WHAT DO I LIFT?
"What do you bench?"
How often do you hear that question? People toss it around gyms like it's a citizenship test.
Frankly, I'd rather know what someone's Deadlift or Overhead Press is, but I digress.
Strength is important! It's a fundamental element of muscularity and physical conditioning.
Regardless of which lifts you guys think matter most, I've recorded myself performing several compound movements below. Three of them (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) are staples in powerlifting and the other three are very underrated.
Ultimately, I'm not here to mislead you. There are PLENTY of guys out there who are stronger than me, some of whom even have a similar build to mine. But I feel I've come far enough with my genetics to pass on helpful knowledge to you.
Here are my most recent lifting PRs:
The King of all exercises! For a while, I preferred to use the sumo stance; I've been using conventional for the last year and like it more, particularly since it really helps strengthen your lower back. Ultimately, do whichever variation you're stronger at; both are great.
Many consider the Deadlift the King of all exercises. With that in mind, Mark Rippetoe, who is one of the most respected coaches in the game, has named the properly performed Full Squat as the best exercise you could do. Pull back your shoulder blades and keep them tight as the bar rests on your traps. Before you descend, breathe into your belly and brace your abs. While keeping your abs tight, descend as deep as you can without your lower back rounding (for me, that's hitting parallel; some could go even deeper).
If you want shoulders that pop out like a superhero, then you need to get strong on this movement. A lot of people like to perform variations of this with dumbbells while seated. Personally, I feel that the standing version with a barbell is the best and safest Overhead Press you could perform. As you can see, I keep my glutes and abs tight, which helps stabilize my body (especially my lower back) as I press the weight. Make sure to press the bar directly over your head in each repetition; don't have it at an angle in front of your body.
This movement is fantastic. It focuses on your biceps and lats, but will activate other back muscles (middle traps, lower traps, rhomboids) as well. Now sure, heavy Deadlifts will build a bigger back overall any day, but nothing pops out the lats quite like Pull-Ups. Switch your grip to palms facing yourself to turn your puny biceps into pythons!
While we're on the subject of bodyweight exercises, I need to make sure I mention Dips! This killer exercise is referred to as the "Squat of the Upper Body" for good reason! It hits your chest, delts, and triceps all in one sweep. Make sure you keep your shoulder blades tight and stop at 90 degrees; this will help prevent any injuries.
Well, in case you were wondering what I bench, here you go! Similar to your form when squatting, pull back your shoulder blades and keep them tight. Squeeze your glutes and abs to form a solid base for your body. Now, if you have fairly lanky arms for your build (this often tends to be the case for taller guys), I would stop a little past 90 degrees rather than at your chest. I'm fortunate in that I have . Take it from my experience: going too deep on Bench Press variations can lead to injury if you're just not built for it.