Bench Press: Floor, Bands, and Chains
The Floor Press - Strengthen the Midpoint of Your Bench Press
By Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
There are 3 basic types of floor presses.
1) Dumbbell Floor Press
Benching pressing with dumbbells but the lifter should be lying on the floor rather than on a bench while pressing the dumbbells) To perform this movement, lay on the floor, have a partner hand you two dumbbells, then bring the dumbbells down until your elbows hit the floor and then press the dumbbells to lockout.
2) Barbell Floor Press
Defintition from t-nation.com. This is one of the classic max effort movements that's stood the test of time. The floor press is performed by setting the hooks or supports up in a power rack so you can bench press while lying on the floor. Get under the bar with your shoulder blades together and shrugged into your traps. Tuck the elbows and unrack the weight. Lower the weight until your triceps hit the floor. Pause for a split second, then press the weight back up in a straight line. This movement can be done several ways. The first is with straight weight. Just warm up using three to five reps in an ascending pattern until you reach your one rep max. The second way would be to work up to 60% of your best bench press. When you reach this weight, you'll begin adding one 20-pound chain on each side of the bar with each additional set until you max out. For developing strength off your chest, using straight weight would be the best bet because it'll teach you to press out of the bottom with maximal weights.
3)Skull Crusher On The Floor
This is exactly like doing a tricep extension lying on the bench, but this time the bench presser should be doing tricep extensions on the floor. The lifter should extend the weight back so far that the weight touches the floor, and then bring the weight back to lockout. This will help the bencher increase tricep strength and explosiveness.
There are two different ways to floor press.
FLOOR PRESS STYLE 1: Floor pressing with your legs straight.
When you floor press with your legs straight in front of you, you will be able to floor press WAY LESS weight than what you would be able to bench press. On the bench press you are using other muscles such as your legs for drive and there are so many ways to cheat. However, when you floor press with your legs straight in front of you, there is no way to cheat! Therefore, you will discover your real upper body power without all of your other muscle groups and technique playing a role! When you floor press with your legs straight you will be able to attain additional power, which the flat bench press alone cannot provide.
FLOOR PRESS STYLE 2: The floor press with an arched back.
The second style of floor pressing is lying on floor with your knees bent instead of straight! This is the way that you will probably see most benchers floor pressing. By keeping your knees bent, the floor press then becomes more like a "decline bench press," depending on how much the bencher arches.
I suggest that sometimes you floor press with your legs up and other times with your legs straight. Mostly with your legs straight though to get the most out of this exercise.
How Does A Floor Press Help Your Bench?
According to Dave Tate; "Floor Press: This is a special max effort exercise designed to help strengthen the midpoint of the bench press. It is also very effective in increasing tricep strength. This exercise is performed exactly the same as the bench press except you lay on the ground instead of on a bench. Make sure to pause in the bottom of the movement before the accent. This exercise has been used with much success at westside barbell club for the past seven years."
Floor Press Tips
Chains and bands can be applied to the floor press. One of the scenes I remember most in Ryan Kennelly's DVD is when he is floor pressing lying flat on his back, legs out in front, with a narrow grip, with tons of bands as he seems to push the weight in slow motion to lockout!
Floor Press Rep Ranges
On the floor press I always enjoy doing 315 or 365 for sets of 10! However, high reps on the floor press are really "no man's land." When I go in the low 400- mid 400s for low reps, and soon to floor press 500lbs, I find it to be a far more effective way to gain maximum strength then just doing marathon sets with lighter weights. I suggest all of you do low reps on the floor press.
History Of The Floor Press
The floor press started before the bench press! The bench press was invented during the mid 19th century, but before the bench press was even invented lifters would lie on the floor and floor press. As the bench press started becoming popular lifters started to forget about the floor press and started bench pressing instead. However, within the last decade former bench press world record holder Jesse Kellum (who bench pressed 735@209 back when gear wasn't as effective as it is now,) re-invented the floor press and the exercise became popular again. He quickly discovered how much that the lift was helping him increase his bench press. Bodybuilders have also been using the floor press to help them build size.
Who Has The Strongest Upper Body In The World?
There is really no lift that is as good as measuring brute strength as the floor press because there is no way to cheat. If you took a lot of the world record bench pressers that you read about and if you took their shirts away, and the fancy techniques that they use on the bench press, and made them lie flat on their back with a narrow grip and made them floor press, you will see that their lifts would go down significantly. The most anyone has ever floor pressed that I have heard about was 675 by Dave Waterman, and many old school powerlifters find that Waterman's 675lbs floor press feat of strength has been one of the sickest upper body feat of strength of all time!
