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  1. #1
    Mod Squad VoxExMachina's Avatar
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    Beginner's Guide: 6 Basic Compound Lifts, and How to do Them

    The core of any good exercise program should be built around the 6 basic compound lifts. These are the basis of bobybuilding, the cornerstone of hypertrophy, the mecca of mass, the.... well, you get the idea.

    Must you do all of these? No. Nothing is a "must". But instead of wasting countless hours doing 45 degree back hyper-extensions, concentration curls, and pec-dec flyes, you should try these first. If you do these as the core of your workout you can, and you will, get bigger and stronger - faster.

    Now, without further ado, let's meet these monsters of muscle....

    1. Squats:

    Most people begin with the Back Squat, and therefore that's what we'll focus on here. Start with this one, and then later you can move on to Front Squats, Hack Squats, Box Squats, one-legged hungarian death squats, or whatever floats your boat.

    The Back Squat:





    - Your lower back should maintain a natural curve inward throughout the movement. Do not "bend over" and arch your back or you risk a back injury.

    - Go as deep as your flexibility allows. Ideally, you will squat until your thighs are below parallel to the floor. But if you lack the proper degree of flexibility, going deeper causes your hips to tuck in under you and your back to round. If this is the case, then go as deep as you can while maintaining a proper curve to your spine. Work on hip flexibility to allow you to squat progressively deeper.

    - Good form is key. Do not use a weight which you cannot handle with proper form. If your form is compromised, drop the weight until you can maintain good form.

    - Your knees should point the same direction as your toes throughout the entire movement.

    - Have someone watch you squat and critique your form until you are sure you are doing this exercise correctly. There are many threads on bb.com about squatting - so do your research.

    For more information:
    Fundaments of The Back Squat: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=132962543
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...s/BBSquat.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...77&postcount=5 <-- Read this!


    2. Deadlift:

    Like Squats, there are many forms of the deadlift. The basic form is presented here, but there are also Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts, and Casket Deadlifts for your uncle Joe (just kidding on the last one).

    First: Read the Sticky! http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=112127931

    The Basic Deadlift:



    Tips:

    - Like the squat, make sure you maintain a natural curve in your back. Do not bend over and round your back or your risk an injury.

    - The barbell should remain close to your legs through the entire movement. You don't have to drag it along your shins like a cheese-grater (unless you want the street cred), but it should remain in light contact over very near your legs.

    - For heavy weights it is very helpful to use an overhand-underhand grip on the barbell. (One hand grips overhand, one hand grips underhand). This will help keep the barbell from rolling out of your hands. If you are a wimp, then feel free to use straps.

    For More Information:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...BDeadlift.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...9&postcount=11 <-- Read this!


    3. Bench Press:

    The bench press is everyone's favorite exercise. Those who claim it's not are lying. Do this one, if for no other reason than to be able to answer the perennial gym favorite: "How much do you bench?". FYI, I think damn near everyone does this exercise "incorrectly" to some degree. I know I do.

    The Bench Press:

    Basics:


    More Advanced Tutorial (more Powerlifter focus / style):


    Tips:

    - Use a weight you can control. Do not "bounce" the bar off your chest.

    - Do not allow your elbows to flare outward so that your upper arms are perpendicular to your body. They should be "tucked in" toward your body at an angle.

    - Do some research on this one too, since it's easy to do this exercise incorrectly. Generally, you'll be fine, but some form issues can cause RC (rotator cuff) injuries, especially at higher weights.

    - You can also substitute Dumbbell bench presses. These allow you to work your stabilizers, and allow you more freedom to move your arms in a natural path - use these especially if you have shoulder issues with barbell bench pressing.

    For More Information:
    My Thread on Bench Pressing: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=157280613
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...enchPress.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...07&postcount=9 <-- Read this!


    4. Rows

    To fully work your back, you need a mass-building rowing exercise. Bent-Over Barbell Rows, T-Bar Rows, or Dumbell Rows are staples.

    Bent-Over Barbell Row:


    T-Bar Row:


    Dumbell Row:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...ntOverRow.html

    Tips:

    - For most rowing exercises, it helps to visualize your hands as hooks and think about pulling your arm backward from your elbow. You want to minimize the involvement of the bicep, and instead concentrate on contracting your back.

    - Generally speaking, think of pulling the weight upward to your hip joint or lower abdomen. In the basic form of the exercises you aren't pulling to your chest.

    For More Information:
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...9&postcount=15 <-- Read this!



    5. Pullups & Chinups:

    Pullups (palms facing away) and Chinups (palms facing toward you), are also good mass-building exercises for your back. We all know how to do these from grade school (along with the Flex-arm-hang, right?)

