Dan John's "Big Three"

John Grahill

More than 300 posts
Kyle, what you say to me is quite sound but the only thing I can add is that some exercises/movements require more work than others in order to progress. Overhead pressing is one such movement.

The modified faleev sounds interesting.

Sorry for drudging up an older thread. Been away for a while.
 

Kyle Schuant

Double-Digit Post Count
John, I agree. That's why I noted that you could look at the five and see where you were weak. For myself, I need to squat a lot to get my squat up, but I don't need to deadlift nearly as much. And this is true for many.
 

banzaiengr

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I don't know why I like to set myself on fire like this, but here goes. I think this whole movement thing has gotten way outta hand. Let's look at the "Big 3", no actually let's look at 5 moves.

Presses, there is no way anyone is going to get the same benefits out of benching as they are out of the military press. And if I were only going to do one, I'd do dips. But then look at the snatch, I guess they consider it a pull but you can't tell me you're not going to get some of the same benefits out of snatching that you get out of military presses.

Pulls, how many different pull exercises are there? You don't get the same benefit out of low rows as you do lat pulldowns. Heck you don't even get the same benefit out all the different pull up variations that one can do. It definitely depends on your needs as to whether one would or should do deadlifts as compared to cleans.

Hip hinge, is the deadlift a hip hinge or a pull? Swings - hip hinge, snatch - hip hinge but what about the shoulder work it provides, bent over rows - definitely a pull but what about the stabilizing muscles of the posterior chain.

Squat, I don't think anything makes up for not squatting. I don't care how big your deadlift is, the only way to get a big squat is to squat. But what kind of squat? Now we're somewhere, goblet, front, back? You are going to be squatting with weight in front of you much more than on your back. But are you not using your posterior chain to back squat?

Carries, if you can press your weight and deadlift 2x your weight I'm guessing that you can carry stuff pretty well for your needs. Otherwise then it's a whole conditioning thing and carries would only be a part of an all around general conditioning program. And to limit carries with your hands rather than your arms the the weak link is your grip.

So we go way back in time and listen to what the old timers had to say. If you just want to get big, squat, bench, and bent over rows, deadlift from time to time. What if I just want to get strong? Strong at what, nail bending? Better work on those hands young man. Yea, but I want to be in good condition too. Good condition to do what, carry a sixty pound load 10 miles? Better start on carrying loads for distance and get some good shoes. It just all depends. But wait look there, there's a man on fire.
 

TravisDirks

More than 300 posts
I don't know why I like to set myself on fire like this, but here goes. I think this whole movement thing has gotten way outta hand. Let's look at the "Big 3", no actually let's look at 5 moves.

Presses, there is no way anyone is going to get the same benefits out of benching as they are out of the military press. And if I were only going to do one, I'd do dips. But then look at the snatch, I guess they consider it a pull but you can't tell me you're not going to get some of the same benefits out of snatching that you get out of military presses.

Pulls, how many different pull exercises are there? You don't get the same benefit out of low rows as you do lat pulldowns. Heck you don't even get the same benefit out all the different pull up variations that one can do. It definitely depends on your needs as to whether one would or should do deadlifts as compared to cleans.

Hip hinge, is the deadlift a hip hinge or a pull? Swings - hip hinge, snatch - hip hinge but what about the shoulder work it provides, bent over rows - definitely a pull but what about the stabilizing muscles of the posterior chain.

Squat, I don't think anything makes up for not squatting. I don't care how big your deadlift is, the only way to get a big squat is to squat. But what kind of squat? Now we're somewhere, goblet, front, back? You are going to be squatting with weight in front of you much more than on your back. But are you not using your posterior chain to back squat?

Carries, if you can press your weight and deadlift 2x your weight I'm guessing that you can carry stuff pretty well for your needs. Otherwise then it's a whole conditioning thing and carries would only be a part of an all around general conditioning program. And to limit carries with your hands rather than your arms the the weak link is your grip.

So we go way back in time and listen to what the old timers had to say. If you just want to get big, squat, bench, and bent over rows, deadlift from time to time. What if I just want to get strong? Strong at what, nail bending? Better work on those hands young man. Yea, but I want to be in good condition too. Good condition to do what, carry a sixty pound load 10 miles? Better start on carrying loads for distance and get some good shoes. It just all depends. But wait look there, there's a man on fire.

I thought I'd explain, how I get where you are coming from and try and spare you some fire. But the I figured it's half the fun, so I'll keep mum. ;)
I'll say one thing. I've been reading some books from around 1900, and it struck me how relative "old timer" is. I think those old timers would have said

" Why would you want to press a bench boy?! Invest in a good milo triplex barbell/Kettlebell set and save the bench pressing for performances. But put some people on the bench before you press it or no one will be impressed. "
 

banzaiengr

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I thought I'd explain, how I get where you are coming from and try and spare you some fire. But the I figured it's half the fun, so I'll keep mum. ;)
I'll say one thing. I've been reading some books from around 1900, and it struck me how relative "old timer" is. I think those old timers would have said

" Why would you want to press a bench boy?! Invest in a good milo triplex barbell/Kettlebell set and save the bench pressing for performances. But put some people on the bench before you press it or no one will be impressed. "

Got ya man, in the part about nail bending I almost put "nail bending? Why are you joining a circus? Better work on those bent presses too boy". But I knew that would get things to out of hand so I left it out. I'm glad I did, wouldn't want to get anyone mad.
 
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Kyle Schuant

Double-Digit Post Count
I don't think anything you said is particularly controversial, banzaiengr. That would explain the lack of heat.

It's just the old question of if lift X helps lift Y, how about you just do lift X? And sure. Like what you said about deadlifts helping loaded carries - at the SS seminar when Rip said, "and what lifts can you incrementally load apart from these 5 and variations?" someone said, "farmer's walks," and he said, "sure, but if you can deadlift 500lbs, would that help your farmer's walks?" And he's right, but also he's wrong. Or rather, it's the truth but not the whole truth.

For example, most people will find that if they can squat if they can deadlift it, but if they add deadlifts then they'll deadlift more, and if they deadlift a lot they'll deadlift more still. For everything there is a point of diminishing returns, the question is, for that individual, how far along the curve do they need or want to push it. How small does the benefit have to become before you decide it's not worth the extra work?

But this really is an individual decision. Individuals will vary in their responses to training stimuli, and in their goals.
 

banzaiengr

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@Kyle Schuant glad you understand where I was coming from since you were the first to bring up the 5 movements. Movement is a great way to find an imbalance or weakness but it doesn't mean that a program must always include an exersice for each of these. Then again it may not hurt. It always just depends. : )
 

Kyle Schuant

Double-Digit Post Count
The people who come to my little garage gym, most start with squat, press and deadlift in one session, and squat bench and deadlift in the other. Some weeks later it's too hard to deadlift every time, so the young and healthy ones put in a powerclean, the old and beatup ones usually have terrible upper back and trunk strength so we put in bat wings and farmer's walks.

So the young and healthy ones just do squat, push and hip hinge, and the old and beatup ones don't do pulls and loaded carries for some weeks.

Maybe after that it changes. But that's people in their first 6 months or so of lifting. Squat, push and hip hinge are enough for then. It takes that long to actually see what their weaknesses are. Before that they're a newbie, their whole body is imbalanced, they're weak!
 

Rambro1*

Double-Digit Post Count
I have no reputable fitness background to tout while giving my input, so take it for what it is worth.

In the past couple years I revised the PT portion of selection for my team. The previous test was more like any standard pft. I wanted to test guys on something that is closer to what they will actually be potentially doing during a typical mission. 1/3 of the test is an 880 meter obstacle course, that includes sprints, dummy drags, hoisting a dummy to the shoulders to fireman carry, lots of lunges, and lots of weighted carries with different/offset weights. All of this, while in full kit. This much more closely represents physical requirements during actual missions, and has paid off tremendously with showing guys ability to perform.

My point in this response, is to talk about something I theorized in creating the test, and also what verification I got in watching/assessing performance since instituting it. The following are a summary of what I have seen:

- The loaded carries toughen up the body and create excellent bracing/lifting strength stability that carries over to everything else. They also seem to be self teaching, as the body tends to quickly figure out how to properly brace when faced with this type of resistance. They also absolutely smoke people, even fit guys, who haven't been doing them. Once it has been shown how much carryover they have to all other movement, most guys have integrated them into their regular fitness maintenance.

- No one squats down in full kit to pick something heavy off the ground unless instructed to do so, and even then, unless the item to be picked up was high enough off the ground, most could not effectively accomplish it. They either lunge down and to a Modified TGU type movement while bear hugging the dummy, or they deadlift/clean it up to their shouder girdle. I theorize this has something to do with overall squat mobility coupled with wearing bulky/heavy armor. But I have also noticed this same pattern in a non testing situation.

