Lift Strong - Three Exercises from Powerlifting Best

Some of us have this problem when it comes to gym. You have a goal in mind, a picture of how you strong or how transformed you want to be but once you reach the gym, you feel like you are on a crossroad between the assemblage of assisted machines and the free weights.

Not to say using assisted machines are bad at all, but you just feel restricted by how routine it is if you frequent the gym, and you just want something new and little bit more thrilling. If you feel like you've been using the machines for too long, you are reading the right post!

If you ever feel intimidated by how people at the free weights are carrying heavier than you, know that they too started just like you!

But, where do you begin?

I am glad to be able to meet EPN's sponsored athlete, national powerlifter Derrick Kim to share with all of you and myself the three major free weight exercises that could help you gain a foothold in the free weights department!

Believing that sports nutrition play an important role for best performance, Derrick lives by Betancourt's BCAA for endurance and recovery, and B-Nox Androrush for pre-training boost and sustainability throughout workout session. Sports nutrition is instrumental in aiding recovery process he says!

This message is brought to you by Elite Pro Nutrition (EPN), one-stop sports nutrition portal for the bona fide fitness enthusiasts. Get yours with EPN today! You can get yours here and use discount code ZY 10 for 10% discount on all non-promotional items!

The Deadlift
Let's talk about the most feared exercise for new lifters for a start - the deadlift! The sentiment is mutual! With Derrick, I had some of my doubts answered and it has got nothing to do with to do with injury from deadlifts. We will get to that!

Firstly, you have to set up the deadlift (obviously!), you will need some space and plates that suits your strength. It is always essential that you warm up using the empty bar or light weight to familiarize your body with a particular exercise. Same goes for other exercises!

Once you have warmed up and set up, ensure that your legs are shoulder width apart from the middle of the bar. It is key to be balanced to avoid being lopsided in your sets!

Subsequently, you will have to ensure that throughout your sets, you back is straightened and your head is aligned with it. Even in your starting position, your top body has to stay in that form. For reference, you can always get a smaller bar as a ruler or your supporter could keep a lookout of your form. Or if you have a really long ruler, that would be so ridiculously helpful!

Heavy lifters sometimes wear the lifting belt for the same reason so as to prevent lower back injury and it is not a wrestling belt! Although some of you wish it comes with gold plated Hermes buckle. ;)

As your knees bend to reach the bar and at the same time maintaining the straight upper body position, you need to ensure that your hips do not go too low because for one, this is not squat exercise, and two this will pose problems as you lift heavier weights.

Only with the right position you get to engage the muscle that brings your shoulder blades above the bar. To make this digestible, you should be forming an inverted equilateral triangle with you thigh, arms and oblique. That's how your starting position should be!

The starting position of the bar should be as close to your shin, and have both grips over the bar. For better stability, have your master hand do the underhand grip as shown below. Once you have gripped the bar while being that ideal position, take a deep breath in and pull it up!

Once you are in the position below, you may exhale a little bit but not fully to give yourself some allowance. Put it down, and repeat from the top!

Question, do we put it down really gently or abruptly? I was a little bit conflicted about this because I have been to many gyms and one gym doesn't allow you to throw the weights down, while some other gym seems to be a-okay about it. So, it's only wise to ask the head of the gym himself!

With regards to deadlifts, there is no qualm in putting it down abruptly simply because the muscles that we are exercising is only activated during the pick up motion. Hence, upon being in the final position, it does not really matter if you let go of the bar, but think!

It would be rude to the next user if you are going to break any of the plates, you will probably have to pay for it too. It would be disturbing to other users who will be hearing banging sound each time you finish your reps, and probably the neighbouring tenants of the gym too. More imperatively, the plates could injure people nearby! Unless you are very sure you are in a safe place and pay for your own disc weights, it is best that you do not release it abruptly!

As the saying goes, you got to respect the equipment!

This message is brought to you by Elite Pro Nutrition (EPN), one-stop sports nutrition portal for the bona fide fitness enthusiasts. Get yours with EPN today! You can get yours here and use discount code ZY 10 for 10% discount on all non-promotional items!

The Squats
Let's move on to squats! Squats is often left out in the list of things to do in gym simply because even in strength or aesthetics, we tend to be concerned more about our upper body. Bigger arms, bigger chest, or a more defined abs. Little did we know that squats is vital to strengthen your leg muscles. Your leg muscles do not only sustain your body weight, but also the weights you are carrying. Only with stronger legs, you could carry heavier load! As Derrick put it, you are as strong as your weakest muscle.

So here's the right way to do squats! You could place the bar on the rack accordingly to your height. Again, you could warm up with an empty bar or light weight.

As you move back towards the bar, ensure that that bar is able to rest on the middle part of your trapezius like the above. Stand in a stable position with your legs about shoulder width apart (could be wider). Once ready, you can start squatting into the position below.

How low should you squat? Any lower than the above you will have trouble recovering into your starting position! It is not considered as a good squat or at least that's what the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) says! For best squatting experience, the crease of your hips should be aligned with the top of your knees.

Something came across my mind then. Doing squats with the bar out of sight is a little bit like lifting with your eyes closed. Especially for starters, the last thing you want to happen is to struggle with the weights behind you like a circus performer trying to balance the bar and look foolish! So you bring a friend as a support, but how do you do that?

You supporter could stand behind you, going through the same motion as you. If your supporter is of the same gender, we won't have much of a problem supporting from the chest. If you are a girl, you will have to be supported from the shoulder. Ideally, the lifter should not abruptly release the bar unless you really, really hate the person supporting you!

Being a supporter is not easy which is why you need someone you can trust to support you in the gym.

The Overhead Press
Finally, not forgetting the upper body, the overhead press! The overhead press is good for your deltoids, and overall upper body strength.

In overhead press, grab the bar with a grip wide enough outside your shoulders with your palms facing up as seen above. Just so that if you lose grip, it doesn't straight away fall onto your head. Position it close to your collar bone and stand straight as you lock your hips. Your legs should be wide enough for balance.

Then, as you push the bar up, squeeze your glutes for best stability. Your legs should not be moving - if it is, it is a clear indication you are not in a stable position!

As you have stretched your arms up fully, you are almost there! As seen below, ensure that the bar goes a little bit behind your head to activate fully the muscles you are achieving to work on. Otherwise, you will not get the full effect of doing the overhead press.

If you are the supporter, support the lifter from his or her elbow. If you are a lifter in distress, do not let go of the bar!

Hopefully these pointers become great takeaway as much as it did for me. After a hard workout, remember that taking the right supplement is essential for optimum performance!

By the way, Anytime Fitness at Nex Mall is so huge! The gym is powerlifting friendly, and to date has the most number of powerlifting racks amongst the rest. Amazing! Got the feel of using the already-heavy yoke bar but mind you that thing is so comfortable on the shoulders!

This message is brought to you by Elite Pro Nutrition (EPN), one-stop sports nutrition portal for the bona fide fitness enthusiasts. Get yours with EPN today! You can get yours here and use discount code ZY 10 for 10% discount on all non-promotional items!

Thank you Derrick for such insightful guidance. You can follow him on Instagram at @derrick__kim. See you!