Tagged: Bench Press

POST ACTIVATION POTENTIATION SERIES PART 2: COMPLEX TRAINING

After experimenting on myself the effects of a Post Activation Potentiation, I want to talk about the most commonly used type of potentiation methods: Complex training. Complex training consists of a slow speed maximal or sub-maximal movement followed by a plyometric exercise. Like I did in Part 1, a good example would be a maximal squat followed by a jump, or a  bench press followed by explosive pushups. Traditionally, the rest interval between the slow strength exercise and the explosive or plometric movement was minimal, but the research doesn’t support this. What we usually see is that the biggest performance potentiation occurs between 3 and 9 minutes, depending on the exercise and the individual. However, I believe that this is due to the fatigue effect that the strength exercise has, which can overpower the potentiation effect. Let´s make it clear:

  • A high volume strength exercise seems to have a potentiation effect on the subsequent power exercise if longer rests are kept. Example: 3 sets of 5 reps on the squat, 6 minute rest, squat jumps.
  • A high volume strength exercise followed immediately by a power probably won’t have a potentiation effect, as fatigue will override this potentiation. Example: 3 sets of 12 on the squat followed immediately by squat jumps.
  • A low volume strength exercise followed immediately with a power movement seems to have a potentiation effect. Example: 3 repetitions in the bench press followed by a clap pushup.
  • A low volume strength exercise followed by a power movement after a long rest probably wont have a potentiation effect. Example: 3 rep bench press, 8 minutes rest, clap pushup.

However, these are not absolute statements. As I have seen with myself in Part 1 of the series, I get a notable potentiation effect with a relatively low volume strength exercise (1RM Squat) followed by long rests and the subsequent jumps, so, as usual, protocols should be individualized. New research comes every day with different outcomes and it seems to work better in stronger individuals as opposed to beginners or less advanced athletes. Even if we don’t seem to find the right combination of exercises and rest period to achieve a potentiation effect with a certain individual, I still find the idea of this kind of training interesting, as it allows us to increase DENSITY. We can do a lot of work in the same session. I often find it hard to fit all the power and strength training that the athlete would need into his program. Complex training and other variations of the Post Activation Potentiation effect allows us to do more amount of volume per workout, and thus achieving a greater adaptation, as volume is the main and most important factor to increase strength. When it comes to sport, practicality is everything, so the density factor is going to be more important than the potentiation effect itself, unless the goal is to achieve maximal power right before a competition performance.

In part 3 we will take a look at other interesting forms of post activation potentiation.

A typical combination of exercises for complex training.
A typical combination of exercises for complex training.

West of Westside

Westside barbell is without a doubt the most followed training method in powerlifting. However, some are of the opinion that it isn’t optimal, at least for raw lifters. The constant variation of the main lifts doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and one could definitely make an argument against it. From what I have been able to observe in medium to advanced RAW lifters, one should emphasize skill (practicing the full lifts as often as possible) instead of constant variation (not to mention the improbability of finding a gym with boards, chains, elastic bands and so on). You could achieve similar or better results with something like DUP (Daily Undulating Periodization), where you change the rep schemes every day but for the most part stick to the same lifts, adjusting the ratio of power/strength/hypertrophy accordingly.

Deadlift with chains
I am not a fan of accomodated resistance, but it sure looks cool to lift with thick ass chains!!
I am not a powerlifter myself, so I could be wrong, but here are some alternative opinions on Westside. Furthermore, some experts make an argument against speed work. If you have the patience, check them out and form your own opinion:

West of Westside by Daniel Green

Dynamic effort bullshit or legit? by Bret Contreras

Juggernaut Fitness Jason Blaha

Why speed work doesn’t work, by Mike Tuchscherer

Eric Helms on speed work

Westside barbell. Probably not the holy grail of strength training
Westside barbell. Probably not the holy grail of strength training

ANDERSON POWERLIFTING WRIST WRAPS REVIEW

My old wrist wraps had let me down a couple of times while doing heavy bench presses, so I decided to buy new ones before I guillotine myself. After a few google searches and reviews, I was recommended the  36″ Anderson Powerlifting KLA 4000. If I was going to buy wrist wraps, I rather buy the best ones in the world. I had been told that these are the sturdiest wrist wraps in the world and that they provide the most support of any wraps ever made.

kla-4000-36inch-wrist-wrap-2T

After impatiently waiting for them to arrive I broke the package and tried them on. Things I noticed:

  • These wraps are very, very strong.
  • They are not easy to wrap around the wrist, so it requires some practice.
  • They are not comfortable to wear, you have to put them just before you are about to press and take them out as soon as you’re done, because It’s like having a tourniquet on your wrist.