Other strength training experts also love the floor press. If you read Pavel's book power to the people, the only 3 exercises you need to get downright strong are the deadlift, push press, and the floor press. The floor press has been one of the foundation movements of benching and not only has the floor press been here longer than the bench press, I believe once the bench press is extinct, the floor press will still be around.
So, whether you are burned out with benching and prefer floor pressing instead, then the floor press might be a good substitute. Yet, if you want a bigger bench press, then the floor press will be your favorite assistance exercise to get that bigger bench press. The bottom line is that the floor press is an excellent lift! So, give floor presses a try today to maximize your upper body strength and spice excitement into your upper body training!
Powerlifting Bands - Bench Press Bands
"Train Explosively and Work On Your Lockouts With Powerlifing Bench Press Bands"
Why You Should Train With Bench Press Bands
Powerlifting bands provide one way to incorporate what's often called the contrast method into your program, which means the weight changes at different points of the lift.
In the case of bands, the weight constantly increases throughout the concentric movement, sometimes called 'accommodating resistance.' Bands make the eccentric portion of the lift considerably harder as well, and are great tools for learning speed and acceleration, maybe through a sticking point in your lift, or just to increase your starting strength or lockout ability.
Bands are extremely useful for powerlifting competitors who use bench shirts, since the lockout is then the hardest part of the lift, and bands increase the ability to lockout.
How To Incorporate Bench Press Bands In Your Bench Press Training
Some powerlifters train their chest once per week, and others train the chest twice per week. If you train your chest twice a week you will use the bands during your light training day of the week. If you lift chest once a week, use the bands on a session that would have been reserved for a light day.
On the day you train with the Powerlifting Bands you want to concentrate on explosive movements with aprox. 55-65% of your one rep max weight. Your goal is to concentrate on the speed of movement to build explosiveness.
We recommend that you set yourself up in a half rack or full cage with adjustable pins or bar supports. Set up like you would normally for the bench press and position the pins at the lowest position.
Although many powerlifters use bands for their speed days, many university athletic teams have used the bands to train with 87-88% of the athelete's one rep max with extraordinary results.
During your reps you will feel like the weight is both light and heavy at the same time, but it will occur at different points in the lift. You must focus on giving each rep an explosive, very intense push from start all the way to the finish. The bands will help you with the explosion from your chest as well as aide in the lockout segment of the bench press. The lockout is the weak point for many benchers and we all know we need to work on our weak points to make gains.
Do 10 sets of 3 reps with 60 to 90 seconds ret between.
Using Bench Press Bands - By: Louie Simmons
Powerlifting Bands and Chains
There are many keys to success, but two invaluable ones are accelerating strength training and accommodating resistance by add-ing chains or bands or sometimes both.
Chains and bands are used in all of our training, be it the dynamic method for speed strength and acceleration or the maximum effort day to develop absolute strength.
In the bench press, bands and chains have helped 17 of our lifters achieve 550 or more and 7 lifters have done 600 or more. When I talk about bench training, I am referring to my lifters with a 550 bench or better; that's who we experiment with.
On speed day for the bench, while doing the 8-10 sets of 3 reps, the chains are attached in the following manner. Loop a 1/4-inch-link chain with a hook around the bar sleeve to regulate the height of the 5/8-inch-link chain (5 feet long). Run the 5/8 chain through the metal loop and adjust it so that half of the 5/8 chain is lying on the floor while the bars in the rack. Use 60% of a no-shirt max on the bar. For example, if your max is 500, put 300 pounds on the bar. When the bar is on your chest, only the weight of the bar should be on your chest; that is, all the 5/8 chain should be on the floor.
If your best bench is 250 pounds or less, use one pair of 1/2-inch-link chains; these weigh 23 pounds a set, so you are locking out an extra 11.5 pounds. A 350 or more bencher should use one pair of 5/ 8-inch-link chain. By doing this, you will be locking out an extra 20 pounds. (They weigh 20 pounds each, but half is on the floor at lockout.) A 500 pound bencher can use both the 5/8 and 1/2 inch chains for a combined added weight of 31 pounds. A 600 bencher uses two 5/8 chains and sometimes adds a 1/2 inch chain, for 40 or 51 added pounds at lock-out.
You can experiment on your own, but remember this process is to build bar speed and acceleration. It also teaches you to launch the bar off your chest. A special note: Lower the bar fast and try to catch and reverse the weight as fast as possible. Never pause.
On max effort day, warm up to 315, then do a single. Next, add a 5/8 inch chain on each side and do a single. On the next set, use two sets of chain, then three sets, and so forth. This is similar to how a bench shirt works: the weight is less at the bottom and much greater at the top. The chains build not only acceleration but also a fast start and a strong lock-out.
