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Darkhorse 07-26-2006 06:31 PM

How to Increase your RAW Bench
Well gents, I contacted Matt Reynolds via email about this article. He sent me his word doc. and gave me the go ahead to post her up at So if anyone wants to cut and paste this onto another website, I would hope that you'd contact him and show some respect. -> If anyone wants to know more about his personal training, contact him through the same addy, or ask me how I like it. :D

The key thing to look for IMO is that the most important muscles in bench press are Triceps and shoulders, followed by the pecs. Another reason to love powerlifting is that it combines power, speed, and repetition all within two seperate sessions.


How to Dramatically Increase Your Raw Bench:
Conjugate Style
Matt Reynolds

As a competitive powerlifter and strongman, I put more stock into overall strength, rather than just the ability to bench press. But that said, I am often bitten by the bug to get my raw bench press up. I know that it’s pretty rare for anyone to ask you how much you squat or deadlift or how big of an atlas stone you’ve loaded. So for those of you guys who are looking to dramatically increase your raw bench and put on some good size at the same time, this article is for you. We’ll look at how Westside/ Conjugate style training can be used to accomplish those bench press goals, even if you aren’t a competitive strength athlete.

Conjugate Training

Conjugate training is a system developed in the Soviet Union that uses a variety of methods (during the same training period) in order to bring about strength increases. For example, when strength training originated, most lifters would just perform the competitive lifts over and over again. Some countries, such as Bulgaria, still use a form of this method with good success in Olympic Weightlifting. The Soviets, however, in the 1970s gave “70 highly skilled Olympic Weightlifters a system of 20-45 special exercises that were grouped into 2-4 exercises per workout and were rotated as often as necessary to make continuous progress. They soon found out that as the squat, good morning, back raise, glute/ham raise, and special pulls got stronger, so did their Olympic lifts. When asked about the system, only one lifter was satisfied with the number of special lifts; the rest wanted more to choose from. And so the conjugate method was originated” (Simmons).

Max Effort Method

“The max effort method is considered by many coaches and athletes as being the superior method of strength development. It places great demands on both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination as well as stimulating the central nervous system. These demands force the body into greater adaptation and this adaptation is what's responsible for strength gains” (Tate). “The one drawback to using this method is that you can't train with weights above 90 percent RM for much longer than three weeks before the nervous system begins to weaken. When this happens your strength will begin to diminish” (Tate). “The way to overcome this barrier is to switch the exercises used for the max effort method every one to three weeks. This keeps the body fresh so the method can be used year round” (Tate). In this program we will devote one day per week to max effort training for the bench press.

Dynamic Effort Method

The dynamic method is defined as “lifting a non-maximal load with the greatest speed possible.” When this is done, the rate of force development is dramatically improved, meaning that the time it takes you to exert your maximum force is much quicker. You’ll be faster, more explosive, and have better neural efficiency in the lift, which will allow you to break through sticking points by literally exploding the weight right through it! The weight used for the dynamic method should be around 60% of your one rep maximum, and through trial and error, it seems that for the bench press 3 reps per set is optimal. In this program we will devote one day per week to dynamic effort training for the bench press.

Repetition Method

“The repetition method, otherwise known as the bodybuilding method, is the best method for the development of muscle hypertrophy (growth). This is the method in which all supplemental and accessory exercises are trained. This method is defined as "lifting a non-maximal load to failure." It's during the fatigued state when the muscles develop maximal force. According to this method, it's only during the final lifts that, because of fatigue, the maximal number of motor units are recruited. This system of training has a great influence on the development of muscle mass which is why it's become so popular among the bodybuilding population” (Tate).

Now I will note that while I am a big Westside advocate, I have one main change to program…I believe that there needs to be more heavy gut-busting sets in the 5 rep range with the big lifts; squat, bench press, and deadlift. Many of the lifters that come to Westside are good powerlifters before they ever get there; many with a Western Periodization background or a background in bodybuilding, both of which utilize lots of sets in the 5-8 range. Therefore, when Louie convinces them to start performing max effort and dynamic effort work they get ridiculously strong, because they’ve already built the base of size and strength needed to handle that weight in their previous training. I believe that if you want to get substantially bigger and stronger then dues must be paid in the 5 rep range.

