It seems that various crowds have their own "king of lifts"...
- The "average gym rat" puts the bench press on a pedestal
- Powerlifters quite often puts the squat on top of the mountain
- Strongman competitors puts the deadlift as the no.1 foundation movement
- Strength coaches working with football players are in love with the power clean
- Crossfit athletes have a crush on the snatch
I'll be 100% honest here... to build a monster, you can't go wrong with a bench press, deadlift, squat, clean and snatch... these are all super exercises that diserve to be on top of anyone's list (I would personally put the snatch grip high pull in there too).
But there is one lift that stands above all else when it comes to building the beast: The power clean & push press.
To put it simply this is an exercise that involved all the muscles in the body. And it requires both power and limit strength (the power clean requiring more explosiveness and the push press more strength). It also requires coordination and balance.
If someone can clean and press overhead big weigths he cannot help but be a monster.
Now, I'm not talking about a (squat) clean & jerk. While this is a great lift, it is more based on technique and explosiveness than strength (you do need leg and back squat, but not as much upper body strength).
And the power clean & push press is much simpler to learn than the clean & jerk. Investing in learning that exercise is a sure way to take your physique to new heights in your quest for the power look.