Written by justis berg
05 February 2010

The Triple Threat Workout: Bench, Squats, and Deadlifts.

 Pussification (noun): the state in which a society becomes less and less tough. This noun's originator is from the famous comedian George Carlin. Carlin was in concert and he talked about "Pussification of Society" in which men were becoming soft and basically to put in bluntly, he thought men were became "pussies!"  Carlin laughs about when he was younger he actually swam in the Hudson River full of raw sewage and not once did he or any of his friends get sick because they were damn tough!   Much like Carlin's comedy, there is a growing trend in gyms that is downright scary, some gyms have started a "No Grunting" policy in the gym that prohibits grunting when lifting heavy weights.  This could be a new slogan, "The Pussification of Weight Rooms!"  What kind of society is this where you can't go to a gym and grunt?  In addition to men not being able to grunt, one trend that is growing that also could be placed in the "The Pussification of Weight Rooms!"  is the "all machine workout!"  Weightlifting was founded on free weights!  Look at the early strong men, they lifted huge kettle bells and did basic lifts like bench press, squats, and deadlifts.   There is an interesting training program called Dinosaur Training in which the author recommends just the basics for increases in strength and muscle mass: squats, deadlifts, and bench press. You almost have to be like Indiana Jones and go find a lost city to find workouts that include these three hardcore lifts to date.  To be honest, most gyms today don't even have a deadlift platform which is built for heavy deadlifts.  Everything is machine bench press, hammer strength, Nautilus, and pulley's, but we are forgetting the basics which gets you the raw power.  If you go into any college or professional weight room, you will see tons of free-weight squat racks and bench presses, there are some machines but a majority of the lifts are on free-weights. Why? That's because football players want to be big and strong and to be able to feel like a Mac Truck on the field....if you are looking for a easy cookie cutter workout, then you can just flip to another article because it takes guts and hard work to perform the Triple Threat Workout.  The triple threat workout is based around three movements: the bench press, squat, and deadlift.   So why do so many people like doing machines then..well...plain and simple..machines are easier! But if you want to jack up your testosterone, nothing is going to do it more than these 3 exercises!

Testosterone Increases with Large Muscle Mass Exercises (Bench, Squat, and Deadlifts).

Testosterone levels are also influenced by the amount of muscle mass activated in response to exercise.  Olympic lifts, jump squats, and deadlifts all produce large increases in testosterone1,2.  As much as bench is consider a power movement, to get your testosterone levels skyrocketing...get under a squat bar.  Although most people would rather perform a bench press than jump under a squat bar, the bench press is not going to increase testosterone production like a squat.  The Squat truly is the "King of All Exercises!"  For example researchers investigated the effects of 5 sets of 10 repetitions of bench press versus 5 sets of 10 repetition jump squats, with 2 minutes rest between sets in 12 resistance trained men. Testosterone was raised higher following the jump squat (15 %) then the bench press (7%). This suggests that exercises which recruit the most substantial amounts of muscle tissue will cause the greatest increases in testosterone2. It also reinforces the order of exercise principles. Generally exercises that recruit large muscle groups (squats, deadlifts, bench press) should be performed before isolation exercises (leg extensions, lat pull downs, pec flyes).

As testosterone is concerned, the larger exercise may raise testosterone levels and exert its effects on the smaller isolation type exercises.   It has been suggested that large muscle mass exercises be performed prior to small muscle-mass exercises. The performance of large muscle-mass exercises (i.e. squat,  deadlift, bench press) early in the workout produce elevations in testosterone, which  potentially may expose smaller muscles to a greater response than that resulting from performance of small muscle mass exercises only. For example, one study measured muscle strength changes in the bicep strength following 9 weeks of resistance training. However, one group performed a workout consisting of bicep curls only and a second group performed squats prior to bicep curls. Performing bicep curls exercises only failed to acutely elevate testosterone significantly. However, testosterone was significantly elevated when squats were performed first, and muscle strength increased to a greater extent as well when both lower- and upper-body exercises were performed. These data provide support for performing large muscle mass, multiple-joint exercises early in a workout and smaller muscle mass exercises later in the workout when training to enhance muscle strength.

