T Nation

Stronger Presses After Pull-Ups

Hey PC,

Stats: 26M, 90kg. No prior health issues. Though, I’ve dislocated my shoulders and wrist when I was 8 and 10 years old respectively but that doesn’t impact my performance (I believe). My wrist circumference is 6 inches (these East African genes) (this point is important I believe for this discussion)

Man I’ve been a follower of your ways for the past 4 years so what I’m about to say might go against everything you’ve taught me but please hear me out my man.

You’ve always said if someone is doing the movement in a correct and proper form (not what the individual perceives to be correct form but actually is the right form) where they feel the muscle. It should be activated and that’s that.

So here is something I’ve experienced. Let’s use the bench press for example.

Whenever I’d do bench press or any pushing movement, I’d warm up with that exercise and then go on my working set. From there, the weight would just feel a bit heavier and by the 3rd or 4th set, I’m ‘ready’ & the weight feels lighter so then I progressively move the weight up in weight and work up to a top set (as you’d advise) but my wrists would constantly feel like they’re the weakest link not my chest or shoulders per say

But then recently, as recently as 4 weeks ago, I’d do 2 reps of pull ups (I can do 8 strict reps and then an extra 4 bro reps after that as an all out) and I would continuously do these 2 rep pull ups after each bench press warm up set, as an example;
Bench press set 1: 20 reps with just bar
Pull ups: 2 reps
Bench press set 2: 40KG -10 reps with just bar
Pull ups: 2 reps.

And I would continuously do this in between my work sets and man, let me tell you, the bench press goes up so easily and so quick, I’ve set 2 back to back rep PR on my overhead press and bench press since applying this method, lat pull downs doesn’t have that same effect. In fact. The pull ups, I need to do them with thin bars, because if I use thicker bars. My performance decreases.

So essentially, now that I’ve provided some context and background, what the fuck is actually happening to my body? Is it all psychological? Is there actually some science behind what I’m doing? Or is it just a case of what you preach ‘try it and do it and if it works for you. Great’

Why is my body able to press more, and oh, let me make an even bigger statement and say my wrists don’t become the limiting factor, they in fact grip the bar so hard, I KNOW I will get the reps required before I even start the set (90% 1RM) because my grip feels so tight around the bar.

Weird explanation but hopefully with your expertise you can fill in the gaps.

My hope is that with this information I can see if I can apply this to perhaps lower body movement? Do sets of hamstring curls before squats to see if anything happens.

All in the name of becoming better in the game.

Best regards

Get some wrist wraps

Plenty of people include pulling movements in their warm up. Not sure if it’s from back activation or from cueing squeezing the bar harder like you say but it works. I dunno about the latter tbh: your grip is tight for both but should be different between pressing and pulling movements. For pressing the bar sits low in your palm for maximum stability. For pulling the bar hangs out lower in your hand. IMO learn to set your pressing grip right and then squeeze and see if you achieve the same effect.

“Studies have confirmed that pressing strength increases dramatically by working or even statically stretching the antagonist muscles between sets of benching.”

There’s some kind of fancy sounding (reciprocal innervation?) effect where firing up the back muscles makes the front muscles work better.

Also when you grip tightly it makes your shoulders more stable and better prepared to press (anticipatory stability).

If you’re just playing around with these concepts/ideas for the first time they can feel super dramatic and effective.


Reciprocal inhibition,

Contraction of antagonist excites agonists

I’ve heard of irradiation but never of this. Where would you recommend finding more info on this?

I didn’t know exactly the term I was searching for, I looked for “grip and shoulder stability.” One of the first links was an article called “The Grip-Shoulder Connection” from Arrow Physical Therapy, Seattle. “Anticipatory Stability” was just the first general term they threw out in the description. Later in the article they say “irradiation.”

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Regardless, I’ll have a look at the article. Seems interesting :slight_smile:

I am a masters(over 45) powerlifting competitor and I usually do lat activation exercises before heavy bench pressing. My preference is straight arm pulldowns, pullovers or scap pull ups. It creates the feeling that the lats are hard right under the armpit and helps cushion the bench on the way down.

By the way, the pecs shorten in pulldown variations, and the triceps can even get worked over the shoulder joints.

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