You want to build a big and strong chest? Well you should not remove bench press out of your weightlifting program. Bench press is recommended if you want to build serious mass in your upper-body specially the chest and the triceps.
Before anything else you should learn how to bench press correctly with proper form and proper technique. Here’s the video I made to guide you how to bench press and get the most out of your bench press reps.
Stretch – No question. Stretching is mandatory when doing any kind of exercise. What I have in the video is the kind of stretch you want to prepare your shoulders for a bench press position.
Grip Position – Sometimes when your grip is not in the right position the weight will give pressure to your wrist instead of your chest. This leads to wrist injury and your reps will be affected. Grip is probably the thing you don’t want to lose while lifting weights.
Reverse Roll Set-up – We all have trouble positioning ourselves when doing bench press. This tip will get you more comfortable position.
Shoulder Slam – To give you a nice and firm position after the reverse roll set-up.
Use your Lats – To help you maintain the balance while unracking the barbell.
Leg Drive – This might be a little difficult for beginners. It takes time to practice. This will help you drive your upper-back into the bench so you can lift the weight much easier.
Grip Width – Just find what’s comfortable for your shoulder. The wider your grip width the wider you target your chest but it will cause more stress to your shoulders.
I hope you enjoyed this video and stay tuned for more upcoming tips.
This is the first time sumo deadlifts actually felt right, much better than 7 months ago. Although the heaviest I lifted in this session was only 382lbs, it’s the first time I felt like I was using more of adductors and quads to break the weight off the ground vs my low back and glutes.
I’ve been dedicating 1 day a week to doing 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.
1.) When you can’t squat heavy sumo deadlift
My squat sessions have been non existent because of my medial elbow pain. As a way to build and maintain my quad strength, front squats have been my replacement, but when you think about it, sumo deadlifts is a decent alternative to getting some heavy squat work in. Far from ideal, but it’s hell of a lot better than doing leg extensions and leg presses when your primary goal is to get good with the barbell.
2.) Work on deadlift muscles at a different angle
Another view of the sumo deadlifts is that it works as a great accessory exercise to conventional deadlifts and squats. Sumo deadlifts help strengthen your adductors but they also help promote a more “knees-out” position for squatting and conventional deadlifting. Of course in conventional deadlifts you don’t really push your knees out a ton, but you definitely use hip torque get those femurs to turn away from each other.
3.) Give your low back a break but still work improving your deadlift strength
If you’re a really good conventional deadlifter, sumo deadlifts is a great way to build your deadlift muscles without frying your lower back. One of the big advantages of a conventional deadlift is it allows you to get good acceleration with your low back and upper back muscles. Some people will disagree with this (probably richard hawthorn would), but when you’re back is sore or just not feeling up to snuff, pull sumo to still work on the posterior chain muscle group but with less dependency on the spinal erectors.
4.) Invest in something you might need down the road
I want to deadlift 700lbs at a bodyweight of 198lbs some time in my life. I may hit a plateau for a few years as Dan green did when he said he got stuck around 300kg (660lbs) doing conventional. So I figured why not invest some time now. I can’t really squat, so I’ll sumo deadlift instead.
5.) Sumo deadlift stance may be similar to your competition squat stance
As you can imagine, if you squat with a wide stance, there is much more carry-over from your squats to your deadlifts and your deadlifts to your squat because you’re training positions that are very similar to one another.
These are just my opinions and view points as of this moment. At anytime they could change as I learn and experience more things lifting this barbell. Do you agree or disagree? I’d like to hear your thoughts. Comment below on this post or on the related youtube channel.
Thanks for reading, remember to share this if you feel it will be useful to someone you know.
A powerlifting Meet, a Play by play experience from a lifter.
6:36am I was wide awake. I was surprised of how I felt considering I had some trouble sleeping. I didn’t feel nervous, but I’m pretty sure I was. I had some caffeine a little later than usual the day before and was wondering if that was the reason. I probably felt so alert because of the mild adrenaline pump that was to come for my powerlifting meet.
