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Bench, Deadlift & Squats - Tips For Perfecting the Big Three

Dane C. Fletcher

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Every bodybuilder knows that the “Big Three" exercises - Bench press, deadlifts, and squats - are the key to making gains in muscle mass and strength. Let's check out a few tips and ideas for making the most of these exercises, and doing it safely.

General Tips

Use a back belt for all three movements. You can never be too safe when it comes to protecting this very vulnerable area of your body. Warm up with five to ten minutes on the treadmill to prepare the body, and always use two warm up sets per body part to prepare the muscle group for the torture it is about to endure with the Big Three.

Bench Press Tips

Avoid going too high or too low. While powerlifting competition requires total “bottom out" and lock-out, training in the gym does not. Keeping the barbell in the middle 80% range of motion maintains continual stress upon the muscle group, and avoids straining the joints (by locking out) stretching the pecs into a tear (common when bottoming out).

Deadlift Tips

Always keep the head up and back upright throughout this movement. Many bodybuilders, especially on the max out sets, will focus upon the weight and not the form they're using to move it. This can cause an injury which will last a lifetime. Always have gloves with wrist wraps handy. The back should give out on deadlifts - not the forearm grip. Additionally, always hit the back first in your workout when your body's resources and central nervous system are at their strongest.

Squat Tips

Always use a full range of motion. Stopping before the thighs are parallel to the ground places a great deal of stress upon the knees and is the most common cause of injury among bodybuilders on leg day. Warm up the legs, but don't do excessive stretching before squatting. Between sets, always massage any kinks or sudden pains in the thigh or knee immediately to ensure that a small ding doesn't become a major injury when the stress of the next set begins.


Train hard and heavy. But train intelligently too. Doing so will ensure you get the best possible results from your workout, with the least risk of injury. Keep your body warm, your vulnerable areas protected, and always lift using your brain, not your ego. Remember that the goal is to grow the muscles, not move metal. Good luck!

Dane Fletcher is the world's most prolific bodybuilding and fitness expert and is currently the executive editor for If you are looking for more bodybuilding tips or information on weight training, or supplementation, please visit , the bodybuilding and fitness authority site with hundreds of articles available FREE to help you meet your goals.


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