Labor Day Q & A
Happy Labor Day. I hope you get the chance to enjoy some nice time with your friends or family. I made sure to get up early as usual and get some work done before enjoying the beautiful day.
I also got in a session with my only personal training client, Mark. He loves training, so I never have a problem working with him. He comes in, kicks his own ass, and loves every second of the training I put him through.
I thought I would take the time to answer some questions I have gotten recently. I figured I’d start with the hardest one to answer/admit.
Q: Jedd, what ever happened to your muscle-up goal? I remember something you posted a long time ago but haven’t seen anything since.
A: The truth is, I have not trained the muscle-up in quite some time. It just got to be too big of a pain in the neck to set everything up. My old squat rack was extremely light, so I had to load all this extra weight on the other side to keep it from tipping. In one workout, I buggered up my shoulder a bit, so I avoided the movement for a while. I was still hitting the same heights once it was feeling better though, so the time off didn’t really hurt me or hinder my progress.
Then, I came to realize that if I ever did complete the muscle-up, I’d probably either crack my head open or break my neck on the ceiling. It never registered how close I was coming to the structure above, so when I was training it, I was moving the cage over to the car-portion of the garage. One thing led to another and I began bagging the training. That was late 2010, so it’s been almost two years.
What I have been continuing to do is many versions of Pull-ups. I have used many different handles, added weight, changed tempos, etc. Below is a video of me working on the Rogue Fitness Dog Bone. This thing is sick. The only thing tougher to do Pull-ups on is the Globe.
I have used the Dog Bone for my Pull-ups several times over the last few weeks. This is unlike conventional Pull-ups or Chins in many ways:
1. Open Hand Grip: You can’t help but build hand strength with this device. You can’t get a wrap around the handles because they are so large.
2. Intense Chest Compression: Your upper arms end up adducted and it brings in the pectoralis muscles in much more than regular pull-ups/chin-ups.
3. Wrist Component: Having the hands on top of the globes like in the video lights the wrists and forearms up like a Christmas tree. If your wrists are a weakness in your sport, you should try this piece out.
I could only do two reps when I first started hitting these. Now my best is 6 reps with no weight added, and I have already moved up to adding a 25-lb plate, as you’ll see in the video.
I love doing Pull-ups and Chins, and I will eventually master the Muscle-up. But for right now, I am enjoying the Rogue Equipment too much. After trying them for about a month and a half, I am perfectly comfortable recommending them. Check out their catalog here.
Someone said they heard that Rogue’s equipment was of crappy quality. I don’t see how they can think that, judging by what I have used. While it isn’t covered in chrome and is more Johnny Cash style of equipment, I don’t see any flaws with the gear and I see no weak points. Every indicator is that this stuff will last for a long time.
This next question was not asked directly to me. It was on the Gripboard. But, I have been asked this question many times so I thought I’d post it here as well.
Q: [I want to get better at Double Overhand Bending.] But, for now, reverse bending with the bar at or above shoulder height seems to be considerably easier than any other style. Especially with the bar in close to my shoulder.
My question – is this considered a legit form for bending or is it considered sloppy or cheating? Am I wasting time continuing to kink in this manner? Is it smarter to transition to DO sooner rather than later?
A. First off, let’s just quickly define the major bending techniques.
Double Overhand Technique
There is Double Overhand where the hands are placed at the end of the bar/bolt/nail. The hands are positioned between a pronated and neutral position, then the ends of the bar are bent down into an inverted U-shape.
Double Underhand Technique
There is Double Underhand, where the hands are placed at the ends of the bar, but now they are oriented between supination and neutral, then the bar is bent into a U-shape.
Reverse Style Bending
Finally, there is also Reverse style, where the hands are oriented in neutral and then slightly deviated, with one hand “overhand” and the other “underhand.” A completed bend is when the angle of the bar reaches 40-degress and there is usually a time limit involved.
Each of these styles have their own benefits and shortcomings. Double Over and Double Under can be used to bring more upper body strength into the execution, which generally leads to bigger bends. Reverse, however, is one that is much more “pure grip strength,” testing the wrist and forearm more intently, although not entirely.
However, if you have mobility issues and are unable to get into the positions, then you will also be unable to benefit from the two power positions. Some people, like the person who asked the question, then must find other ways to start the first part of the bend, called the kink.
