During the years I’ve worked as a strength coach/personal trainer I’ve helped hundreds – if not thousands – of people learn how to train effectively and correctly. I’ve done a long range of strength and conditioning exercises with my clients; everything from push-ups to kettlebell swings to indoor rowing to the clean and jerk. However, I generally prioritize big, multi-joint movements, such as the squat, press, and pull-up.
These types of exercises strengthen major muscle groups, improve body composition, enhance bone density and strength, and reduce age-related muscle loss, among other things. I think virtually everyone can benefit from including them into their training program. But unfortunately, not everyone knows how to do exercises such as the squat and deadlift correctly. A lot of gym goers lift with poor technique, typically because they put on too much weight and/or haven’t learned how to perform the lifts with good form.
Even many coaches and trainers don’t do these lifts correctly. Personally, I know I’m not always performing these types of lifts with perfect form; particularly when it gets heavy, I may get negligent about my form and have to remind myself to straighten up, squeeze the glutes and/or otherwise get back into a good posture.
One of the observations I’ve made during the process of teaching and watching people train is that there are clear patterns as to the mistakes and problems lifters make and experience when they perform strength exercises such as the squat and deadlift. There are many different ways to perform these lifts. Also, the movement pattern of each lifter will vary depending on bone structure and flexibility, among other things. That said, there are certain general rules regarding lifting technique that apply almost across the board.
Here on the blog I’ve written several articles about strength training and fitness, and I’ve shared many strength training tips. In the infographic below, I’ve summarized some of my best tips for mastering the squat, deadlift, press, and bench press; exercises that are sometimes collectively referred to as the big four.
I hope you like the infographic. Let me know if you disagree with any of the tips or have anything to add.