Yury Belkin teaches the squat, bench and deadlift



Squat video:

  • bar placement can be either: traps, delts, low on the delts. Yuri says not to do super lowbar as it will destroy your elbows and shoulders
  • says he starts his warmup with 120kg (260lbs), never empty bar
  • wider grip puts pressure on the elbows, so he recommends to grip narrow
  • three step walkout, unrack with both feet squared
  • initiate the squat with the knees, not the hips
  • keep chest high, chin high
  • don’t hyperextend, keep the spine neutral
  • don’t lean too far forward
  • butt wink is due to 2 reasons – lack of flexibility and lack of skill
  • keep torso straight when doing multi-ply
  • says he tried high bar but didn’t work for him. switched back to lowbar and gained 40kg (90lbs) in 2 weeks to his squat.

Bench vid cliffs:

  • Russian Bryce Lewis says he tore his pec and is forced to do close grip bench now. Yuri says no, just need to tweak the technique a bit to shift the load to the triceps without narrowing the grip
  • Yuri says that in contrast to every other bench press guru, he thinks triceps should initiate the press and pecs finish the lift. Because of that, the technique needs to be adjusted in a manner that maximizes the « comfort » of the triceps. Then explains how Russian Bryce tore his pec – stretched the pecs too much at the bottom and then tried to initiate the press with the pecs, which put too much load on the muscle and it couldn’t take it.
  • you should keep elbows close to your body at the start of the lift (45 degrees) and then flare them out a bit to finish the press.
  • says people bench of their toes to increase the arch and simply don’t have enough mobility to go flat foot. says flat foot feels better for him because there’s more contact area and obviously Yuri doesn’t have any issues with mobility
  • says it’s beneficial to grip wider unless you have some imbalances
  • shows how to arch (around 8 min mark). 8:35-9:08 is how he likes to do it
  • says you need to arch your chest, not your lower back
  • pinch your shoulders together
  • says it doesn’t matter if the bar goes straight up and down or travels in the x-axis as well. all that matters is that the bar returns back to its original position
  • how to use leg drive and not lift the butt off the bench? drive towards the bar, not straight up

Deadlift video


  • Use low heel stable shoes
  • We start with the legs, so lock out with the legs first and only then with the back. Do not lock out legs and back at the same time. Also don’t lock out legs too early and fall forward. You should feel this moment.
  • Hips closer to the bar, knees more out.
  • No need to hyperextend during the lockout .
  • Feet width: shins must be vertical in the start position for the best start of the pull. Leg size and flexibility impact it.
    If short legs, stance will be narrow or conventional deadlift should be used.
  • If the bar moves away from the body, don’t pull the bar closer, but move yourself closer to the bar.
  • First couple inches use legs only, then start using torso, then lock out knees, and then lock out back.


  • Heels under hips, outside parts of legs are parallel to each other
  • Grip as close as possible to shoulder width without knees getting in the way
  • Back as vertical as possible in starting position, but not so vertical that will make the bar hits the knees
  • Just like in sumo, legs start the pull, legs lock out first, then back.


  • Mixed grip makes scoliosis worse. He uses straps until one month out, only then starts using mixed grip. The hand with stronger grip is the overhand one.
  • Why does back bends: 1) bad technique 2) weak legs, weak start. This is why without squatting deadlift starts to suffer.
  • Shrug at the top is waste of energy
  • Weak grip leads to using arms more and possibility of bicep injury (plus adding couple inches to ROM). Arms must be relaxed, like ropes.

Max Shank with the Barbell Shrugged

Here’s Max Shank with Mike Bledsoe and Doug Larson from Barbell Shrugged, talking prevention of shoulder injuries, a few key points:

Legs or Back fail in squat


Muscles used in different phase of squat:

  1. In the hole/bottom: quads and glutes
  2. Slightly above parallel: quads
  3. Lockout: hamstring and glutes

Strong Legs vs Weak Back

  • Fast out of hole – sudden sticking point
  • More apparent when knees shift back (eg: comes out of hole, knees shift back, back takes over, but not strong enough, hits a hard sticking point). Cue to fix this: actively push back into the bar with chest (reinforces position of hips under bar)
  • Direct back work – RDL, Good mornings, Back Raises
  • Obvious leverage disadvantages aside, this athlete will have stronger squat compared to conventional deadlift. Athletes who have trained deadlift less may tend to show this symptom.

Strong Back vs Weak Legs

  • Knees shifts back out of the hole, turns the lift into a goodmorning and finish the lift
  • Miss the squat at the bottom (because quads are not strong enough)
  • Direct leg work (address quad without involving back) – belt squat, leg press, hack squat, front squat, high bar. Take caution when doing front squat & high bar squat: avoid letting back take over when coming out of bottom position.
  • 6-8 sets of 8-15 reps of belt squats (2-3x/week depending on athlete)

How should I go about fixing the knee valgus?

Form wise the best way is to utilize a hip circle or band just above the knees. Put steady pressure outward into it both when you squat down and up. Also turn your hips and knees out (like screwing into the floor outward with your feet) as you squat. Try the band.
If it’s an advanced functional valgus you may also need a little support from a sport physiotherapist – even just for a joint assessment etc – just throwing that out there in case it ends up being a continued issue.

