I’m talking about the deadlift, bench press and squat.
If you think you shouldn’t be lifting weights then head to my post over at https://fitnoodle.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/strength-training-for-women-debunking-myths/ first!
These are three big lifts which are often referred to in the world of weight lifting. Why are they so great? Well, they are compound movements which means they utilise several muscles or muscle groups and work across multiple joints. Doing compound exercises helps to give you a full body workout more effectively and burns more calories along with tons of other benefits such as joint stability. Are you in? Okay, let’s learn how to do them properly!
Deadlifts are awesome for improving your overall strength.
Parts of the body targeted: Deadlifts give a true whole body workout! There aren’t many parts it doesn’t target. Your legs and back are given a thorough workout and these are the primary muscle groups worked but deadlifts can help transform nearly your entire body.
How to do it:
- With the barbell on the floor in front of you, stand with feet about shoulder width apart and your feet turned out at about a 45 degree angle. Walk up to the bar so that it is almost touching your shins.
- Keeping your back straight, bend at the knees and grab the bar with your hands about shoulder width. Do not round your back as this can cause injury.
- Keeping hold of the bar and breathing out, push up your legs and torso until you are stood up straight, pushing your chest out slightly and squeezing your glutes.
- Keeping the bar close to your body, lower yourself back to the starting position with the bar on the floor and your back as straight as possible. This is one rep.
Squats are not only great for your legs, they help to build muscle in both your upper and lower body
Parts of the body targeted: Again, being a compound movement means that squats help to work nearly your entire body. The main muscle groups it will benefit are your quads, calves, glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Oh, and ladies, it will give you a FANTASTIC bottom (You can thank me later…)
How to do it:
- Place your barbell on the rack at about shoulder height (squatting straight from the rack is recommended as the safest way to do it). Step under the bar and place it just under your neck (at the top of your shoulders). Hold the bar with both hands, bending at the elbow.
- Push up with your legs to remove the bar from the rack and step away from it. Your feet should be shoulder width apart with slightly turned out toes.
- Bend at the knees and hips, lowering your body until your knees are slightly lower than a 90degree angle to the floor. Keep your head up and keep your back straight to avoid injury. Your knees should be in line with your toes.
- Slowly raise the bar whilst exhaling to the starting position. This is one rep.
The Bench Press
The bench press will help to sculpt your upper body
Parts of the body targeted: Your chest, shoulders and arms are the main areas targeted.
How to do it:
- Lie flat on your back on the bench. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Place your hands on the bar just wider than shoulder width apart. Lift the bar off the rack with your arms straight out.
- Inhaling, slowly bring your arms down until the bar touches your chest. Keep your elbows tight to your body to avoid shoulder injury.
- Exhaling, push the bar back up to the starting position using your chest muscles. This is one rep.
‘What are reps and sets?’
Reps stands for repetitions, how many times you repeat the movement. A set is how many times you complete the repetitions with rests in between. E.g. If you did 2 sets of 5 reps it means you completed the movement 5 times, rested, then completed it 5 more times.
‘How many reps and sets do I start with?’
This is a tricky one as it truly depends on lots of factors including your starting point and fitness goals. Generally, fewer reps with a higher weight focuses on building muscle whilst more reps with a lower weight help your endurance. I would recommend that for most beginners you start with a medium rep range of about 8-10 for 2 or 3 sets. If this feels too easy or difficult you can adjust from there.
‘How much weight should I start with?’
Again, this is a difficult one to answer as everybody is different. The general rule is that the weight should allow you to complete all of your reps, but should be heavy enough that the last couple of reps are a struggle and you would not be able to repeat any more. As you get stronger you will find the last reps become easier and you can go up a weight. I would always advise to start out lighter than you think, as you can always build it up but if you lift too heavy you risk injury.
If you have any further questions I would be more than happy to answer them. Please ask below!