Weightlifting 101 | The bench press

Bench press pin

After the overhead press lost its popularity, the weightlifting masses opted for its distant cousin the bench press. Now the test of pure upper body strength, the bench press morphed from its predecessor, the floor press, where athletes pressed the barbell from laying down on the floor.

You can read more about the history of the bench press at Nerd Fitness.

Although it’s considered an upper body workout, the bench press engages the entire body if done properly.

Mark Rippetoe includes the bench in his Starting Strength program. Strong Lifts considers it among the core lifts. It’s a required lift for most powerlifting competitions.

Here, we cover the lift and common mobility issues. Continue reading “Weightlifting 101 | The bench press”

Weightlifting 101 | The press

Beginner's guide to the press

Once upon a time, the world considered the military or strict press the measure of a person’s strength. Included among the Olympic lifts, the clean and press was meant to judge an athletes pure strength, where the snatch and clean and jerk were meant to measure speed and agility.

After decades of slipping standards, the International Weightlifting Federation scrapped the press from its lineup in 1972. Feel free to read this 30-page history for more background on the press.

According to Nerd Fitness writer, Staci Ardison, after the press was eliminated from the Olympics, powerlifters swapped in bench press to measure an athlete’s upper body strength, while bodybuilders opted for other exercises to bulk up muscles.

However, she argues in her article, “The press helps improve deficiencies in your overall upper body strength, translating to improved numbers on the bench press, chin-ups, rows, and more.”

In short, if you want the strength and core stability, you better be pressing overhead. Continue reading “Weightlifting 101 | The press”

Weightlifting 101 | The deadlift

Beginner's guide to deadlifts

If squats are a building block to weightlifting, the deadlift is the foundation. It is the strongest lift — meaning you’ll be able to lift the most weight — with most beginner athletes being able to lift their bodyweight and more after a few training sessions.

While the deadlift is commonly classified as a leg exercise, it engages virtually every muscle group at once, giving the lifter the most bang for her buck.

Performed correctly, the lift has a very low injury rate (if it’s too heavy, you just drop it to the floor). However, if performed with poor technique, you could risk hurting  your lower back.

Here, we go over technique and deadlift variations to get you started. But first, science! Continue reading “Weightlifting 101 | The deadlift”

Weightlifting 101 | The Squat

Squatting 101

Squatting is the foundation for many exercises and movements. By mastering the squat, you set yourself up for mobility success, insane strength, and a failsafe against common injuries.

“Everyone can benefit from squatting,” said Dr. Aaron Horschig, physical therapist and creator of Squat University.

“We’ve come to think of the squat as only an exercise,” he continued. “We’ve often lost the ability express the squat as a movement.”

Squats are the bread and butter of any respectable weightlifting program. Here, we go over the benefits and variations of the squat as well as how to start as a newbie. Continue reading “Weightlifting 101 | The Squat”

Weightlifting 101 | Finding the right coach

3 tips for finding a great weightlifting coach

Finding the right weightlifting coach is crucial for beginners. A good coach can not only set you up for success in lifting — keeping you injury-free while helping you get stronger and stronger — they can also instill confidence and self-esteem.

I’ve had a variety of coaches throughout my life. In high school, my swim coach led our team to state championship after state championship. But she did so with a militant approach. Young swimmers — especially new swimmers — were terrified of her. No one wanted to be singled out by her.

Her approach taught me a lot. I learned extreme discipline. I valued my teammates. And I learned to follow through on my commitments. But I learned most of these lessons out of fear and it took me years to realize that this may have not been the healthiest approach.

Here, we list our tips for finding a good coach who can get you the results you want without sending you into a spiral of self-doubt. Continue reading “Weightlifting 101 | Finding the right coach”