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Instant Training Tip: Pro Tips | The Bigger 3


Ask a bodybuilder, powerlifter or circus bear (I’m coining that term for large-bearded crossfitters) what the top 3 overall lifts are, and you’ll hear in reply some sort of squat, pull and press.  The Big 3 – Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift – have been replaced by shiner versions with additions of bands, chains and balance boards.  So, do you stick to the original to become the Big Bad Swolf – stealing picnic baskets and scaring grandmas, or is it time for a change?  At USPlabs, The Big 3 are the core of our routines.  However, there is always room to improve, even if something has been time-tested.  John Davies, Founder of Renegade Training, explains.


The Big 3 of lifts will always be the most important and consequential movements; Squat, Push and Pull, but once again it’s how they are used and with extra care of technique and use of hybrids.


  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Push Press | Split Jerk


Step One: Common Denominators


Each of these movements have a few common denominators that are rarely appreciated or discussed sufficiently.


  • Psychological Preparation
  • Physical Preparation
  • Managing Duress (Chaos)


The psychological preparation required to excel can never be discussed enough for it is as simple as if you believe you cannot you will be correct in your assertion. Mental preparation to excel is equally as important as physical for if you do not believe you can, all efforts will fall short. The first stage in training is establishing daily attainable steps to lofty long-term goals. See only success and briefly celebrate the small victories daily before turning attention towards the following day’s agenda. This is not a light-hearted topic but of critical importance; make no excuses for yourself and control your destiny.


Physical preparation is a broad and encompassing topic but described simply:

Your destination is 100 miles. Your car travels 20 miles per gallon and you have 3 gallons of fuel. You will not reach your destination. The importance of diet is now and forevermore explained. Class is dismissed.


No athlete can overcome a poor diet or failing to respect the nutritional needs of training. Diet to suit your both short- and long-term goals and supplement accordingly with AminoLIFT, Modern BCAA+ and ModernPROTEIN. Be prepared to excel and leave nothing to chance.


Managing Duress | Train in Chaos or Prepare to Fail


When I first discussed chaos training, LONG BEFORE the internet, it was the direct opposite of the sterile and testosterone-deprived gym setting but in time, as clearly obvious that it is today, it has become the overriding mantra of the exercise world. It’s that obvious but equally much is missed as only a few respect how this directly relates to dynamic mobility of the hips and thoracic region, stability of the pelvis and podiatric measures as well as the ability to remain calm and distinguish changing conditions in the heat of pressure.


Chaos can be seen in a variety of environments and is scalable to ability, once again can involve physical concerns such as performing walking lunges blindfolded or on an undulating surfaces, adding external devices such as chains, bands or non-conforming objects, thick bars, as well as environmental issues such as playing (a sport) in a packed stadium or loud settings that distracts, and of course elements of danger as in military and law enforcement service where at any moment adrenaline can spike. Manage chaos rather than letting chaos control your future.


Step Two - Managing Tension


At the core of all resistance training is managing tension and execution with appropriate movement and posture. As it relates to each of The Big 3 movements, create tension against the bar before lifting from the racks or floor (‘first pull’ phase of the Deadlift).


Step Three - Maintaining Position


Use a weight that you can move, not a weight that moves you. Simple and to the point as at all times you must be able to maintain a proper back position (often referred to as the ‘power position’) and drive the weight in the most efficient manner possible.


Step Four - Control


It is of absolute critical importance to be able to control the lowering of the weight (eccentric) for maximal strength development and, within sporting circles, carryover to sport production. The answer to this issue is addressed quickly with the use of pause squats, pulls from blocks and varying starting positions (re: acceleration speed) of the various movements.


Returning to The Big 3 or the Even BIGGER Big 3, consider the following:


  • Squat

This issue is answered easily; Squat daily, for rust doesn’t settle on moving parts. Performing squats daily, as I have noted since the 1980’s, will have a super compensatory effect upon overall muscular development, assists recovery from exercise and enhances dynamic mobility. Squat daily (read the following, part 1, part 2 and part 3).

  • Deadlift

No training is truly complete without (lifting something from the ground) deadlifts, with the most effective variation as defined by the greatest amount of muscular recruitment being the Snatch Grip with special mention to Trap Bar and Sumo. Place particular emphasis upon starting positions, maintain posture upon accelerating from the first phase and eccentric action with a lower rep range (i.e. 3-5).

  • Push Press | Split Jerk (Dumbbells)

Central to the theme of managing posture and eliciting optimal movement is developing a strong and stable core musculature to which overhead movements are second to none. Care must obviously be placed upon technique, given a weight is above your head, but with patience said movements will assist overall muscular development as well as speed and power.


Ultimately the choice is yours but that choice is served straight and simple. Keep to the major lifts, don’t become distracted by excessive accessory movements remember, sweat build confidence. Work daily, this is what we do and this is who we are.


Instant Training Tip- Pro Tips | The Bigger 3


Prepared by John Davies


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Content contributors are not employees of USPlabs. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.


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