Dynamic power schemes, often employed to maximize explosive power have also produced significant androgen responses. Dynamic power schemes, often employed to maximize explosive power and functional performance, have also produced significant androgen responses. For example, total (18%) and free TST (30%) increased in response to half-squat lifts performed with a load of 50% 1RM4. If you are looking to put on size and strength walk right past that leg extension to the squat rack.  Testosterone levels did not increase from pre to post exercise for younger and older men to upper and lower body isolation-type (leg extension) resistance exercise on a Nautilus machine consisting of 3 sets of 10-repetitions5.   Contrary to these finding, significant increases in testosterone responses of older and younger men in response to a high intensity large muscle mass squat (large muscle mass) protocol6.

Now that you understand that getting bigger and stronger is all about activating more muscle fibers during a workout, and nothing is going to get those muscle fibers screaming like bench press, squats, and deadlifts.   I am going to also include the latest research on how to get the most out of these lifts as well.

  • Get Psyched: Many time I see guys getting ready to get under a bench and they look like they are getting ready to fall asleep!  Other are talking on the cell phone or reading the newspaper..WTF?  You have to get under the bar realizing, I have a 315 pounds getting ready to crush me if I don't drive this weight up!  Powerlifters go to the extreme and smack themselves in the face or even sniff smelling salts (i.e often used when a boxer gets knocked out).   Getting psyched up before a lift is clinically validated to increase raw bench press power.  One study took resistance trained men, and specifically told men to get "psyched up" while another group was distracted from focusing.   After psyching-up, participants produced greater force in the bench press than when they had engaged in the distraction or the placebo conditions. In this study, they found that psyching-up led to an 11.8% increase in bench press compared to the distraction condition and  an 8.1% increase over the placebo condition7.  Based on the results from 7 studies, Tod, Iredale, and Gill  estimated that psyching-up leads to a 12% increase in strength compared with control conditions8.   If you want to get a bigger bench, get psyched up and if you want to be a good workout partner, get your partner motivated and push him!

 

  • Push Past the Failure Zone: Many times in the gym, people like to stop their bench press right  when the pain begins. Researchers had men train on the bench press and were divided into 2 groups: those who trained to absolute muscular failure and those that trained to just short or failure for six weeks.   The major findings of the study were that the group training to failure experienced  substantially larger gains in raw bench press power than the group who did not train to failure. The findings clarify the role of training leading to repetition failure in strength training8.

 

  • Get Hooked on Bench Press: It is well established that eccentric overload can result in increased strength.  A revolutionary lifting accessory called a detaching lifting hook with allows a person to hang a weights on a bench press and when the device hits the floor it releases allowing the weight to lighten so the lifter can explode.  For example, you load 225 on the bench and then with the Power Hooks (Power Recruit Inc., Hautzdale, PA), you can load an additional 25 pounds on the device.  As you lower the weight, you are lowering 245, and then as the device hits the floor and releases, you lift 225 up.  So how much can you expect to increase your bench with these Power Hooks?  One study reported that using the hooks, all subjects who completed the study increased their 1RMs by 5 to 15 pounds10 .

 

  • Chains for Better Bench Press: A new trend for increasing bench press strength is hanging chains off the bar.  The science behind hanging chains on the bench press is learning to explode from the chest position.  Enhanced strength with chain-loaded resistance has been speculated to occur from an improved rate of force development because of lifting lighter loads near the bottom of the bench press, resulting in greater bar acceleration11.  In one study, one group of men was assigned to chain resisted bench press while the other group was assigned to standard barbell bench presses.  At the end of the study, both groups demonstrated similar gains on the plate-loaded test, but the chains resistance group increased 24 lb above the improvement demonstrated by the plate loaded group. Additionally, the chains placed less shoulder stress on the benchers, so if you have bad shoulders, using chains may be the way to go.