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Summer’s Here – It’s Time to Start Cheating

Monday, June 26th, 2017

When to Cheat to Build More Muscle

The Summer months are here now, and that means it’s time for some Cheating.

Call me crazy, but I think people put too much emphasis on STRICT lifting technique.

I’m not saying that you should deviate from the technique so much that you put yourself at injury.

For instance, I think multi-joint movements like the Squat, Deadlift, and their complex variations should be done with excellent form at all times.

But when it comes to isolation movements, exercises where there’s much fewer joints moving and less risk for injury, I think it’s perfectly fine to cheat a bit on your technique in order to bring about more gains.

Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to cheat sometimes on your form:

1 – When you go super strict, it limits how much weight you can use.

Eventually, you’ve got to move up in weight a bit, if you want to bring on more muscle growth. But if you’re always staying super strict, it makes it hard to bump the weights up.

For an example of when I like to modify the technique in order to lift more weight, here’s a combo set of Plate Front Raises and Dumbbell Side Laterals. I deviate from the strict form on the Front Raises, because I’m using a 100lb Plate, and I bend my arms a bit to improve my leverage. I still try to lower the plate under control to accentuate the negative.

As you can see, I bend my arms here a bit to be able to get the plate up – just a small adjustment away from textbook form in order to get a lot more weight, and put a lot more loading on the front delts. Believe me, my front delts were SERIOUSLY SORE after this workout – way more sore than the previous few weeks when I worked with much lighter weight.

(2) When you keep everything strict, it limits how many reps you can do.

Appreciable volume is a must in order to build muscle. In fact, I like to stay between 8 and 15 reps on my movements where the goal is building muscle and not sheer strength.

There’s a couple ways to dial back the level of strictness in your lifting, in order to get more volume. Here are my favorites:

Go Heavier and Cheat from the Start: This method pulls from the idea above, of using more weight. Grab something that’s a good 5 to 10lbs heavier than you normally do with pristine form, and use some body english right from the start in order to bump up the volume and feel the pump sink in.

Regular Weight and Cheat at the End: With this one, you’ll start out with your regular “textbook” form, and then if you burn out before you hit your goal number of reps, then stop being a form policeman, and get the rest of your reps.

This is really just a handful of ways you can ease back a little bit on the form, in order to kick-start your gains again by increasing the weights you’re using and the volume you’re hitting in your workouts. I’m sure you can think of a few more.

The way some people talk about lifting, it’s as if the Form Police are there shaking a nightstick at you, watching every rep you do, ready to pounce on you if you deviate even the slightest from perfect form.

That’s all in your head. Don’t feel the need to stay strict on every single set and rep you do.

Naturally, there’s a time and place for everything. You don’t want to get in the habit of ALWAYS using cheat form.

Use cheating as a way to break through plateaus, test yourself with higher weights, and challenge your endurance in higher-rep situations.

I think you’re gonna see that it can help you out a great deal and can bring on some last-minute size increases, now that the Summer is here.

All the best in your training.

Jedd

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Shoulder Blades Into Your Pockets for Stronger Bench Press and Rows

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

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.

Jedd

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225lb Bench Press for Reps

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

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.

Jedd

It’s Never Too Early to Start August of Arms


It’s Not How Much You Lift – It’s About…

Monday, May 16th, 2016

I have a few sayings I’m known for.

diesel-time

One of them is, “It’s not about how much you lift, It’s about how much you LOVE Lifting.”

What that means is, lifting is about being passionate about something and doing it with fire.

Lifting is about setting goals to always be improving.

Lifting is about feeling good, and feeling good about yourself.

So, a couple months ago, or so, when I really took a look at some of my training, I came to realize I wasn’t following my own advice.

The whole idea about that saying is that you should be pushing yourself because you love lifting.

It has nothing to do with pushing yourself so hard that you reach your goals at the expense of everything and everyone else.

But, there I was, trying to reach some goals related to the Barbell Bench Press, and instead of getting closer, I was coming further and further away each session because the exercise was tearing my shoulders up, and leaving me in pain.

