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The Big Five

Squat, bench press, row, overhead press, and deadlift. These are the “Big Five” lifts, compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. In addition to building muscle and strength, these lifts can also help to improve flexibility, cardiovascular health, coordination, and balance. Due to the effort expended on them, they also burn more calories than isolation lifts since multiple muscle groups are being worked and require more energy and oxygen.


Squat is the king of lifts. There’s no debate about it. Not only does the squat build build, strong legs by working your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves, but it targets your posterior chain, works your lower back, and recruits just about every muscle in your body from your shoulders down. Additionally, squatting will work your core as you brace under the weight.

An added bonus of the squat, which elevates it above all other lifts, is that it naturally boosts production of testosterone and growth hormone. You can say that lifting in general does so, but nothing does it as effectively as the squat.

Bench Press

“How much you bench?” Every weightlifter has been asked this question, and it will continue to be asked. Although some may place too much importance on this lift, it is still important. The bench press works your pecs, shoulders, triceps, biceps, serratus, and core. Properly programming the bench press into your routine will give you great upper body strength, a big chest, and broad shoulders.

Barbell Row

There’s nothing that will build a big back like the barbell row. It hits both your upper and lower back, builds big lats, and also works the biceps and core. In addition to all this, doing rows will also increase your strength on the bench press, deadlift, and squat. Once you build decent strength on this lift, I recommend switching to the Pendlay row variation as the starting position for each rep is with the weight on the floor rather than suspended in the air.

Overhead Press

Overhead press is one of the most neglected lifts out there. Is it hard? Yes. Should you do it? Yes. It hits your upper chest, shoulders, triceps, traps, and abs. To do them right, you must brace your core to both get the weight up and maintain proper stability. Even if this one is not your favorite, remember that it also helps to improve your bench press. You wanna be able to answer with confidence the next time you’re asked, “how much you bench?”, right?


Deadlift can be very exciting as it is the lift that allows for the most weight, and lets be real, us lifters love big numbers. There are plenty of benefits provided by the deadlift that should get you excited, too. There are plenty of instances in the real world that require picking up something heavy, and deadlifting will build strong back muscles which will allow you to pick up these items with a reduced chance of injury. The deadlift not only works your back, glutes, and hamstrings, but you work your core, arms, shoulders, and traps as well.

Looking for a routine that incorporates “The Big Five?”

Simple Method Lifting Program:

Total Body Renaissance: