Why The Big 3 Exercises Are Essential To Bodybuilding

They’re in everyone’s top list of workouts for a reason.

We all know the big 3 workouts in bodybuilding and weight lifting. And if for some crazy reason you haven’t – let us quickly break it down for you. First and most popular is the bench press, a staple of weight lifting. Squats come in a close second (though on average is considered the best workout to perform for massive muscle growth). Finally, third is the deadlift, another of the classic three lifts that can be found in powerlifting alongside bodybuilding.

But why are these three so believed among bodybuilders and other competitive athletes? How did these three topple above every other exercise in the bodybuilding arsenal? Generation Iron takes a closer look at why these three top contenders and breaks down why they are essential to every bodybuilding workout. Let’s get to it.


It’s proven that these workouts are great at the release and build up of testosterone throughout the body. The anabolic state you go through while performing the big 3 proves to build a massive amount of muscle. This makes these workouts a no brainer to those looking to perform at a high level in any sporting event.


There’s no questioning it. These three workouts are the cream of the crop for a reason. Each one works more than one muscle group, and when combined, prove to be a recipe for a total body workout. The simplicity of the workouts make it accessible to any athlete looking to pack on size and strength. Forget complicated movements or encumbering machines. These workouts are simple and effective. If you never end up adding anything new to your routine, these three workouts will have you covered.


Let’s face it, if you’re looking to make big strides in any sporting endeavor, particularly those that require physical exertion, then you’re gonna need functional strength. The big 3 are great lifts to build not only a massive amount of muscle but huge strength as well. The squat and the deadlift specifically are perfect for building your core strength. And when you build the core – it attributes strength to the rest of your body. Can this make you ripped all over with just these exercises? Of course not, but they are the essential building blocks to the rest of your strength training.

Muscle Mass from Compound Movements

These big three are intense compound movements. And compound movements are essential for building up some serious mass. It really builds up the testosterone (which we already mentioned earlier) but more importantly workout a large group of muscles. This is necessary to gain true mass – the kind of mass that competitive bodybuilders need in order to stand out on the stage.


The truth of the matter is that you should have the big 3 in your training program for one reason above all else: their track record. After so many years of being used by multiple athletes for great gains, it’s pretty damn obvious that these workouts are all tried and true. You can’t fight facts, and if anything these workouts have been proven to give an athlete all they need.

Which of the big 3 are you a fan of? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.