Last week, we posted the original Eat My Meat article. Despite its sophisticated title, the article contained an enormous amount of useful information.
Hence, Eat My Meat, The Sequel: A list of useful tips that benefit the powerlifter and bodybuilder alike. No references, no filler, just great info.
Here are some more hunks of meat:
1. This isn't a tip but a question and an observation. Why do so many people stand on the bench press to do bent-over rows? It's not like they need the extra clearance because when you watch them, their range of motion is about 6 inches and the plates wouldn't hit the floor anyhow if they were standing on the ground. I see this all the time and have never been able to figure it out.
2. If you have a tendency to let your hands fall back (wrist not straight and bar lies behind the midpoint of forearm) when bench pressing, try casting your wrist wraps. To do this, wrap as high on your hand as you can with only one wrap line down the wrist. Read this: Note: This is a quick fix, and you should work on correcting this technical problem.
3. Rep Test — 225: I get asked several times a year how to increase one's 225 lb bench press rep test. This has got to be the dumbest test of all time, but I've found a few things to be very effective in performing and training for this test. The first and most simple one is to get stronger. You would think this would be well-known, but just about every time I look at the programming leading into this test, there's never any max effort work (ME). So make sure you're doing ME work. Some of the most effective ME movements are one-board presses, floor presses, and close grip inclines. If this "rep test" is your goal, change this movement every week. The reason is simple. If you're asking this question in the first place, then you probably don't have much time before you're tested. This forces you to hit these movements more frequently because you don't have the time to figure out which one works best.
4. Rep test — 225: Pull out on the bar or pull in? Check and see where you fail and how you fail. If it seems to be the pecs (fails at the bottom) or triceps (the top), then change the focus. If you're a pec guy, just press until you feel "burning." At this point, begin pulling the bar apart. This will give you a few extra reps. If it's your triceps, then pull in.
5. Rep test — 225: Many times this is a time game. You may find you always fail around the same time (say 45 seconds). You can change this with training, but as you know, this one will take time. Usually when I'm asked this question, time is very limited. The trick then becomes how to get more reps in the same timeframe. You can either shorten the stroke (classic Westside — tuck belly up and so on) or work with over speed work. Use the reverse band press to help move the bar faster. By doing this, you'll learn to press faster.
6. Rep test — 225: Speed work with bands — the same concept as above but work more on a faster eccentric phase.
7. Rep test — 225: If you can gain weight and maintain speed, gain weight.
8. Rep test — 225: Make sure your wrists stay straight and locked. If the bar falls too much behind your wrists, your triceps will fail way too fast. This is a huge mistake that I see with ALL guys who do this. When this happens, the triceps will fail faster because of where the center of gravity of the weight falls.
9. Rep test — 225: Don't bounce the weights! I shouldn't have to write this, but I've seen far too many people do this test and I've seen the same mistake over and over again. Aside from the injury potential from bouncing weights, the bar gets tossed all over the place. The best path is the same path for each rep. More fluid motion equals greater output.
10. Rep test — 225: To expand on number 9, you can test how well you're doing. Wear a black shirt and chalk the bar all over the center knurling. Do a few reps and check to see if you have one or three chalk lines. If you're interested in doing more bench reps or increasing you max bench, then there had better be only one line. If there's more than one line, your technique is off and you're expending too much energy.
11. Rep test — 225: I've seen very few who can train and perform the test in a high arched position. The tension is too long and the reps are too high to maintain this position without cramping in the lower back and/or hamstrings.
12. Rep test — 225: Count the reps down, not up. Instead of counting 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, start at what you would like to do and count back: 43, 42, 41, and so on. Better yet — count in groups of ten: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then 10, 9, 8, 7, and so on. It's even better if you can get someone to count for you. This is a mind game just as much as it is a physical game.
13. Rep test — 225: Stick-UM on the bottom of your shoes will help big time. Or make sure that there's no way your feet will slip when you use leg drive.
14. Rep test — 225: Use your leg drive like gears. Start with enough drive to stay stable. Then increase the tension and drive with about five reps before you would normally die out. This should happen a few reps before you begin pulling in or out on the bar.
15. Rep test — 225: If your technique is great, do all your endurance bench work with a fat bar. This will make the regular bar feel like a twig when you go back to it. There are also physical reasons for this, but the metal ones far out weigh them.
