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-   -   Short List of Favorite Lifts (http://www.catalystathletics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=584)

Steve Shafley 02-27-2007 09:46 AM

Short List of Favorite Lifts
These movements are the ones I consider essential, at least for myself. Thought it might spark some interesting discussion.

The Back Squat: Ever since I started squatting, and saw my legs get bigger within 2 weeks, it's been my favorite. This listing also includes back squat variations like box squats, and back squats with specialized bars, like the SSB.

The Front Squat: Goes hand in hand with the back squat, but emphasizes a few things differently.

The Power Clean/Power Snatch: 4 weeks into the first cycle of power cleans I did (uncoached, they were unbearably ugly), I noticed bigger traps. I also noticed that this movement improved my rucking in a noticable fashion.

Stiff Leg Deadlift/RDL: I started off with the round back versions of this, but moved quickly to a more "keystone" stiff leg deadlift style, like Fred Hatfield recommended. Just a fine movement. Now I do the RDL.

Press/Push Press: Very useful, especially for a lifter in a rugby line out. The ease in which you can do overhead presses, then transition into push presses for overload purposes, makes this a great choice.

Deadlifts: Just a favorite exercise, including variants from the deficit and rack pulls.

Bench Press: I used to love the bench, but was never very good at it. Nowadays I tend to do close grip benches and board presses instead. If I had dumbbells, I'd do dumbbell benches on a regular basis.

Bent Rows: Always a weakness. I do these, but probably should make them a priorty.

Chins: See bent rows.

Mike ODonnell 02-27-2007 10:29 AM


Cool list....here's another question in relation to the lists.....what's your favorite rep scheme to use with them and why? I imagine some you like heavy....some maybe with higher reps.....which are your favorites...our readers would like to know.

Dave Van Skike 02-27-2007 10:31 AM

I'm fairly new to the legit strength training, I have less than 2 years of doing it correctly but my faves run along similar lines. I'll add some nuance,

Two great tastes that go great together:

Front Squats and DLs.

I have me some long legs and a short back so front squats and deadlifts are very natural. Back squats are very technical and give me fits. I do back squat 3 days a week but it's hard every time.

FS and DL just seem perfect for me at high percentages of 1RM. I love them in ladders up to 4, in Triples and even sets of fives across. Singles back to back with only rest to add or remove weight.

A related prgression for conditioning is front squats or goblet squats with a single kettelebell back to back with high swings (head level). for sets of 10, 15, 20 25 etc.

Dumbell Snatch (half bodyweight) and Weighted pullups.

Neither of these are "gut it out" heavy like a squat but both require a sharp hard power delivery with a controlled eccentric. Great for those of us with limited training in OL. Great in ladders and triples. They are not really form dependant but reps higher than 3 seem to tweak my shoulders in with weighted pullups.

Snatch Grip Deadlift and Push press/Push Jerk progression.

I like these for medium high reps...say 6 to 8. Snatch grip DL is a good squat substitute for me. Whenever my knees start feeling trashy I switch to SGDL. I can load the bar much heavier than my back squat. The posterior chain emphasis seems to keep my knees out of the equation. I have a weak press so Push press + Push jerk, allows me to explore the my upper limits of my overhead lifting capacity pretty safely.

Gordon Richmond 02-27-2007 10:51 AM

My favorites (not necessarily essentials):

The Hang Squat Clean (also the Power Hang Clean)
Maybe I'm just lazy and/or maybe it is because I've always hated the deadlift, but I love this lift, just holding that bar at mid-thigh and popping the hips and ripping it upwards. I think I like it so much because it was one of the first complicated lifts that I learned. Whenever I have anything left at the tank at the end of a weight session, I rip out a few of these.

The Back Squat
(and to a lesser extent Front Squat)
In all honesty, I think I like the squat because I have always had strong quadriceps. I love the incredible soreness that you get from this two and three days after. I always relished taking the squat as close to the floor as possible unlike all the skinny mofos who could (can) outrun me but couldn't get a measly 135lbs past parallel.

Parallel Bar Dips
I could not get anything out of these for so long. I could never do very many and I was never sore after doing them. In the past few months I made a concerted effort to do them and tried to make the motion as fast as I could without breaking good form. Since then, numbers have shot up and my chest finally feels the burn.

Steve Shafley 02-27-2007 11:39 AM

Nice. I was going to specify barbell lifts, but I forgot to change the title, but a lift is a lift, right, and chins didn't fit anyway.

I think it's safe to say that everything I listed above is for low reps. Except bent rows. Chins are low reps because I can't do many.

