T Nation

Only Three Exercises

This is just for fun/theoretical discussion.

In a hypothetical situation in which you can only do three exercises for the rest of your life, which three would you choose?

Mine would definitely be:
Barbell Back Squat
Barbell Incline Press
Pull Ups (Neutral Grip if I had to choose)

What would be the effects of training like this? Would it be beneficial? Detrimental?

Personally I think it would be beneficial, especially for strength gain. I’ve always been a fan of minimalism. My thought is that the more basic it is, that faster you can progress it.

If I were to set up a training routine, I would probably train 3 days a week, and give each exercise its own day.

On squat day I would work up to a heavy set of 3-5, then maybe do a widow-maker, then do more high rep sets(5-10 sets of 8-12 reps)

On pull up day I would do 10x10 or aim to get 200 spread out through the workout.

On incline bench day I would work up to a heavy set of 3-5,then do 5-10 sets of 8-12 reps.

Would it work? Who knows. It’d be easy enough to switch up.

What three exercises would you choose?

mine are the same as yours except I’d switch out back squats for front squats. I think front squats are superior to back squats in every way.

Power snatch gets an honourable mention though. I love power snatches although I don’t do them that often.

i agree with your choices except i would replace the squats with box squats for high reps. i do either 3 x12 or 1x20, really works my legs but i dont need to pass out after

I’d do Pullups with a variety of grips which covers Lats, upper back, elbow flexors and core.
Dumbbell Low Incline Bench Press hits chest, front deltoids, triceps and is relatively safe of shoulder impingement issues.
Back Squats for the quads and going deep on these will also work the glutes and hamstrings so they aren’t totally neglected. They’ll also give the lower back and erectors some work.

Doing this could possibly work ok but shoulders will most likely be lagging so I’d probably cheat and add some Dumbbell Lateral Raises lol.

Here are my 3:

Snatch-Grip Deadlift: One of the best mass-building exercise out there. Hits legs hard and also back.

Pull-Ups: Hits the back, rear delts and biceps. Having 2 exercises that hit your back can’t hurt, as one should always aim to have a well developed posterior chain more so than the anterior chain.

Shallow Incline Bench: Hits the upper body muscles which the pull-up doesn’t: The chest, front delts and tri’s.

The lateral deltoids get left out here, but given that you only have 3 exercises to chose from, it’s hard to hit every single muscle. An overhead pressing movement could be used instead of the incline bench, so that your anterior and lateral deltoids get more direct work, but then you’d have no chest work.

Anyone else think of a better combo to hit the entire body? I’d like to hear other suggestions!

Bench is by far my favorite lift, but if I could only do 3 moves it’d be-
ATG squats
Pushups against bands (or with a weight vest with limitless capacity)
Pullups of all grips

Been doing a ton of pushups lately combined with heavy bench and db work and my shoulder problems are going away. It’s not a coincidence.

I like OP’s exercise selection in terms of trying to hit every muscle group to some degree. As far as programming, I would probably do 3 days a week.

Day 1) “Strength”
Squat - 5x5
Incline - 5x5
pull up - 5x5 (weight belt)

Day 2) Rest

Day 3) “Technique”
Squat - 8x3 (explosive)
Incline - 8x3 (explosive)
Pull up - bodyweight for a few sets (not to failure)

Day 4) Rest

Day5) “Hypertrophy”
Squat - 4x10-12
Incline - 4x10-12
pull up - 4x10-12

Days 6,7) Rest

[quote]ChristNhero wrote:
Here are my 3:

Snatch-Grip Deadlift: One of the best mass-building exercise out there. Hits legs hard and also back.

Pull-Ups: Hits the back, rear delts and biceps. Having 2 exercises that hit your back can’t hurt, as one should always aim to have a well developed posterior chain more so than the anterior chain.

Shallow Incline Bench: Hits the upper body muscles which the pull-up doesn’t: The chest, front delts and tri’s.

The lateral deltoids get left out here, but given that you only have 3 exercises to chose from, it’s hard to hit every single muscle. An overhead pressing movement could be used instead of the incline bench, so that your anterior and lateral deltoids get more direct work, but then you’d have no chest work.

Anyone else think of a better combo to hit the entire body? I’d like to hear other suggestions![/quote]
Snatch grip deadlifts FTW

You might change out incline press for dips. Or you could replace it with military press and just deliberately bend back so its like a standing incline press. You could also do pushups secretly so no one knows you’re doing 4 exercises…

Dead squat.
Olympic Snatch.
Bench Press.

Ya, I feel good about that.

1/ incline bench, dumbells (chest,front delts,tris),doing it standard way and with dbs close to the body and pausing on the chest (more tris)

2/dbs rows,reverse(lats,spinal erectors,upper back),doing it also pulling dbs to the chest (traps,rear delts)

3/dbs squat (quads),doing it also boxed (ass&hammies).

written this, my body will be unbalanced because shoulders&arms are under-trained :slight_smile:

#1 would be push a sled/prowler

Everyone’s answer wasn’t squat, bench, and deadlift. Does not compute.

Push Jerks
Power Cleans
Power Snatches

If I am not feeling it on a clean or snatch day I’ll just do high pulls. My chest sucks but my push jerk has resulted in a decent bench press number-wise. Sometimes I’ll do accessory work like abs, glute bridges, and curls, but mostly as a low intensity cool down.

Trapbar Deadlifts
I feel it is a great hybrid of the squat and the deadlift especially depending on how you position your hips. Develops lower and posterior chain mass and power.

Yoke Walk
I feel that is an incredible exercise and you can do it as a part of conditioning going light and fast, max distance, or load it super heavy and go for a weight PR for a good distance (50ft). If you have never done a yoke walk you don’t understand how it loads your entire body and the core stability required is insane.

Moderate Grip Incline Press or BB Push Press
This is a toss up, I could chose either one and be happy with my decision. I feel that these are both great for overall upper body mass specifically the triceps and delts which give that great power look.

Dead-Squat Deadlifts standing on a 20kg plate, upright (squat) position… total lower body development, good for back/traps/forearms, very intense quad stimulation.

Incline Bench Press from Pins 1-2inches off chest, 30degree angle… total pushing development, good angle for front delt/chest growth, pin’s good fro triceps.

Snatch Grip High Pulls… total body explosiveness, supreme mid back/ delt development, core stability, TRAPS TRAPS TRAPS.

How would I said it up? I think CT’s Layer system is a good approach! focusing on quality performance on the basic movements.

If i was allowed an accessory movement, it would be BB Curls -egotistically satisfying, and helps with pulls/deadlifts

  1. Dumbbell clean and press
  2. Squat
  3. Row

snatch grip high pulls
deadlift
bench

just missed the cut: pullups, military press, squat

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

  • Deadlift (lower body/near-total body strength)

  • Dumbbell lunge (lower body hypertrophy without the increased balance issue of Bulgarian split squats)

  • And, yes, dumbbell clean and press (the duct tape of exercises. So many uses.)

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
mine are the same as yours except I’d switch out back squats for front squats. I think front squats are superior to back squats in every way.

Power snatch gets an honourable mention though. I love power snatches although I don’t do them that often.[/quote]

You consider power snatches to be in your top 4 lifts, and yet you don’t perform them often? Weird.