It’s now been the better part of this year, that I have quit Benching with the Bar, and moved exclusively to Dumbbell Bench Press. And although my numbers were completely embarrassing at first, I now feel like I’m living more in tune with my beliefs.

And, after a couple months, or however long it’s been, I’m starting to see some good increases, feeling better in the shoulders, and I think even seeing a bit of growth.

I LOVE LIFTING, but I think I was coming severely close to having the majority of my training SHUT DOWN due to the pain I was feeling in my shoulders.

I encourage you to do the same as well – by all means train hard – don’t just go through the motions in the gym.

But, if there’s a movement that is tearing you up inside, don’t feel the need to push through pain and suffer because of it.

Remember…It ain’t about how much you lift. It’s about how much you LOVE lifting.

All the best in your training.

-Jedd-

P.S. Along these lines, I want to help you out as much as I can, to get you to your goals. And that means helping you learn to do your goal lifts properly and as safely as possible.

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New All Time PR on Deadlift – 550lbs

Monday, September 14th, 2015
550

It’s been since January of 2004 since I set a regular Deadlift PR, when I lifted 545-lbs. 11+ years.

I was 26. I’m almost 37 now, so it’s been a lengthy drought, you might say…

2004 is when I started experiencing routine back injuries that would sideline me for days or even a week at a time.

Unfortunately, my young, idiotic brain, just wanted to keep pushing harder and harder, and that meant the pain I’d experience would get worse and worse.

I’d hobble around for a week after my Strongman contests.

I’d literally limp through the hallway at my old job, after hard weekend workouts involving Deadlifts and Squats.

Finally, in 2008, I think, I had enough.

Since Squats and Deadlifts were so bad for me, I decided I wouldn’t do them anymore.

From 2008 until 2012, I rarely did heavy Deadlifts or Squats.

Of course, I continued to do Axle Deadlifts, because it’s a staple in Grip Sport competition, and I’d dabble every now and again with Squats and Deads, but never got back into them seriously until June of 2013, when I decided I was finally ready health-wise to get back under the bar and pull some weight off the floor.

For Squats, I literally started with the bar, hitting sets of 10. That’s how much I lacked confidence and stability.

For Deadlifts, I decided I’d guard my back by only doing Double Overhand grip (I was afraid of tearing a biceps anyway).

The Coan Philippi Deadlift Program

This Summer, I decided I was ready to finally train the Deadlift with some conviction, and I started a run through the Coan Philippi Deadlift Program.

I gotta say, it was AWESOME to push myself on Deadlifts! It was the first time I’d EVER followed a Deadlift Program in my life.

When you start the Coan Philippi program, it asks you for your starting max and your goal max at the end of 10 weeks, and then it computes everything for you.

I stayed a bit conservative and put in a 500-lb Max to begin with and a 550-lb Max for the end. My partner, Luke Raymond, started out with the same numbers, and it worked out really easy training with him, because we didn’t have to change the weights around at all.

The weights at the beginning of the program were super light, so Luke and I started on week 3 or 4. Everything went smooth until like Week 7. That’s when the volume caught up with me.

I struggled through to Week 9, when I hit 535-lbs, but my body just wouldn’t cooperate with me for Week 10, and I decided against going for a new PR on 3 separate Saturdays, until this past week.

The conditions still weren’t optimal, as I was up at 2AM to take my parents to the airport, and I trained at 5:30AM with my buddy, Brad Martin, but my back felt fully recovered after the 3-week layoff from heavy work, so I went ahead with the Week 10 plan.

And, I’m happy to say I was successful in my 550-lb lift, with potential for probably a few pounds more, although I didn’t push it.

Here’s the video:

Jedd Johnson All-Time PR Deadlift – 550lbs

What an awesome sensation, to FINALLY feel somewhat strong again.

Thankfully, after staying patient, working back slowly, and using my brain instead of my ego, I have been able to break one of my longest standing PR’s.

I must also say, I LOVE the Coan Philippi Program. It made me feel like a monster, and sometime this Fall, I plan on running through it again, once Luke’s schedule evens back out and we get train it together again.

Look for more updates, especially on my YouTube Channel, once I start the program up again.

All the best in your training.

Jedd