The letter ‘S’ presents us with some of the most popular gym exercises, including the squat and seated rowing.
But there are quite a few less well-known moves that are worth highlighting.
If you’re wanting to put together a full body workout with just S-based movements, or you need ideas to round out an alphabet workout, you’re in the right place!
Let’s take a look at an (almost) complete list of exercises that start with S.
Some of the best exercises that start with the letter S are:
- Side Lying Tricep Extension
- Standing Supinated DB Curl
- Shoulder Press
- Straight-Legged Deadlift
- Standing Calf Raise
- Side Lateral Raise
- Swiss Ball Pike
- Single Leg Deadlift
- Side Lunge
- Side Plank
- Sumo Heel Raise Plank
- Sky Jump
- Squat Pulses
- Step Ups
- Single Leg Calf Raises
- Shrimp Squat
- Single Leg Bear Squat
- Seated Cable Row
Let’s take a look at each, how to do them, and why they all deserve a spot on this list.
The legendary leg exercise, the King of all muscle-builders; the squat is a must in any strength program.
- Stand in front of a squat rack with an Olympic bar loaded to the desired weight and set at the level of your shoulders. Position yourself under the bar so that it is resting across your traps.
- Take one step back. Your feet should be a little wider than shoulder width and your toes pointing outward.
- Keep your back straight, your chest thrust out and your head looking directly ahead. Now tense your abdominal wall and drop down and back with your glutes to activate the movement, maintaining an upright torso position.
- Go down until your thighs are parallel with the ﬂoor. To avoid excess strain on the knees, don’t go down any further. In the bottom squat position, your lower legs should be almost vertical to the ﬂoor.
- Push through your heels as you return to the starting position.
- Hip flexors
2. Side Lying Tricep Extension
A cousin of the push-up, this is a great triceps exercise when you don’t have any equipment available.
- Lie on your side with your legs out straight and one leg stacked on top of the other. Rest on your elbow and place your other hand in front of your palm down.
- Bring your torso up by straightening that front arm.
- Lower back down slowly and repeat, pushing through the triceps.
- Front deltoids
One of the most popular triceps exercises around, and for good reason!
There are a lot of variations and different ways of performing this exercise, but here’s the basic dumbbell version.
- Lie on a bench with a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
- Raise your arms up above your chest, keeping your elbows in at your sides.
- Now bend at the elbows to lower the dumbbells to your forehead.
- Reverse the action to return to the start position.
- Front deltoids
4. Standing Supinated Dumbbell Curl
One of many fantastic biceps exercises to keep in your training arsenal.
- Begin with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward. Feet should be shoulder-width apart.
- Rotate your right forearm so that your palm, which begins facing backward, ends up facing forward.
- Keeping the elbow in at the side of your body, curl the right dumbbell up to the shoulder. Contract the bicep tightly.
- Lower back to the start position, turning the wrist back to a palm forward position at the bottom position.
- Repeat with the left arm.
5. Shoulder Press
The shoulder press is a staple compound exercise and one of the best shoulder builders around.
You can do it in many ways (standing, seated) and with a barbell or dumbbells, but here’s the basic DB version:
- Sit on a bench and grasp a pair of dumbbells with a closed, pronated grip. Your head should be up and your upper back and hips should be pressed against the back pad of the seat.
- Move the dumbbells to position them at shoulder level with your palms facing forward. The dumbbell handles should be in line with each other and parallel to the floor.
- Push the dumbbells up until your elbows are fully extended. Keep your wrists straight and directly above your elbows. Make sure, too, that you maintain your erect position. Do not lean back or lift off the bench as you press the dumbbells overhead.
- Now lower the dumbbells back to the start position. Keep your wrists straight and directly above your elbows.
- Front deltoids
A must for anyone looking to build their traps.
- Stand with your arms extended out to your sides at shoulder level and a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
- Shrug your shoulder blades directly up toward your ears. Do not bend at the elbows as you do this.
- Lower back to the start position,. Be sure to maintain an upright torso position throughout.
7. Straight Legged Deadlift
One of the best ways to hit your hamstrings and lower back using less weight than a traditional deadlift.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell held at arm’s length with a reverse grip.
- Maintaining a neutral spine and keeping your legs straight, hinge at the hips to lower your torso to a parallel position to the floor.
- Contract your lower back as you raise back up to the start position.
- Erector spinae
- Latissimus dorsi
8. Standing Calf Raise
Growing your calves isn’t easy, but it is possible! This exercise is a good start.
- Position yourself under a standing calf raise machine, with your shoulders resting on the shoulder pads. Place your toes on the edge of the foot plate and stand to an upright position.
- Keeping your knees locked throughout the movement, raise up on your toes to fully extend your calves.
- Hold at the top position for a slow count of three.
- Without bending your knees, lower to stretch your calves downward.
9. Side Lateral Raises
Isolating your lateral or side delts is critical for well-rounded shoulder definition.
- Hold two dumbbells, one in each hand, at your sides, palms facing your sides. Your feet should be shoulder width apart with your knees slightly bent.
- Tense your core as you raise the weights to shoulder level (no higher). While you are lifting the weights out to the side, pretend that, instead of dumbbells, you have pitchers of water in your hands and that you are going to water some plants up at shoulder level. Allow your elbows to bend and your forearms to drift slightly forward.
