The Most Important Exercises For Strength

The Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift are the three most important exercises for Strength.

Squatting, benching, and deadlifting are the three most important exercises for strength in bodybuilding. No matter what everybody says, a quality physique can’t be built without using these compound movements, or any of their variations. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why the sport of powerlifting only uses the squat, bench press, and deadlift as a way of measuring strength.

Phil Heath and Kai Greene 2012 Olympia Most Muscular

If you want to become stronger and larger, you won’t achieve it by training with machines. Compound movements are extremely important for hypertrophy, strength-building, and endurance. Combining the big three (squat, bench press, and deadlift) with dumbbell and machine work, will allow you to excel in both power and muscular development.



Tom Platz has said numerous times that the squat is a sport separate from bodybuilding, and I agree completely. The squat is a whole-body exercise that requires extreme amounts of explosiveness and resistance; one little mistake and you’re done.  Squatting is the single, most important, exercise for legs; it can’t be substituted or replaced.

How hard are squats

The squat is an intense movement that not only punishes the legs from all angles, but that also tests the core, back, and upper body to their absolute limits. Some people believe that squatting -on its own- can build incredible legs without having to rely on accessory movements, and I can’t seem to disagree with them.

A few weeks ago I decided to squat before every single workout and -even though they take a lot of energy away- the results I’ve seen have been nothing short of amazing. My numbers have gone up on all exercises ranging from the deadlift to the military press, I feel a lot more nimble during my workouts, and my cardiovascular performance has greatly improved.

Bench Press

A lot of people hate the bench press and consider it a very dangerous movement. Even though they are partially right, the bench press is only dangerous it you don’t perform it correctly. Benching is an upper body movement that requires perfect form and complete stability, if not, it can be a disaster. As long as your form is pristine, you have a spotter at all times, and you aren’t ego lifting – you should be good.

The best chests in bodybuilding were built with the bench press and all of its variations (incline, flat, decline). Arnold Schwarzenegger, who achieved the greatest pectoral development of all time, wouldn’t finish a chest workout without benching. Franco Columbu, Serge Nubret, and Lou Ferrigno were also avid bench pressers from the golden era who had amazing chests.

How to Bench Press Correctly

Bench pressing can have an astonishing impact on upper body explosiveness that can translate into greater shoulder, abdominal, and arm strength. A lot of lifers stay away from the flat bench press because they claim it either hurts their shoulders or they don’t feel it working. Most of the time they’re either lifting too much weight or their form is off. Fix these mistakes and you are in for a series of intense strength and muscle gains.



The deadlift is the pinnacle of the love-hate relationship that is weight training. Deadlifting is extremely difficult, dangerous, and satisfying. There’s no better feeling in the world that picking up over 500lbs of weight from the ground and holding it for ten seconds. You feel invincible, unstoppable, and more importantly – you feel like a bodybuilder.

Perfect Deadlift Form

The deadlift has quickly been dismissed by modern bodybuilders and left behind as a replaceable exercise. This is a huge mistake and the reason most athletes today lack the signature back development that old school bodybuilders were famous for. Most lifters choose to skip the deadlift because it’s hard and painful, not because it doesn’t work. Having a strong deadlift will impact every single one of your lifts in a positive way.

Deadlifting is a movement that targets every single muscle group in your entire body. If you want massive lats, you need to deadlift on your back workouts. Some examples of bodybuilders who deadlifted during their career and had arguably some of the best backs ever are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Jay Cutler.


Bench pressing, deadlifting, and squatting are the three most important compound movements for a bodybuilder. Their constant exercise will have a highly beneficial impact on the athlete’s physique and accessory lifts. It’s worth noting that secondary exercises (machines, dumbbells, etc.) should be implemented around these three movements in order to build a muscular physique from all angles. Performing variations of the squat, bench press and deadlift can also be very important for hypertrophy, endurance, and muscular development.

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