    There's not a lot of mystery here. Grab a bar and pull yourself up. If you can't do a pullup/chinup (or can't do many), place a chair under the bar and put one foot on the chair. As you pull yourself up, use your leg to assist you. When you reach the top, stop assisting yourself and lower yourself using just your arms.

    Think about bringing the bar to your chest (not just eye level), and lean back slightly at the top of the movement. Don't swing your body, or "kip" yourself up with your hips. Use slow, controlled movements.

    Once these become easy to do with just body weight, you can do them weighted with a dip belt, or with a dumbell between your feet. (Or small children hanging from you).

    For More Information:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/.../WtPullup.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...9&postcount=19 <-- Read this!


    6. Military Press / Overhead Press:

    The Overhead barbell press or Military Press (the Military Press is a specific version of an Overhead press) are usually referred to interchangeably. The Overhead press can be done seated or standing - your preference.

    The Overhead Press:

    Basic Form:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...taryPress.html

    Further Instruction:


    Tips:

    - Overhead presses can be done standing, seated, with a barbell, or with Dumbells. There are numerous variants including Arnold presses.

    - Keep the weight directly over the shoulders. As you drive the weight upward for a standing overhead press, think about moving your upper body forward under the weight.

    - I like to place one foot forward and one rearward instead of just having them side by side. I find this helps with balance.

    - Like everything else, keep a natural curve in your back.


    Notes & Final Thoughts:

    1. The videos I chose are ones I could find without wasting my entire day. I'm sure there are better ones, but these should give the basic idea of proper form. If you have a better one, please feel free to post it.

    2. This is meant to be a guide for beginners', outlining the basic lifts, how to do them, and general form tips as a starting point. It's not an academic dissertation on the most advanced forms and techniques. If you have your own tips, videos, or reference material on any of these exercises, feel free to post them.

    3. If you want to know which muscles each exercise works, follow the www.exrx.net link.

    4. There is a great degree of variation and subtlety that can be incorporated into each of these lifts. However, I would suggest learning the basic form first - and correctly.

    5. Start with a weight you know you can handle, and progress upward steadily workout to workout. There is no need to "ego" lift and just throw as much weight on the bar as you can handle. This often leads to form errors and injuries.

    Good starting programs which incorporate these lifts:

    All Pro's Beginners' Routine: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=4195843

    Rippetoe Starting Strength: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=998224

    Madcows: http://madcow.hostzi.com/5x5_Program/Linear_5x5.htm

    Also see this thread: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=115643271

    ^ If you are serious about learning barbell training, read these threads ^


    Acknowledgments: Thanks to AllPro, N@tural1, kethnaab, Kiknskreem, and others who have taken time to compile information referenced here.
    Last edited by VoxExMachina; 03-10-2014 at 06:37 AM.
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  2. #2
    Banned -Lucifer's Avatar
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    Wow strong spoon feeding!

    lol I kid. Nice thread (yet again).
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  3. #3
    Registered User djansen's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Sticky

    also, as far as the squat goes Squat Rx on youtube helped me alot.
    If God did not want us to eat animals, he would not have made them out of meat.

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  4. #4
    Banned -Lucifer's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by djansen View Post
    Sticky
    also, as far as the squat goes Squat Rx on youtube helped me alot.
    ^ This.

    Squat Rx rules.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Ripht's Avatar
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    haha i love the press one "you can leg press......but thats gay"
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  6. #6
    has issues pFuzzz's Avatar
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    Good stuff Vox.

    what no videos on how to do a leg press or a lat pulldown?
    "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" ...will probably be my last words

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  7. #7
    Encyclochuzzle chazzy1864's Avatar
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    I want to kick you in the face for that shoulder press video.


    Another good collaborative post Vox, too bad it will fall on deaf newb ears.
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  8. #8
    I'll Mod Til I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    That's a good compilation of exercise info, Vox. Also, good on ya for including the link to kiknskreem's deadlift tutorial.

    Man, to have had a resource like this back when I was a noob. It would have easily saved me 6 months of fumbling around in the dark, trying to figure this stuff out on my own.
    No brain, no gain.

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    Originally Posted by chazzy1864 View Post
    too bad it will fall on deaf newb ears.
    this. but good job trying to explain proper form for the exercises from just a few points. thats hard to do. oh and maybe you should address the low bar and high bar positions for squat. just to be clear to new guys.
    Squat - 180 lb - 3x5

    Deadlift - 225 lb - 5 reps

    Bench - 127.5 lb 3x5

    Overhead Press - 95 lb - 3x5

    Powerclean - 117.5 - 5x3
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  10. #10
    back with half the reps SDFlip's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by VoxExMachina View Post
    The core of any good exercise program should be built around the 6 basic compound lifts. These are the basis of bobybuilding, the cornerstone of hypertrophy, the mecca of mass, the.... well, you get the idea.