Now, it is important to note that “performing the sets to failure” does not mean that you perform the sets to absolute muscular failure using forced reps, drop sets, negatives, “burnouts,” etc. Nor does it mean to keep lifting even when your form gets flushed down the toilet from exhaustion. When you do those things, you are risking injury and making it so that you’ll never recover in time for the next training session. Instead, on repetition work, stop when your form starts to deteriorate and leave a rep or two in the tank.
In this program we will utilize all of our supplemental and accessory work on both bench days to help us increase muscle mass. Note: Because of the nature of a bench press shirt, powerlifters are handling extremely heavy weights on their max effort exercise and then usually following it up with an even heavier board press or rack lockout. – Because this program is based on raw bench improvement, there is no need to use ultra heavy high boards or rack lockouts, etc. Therefore it is important to get more volume in on the max effort exercise after a max has been completed to build both strength and hypertrophy.

Additional Conjugate Methods:

Because the very definition of the Conjugate Method states that a wide variety of methods and exercises will be used in order to raise strength, we’ll take a quick look at a few other methods that I think can improve performance in the bench press.

Isometric-Dynamic/Plyo Method:

Of all the methods of training, we probably know less about isometric work than any other method. What we do know about it is that it can help increase strength in the entire range of motion of a lift, especially if the isometric holds are followed by dynamic work. In order to really learn about this method, I suggest you read the section on isometric training in Supertraining. I do believe that this method can help dramatically in the bench press, and believe that it is best used before dynamic training on speed day by utilizing either isometric push-up holds, followed by plyo pushups, or barbell bench press holds followed by “rebound” benching, where the bar is thrown out of the hands at the top of the lift, and caught dynamically at the bottom of the lift. Isometric training can also be utilized on ME day by pushing the bar against the catch pins with max effort force for timed holds.

Dumbell/ Kettlebell Work:

Dumbell/Kettlebell work is great for GPP as well as shoulder girdle work. It is excellent for both conditioning as well as flexibility. Using them is as simple as doing some one or two arm swings to eye level both between the legs and outside the legs. Add some snatching and dynamic overhead pressing and you’re set. These can be done for using light weight and light volume as a warm-up to your training sessions, or cut down on your accessory work and do them heavier and for more volume at the end of your training sessions.

Concentric-Only Work:

Concentric-only work is excellent for extra workouts and when you are feeling beat up. The reason for this is because eccentric work has been shown to cause more damage to the muscle fibers and strain the CNS more so than concentric work. (That doesn’t necessarily make eccentric work bad, but rather we need to be careful with how we use it.) Concentric work is easy to recover from, (and can actually aid in recovery) which is great if you are feeling beat up in the first place. The best way to do upper body concentric work is with the use of the sled. Simply attach straps to the sled, add weight, and mimic the upper body movements you would normally do. Walk forward to pull the straps tight and do another rep.


It is important to note that during training there must be occasional short periods (1-2 weeks) of extremely stressful training. During these periods intensity and volume are both raised to a point that if continued, overtraining would occur. This is called loading. Following the loading period, an unloading period of 1-4 weeks is utilized where the intensity is reduced to some degree and volume is greatly reduced. Before loading an athlete must be fully recovered and mentally ready to start the loading period. If done correctly, the athlete will be taken to the brink of overtraining during the loading period, then allowed to recover during the unloading period. The result is an incredible physical response that results in a dramatic increase in strength levels.


Many people neglect their bench press form when trying to improve the lift. More times than not, the lifter will bench flat backed, elbows straight out, and either way too slow, or so fast that the bar violently bounces off their chest.

When you set up for a raw bench, it is of utmost importance that your shoulder blades are pulled together on the bench and are tight. This creates the optimal foundation for a strong push and will also allow the lats to activate properly. Arch your back as well (it doesn’t have to be a dramatic arch like many powerlifters use, but get your entire back tight – from your erectors to your traps.

Prior to the lift off, it is imperative that you take a deep breath “into your belly.” Allow the air to make your belly as big as it can be and hold that breath through any set of 3 or less reps. This does two things: one, it makes your bench stroke shorter, and two, it creates pressure and forces your body to stay tight throughout the lift. When you breathe out on a lax lift you are literally losing tightness and less force is applied to the bar.