I went straight to the gym the very same day as I coudln’t wait to try them in field. My first heavy set felt a bit weird, but after that one I started to get used to the feeling. Honestly, if you wrap them correctly, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to bend your wrist, and that’s exactly what I was looking for. I’ve tried other brands, but this model is at least 3 times stronger: you can put as much weight as you can handle, but the wrists will stay straight. I can’t comment on durability yet as they are new.

Overall, the best wrist wraps in the world for very HEAVY pressers.

WP_20140124_005WP_20140124_004_1

Smolov Junior

Smolov Junior is one of the most popular strength programs out there. It is mainly applied to the Bench Press, but it can be used successfully with other lifts too, like the squat or the deadlift. Lasting only 3 weeks, it’s meant to peak your 1RM at the end of it. You will be benching 4 times a week, and you will be adding around 5 kg every week depending on how you feel. The best advice I can give, as usual with these tough programs, is to enter a conservative 1RM, not your all time best lift but a number that you could bench on any given day. That way you will be able to get stronger without failing in the middle of the process. Remember to stretch properly and keep the rotator cuff strong. And don’t use bodybuilding bench form or you will be screaming for a pec tear. If you do it right, this is probably one of the bests programs out there for bench press peaking.

Download the routine here: Smolov Jr (bench,dead etc)

 (Disclaimer: Have in mind that these routines are generic. Adjust to the needs and characteristics of the individual)

Bench press

Madcow advanced routine

Here’s the advanced version of the Madcow strength routine. Use only if you have been lifting for 3-4 years, otherwise you better stick to the novice and intermediate versions: you will progress faster with them. Hit me up for any questions!

You can download the spreadsheet here: 5X5 MADCOW ADVANCED 

 (Disclaimer: Have in mind that these routines are generic. Adjust to the needs and characteristics of the individual)

big-powerlifter

STARTING STRENGTH: RIPPETOE NOVICE ROUTINE

This routine from Mark Rippetoe’s book is one of the most well-known programs for a reason. It’s meant for people that have been training less than 1-2 years or those who have only done bodybuilding split type routines. Even if your goal is body composition and not strength, once you develop your strength with this routine and return to higher rep ranges you will experience some serious growth. Besides, it’s a good way to teach beginners the main lifts, gaining lots of strength while mastering perfect form. It is one of the most well-known routines for a reason:

Mark Rippetoe’s “Starting Strength” Novice Routine:

Workout A

3×5 Squat

3×5 Bench Press

1×5 Deadlift

 Workout B

3×5 Squat

3×5 Overhead Press

3×5 Pendlay Row

You alternate Workout A and Workout B every other day, 3 times a week. So you could either do Mon, Wed, Fri or Tues, Thurs. and Sat. Power cleans can be done instead of Pendlay row, depending on your goals. If you have any question, just drop me an email or a comment.

You can download the spreadsheet here: Rippetoe Novice Strength Routine

 (Disclaimer: Have in mind that these routines are generic. Adjust to the needs and characteristics of the individual)

MACENKO BENCH PROGRAM

From now on, I’ll be posting strength and hypertrophy routines that I’ve had good results with. Today I’m going to show you a specialized routine for bench press, the Macenko Bench Routine. After these 8 weeks, hit a new personal record and enjoy the gains!

 (Disclaimer: Have in mind that these routines are generic. Adjust to the needs and characteristics of the individual)

* Week 1

Monday Thursday
60% of max x 8 reps 60% of max x 8 reps
75% of max x 6 reps 75% of max x 6 reps
80% of max x 4 sets of 5 reps 80% of max x 3 sets of 5 reps
75% of max x 5 reps 75% of max x 5 reps
75% of max x 5 reps

* Week 2 Continue reading