Back Contraction and Scapular Control for a Bigger Bench
One of the things I’ve been working on really hard the last few weeks is intensifying the contraction of my lats and the scapular musculature when performing Rows and Presses, in order to improve my back development and increase pressing power.
By doing so, my Barbell Bench Press has never felt better, and it’s almost completely pain free right now, for my shoulder.
I recently shot a video to help understand what I’ve been working on, and the feeling I’m going for when performing a lot of my Row movements.
There’s a million ways to do this, and one way is with Recline Rows, which we just happened to be doing recently.
Shoulder Blades Into Your Pickets
This video also talks about the idea of Shoulder Blades Into Your Pockets. This is exactly what I’m trying to do whenever I do a Seated Row, a Pull-down, and many other pulling/rowing movements.
I think if you try to implement this kind of contraction when you Row, you’ll gradually develop a better mental connection between your lats and scapular muscles, and this will lead a much more stable and stronger Bench Press.
If you have any questions on this, please leave a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel.
All the best in your training.
Want a Bigger, Thicker Back? Check out YOKETOBER
Tags: "big back", bench press, big bench press, big lats, bigger bench press, build a big back, build a big bench
Posted in back training, how to bench press, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, muscle-building-workouts | No Comments »
While most of what you see from me is Grip Training related, I actually do much more training than just Grip.
In fact, I do just as much, if not more training, for my full body.
Every so often, I even try a mainstream strength challenge to see where I’m at.
Even though I’ve only benched with a barbell a couple of times in the last 18 months, I wanted to see how many reps I could get in the 225lb Bench Press for Reps that you see done in the NFL Combine and other tests.
I’ve done this test a few times in the past, but honestly I have no idea how much I’ve gotten before. I *believe* this is the most reps I’ve ever gotten.
Throughout all of 2016, my main objective flat bench pressing was Dumbbell Bench Press, because it didn’t hurt my shoulders, as much as Barbell Bench.
Well, as it turns out, I had developed some bad habits with my Bench Press technique, and these habits are what was causing my issues, not the Barbell Bench itself.
I figured this out when I visited my friend Jerry Shreck, head strength coach from Bucknell University.
He corrected my form while we trained on the Bamboo & Tsunami bars at his gym, and ever since, my shoulders have started feeling better and better.
By using these bars, I was really able to lock in my form, and feel my lats working the way they’re supposed to during the Bench Press. By working on this form and training for endurance in my lats, I think my form is back closer to where it should be, at least as far as my upper body positioning is concerned.
Naturally, with proper form comes improved strength. As I said above, I think I got into some bad habits with my Bench Press set-up that over time caused some serious discomfort.
Once this form issue was identified, and as I worked to correct it, the pain subsided, and I gradually built back some of my strength.
I still have no clue what my Max Bench Press might be, and I don’t really care right now, as I’m much more interested in working back up to 150lb Dumbbell Bench Presses.
But we’ll see what happens!
I hope you got something out of this quick Bench Press post, and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment.
Thanks and all the best in your training.
It’s Never Too Early to Start August of Arms
Tags: barbell bench press, bench, bench press, big bench, big chest, chest training
Posted in arm training, how to bench press, how to build muscle, how to develop strength, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Last Thursday, August 14, 2014, I took part in the Pro Care Fitness Challenge, a multi-contest competition at Pro Care Physical Therapy in Athens PA.
Jerry Jones – 535 Deadlift (Legit)
I competed in the Strength meet, which included the Bench Press, Weighted Pull-up, and Deadlift.
Here’s a run-down of the rules:
- (1) The scoring was all bodyweight based, since there were no divisions. I am not sure of the actual formula used in all the cases.
- (2) The Bench Press was the most loosely judged of the 3 events. They didn’t require a pause and your butt could come off the Bench. The Pull-up allowed for standing on a box and then stepping off to get an eccentric load, or you could go from a dead hang. The Deadlift did not require a set-down. You could drop it once you locked it out. You could also use straps if you wanted to.
- (3) There were 3 attempts on each lift for each competitor, if they wanted them.
Here’s the thing about the rules. This was not some kind of a professional powerlifting meet. This was a charity competition done for fun. So I really couldn’t care less about the looseness of the rules, and I really hope I don’t have to hear a bunch of complaining about them in the comments section, either here or on YouTube…
More important than the rules was the fact that this competition enabled people do get up there and see what they had. If this was their first competition, they could set their baseline numbers, and they would get to feel what it was like to have to lift the weight up under pressure.
Plus, it enabled everyone to see where they stood against others. New lifters got a chance to see where their numbers were at in comparison to more seasoned veterans, and they got to see what else was possible.