As you bring the bar down your elbows should be at approximately a 45 degree angle to your body, and the bar must stay over the wrists and elbows. When this happens, the bar should tough on your lower chest or upper abdominals. Almost every guy in the gym benches with his elbows straight out, which puts great stress on the pecs. By tucking your elbows, the chest, shoulders, and triceps can equally share the load and your lats are also activated. The lats act as a spring. As the bar comes down, your triceps get pushed against the lats and an incredible amount of potential energy is stored. At the moment the bar is reverse your lats fire along with the chest, shoulders, and triceps, and the bar quickly gets pushed back to lockout.

As you push the weight back to lockout, push the bar back over your face and flare the elbows back out. This puts you in the greatest biomechanical advantage to complete the lift. It is in this position that both your triceps and front delts will be working together to finish the lift.

The Program

To increase your raw bench you must understand which muscles are most important for raw benching. It is not the chest or pecs as most people think, but rather the shoulders and triceps. The muscles to be worked (in order of importance) are:

1) Triceps and Shoulders
2) Chest
3) Lats, Upper back, and Rear Delts
4) Rotator Cuff: prehab

The difference between working your raw bench and working a shirted bench is that there needs to be more emphasis on shoulders and chest (including repetition work for muscle mass) and less emphasis on top end strength.

Additionally, speed work is VERY important to raw benching because rate of force development needs to be very, very fast so that you can reverse the bar quickly at the chest and build to maximum strength quickly and blow through your sticking points.

The program will utilize two days that train the bench press. One day is devoted to maximal effort training, and the other is devoted to dynamic training. On both days, hypertrophy work through the repetition method is used.

Max Effort Day:

1) Max Effort Exercise: (Rotate between exercises and work up to a one rep maximum – do a minimum of 2-3 reps at or over 90%)(Bench fast! fast eccentric=fast concentric)

- Close-grip bench press (pinkies 2 inches from rings)
- Reverse band bench press (pinkies on rings)
- Incline bench press (middle fingers on rings)
- Floor press (pinkies 1 inch from rings – pause on the floor)
- Ultra-wide bench press (index fingers outside ring on bar) for 5-7 rep max. The ultra-wides are best used on deloading weeks.

2) Rep work with the max effort exercise (choose 4x6@65%, 3x5-6@70-75%, 4x3@80% – This uses Prilepin’s Chart as a guideline for the rep work)

3) Upper Body Repetition Work (using slower, controlled reps and a full range of motion)

A. Overhead Press: (pick one exercise)

- Standing Military (3x5-8) or Push Press (1-3rm)
- Seated Military or Dumbell Press (3x8-10)

B. Triceps: (pick one exercise) – usually a pressing movement one week and extension movement the next

- 4-5 board press for sets of 5-10 reps
- Rolling dumbell extensions (3x10-12)
- Elbows out extensions (3x10-12)
- Skull crushers (3x10-12)
- Push downs (3x10-12)

C. Lats: (5-6 total sets, use combinations of vertical pulls and horizontal pulls)

- Pullups (2-3 sets of failure) or Pulldowns (3x10-12)
- Heavy Barbell Rows, T-Bar Rows, Chest Supported Rows, or Hammer Strength Rows (3x8-12)

D. Rear Delts:

- Delt raise complex (rear, side, front) 2 sets of 10 each
- Reverse pec dec flyes (2x10)
- Face-down incline reverse flyes (2x10)

E. Rotators:

- Face-down incline external rotations, or shoulder horn (2x10-15)

F. Biceps: (pick a curl exercise or two and knock out approximately 5 sets total.)

Dynamic Effort Day:

1) Isometric/ Dynamic Work:

Pushups off plates/box: (Hold bottom position for 10 seconds cold, then 4 explosive reps - 2 sets)

2) Speed Bench (60% of 1RM for 6-9 sets x 3 reps)

• (supersetted w/ plyo pushups off plates x 3 reps - 30 seconds between each)

3) Upper Body Repetition Work (using slower, controlled reps and a full range of motion)

A. Overhead Press: (pick one exercise)

- Seated Military or Dumbell Press (3x8-10)

B. Dumbell Bench Press (incline, decline, or flat) (3x10-12)

C. Triceps Extension: (pick one exercise)

- Rolling dumbell extensions (3x10-12)
- Elbows out extensions (3x10-12)
- Skull crushers (3x10-12)
- Push downs (3x10-12)

