Thib's Random Thought of the Day

JANUARY 8TH

I find that the key to improving a lagging or stuck bench press is to improve overhead lifting strength.

I actually just realized that, despite plenty of experience showing that it was true. Here are three of those experiences:

  1. When I was playing football I used to train the bench press a lot (it was the lift I wanted to be strong at because it was tested at camp). Despite spending 2 (sometimes 3) days a week doing the bench press it was still a weak lift from me.

When I started to compete in olympic lifting I stopped training the bench as I was already tight in the shoulders and pectorals which made catching my snatches much harder.

I did however do tons of overhead work… push presses, military presses, split jerks, push jerks, overhead supports, snatches, overhead squats, etc.

When I stopped competing in olympic lifting I started to train on the bench again, and the first time I benched (after not having benched for 5 years) I destroyed my previous best and within 2 months I was lifting 75lbs more than ever before on that lift.

  1. When we were developing the I, Bodybuilder program the first phase was a shoulder spec program, which included a lot of overhead work. During that time I reduced the amount of bench pressing work, to avoid overstressing the shoulders. After the phase was completed my bench had improved by 40lbs, without doing it more than once or twice in 4 weeks.

  2. I recently decided to start olympic lifting again. I found that I lacked shoulder mobility and the capacity to hold weights overhead. So I decided to do a lot of overhead work. In part to gain more strength, but also to work on my range of motion. I did some form of overhead work (including, among others military presses, behind the neck press with a snatch grip for mobility, overhead support, overhead lunges, push presses, overhead squats, push jerks, etc.) and I cut off bench pressing and any chest work until my shoulder mobility was better.

When my shoulder mobility was back to where it needed to be I started bench pressing again, and a weight that was normally fairly hard felt like the bar was almost empty.

I decided to reduce my amount of overhead work since I reasoned that my mobility and strength was back, within 2 weeks my bench went down!

So to me it is fairly obvious that if you want your bench to go up, instead of doing tons of bench work… do tons of overhead work!

3 Likes

im just finishing a shoulder spec phase because i thought if my shoulders could press more overhead my bench would go up and this is confirmation haha! my strength went way up so well see how benching goes next week.

Although I have pitiful numbers, I have some lifting experience and I can say that the reverse is true as well. I used to train OHP a lot, but then I focused on the bench more. I didn’t OHP for about a year, I guess, and when I improved my bench by 20 kg, my OHP improved by 10 kg the first time I tested it.

So I’d say the answer is to emphasize both movements so they help each other.

Wow, you could have written that just for me! I haven’t done ANY overhead work for about a year from my shoulder injury. This may be exactly why my bench sucks at the moment.

Now that my shoulder is feeling better, I’ll follow your soon to be released shoulder spec phase to bring that strength up first, instead of worrying about my bench.

Thanks for the excellent guidance!

I think Jim Wendler has mentioned he’s had the same experience with overhead pressing benefiting his bench press…good to hear again.

[quote]JHollywood wrote:
I think Jim Wendler has mentioned he’s had the same experience with overhead pressing benefiting his bench press…good to hear again.[/quote]

Anthony Ditillio also said the same thing decades ago. His ‘bench press’ spec routine would actually include more overhead work than bench press work.

JANUARY 9TH

RESISTANCE VS. LOAD

From my own experience you progress faster if you change the resistance from set to set (generally increasing the resistance from set to set until you reach your max point for the day).

This is the basis for loading methods such as ramping (increasing the load from set to set), wave loading (3 sets with progressively heavier loading, back down, climb back up over 3 sets…), pyramid loading (e.g. 1 x 5 reps, 1 x 4 reps, 1 x 3 reps, 1 x 2 reps, 1 x 1 rep with progressively increasing weight), etc.

But increasing the resistance from set to set doesn’t necessarily mean that you are increasing the load (weight) from set to set.

You see, there is a difference between the RESISTANCE and the LOAD used. While the RESISTANCE does include the load (weight used) it also takes into account the WAY you are handling that load. On the other side, the LOAD in a unifactorial variable - the weight used.

The WAY you are lifting a weight can influence the nature of the resistance. I’ll take the easier example to illustrate this: fast turnaround vs. deadstop.

