Years ago when I read articles I used to read every word.
I'd try to devour it all.

After years of reading, I discovered most of the article's
were just filler and there were usually just a a few good points
worth absorbing. While these points were often very good, I really
didn't need the other crap.

I'm sure many readers love that stuff, but I no longer have
time to sit and read like I used to and would rather just have the
article get to the point. Then I'll decide if I can use it or

When I sat down to write this my intention was to have zero
filler and just get right to the point, tip, or meat of the
article. I also found when I didn't have to try and support
and build up everything, it was easier to compile the stuff people
wanted to read.

What you have here is a list of things I've picked up from
many different people over the years. As I went back and read this
list I also realized that most of these tips came from people I
trained or competed with. In short, this was all learned in the
gym. So if you need support and references, then here's my

"The Gym"

It is what it is...

1. When you bench, try to push your body away from the bar, not
the bar away from you.

2. When training your lats for the bench, keep your grip medium
to wide and focus on pulling with your elbows (not your

3. If you're training your lats for the bench press, train
with a full grip (straps or not, grab and squeeze with all

4. Number three is not the case if you're training for
muscle mass. In this case, it may be best to use straps (keep the focus on the lats) and relax the forefinger
and middle finger. Try to pull with the last two fingers, and yes,
still pull by leading with your elbows.

5. A close grip (not so close you tear up your wrists or elbows)
for triceps work will always work your bench better than a wide
grip. The closer grip will have more effect on the muscles that
actually press the bar.

6. For total triceps mass, you'll need to work both close
and wide.

7. Close-stance safety bar low box squats will solve the majority (but not all)
of falling-forward problems in the squat.

8. Grip work is very hard to recover from (more so for
beginners), so keep it to one or two times per week. Once every
four days is a better option.

9. When aiming for a bigger bench press, try "pulling the
bar apart" as you press.

10. Keep your head back when you squat. There's no need to
look for the great power gods in the sky. Just make sure your head
is up and driven back into the bar. This will help keep the chest

11. When setting up for a conventional deadlift, line the bar up
with the top of the quads. If you have bigger quads, the bar will
be further from your shins. Keep in mind that this is a general
guideline. Pull how you feel best.

12. If you don't know your foot position for a conventional
deadlift and need a place to start from, try hanging from a chin
bar and simply drop to the floor. Normally, where your feet land is
your best pulling stance.

13. To develop full biceps, make sure to use both wide and close

14. If you're trying to develop a stronger squat and
deadlift, train your abs standing up.

15. If you need more power out of the bottom of your squat, push
your knees out harder when hitting the hole.

16. For most bench shirts, put your arms in with your palms

17. Try to hold the top position of a reverse hyper. You'll never be able to do it, but

18. When setting up for a sumo deadlift, break your hips back
some before you bend over. This will help your body weight to fall

19. Regardless of how you pull, try to get your body weight to
fall backwards.

20. There's no use trying to find collars for a safety
squat or cambered squat bar (they won't fit). Get a large pair
of battery clips from the hardware store. They're quick and
easy to use and work perfectly.

21. Try doing alternate dumbbell triceps extensions while
keeping one dumbbell in the locked out position instead of at the
bottom. This is one way to still work the triceps hard while using
less weight and putting less strain on the elbows.

22. There are very few things that I've seen work when it
comes to help with dropped deadlifts due to grip. Dumbbell holds,
however, are one movement that's shown great results. Grab the
top of a hex dumbbell, making sure that you don't touch the
numbers. Grab, stand, and hold for as long as you can. If you can
go over 20 seconds, up the weight.

23. Another movement that will help your grip for pulling is to
use binder clips. These are the big paper clips that have a black
end on them (and other colors). Use these like you would use
grippers, but only use your thumb and little finger. You can work
all fingers, but the little guy is the first to go. Ed Coan told me
this one a few years ago at the SWIS conference.

24. The last thing for dropped pulls is very simple — get
stronger! Let's say you always drop 700 lbs, but can pull 650
lbs easy and pulling 700 lbs with straps is no problem. Well, get
strong enough to pull 750 lbs with straps and 700 lbs will feel
like 650 lbs.

25. Here's another simple one. Get your head right.
Training isn't easy and won't always be a walk in the
park. There's more to getting strong than just lifting the
weights. You have to get an attitude with the weights and bust your
ass. Louie once told me he would NEVER train with anyone who
didn't scare him in one way or another. This is some of the
best advice I've ever heard. I'm not saying that you
should be a dick, but there's a HUGE difference between
"training" and "working out."

26. If you can't flex it then DON'T ISOLATE IT. You
need to have control of your body if you're going to do
isolation movements. If I asked you to flex your pecs, it'd
probably be easy. You can make those boobies bounce with pride. Now
what if I asked you to do the same with your triceps, delts,
hamstrings, or lats? If you can't, why in the hell are you
doing tight isolation bodybuilding cable work? Hmm... never
thought of that one, did you? Stick with the presses and rows and
build muscle first. You can't flex bone.

27. If you're dead set on overhead pressing but your
shoulders hurt when you do them, try it with a reverse

28. When benching, think of pushing through, pushing past the lock out.

29. For a max attempt (single), try to keep your air. By this I
mean hold your breath, but first pull in as much air as you

30. If you think your set up is tight, you're wrong. Get
tighter. The set up and start of the lift is the most important.
Watch any advanced lifter and notice how precise they are in
getting set.

31. When board-pressing for max bench strength, try to bring the
board to the bar as you lower. You do this my making your body
bigger as you lower. Think expand. This is a habit you want to
master for benching without the board.

32. You may not be ready to do what you need to address your
weakness. Example: You fall forward 3/4 of the way up in the squat.
This is best addressed with safety squat bar good mornings or arch
back good mornings. BUT, if you don't know how to round and
flex your upper back while keeping your torso tight, then you have
a problem and can't do this. You first need to build a strong base,
then master good mornings, and build your upper back. Then
you'll be ready. For most intermediates there'll be a
sequence that should be followed that addresses weak points with
special exercises.

33. If you have a hard time keeping your chest up in the squat,
try moving your hands in and pulling your shoulder blades

34. If you always fall forward at the bottom of the squat, try
box squatting and counting 1001 while on the box and before you
come up, make sure your chest is up and your back

35. One of the best things to do when coming back from a
strained or torn pec is floor presses with chains. I've seen this one work more than anything

36. If you can't "feel" your lats when you bench
press and have problems with stability at the top, try doing your
speed work with your legs straight in front of you with your heels
on a milk crate. This is also very good for bottom end raw

That's it. Almost no filler. Almost no crap.

Dave Tate

Dave Tate is the founder and CEO of Elitefts and the author of Under The Bar. Dave has been involved in powerlifting for over three decades as a coach, consultant and business owner. He has logged more than 10,000 hours coaching professional, elite, and novice athletes, as well as professional strength coaches. Follow Dave Tate on Facebook