What is best for you?

Who I am
Robert Maurer


Author and references

They often ask me what is the best alternative for a particular person. "Should I be doing bench presses or parallel pushups?" "Should I do the supine tight grip or the wide prone grip pull-up?" "Should I do the deadlift with straight legs, the normal one or the Romanian one?" "Should I do the presses while sitting or standing?".
In many cases, you don't make a real choice. For example, quite a number of athletes simply perform parallel pushups much better than bench presses. Regardless of their efforts, they find it difficult to bench press. Instead, applying the same dedication, they steadily thrive in parallel pushups. When they add their own body weight to the extra weight they can use in parallel pushups, they get substantially more weight than they can use in the bench press. Unless you're a competitive powerlifter, why insist on the bench press if you can perform a similar exercise much better?
In these situations, the best exercise is the best one for you. What is best for you may not be best for someone else, as it is the product of your individuality. By "best for you" I mean what is safe and with which you can constantly progress in terms of increasing the load always using the perfect form.
Training equipment is an important factor, although I've always felt that equipment shouldn't be a limitation. If you don't have the squat supports and safety bar, or a power rack, the barbell deadlift is a better choice than the barbell squat. However, for many people, the barbell deadlift is more productive than the barbell squat, even without equipment restrictions.
One of the "secrets" to training success is understanding which exercises you perform best and then persevere in them so you can get the most out of them. For most people, confusing and changing exercises doesn't lead to success.
I am often asked what I think about lifting strange objects. Some people manage to lift these objects and progress. But for most average athletes, these kinds of lifts are a recipe for injuries, even when the form is perfect. What works well for one person can be bad for another.
Many people insist on some exercises or training modalities without taking the individualization factor into consideration. The need to tailor a training program to suit individual needs is one of the most important factors behind training success. Never allow someone, no matter how big, strong, and persuasive they may be, push you to do something that you know isn't right for you.
However, make no excuses for not doing a great exercise that you can safely perform but prefer to avoid just because it is challenging when performed intensely. If, for example, you can squat safely and progressively, then you should continue to squat if you want to take advantage of the opportunity to maximize your progress. If, on the other hand, you can't squat safely and progressively, forget that exercise and focus on the barbell deadlift instead. The latter is a great exercise.
If you can make similar gains with two or more equivalent and equally safe exercises, then you have a choice. Otherwise, just go ahead with what's best for you.


Brawn (Stuart Mcrobert)

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