Both the fast turnaround and deadstop are methods that I use. They both work by creating an overload in the stretched position. The FT does so by putting the muscle tissue under a large strain due to the ‘whipping’ effect of rapidly switching from eccentric to concentric. The DEADSTOP does so by forcing the muscle tissue to do the whole job (taking out the stretch reflex) thus having to contract harder.

Ironically both methods are exacts opposite, but they still create an overload of the same point and are thus equally effective.

A FT rep is ‘easier’ than a deadstop rep. Easier not in the sense that it is less effective or easier to perform. Easier in the sense that you can lift more weight this way.

So even though two sets of an exercise could use the same LOAD they could provide a different RESISTANCE depending on whether you are using a FT or a deadstop.

I often like to use a form of wave loading with a stable weight. I do so by varying the resistance by changing the ratio of FT and DEADSTOPS.

For example:

Set 1. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 FT reps
Set 2. 200lbs x 3 reps — 1 deadstop, 2 FT
Set 3. 200lbs x 3 reps — 2 deadstops, 1 FT
Set 4. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 deadstops
Set 5. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 FT reps (you should really be able to BLAST THOSE!!!)

Set 6. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 FT
Set 7. 220lbs x 2 reps – 1 deadstop, 1 FT
Set 8. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 deadstops
Set 9. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 FT

IF YOU ARE SHOOTING FOR A MAXIMUM

I recommend the following; a female client of mine is 47 years of age and 123lbs. She increased her deadlift from 245 to 265 and her bench press from 140 to 160 (did 165 the week after) in one week with this method:

Assuming a previous max of 245lbs…

Set 1. 205 x 3 — 3 deadstop
Set 2. 205 x 3 — 2 deadstops, 1 FT
Set 3. 205 x 3 — 1 deadstops, 2 FT
Set 4. 205 x 3 — 3 FT

Set 5. 225 x 2 — 2 deadstops
Set 6. 225 x 2 — 1 deadstop, 1 FT
Set 7. 225 x 2 — 2 FT

Set 8. 235 x 1 — 1 FT
Set 9. 245 x 1 — 1 FT
Set 10* 255 x 1 — 1 FT
Set 11* 265 x 1 — 1 FT

*Only if the preceding set was solid

A FAVORITE OF TIM PATTERSON

Is the contrast double ramp…

You do one set of deadstop, then one set of FT with the same weight, then you go up…

E.g. assuming a max of 300lbs

Set 1. 180lbs x 3 — 3 Deadstops
Set 2. 180lbs x 3 — 3 FT
Set 3. 200lbs x 3 — 3 DS
Set 4. 200lbs x 3 — 3 FT
Set 5. 220lbs x 3 — 3 DS
Set 6. 220lbs x 3 — 3 FT
Set 7. 240lbs x 3 — 3 DS
Set 8. 240lbs x 3 — 3 FT

I FORGOT TO MENTION THIS … VERY IMPORTANT… when using these methods “deadstop” does refer to paused reps, not lifts from pins

1 Like
  1. How is a FT rep performed on the deadlift ?

  2. Will simply paused bench press qualify as a deadstop movement in the contrast method ? Using both the power rack and the bench station is impossible in a small overcrowded gym.

[quote]Thy. wrote:

  1. How is a FT rep performed on the deadlift ?

  2. Will simply paused bench press qualify as a deadstop movement in the contrast method ? Using both the power rack and the bench station is impossible in a small overcrowded gym.[/quote]

The deadlift is a particular lift…

Deadstop = pause just below the knees
FT = explode as you reach the knees (so it is not a turnaround per se, just trying to explode)

I FORGOT TO MENTION THIS … VERY IMPORTANT… when using these methods “deadstop” does refer to paused reps, not lifts from pins

How long do you pause for?

[quote]denisined wrote:
How long do you pause for?[/quote]

2-3 seconds

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]Thy. wrote:

  1. How is a FT rep performed on the deadlift ?

  2. Will simply paused bench press qualify as a deadstop movement in the contrast method ? Using both the power rack and the bench station is impossible in a small overcrowded gym.[/quote]

The deadlift is a particular lift…

Deadstop = pause just below the knees
FT = explode as you reach the knees (so it is not a turnaround per se, just trying to explode)

I FORGOT TO MENTION THIS … VERY IMPORTANT… when using these methods “deadstop” does refer to paused reps, not lifts from pins[/quote]
This means that in these methods you mentioned above, you don’t reset* at the bottom and still remain under tension in the stretch position when pause, just only to leave the stretch reflex out of game(something like a dead-stop on the way, if we could say that)?
Therefore, when doing reps from pins, is another story, also deadstop reps, also helpfull and valuable, but not used in this case of the above specific methods?
I’m talking in general, not especially for deadlifts, which are a particular lift.

