Dan Hughes


By Dan Hughes

Ever felt confused by which exercises to do in the gym……?! Master Trainer Dan Hughes talks you through our three key exercises that we recommend you all get in to your strength program whoever you are.



The Big 3

Remember the very first time you hit the gym to try to get in better shape…?

No doubt, within the first five minutes, you made a beeline for the bench press—a station that calls out to newbies with the promise of a defined chest and powerful arms.

Then, after looking around the gym at more experienced gym goers, you decided to have a go at the infamous squat. Yes, it was a little tough, and you weren’t able to add much weight (not yet anyway) but at least it was a move that seemed straightforward enough and rewarded you with fatigue.

Finally, you moved on to the deadlift, an exercise that’s tough on the back…but one that left you with a satisfying feeling of muscle fatigue the next day.

Although that’s where most of us tend to start, as we become more experienced and better acquainted with the gym, there’s a tendency to shift away from the basic compound movements in favour of more complicated, muscle group-specific moves. However, there are a few good reasons to take a step back and revisit these classic exercises: If you base your workout routine around these core compound exercises, eat clean and throw some cardio in the mix, you’ll be rewarded with higher testosterone levels (all normal ladies), a fired-up metabolism inducing a longer lasting after burn effect and muscular hypertrophy/ strength.

These core compound movements should generally be a part of most workout programmes, due to the biomechanical nature and multiple muscle group approach of these exercises.

They allow you to build a strong core, fully activate the posterior chain (with correct form) and as mentioned increase testosterone levels- in turn aiding muscular adaptations and giving you psychological edge to train harder.

To get going, start with some basics…

  • Get the form right; these exercise can put a lot of pressure on the lower back and joints so it’s vital you know what you doing before you add load.
  • Watch yourself in the mirror to ensure the form and posture is correct.
  • Get a personal trainer to check you form and inform you of any areas of improvement or injury inducing mistakes.
  • Firstly practice with minimal weight (just the bar for bench press and deadlift) bodyweight for the squat.
  • Once the form is correct begin to add load and keep it simple; basic sets – 3 sets of 12 repetitions. This will allow the body to become acclimatised to the movement with load.
  • Keep it nice and slow (2 seconds down and 2 seconds up) and no jerky movements.

Once these basics are nailed you can then explore the weird and wonderful world of modifications and adaptations of the core exercise and I warn you- it does get weird.

Finally, DON’T BE A HERO………….. use a spotter, trust me you’ll hurt more than your ego if you get stuck under the load.