D. Lats: (5-6 total sets, use combinations of vertical pulls and horizontal pulls)

- Pullups (2-3 sets of failure) or Pulldowns (3x10-12)
- Heavy Barbell Rows, T-Bar Rows, Chest Supported Rows, or Hammer Strength Rows (3x8-12)

E. Rear Delts:

- Delt raise complex (rear, side, front) (2 sets of 10 each)
- Reverse pec dec flyes (2x10)
- Face-down incline reverse flyes (2x10)

F. Rotators:

- Face-down incline external rotations, or shoulder horn (2x10-15)

G. Biceps: (pick a curl exercise or two and knock out approximately 5 sets total.)

Note: if you are feeling beat up, do the main exercises and DRASTICALLY cut volume on the other bodybuilding stuff.

The key to making this program a success is hard work using the max effort method (maxing out), dynamic effort method (speed work), and repetition method (heavy, gut-busting sets in the 5 rep range). The other stuff is icing on the cake and can be utilized when you are stagnating. You don’t need to utlilize isometric training, or eccentric training, or other methods every training session. Make sure the focus of your program is on the max effort, dynamic effort, and repetition methods, and the rest will fall into place.

There is no short-cut for getting big and strong. It won’t happen overnight. The guys who succeed long-term are the ones who train hard and smart for years and years. Now get in the gym and start paying your dues!

Dr X 07-28-2006 07:22 PM


Originally Posted by 0311
Great article about how to increase your RAW bench the Conjugate way by Matt Reynolds found here: Conjugate Article

It has copyrighted bullshit so I'm not going to bother cut and pasting any of it. That being said, the program outline looks excellent!

The key thing to look for IMO is that the most important muscles in bench press are Triceps and shoulders, followed by the pecs. Another reason to love powerlifting is that it combines power, speed, and repetition all within two seperate sessions.


Pretty good read

EricT 07-31-2006 04:14 PM

Great Article. There is an article I read recently which I think fits nicely into it pertaining to the plyometric training. It has some very interesting info and suggestions.

Plyometric Bench Press Training for More Strength & Power

Darkhorse 08-12-2006 09:19 PM

Pressing Power
Five reasons your bench gets stuck at the bottom
and what you can do about it
by Dave Tate

"I’m weak off my chest in the bench press. What can I do?"

This is a question I’m asked more than any other, so I’ve decided to devote a whole article to dealing with this popular problem. This seems to be a very common sticking point for beginners and non-powerlifters. Many people are quick to point this out as being due to a weakness of the chest muscles, but I disagree with that for several reasons.

First, most powerlifters do very little chest work while bodybuilders do a ton of chest work. If bench press poundage equated to chest strength, then the powerlifters would be weak off the chest and bodybuilders would be weak at the top.

How about when you throw bench shirts into the equation? While the bench shirt does help, it really only changes the sticking point a couple of inches. So if powerlifters are weak right off the chest, the shirt will only get them the first couple of inches. In reality, they’re still weak off the chest.

Now, let’s dig in and solve this problem once and for all. There are five main reasons why you may get stuck at the bottom of a bench press:

#1 — You’re too slow

If you really think about this, you’ll see why it’s the number one cause of bottomed out bench presses. I like to use the example of pressing through a thin board. If I were to take a board, like the ones used in the martial arts, and hold it three inches off your chest while you pressed into it in a slow manner, then it would become a matter of who was stronger, the person holding the board or the lifter pressing the bar.

If the holder is stronger, then the bar will go into the board and stop. Now if the same board was used and the lifter exploded into the bar with maximum force or speed, then the bar would crash through the board. Now think of this board as being your sticking point. Taking this one step further, what if we used a bigger board, one that would be impossible to crash through? Once again, if you pushed slowly the bar would get stuck. If you pushed fast, the board wouldn’t break but would be moved up higher. This would put your sticking point at or above the halfway point of the lift.

Lesson: Push with force if you want to press the full course!

#2 — You’re not keeping a tight position

This is another very common problem. If you’re not holding your body tight, then you’re not pressing with a firm, stable base. How can you build on a weak foundation? To get tight, you want to pull your shoulder blades together and shrug into your traps, fill your body with air, and drive your heels into the floor. You want to visualize pushing your body away from the bar as you press up.