*With resetting I understand that you leave for a few secs the tension off the muscles, and start then the rep straight from a some way relaxed position to contract the muscles and move the bar simultaneously, and this is better accomplishable with lifting from pins, and not so when using a set with the methods above, where the reps are mixed (Deadstop and FT) and a rack with the pins positioned in a specific height can hinder the FT reps.

Thanks in advance

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
JANUARY 8TH

I find that the key to improving a lagging or stuck bench press is to improve overhead lifting strength.

I actually just realized that, despite plenty of experience showing that it was true. Here are three of those experiences:

  1. When I was playing football I used to train the bench press a lot (it was the lift I wanted to be strong at because it was tested at camp). Despite spending 2 (sometimes 3) days a week doing the bench press it was still a weak lift from me.

When I started to compete in olympic lifting I stopped training the bench as I was already tight in the shoulders and pectorals which made catching my snatches much harder.

I did however do tons of overhead work… push presses, military presses, split jerks, push jerks, overhead supports, snatches, overhead squats, etc.

When I stopped competing in olympic lifting I started to train on the bench again, and the first time I benched (after not having benched for 5 years) I destroyed my previous best and within 2 months I was lifting 75lbs more than ever before on that lift.

  1. When we were developing the I, Bodybuilder program the first phase was a shoulder spec program, which included a lot of overhead work. During that time I reduced the amount of bench pressing work, to avoid overstressing the shoulders. After the phase was completed my bench had improved by 40lbs, without doing it more than once or twice in 4 weeks.

  2. I recently decided to start olympic lifting again. I found that I lacked shoulder mobility and the capacity to hold weights overhead. So I decided to do a lot of overhead work. In part to gain more strength, but also to work on my range of motion. I did some form of overhead work (including, among others military presses, behind the neck press with a snatch grip for mobility, overhead support, overhead lunges, push presses, overhead squats, push jerks, etc.) and I cut off bench pressing and any chest work until my shoulder mobility was better.

When my shoulder mobility was back to where it needed to be I started bench pressing again, and a weight that was normally fairly hard felt like the bar was almost empty.

I decided to reduce my amount of overhead work since I reasoned that my mobility and strength was back, within 2 weeks my bench went down!

So to me it is fairly obvious that if you want your bench to go up, instead of doing tons of bench work… do tons of overhead work![/quote]

I’ve always stayed away from pressing overhead, as average shoulder mobility made overhead pressing a bit uncomfortable. After reading your recent post and a few artiles by Jim Wendler and some other folks, I decided to play around with a false/thumbless grip on standing overhead presses. This grip modification helped significantly. I also experimented with placing my hands just outside of my shoulders. There was no discomfort and there was no impingement.

Yesterday
45 x 12
95 x 8
135 x 5
155 x 5
175 x 3
195 x 2
225 x 1
245 x 1 (stopped due slow rep speed)

Today I have more shoulder impingement on my left shoulder. No discomfort but significant “clicking noises” when moving through the concentric. Any one else trying to deal with impingement while overhead presses

Comments anyone?

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]JHollywood wrote:
I think Jim Wendler has mentioned he’s had the same experience with overhead pressing benefiting his bench press…good to hear again.[/quote]

Anthony Ditillio also said the same thing decades ago. His ‘bench press’ spec routine would actually include more overhead work than bench press work.[/quote]

I’ve actually been looking at purchasing a Ditillo book recently. Would you recommend The Development of Physical Strength as a first purchase or The Development of Muscular Bulk and Power?

For example:

Set 1. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 FT reps
Set 2. 200lbs x 3 reps — 1 deadstop, 2 FT
Set 3. 200lbs x 3 reps — 2 deadstops, 1 FT
Set 4. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 deadstops
Set 5. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 FT reps (you should really be able to BLAST THOSE!!!)

Set 6. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 FT
Set 7. 220lbs x 2 reps – 1 deadstop, 1 FT
Set 8. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 deadstops
Set 9. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 FT

Also assumin a 245 max for this one?