Speaking of what’s possible – I was super impressed with one of the staff members of Pro Care. blew away the rest of the competition with a successful Pull-up with 140-lbs attached to his body and he was benching and deadlifting right up near me, and I out-weighed him by 60lbs. It just goes to show what intensity, hard work and consistency can produce over time.
My personal highlight was the Weighted Pull-ups. It was my first time competing at those. In fact, I haven’t even heard of one in the United States for about the last 10 years, so I was PUMPED to give it a try.
Here are the videos from the Strength Competition.
I was still feeling a bit of pain from my Bench workout during the week, but I went after this anyway. I started with an easy 315 on my first attempt. I then jumped up to 365, which I have hit once or twice in the past year, although I rarely train Bench hard. I left my belt on and it was way too tight and when I went to press, it felt like it strained my abs on both sides of my stomach, so I was super distracted by the pain. I thought I hurt myself bad, but I did not. I finished up with 335, and it was also pretty easy for me. I probably could have gotten 345 or 350 on that day.
I am contemplated doing an actual Push/Pull meet sometime in the Fall, so I tried to stay pretty strict on my attempts to see where I am at, with the exception of the pause at the bottom of the movement. To be honest, I forgot all about that entirely.
Pull-up Plus Weight
This was an event I figured I would do very well in, as I do Pull-ups all the time, and roughly 50% of the time they are weighted in some fashion, usually with chains. I started out with a safe 48kg/105/lbs kettlebell, which I smashed. I then jumped to a 120lbs Dumbbell. That was also easy, but I was so focused on the repetition, my ears shut off and I didn’t hear the call, so I ended up hitting a “double.” For my third attempt, I went for 130, and that started to get tough. I probably could have hit 140 fresh.
The alternated grip was allowed on the Deadlift, but I have not pulled with the alternated grip with weight over 315 in months and months if not longer, so I did not even bother trying it with the weights I was pulling. Instead, for my first two attempts, I went Double Overhand (no hook grip), then for my last attempt I went Double Overhand with straps.
I hit 455 on my first attempt. That was easy, and I wished I did more. I then went for 500lbs, which topped Eli Thomas’s current leading lift of 495. Both of those attempts were Double Overhand, no hook grip. I was very happy with how easy 500lbs came up DO. For my third atempt, I decided to try and all-time PR weight for the Deadlift or 550lbs. I used straps due to my fear of alternating and tearing a bicep. This was a pretty pathetic miss. With the straps, it just didn’t feel right. I don’t know if I had the back strength to complete the lift anyway, but I was glad I reached for the PR. I do kind of wish I would have gone for 520 DO No Hook, though, because that would have been an all-time PR for me, using that grip.
The only event in which I placed in the Top 3 was the Pull-up. I got second there. It doesn’t surprise me that I finished further down in the other events, since I have not been specializing in the Bench or Deadlift, however, the lower finishes does make me want to push my numbers up in those events, plus, bringing up my numbers there will contribute to my overall goals of more full-body strength.
I am really glad that I went to this competition. It was a good wake-up call. It was also nice competing with Eli Thomas at something other than Grip. I think the last time we did a comp together was 2005, and I kicked his ass handily. The tables have turned now though, brother.
By the way, if you work with athletes, there is a new DVD Set coming out this week called the Elite Athletic Development Seminar, by Mike Robertson and Joe Kenn. It is being sold at a special price right now. I am not familiar with Joe Kenn, but I have seen a lot of Mike Robertson’s products in the past and that guy is a very good instructor.
Check this program out today: Elite Athletic Development Seminar
Thanks for watching my videos, and all the best with your training.
Tags: bench, bench press, big bench press, big deadlift, big pull-up plus weight, deadlift, powerlifting, pull-up
Posted in how to bench press, how to develop power, how to develop strength, strength training powerlifting, strength training to improve athletic performance | No Comments »
Upper Body and Grip Training Workout 8/29/13
Lots of people love the idea of building a Big Bench Press, but have little idea how to go about doing it.
Often, the type of Bench Press training we learn about is what we learned in our High School Gyms, which are most likely recycled information that the coach learned when he was in High School and has never changed one single bit. It often ends of becoming a vicious cycle of bad, out-dated information.
My suggestion for people who want to bring up their Bench is to find someone who actually is a Powerlifter and is seeing some success in their training. When you train with someone who is successful in the Big Three Lifts (Bench Press, Squat, and Deadlift), Strength becomes Contagious. Just by lifting with them, you get stronger, and all awhile learn the proper way to train.