For floor pressing, simply drape the 5/8 inch chain over the sleeve of the bar and you're ready. J.M. Blakley and George Halbert do a lot of floor presses like this. George will use 200 pounds of chain (5 sets of chain) and works up to a single. His best at a bodyweight of 220 is 440 plus 200 pounds of chain, which is 640 at the top.
J.M. uses a different combination of weight and chains. ,J.M.s best is 400 pounds on the bar with 7 sets of chains, for a combined weight of 680 at lockout. Try any weight-to-chain ratio. Feel free to experiment. A cambered bar can be used as well.
These are a few methods to add to your max effort day.
Bands are a little tough for some on speed day because of the added eccentric properties they create. Also the weight resistance is much more radical at different positions: much less at the bottom, but much greater at the top. Remember, the bands are literally pulling down on you.
There are three bands with different strengths: pink is the least strong, for 300 pound benchers and below; green for 300-450 pound benchers; and blue for 500 pound benchers and above (shirtless max).
When using bands, be careful not to overdue it. The bands produce a large amount of eccentric overloading and can cause exces-sive soreness, but they are more than worth it. They build the lockout as well as the start. One realizes very fast that you have to outrun the bands, so you develop a fast start to enable you to lock out a heavy weight.
The most popular methods us-ing the bands are as follows. On max effort day, do board presses with four 2 x 6’s. Loop the bands through the bottom supports of the bench and then around the sleeve of the bar. When using four boards, the tension is never released. Be-cause of this, a quick start is impossible and locking out a heavyweight is really tough. To make it even tougher, use a cambered bar. ‘J.M. presses’ with bands are very popular at Westside. To make it as tough as possible, use several bands. Lower the bar straight down, aiming between the nipples and chin, stop 4-5 inches off the chest, and press back up. Use a close grip.
Bands and chains are often used for triceps extensions. This will radically change the strength curve of the movement by accommodating resistance (lifts are usually easier at the top).
A Westside supporter who con-stantly bugs me with some of the craziest ideas actually came up with an exercise that really works. So thanks to Doug Ebert for the follow-ing band exercise. Attach a blue band to the bar and start with 95 or 135 pounds because this is tough. Then take a pink or green band, depending on your strength, twist it once, and place it around your upper back so the tension is pulling back your hands. Now lie down on the bench, stretch the band to grab the bar, and start benching. This ‘double’ tension is unreal.
Also try the ‘lightened’ method, recommended by Carl of Jump-Stretch. Attach a set of blue bands to the top of the power rack with a slip knot. Load the bar to 135. It should be almost weightless at the chest. This way you can bench 135 pounds more than normal. This builds tremendous power at lockout, which is perfect for bench shirts.
Bands and chains have helped to increase our list of 550 benchers at Westside to 17. George Halbert recently benched 688 at 235 to capture the world record at 242. George also holds the 220 world record. Only two people can claim to hold a world record bench in two weight classes: George Halbert and Dave Waterman.
Now on to squatting. With an army of 800+ squatters, 22 to be exact, when we experiment and establish results, they are sound and proven. We also have a 755 squat-ter at 165 and a 782 squatter at 181. They all use chains and bands. Here's how.
First use a set of 1/4-inch-link chains that attach to the bar sleeves. We suspend a metal ring from the 1/4 inch chains, which regulates height of the 5/8 chain from the floor. Loop the 5/8 inch chain through the metal ring so about three chain links are lying on the floor when you are standing. When you are sitting on the box, slightly below parallel, half of the chain will be unloaded onto the floor.
How much chain should you use? If you squat 350 or less, use one set of 5/8 inch chain, equaling 40 pounds at the top. If you squat about 600 pounds, use about 60 or 70 pounds of chain at the top. If you squat 800 pounds, use 80~120 pounds of chain at the top. As you can see, about 10% of your squat weight should be added with chain. If you are doing sets wIth 400 on the bar, you will be standing up with 520. An 800 squatter whose top training weight is 480, or 60%, will add 80-120 pounds of chain to the bar, equaling 600 at the top.
To use bands for squatting, if you squat 650 or less, use green bands. If you squat more than 650, use blue bands. Here are two ex-amples of 900+ squatters. Billy Masters and Dave Barno used a top weight of 500 pounds and 150 pounds of tension with blue bands. Billy did 909 and Dave did a perfect 925. Neither train at Westside, but they use our methods.
When squatting, wave your training weights from 50% to 60% in a 3 or 4 week cycle. Do mostly 8 sets of 2 reps with 45 seconds rest between sets.
For max effort work, one can choose a bar weight of, say, 400 or 500 pounds. Do a single and then add a set of chains. Keep doing singles and adding a second and third set of chains until you break a PR or miss. You can do the same with Flex bands. Good mornings are a great exercise to do with chains and bands. High pulls with the pink or green bands are also great.