16. Rep test — 225: Never hold the bar at the top for more than 1 — 2 seconds except after a series of ten or more reps.
17. Rep test — 225: Learn to only press with the required amount of force per rep. You wouldn't sprint for a mile, would you? The same holds true with the rep test. Don't expend more energy then needed. You'll need it later.
18. Rep test — 225: Try to keep yourself down, not crunched up with your chin in your chest. This test requires oxygen to get the maximal number of reps. This practice has helped and may help with a one-rep max, but we're talking about 20-plus reps here, not one.
19. Rep test — 225: Unlike with a one-rep max or all other bench strength work, don't use a super tight grip on the bar. Grasp the bar with enough force to control it and keep it there until the last few reps. Then squeeze the crap out of the bar.
20. Rep test — 225: When you discover where you fail, add in some extra work for that specific area at a 20 percent higher time range than your bench fail time. For example, if your bench fail time is 42 seconds and your triceps are what fail on you, add in one set per session of three-board presses at 50 seconds. If you can't do all the reps for this time, do what you can and statically hold the weight at midpoint for the rest of the time.
21. Rep test — 225: Focus your eyes on one main point on the ceiling and don't deviate from it. Why? Next time you're in the gym with beginner or intermediate lifters, watch what they do when the reps get hard. They always look to one arm or the other. Then one arm begins to give out. This may be before they looked at it or after. It doesn't matter. What matters is that they acknowledged it and let it defeat them. Remember this is a MENTAL game and every rep counts.
22. Rep test — 225: As the last line of number 21 stated, make every rep count. It's your own fault and a waste of your effort to do a rep that isn't legal and doesn't count. Do them ALL correctly.
23. If you are weak chested in the bench press, check your wrist to elbow position ( They should be in line). If the wrist is toward the feet more than the elbow, then this is taxing the shoulders too much in the bottom position. If the wrist is closer to the head than the elbow, then the weight is focused more on the triceps. If you use a bench shirt this all changes depending on the shirt and length of the upper arm.
24. A fat bar can take a lot of strain off the elbows and shoulders with pressing and extension movements.
25. If you can't do a chin, the best thing I've seen is reverse band chins. Loop the band around a chin bar, step into it and let the band help you up. General guidelines for band selection: The light and average bands seem to work best for this.
26. I'm a big of morning cardio, but not for the reasons you may think. I like it because you're half asleep until 1/2 way in so it only sucks half as bad.
27. If you're rowing to build the bench press, think of pulling with your hands. If you're trying to build a Yoked back, then think of pulling with your elbows.
28. Walking dips are one of the best triceps movements I've used. To do them, set the safety pins up in the power rack at the crease of your hip (or where ever your 1/4 dip position is). Then place two barbells on the pins. Get into the rack sideways and between the bars and get into a dip position. Start at one end of the rack and after each rep (when your feet hit the floor), move one fist-width (two inches) forward. Go the distance of the rack. If you need to, add a weight vest or dip belt.
29. Choke up on the dumbbell row so you thumb is hitting the plates.
30. Belt Squats are a great way to deload the squat and still keep progressing. Taking the weight off the spine has a great effect on recovery.
31. If you need to add volume to your training, then use what I like to call bridging. If you feel you need extra triceps work to build your bench press, then think on a scale of 1-10. A close grip bench press or heavy close grip board presses would be a 10. These are harder to recover from and take a lot out of you. Push downs using bands are a 1. These are easy to do and you'll rarely get taxed or have a hard time recovering from them. When adding volume with movements (it's always best to add sets of what you're already doing first), it's best to start with movements that are easy to recover from and work up from there. This will help avoid over-training and over use injuries.
32. When you do pushdowns, push the bar slightly away from you as you push down.
33. For the most part, the advanced lifter needs less volume and the beginner needs more. A beginner needs lot of repetition to develop training coordination and technique.
34. Here's an easy way to know if you're a beginner or not. I know of no advanced lifter who can bench more on a machine than they can flat bench (for a single). By the way, saying "One RM" is a great indicator that you're a beginner. No advanced lifter would ever say this, but every beginner does.
35. Weak points come from not doing the things you suck at doing. The difference between a successful athlete and a crappy one is they always do the things they have to do, not what they want to do.