Last Friday, I had someone visit who has done just what I am suggesting. He went from having very little structure in his training a few years ago, to following one of the most popular Powerlifting Programs that is out there. As a result, he has seen impressive gains from the new-found structure and is enjoying the design of the program and the increased numbers, for sure.
This lifter is Josh McIntyre. I first met Josh through the Diesel Crew website in January of 2011 when I started the Weekly Grip Strength Challenges. Josh won many of these challenges during the year and has gone on to perform lots of Elite-Lever Grip Strength Feats since then, although these days his primary focus is Powerlifting with a little Strongman and Grip thrown in, a great mixture for developing incredible strength.
We hit an awesome workout this past Friday, about 2 hours and 15 minutes of Upper Body Training and then about an hour and a half of Grip Training, with a little break in between for a short interview.
Below is the video, which contains the entire session.
I asked Josh to send in a little write-up about himself so you could get to know him a bit better. I think you will also see that once you get some programming into your routine, you can expect to see some increased strength levels across the board. Here you go.
Josh McIntyre Interview
Jedd: Who the hell are you and how did you end up getting into Powerlifting?
Thanks Jedd for having me up to your place. My name is Josh McIntyre, I’m 32 and have been lifting off and on since I was 14, but with goals in mind since 2010 and most seriously since 2012. I’ve competed in both Powerlifting and Strongman. My best lifts to date are a 565 squat (raw w/ wraps,) a 390 raw bench and a 635 raw deadlift (no belt) but I’m seeing now that I’m capable of a lot more.
I never did anything more than a set of curls and some push up’s right after highschool. I thought I was strong back then. It’s amazing to look back at pictures and see a guy who thought he was the man. In 2007, I moved to NC from NJ and found myself with a spare room to fill. So I assembled my rusty old H.S. weight bench and got some cheap standard plates from craigslist ads and used sporting goods stores.
Around the same time I spent a lot of time on Youtube looking for workout routines. I found your channel and was floored by the feats I was witnessing. I had a “monkey see, monkey do” mentality like many others, and trained until I could replicate whatever it was that I was training for, like a 5 dimes pinch (have still to get 6 without a pipe through them,) pinching two 45’s, levering a 45# plate (still sloppy,) hubbing a 45# plate, closing an Ironmind #3 etc etc.
I also started to train the powerlifts. I use the term “train” loosely here because I had no idea what the hell I was doing and ended up with a lot of shoulder pain. For a while, since I had no squat rack and it hurt my shoulders to bench a lot, I focused primarily on the DEADLIFT. To this day, it’s still my best and favorite lift. (long arms)
Once I scored a power rack off of craigslist for $100, it was on from there. I read up a bunch on rehab and prehab for shoulders here on DieselCrew.com and Elitefts. I watched a lot of video’s and inched my DL up over 500 in 2009.
Jedd: Tell us About Your Early Competition Days
I competed in my first powerlifting meet in 2010 in the APA. I entered Deadlift only, weighed in around 235 and competed in the 242’s. I opened at 505, went 565 for my second and 585 for my third. Unfortunately they called me for hitching (rightfully so) and I was credited only for my opener. I learned a lot that day and I was hooked!
Since then I’ve competed in 6 powerlifting meets and 1 strongman contest. I’ve learned so much from each one. I really enjoyed the strongman contest but PL is where my passion is. I’ve also trained with a lot of brutally strong PL competitors I’ve met at meets and gained a lot of strength and knowledge from them.
Jedd: When I first learned of you, you were training mostly at your house and from time to time in a gym where they wouldn’t even let you bring in chalk. These days, I have seen you have been training at Raleigh Barbell.
Since March of this year, I began training with a PL team at Raleigh Barbell. I’ve seen my best gains ever just in the last 5 months since training there. We trained 2 cycles of Brandon Lilly’s Cube Method with some success. The guys are great, supportive, serious and very goal motivated. If I squat high, they let me know. If my back started to round a little there, or my ass rises off the bench slightly, they’re right there to correct it for me. Having an extra set of eyes is really helpful when you can’t see where you’re screwing up.
5-10’s Pinch for Grip Specific Warm-up – NO PROBLEM!
As far as the gym, Raleigh Barbell is an 864 square foot training facility located in the heart of downtown Raleigh which is owned and operated by Elite Strength and Wellness Coach Jackson Williams. He’s been a great coach and he’s strong as hell! I’ve seen him pull 650 raw like it was 315. Training with guys stronger than me has been exactly what I was missing. Coach Jackson and Teammates Mason, Hunter, Chris, Keven and Justus are great lifters and training partners, and I’m lucky to be training along side of them. For more info on Raleigh Barbell or to contact Jackson, check out Raleighbarbell.com or hit him up on the Raleigh Barbell facebook page, if you’re on the book of faces.