I have seen one of our lifters with a 600 deadlift go to 670 in 6 months by using bands on the deadlift. Bob Young would use 275-315 on the bar, with about 200 pounds of tension from the bands. We use the platform that Jump-Stretch sells with their bands to do this exercise.
If you want to excel at powerlifting or any sport, then you must develop speed strength, increase acceleration, and gain absolute strength. Bands and chains can be instrumental in developing these aspects of strength. I highly recom-mend that you try them as soon as possible
Using Bands "From Head to Toe"
by Iron Addict
Article By www.IronAddicts.com
A large percentage of the people reading this will have never even tried bands nor seen their use in real life. To say that bands are one of the big reasons power lifting records today up are being smashed is an understatement. Westside barbell has brought band use to the cutting edge of power lifting technology. Bodybuilders for the most part have been slow to catch on but that trend is now changing as more and more people come to realize the advantages the bands use can provide in their daily training from both a size and strength standpoint.
What kind of bands am I talking about? The bands are 41 inches long and come in varying tensions:
What do these things possibly do for your training? Well the bands accommodate resistance. What this means is that where you are weakest, generally in the bottom position the bands are weakest. As you expand through the motion in the bands pickup tension and thus resistance. Using the bench press as an example by looping the bands over the bar you will have increased tension at the bottom of the lift, and as you extend towards the contracted position as your body's natural a strength curve takes up so does the band tension. This provides more work during the complete of range of motion. Not only that, it teaches you to be fast with the bar because if you are not fast in starting the motion you will never reach full lock-out. What does this have to do with bodybuilders who are not interested in maximal strength training? Gee, I wonder, no one here is interested in 50 to 75 pounds more on their bench or a hundred to one hundred-fifty pounds on their squat or deadlift are they?
The bands have been used in power lifting for over 10 years now and are part of the reason the records continue to be smashed. Initially they were primarily used on the big lifts like squats bench presses in deadlifts, but as many people started to see all the advantages, their use has expanded to many lifts including lifts were the bands are the source of all the tension used for the lift.
I had been using the bands for many years, primarily for benching and squatting. When I recently moved and bought a new house on five acres I realized I would have to wait until spring to have a garage built for the gym. Moving everything into the house was a necessity but realistically there was just not enough room for my pulley setup. What to do? I decided to get creative with the band use to substitute some of the moves that I used to do with the pulleys. I had known for years at many lifters use the bands for these moves that had never taken the time to experiment to any great extent. WOW! I sure had been missing a lot a very productive moves and can say with full confidence that the bands are not only an alternative replacement for many conventional pulley and free weight moves, but are an improvement to many of them? BS you say? Well I know you are not speaking from experience because the bands really do provide a better strength resistance curve for many, many moves.
This article will cover some of these moves but will not be comprehensive because I can say with full certainty that if you are reasonably creative you will constantly find more and varied ways to do things with the bands. I know I continue to do so, and are willing to bet if you take the time to invest in a set of bands you'll find many productive things to do with them that are not listed here.
A couple of things to keep in mind to keep in mind since there are only so many band sizes available people think that being progressive without making huge jumps is an impossibility that is just not the case. There are many means of increasing the tension on the bands without necessarily going to the next size band. As in example 1 of my favorite and exercises are upright rows. Because of wrist and shoulder problems I absolutely cannot do upright rows with free weights. However by using the bands they are totally comfortable on both the writs and shoulders and allow me to go heavy on a consistent basis. But as an example let's say I'm using a number four band for upright rows and got three sets of 10 last week. Many people would say OK now what? Going to a number five will probably allow zero reps to be done. But please understand when doing upright rows you are standing on the bands to anchor them in the bottom position. By merely spreading your feet out a little bit you increase the ban tension.
Now that is not as precise as going from 155 to 160 with the barbell set. But as long as you're consistently getting bigger and stronger do you really care? My guess is no. This is just one example and with some creativity you will find that almost all the lifts done with bands are able to be done on a progressive basis by various means of increasing band tension.
OK here goes head to toe band use!
For working your neck, choke a band around the power rack up right. You can work front, back, and sides this way. Beware that if you have hair it can be rough on it, so a hat or towel in between the band and you head is a good idea. I shave my head every day so it's not a problem-lol. The wider the band the more support you get and it's simple enough to decrease the tension by just moving in a bit closer.
For traps perhaps the best way to implement the bands is when deadlifting. another way to use the bands for traps is to set the bar in the power-rack at just below the level you began a shrug at. Loop the bands over the bar and shrug away. This can be done with just ban tension alone or a combination of band tension and free weights.