    Must you do all of these? No. Nothing is a "must". But instead of wasting countless hours doing 45 degree back hyper-extensions, concentration curls, and pec-dec flyes, you should try these first. If you do these as the core of your workout you can, and you will, get bigger and stronger - faster.

    Now, without further ado, let's meet these monsters of muscle....

    1. Squats:

    Most people begin with the Back Squat, and therefore that's what we'll focus on here. Start with this one, and then later you can move on to Front Squats, Hack Squats, Box Squats, one-legged hungarian death squats, or whatever floats your boat.

    The Back Squat:



    - Your lower back should maintain a natural curve inward throughout the movement. Do not "bend over" and arch your back or you risk a back injury.

    - Go as deep as your flexibility allows. Ideally, you will squat until your thighs are below parallel to the floor. But if you lack the proper degree of flexibility, going deeper causes your hips to tuck in under you and your back to round. If this is the case, then go as deep as you can while maintaining a proper curve to your spine. Work on hip flexibility to allow you to squat progressively deeper.

    - Good form is key. Do not use a weight which you cannot handle with proper form. If your form is compromised, drop the weight until you can maintain good form.

    - Your knees should point the same direction as your toes throughout the entire movement.

    - Have someone watch you squat and critique your form until you are sure you are doing this exercise correctly. There are many threads on bb.com about squatting - so do your research.

    For more information:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...s/BBSquat.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...77&postcount=5 <-- Read this!


    2. Deadlift:

    Like Squats, there are many forms of the deadlift. The basic form is presented here, but there are also Stiff-Legged Deadlifts, Romanian Deadlifts, and Casket Deadlifts for your uncle Joe (just kidding on the last one).

    First: Read the Sticky! http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=112127931

    The Basic Deadlift:



    Tips:

    - Like the squat, make sure you maintain a natural curve in your back. Do not bend over and round your back or your risk an injury.

    - The barbell should remain close to your legs through the entire movement. You don't have to drag it along your shins like a cheese-grater (unless you want the street cred), but it should remain in light contact over very near your legs.

    - For heavy weights it is very helpful to use an overhand-underhand grip on the barbell. (One hand grips overhand, one hand grips underhand). This will help keep the barbell from rolling out of your hands. If you are a wimp, then feel free to use straps.

    For More Information:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...BDeadlift.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...9&postcount=11 <-- Read this!


    3. Bench Press:

    The bench press is everyone's favorite exercise. Those who claim it's not are lying. Do this one, if for no other reason than to be able to answer the perennial gym favorite: "How much do you bench?". FYI, I think damn near everyone does this exercise "incorrectly" to some degree. I know I do.

    The Bench Press:

    Basic Form:


    More Advanced Tutorial:


    Tips:

    - Use a weight you can control. Do not "bounce" the bar off your chest.

    - Do not allow your elbows to flare outward so that your upper arms are perpendicular to your body. They should be "tucked in" toward your body at an angle.

    - Do some research on this one too, since it's easy to do this exercise incorrectly. Generally, you'll be fine, but some form issues can cause RC (rotator cuff) injuries, especially at higher weights.

    - You can also substitute Dumbbell bench presses. These allow you to work your stabilizers, and allow you more freedom to move your arms in a natural path - use these especially if you have shoulder issues with barbell bench pressing.

    For More Information:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...enchPress.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...07&postcount=9 <-- Read this!


    4. Rows

    To fully work your back, you need a mass-building rowing exercise. Bent-Over Barbell Rows, T-Bar Rows, or Dumbell Rows are staples.

    Bent-Over Barbell Row:


    T-Bar Row:


    Dumbell Row:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...ntOverRow.html

    Tips:

    - For most rowing exercises, it helps to visualize your hands as hooks and think about pulling your arm backward from your elbow. You want to minimize the involvement of the bicep, and instead concentrate on contracting your back.

    - Generally speaking, think of pulling the weight upward to your hip joint or lower abdomen. In the basic form of the exercises you aren't pulling to your chest.

    For More Information:
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...9&postcount=15 <-- Read this!



    5. Pullups & Chinups:

    Pullups (palms facing away) and Chinups (palms facing toward you), are also good mass-building exercises for your back. We all know how to do these from grade school (along with the Flex-arm-hang, right?)