Recently we’ve started a 10 week training template written by our coach leading up to a PL meet in November in Richmond, VA followed by a Charity Push/Pull the following weekend that I’ve done for the past 3 years.
Jedd: Josh, I’ve gotten some questions asking why we chose the exercises we did during our workout and what exactly the bands are for. Could you explain these points please?
The bench workout you and I did was from our Raleigh Barbell week 2 speed bench. It focused on practicing the bench press movement over and over by doing 8 sets of 2 as fast as we could WITH GOOD FORM. We incorporated band tension to make the lockout more difficult. That forced us to generate momentum from the start to get us through the increasing resistance. We also added volume by going for max reps up to but NOT including failure. We don’t miss training lifts at Raleigh Barbell. We only took another rep if it was there. The rest of the bench day was higher volume accessory stuff, o/h press, shoulders, rows, hammer curls, tri’s, all for hypertrophy.
Jedd: Now that you are several years into serious training, maybe you could talk a bit about major lessons you have learned, pitfalls you have run into along the way, mistakes you’ve made, etc?
I’ve seen up’s and down’s in my training but the more experience I got the more I realized the anecdote “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” is dead on. Also, enjoying the journey has been key for me. I lift ’cause I love it, that makes it easy to commit to. I see lifters so focused on their goal that they suffer through and end up hating their training. It’s ok to like what you do, it makes you easier to be around too.
Some of the mistakes in my own training over the years have been:
- 1. Sticking with a routine even after I stall while using it. You can’t keep doing the same thing and expect to get a different result. My numbers were up and down, up and down for far too long
- 2. Not doing any kind of accessory work to bring up weak areas
- 3. Thinking one way was right and ALL other ways were wrong
- 4. Waiting until I thought I was “good enough” to enter a PL meet. I wish I had done it sooner. Your entire mentality toward training changes after a competition. And the friends I’ve made and the things I’ve learned have been valuable to me as a lifter and a competitor. Don’t wait, sign up today. It’s so much fun and you’ll walk away with more than you came with
- 5. Finding reliable training partners. More easily said than done. If you have an opportunity to join a PL gym, or a CF gym or a Strongman crew DO IT
6-10’s Pinch. Off the Ground 5 or 6 Times, but Not Quite Lockout
Jedd: Josh, great having you up here. Come back again when you make a trip up this way. I want to see you get the 6-10’s Pinch sometime soon.
Again, thank you Jedd for having me up to train. The grip feats I witnessed and failed at were humbling and motivating. I was smashed when I left your gym but mentally I was rejuvenated with the idea of grip training. I have an entirely new respect and appreciation for Grip sport and its competitors. I look forward to meeting up again soon!
I got some feedback that the videos were hard to watch in the Playlist, and that you would like them separated out, so here you go…
Speed Bench Press Against Light Bands
Overhead Axle Training
Axle Rows for Back and Grip Strength
Tricep and Biceps Superset
Hammer Curls for Size and Strength
Josh McIntyre Interview
DIESELS – If you have any other questions about the training we did in the videos, leave a comment and I will do a follow up article to answer them.
All the best in your training.
The Missing Part of Your Strength Training – Extensor Work – A Must for Any Serious Lifter – Hand X Bands
Tags: bench press, bench press program, powerlifting, strength training
Posted in grip strength, how to bench press, how to develop strength, how to improve fitness and conditioning, how to improve strength, strength training muscle building workouts, strength training powerlifting, strength training to improve athletic performance, strength training videos diesel tv, strongman training for athletes | No Comments »
I have a little saying that I coined about two years ago that goes like this:
Misses Are Just Warm-ups
Warrior Presses Savage
This is a mental approach that you have to take when your overall training goal is STRENGTH.
You missed a new PR Lift? So What? Try it again.
You didn’t break your previous best mark on your first try? So what? Try it again.
If you set up your lifts right, you should always have at least three good attempts in you to set a new PR. And in some cases, even more.
It doesn’t matter what kind of strength you are going for: Grip Strength, Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, Strongman Training – all of them require certain factors to be right.
If any of these factors are not right, then you might not complete your lift, even though in reality you are strong enough to complete it.
Here are just a few things that can be “off” when you go for a max and keep you from setting a new PR:
Tags: bench press, deadlift, military press, overhead lifting, overhead press, PR, press, strength training
Posted in grip hand forearm training for sports, how to bench press, how to improve fitness and conditioning, how to improve grip strength, strength training muscle building workouts, strength training powerlifting, strength training to improve athletic performance | No Comments »
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