For shoulder work, to cap your shoulders lateral raises are a great lift, BUT..after a time, like any lift they quit working. What to do? Use bands for your laterals. To use the bands all you need to do is stand on the bottom of the band, and wrap the top part over the upper portion of the band. Bands are FAR superior to weights for this lift IMO, as the resistance curve matches your bodies MUCH closer than a dumbbell does. To get anywhere close to matching the curve you need to use a machine and then you take the stabilizers out of the lift?not always a good idea. To increase resistance, just wrap more band around your hand, or stand on the band further up. That simple! Most people will do will with a number #1 or #2 band for these
Another great shoulder builder is upright rows. But..for many people, myself included, the fixed hand spacing on the bar is hell on both the rotator cuffs and wrists. Enter band upright rows. Because you hold on to the flexible band instead of a fixed barbell shoulder stress is reduced---a LOT, wrist stress too! Performance is basically the same as for the laterals as far as where to lock the bottom of the bands, the big difference being wrist/forearm position. This is another GREAT move to provide variation from either regular upright rows, or just allowing those that have shoulder/wrist problems from doing bar rows to be able to do a rowing movement. The recruitment pattern is different enough from bar rows to stimulate new gains if you have stalled on rows. And again, the resistance curve with the bands is much closer to your body's natural strength curve. A set of # 2's or a #3 or #4 is the right choice for most people for this movement.
The last move needs to be approached with caution, and I will recommend most use part bands, part weigh instead of all band tension. You can use the bands for military presses if you put a seated bench in front of the power rack, and set the safety bars at chin level. Put a barbell on the safety bars and take one end of the bands and loop them over a dumbbell heavy enough to keep the dumbbell on the floor, and place the other end of the bands over the bar. Now add plates and your band of choice. Start the movement from the bottom and it will beat your delts HARD. The reason this move needs to be treated carefully is the bands can be hard on the joints and many people can move some serious weight/band tension on this lift, so make sure band tension isn't too high, and cycle this lift in and out of your training.
Moving along to triceps, I would just say the first time you do a set of triceps push-down using the bands you will likely not want to go back to using a pulley system for them. Where you are weak the bands are weak, where you are strong that the end of the position, the bands are strong. And like all band work they really force you into fighting the negative portion of the movement. Talk about torching triceps!
You can just hold on to the bands doing these, or loop them around a variety of tricep bars. Switch bars frequently for variation and to reduce getting "stuck" with your poundage's. This movement helps my bench a LOT.
Because the nature of laying triceps extensions being pretty hard on the elbows, I won't recommend anyone but those with the most robust joints do them with bands. But they can be done by starting them of the pins in the power rack.
Close grip benches?
What the bands are made for! Double a set of bands around a heavy dumbbell (you will know if it's too light as the bands will pick it off the floor if it is!) and loop them over the bar. Bench away! You can also do close grip reverse benches. A move often done in the smith machine. The bands somewhat lock the groove the bar takes and makes this lift doable with free weights.
Dips fall into triceps and chest work, but I'll cover them here. The bands can be used BOTH ways here. Meaning you can run them over the TOP of the dip bars and put your feet on the bands to reduce bodyweight. Too weak to do many bodyweight dips? Use the bands and dip away. Conversely, you can run a band thru a dumbbell and over you neck and ADD tension. AWESOME way to do weighted dips!
Chest work..geez, where to begin? As already stated with close grip bench press, the classic band movement for chest is done as listed above. You can do these with various band tension from very light, to 75% band tension. But beware, going to high with band tension and not enough weight to stabilize the bar and you will be thrown all over the place and it becomes very hard on connective tissue. A wide variety of grip, board heights, or rack heights can be used to work the bench like you have never worked it before.
Weak at the top? Choke the bands over the TOP power-rack and then around the ends of the bar either before or after adding weight. Now the load is lighter on the bottom portion of the lift and will have almost whatever you put on the bar as far as weight goes at the top. This is an excellent way to help if your bench stalls midway or towards the top of the lift.
Loop some heavy bands over the top of the rack and you can do a band style fly/crossover type movement. Loop them to the side of the rack and you can do heavy standing fly's. Wrap one over one palm of you hand, run it around you back and into the other palm and do band push-ups. Use heavy enough bands and the strongest lifter may get 1-2 reps?lol. These are a great finisher as long as the band tension isn't so high it becomes a core movement.
You can also do dumbbell presses with a band looped around your back and the end of the band held in each hand. Lean down and grab the dumbbells and lift away.
For low back work you can do band good-mornings, using just band weight and high reps as a finisher or for recovery work. Or with weight and band tension. Choke the bands around a dumbbell set on the ground that is heavy enough to anchor the band tension, then loop around the bar ends and have fun! Deadlifts can be done both lightened and tensioned. If your deadlift constantly stalls at knee level or higher, lightened dedlifts can be the bomb.