Unlike the morning of my first powerlifting meet, I was much more calm and focused. The excitement wasn’t getting the better of me. The main concern is how well I would squat today. A few weeks ago I pulled some spinal erectors near my SI joint (I made a few videosabout my injury). Effectively irritating my SI joint which took about 12 days to recover.
I practiced wrapping my knees as well as using my newly aquired iron rebel wrist wraps the day before. They still needed braking in, but they were better than the Valero wrist wraps that I ended up returning to Sports Authority.
They were pink, only color left
7:45am We leave to Vacaville to Old Skool Iron. My very pregnant hungry wife was nice enough to drive. I do a video blog on the way there. It actually helps me relax.
If you’re there supporting a friend, significant other or family member, it’s best to get there early so you can get good seats. This was only my second powerlifting meet (at the same location), and it felt awkward to film because it was jammed pack (not to mention it was raining back in Feb).
It seemed pretty normal to have a camera person film their friend while they did their attempt, so even if you don’t get a good seat up front you should be okay. However, with a pregnant wife, I wanted to make it as easy as possible so that she wouldn’t have to keep going back and forth.
8:17am I arrive and do a last minute equipment check of an elbow strap brace I use for squatting. It helps reduce the medial elbow pain when I squat. It’s a band-aid for poor shoulder mobility.
They said it was too long and it can’t have velcro, bummer.
I talked to the USPLA organizer for the meet, Steven Denison. I previously sent an FB message to him about not squatting. He seemed a bit erked that I changed my mind last minute (again). I’m going to make a guess that there were a lot of last minute changes including several that didn’t make weight. This caused a slight delay in the first flight from starting.
Here’s a video a video of a subscriber that follows my youtube channel. Nick, strong guy. Killed it on the squats. He cut down from 220 down to 198lbs.
I did a short warm up by working with 185lbs and 225lbs. Sets of 3-5 reps. The most important thing I finally figured out was my set up under the bar. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to squat in a way that didn’t give me elbow pain while simultaneously staying tight in the upper back. As I get under the bar, I touch the place where I would do a high bar squat, then slide further forward while squeezing my shoulder blades together for a low bar squat. Simple, but a routine I’ve forgotten.
A lot of powerlifters who I follow on youtube and listen to on podcasts don’t seem to emphasize set up enough. Setting up to me is like looking through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. You might be out of bullets (or saving them, like saving strength) or not ready to shoot your target, but you can still check to see how things look. You can pay attention to where your hands are around the gun. Where your finger is in relation to the trigger.
In the case of the barbell in powerlifting you can practice set up everyday. Why not? Practice unracking the barbell. Practice deadlifting with 135lbs. Practice how you take your breath in.
That what I did for 5 days leading up to my first meet. I was over prepared, and that’s why I did so much better.
Squat 1st attempt
3 white lights! The white lights indicate each judge giving a thumbs up or down. One on each side and one in front. After the lift is completed, each judge will credit the lifter with a white or a red light. You need 2 out of the 3 lights to be white for the lift to be good.
There was something wrong with equipment. My socks were too high. In raw classic there needs to be 2 inches above and below the knee wrap of exposed skin. I also forgot to take off the elbow wrap I was using. I felt bad about that because they said no earlier. I was just using it in warm up.
Squat 2nd Attempt
After each attempt you either had to go to the desk to give your next attempt numbers or someone one will come up to you after your lift to ask what you wanted to try for on the next attempt.
It’s crazy how “light” the weight felt. Something about the environment and all those people watching you lift that gets the adrenaline going. 297lbs felt almost the same as 363lbs.
Squat 3rd Attempt
When it’s your turn to go up, you’ll hear the announcer say something like:
“Jon is up, Ryan is on deck, Billy is in the hole and Tim is 4 out.”
