alexander cortes art of charm

The New Big 3 Lifts for Strength | Art of Health with Alexander Juan Cortes

Key Takeaways

  • Traditional strength standards (bench press, back squat, deadlift) are too specialized and don’t accurately translate to ability in dynamic movements
  • New suggestion for strength standards based on Michael Medici’s theories: overhead press, front squat, deadlift


Host:  Alexander Juan Cortes (@AJA_Cortes)

Alexander Juan Cortes (AKA AJAC) discusses his views on the big three lifts and setting new strength standards, inspired by Michael Medici (@MikeRMedici)

Traditional Strength Standards and Application to Athleticism

  • Traditional strength standards are relative to the big 3 lifts: bench press (1.5x bodyweight), back squat (2x bodyweight), and deadlift (2x bodyweight)
  • For elite level: 2x bodyweight bench press, 3x bodyweight back squat and deadlift
  • Specific adaptations that develop while big 3 training don’t necessarily translate to greater athletic competitiveness and improved dynamic movements
    • Flat bench really just makes you better at bench press and doesn’t have any practical athletic application
      • Incline bench is better because it is more similar to an overhead press, requiring more shoulder activation and muscle recruitment
    • Strength in back squat can cause some stiffness and ultimately slow you down during athletic activity
    • The deadlift is the exception and best course of action for everyone

New Strength Standards

  • Michael Medici suggests new strength standards: overhead press, front squat, deadlift
  • You can sub these lifts for the traditional movements in other programming and have great results

Overhead Press (1x bodyweight)

  • “Preeminent assessment of upper body power is how much weight you can lift overhead” – AJAC
  • Requires full body integration of core back muscles, builds immense functional strength

Front Squat (1.5x bodyweight)

  • Elite level 2x – 2.5x bodyweight
  • Because bar is loaded on the front of the body, it taxes and stresses muscles that are more contextual to movements that generate power (e.g., jumping, explosiveness)
  • Hip strength, knee strength, and core power needed to handle load and complete movement will improve athleticism more than back squat

Deadlift (2x bodyweight)

  • “At 2x bodyweight you’ll be strong enough for any sport and requisite level of muscle mass and physique” – AJAC
  • Deadlift with a barbell applies to almost any athletic activity without negativity affecting explosiveness, gait, running, throwing, sprinting, etc.

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Notes By Maryann

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