Lightened Deadlifts are done by attaching a set of bands to the top frame rails or safety pins of the power rack, and the other end over the bar ends (snug up against the inside collars of the bar, where the first plate would usually be) and then loading the bar with a load that is typically heavier than you would use doing a regular deadlift with. What are the advantages, and why the bother? Well, in my mind the advantages are many:
They provide overload by allowing you to move a heavier load than you can break from the floor. I set mine up about 60 inches high in the rack and at that level I get a fair boost at floor level, but when I near knee level, and then pass it there is little, then ZERO band tension at lock-out.
Unlike rack deadlifts there is a full range of motion so you are still pulling from the floor. This TENDS to provide a better carry-over then rack pulls from the knee level. Yes, the bands no disturb the groove quite a bit compared to a regular dead, but IMO, there is an easier transition going from heavy lightened deads to regular deads, than from rack-pulls to deads.
They can be a lifesaver for people with "touchy" backs as you can vary the band tension and height of tension release almost infinitely.
They can really teach you to drive with your legs when deadlifting. Many people use all back when pulling a regular dead. I have found lightening the weight in the lower portion of the lift, then SLOWLY adding weight (and/or lessening band tension) on the bottom teaches many to get good leg drive when pulling.
If you are new to pulling, they make the movement less technically difficult. No, this is not an excuse to not learn good pulling technique, nor will lightened pulls teach you good regular pulling technique, but for a guy that has struggled for a long-time with the mechanics of pulling, they sure can make it a more natural feeling movement.
A good rule is to not get too hog wild with the tension, just use enough to help break the floor and provide increased overload up top. Louis has discussed using band tension that makes a 135 lb barbell almost weightless on the floor. But he is using that with his 600-900 lb deadlifters. Adjust yours accordingly.
To use bands for tensioned deadlifts you need a special deadlift platform that is sold by Jump-Stretch. They are about a 150 bucks and well worth it if you are a serious lifter.
Upper back work with bands is da bomb. And lets start with those "heavy" guys, and newbies that can only do a few chins. Choke a band to the top of a power-rack. Put your feet in the band and guess what? At the bottom of the chin where you are weakest you will get a boost, and up top where you are strongest, there will be less assistance. These are FAR better than using a gravatron in my opinion. Band pull-downs are also awesome. Double a couple of bands over a power-rack or chin-up bar and run the open ends through your favorite lat handle, or even a strait piece of pipe for that matter. Pull-away! Cable rows with bands are another winner, and easy to do almost anywhere you can anchor a band. After I have done my heavy upper back work for the day, I often run two bands over the top of the power-rack and then lay on my back on a bench and do upside down rows. AWESOME finisher that will hit your whole upper back and bi's like you wouldn't believe.
Speaking of bi's, run a band under heavy dumbbell and then take both ends and run them around the bends of an empty EZ-Curl bar. If you use the inner bends you will hold the bar in the traditional position, if you use the outer bends, hold with a narrow grip. Now pick up the bar and curl away. By backing away from the dumbbell you will find you can increase tension and..if the angle is enough you will find that unlike doing a weighted barbell curl, there is tons of tension in the peak contracted position. This has rapidly became my favorite bicep lift and strength gains using this method have been phenomenal. This also works with a straight bar, but band placement becomes critical to ensure tension is even. You can also just use a lat pull bar with the bands run through the carbiner. This assures even tension.
Quads and hams are best hit doing THE classic band movement, band squats. Anchor one end of the bands with a dumbbell and wrap the other end over the bar. Add weight and SQUAT! Using too much band tension is not recommended although Joe Average (Jim Parrish's group) would likely disagree as Jim uses up to 50-60% band tension and squats 900. But for most people 15-35% band tension is a better bet, as they are EXTREMELY hard on the joints and CNS. Remember, once you are out of the hole doing a regular squat it gets easier as you complete the range of motion. With the bands as you move up to the contracted position the band tension increases. This makes for a MUCH harder squat.
You can also run bands from the carriage of a hack squat machine or even leg press to any anchor point to accommodate resistance. The possibilities are endless and only limited by your creativity.
You can also just loop a bend through you belt, stand on the open loops and add tension that way for quads/hams.
For hams, about any way you can do a ham curl you can use bands for. They can also be used very effectively for pull-thrus.
Just remember too much band work will over train you PRONTO. For big lifts, it's usually best to do them for no more than 3-4 weeks in a row. Accessory work such as bi's tri's, and delts can be done on a continual basis, but like anything else, variation is needed for continual progress. Don't get so caught up doing your new "favorite" band lift that you don't change it up when you need to.