    There's not a lot of mystery here. Grab a bar and pull yourself up. If you can't do a pullup/chinup (or can't do many), place a chair under the bar and put one foot on the chair. As you pull yourself up, use your leg to assist you. When you reach the top, stop assisting yourself and lower yourself using just your arms.

    Think about bringing the bar to your chest (not just eye level), and lean back slightly at the top of the movement. Don't swing your body, or "kip" yourself up with your hips. Use slow, controlled movements.

    Once these become easy to do with just body weight, you can do them weighted with a dip belt, or with a dumbell between your feet. (Or small children hanging from you).

    For More Information:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/.../WtPullup.html
    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showpo...9&postcount=19 <-- Read this!


    6. Military Press / Overhead Press:

    The Overhead barbell press or Military Press (the Military Press is a specific version of an Overhead press) are usually referred to interchangeably. The Overhead press can be done seated or standing - your preference.

    The Overhead Press:

    Basic Form:
    http://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/...taryPress.html

    Further Instruction:


    Tips:

    - Overhead presses can be done standing, seated, with a barbell, or with Dumbells. There are numerous variants including Arnold presses.

    - Keep the weight directly over the shoulders. As you drive the weight upward for a standing overhead press, think about moving your upper body forward under the weight.

    - I like to place one foot forward and one rearward instead of just having them side by side. I find this helps with balance.

    - Like everything else, keep a natural curve in your back.


    Notes & Final Thoughts:

    1. The videos I chose are ones I could find without wasting my entire day. I'm sure there are better ones, but these should give the basic idea of proper form. If you have a better one, please feel free to post it.

    2. This is meant to be a guide for beginners', outlining the basic lifts, how to do them, and general form tips as a starting point. It's not an academic dissertation on the most advanced forms and techniques. If you have your own tips, videos, or reference material on any of these exercises, feel free to post them.

    3. If you want to know which muscles each exercise works, follow the www.exrx.net link.

    4. There is a great degree of variation and subtlety that can be incorporated into each of these lifts. However, I would suggest learning the basic form first - and correctly.

    5. Start with a weight you know you can handle, and progress upward steadily workout to workout. There is no need to "ego" lift and just throw as much weight on the bar as you can handle. This often leads to form errors and injuries.

    Good starting programs which incorporate these lifts:

    All Pro's Beginners' Routine: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=4195843

    Rippetoe Starting Strength: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=998224

    Madcows: http://www.geocities.com/elitemadcow...nts_thread.htm

    Also see this thread: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=115643271

    ^ If you are serious about learning barbell training, read these threads ^


    Acknowledgments: Thanks to AllPro, N@tural1, kethnaab, and others who have taken time to compile information referenced here.
    in case anyone missed it the first time
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  11. #11
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    this should be stickied once you've added in pec dec and bicep curls
    Soon to be updated:
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  12. #12
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  13. #13
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    Posting so I remember to rep you tomorrow.

    Thanks for making this place not suck.
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    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    Bee-You-Emm-Pee


    ^ That.
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  15. #15
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    Thumbs up

    Once again, Vox, you've outdone yourself.

    Asking the Mods to "Sticky" this and make EVERY newb to this forum READ IT TWICE before being allowed to post.

    Seriously.

    Great stuff, very simple, easy to follow, and rep-worthy by all, including yours truly when I can rep you again.
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  16. #16
    Encyclochuzzle chazzy1864's Avatar
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    I say sticky this, and unsticky Uncle Ben's post.

    It will just require a concerted effort of the vets around here to bump Vox's and Ben's threads to help the newbies out. This can be stickied so we can just quickly link to it, like we do with the exrx and deadlift 101 threads.
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  17. #17
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    Originally Posted by chazzy1864 View Post
    I say sticky this, and unsticky Uncle Ben's post.
    LOL....I agree.

    The information presented here "trumps" that thread by a large margin imo.
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  18. #18
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    Vox deserves to be mod repped by the way.
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  19. #19
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    Smile

    Agreed. Vox should be Mod-repped.....





















































    .....and Lucifer GANG-NEGGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!











































    (Just kidding on the Lucifer deal!)
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  20. #20
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    Should def. be stickied... I've been "lifting" for years, didn't start making real progress until I incorporated these lifts into my workouts
    Intensity, Recovery, Nutrition, Sleep- the only things that matter.
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  21. #21
    Encyclochuzzle chazzy1864's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SquatTilYouDrop View Post
    LOL....I agree.

    The information presented here "trumps" that thread by a large margin imo.
    Well I also say it, because this is an informative "exercise" thread.

