The big 3 they call it- Squat, bench, deadlift.
These 3 exercises are the main, fundamental staples of your journey to a more functional and better-looking physique.
Why, you may ask?
Because these are heavy, compound movements that engage a big number of muscle groups at a time.
As you should know by now, compound exercises are movements that involve more than 1 muscle group and joint at a time.
So, for example, the squat mainly involves the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes and secondarily uses the core, lower back muscles & calves as stabilizers.
The bench then engages all the pushing muscle groups: Primarily chest and secondarily shoulders and triceps and again, uses the core to stabilize.
And last but not least, the KING of exercises – The deadlift.
With the deadlift, we observe a pretty much all-around activation of the musculature.
Depending on the type of deadlift that you are doing, you will activate different muscles more.
BUT, we can say that the deadlift engages the hamstrings, the glutes, the lower back muscles, the traps, the arms, etc.
Every muscle group is pretty much tensed if the exercise is done correctly.
That is exactly why this big 3 is your fundamental:
It can literally work your entire body.
These exercises allow you to lift heavy weights due to the fact more muscles are working in synergy.
That in turn leads to better overall development, as well as the secretion of hormones, released during intense exercises- Testosterone & Growth hormone
For this article, we will talk about one exercise in specific- The deadlift.
Kettlebells & dumbbells VS. Barbells
Usually, people do barbell deadlifts for the most part, however, there are other variations, where it can be done with either dumbbells or kettlebells.
Using different equipment for this exercise and bringing diversity is always a good option!
Dumbbell and kettlebell deadlifts are a perfect option for people who are just starting to learn how to do deadlifts.
It is also beneficial to learning how to activate and control the posterior muscle chain that is mainly worked with this exercise.
That is to say that kettlebells will greatly ease up your execution-learning process.
Avoid this exercise however, if you have chronic injuries/pains in your lower body, spine and shoulders.
Working muscle groups
The dynamic muscle groups that work throughout the range of motion of this exercise are the glutes and the long spinal muscles- The spinal erectors.
The synergistic muscle groups are the erectors, adductors, glutes, quads and the soleus.
Furthermore, the stabilizing muscle groups are the hamstrings, calves, trapezius, rhomboids, the rectus abdominis, as well as the obliques and the transverse abdominis.
If you go through the movement with your lower back, your spinal erectors will get activated significantly more.
On the flipside, if you include more hip drive, your glutes will be the primarily working dynamic muscle group.
Using dumbbells and kettlebells will require more control in the middle and upper back, as well as the forearms, which is why it is not recommended for beginners.
Using a wider stance will allow your glutes and adductors to be primarily engaged.
Using narrow stance will allow you to work your erectors and hamstrings more.
Kettlebell deadlift execution steps
- Stand in front of a mirror and place the kettlebell in front of you.
- Step at shoulder or hip width with your toes pointing slightly out and knees mildly bent, out of a lockout
- Keep your back straight and scapula slightly retracted, then bend over and grab the kettlebell, keeping your back straight
- Look forward and extend your back up while keeping it straight and keeping the core tense
- Avoid excessive extension and stop when your body is at a 90-degree angle
- Contract the glutes up top and go back down
Tips and tricks
- Try and control the movement as much as possible, distributing the tension throughout each working muscle group. Avoid just bashing quickly through the motion and focus on keeping good balance and a clear exercise execution.
- Control your breathing as much as possible, paying attention to the following pattern- Inhale while going down, exhale powerfully while pulling up
- If you feel a prominent difference in tension on each side, then move back to uni-lateral deadlifts to even out the disbalance in strength
- Make sure the movement is completely pain-free
- If you are a beginner, stick to dumbbell and kettlebell deadlifts, until you establish proper muscular control and master the exercise execution
- If you are able to do this exercise pain free and you don’t have any types of injuries or other limiting factors, put a big focus on this movement. Getting better and stronger at deadlifts can only result in positive adaptations.
The king of exercises, called the deadlift is a compound, multi-joint exercise that heavily engages a number of muscle groups and stimulates the secretion of testosterone.
Adding this exercise to your routine is greatly beneficial, if of course, done correctly.
The deadlift can be done with either barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells.
The last two will help you develop good control of the movement.
The kettlebell variation is perfect for people who are just starting to learn deadlifts.
One-sided dumbbell and kettlebell deadlifts are also the perfect option for getting over strength disbalances
After having done kettlebells for a while, you can transition to barbell deadlifts that allow you to lift significantly heavier weights.
Ultimately, the goal is to achieve the best control and execution possible, with the heaviest weight possible, all while avoiding sudden movements to prevent injury.
Most of all, we should be careful and stay pain-free, so that we can consistently progress.
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