Bench Press Chains
by Ben Tatar
1) The Introduction to Chains
The purpose of chains in the bench press is to build speed (accelerating quickly off your chest) and learning how to explode the weight as you hit the lockout (the finish) of the bench press. As we bring the weight to our chest all the chains should just role into a pile on the floor. As you press the weight up, the chains then come off the floor with the bar making the weight heavier.
We can't do this with regular training and that is why chains are such an important source.
2) Bench Press Chains Resistance
The typical Westside Chains are 45lbs each, causing a total of 90lbs of extra weight lockout. For example if you have 225 on the bar with the Westside chains, you will be holding 305 at lockout and only 225 off your chest. As the weight comes up to the 25% phase of the lift you should be moving 250, at the half way point 275 and at the finish 305. You are literally overcoming "EVERY" sticking point during the full range of motion of the bench press.
You see normally in benching off our chest, we lose speed coming off of our chest and it hurts our lockout. With chains we are now forced to build explosion off our chest and greater lockout power. And using chains on other exercises like the squat and deadlift are no different.
3) Hooking Chains From The Top Of The Rack
You can do lockouts off of chains much like you can off a power rack. I suggest the power rack first though. You can also do reverse Chain Presses. In order to do reverse chain presses, instead of hooking the chains to the floor they must be hooked to the top of the rack.
What happens during the reverse chain press is that you have to pull the weight down since the chains want to hold the weight up. As you pull the weight down the chains shall give you some explosion off your chest, but as you move the weight up the chains will assist less forcing you to develop greater lockout power. This is a lift where you probably can use 90lbs more than your regular bench so you will get in the habit of learning how to lift bigger weights.
I strongly suggest using bands on this lift over chains. Also I suggest using chains on the floor instead of hooked to the top of a barbell or the rack somehow. These are a good technique to try every once and awhile.
4) Are Chains A Secret?
I think that it's because strength training is sooo much more evolved than supplements and bodybuilding. Since training with the usage of chains is more revolutionized then standard bodybuilding we need to tell our friends to start incorporating them into our routines. Studies have actually shown that isokinetics (the maximum force and speed performed in an exercise) are superior to isometric contraction (similar to conventional training). The lifters that use these techniques are stronger generally then those that don't use them.
5) Chains & Other Exercises
I have seen chains used on many lifts. You can do skull crushers with chains, good mornings with chains, deadlifts with chains (either hooked from the ground or the top).And using chains on other exercises is not that different from benching. For example do a trap bar deadlift with chains anchored to the ground? What happens? It's the same weight as what you have on the trap bar, but every inch you lift the bar the tension increases. This makes you strain extra hard to finish the weight and it makes you stronger.
6) Chains Can Help Your Raw or Shirt Bench
Our tendons, muscles and nervous systems can only take so much. But chains teach us to accelerate even when we are beyond our limits. So even if our body is gone, chains have just taught us to accelerate through a sticking point, even when we appear to be stuck. This will help us in a maximum effort attempt, anywhere and anytime because chains teach us how to fight a weight even when our bodies are shot.
I remember a year and a half ago I had 300lbs on the bar with chains. After I got past 3 reps, I started to struggle. The weight started moving in slow motion as I hit rep number 4 and 5. As I started to struggle, I discovered how much stronger I was becoming. I could never have done this without the use of chains or bands.
7) Chains With Dumbbells or Kettle Bells
You can also use chains on exercises like dumbbells and kettle bells. It's simple, grab a pair of smaller chains and attach the chain to the dumbbell or kettle bell. Then what you do is STEP onto the chain with your foot! So the top of the chain is hooked to the dumbbell or kettle bell and the bottom of the chain is under your foot. See the pattern; it's just like performing a bench press with the chains.
Now do your basic dumbbell/kettle bell overhead presses and what you have just discovered is that the kettle bell or dumbbell has gotten heavier every inch you moved it. This has just taught you how to accelerate faster and finish bigger weights doing bodybuilder lifts or athletic lifts. Cool, huh? Soon I bet we will be seeing chains used on power cleans. Maybe they are, and I just don't know it.
8) Chains & Westside
Westside often uses chains on speeds days and maximum effort days. The speed day is where a lifter will bench a weight for 8 sets of 30 reps resting 30 seconds between sets using a weight 40-50% of ones max. This lift should take a total of 3 seconds to perform. 3 Days later they will then do a maximum effort lift. A maximum effort lift is lifting as much weight as you can for a single repetition. This should take 3 seconds in total to perform. This is generally how the Westside barbell trains with chains, but the program is of course modified to ones weaknesses. As the saying goes "make what is weak stronger and you become stronger" and you always have to keep surprising the body with all the exercises.