JANUARY 10TH

GRIP PROBLEM? HELP FROM THE STRONGEST ‘GRIP-MAN’ OF ALL TIME!

I have smallish hands, it has always hurt my lifting performance in the past, mostly because I did not try to correct the situation by working on my grip strength.

For example, when I was competing in olympic lifting I could snatch 142.5kg in training (actually have that on video) yet my best in competition was only 125kg (around a 40lbs difference). The main reason was that I often relied on straps during training. The ‘more secure’ grip allowed me to transfer more force the the bar which led to ‘better’ performances in training, but bad ones when it counted.

I didn’t help myself in that I never worked on my grip strength and used straps for all pulls and deadlifts.

I started training on the olympic lifts again, and still train the deadlift hard (my nemesis; which I want to conquer). This time around I decided to throw away my straps completely and work on my grip strength to solve that problem once and for all.

I did the typical grip stuff: Captain of Crush grippers, pinch gripping, bar holds, forearm work, etc. My hands got stronger, on those lifts, but it didn’t seem to transfer 100% to the actual performance of snatches, cleans and deadlifts.

So I looked elsewhere, to one of the strongest grip-man (if not THE strongest) of all tine: Hermann Goerner. That man has too many grip-strength feats to number them, but suffice to say that he has deadlifted over 750lbs with ONE HAND. This requires a grip of steal!

How did he train his grip strength? He would ramp up the weight on his deadlifts (and one-hand deadlifts)… with the lighter loads he would use a tougher grip and as the weight were getting heavier and heavier he would switch to a stronger and stronger grip type.

For example, he might start his deadlifts by using a supinated (palms forward) grip, using only two fingers per hand. He would ramp up the weight…

When the load got challenging for that grip he would switch to a pronated grip (palms facing him) still using only two fingers…

When that second grip type was starting to be problematic he would switch to a three fingers supinated grip… then eventually to a three fingers pronated grip…

When three fingers were not enough he would use a full, supinated grip (using the 4 fingers and the thumb wrapped around the bar) then a full pronated grip…

When the full pronated grip was starting to be tough he finally switched to an alternating grip.

This progression is a bit long for myself, as I’m not a grip-master yet, so I adapted it. It looks like that:

GRIP TYPE 1: Two-fingers (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 2: Three-fingers (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 3: Full grip (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 4: Hook grip (olympic lifting grip)
GRIP TYPE 5: Alternating grip

I ramp up the weight on all sets. I use this method for deadlifts and shrugs (which I now use as my main grip exercise).

I find that this…

  • Transfers directly to gripping performance on the actual lifts
  • Gave me really deep forearm soreness the next day, the first time I tried it

GOERNER, NOT ALONE…

Goerner is not the only one to recommend such technique. At least two other respected authorities recommended a somewhat similar approach.

Years ago Tommy Kono (former world champion olympic lifter) recommended that those who have a weak grip do their olympic lifts with a regular full grip instead of the typical hook grip (which is more securem but doesn’t improve grip strength) on snatches and clean until the weight on those lifts absolutely require the use of a hook grip. Over time this makes the grip much stronger.

Charles Poliquin also recommends the same when he works with female olympic lifters. In OL the women lifts on a smaller bar, less thick (25mm instead of 28mm). Charles recommends that the female lifters use the men’s bar for as long as they can, and switch to the women’s bar when the weight gets heavy. He noticed an actual increase in pulling strength as soon as you switch bar (better neural activation).

He recommended something similar on rowing movements… guys can use a thick bar for the lighter work sets and switch to a regular sized bar as the weight gets heavier.

1 Like

[quote]kinghandle wrote:
For example:

Set 1. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 FT reps
Set 2. 200lbs x 3 reps — 1 deadstop, 2 FT
Set 3. 200lbs x 3 reps — 2 deadstops, 1 FT
Set 4. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 deadstops
Set 5. 200lbs x 3 reps — 3 FT reps (you should really be able to BLAST THOSE!!!)

Set 6. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 FT
Set 7. 220lbs x 2 reps – 1 deadstop, 1 FT
Set 8. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 deadstops
Set 9. 220lbs x 2 reps – 2 FT

Also assumin a 245 max for this one?[/quote]

Correct.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
JANUARY 10TH

GRIP PROBLEM? HELP FROM THE STRONGEST ‘GRIP-MAN’ OF ALL TIME!