When you’re in the hole (or 3 out) you need to go up there and start wrapping up your knees and wrists (if you’re using any). When they say “4 out,” it goes by really quick. And if you’re nervous it will be like a blink before it’s your turn. There’s usually a seat up front next to platform for setting up your knee wraps. Your coach will either wrap you up or you’ll just wrap yourself up.
I wish I practiced using wrapping up my knees more. I really didn’t use them much because I was planning on going with knee sleeves or just no knee support at all, but changed my mind last minute.
I’m so glad squats were over. The most stressful lift and arguable the most dangerous.
This is what I’ve heard from many people when it comes to setting attempts.
First attempt should be an easy 3 rep near max.
Second attempt should be your heaviest 2 rep max.
Third attempt should be your PR set.
For me, 265lbs in the gym for a pause bench was not an easy triple, but I know I can pretty much hit that on any given week. The closest to kg was 120kg or 264lbs.
I did a few sets of 2 reps with 225lbs in the warm up room. I really focused on staying tight. They didn’t really have any pull up bars (or space for that matter) to set up for my normal mobility routine, so I had to improvise when compared to my standard shoulder mobility routine.
When raw benching for powerlifting, it’s important that you have good mobility to go into shoulder extension and internal rotation. That just means your elbow going behind your body without your shoulder shrugging forward or up.
The middle part of my lat on my right side cramped up like crazy. Luckily I got a soft ball to mash that out.
After my second attempt, I learned a lot about myself. Here’s the thing I learned. I always seem to have an issue with my lock out when it comes to benching. I’m usually pretty strong coming off the chest after a pause, but for whatever reason, my lock out sucks and on that set I realized what it was. After my elbow passes 90 degrees I let off the gas pedal bit. I think it’s unconscious. When the judge said “bench” I came up with the 303lbs strong and I was thinking, “shit i got this!” But then hit that invisible wall at the 0:09 second mark in the video. I slowed down my rep and I don’t know why. This is where I thinking training with bands or chain might help be stop this bad habit. I need to focus on following all the way through.
Some may suggest that my second attempt was too big of a jump, and it probably was. I made the jump because in my mind, I can’t hit 300lbs for more than one rep in any given bench day. Of course, that’s probably psychological, but my other matter of thinking was that if I went for 297lbs, there was a good chance I might miss 303 on the 3rd attempt. So I just went for a small PR. My experience training is that I have trouble hitting multiple paused reps above 280lbs in the same session.
Once I got stuck, you can see my lips move telling the spotters I’m done. On my 3rd attempt on my previous meet (video starts at 2:44) I tried to grind for 5 seconds and still failed. Ultimately I irritated my left AC joint that prevented me from benching and back squatting heavy for 3 weeks; so I cut my losses right there.
I learned something very valuable at this meet. I found out that I don’t follow through aggressively after my elbow passes 90 degrees. I want to say that around about the 110 degree mark of the bench, I have a subconscious slow down of completing the lockout. It’s as if I’m a few steps from the finish line and decide to slow down because I’m so close. The unfortunate reality is that gravity is still working against me and any loss of momentum during max attempts will result in a miss or a really ugly grinder.
This is where I think training with chains and bands could be useful. Really being put in a condition where I have to fully lockout out the weight. However, I’ve always felt that training with bands messed with the bar path too much. If I had a choice, I would bench press with chains if they were available to me.
Powerlifting Meet Deadlift Attempts
Most of my mobility work is done, because for me, squatting has the greatest demands on my flexibility (or lack thereof). However it’s still good to do a little bit. Doing the hamstring floss has always been a staple for me. Gets me into a really good deep hip flexion for a solid pulling position on the deadlift.
I was also creative enough to jerry-rig my own uni-lateral hip thrust. Hip thrust with bands was an idea I got from Chris Duffin on this video at the 1:40 mark. A standing banded hip thrust that helps with deep flexion at hips along with an accompanying aggressive hip extension.
The space required for what Chris Duffin demonstrates was not available to me, so what I did was I did it with one leg. almost like a 1-legged rdl. It seemed to help a lot.
