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How to Squat, Bench and Deadlift

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

How to Squat


Squat Setup

■ Adjust racks to appropriate height for yourself

– You should not have to stand up on toes to unrack the bar (racks are too high)

– You should not have to squat to unrack the bar (racks are too low)

■ Face the bar and find the grip you want to use

– A narrower grip is about a thumb’s length away from the start of the gnarling

■ Pros: Keeps upper back extremely tight

■ Cons: Can be stressful on the shoulders

– A neutral grip is usually with the ring finger around the ring

– A wider grip is usually with the index finger around the ring

■ Pros: Very little stress on shoulders

■ Cons: More difficult to keep back tight

– Closed Grip: hook thumbs around the bar

■ Pros: Stable hold on the bar

■ Cons: Can put a great deal of stress on the hand and wrist

– False Grip: not hooking your thumbs around the bar

■ Pros: Less stress on the wrist and all the weight is carried by the back

■ Cons: Can feel less supported and the bar can slip more easily


High Bar versus Low Bar Placement

■ To perform a high bar squat: bar is placed on top of traps

– The high bar forces you to keep your chest up and torso upright which places more emphasis on quadriceps

– Pros: Does not stress shoulders and it’s good when you want to focus on quads

– Cons: Usually does not allow you to lift as much as in a low bar position

■ To perform a low bar squat: bar is placed on the shelf of the upper back at base of the traps and on top of the posterior deltoids

– To make a shelf: pinch shoulder blades together and pull elbows down and towards the spine

– The low bar position gives you a biomechanical advantage to lift more weight by allowing the torso and chest to bend over further without compromising good form

– The low bar position places more emphasis on the posterior chain (hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and back musculature)

– Pros: Can lift more weight and it’s good when you want to focus on posterior chain

– Cons: Can place stress on shoulders especially if using narrow grip


Squat Stance

■ A narrow stance is about shoulder width or slightly narrower

– Pros: Places more emphasis on quadriceps

– Cons: Not as strong of base for balance, usually cannot lift as much weight

■ A neutral stance is about an inch wider than shoulder width

– Pros: Places emphasis on quadriceps and some on posterior chain

– Cons: Some may still not feel completely balanced with their base

■ A wide stance is about 3 or more inches wider than shoulder width

– Pros: Places more emphasis on muscles in posterior chain

– Cons: Some may find this to be uncomfortably wide

■ Toes should be pointed slightly outward

– The straighter your toes point, the more rebound you get in the bottom of the squat from stretch from tendons

– If you lack ankle mobility, you may have to point your toes out further to allow for full range of motion in the squat (never exceed a 45 degree angle with toes)


Squatting

■ Once you have established your grip and bar placement, unrack the weight by standing upright and taking 2-4 steps out to the middle of the squat rack

– During these 3-4 steps you should establish the stance you want to squat with

– Make sure your feet are even

■ Brace by filling your lunges with air, closing your glottis, pushing your abdomen out, and tightening your back

■ Hinge at the hips and squat down by sitting back until you have reached at least a 90 degree angle at your knee

– Think about sitting back like you would to sit down on a toilet

– Keep your knees behind your toes


Stand Up

■ Once you have reached the bottom of your squat, stand up by straightening your hips

■ Push your knees out the whole way up

■ Drive through the heels of your feet


How to Bench Press


Bench Press Setup

■ Plant head, shoulders, butt, and both feet on the bench or floor

■ Plant feet as far behind you as possible (as close to your head as possible) to keep you tight and prevent you from raising your butt off the bench

– Go up onto your toes to create even more tightness and guarantee that you won’t raise your butt

– Keep your whole foot on the ground if you don’t raise your butt of the bench

■ Lower back should be at least slightly arched

– Someone should be able to slide a piece of paper under your low back

– The higher the arch, the lower the range of motion which allows you to lift more weight

■ A high arch does not hurt your spine if done properly

■ Dig shoulder blades into the bench

■ Unrack and position the bar over the chest


Downward Movement

■ Lower the bar by bringing the elbows slightly in (wrenching/screwing motion with shoulder blades)

■ Touch your chest at nipple level or slightly under nipples

■ Do not bounce the bar off your chest


Pressing Up

■ Use leg drive by pushing backwards toward your head, not upwards

■ Keep head, shoulders, butt, and both feet firmly placed on the bench and floor

■ Press elbows out once your elbow reaches a 90 degree angle


How to Deadlift Conventional Style



Conventional Setup

■ Stand with your feet shoulder width apart

– Shins should be lined up with the smooth sections of the bar

■ Point your toes out very slightly

■ Align the bar over your toes or midfoot

■ Hinge/reach back with your hips and bend knees keeping your back completely flat

■ Bend ankles to touch your shins to the bar

■ Grip the bar right outside of your legs

■ The inside of your arms should be touching the outside of your legs

■ Using an alternated grip (dominate hand overhand and non-dominate hand underhand) will provide a stronger grip on the bar

■ Your shoulders/armpit should be slightly over the bar


Pull

■ Brace by filling your lunges with air, closing your glottis, pushing your abdomen out, and tightening your back

– Pinch your shoulder blades down and in

– Slightly arch your lower back

– Pull the slack out of the bar

■ Stand up by pushing your hips into the bar

– Focus on squeezing your butt while keeping your chest up and your back flat

– Keep the bar as close to your body as possible while pulling

■ The bar should drag across your shins


Downward Movement

■ Make sure to lockout

– Stand tall and upright with the weight

■ Once you have locked out, try to maintain the same strong, braced position to put the bar back on the ground


How to Deadlift Sumo Style


Setup

■ Stand with your legs spread wide

– Align shins with the rings on the bar

■ Point toes out to about a 45 degree angle so that knees do not interfere with the bar path when pulling

■ Align the bar so that it’s touching or nearly touching your shins

■ Hinge/reach back with your hips and bend your knees keeping lower back completely flat

■ Grip inside your legs right where the gnarling on the bar starts

– Using an alternated grip (dominate hand overhand and non-dominate hand underhand) will provide a stronger grip on the bar

■ Align shoulders/armpits slightly in front of the bar


Pull

■ Brace by filling your lunges with air, closing your glottis, pushing your abdomen out, and tightening your back

– Pinch your shoulder blades down and in

– Slightly arch your lower back

– Pull the slack out of the bar

■ Stand up by pushing your hips into the bar

– Push feet to the outside of your shoes

– Focus on squeezing your butt while keeping your chest up and your back flat

– Keep the bar as close to your body as possible while pulling

■ The bar should drag across your shins


Downward Movement

■ Make sure to lockout

– Stand tall and upright with the weight

■ Once you have locked out, try to maintain the same strong braced position to put the bar back on the ground


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