The Dirt: The Truth About The Big Three

The Truth About The Big Three Blog Post

So we need to talk about the BIG THREE and I am not talking about Man United, Chelsea & Man City (sorry Arsenal & Tottenham fans!) The fact is that if the Big Three exercises that I am about to list don’t spring to mind, then there is a good chance that you are wasting your precious time in the gym.

I won’t keep you guessing any longer, I am talking about the DEADLIFT, FRONT SQUAT  & OVERHEAD PRESS. 

In my opinion these three movements combined should form the key elements of any strength & conditioning programme, whether that be getting fit for a triathlon or to look buff on the beach.

If you aren’t doing these movements you need to ask yourself why.

  • Do you know they are important but are avoiding them because you know they are tough?
  • Would you like to do them but don’t know how to execute them correctly?
  • Or have you just been doing spin classes with your fingers crossed hoping to get in great shape?!

If you have been avoiding them because you are lazy then you just need to realise that although these movements are demanding, adding them in to your regular routine will help you build strength, improve your posture, add lean mass and become more athletic all round.

If you are worried about form, that is actually a good thing. These movements are tricky to execute correctly and you do need a good level of mobility in key joints and good posture control to execute them to a high level. Every time I step in to a Globo gym, I see all of these sacred movements being poorly executed, don’t be “that guy,” find a good coach who can help you get the basics right because the list of benefits is too long to ignore.

And if you are that guy whose last twenty workouts have been spin and you wonder why your arms haven’t grown, swap half of these workouts for time in the weights room.


Simply, my number ONE exercise. If I was only allowed to do one lift for the rest of my gym career it would be the Deadlift. In one movement you are using every major muscle group in the body, developing great strength through your posterior chain, teaching you good movement patterns and hell, who doesn’t like lifting heavy stuff off the floor in a cloud of chalk dust!


In my opinion the front squat will give you more bang for your buck than its close friend the Back Squat. Yes you will lift a lighter weight during front squats but it will force you to have greater flexibility, greater movement control and work your core more affectively than a back squat.


The final piece of the puzzle. Deadlift gives you pull, Front Squat moves you in a vertical plane so the Overhead Press completes the full picture which is the vertical push movement. This needs to be your key upper body movement, which rather than your typical body builder style bench press, will build your chest, shoulders, core and back.


Let’s talk numbers: 

Once you have grasped the shape and control needed for the Big Three, it is time to put some realistic goals in place. The weights you should be lifting for each movement is dictated by your body weight in kilograms to the weight you stack on the barbell.

  • An expert Deadlift is 2:1. Excellent: 1.5:1 & Good 1:1
  • Front Squat, your end goal should be 1.5:1
  • And start giving yourself high fives on Overhead Press when you get to 1:1.

So if you weigh 100kg, you are a beast when you can Deadlift 200kg, Front Squat 150kg and Push Press 100kg! Of course, all with impeccable form. Enjoy the journey!


Written by Richard Tidmarsh, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Owner and Lead Trainer of Reach Fitness. Follow Rich now on Instagram and Twitter 

Share it now