T Nation

Max-Effort Upper Variations


I've been follwing ws4sb for a good while. My main max-effort variations have usually been 3 simple movements, flat barbell bench press, incline barbell bench and close-grip bench.

My new problem is, the benches have been swapped for all hammer strength machines. I know this a modern day bodybuilder's dream, but I'm not too sure about them. As coaches try to keep away from these for athletes.

I could set up an adjustable bench in the squat rack for inlcines.

The bench was busy for a while today and I got sick of waiting and I worked upto a few heavy sets on the hammer strength bench, what do people think of this?

As long as the weights going up on a hammer strength flat or incline where's the problem?

My variations now are:
Flat barbell bench
Close-grip bench
Incline DBs or Barbell
Hammer machines?

I need boards.


Floor press variations, pin press variations, presses in the rack. If you have a rack and an adjustable bench, then you really have all you need. Get some bands, chains, and boards and you can do even more.


i guess it really depends on what your goals are. Hammer strength machines are fine for working in the higher rep ranges for hypertrophy but if you are looking to get stronger for powerlifting purposes free weights are the way to go. there are a ton of upper body ME variations.

pin presses
pin lockouts
floor press with barbell or dumbell- also can vary by doing with neutral grip
board press
manpon presses
barbell holds
illegal wides
paused bench/touch and go
cambered bar presses

these are just a few bench only ME variations right off the top of my head. you can then divide these variations into new ME movements by setting baseline PR's for singles, doubles, triples, etc. as well as PR's on 5x5, 3x3, etc. you can also use touch and go and paused as another variation. after that you can add bands or chains into the mix. the options are limitless. Hammer strength doesn't even come into the picture as it pertains to ME. No fixed plane movement should ever be used as an ME movement.


not wanting to sound stupid here, but what are the differences b/w pin presses and pin lockouts? the ROM?


you got it.


Thanks for the help.

I'll have to check if lock outs can be done in the rack. Maraudermeat, the rack isn't like the one in your picture.

It's set up more like this one http://www.g2fitnessproducts.com/ProductImages/power_systems/freeweight_equipment/40120_squat_rack.png


that sucks bro.. i'm sure with some creativity you can figure it out. i've trained in commercial gyms forever and most of the time i have to think outside of the box to get shit done.


Ye I'll get something sorted.

After watching some videos of illegal wides, I think they might be the end of my shoulders!

What do you think of them?

Any imaginative ideas on how barbell floor presses could be performed safely in a commercial gym?


don't go too heavy and be sure to tuck the elbows. the shoulder should be fine. it's when the elbow's flare that you run into shoulder problems.

the above link is how i do floor press now. but in the past i've had my partner deadlift the weight over me and then take it when i'm done. you could also set up plates on either side to elevate the bar for the liftoff and then when you are finished let it go in front of you. that is unless you have t-rex arms like me and the bar actually touches your chest in the bottom.

dumbell floor press is a good option and then you have the ability to do them with a neutral grip. i do those a lot. i've read where people have put the bar on the end of a bench behind them and took the handoff that way.


That's my situation too. I get around it by using plates under the bench or using those aerobics steps to build up a bench to do pin presses and lockouts. Not ideal but it gets the job done.


I haven't tried yet but was thinking of adding them in.. heard to take a bench and rest the barbell on the bench...


Dude, unless you're a competitive PLer, throw in a ME OH press of some kind.


I neglected O/H work for a long time and it definately has held my bench press back and now its going to take a long time to get it up to speed.


Still worth doing. Besides, heavy OH work is great for you trunk stabilizers as kind of an added bonus.


When people with as huge a bench press as Vincent Dizenzo are consistantly working on their O/H press, how can you argue with that.

Here is his 405lb O/H press

Here is another link to his 600lb raw bench


i have been mixing in shoulder work for a ME workout for sometime with good results. and for more varioety, you can throw in dumb bell exercises for reps.