Will Tennyson & Jeff Nippard’s Top Exercise Choices for Every Muscle Group

Seeking a comprehensive full-body workout but still deciding which exercises to choose? Fitness influencers Will Tennyson and Jeff Nippard collaborated to highlight the best exercises for each muscle group. 

Best Exercises Criteria

Nippard uses three criteria when choosing the top exercise for a muscle group: 

High Tension & StretchHe believes muscles require resistance during stretching to be effective.

The Exercise Should Feel Good: The exercise should be pain-free and fluid, targeting the muscles rather than straining the joints.

The Potential for Overload: Gradually increasing weights and reps in training is crucial for progress.

Explore the exercises above as featured in the video published on Nippard’s YouTube channel on March 21, 2024, below

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Best Leg Exercises

The quadriceps are the body’s largest muscle group, followed by the glutes and calves. Below are Nippard’s suggestions for maximizing their growth:

Smith Machine Squats

Smith machine squats primarily target the quads and glutes. Nippard suggests performing long-length partial reps focused on lengthening the quads to enhance the movement’s effectiveness.

Tennyson argues that this technique, lacking rest at the top, is more challenging than exercises utilizing a full range of motion. A European Journal of Sport Science study confirms the benefits of training at longer muscle lengths for increased hypertrophy. (1)

Nippard explains why Romanian deadlifts (RDL) are ineffective in targeting the hamstrings. “Three heads get stretched and then contract as you come up as you would in an RDL,” says Nippard. “But there’s one head that doesn’t cross the hip joint, so how could it possibly get worked from my RDL? They can’t.”

Leg Curls

The effectiveness of leg curls is due to fully engaging the hamstring but prefers the seated variation. He cites the advantage of the starting position, which pre-stretches the hamstrings.

Nippard references a study comparing seated and lying leg curls, showcasing how the seated version promotes greater muscle hypertrophy in the hamstrings. (2) Additionally, Nippard suggests leaning forward during the exercise amplifies its impact, provided the position remains comfortable. 

Best Chest Exercises

Nippard suggests three sets are sufficient for most lifters to observe noticeable improvements in the pectoral muscles.

You probably get about maybe around 60 percent of maximum growth potential off of just three sets.

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Barbell Incline Bench Press Press & Seated Cable Chest Fly

Nippard highlights the incline press as a key exercise for upper pec development. Referencing a study from 2020, Nippard points out that both incline and flat bench presses equally engage the middle and lower pecs; the incline press specifically enhances the upper chest. (3

Furthermore, Nippard advocates for the 45-degree free weight incline press for its superior strength carryover compared to its Smith machine counterpart.

Nippard advocates advancing the chair position for a cable flye to enable a deeper stretch, effectively channeling tension directly to the chest. He recommends performing one set to failure when engaging in high-repetition exercises.

Best Back Exercises

[Related: The 11 Best Back Exercises And Full Workouts To Build Muscle And Strength]

Nippard incorporates vertical and horizontal pulls into back workouts. For vertical pulls, he suggests using pulldowns or pull-ups. He recommends rows, particularly chest-supported rows, for added stability and effective back engagement.

Chest-Supported Row & Pulldown

Nippard advises allowing the back to round slightly at the bottom of the row so the scapula separates. This positioning enables a more intense contraction when pulling the weights by squeezing the scapula together. 

Nippard commented on grip variation:

wide grip for rows.

A neutral or close grip for pulldowns.

Pulling the elbows straight down during pulldowns to better target the lats.

Nippard typically performs eight to 12 reps for pulldowns and recommends slower concentrics.

Anything between two to eight seconds of total rep length is optimal as long as you’re controlling the eccentric. 

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Best Shoulder Exercises

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Cable Lateral Raise & Reverse Peck Deck with a Twist

Nippard suggests adjusting the cable to the hand level can enhance the stretch of lateral raises. Nippard recommends positioning oneself sideways on the pec deck and reaching across for a deep stretch to hit the frequently neglected rear delts.

Best Arm Exercises

[Related: The 10 Best Arm Exercises to Add to Your Routine, Plus 5 Full Workouts]

Bayesian Cable Curl & Overhead Cable Triceps Extension

Nippard recommends adjusting the cable to hand level when performing Bayesian cable curls to train the biceps in a stretched position. 

For Nippard, an overhead routine targeting the long head of the triceps is optimal due to the shoulder positioning. This long head enhances the triceps’ appearance from behind and contributes to a more pronounced hang during front double biceps poses

Cable Kikcback

Per Nippard, the overhead position doesn’t facilitate optimal triceps contraction. Conversely, cable kickbacks can achieve peak contraction.


Pedrosa, G. F., Lima, F. V., Schoenfeld, B. J., Lacerda, L. T., Simões, M. G., Pereira, M. R., Diniz, R. C. R., & Chagas, M. H. (2022). Partial range of motion training elicits favorable improvements in muscular adaptations when carried out at long muscle lengths. European journal of sport science, 22(8), 1250–1260. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2021.1927199

Maeo, S., Huang, M., Wu, Y., Sakurai, H., Kusagawa, Y., Sugiyama, T., Kanehisa, H., & Isaka, T. (2021). Greater Hamstrings Muscle Hypertrophy but Similar Damage Protection after Training at Long versus Short Muscle Lengths. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 53(4), 825–837. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000002523

Rodríguez-Ridao, D., Antequera-Vique, J. A., Martín-Fuentes, I., & Muyor, J. M. (2020). Effect of Five Bench Inclinations on the Electromyographic Activity of the Pectoralis Major, Anterior Deltoid, and Triceps Brachii during the Bench Press Exercise. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(19), 7339. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197339

Featured image: @jeffnippard on Instagram

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