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Mastering the Big Three Lifts: Bench, Squat, Deadlift

When it comes to strength training and building muscle, there are few exercises as crucial and effective as the Big Three Lifts. Consisting of the bench press, squat, and deadlift, these compound movements target multiple muscle groups, promote overall strength development, and are essential for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.

1. The Bench Press

The bench press is a staple exercise in any weightlifting routine, particularly for targeting the upper body. It primarily focuses on the chest, shoulders, and triceps while also activating the back, biceps, and core muscles for stability.

To master the bench press, it’s important to start with proper form and technique. Begin by lying on a flat bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Maintain a slight arch in your lower back and engage your core for stability. Grip the barbell with a shoulder-width grip, ensuring your wrists are straight.

Lower the bar slowly to your chest, allowing your elbows to flare out naturally. Pause briefly at the bottom before explosively pressing the bar back up to the starting position. Focus on maintaining control throughout the movement and avoid excessive bouncing of the bar off your chest.

2. The Squat

The squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises, as it targets the lower body, core, and upper body in a compound movement. It primarily works the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles, promoting overall leg and lower body strength.

Proper squat form is crucial to maximize the benefits and prevent injury. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Keep your chest up, back straight, and engage your core. Descend by bending at the knees and hips, pushing your glutes back as if sitting into an imaginary chair.

Ensure your knees track over your toes and avoid letting them cave inward. Lower until your thighs are parallel or slightly below parallel to the ground. Drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position. Remember to maintain control throughout the movement and avoid rounding your back.

3. The Deadlift

The deadlift is a fundamental compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the back, glutes, hamstrings, and core. It is a highly functional movement that mimics picking up heavy objects from the ground and is essential for developing overall strength and power.

To perform a deadlift with proper technique, start with the barbell on the ground, positioned directly over the mid-foot. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointing slightly outward. Bend at the hips and knees while keeping your back straight and chest up.

As you grip the bar with an overhand or mixed grip, ensure your arms are vertical and your shoulders are down and back. Initiate the lift by driving through your heels and extending your hips and knees simultaneously. Keep the barbell close to your body throughout the movement.

Stand tall once you’ve reached the top position, ensuring your hips and knees are fully extended. To lower the barbell, hinge at your hips and maintain control as it descends to the ground. Avoid rounding your back and keep your core engaged for stability.


The bench press, squat, and deadlift are the cornerstone exercises for strength training and building muscle. Mastering these compound movements requires proper form, technique, and a focus on overall stability. Incorporating these exercises into your training routine will not only enhance your strength and muscle development but also improve your athletic performance and overall fitness level.