Increase strength with weightlifting
Weightlifting is an exercise that is ideal for everyone. The most effective way to increase strength is by lifting weights. Some people ask: why lift weights? But the results speak for themselves.
The three classic power lifts
Together, these three compound exercises work the entire body and all muscle groups.
Because of their importance and the fact they make excellent tests of pure strength, these three lifts make up the lifts performed in competitive powerlifting competitions.
The importance of free weights
If you only focus on a few exercises while weightlifting, make it the three powerlifts. Together, they work all your muscles effectively.
This means, use barbells and dumbbells in your weightlifting routines rather than machines, and a free bench rather than one which is part of a multi-gym.
The reason that free weights are best is that many more muscles have to work to stabilise the lift. In contrast, when you use weightlifting machines, the range of motion throughout the exercise is limited and not as natural.
In short, you will not get as strong as quickly by using only machines for weightlifting.
If you want to target a particular muscle set, the weightlifting exercise you focus on will depend on where you want to build muscle.
The power three (squat, deadlift and bench press) are the ‘big 3’ compound exercises, which means that they work many different muscles at once.
However, each of the powerlifts has different benefits, depending on your goals. If you are looking to develop your legs, choose the squat; to develop your back and core torso, the deadlift; to develop your chest, the bench press.
But to get the most effective overall body strength training workout, you should combine all three of these weightlifting moves with a selection of other compound lifts and isolation exercises.
Non-compound lifts are isolation exercises that exercise a specific muscle group. There are many different kinds of isolation lifts.
These isolation exercises are good for developing balance in the muscles and fine tuning your development. However, compound exercises are better for building general muscle mass and strength.
Share your thoughts about weightlifting
Explore more about weightlifting by reading our specific exercise pages for each lift. You might also like to read about bodyweight exercise for times when you want to do resistance training but have no free weights or gym equipment.
Have you recently started weightlifting? Tell us about your experiences so far.
Experienced lifters, do you have any tips for newcomers to the weights room?