One of the main guys that got me inspired to try bending back in 2002/2003 was Pat Povilaitis. He said that he used to get bends started with Reverse until his shoulders and torso loosened up enough to get into a good position for the DO Kink. So, that is what I did as well for the first few years, eventually bending a Red Nail with a Reverse Kink and then a DO finish.
So, I was in the same boat as the person who asked this question.
Is a Reverse Kink cheating or sloppy technique? No way. Actually, for most people, Reverse is much harder that DO or DU, so getting the bend started with Reverse and then transitioning to a stronger style to finish is no problem whatsoever.
During the time where you need to use both techniques in order to fully bend a nail, it is a good idea to work on figuring out what is keeping you from getting into the DO Power Position. Are your arms so big that they don’t allow you to bring the bar up high? Are your shoulders so tight that you can pull them back? Are your pecs and biceps too tight? Is your upper back weak? Are your triceps tight? Is it a fascial issue?
All of these are possible explanations why someone would have trouble getting into the DO Power Position. Addressing these issues will help you get into the position.
However, my friend, Jason Steeves, pointed out that there are limitations in the height you can bend the bar in most cases. The writer mentions bending the bar at or above shoulder height. The cut-off for most bending lists are head height. This is something to watch.
The reason there is a cut-off, I believe, is to limit the engagement of the lats in the bend. This keeps the emphasis on wrist strength. By practicing the technique and focusing intently on the lats, you can still get them involved in the bend. However, the most important point here is that if you are bending for a certain list or certification, you should practice the way you will be required to bend for that list. Some lists require the use of very small pads, limiting the amount of force that can be exerted into the ends of the bar. Others require very thin wraps, reducing padding and heightening the factor of pain tolerance.
However, in my experience, if you perform a Reverse Bend and keep the bar above your head the entire time without arching your back, the bend seems much harder. That could just be me though. I know if I paint something with my arm straight up in the air for more than ten seconds, it feels like my arm is going to die. This has been ever since the late 90’s long before I ever tried bending, strongman or any other non-conventional training methods. I am left only to blame this issue on bad genetics and playing baseball…
For more detailed Bending Technique instruction, you should check out my Nail Bending eBook. It breaks every one of thee techniques down for you, plus it covers some other lesser common bending styles.
This last one comes from YouTube. I put up a video about a year ago where I talk about increasing deadlift grip, and I mentioned that Fat Bar Training is not always the best way to go about it. I got the following question:
Q: So are Fat Gripz a waste of money then?
A: Fat Gripz are absolutely NOT a waste of money. They allow you to turn dozens of exercises into thick bar exercises almost instantly without buying or building axles or thick handle loadable dumbbells. Plus, I think they will survive an atomic bomb blast, so they are a safe investment.
My point in that video was this. If your grip fails when doing Deadlifts, you need to train specifically for improving your Deadlift Grip.
The Deadlift Grip (for most people) is an alternated grip on a thin bar. In most cases, the time under tension requirement for the pull overwhelms your grip endurance. For most people, this means they need to train holding more weight for longer periods of time, or you need to finish your deadlift faster so that you don’t reach your grip strength endurance threshold.
In many cases, when people train with a thicker bar, the size difference is so substantial that it trains the hands in a slightly different way. Obviously, the same muscles are being worked, but the orientation of the hands and loading are different. Going from a one-inch bar to a 2-inch or even 2.5 or 3-inch bar could end up being too big of a size difference to get good carryover back to deadlifting on a regular bar.
Aside from working with a heavier barbell to load the hands specifically, I also suggest wearing some leather work gloves while deadlifting in that video. This increases the perceived size of the bar. The bar itself doesn’t change, but the fact that the glove material sits between your fingers and the bar keeps the fingers slightly more open so the bar seems slightly larger. The same effect can be gotten by wrapping a towel over the bar and gripping it, but it slipped my mind to mention this because I was driving. You can see the video I am talking about here.
Will thick bar training improve hand strength? Absolutely. It is a great way to train for general hand strength. However, I think the best way to bring your deadlifting support strength up is by doing work of a more specific nature.
That’s all for now. I was going to answer more questions, but this post got big in a hurry, so I will make sure to answer more down the line. Feel free to leave comments with any questions you might have.
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All the best in your training.
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Tags: deadlift grip, double overhand, double underhand, muscle-ups, nail bending, pull-ups, reverse bending, steel bending, support grip