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The big powerlifting three... Squats - Deadlifts - Bench Press


Written for Worldclassbodybuilding.com

Today's topic is the big three power lifting exercises that in my opinion should be a part of every bodybuilders workout plan. Anyone who wants to add mass who isn't including these exercises is cheating themselves out of new found strength and mass gains. The three exercises I am talking about are: Squats, Deadlifts, and Bench Press. These exercises are the best of the best for adding strength and size. Are they fun or easy to do? Hell no, not if you use a good amount of weight.... But who said this bodybuilding thing was going to be easy. If you want easy, try taking up checkers. These exercises will kick your ass every time you do them. They will tire you out, and drain you physically because they are such big compound movements. But in the end it will be worth it I assure you. I'm going to quickly go over how they are done for those people who may not know or have never done them before.

*note: there will be small variations to the way I describe doing these exercises. I am just going to cover the basics of the motion for people who are new to the exercise*

Squats - These can and probably should be done with the smith machine first to get used to the feel of the movement and check your form before moving into the free-weight squat rack. The bar will go behind your neck and rest on your traps. Your hands will be wrapped around the bar palm forward, and positioned wherever is comfortable. You will basically make a sitting movement, and go down to a 90 degree point so that it looks like you are sitting on a chair. Then you will explode back up to the starting position. It is important to not round your back at all and to keep a tight lower back during this exercise. The best way to get the right for for this exercise is to stick your chest out, and your butt back, then squat. If you act as if you are trying to stick out your chest and butt the whole time you will keep proper form.

Deadlifts - There is variations of these where you either keep your legs stiff or you bend slightly at the knees. You will get more hamstring if you do stiff legged. So we will go with a slight bend in the knees. Start with the bar on the floor, bend at the knees until you can reach it. Grip the bar (you can choose to do one palm turned forward and one palm back towards you for a grip or just grab it with both facing you). Then you will stand straight up while holding it, and pinch your shoulder blades back slightly to squeeze your back. Then lower back down to the floor and repeat. The form is similar to the squat because you don't want to round your back, you want to keep a tight lower back with chest and butt pushed out. You should feel "locked in" when your form is correct and your back should not be able to round at all.

Bench Press - Now I know everyone who has ever been in a gym has tried this movement before. Everyone loves to bench press. Well lets go over it quickly for those that may not have proper form. With the bar racked you will lay down underneath it. Find the place on the bar where your hands will go so that when the bar is lowered to your chest your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Grip the bar (thumbs forward or back is your choice, I prefer back). Some may disagree with me here, but I believe you should have a slight (not a rainbow) arch in your back to push your chest up slightly so that the weight is felt more on your chest. This doesn't mean you should arch your back up with each rep. Once your form is set you should not be moving to help with momentum. This is cheating and will result in injury and not working the muscle as hard. Feet flat on the floor. Push up and unrack the bar. Bring it down slowly and touch (not bounce) it to your chest, and explode back up to the starting point. You should only push to the point just before your elbows lock out. Your elbows should not lock out at the top every time or you are going to hurt them, and make the exercise less effective.

Sorry for getting back to the basics.... But far too often I am seeing guys who are trying to gain muscle who do not include these exercises in their program. They often do this because they don't like these exercises because they are hard work... Well without hard work you will not build the body you want..... So shut up and squat!





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