Technique Tips for the “Big 3”


9 Technique Tips

Bench Press, Deadlift, and Squats. These are the “Big 3” when it comes to weightlifting. Almost everyone wants to or has performed them depending on their exercise experience or training age. But do you really know if you are doing them correctly? I have seen people perform these lifts with both stellar and not-so-great forms. These are the biggest technique tips to assist you with your technique the next time you are in the gym performing the “Big 3”.

Bench Press

This may seem like the easiest of the “Big 3” because it requires a bench, but I have seen several athletes and clients struggle with this lift.

Tip #1: Keep 4 Points of Contact

  • From the picture above, you can see that I have 4 points with the bench and ground which are the following:
    • Keep feet flat on the ground(or on a step or elevated surface if your feet can’t get to the ground while laying on the bench)
    • Butt on the bench
    • Upper back on the bench
    • Head on the bench

Tip #2: Don’t let your elbows flare

  • Proper bench press elbow position
  • As your elbows flare while bench pressing, there is more demand on your shoulders and puts you in a disadvantageous position.
  • Think about either making the letter “A” or keeping your elbow slightly close to your body. The “A” position is safer and healthier for your shoulders and results in your body recruiting more muscles that will assist you.

Tip #3: Be in Control

  • Controlling the bench press
  • The body will always use the path of least resistance and with the bench press, a newbie may let the bar bounce off the chest to get the weight up. This demonstrates lack of control of the weight on the bar.
  • When unracking the bar, slowly lower it to chest height(below nipple level), let it tap your chest, then PUSH the bar back up towards the ceiling. I would recommend a 3 second lower as this will allow you to be more control.


Deadlifts are a great way to work on the posterior aspect of your body such as hamstrings, glutes, and back. It’s a complex movement but because there are several muscles working at once.

Tip #1: Don’t round your Back

  • Flat back vs. rounded back
  • When setting up, think “flat back.” A great way to do this is to also think if I were in front of you, “show me the logo on your t-shirt.”
  • Rounding your back and picking the weight off the ground increases the odds of injury.

Tip #2: Stay Tight

  • Example of staying tight during trap bar deadlift
  • As you are performing the lift, don’t loosen up. “Stay connected” or “tight” to the bar with your grip.
  • A cue I use to assist with this concept is “rip the handle apart” with your hands. This can work both for a trap bar or barbell deadlift.

Tip #3: Butt Back and Stand Tall

  • Example of how to build good technique
  • Trap bar deadlift
  • Exactly that! You want your butt leading you back and down from the bottom and top position of your deadlift. It is a more hip-dominant movement than knee-dominant.
  • As you push the weight off from the ground, stand tall as if you want your head touching the ceiling.


Squats are a movement that we do almost every day (sitting and getting out of a chair). Incorporate these tips for your next “Squat Day”.

Tip #1: Push Your Knees Out

  • Here is what NOT to do
  • As your knees bend or flex more with a squat, you may find that that they tend to come in towards your midline. Resist that motion and push them out and away from each other.

Tip #2: Have Your Back be Parallel with your Shins

  • Something to look out for is having a big lean forward as you squat. Stand beside a mirror and look at your upper torso along with your shins. If both are parallel meaning they have the same angle, continue with that squatting motion.

Tip #3: Hips should not be coming up first

  • Here is what NOT to do
  • As you come out from the bottom position of your squat, it should look the same as your descent from the top of the squat.
  • Hips coming up first results in your low back doing all the work which is something that you do not want.

Sometimes working out on your own while applying these tips is difficult to gauge if you are performing them correctly. If you find that you need additional assistance, ask a competent workout partner to monitor your technique, or better yet, seek out a fitness professional.

At CLIENTEL3 we are always providing sound advice to our clients’ technique and movement tips. If you need help or are local to the Boston area, feel free to reach out at [email protected] or contact us for a complimentary consultation on our website.

Stay strong and have a fun workout with this technique tips!