height to the rear upper traps.

Intermediate rope pulls

(With this movement you can apply an over or underhand grip to the rope as seen here: bring the rope to the upper chest or throat, pause momentarily, and squeeze the traps at the contraction point. Balance the movement of the weight with your own, by leaning back.


Shoulders and calves

Intermediate shoulder press

The Shoulders

Seated Smith machine press: Sets 2 – 3   Reps 8 – 10, stresses the rear delts.

Intermediate behind the neck press

(One hand width past the shoulders, bring the bar and the weight down behind the head, close to the middle of the neck, press the weight up, don’t lock out your arms).

Barbell clean and press: Sets 3    Reps 8 - 10, works the front and rear deltoids, this is one of the best shoulder free weight training exercises there is (for increasing strength and shoulder development). 

Intermediate barbell clean and press

(Grip slightly wider than shoulder width, pull the weight from the waist to the shoulders rotating the wrists at this point and driving the weight up to the termination point). Note: don't 'heave', pull and push!

Seated dumbbell presses: sets 2 – 3   Reps 8 - 10, both the front and rear delts receive stimulation from this exercise.

Intermediate seated dumbbell press

(Be sure to lower the dumbbells to shoulder height, drive the weight up, try not to lock out or allow the ends of the dumbbells to touch but not clank, keep the tension constant).

Note: be sure to always warm up the shoulders well, before you start into your regular maintenance sets.

Seated dumbbell simultaneous laterals raises: Sets 2 – 3   Reps 10 - 12, lateral raises for the most part; work the medial or middle part of the deltoids.

Intermediate seated dumbbell laterals

(Free weight training exercises such as: seated laterals naturally put most weightlifters at a disadvantage, you don’t need a lot of weight to stimulate the central part of the deltoids with this exercise, keep your movements smooth and fluid, lifting the dumbbells to just barely above shoulder height).

The calves

Standing calf raises: Sets 2 – 3    Reps 10 - 12, works the mid-to upper calves.

Intermediate standing calf raises

(On all calf exercises drive through the balls of your feet and toes, extend as high as you can, to get the most benefit at the top end of this exercise).

Angled leg press calf raises: Sets 2 - 3     Reps 10 - 12, works the entire calf muscle, but specifically up-higher towards the back of the knee.

Intermediate calf raises

Seated calf raises: Sets 2 – 3     Reps 10 – 12, this works the underlying muscle of the calf, the soleus.

Intermediate seated calf raises

(Use a full range of motion, allowing the calves to fully stretch, driving up on the toes to complete the extension, applies the most pressure towards continuing calf development).

The calves need to start at a full stretch, and then extend up to their highest point, and held momentarily. The calves are used to being walked on everyday, but they’re not used to a full extension and contraction at each end of the daily calf movement.

Saturday Sunday Off, Enjoy The Weekend!

  In summary:

As was mentioned in the beginning, pick the exercises that you can handle. If you're new to the intermediate level and some of the free weight training exercises shown here, don't be afraid to try them. But…

Don't overdo it in the beginning. If you're not use to the increased and challenging work load give your body time to adapt and condition itself.

Bigger body parts can stand more stress or exertion like chest, back and legs. Smaller muscle groups like arms, traps and shoulders, etc. don't have to be trained at the same volume as the bigger body parts.


3 to 4 sets for bigger body parts, chest, back, legs etc.

Rep ranges of: 5 to 7 build strength

rep ranges of: 9 to 12 is for hypertrophy, increased muscle size and pump

Rep ranges of: 12 to 15 are more commonly for conditioning and endurance.

Ultimately, at the intermediate level, match the goal to the set and rep ranges to achieve what you want from the free weight training exercises

If you're a seasoned intermediate, then you may want to prioritize on weaker body parts to exploit, push and challenge them so that they catch up to the ones that are stronger. You don't have to just use the free weight training exercises to add mass.

You may also want to use these exercises to simply; strengthen and condition your physique for lifestyle or sports related reasons.

Whatever your goal is: the exercises work well if you add the intensity. All the lifters shown throughout the intermediate free weight training exercises article; are all drug-free lifters.

Eating properly, being consistent, focus on your intensity and apply this to your goal and I promise: you will get everything out of the these free weight training exercises you want. If you have questions about the movements or exercises go to contact me. good luck, and never let fear stop you. DWT!

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