How to “Level Up” Your Bench Press, Deadlifts and Squats

Sticking to just one version of an exercise can sometimes lead to strain and repetitive stress fatigue.

Many experts and coaches recommend trying variations of these three traditional workouts, including some featuring “accessory movements” designed to increase resistance and push the body further, exposing weaknesses in your approach to the main 3 exercises.

Whether you’re a pro powerlifter or you’re just getting started, these variations of the classic bench press, deadlift, and squat are great additions to your routine.

Bench Press:

#1: Dead Press

This exercise focuses on the pectoral muscles, but also works the delts, triceps, biceps, back, and core.

Dead press lifting takes away the user’s ability to utilize stretch reflex, forcing the pectoral muscles to work harder than during traditional lifts.

Additional variations, such as pin-presses and bench press lockouts can also be implemented to further enhance this extreme workout.


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#2: Tate Press

Focusing mostly on the triceps, the Tate press method also has several variations, with most involving dumbbells.

This exercise is a proven strength builder, and are known for strenuously working the entirety of the triceps muscle.


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#3: Paused Press

Known as one of the best ways to improve bench press numbers, paused presses add a one or two-second pause to the bottom of the rep, at the point when the bar touches the chest.

This pause takes away stretch reflex, forcing the user to use raw power and build strength quickly, making the traditional bench press seem much easier.

In fact, many experts agree that strategic “mastery” of this pause is a key secret to seeing massive gains during your bench press workout.


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#1: Paused Deadlift

Like the paused bench press, this exercise adds a 2-3 second pause around the middle of the shins, forcing the lats to bear their share of the work while helping to shatter your records on the traditional lift by building incredible strength.

Known for being a brutal, punishing lift, paused deadlifts are a great way to add some intensity to your workout and get better results in no time.

This exercise also forces the body to keep the back in line due to the heightened amounts of time under tension involved.

#2: Sumo Deadlifts

Often seen as a go-to exercise for those wishing to find weaknesses in their approach to the standard dead lift, Sumo deadlifts are also highly recommend for providing increased relief on the spine.

Sumo deadlifts are also proven to increase muscle mass by recruiting different muscle groups to work, as well as requiring a different angle than the traditional lift.


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#3: Deficit Deadlifts

If you’re struggling with a lack of strength in the lower body, deficit deadlifts are a fantastic way to address this issue, and is especially helpful to beginners and experienced lifters who feel they’ve reached their peak.

Deficit deadlifts build leg and lower back strength, and also help with posture during lifting, as well as helping to form an explosive power to help take your workouts to new levels.


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#1: Pause Squat

Pause squats will help to bulk up your legs, increasing mass and overall leg strength.

Similar to paused bench press and deadlifts, adding a pause to the traditional squat pushes the body to its limits, forcing an explosion of power to complete reps.

This exercise has a wide range of variations, and can be done with the use of a Smith machine.


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#2: Lunge Squats

Also known as the squat-and-lunge, this is another squat variation that can be further enhanced in several ways.

From walking lunges, side-to-side lunges, and even the Bulgarian split-squat technique, there are plenty of ways to use lunge squats to give you a killer workout focusing on the glutes and legs, which can also benefit a variety of other muscles.


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#3: Hatfield Squats

This exercise uses a unique approach and technique requiring a safety bar, also known as the safety-bar-handle squat.

Known for being easier on the knees, ankles, and joints, Hatfield squats are a proven strength builder and are a hit with many NFL athletes.


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