The Two-Exercise Workout Plan for Size - Revisited

Coach Thib, you wrote an excellent article two years ago on determining the two best exercises to build size in the whole body. Zercher Squat and Bench Press won!

I want to propose another combination that would achieve the same task allowing one to build size and strength throughout the entire body.

  1. Snatch-Grip Deadlift on Podium
  2. Planche Push-up Progressions on Rings

The forum is familiar with the Snatch DL on Podium and no doubt, it will hammer the quads, hamstrings, glutes, entire back and forearms (if done without straps).

The Planche Push-up however is able to fill in the gaps the deadlift misses. The rings provide a greater range of motion and instability component that does wonders for the chest, serratus, shoulders, triceps and biceps.

Gymnasts have the biggest biceps pound for pound and it’s not from a single curl but all their straight-arm strength. When you do ring push-ups correctly, at the top of every rep you turn the rings out supinating the palms, locking the elbows and protracting the scapula. To protect the elbows, the biceps develop rapidly. I personally noticed better arm development from this compound exercise than years of chinning.

To progress, you simply lean further forward where your hands are closer to your hips. Eventually you can progress to tuck planche push-ups on the rings when your feet start feeling light on the leaned-forward ring push-ups.

I’m running an experiment with these two exercises for 2020 and will report back a year from now to log my strength improvements, body comp changes and potential carryover strength to other lifts and exercises.

I did something similar in philosophy years back. I focused on hard bodyweight exercises (like ring dips, handstand push ups, pistol squats, ring push ups, ring pull ups, hill sprints) and the only barbell work I did was heavy pulling (high pulls, shrugs, deadlifts) once a week. It was probably the best I ever looked, and I keep thinking I should return to it but have done more 531-style lifting the last several years. Let us know how it goes.

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Heavy pulling perfectly covers what bodyweight misses which is strengthening the hip extensors. You can build better upper body strength IMO with advanced bodyweight exercises as well strong legs with exercises like shrimp squats and Nordic curls but the posterior chain will still be weak if you don’t supplement with weights.