So use chains to give yourself more options and with more options you won't over train as easily and you will constantly be making gains.
My experiences with chains
We have to remember that chains come in all different colors and sizes. There is far more to chains then just the 90lbs westside chains because not every man can train as heavy as the great benchers that you read about. I remember personally in the year of 1999 I would go to a specialized athletic gym where only selective members could go. And I would load the bench press bar to 135lbs. As 135lbs was loaded to the bar we would add additional 10lbs of green chains. Then we would add more little chains and more and more until I was nearly maxed out. I remember having 135lbs of bar weight on the bar and eventually the weight would become as heavy as 150lbs of chains on top of that. So that is another way you can use chains.
CONCLUSION- So now go to the construction store and get some chains. You will find your training experience a lot more exciting and now that you have more training weapons, you will be able to destroy all the big bench presses that you meet along the way!
What The Heck Is A Board Press?
By Shawn Lattimer
I see this question all the time, and not just from novice lifters. I am sure many people have heard tell of board presses, but are not quite sure what they are or how to do them. If you are one of those people, your answers are in this article.
The purpose of a board press is to train specific ranges of the pressing motion in order to increase overall power for a bigger bench press. This is actually pretty simple. The lifter places a stack of boards on his chest. The bar is lowered until it touches the boards, and is pressed back up. The beauty of this movement, is that both the positive and negative bench motions can be utilized in a constrained range of motion. The height of the boards is chosen by the lifter. I personally have boards from the 2-board up to the 6-board.
With a complete set of boards such as above, the lifter can choose which part of his range of motion to work. The 2-board works the range of motion from 4 inches off the chest up to lockout. Each additional board height decreases the range of motion.
To perform a board press...
...the lifter needs an additional spotter to hold the board on his chest. The lifter should set up as if performing a competition bench press, with back arched, and feet in their normal placement. The grip on the barbell should be about 3" narrower than the normal grip. The barbell is taken at arms length, and lowered to the board. It is important to lower the weight under control, and to force the weight to follow the normal bar path. When the barbell touches the board, it should be paused on the board, and the full weight of the barbell should rest on the board. After the pause, the barbell is pressed back to lockout.
So what's the point? Well, basically everyone has a sticking point in their bench, a spot where heavy weight just seems to stall out. Mine is about 2" from lockout. Many people stall about 4" off the chest. Board presses can eliminate the sticking point. When doing a board press, a lifter can use heavier weight than can be used for a full bench press. This strengthens the active pressing muscles in the region of the board height, and effectively erases the sticking point. Additionally, many champion bench pressers have found that by training the bench movement in smaller pieces, faster gains can be had.
For the more advanced bencher who is using a high end bench shirt, especially a denim shirt, board presses are incredibly valuable. The high end bench shirts add tremendous strength at the bottom of the press. This added strength requires huge power from the midrange of the press to lockout. Board presses are the best way to build this power.
I am often asked if rack presses or pin presses do the same thing as a board press. The answer is no. For any range of motion greater than 3" below full extension, the board press is the best way to go. The beauty of the board press lies in the fact that you are able to use weights higher than your full range press, and still create both the negative and positive motion of the press. This builds muscle, pure and simple.
How to make your own boards:
Boards are easy to make. To make a full set of boards (2 through 6-board), purchase 4-2x6 boards, 10 feet long.
Cut 5 36" lengths of board. These are the bottom of the stack, and the part the spotter holds.
Cut 15 18" lengths of board. These are the stacks.
For the 2-board, stack 1 18" board on a 36" board. Place one end even, and attach the two boards together. You can attach them any way you like; I have seen people use nails, glue, duct tape, you name it. I prefer to use 3" drywall screws. I use 6 screws to connect the two boards together. This makes a nice, tight arrangement.
For taller boards, repeat attaching the 18" board until you have the desired height.
I recommend making a full set of 2 through 5-boards. If you have long arms, a 6 board may also be useful.
Awesome read! Glad to see this powerlifting forum continue to improve..I'll need to reread this and probably make it a sticky. :)
:) I thought they might be useful here since most anyone who gets into powerlifting here is going to encounter this stuff.
wowzers man....eric, i was just looking into chains myself. just got myself a used power rack, got some bands, db up to 45, med balls, ez curl bar, a few olympic barbells....setting myself up a lil gym and. u sir just single handedly opened up my eyes to a few new ideas. thanks buddy.:biggthumpup:
Thanks Chetty. But I can't take too much credit for a bunch of cut and pastes. If a little birdie here who's doing powerlifting hadn't been talking about floor presses (and bands, etc.) which made me think they would be a good addition to my program I probably wouldn't have posted these articles:) .
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