If you don’t have your body expanded with as much air as possible, then your chest and belly will be lower than what’s needed for a big bench. The bigger you are, the shorter the path the bar has to travel and the higher the elbows remain.

Lesson: You have to stay tight to bench right!

#3 — Your lats are weak

You need to have strong lats if you want a big bench; there’s no way around this. To illustrate the point, try this: In a standing position, hold your arms in the bottom bench position; now flare your lats. What happened? Your arms moved forward. This is part of the same movement that happens when you bench press.

The trick to getting and keeping your lats in the movement starts long before the bar hits the chest. It begins with the set up at the beginning of the lift, before the bar leaves the rack. Once again you need to have the proper tight position. Now you want to tuck your elbows some and pull the bar out of the rack. You do not press out of the rack!

When you press out, your shoulders come apart and your lats aren’t tight. Almost 100% of the time this will happen because of the type of bench you’re using. Many benches today have J-hooks or uprights that are too damn deep. You have no choice but to press it out. In this case you have two options. First, find another bench. Many times the power rack will work out to be the best option. The j-hooks aren’t as deep and all you have to do is drag a bench over.

The second option is to take a liftoff from a training partner. I personally don’t like the liftoff option because it’s still hard to keep the lats tight, but if there’s no other choice, then by all means use it. This is actually one of the reasons why a liftoff helps you lift more weight.

If you’re pressing the bar in a straight line from the lower chest then there should be no way you’ll ever hit the uprights. So don’t be afraid to get under the bar more from the start. Many coaches will tell you to line the bar up with your eyes. I feel it should be lined up with your nose or chin. This way you don’t need so much shoulder rotation to get the bar out.

Now on to the lat work. Your program should have the right kind of lat work. You want to use those movements that work on the same plane as the bench press. This means any type of row. There are several to choose from, so pick based on the ones you’re the worst at. You should be training your lats two to four times a weak, but you don’t need a full-blown lat workout as the bodybuilders do. One movement for four to five sets should do the trick, but you do need to do them many times a week to try to maintain some type of balance.

#4 — The bar is too heavy

If I see a lifter take a bar out of the rack, lower it to his chest and barely move it, I wouldn’t call this a sticking point. It would be more aptly be called "getting stapled to the bench." If the weight is too heavy, you’ll get crushed! Be honest with yourself on this one.

#5 — You just don’t know how to press!

We all like to think we know how to bench press but the fact is we don’t. We may all know what to do, but getting it done is a whole other story. This concept is covered in detail in the Bench Press 600 Pounds article. For a quick review, you need to stay tight, keep the elbows tucked, drive your heels into the floor and shove your body away from the bar as you press. Too many times, one or more aspects are off for a number of different reasons.

Just remember that proper technique will make a huge difference in your ability to press record weights.

What To Do About It

Now that we know why you get stuck, let’s get on to describing some of the movements that can help correct this.

1) Dumbbell Work — Dumbbells are great for teaching you how to press and also great for building stability in the shoulder and lat muscles. There are several ways you can use dumbbells to strengthen your bench press:

High-Rep Dumbbell Press

This movement is done with the use of a bench or stability ball. You want to do a standard dumbbell press but keep your palms facing each other; this will keep your elbows in the correct benching position. I’ve found the repetition range of 12 to 20 to work best with this movement.

You want to do three sets, trying to fail at around 20 reps for the first set. You’ll then rest about four to five minutes and try to hit 20 again for your second set. More than likely this won’t happen, but it gives you something to aim for. Rest another four to five minutes and knock off the last set. This method of dumbbell usage works best in place of the max effort movement.

Dumbbell Floor Presses

The floor press is another great way to teach you how to stay tight in the upper body when pressing. When your legs are out straight, more of the load is transferred to the pressing muscles.

To do this movement, you lie on the floor and have your training partners hand you the dumbbells. Once again you’ll want to keep your palms in. Lower the bells until your triceps hit the floor, pause for a split second, and press back up. This movement fits in nicely as the first movement you’d do after doing dynamic bench or max effort bench work. Play around with the sets and reps to see which work best for you but always try to break your record each time you do them.