- As you reach the top of the movement, rotate your shoulders forward so that the front plates of the dumbbells are slightly lower than the rear plates – just as if you were pouring water. This will cause you to raise your elbows slightly. The rotation needs to come from your shoulders, not your wrists or arms.
- Lateral deltoids
A fun way to work your legs!
- Stand with your feet hip width apart and your hands in a defensive position, fists clenched, in front of your body.
- Put your weight on your left leg as you draw your right knee up and then kick the foot out in an angled direction toward an imagined target at mid thigh level.
- Do the same number of kicks on each leg.
11. Swiss Ball Pikes
A brutal and challenging ab workout you can do at home. All you’ll need is a Swiss Ball.
- Place your feet on a Swiss Ball and extend your body out in front of it with your palms on the floor.
- Draw in your knees to bring the ball toward your arms.
- Contract your core and then push back to full leg extension.
- Erector spinae
12. Single Leg Deadlift
A fantastic unilateral deadlift variation for more of a challenge.
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms by your sides.
- Hinge at the hips to bring your torso down to parallel to the floor as you bring your straightened right leg up to form a straight line with your torso.
- Do the same number of reps on both sides.
- Erector spinae
- Latissimus dorsi
13. Side Lunge
One of many, many lunge variations that are worth incorporating in your next leg day!
- Stand with feet together and arms by your sides.
- Lunge to the left (9 o’clock position), leading with your left leg and bending your knee directly over your ankle.
- Reach your left arm overhead toward the center. Keep your right supporting leg straight.
- Revere the action to return to the start position.
- Lunge to the right (3 o’clock position), leading with the right leg and reaching your right hand overhead.
14. Side Plank
A difficult and effective core exercise you can do anytime, anywhere.
- Get down on your side, propped up on your forearm with your legs out straight and stacked upon each other.
- Contract your abs and exhale as you push up on your elbow to lift off the ground. Your torso should form a straight line with your head and legs.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
15. Sumo Heel Raise Pulse
Bet you’ve never tried this calf exercise before!
- Position a resistance loop band around your upper thighs. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed forward, with arms out in front of your body.
- Hinge at the hips to drop down into a parallel squat. In the bottom position, raise up onto your toes to bring your heels off the floor.
- Lower your heels back down and then repeat in a series of heel raise pulses. Perform ten pulses and then return to the start position. That is one rep.
Sitting at a desk all day? This unique exercise is the perfect antidote.
- Lie face down on an exercise mat with your arms and legs outstretched.
- Lift your hands and feet from the floor and raise your head.
- Without bending your knees, pulse up with your body extending your arm and legs.
- Lower and repeat.
- Erector spinae
17. Ski Jump
Heart-pounding cardio in your living room. Beware though, this one is a bit high-impact.
- Stand with your feet together and hands extended overhead.
- Now descend into a quarter squat and then jump laterally, landing with your feet together.
- Jump back to the start position.
- Continue your reps in a fluid, constant motion.
18. Squat Pulses
Not many people want to make squats harder than they already are, but if you’re one of them, here you go!
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward, with arms out in front of your body.
- Hinge at the hips to squat to parallel.
- From the bottom position, start performing short pulses, coming up to a quarter squat position on each pulse.
- Perform 3 pulses and then return to the start position. That is one rep.
19. Step Ups
Cardio and a low-impact leg workout, all in one functional movement.
- Stand in front of a step up box that is either 16 or 22 inches in height.
- Step your left foot up onto the box and then follow through with your right foot to stand completely on top of the box.
- Step back down, firstly with your left, then your right foot.
- Repeat in a fast, fluid manner.
20. Single Leg Calf Raise
When it comes to calves, the more tools you have in the toolbox, the better.
- Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
- Lift your left leg off the floor.
- Rise up on your right foot, without bending the knee, to fully extend the calf muscle.
- Lower back to the floor to contract the calves.
- Do the same number of reps on both legs.
21. Shrimp Squat
This one is not for the faint of heart! But it’s a great goal to work your way up to.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and a chair in front of you.
- Lift one leg until you can grasp it with the same side hand, bending at the knee. Place your other hand on the back of the chair for support.
- Squat down as far as you can.
- Come back up. The lower you go the more difficult the move will be.
22. Single Leg Bear Squat
You’ve heard of the bear plank, now here’s the bear squat! Do it on one leg for a brutal challenge.
- Start off on the ground on all fours.
- Lift one leg up in the air and squat back into your supporting leg until the back of your leg touches your calf muscle.
- Now come back up.
- Make the move harder by slowing it down. The slower movement will require you to utilize more muscle fibers and make it more challenging.
23. Seated Cable Row
Every gym has this machine, and for good reason. It’s a fantastic builder for your entire back.
- Sit at a seated cable machine station with your knees slightly bent and torso in an upright position.
- Grab the handles. In this start position, you should be leaning slightly forward.
- Row your arms back so that the elbows end up alongside your ribs. Keep your lower back neutral.
- Return to the start position and repeat.
- Latissimus dorsi
- Rear deltoids
As well as the old standbys, you’ve now been introduced to some of the less well known moves, such as the Shrimp and Single Leg Bear Squat.
Give these challenging variations a try! Just take it slow and work your way up if you’re a beginner.
But now you definitely have plenty of ammo for a great letter S workout!
For more, see:
- Exercises that start with O
- Exercises that start with R
- Exercises that start with J
- Exercises that start with P
Hope this helps!