    The other two are simply for the newbs to not be such giant tool bags. Newbs don't read the "don't be a tool bag" thread when it is stickied. So if we bump it, they might see it. This will just be easier to find for us, so we can spoon feed the newbs without wasting our (un)precious time.
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  22. #22
    Encyclochuzzle chazzy1864's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GuyJin View Post
    Agreed. Vox should be Mod-repped.....
    .....and Lucifer GANG-NEGGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Just kidding on the Lucifer deal!)
    Whoops, I didn't scroll fast enough. My bad DL.
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  23. #23
    Fatassing it to 200. lastlieutenant's Avatar
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    Nice info.
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  24. #24
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    Originally Posted by -Lucifer View Post
    Wow strong spoon feeding!

    lol I kid. Nice thread (yet again).
    Thanks. Yeah, it's a bit of spoon feeding, but I actually wish someone had given me some sort of primer back when I started lifting.

    Originally Posted by pFuzzz View Post
    Good stuff Vox.

    what no videos on how to do a leg press or a lat pulldown?
    That will be in my next post: "Exercises you don't need (but can do if you really want to)".

    Originally Posted by ironwill2008 View Post
    That's a good compilation of exercise info, Vox. Also, good on ya for including the link to kiknskreem's deadlift tutorial.

    Man, to have had a resource like this back when I was a noob. It would have easily saved me 6 months of fumbling around in the dark, trying to figure this stuff out on my own.
    I hear you, Will. Like you, I had to learn a lot of things the hard way, and actually gave up on some of these exercises for a long time since I wasn't doing them correctly and therefore didn't see the benefit.

    Originally Posted by jgrube View Post
    this. but good job trying to explain proper form for the exercises from just a few points. thats hard to do. oh and maybe you should address the low bar and high bar positions for squat. just to be clear to new guys.
    I actually started to detail the different kinds of squats, variants on bar position, etc. and then realized that I'd be better off detailing the basics and give people a place to start their research. Too much detail is more likely to intimidate a beginner than to spur their interest, IMO.

    I would definitely suggest anyone use this only as a starting point, however. Try all these exercises, and then keep seeking out new information as they continue so they can learn the variants and finer points of form.

    Originally Posted by GuyJin View Post
    Once again, Vox, you've outdone yourself.

    Asking the Mods to "Sticky" this and make EVERY newb to this forum READ IT TWICE before being allowed to post.

    Seriously.

    Great stuff, very simple, easy to follow, and rep-worthy by all, including yours truly when I can rep you again.
    Thanks, GuyJin. That's what comes from being sick over the Labor Day weekend. I figured if I was going to have to skip a workout or two, then maybe it would be worth it to put together something "useful".
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  25. #25
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    Originally Posted by VoxExMachina View Post

    I would definitely suggest anyone use this only as a starting point, however. Try all these exercises, and then keep seeking out new information as they continue so they can learn the variants and finer points of form.


    to be fair, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with a beginner program that incorporated only these 6 exercises and nothing else. My workouts now don't really have much else in there.
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  26. #26
    Needs a cigar Adamnn's Avatar
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    Good info in there. Nice post.
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  27. #27
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    Don't hate me if you don't agree, but wouldn't it be a good idea to put dips on that list?

    Otherwise a really good post!
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  28. #28
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    Originally Posted by chazzy1864 View Post
    I want to kick you in the face for that shoulder press video.
    haha why?
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  29. #29
    I'll Mod Til I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by VoxExMachina View Post
    I actually started to detail the different kinds of squats, variants on bar position, etc. and then realized that I'd be better off detailing the basics and give people a place to start their research. Too much detail is more likely to intimidate a beginner than to spur their interest, IMO.
    I agree completely. The basics are plenty enough info for newbs. If any of them are still training after 3 months, then they're probably interested enough to do some research on their own, and may actually benefit from some additional details.


    I see much posting by skinny kids, asking about minor details of training that even a Pro wouldn't be bothered with. Over-thinking seems to be the order of the day on this, and other forums on this site.

    It isn't rocket science, people. Train. Eat. Rest. Repeat.
    No brain, no gain.

    You can't out-train bad nutrition.

    "The fitness and nutrition world is a breeding ground for obsessive-compulsive behavior. The irony is that many of the things people worry about have no impact on results either way, and therefore aren't worth an ounce of concern."--Alan Aragon

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    Question

    Didnt want to start a new thread for such a small queastion and it kinda links back to the op. I use the overhand underhand grip for deadlifts. Just wondering if you need to alternate which hand is under and which is over??
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