Deadlifts and olympic style pulls: 1s and 3s.

Squats: 1s, 3s, 5s

Sets? As many as it takes to get to a good single. If I'm doing repetition work, maybe 8-12's.

Note, when I say 1s it's usually not a ME max, but approaching close to my daily max. It's also done with the best form possible (we spoke about this in previous posts).

As I get older, I see the benefit in hitting higher repetitions as well, and have been moving my squat reps (back squat, not front squat) towards the 8-12 range occasionally. I never do high reps on deadlifts (unless I'm doing an Afterburn workout) or olympic lift variants.

Also, just because those are my "essentials" doesn't mean that's all I do. I do a lot of kettlebell stuff, and during the summer I've got tire flips, hammer swings, and sled drags.

And there are times where extensive bodyweight work is done...it all depends on how I feel or where I want to go. Right now it's very much an intuitive kind of training.

I can say that I perform this lifts listed above 1-2x weekly, some more often, when training is going full bore.

Ron Nelson 02-27-2007 12:10 PM

Are you mixing in the AB workouts along with your regular training, or doing AB full time?

I've been doing it full time and worry that I may be losing some strength gains.

Mike ODonnell 02-27-2007 12:18 PM

I'll Add

Squats (Back...as that is the heaviest load I can lift)
BB Lunges..love heavy single leg stuff. Really feel the strength component in my active lifestyle (biking, hockey, running, drinking...ok 3 out of 4)
Flat Bench - I hate it...I have always sucked at it. But I now thrive on making progess even though my numbers are not impressive. There was actually a time long ago I could incline more than my bench.
BB Bent Rows
DLs (Reg, Elevated, Snatch Grip) - anykind is good
Standing Press

I definitely favor the BB over the DB for me right now...cause I am more interested in strength, more size and quick and easy workouts. Keeps me sane and consistent....anything too technical I get burned out on....mostly because i think wayyyy too much about every endless possibility...I like it "dumbed" down for me. (Hence why I like the SS routines too)

Reps...I agree...I don't do MEs for 1s...I like to build up...mostly in the rep ranges of 5-10. For DLs I keep it 1-5 however if going heavy.

The more I learn, read, and do...the more I have come to this conclusion. I get my metabolic work in activites outside the gym (running, biking, even maybe a bodyweight workout at the park)...so for me..the gym days are simple sessions....no more of all the complicated routines....SS...running around doing burpees....etc...as I get so burned out and can't eat enough for those kind of needs. So now as I get older...2-3x a week of basic heavy (reps under 10) lifting...along with a life outside the gym makes me happy and consistent. Plus nutrition is where the results are...for gains and fat loss....so with more focus dialed in on that...my results are amplified.

Dave Van Skike 02-27-2007 12:22 PM


Originally Posted by Steve Shafley (Post 5551)

Note, when I say 1s it's usually not a ME max, but approaching close to my daily max. It's also done with the best form possible (we spoke about this in previous posts).

I like these as well. I think the 85-90% single is something I should do much more of. Every so oftern, I work up to a high percentage single in a squat or dead variant and then bang out 6-12 sinlges, waiving the weight up and down. oddly, these seem to nudge my 3RM and 5RM in the next week. been temped to try more but I'm in a caloric deficit again these days and want to keep it simple.

What kind of row do you favor? The upright "Yates" style or a fully bent over row? I''ve always been good at both but find I can tweak my back too easy. Pulls from the floor and chins/pull ups seem a more natural movement.

Dave Wilson 02-27-2007 04:36 PM

This is a great discussion!

I love Squat's,Front, Back, OH etc I like low rep Front and OH 2's, 3's, Back squat's 5's.
Weighted Pullup's, Hang squat clean's

Lot's of great stuff I need to try!

Steve Shafley 02-27-2007 07:26 PM

What I'm doing right now:

Workout 1:


Workout 2:


Sometimes I go

pull/press, squat/press or vice versa.

I'm I don't slack off, this is 3x weekly, with maybe some other random stuff on the days off, like grip training.

So, full body workouts, big moves, lots of weight, see my last vblog for details, that shows pretty much how things went down except for the kb pressing.

My overheads are almost all kbs overheads due to low ceilings. I will probably start up seated overheads again, but I'm building up my 1 arm capacity. I sometimes do bradford presses, which are a non-locked out variation that goes from the front of the head to the back of the head, but my shoulders don't like those too heavy.

If I do an Afterburn workout I do it because I'm feeling a bit lazy, and I do it to punish myself. Almost invariably, after I do an AB workout, I wish that I would have done my regular workout, because they usually aren't that demanding.

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