I have smallish hands, it has always hurt my lifting performance in the past, mostly because I did not try to correct the situation by working on my grip strength.

For example, when I was competing in olympic lifting I could snatch 142.5kg in training (actually have that on video) yet my best in competition was only 125kg (around a 40lbs difference). The main reason was that I often relied on straps during training. The ‘more secure’ grip allowed me to transfer more force the the bar which led to ‘better’ performances in training, but bad ones when it counted.

I didn’t help myself in that I never worked on my grip strength and used straps for all pulls and deadlifts.

I started training on the olympic lifts again, and still train the deadlift hard (my nemesis; which I want to conquer). This time around I decided to throw away my straps completely and work on my grip strength to solve that problem once and for all.

I did the typical grip stuff: Captain of Crush grippers, pinch gripping, bar holds, forearm work, etc. My hands got stronger, on those lifts, but it didn’t seem to transfer 100% to the actual performance of snatches, cleans and deadlifts.

So I looked elsewhere, to one of the strongest grip-man (if not THE strongest) of all tine: Hermann Goerner. That man has too many grip-strength feats to number them, but suffice to say that he has deadlifted over 750lbs with ONE HAND. This requires a grip of steal!

How did he train his grip strength? He would ramp up the weight on his deadlifts (and one-hand deadlifts)… with the lighter loads he would use a tougher grip and as the weight were getting heavier and heavier he would switch to a stronger and stronger grip type.

For example, he might start his deadlifts by using a supinated (palms forward) grip, using only two fingers per hand. He would ramp up the weight…

When the load got challenging for that grip he would switch to a pronated grip (palms facing him) still using only two fingers…

When that second grip type was starting to be problematic he would switch to a three fingers supinated grip… then eventually to a three fingers pronated grip…

When three fingers were not enough he would use a full, supinated grip (using the 4 fingers and the thumb wrapped around the bar) then a full pronated grip…

When the full pronated grip was starting to be tough he finally switched to an alternating grip.

This progression is a bit long for myself, as I’m not a grip-master yet, so I adapted it. It looks like that:

GRIP TYPE 1: Two-fingers (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 2: Three-fingers (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 3: Full grip (pronated)
GRIP TYPE 4: Hook grip (olympic lifting grip)
GRIP TYPE 5: Alternating grip

I ramp up the weight on all sets. I use this method for deadlifts and shrugs (which I now use as my main grip exercise).

I find that this…

  • Transfers directly to gripping performance on the actual lifts
  • Gave me really deep forearm soreness the next day, the first time I tried it

GOERNER, NOT ALONE…

Goerner is not the only one to recommend such technique. At least two other respected authorities recommended a somewhat similar approach.

Years ago Tommy Kono (former world champion olympic lifter) recommended that those who have a weak grip do their olympic lifts with a regular full grip instead of the typical hook grip (which is more securem but doesn’t improve grip strength) on snatches and clean until the weight on those lifts absolutely require the use of a hook grip. Over time this makes the grip much stronger.

Charles Poliquin also recommends the same when he works with female olympic lifters. In OL the women lifts on a smaller bar, less thick (25mm instead of 28mm). Charles recommends that the female lifters use the men’s bar for as long as they can, and switch to the women’s bar when the weight gets heavy. He noticed an actual increase in pulling strength as soon as you switch bar (better neural activation).

He recommended something similar on rowing movements… guys can use a thick bar for the lighter work sets and switch to a regular sized bar as the weight gets heavier.[/quote]

One thing I also found to help strengthen my grip is to actually shake hands with people who’s grip strength is MUCH stronger than yours. I always ask to shake hands with those specific people every time I see them. If you have a training partner, you could actually make it part of your routine.

I like it because unlike a barbell, shaking hands actually provides a force right back at you. The reasoning for its effectiveness is simple. When holding a barbell, the only force its providing is a reaction force, which is equal to the force you’re providing. But someone with a stronger grip than yourself may provide a force greater than yours, which you have to try to overcome. When transferring back to a barbell, in time it may seem easier.

Correct me if anything I said is wrong, but I have noticed an increase in grip strength from doing this.

I think many people will like this website

http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/

It is full of old training articles, VERY interesting!

[quote]Clown Face wrote:
I think many people will like this website

http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/

It is full of old training articles, VERY interesting![/quote]

Yes, one of my favorite site