The Big 3 Exercises

Workout -

The Big 3 Exercises

Exercises differ in quality. Some are superior to others. A chosen few are also known as the "big three." The bench press, squat, and deadlift are the "big three." These are the three lifts that powerlifters utilize to compare their strength to that of the competition using the combined total. These lifts are so common because they are so challenging to do safely and effectively, often requiring complex techniques. These compound exercises work every muscle group in your body collectively, with a focus on the biggest and most impressive muscles.

They function as the foundation of the majority of exercise regimens available today for this and many other reasons. There are a ton of variations lifters can perform because they're made up of such fundamental movements (lifting, pressing, and squatting). These variations not only bring some diversity into otherwise monotonous workouts, but they also considerably change how certain muscle groups are worked, encouraging more balanced growth.

But what if you stripped away everything else and just left the big three? This is where the big three workout comes in. As you might’ve guessed, it relies entirely on these three main lifts for all your physical training needs. The sets and reps can be broken down however you like, but a popular setup is doing 5 sets of 5 reps of each exercise, 3 times a week. Let’s see what makes these lifts so special.

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Bench press is the gold standard for building upper body strength. Any gym in the world where you walk in is likely to have a bench waiting below a barbell for the next lifter to begin pressing. The main lifters in the bench press are the pecs of the chest, anterior delts of the shoulders, and the triceps. You'll be able to move a lot of weight because your upper body muscles will be working so hard.

Additionally, you will experience more gains as you shift more weight.

The classic barbell bench press is a fantastic addition to your big three routine because of this. Before you start, it's crucial to set up by making sure the bar is directly over your eyes when you lie down on the bench. When you raise your arms straight up, the bar shouldn't be any higher than your wrists.

To perform the bench press:

  1. Once you’re set-up, lie with your back flat on the bench. Bring your shoulder blades back and try pinching them together, and grab onto the barbell with an overhand grip. Your hands should be slighter wider than shoulder-width apart. Firmly keep your feet planted on the floor, bringing up your legs towards your torso.
  2. Press upward and lift the barbell off the rack, locking out your elbows. Continue by slowly bending your elbows and lowering the bar down to your chest. The bar should just about tap your upper chest.
  3. Pause for a moment before pressing the barbell back up and locking out your elbows.


The barbell back squat is the benchmark exercise for lower body strength, just like the bench press was for upper body strength. The advantages of this move apply to your complete body, working nearly all of the key muscles in your lower body.

The quads, hamstrings, and glutes are the main muscle groups involved in movement, but at greater weights, your back muscles and core will also be used to balance the load.

Additionally, the squat will aid in the preservation of the tendons and ligaments that surround your hips and knees.

This workout is quite good at burning calories and adding muscle mass since it works many of your body's major muscles. You can anticipate the squat's numerous spillover effects in all of your other lower body exercises as well as in daily life.

To perform the squat:

  1. Begin by stepping underneath a loaded barbell that’s supported by a squat rack. Rest the barbell on your upper back and hook your hands around it. Step back away from the squat rack and adopt a hip-width stance with your toes slightly pointed out.
  2. Keeping your core tight, chest up, and looking straight ahead, slowly push your hips back while also bending your knees. Keep your back straight as you continue down to the ground.
  3. Continue down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Pause in this position before explosively driving through your feet and coming back into an upright position.


The deadlift, also known as the "king of exercises," is a powerful lift. Picking something up and putting it back down again is lifting in its most basic sense. It's also one of the most advantageous workouts to incorporate in any training program due of this essential quality. The deadlift performs all of the heavy lifting in the back, whereas the squat and bench press only build the biggest and flashiest muscles.

The deadlift mostly targets the posterior chain, though you'll be working pretty much every major muscle group in the body to some degree.

This works every muscle from your heels to your neck, and it has amazing spillover effects on athletic performance and functional fitness. Your grip strength and core strength should both increase as well. The deadlift promises to strike more of your muscles, harder than the exercises we've looked at so far. It's a fantastic supplement to the majority of exercise routines and an obvious choice for a big three exercise program.

To perform the deadlift:

  1. Set up a loaded barbell on the floor in front of you. Step up to it with your feet about hip-width apart, angling your toes slightly outward. Hinge your hips back, followed by bending your knees in order to bring your shoulders over the bar. Grasp the bar just outside of your knees. Create some tension in your arms by engaging your lats.
  2. Maintaining tension throughout your body, push your feet into the floor to drive upward. The bar should track along with your body until you come to a fully vertical position.
  3. Once the bar comes past your knees, thrust your hips forward in order to lockout at the top of the movement. You should be consciously engaging your glutes, placing your hips right under your shoulders.
  4. Pause at the top of the lift before slowly reversing the movement. If you have bumper plates on, you can also drop the bar. However, slowly lowering the weight will allow you to garner some gains from the  eccentric portion of the lift.



These three major lifts are challenging to perform technically and can be difficult if you're using a lot of weight. They will therefore completely test your body, enabling you to build strength and muscle. Because all of these lifts are compound lifts, which call for the coordinated use of numerous muscle groups to move a load, they complement one another nicely. You can move larger and heavier barbells because moving the weight requires the use of so many different muscle groups, many of which are huge.

For many people, and especially beginners, just these three exercises are a solid-enough introduction to weightlifting and getting results.

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