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The Big 6 Lifts

There are five “Big Lifts” in weightlifting. They are compound movements, meaning that each of these movements involve multiple joints and muscles groups. These movements are the bench press, the overhead press, the row, the deadlift, and the squat. These movements also reflect basic movement patterns of the human body. Mastering these 5 movements can not only build a beautiful physique, but it will also ensure that you will beagle to function and move pretty decently in life.


The nature of these lifts is that they can all be performed with minimal equipment: just a barbell. Outside of the bench press, none of these movements requires anything else. Every single one of these lifts can be performed for one maximum effort repetition and can also be relatively easily ditched. Maybe the bench press is a little more difficult to get away from if the lift goes sideways but this is you we don't use collars when bench pressing. If the barbell falls, you can just slide the weight off the end of the bar.

I argue that these is room for one more lift. Firstly, there are only two lower body lifts and three upper - but that is not what really bothers me. What irks me is that deadlift and squat do not really display the range of the functional movement patterns. Also, none of these movements really display the ability of female strength.


There are two possible lifts that can fill this hole: the lunge and the hip thrust.


The lunge is a great lift because it features the split stance. Split stance is one of the most important movements we have. Every time we walk, run or ride a bicycle, we do a split stance. Split stance training is especially important for women because is the Q angle. The Q angle is the angle that our femurs res in because of the width of our hips. Because women have wider hips, they have a more pronounced angle than men. This has been cited as one of the reasons for more prevalent ACL tears among female athletes in soccer and basket ball.


Being strong in the split stance position is important to strength health and movement skills. This is one of the primary movement skills I program into my clients training. Not only does it build a great set of glutes and thighs, it strengthens their hips. I cannot express how important this is for women - especially after giving birth.



The only problem with the lunge as the big lift is how to measure the 1 rep max. Is it max rep for one leg or would one rep max be lunging max weight on both legs? I would say both but when you are under hundreds of pounds of weight, every rep takes literally everything you have. Having to do one leg and then the other would be a great feat.


Another problem: how do we ditch the lift when it goes south? Presumably, it starts sliding out of control when we are at the bottom of the lift, to one leg is trailing behind. From a back rack lunge, we can ditch the barbell behind us but large bodies might still get hit by the bar. There is clearance of nearly 8 inches when the barbell is loaded with standard size olympic plates. This may be an issue but I'm not sure if its big enough to disqualify it.


Another option for the sixth lift is the hip thrust. This is surprisingly my favorite option. I mean, I am much a fan of the lunge for many reasons. But the hip thirst is a fantastic option to become a part of the Big Lift family. It can easily be set up with just a bunch and a barbell. It can be easily ditched as well. The 8 inches of clearance may become an issues for larger bodies but this can be modified by placing blocks under the weight plates and lifting the barbell.


Another reason why this is a great choice is because women can really show their strength here. This si the only lift I know where women can easily push over 300 pounds. Women who are just intermediate lifters can quickly work themselves up to the 400 and 500 range. The hip thrust is a lift that favors where women re the strongest and it right through the hips and glutes.


The only argument against it is that it is largely a single joint exercise, taking it out of the compound lift category and grouping it with the isolation lifts. You can easily argue both sides. On one hand the movement requires the core, spinal erectors, glutes and hamstrings. This means that the lift includes the joints of the hips, vertebrae and knees. On the other hand, you can argue the hip thirst only requires movement of the glutes and hips. I believe there is a much strong argument for the former.


It would be nice if we can get another lift into the classic weightlifting category. I truly believe one of these is a great contender - especially if it is the hip thrust. It would also be nice to see women putting up big numbers on the board. Getting women into the gym and them having them discover that they can move 200, 300 even 400 pounds with their body is quite a thing! It’s that moment where the lifter is proud and surprised. She thinks, “Maybe this is the thing for me.” I love that moment.

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