Squat deadlift benchpress: a must in your muscle growth

By: Remco Vervloed - Gym101

No matter what gym you walk into the squat, deadlift and benchpress are always occupied. The first thing I think is "oh...it must be powerlifters". All the fit influencers on social media also seem to be fans of these exercises. It seems like they can't do anything else. But no, they squat, deadlift and bench for muscle growth. Because, it is then said, it is the basis of fitness and if you want to create mass you MUST do them. Well NO...

The squat, deadlift and benchpress actually suck when it comes to muscle growth. The idea of muscle growth is to fail in the muscle you actually want to train. By that I mean, you train your biceps, you want to give up because your biceps has experienced maximum tension. Not your forearm, not your shoulders, not your neck. No your biceps!

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The squat is a heart-pounding movement to train. A movement that is common on a daily basis. Many muscles work together, your heart and lung function are well tested, and you create a lot of tension in your trunk stiffness and core muscles. But for muscle growth, it's not the best choice. No matter how you perform the squat, it is always a quadriceps dominant exercise. As I mentioned above, muscle growth comes down to creating as much tension as possible in the muscle you actually want to train. So in the case of the squat, failure on your quadriceps. And nobody, no nobody, including you can fail on the quadriceps when squatting. The exercise is so complex that you are more likely to fail on technique, fatigue and failure to hold your trunk stiffness than on your quadriceps. 

So what are better choices for muscle growth in the quadriceps?
Consider is a legpress, or better yet a leg extension. Direct full tension on the quadriceps.

Actually a bit the same story as with the squat. An excellent movement pattern to train. The deadlift is also a daily common movement. Many muscles work together again and your heart lung function is also put to the test with the deadlift while you build up a lot of tension in your trunk and core muscles. For the average athlete, the deadlift is used to train the hamstring and glute muscles. But as with the squat, you won't be able to fail on those muscles but will rather fail on technique, heart lung function and fatigue in the torso. Another lousy exercise for muscle growth. 

So what are better choices for muscle growth in the hamstring and buttock?
Again, think about direct tension on the muscles. So for the hamstring, a leg curl or better yet a lying leg curl would be good options. For the glutes, a hip thrust would be a good choice.


With the benchpress, things are a little different. The exercise is less complex and you will find it easier to build tension in the muscle you want to train, the pectoral muscle. But so why is this a poor choice for muscle growth? If we look at the movement the pectoral muscle makes in this case, it is from stretched arm up with the biceps as close to the chest as possible to elbows down as far as possible under the body without the front shoulder head coming up. And that's where the problem is. You are holding a fixed bar and so you can never train the chest muscle in its full movement. You don't get the biceps against the chest with a fixed bar and the elbows not far enough under the body. Then you can think, okay I'll grip the bar narrower but then you'll make too much elbow extension causing the triceps to do most of the movement. Also not the best for good chest muscle tension. 

So what is a better choice as a chest exercise?
How about a dumbbell press. The dumbbell press allows you to train the chest muscle in its full movement. You can bring the dumbbells towards each other in the upper position and get the biceps closer to the chest and in the lower position get the elbows further under the body. If the body allows this. You can also let the dumbbells go in one movement that just suits your anatomy better since it is not a set movement pattern. 


In conclusion
With this article, I don't mean to say that you can't squat, deadlift and bench press from now on. Absolutely not. I just want to make it clear that there are better choices for muscle growth and that if you want to fully train these muscles you will need to program more exercises than just these three. And try not to pay too much attention to the fitfluencers for a while. They too train more than just the squat, deadlift and benchpress.

Do you want to improve your technique of certain exercises, build muscles or lose weight? Contact me and I will be happy to help you! www.gym101.nl

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