This is something we get messaged a bit, how to add ‘beach’ work to a strength program that won’t diminish your lifting. We’ve also chosen exercises that we think ‘even’ you out.
We border on being naggy about this, but tight pecs makes squatting hard. Building pec muscle helps off the bottom of a bench and having the biggest pecs possible actually shortens the effective range, making your comp bench better.
There is zero need to do these heavy. We recommend 8-30 reps, 4 or 5 sets and really trying to hug a tree, and maintaining tension on the pecs. Making this into a kinda parallel dumbbell press does nothing.
For many years, I opened squat day with flys. Its mentally easy to do, gets some blood in the body, opened up the pecs and shoulders and was more ‘fun’ than starting squats all tight. Takes 15 minutes and helps in many ways.
Arny below from Pumping Iron, best clip ever.
Bigger real delts = bigger shelf for low bars. It will also help your shoulders long term as your front delt is getting mega work during bench days.
No need to go heavy. Huge tip, film it from the side, and make sure you are going out with a arm close to 90’ from your body, lots of people are at like 45’ and not working the rear delt properly.
Again, no need for huge weights. 8-30 reps, and consider doing these tempo (2 seconds up and down) until you fail, then going to normal reps. This is how we got the most from this exercise.
We would add these at the end of bench day.
Curls are actually very important. Your elbows get so smashed (especially if you place lots of load on them with tight shoulders doing low bar).
Just getting some blood in, and moving the joint helps with the constant grind of powerlifting. Barbell or dumbbell, whichever you prefer
Much like above with flys, I would do these first on deadlift day. Takes 15 minutes, its fun and gets you warmed up. We would go a little heavier on these, maybe 6-12 reps, and on the last set have a small amount of body English. 4 or 5 sets. The best deadlifts I’ve ever done after this type of first exercise.
Pulldowns are obviously easier than chins, and we prefer them if available, simply to get reps and really pause with the bar about a inch over your nipples.
That down and back position is incredibly important for bench and squats. We recommend going on the lighter side, so at least the first 8 you can hold that locked position for 1 second, after that, just do a pause, after that, just bang out reps. 12-30 reps, 4 or 5 sets.
We do these as last exercise on deadlift day. If you don’t have access to a lat pulldown, dodge one up with cables at home or use banded chins.
Poor dorsiflexion kills squats and you will be surprised how activated your calves are in deads/squats.
Its also does look a little odd to have huge quads and tiny calves. Luckily, they just require volume and persistence, not a lot of heavy CNS draining work.
We prefer one legged, just for reps, holding a dumbbell to make your self a little heavier. Again, we recommend tempo on these (2 secs up and 2 secs down). Just add these on days you are waiting for your training partner, for your coffee to kick in or waiting for a squat rack. 2 or 3 times a week, 2 or 3 sets of 20-50 is perfect.