Timed Dumbbell Presses

This is the latest news out of Westside Barbell Club. Louie Simmons has found that taking a pair of dumbbells and pressing for time to be a great strength and restoration builder for the bench press. He’s been using a three-day split where the first day heavy dumbbells would be used continuously from two to four minutes. I’ve used up to 80-pound bells for three minutes.

These reps aren’t done in a non-stop action. (Had you scared there for a second, didn’t I?) You do a couple of reps, then hold them on your chest or at the top for five to ten seconds, then do a couple more reps. You keep the set going until you can’t do any more. Perform only one set at the end of the regular workout.

On the second day you want to use 60% of the weight used on day one, but take the time up to three to five minutes. I use 45 pound dumbbells for this day. On day three, drop another 60% and bump the time up to five to eight minutes. On this day, I use 25 to 30 pound dumbbells.

I’ve found this to help my shoulders recover at a faster rate than when not doing them. While Louie likes to keep the rotation going without a break, I like to only use the rotation one time per week.

2) Max Effort Work — The next three movements would be used as max effort movements concentrating on building power off your chest. I’d still cycle in the other max effort movements like the board press and lockouts every other week for the top part of the bench. This will keep building on the top strength you already have.

As a quick review of the max effort movement described in the Periodization Bible, Part Two article, the max effort method is used to build max strength in the bench press by teaching the body to strain with maximal training loads. This is done one time per week with one movement. You warm up using multiple sets of three to five reps in an ascending pattern until you get to a one or three rep max on the movement you’re using.

Barbell Floor Presses

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.

Cambered Bench Bars

This is a bar with a four inch camber in the middle of it to allow for greater range of motion. There are right and wrong ways to use this bar and the style you use is dependent on your own flexibility and ability to use the bar.

The first way is to take the bar down to your chest, which I believe works dynamic flexibility but is only beneficial with very lightweight. I don’t believe the heavy work should be taken all the way down to the chest because of the excess shoulder rotation.

The best way to use this bar is to bring it down to a point where it’s only about a half inch lower than where a regular bar would be. This way you won’t be getting any type of reflex off the chest. The last way to do this is with the use of boards to control how low the bar will go. Use two to three inches of boards so you can control how deep the bar will travel.

Ultra Wide Bench Presses

This is simply a wide-grip bench press outside your widest grip. For most people this would be with your forefinger on the rings. This isn’t a good movement to use for a one-rep max because of the stress it puts on the shoulders. It’s best done working up to two heavy sets of five or six reps.

3) Dynamic work for the bench press — This is key to the development of barbell speed. I’ve explained this method in great deal in many of my other articles so I won’t go into great depth here.

In a nutshell, spend one day per week training your bench for speed. This is best done using weights in the 45 to 55% range (based on bench shirt max) or 55 to 65% range (with non-bench shirt max). Once you reach your percent, eight to ten sets of three reps is all that’s needed. Make sure to push the bar as fast as you can. It should take you no longer than 3.5 seconds to complete the set.


The key to training greatness is finding your weak points and attacking them. Building and getting strong at what you’re already good at will only take you so far. Time must be spent on the things you really suck at doing; so find the movements and the weak points and start bringing them up. If all goes well you’ll be back on track to that big bench you’ve always wanted.

roadrider352 08-15-2006 03:33 PM

thanks for posting this, great info, I think I fit into number's 3 (weak lats) & 5 (don't know how to press)

Darkhorse 08-15-2006 04:36 PM


Originally Posted by roadrider352
thanks for posting this, great info, I think I fit into number's 3 (weak lats) & 5 (don't know how to press)

At least now you know what to focus on. For your lats, I've found that rows (back thickness) are more beneficial than pullups/pulldowns (back width) for benching power. My two mainstay's are JS Rows and chest supported rows. The supported rows are awesome for reversal strength. I like to do the heavy barbell rows on ME day, and pullups, pulldowns, and supported rows on DE days.

When I set up for benching, it takes me a while to get ready under the bar. Keeping your shoulder blades pinched together makes a lot of difference.

Darkhorse 08-15-2006 04:37 PM

The link I made on "Increasing RAW Benching" does not work any longer. The Core magazine is going down, so that's that. I will try and get Matt Reynold's article from him and hopefully get permission to post it here. :weights:

roadrider352 08-16-2006 03:13 PM

Posting Matt's article would be great, I think a lot of people would benifit from reading it, but if thats how he makes his living, or your paying him for training then I would just maybe post a link to him where others can pay him for his service / experience. I read your post on being pm'd, your absolutely correct. again thanks for all the info you post.

