There are lots of different lifts that a person can do to increase their strength, speed, and power. All kind of weightlifting is great for your body, but I prefer to not waste time in the gym going from lift to lift when you can do only a few lifts and gain a much more superior anabolic effect. After all, the whole point of lifting is to throw your body in a state of anabolism (muscle growing) to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. You won’t get this by doing your little bicep curls and triceps extensions. You gotta hit the body as a whole, because that’s what is, a whole. While there are many notable supplemental lifts to help in overall body improvement (will be noted later), we will focus on the very best, the crem-de-la crem!
SQUAT – quite possibly the best overall strength-building exercise known to man. While most think the squat is only for your quads, they ain’t squattin’ the right way. With a proper squat, you will work your quads, your hamstrings, your calves, your hips, your abs, and your obliques. Even your lats and your chest get stimulated as stabilizer muscles. If you’re not ready to squat for real, don’t even bother with this exercise, because if you do it wrong you’re wasting a great exercise on nothing. You need to be extremely flexible to perform a proper squat. Why? Because when you got that bar on your upper back across your neck, you’re going to look up at the ceiling, and squat down very slowly until your ass touches the floor, then you sit for about 2-3 seconds and stand up as fast as you possibly can. If you can jump a little bit at the top of the squat…God bless you!
DEADLIFT – an extremely tremendous power lift for increasing size and pulling power. When doing the deadlift, do not use the alternate hands grip (one hand facing you, one hand facing away). I don’t know who the hell invented this grip, but all this does is create different tension on the bicep muscles and cause a muscular imbalance in the arms. To perform a proper deadlift, hold your hands shoulder width apart, back straight, head looking towards the ceiling. When you stand up don’t lean backwards because that does not give you more range of motion, it puts strain on the lower back. The deadlift is a simple up and down movement. When you stand up, go FAST! When you go back down, try to go as slow as possible. If you can manage it, don’t let the barbell touch the ground, but don’t get discouraged if it does. This is a very hard lift to master properly.
BENCH PRESS – I know I don’t need to write much about this exercise. This is everyone’s favorite. Why? Why are so many lifters in love with the bench press? While it is a great exercise for the chest and shoulders, there are tons of other exercises that work many multiple muscle actions than the simple bench press. I’ll tell you why everyone, me included, loves the bench press. After you are done benching, your whole body is in a state of shock from the intense breathing patterns involved in benching, and the extreme cardiovascular response immediately following the exercise. It is a great exercise to build the upper body into a mountain of solid rock. Many gym rats put on way too much weight on the bar, then they almost drop the weight on their chest then they explode off of the bench with their legs and lower back to push the weight back up. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!! That is not bench pressing, that is moving a weight up and down with ill effect. When you bench, your feet shouldn’t even be on the ground; they should be elevated to keep your upper back and lower back as flat as possible on the bench so that you are only pressing with your chest and triceps. Not only will this ignite the chest, but it will also greatly increase upper body balance and coordination.
Basically speaking, these three lifts can make up a solid weightlifting regime for even the experienced lifters, because there are so many variations of each exercise. Every muscle in your body will be worked from these three vigorous power lifts. These lifts will increase brute strength and power in the body. They are a must! A staple in every lifter’s workout.
Now let’s look at some important supplemental lifts that should be added to a regime so that the squat, deadlift, and bench press can be improved.
MILITARY PRESS (SHOULDER PRESS) – This is a very simple, yet extremely effective exercise to target the shoulders. It can be done seated or standing. It is very easy to perform; it can be done with dumbbells or barbells. I prefer to do this exercise with dumbbells as you get far more range of motion. Standing military dumbbell press is one of the best exercises you will do. Make sure is back is straight and you’re looking straight ahead. The weights will be down on the top of the shoulders, then you press up as fast as you can, and back down slowly. If dumbbells get to light for you, then load up the bar and do the same thing. The bar is in front (or in back, but I prefer in front. Funny, I just said that to a lady friend last night…) and you press it up from the middle part of your chest so that you can go up and down with as much range of motion as possible.
PULL-UPS / CHIN-UPS/ PUSH-UPS – Pull-ups and chin-ups have been around for thousands of years and have withstood the test of time. It is the single best exercise you can do for your back. Your back is used for pulling and pull-ups and chin-ups do just that, they pull on the second biggest muscle in your body, the BACK! They can be done with a shoulder width grip to target the entire back, close grip for your inner back and lower lats, and a wide grip for your outer lats and your traps. Pull-ups and chin-ups can (and should) be done daily in my opinion. Push-ups have also been around for thousands of years, and I strongly believe that without them a man cannot be truly strong. When doing push-ups, a different kind of muscle fiber is stimulated than in any other chest exercise, causing “real” strength to grow in the upper body, even the abs, because they are keeping you on balance. Do push-ups the right way – back straight, chest and nose to the floor, and full extension all the way up.
Shoulder width grip targets the whole chest and shoulders, wide-grip is for the outer areas of the chest and the lats, and close grip really really hits the triceps hard and also your inner chest, which is possibly the most under worked area of the upper body and is critical for overall power.
DIPS – One of my favorite exercises ever. Dips are excellent for upper body power. They are great for the chest, the lats, the triceps, and the shoulders. When you are dipping, dip down as far as you can possibly go until it hurts, then push yourself back up. With your elbows flaring out more, you target the chest and shoulders, with the elbows in close to your body, you target the triceps and shoulders.
That’s it! But what about bicep curls and triceps extensions and leg press? If you asked that question slap yourself in the face. While all those exercises are OK for adding more “look” to the muscle, they are more than unnecessary. Compound movements such as the pull-up work your bicep more than a standard bicep curl (we’re talking about real strength here, not just size). The bench press will put more anabolic effect on the triceps than any cable machine ever will. Dips will blast your entire upper body to phenomenal strength levels. Compound movements are superior to the body than isolation lifts. There you have some exercises that should be the staple of every workout regime out there. No matter what your goals are, these exercises will get you there if done properly. Now go try them out with proper form and tell me you need to do curls!