Warm ups were 135 for 10 reps and 225 for 5 reps. I did practice singles with 315-365lbs. I rehearsed my approach, grabbed and ripped. I always big on form,but when it comes time to max lift, you gotta hope that all your training up until that point falls into place when you grab the bar for an attempt.
It’s almost like you have to fall into some sort of rhythm. A rhythm of breathing, or maybe like a dance. Something that puts you mode to walk up to the bar and give your very best physical, mental and technical efforts.
I chose to do a 484lbs (220kg) opening attempt. I won’t say this is an easy triple, but on any given day I can lift this with 99.99% accuracy. When I looked at the roster, I was the second heaviest opening lift. It was satisfying to know that my deadlift was high up there, unlike my bench and squat.
1st Deadlift Attempt
2nd Deadlift Attempt
How to have a successful Deadlift
I’ve been able to distill my current deadlift approach as follows:
1. Approach the bar, placing one foot with the proper distance from the shin.
2. Position second foot
3. Distance check my shins to the bar. If I were to flex my knees my shins would almost touch it.
4. Squeeze glutes
5. Take a long deep breath into spinal extension
6. Grab the bar with my right (under hand) pulling some slack out of the bar. ~40lbs
7. Grab with other hand (overhand) pull another 40lbs of slack out of the bar.
8. Take another big deep breath. Getting a double sip of air to increase my abdominal pressure.
9. Knees flex forward
10. Violently and abruptly extend the knees and hips while simultaneously rocking backwards.
11. Don’t let go
Much of this routine has been learned organically. Everything happens so quickly. It’s my “pre lift routine” which would be similar to a pre shot routine that is similar to what a golfer does before hitting the ball.
The hardest thing I’ve been trying to do in training is to approach 135lbs the same as I would a 600lbs deadlift.
One the big mistakes I’ve noticed with many lifters in the warm up room is lowering the deadlift too slowly. I know for a fact that this waste a lot of energy. I suppose it might makes sense to do so if you have a bad habit of following judge commands and dropping the bar after a deadlift, but lowering quickly is the only way you can conserve energy. 315lbs is light, but lowering it like a stiff legged deadlift will impact energy usage.
484lbs came up like slicing butter. Not my best bar path, but definitely easy as expected. When I went to give numbers for my next attempt, I thought about giving my previous pr of 247.5kg, but decided to PR it try 250kg. At the time of giving my next attempt, I thought if I missed it I would get a second chance.
A few moments later I realize that was bad thinking. From when I finished my 1st deadlift opening attempt to my next attempt I zone out. It was if I had tunnel vision and could hardly hear anything. I was in a meditative state. Listening to my breath and keep my nerves calm.
I made commitment that once I gripped that bar I wasn’t going to let go. I was reminded by an Elite Crossfitter I saw in a video. It was a deadlift and box jump workout. 315lbs deadlift and box jumps for 21-15-9 reps for time. The guy that won that event said in a later interview that he made a commitment to not let go of the bar. 315lbs isn’t heavy but 21 reps is a lot of F*cking reps. I think it was Scott Panchick or Marcus Hendren.
(For the record, crossfit doesn’t help strength in powerlifting, but these elite guys have a solid mental game. Hate crossfit or not, it still takes certain level of mental capacity to reach high levels in any sport.)
During: I don’t know what happened, the bar just went up.
After: It was crazy watching it. I was in disbelief.
I felt something in my left shoulder get slightly overstretched during the attempt so I chose to play it safe and decline my 3rd attempt. It felt like my subscapularis. It was a hell of a mind F’ just getting up there for the attempt.
I surprised that I won bronze.
A great experience, looking forward to the next one. I got some big personal goals this year. 600lbs deadilft and a 330lbs paused bench.
Thanks for reading, share with someone who might be thinking about doing their first powerlifting meet. Another one of my popular blog posts is the one of my first meet.