SkullCrusher 08-27-2006 11:03 AM

Hi, can someone explain to me why high rep dumbell presses are used? For strength purposes why wouldnt a lower rep range be used? It just has me confused.

EricT 08-27-2006 12:28 PM

I'll try.

First of all keep in mind that this is an accessory movement. The main lifts, i.e. the one's used in Max Effort, are never used for accessories.

Now some defintitions (these are very basic and simplified and do not cover everything):

Strength - capacity of a muscle to exert maximum contractile force against a load (maximal force)

Endurance - the ability of a muscle to perform repetitive contractions, generating force for an extended period of time (moderate to low level work)

Power - the ability to generate the most force possible within a short period of time

Factors influencing muscular strength:
Number of motor units activated
Motor unit= 1 motor neuron and all muscle fibers innervated by that neuron. More motor unit=more muscle force

Type of motor unit activated
Fast twitch vs. slow twitch muscle fibers

Size of the muscle
Large muscles can generate greater force than small muscles due to the greater number of contractile filaments in the larger muscles

Muscle's initial length when activated
Muscles are elastic (they can lengthen passively). Greater force can be generated when stretched prior to contraction

Muscle's speed of action
Slow speed = greater force (vs. rapid speed)

I included these to try and show that many different factors influence overall power (and we are really talking about power here not just strength).

From Dave Tate:
Max Effort: This is and should be an all out effort. This method will improve neuromuscular coordination by increased motor unit recruiting, increased rate coding, and motor unit synchronization.

The Maximal Effort method is considered by many coaches and athletes as being the superior method of strength development. It places great demands on both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination and well as stimulating the muscular and central nervous system. These demand force the body into greater adaptation. This adaptation is what is responsible for strength gains. When training using the max effort method the central nervous system inhibition is reduced, thus the maximal number of motor units are activated with optimal discharge frequency (Zatsiorisky). The one draw back to using this method is that you cannot train with weights above 90 percent for much longer than three weeks before the nervous system begins to weaken. When this happen your strength will begin to diminish. This is one of the major reasons why progressive overload will only work for so long. With this in mind and knowing how good this method is in the development of strength development Westside set out to find away around this three-week barrier. The way to over come it is to switch the exercises used for the max effort method every one to tree weeks. This keep the body fresh so the method can be used year round.

Training with the max effort method more than twice a week should be avoided because it will impair muscular coordination as well as increase defensive inhibition.

The Repeated Effort Method: Has the most potential for hypertrophy. This is defined as lifting a non-maximal load to failure. The most important repetitions here are the last few where the muscles are in a fatigued state. This is because it is the final reps that activate the largest number of motor units. As the tension in one motor unit drops, more and more join in the work. It is important to utilize long rest periods because of this reason. it is during this fatigue state when the muscles develop the maximal possible force.

Now I'm not sure that it is fair to say that the higher rep ranges produce bigger muscles and therefore more strength. It is according to what is in the bigger muscles. Is it actually more contractile filaments as the definitions suggests or is it sarcoplasmic hypertorphy which does not lead to more strength? So that would be something to be explained further and is obviously according to the rep range used but I have yet to find a more comperhensive explanation.

But as you can see, it is recommended not to use loads 90% or greater more than once a week. After a while the nervous system breaks downand you'll just get weaker. This is also why they switch out the lifts so often. So there is a reason to use more than one method, hence the congugate way of having max, dynamic, and repetitions days.

Also, notice "muscle's speed of action". Louie Simmons says on repeat effort to concentrate on slow movements. If you just did max, effort and dynamic effort you would be leaving out an important part because you wouldn't spend enough time teaching the muscles to exert the most force possible. The faster you lift the less force is actually exerted. The goal here is to combine the greatest possible speed with the greatest possible force thus resulting in the greatest power. As I understand it training the rep method to NEAR failure (the modified repetition method) results in the most motor units being recruited during the last few reps. I.E. the most force...and it is dependent of this fatigued state.

And don't discount what Dave Tate said about the dumbells being used to train stabibility.

That's probably not a perfect explanation but I hope it helps.

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