To keep this post from becoming an article in length, I will stop here with my examples and cut to the chase. First, I think squatting is essential to strength, health, and longevity, but in the real world of lifting heavy things (outside the gym) it isn't always possible. At least for me and the guys I see and/or work with. I have maybe partially front squatted something, but never back squatted while lifting anything. Most of the time when I lift something heavy from the ground, it is exactly how I see it done during the assessment. Sumo deadlifted, power cleaned, or partial TGU.

I AM NOT saying squatting is bad or useless, by any means. It will definitely get you strong. I just think it isn't used outside the gym as much as deadlifting, pressing something overhead, and carrying weight around. Those are essential movement patterns for survival.

Another quick example of this is my children. I deadlift them, press them overhead, and carry them, but can't remember the last time I ever squatted with them.

I can't speak for DJ, but based on using the real world as my own lab, that is how I interpreted his article, and it makes sense to me.

This is also why I have found such a fondness for S&S, with some aerobic work, and some occasional weighted carries. I feel better, am stronger, and am useful to friends who need help moving...all without ever doing any power lifting.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
Squatting with a bar on your back isn't a movement pattern you can use to pick something up from the ground. Makes perfect sense to deadlift something on the ground in front of you.

-S-
 

Rambro1*

Double-Digit Post Count
Good point. In retrospect, I would even make the observation that my "go to" lifting position for almost everything outside the gym, is a hybrid zercher deadlift/squat. The depth being determined by the object, space to move, handles, etc. I think that is what I meant when I said I occasionally front squat, but didn't identify it as the zercher because I always associate that with the bar in the crooks of the elbows.
 

Steve Freides

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Senior Certified Instructor
I AM NOT saying squatting is bad or useless, by any means. It will definitely get you strong. I just think it isn't used outside the gym as much as deadlifting, pressing something overhead, and carrying weight around. Those are essential movement patterns for survival.
I agree with you completely.

-S-
 

Kyle Schuant

Double-Digit Post Count
Squatting seems less useful to you than deadlifting because,

1. you live in the western world, with chairs everywhere, and
2. you are not old.

If you find yourself getting up and down from floors, or if you are 74 with osteoarthritis in your knees faced with some stairs and getting in and out of armchairs, then you start to understand the usefulness of squatting.
 

Rambro1*

Double-Digit Post Count
Not saying it's not possible, but I've never seen an older or injured person get up off the ground by squatting. I think your examples are still more of an argument for a TGU/lunge pattern, but that doesn't mean I think the squat is useless or less useful. In fact, I'm actually obsessed with improving my squat form. I think squatting is essential for overall health. I think squatting (at least for mobility) should be done daily. I think we should all strive to have the mobility to not only rest in the squat, but to have full range squatting motion for exercise and everyday movement. I also think someone's ability to lunge and/or deadlift is improved by a good squat pattern. That being said, I still believe, based off of a myriad of real world testing and scenarios, that it is less used than the other movements. I will admit that the squat is likely used more by those who have proper motor function, but even then, I think the zercher squat seems to be what happens. I look at the Strongfirst community as a group of strength scientists, and I was only sharing some "lab" results I had. Then again, I have no titles to back it up, and no one has to listen to me. Lol.
 

ali

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Well you've just paraphrased Gray Cook's view of movement: work your deadlift, maintain your squat, so you are onto something!
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I agree wit everything @Rambro1* wrote in his posts above.

Squatting seems less useful to you than deadlifting because,

1. you live in the western world, with chairs everywhere, and
2. you are not old.

If you find yourself getting up and down from floors, or if you are 74 with osteoarthritis in your knees faced with some stairs and getting in and out of armchairs, then you start to understand the usefulness of squatting.
Yes you should be able to rest in the deep squat position instead of using chairs, but there's absolutely no need to load up that movement with any weight.

Nobody ever gets up of the floor by squatting, like Rambro said, you do a TGU-like move (which includes a lunch).

IMO squatting with a heavy load on you back is completely unnatural*.
Like others said, if you happen to be in a situation where you need to squat with a weight (stones, equipment, a body etc.) you do a Zercher/Goblet squat or something resembling Atlas Stone lifting.

*Before anyone says, that e.g. deadlifting is also unnatural, because you'll never pick up a completely balanced thing like a barbell of the floor. That's not what I mean with "unnatural".
The barbell on your back during a squat locks you up in a unnatural body position. It's not that prominent during high bar, but take a look at the body angle or the position of the arms/elbows during low bar squats and then tell me that this looks natural to you...
 
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Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Kyle Schuant no one is arguing against squatting, just saying we're doing ok maintaining a good squat pattern with just our body weight or a light load.

-S-
 
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