Dr. Mike Israetel’s Bodybuilding Notes



  1. It’s easier to gain muscle when you’re lean.
  2. Don’t be too restrictive in your diet – it won’t work. Allow yourself some freedoms so you can stick to it.
  3. Have a healthy relationship with food – don’t rush your goals at this expense. He goes as far to say that, « If you don’t have the healthiest relationship with food, it’s imperative to work on that BEFORE you start a diet. »
  4. Muscles have different ‘MRV’s, or Maximum Recoverable Volume. This is the recommended number of sets you should do for each muscle each week. Knowing how they vary can help you plan your training. For example, in the article, Dr. Israetel says side delts can handle around 25 working sets per week. (I don’t do nearly that much, do you?)
  5. He recommends starting with the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) for growth, progressing up to the MRV, then once progression is no longer sustainable without excessive fatigue, deloading.
  6. The minimum hypertrophy threshold is around 60% of your 1RM. Increasing too far above this level of intensity will cause a disproportionate amount of fatigue (bad, if your only goal is muscle).
  7. Some lifts have limiting factors that need to be brought up for them to improve, such as the Deadlift. Other lifts may have limiting factors, but do not require you to specialize on a specific weak muscle (Bench Press).
  8. Varying your training is important for muscle growth, as your body gets used to the stimulus it’s given. This isn’t on the scale of weeks, but rather several months.
  9. You cannot train all of your muscles to their MRV at once due to the limitations of your body’s overall recovery. He recommends focusing on several muscle groups at once while maintaining others to deal with this.
  10. Going to failure will produce slightly more stimulus, but MUCH more fatigue. Use failure sparingly.
  11. As you progress, you will likely have to reduce your volume / frequency to allow adequate recovery. Just one reason to not blindly follow someone else’s program.
  12. Cardio burns more calories for an equal amount of stress – if weight loss is your only goal, don’t wreck yourself lifting or you won’t be able to recover from cardio. His opinion is that anyone who ignores either cardio or reducing food intake is doing themselves a disservice.
  13. Flat and Incline Barbell Bench are the best for chest hypertrophy. Learn to arch! He recommends 15-25 sets per week, for chest.
  14. Because dumbbells require more stability, they should be used for volume, not intensity.
  15. Compound movements for chest take care of most of your front delt training. Additional work should be only 6-10 sets per week, after your chest training.
  16. Side delts should be hit with variations of upright rows and lateral raises (not for your lats). Your technique is especially critical for your side delts to make sure you hit the muscle directly and reduce injury risk. They recover quickly, so MRV of 20-30 sets per week.
  17. Rear delts are hit mostly through rowing, but if improving your rear delts is a big goal, train them very frequently (like every workout).
  18. Arms -> High frequency. Especially your triceps.
  19. Dr. Israetel says he never does cheat curls, but rather sticks to strict technique. Make sure you’re not just feeding your ego. Do you want to look like you’re lifting a lot, or do you want to look like you lift?
  20. For biceps, somewhere around 15-30 sets is your MRV, bets spread out over many sessions (remember, high frequency).
  21. For triceps, Overhead Triceps Extensions, Skull Crushers, Dips, and Close Grip Bench. MRV of 15-20 sets.
  22. Most of your grip training will be done through your other movements, like pulling. If you choose to train your forearms, though, your MRV is around 10-15 sets a week.
  23. Quads can take 15-25 sets a week. The stronger you are, the lower this will be. He recommends having heavy days and light days, due to how fatiguing quad training can be. Oh and heavy leg extensions suck.
  24. Proper technique and form are crucial. He mentions how he does 445lbs for leg press despite having huge quads. Heavy is for compound movements, not isolation moves. We’ve all heard going lighter and focusing on working the muscle, but how many of us actually do it?
  25. Compounds > Isolation, but isolation moves have their place.
  26. Squat.
  27. Hit hamstrings with both hip extension movements and knee flexion movements. (he says Leg Curls specifically, but those aren’t the only knee flexion movements that will suffice). Hamstrings can take longer to recover than other muscles.
  28. Calf exercises should include a deep stretch to maximize muscle damage. If your calves don’t feel sore, you should train them.
  29. For back exercises, stick to 15 to 30 sets per week, depending on your MRV. Stick to strict form, full ROM, and the basic exercises, like rows and pull ups. Also, be patient. If you want a big back, you gotta train for years.
  30. Most trap training comes from other bodypart training, so MRV for direct trap work is around 10-15 sets. Start from full scapular depression and hold at the top.
  31. For glutes, do glute bridges, lunges, glute-ham raise, sumo squats, sumo deadlifts, glute pull-throughs, and glute machine kickbacks. For compound movements like squats, the lower the better, but for isolation exercises, squeeze at the peak contraction.
  32. Different forms of deadlifting have different effects on your muscle growth. If you aren’t sure what they are, then seriously, read the article. Also, keep frequency low.

I left out a LOT of quality information – these are just a few of the key takeaways from his notes. If you read through my list but haven’t read the article yet, then just trust me, his notes are way better than mine. Dr. Israetel is both highly educated and very experienced. What more can you ask for?

how to write a world class conditioning program in 15 minutes or less

How to Write a World-Class Conditioning Program in 15 Minutes or Less