HOW TO: Bench Press / Barbell Squat / Deadlift

Functional Mass Program
by Yard Athletics – March 10, 2021

Recently you might have seen on Instagram that Yard has put together a number of tutorial videos to walk you through the basics of bench press, barbell squats and deadlifts. These 3 exercises form the core of any strength and conditioning program, and are essential to any sort of weight training program you may want to begin.

They also form the basis for the majority of our workout programs at Yard Athletics, so if you haven’t yet been into the gym they are a good thing to get familiar with prior to your first session.

Let’s get started!

Bench Press

“How much can you bench bro??”. For as long as there’s been weights on a bar, bench press has been the classic measuring stick for gym rats who want to compare notes on their lifting abilities. Despite all this, it remains one of the single best exercises for building upper body strength in the chest, shoulders and back. It’s also one where it’s easy to see big improvement in a short period of time if you have not ever done it before, hence why it can become addictive.

It also involves lying down, with little cardio output needed, so it’s a favorite for when you can’t seem to get out of 1st gear in the gym 😉

HOW TO: Bench Press via IGTV (link)

Key points:

  • Make sure the bench is straight and perpendicular under the bar and not leaning to one side
  • Barbell should be close to lockout of your arms, but not so far away you couldn’t rack if you were struggling
  • Shoulders should be tight and “retracted” to give a strong base to push from
  • FEET ARE IMPORTANT: you need a solid base from which to push. Find a position that’s comfortable and strong
  • Grip: Wider = more pectoral, Narrow = more tricep and shoulder activation

Another very important exercise in the Yard Athletics world, forming a part of the “hinge” movement pattern. Deadlifts get a bad reputation as something that will ruin your back. Wrong! When done properly, they are one of the best exercises for total body strength and will not hurt your back. If done incorrectly, with weight that is too heavy for you, or when you’re fatigued and sore from overtraining, only then can you risk hurting yourself.

Lauren O'Sullivan

HOW TO: Deadlift via IGTV (link)

Key Points:

  • Feet straight ahead, hip width apart (narrower than you think)
  • DEEP BREATH – bracing the abdomen and core with a deep breath of air is crucial to staying strong
  • Spine stays flat / neutral, rising at the same time as the bar and your legs
  • Focus on pushing through the legs rather than pulling from the back
Barbell Squat

Never skip leg day! For building a strong lower body, there is no better exercise than the traditional barbell squat. Despite it’s popularity, the barbell back squat is the most complex of these 3 movements, deserving extra attention paid to form and technique to avoid injury.

In terms of how “deep” one should squat, that totally depends on flexibility, ankle mobility, and a number of other factors. At the end of the day, do what feels comfortable, but you should be going at least to the point where your thighs are parallel with the floor.

Melis Papila

HOW TO: Barbell Squat via IGTV (link)

Key Points:

  • Set the bar so you can get under it comfortable with a mild knee bend
  • Hands should be as narrow on the bar as is comfortable without hurting the shoulder
  • Set your feet shoulder width apart with toes pointed slightly outwards
  • Same as the deadlift, deep breath before squatting in order to tighten the torso and brace for the push

When in doubt on technique, come get a refresher with us at the Yard.

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