Weightlifting Exercises -- Squats, Deadlifts, & Others
Young or old, male or female, weightlifting exercises benefit everyone. From beginners onward, these exercises promote health and burn more calories 24 hours per day!
Why can we all benefit from strength exercises? Well, we all have the same muscles. Just as all adults can benefit from fitness exercise, all adults can benefit from strength exercise.
Before using any of the exercises set out on our site, please also read the Strength Training Exercises page. (The link for that page awaits you near the bottom of this page.) Reading that page will help to ensure that you understand how to train safely and how to maximize the benefits from your training.
Weight training exercise benefits everyone! A routine of weightlifting exercises matches specific exercises to specific muscles (muscle groups).
So, let's find out more.
Weightlifting Exercises Overview
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a critically important tool in designing effective routines. Wouldn't it be terrific to be able to see inside the soft tissue of a human body? MRI is the best technology available for doing that.
The best book that applies the results of MRI research to weightlifting exercises is Per A. Tesch, Ph.D., Target Bodybuilding. When you reach the intermediate stage and want to design your routines, we recommend consulting it.
MRI does have its limitations. It's terrific for arm and leg exercises, but it's not very useful for torso exercises.
The judgment of Dr Dennis E. Bradford (co-webmaster of this website) has gained from over forty years of training and studying exercises and routines is particularly important, therefore, with respect to torso exercises.
When you actually begin using the exercises, please consult either Stuart McRobert's The Insider's Tell-All Handbook on Weight-Training Technique or his more recent Build Muscle Lose Fat Look Great for proper exercise technique. Also, we use his terminology to eliminate confusion about exactly which exercises we are recommending.
In addition to having available the descriptions and photos from books as guidance about various weightlifting exercises, we add some comments and emphasis of our own about various routines and exercises.
Please don't rush through them!
Take all the time you need to learn how to perform each exercise with flawless technique.
Because you may be training in a home gym, we limit our discussion to free weight exercises. You'll be able to use the exercises and routines recommended here to train in any decent commercial gym as well.
Squats and deadlifts are the key exercises in any serious weight program designed to increase lean muscle mass significantly.
Done correctly, each of these exercises, by itself, can constitute a good workout!
Never do a whole-body workout without some variety of either squats or deadlifts (or both).
Weightlifting Exercises: Squats
Please study McRobert's description before picking up a bar for squats. Beginners should start with an empty bar and add not more than 10 pounds each training session.
Even if you are not tall, we recommend using either a cambered (Buffalo) squat bar or a safety-squat bar (rather than a straight Olympic bar). Use a medium stance with your toes flared out at about a 45 degree angle. (Do not force your knees straight in front of you, and do not do squats using a Smith machine.) Ensure that your knees track out over your toes during the stroke.
It's best to stand barefoot on the floor. (An inexpensive pair of black thin-soled slippers will keep your feet clean.) Do not "cut" the squat: go down until the tops of your thighs are parallel to (or, better, slightly below parallel to) the floor.
We recommend that all intermediate and advanced trainees use a tightly cinched weightlifting belt on work sets (but not on warm-up sets).
We recommend using rubber knee warmers to keep your knees warm. If you are over 40 or have any knee problems, we recommend wrapping your knees with elastic bandages instead of just using rubber knee warmers.
Of course, always get a good warm-up before doing squats or deadlifts.
For at least the first six months or year, we recommend that beginners never use either knee wraps or a belt on any exercise.
(Though we haven't personally tried it, if you have any shoulder or back issues, consider using Dave Draper's The Top Squat tool.)
Though a small percentage of trainees cannot use them effectively for various reasons, squats may be the best of all the exercises.
Weightlifting Exercises Deadlifts and Dennis
If squats aren't the king of weightlifting exercises, deadlifts are. Study McRobert's descriptions of both bent-legged and stiff-legged deadlifts.
Bent-legged and stiff-legged deadlifts are magnificent weightlifting exercises. Please try to master them both.
Once your loads become heavy enough to exhaust your forearms, you may use wrist straps or hooks on all kinds of deadlifts.
As with squats, beginners should start with an empty bar and add weight slowly.
(If and when you advance to the point where you are using 315 lbs. or more for a significant number of reps on deadlifts, your grip may become the weak link. In order not to retard your leg and back training, you should then begin to use wrist straps or hooks.)
If you are a beginner, we do not recommend that you use either knee warmers or a weightlifting belt for deadlifts. The loads won't be that heavy for a while, and it's important to strengthen the stabilizing muscles.
At least until you are using an Olympic bar with a 45 pound plate on each end (i.e., 135 lbs.), you should instead use the lowest pin placement in a power rack. The pins or the large plates will automatically prevent you from going too low.
You may use bent-legged deadlifts, trap-bar bent-legged deadlifts, Sumo deadlifts, or stiff-legged deadlifts.
Other Weightlifting Exercises
Hamstrings leg curl (supine, seated, or standing).
Web Pages Related to Weightlifting Exercises
In this the strength/weight training section of our website we have the following pages:
You will find the direct links to those pages on our Sitemap/Index.
Weightlifting Exercises Recommended Books
The books are available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, usually in Kindle and paperback form, and sometimes as hardbacks. If you enjoyed the weightlifting exercises page, these books are excellent further reading suggestions.
On most pages of our website, we aim to recommend the very best books available according to the topic of each page.
We endeavor to make the best suggestions based on experience and our many years of work and research in the fields of health and fitness. We suggest only books that we have read and can wholly commend.
Two useful video examples of weightlifting exercises
Example of a bench press variation
This is a good example of a bench press variation. Ignore the poundages here, just focus on the technique.
A link to the video for those who might want to save it for their video list
Range-of-motion triple add sets squats
Instead of adding additional poundage to squats, here's a way to use range of motion for the same purpose. They'll give you an excellent squat workout.