I’ve learned the most interacting with people and having conversation with them. Going to live events where you meet people with similar experiences as well people who are at the top of their game give you more “ah-ha” moments than most articles, podcasts or videos on the internet.
Watching it again motivated to take consider a longer view point on my training as well as take it more seriously. It also inspired me to do a blog post .
One the best ways I learn and get inspiration is by teaching others. Reviewing and sharing concepts and ideas about building strength is the best way I absorb information.
So what I did was review the video and took notes again and wanted to see if the information I learned at the Boss Barbell Seminar meant the same thing to me as it did back in January. Especially since I just finished my first powerlifting meet and I’m currently training for my second powerlifting meet which is exactly 53 days from this writing. (USPLA Old Skool Iron Classic, June 7th)
Look like you spend lots of time in the gym (for the beginner)
For beginners out there, one of the first things someone should focus on is look like you workout.
A part that got a real laugh at the seminar was when dan green said
“If you sit at a desk 50-60 hours a week, your body kinda starts end up looking like that” click here to see the exact point where he says it. click here to tweet it.
As a trainer, I sometimes take for granted how someone actually looks. Sure, there are genetic factors that play a role on how someone’s body will look like, but if you are able to lift heavy stuff repeatedly you will have a frame that looks like it.
I spend most of my days in a gym, train clients and have very athletic co-workers. The goal of any “regular person” is to not look like a “regular person.” Don’t look weak. So simple.
“Everything is about reps and sets. Reps and sets, reps and sets.”
Lift heavy often enough, challenge your muscles and you’ll look like you workout.
Expressing strength vs Being Strong
“Take all the training you’ve done and turn into the perfect day. It can be sort of a crap shoot.”
In the video, he really doesn’t say much, but depending on your experience and training age, you can view this in many different ways.
There is one thing to maintain strength year round and it’s a whole different when you’re called to express your strength in 9 attempts.
He mentioned Westside Barbell and talked about it briefly ( conjugate method) during the seminar. And if you’re familiar with it, you know that it consists of lots of variety. Barbell lifting with accommodating resistance, using bands and chains. Using different kinds of bars, types of squats and types of deadlifts.
Variety is used often in bodybuilding to stimulate muscle growth in as many different ways as possible to maximize muscle size (hypertrophy). Essentially, attacking the muscle in a variety of different directions.
You intuitively know this. Changing things up (variety) is really good for building strength.
Peaking for Powerlifting
The Said Principle: Specific adaptation to imposed demand. You get better at whatever it is you train for.
Read the above 2 sentences again and interpret as what makes sense to you.
I’m far from being a high level lifter. Considering my knowledge base with what I know about human physiology and experience of training non-athletes along with lots of nerding out on bodybuilding and powerlifting articles, I know this is a very complicated subject.
There are people out there with lots more experience that can tackle the subject better. However, what I bring to the table is my opinion; this viewpoint coming from a normal person that loves lifting heavy barbells. I happen to be an experienced personal trainer that coaches everyday people. I’m a non-athletic, broken leopard.
With that being said, peaking for a powerlifting meet to me means taking about 5-6 days off from heavy lifting. My last heavy training session will probably be may 31st.
From May 12th through the 30th, there will be a lot of emphasis placed to my set up for each lift. Lots of heavy singles with 80-90% with a very low training volume. Lots of 1-3 reps sets with mental training of how I’m going to approach the bar.
Where the bar sits on my back on the squat, how my shoulders set upon the bench prior to lift off and where my hips are and where and when my shins make contact with barbell before the deadlift.
These are thing that are specific to me. Some may say I’m over thinking things, but this how I lift. It’s part of my mental preparation. And because I’m a technical guy, these are the things that set meup for success.
I’m not a professional athlete, I’m a recreational athlete that take his recreation seriously (and loves it).
I’ve spent too much time writing and have to get back to work. Comment and share my article if you found this article interesting. My primary place to publish content is on my youtube channel.