Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!
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about Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!
within the Weight Training & Weight Lifting
Excerpt: Content by Madcow2
Last Revised 1/11/2006
UPDATE - I have updated program descriptions, template downloads, and an updated Table of Contents on my Geocities site (i.e. lots more topics and better organization). This will be the final update of this TOC in the thread (and it's an incomplete one because there's just too much) but the one on that site essentially links all the topics below and more, many of which come to this very thread. This is easier on me and the better descriptions with
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24-Jul-2005, 02:45 AM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!
A few questions.
1. Training with barbells will also increase lifts with dumbbells as well, right?
2. Even though I've only started weightlifting 2 months or so ago, a big problem has been that my biceps have never gotten any stronger. Every muscle has gotten stronger significantly from the first day I hit the gym except my biceps. I was supposed to have started the 5x5 last week but wasn't able to complete it since Friday I had to travel somewhere and I spent the last week in a place with no squat rack or barbells and only dumbbells that went up to 50 pounds... Anyways, since my biceps haven't grown, should I still just keep the 3 sets of curls on Friday or should I bump it up to 6 or 9 sets of curls? More than likely, the rows are going to increase my biceps in strength anyways, right? Starting on the 25th I'll finally be able to get my first full-week in of the single-factor prog.
Last edited by siamesedream; 24-Jul-2005 at 04:14 AM.
24-Jul-2005, 10:48 AM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!
1. Sure, overall strength and size will increase. Granted there is some exercise specific adaptation but let's say someone benches 200x5 and works up to 300x5. His dumbell strength will increase dramatically however right off the bat. However just because the movements are slightly different the dumbell exercise will likely increase more with training so consider it 3-4 weeks before strength is really maximized in the new exercise (in other words, with an increase like that he'll be much stronger right away but over the course of a few weeks of DB training he'll continue to get stronger and stronger as the bodhy adapts to the movement and gets proficient - this is why you don't switch exercises all around).
2. Don't worry about biceps. They are a tiny insignificant muscle (at least for real world function - although obviously they are worshipped by some). Your rows will be their primarly stimulator and along with squats, presses, and deads your bis will grow. Direct work is fine but is more to maximize current state then to drive long term growth. Try 3x8-10, if you tolerate this well and feel so compelled maybe add a 2nd exercise of the same (so M = BB curls and F = whatever you want). Make sure you are okay on this program with plain vanilla first. If your biceps get overworked and it impacts your row, that's a shitty trade because your bis won't be growing regardless.
25-Jul-2005, 07:09 PM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!
How will I know if I'm doing too much weight? Should the bar be moving continuously and constantly throughout each set? On benching today, the last set was incredibly hard but I managed to get all 5 reps up with my spotter motivating me to do it. However, between each rep, I had to lock out with my elbows by straightening my arms all the way out and wait a few seconds to push the next one up. The 5th rep I started failing but I kept on pushing and somehow I got it up. Anyways, is this a sign of too much weight and that I should choose a top weight that I can push continuously for all 5 reps?
25-Jul-2005, 10:30 PM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n
It's never an absolute, some times you want to push with everything you have and grind it out (these tend to get you over hurdles but you can't train like this all the time). Other times you want the bar moving somewhat consistently. So anyway, after getting a grinding top set, maybe don't increase the weight the next week, maybe do. You'll have to go by feel and see but these are options.
In regards to anyone spotting you, they should not come into contact with the bar. I don't care if it's two pinkies and negative pressure, skin contact is friction and stabalizes bar path. Not sure if you know this or not but make sure your spotter doesn't touch that bar unless you need it meaning, you are absolutely going to fail. Granted you don't want him accross the room talking to some chick, he should be at the ready and a fraction off the bar once it's heavy enough to require watching - just make sure he doesn't touch the damn thing unless necessary.
26-Jul-2005, 11:01 AM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n
Squat Theory and Execution
Written by “Arioch”
The squat should be a standard exercise in any lifters program. Whether the goal is strength, hypertrophy (increase in muscle size), increased accelerative ability, or a heightened vertical jump, the squat is the tool for the task. In addition to working the muscles of the legs, hips, lower back, abdomen, and obliques, the demands of squatting should stimulate a growth response from the body that will carry over into strength and size increases in other areas.
The basic technique of the squat consists in placing a loaded barbell across the shoulders, then bending at the hips and knees, descending into the bottom position, “the hole,” and returning to an erect position. We will examine the squat from the deck up.
Stance. This varies from individual to individual, but one thing is necessary for all who wish progress: you must keep your feet flat on the deck at all times. The center of gravity may be maintained over the center of the foot, but it is generally best to push through the heels. This will help in maintaining bar position and help eliminate a small degree of forward lean. To achieve this, some people find it necessary to curls the toes upward while squatting, forcing their heels flat. The feet should be placed at least shoulder width apart, and some individuals may best utilize a stance nearly twice shoulder width. The narrower stance tends to place more direct emphasis on the quads, and creates a longer path for the bar to travel. The wider stance (often called “sumo”) tends to be favored by many powerlifters, although some have enjoyed great success with a relatively narrow stance. The sumo stance place more emphasis on the adductors and hamstrings. As a rule of thumb, lifters with longer legs will need a wider stance than shorter individuals. However, there are exceptions. A wider stance will tend to recruit both the adductors and buttocks to a greater degree than a narrow stance. (1)
The shins should be a close to vertical as possible throughout the entire movement. This lessens the opening of the knee joint, and reduces the shearing force as well. By reducing the workload that the knee joint is required to handle, more of the work is accomplished by the larger muscles around the hip joint. For powerlifters, this decreases the distance one must travel with the bar, as the further the knee moves forward, the lower the hips must descend to break parallel.
There are several schools of thought on squat depth. Many misinformed individuals caution against squatting below parallel, stating that this is hazardous to the knees. Nothing could be further from the truth. (2) Stopping at or above parallel places direct stress on the knees, whereas a deep squat will transfer the load to the hips,(3) which are capable of handling a greater amount of force than the knees should ever be exposed to. Studies have shown that the squat produces lower peak tibeo-femoral(stress at the knee joint) compressive force than both the leg press and the leg extension.(4) For functional strength, one should descend as deeply as possible, and under control. (yes, certain individuals can squat in a ballistic manner, but they are the exception rather than the rule). The further a lifter descends, the more the hamstrings are recruited, and proper squatting displays nearly twice the hamstring involvement of the leg press or leg extension. (5,6) and as one of the functions of the hamstring is to protect the patella tendon (the primary tendon involved in knee extension) during knee extension through a concurrent firing process, the greatest degree of hamstring recruitment should provide the greatest degree of protection to the knee joint. (7) When one is a powerlifter, the top surface of the legs at the hip joint must descend to a point below the top surface of the legs at the knee joint.
Knee injuries are one of the most commonly stated problems that come from squatting, however, this is usually stated by those who do not know how to squat. A properly performed squat will appropriately load the knee joint, which improves congruity by increasing the compressive forces at the knee joint. (8,(9) which improves stability, protecting the knee against shear forces. As part of a long-term exercise program, the squat, like other exercises, will lead to increased collagen turnover and hypertrophy of ligaments. (10,11) At least one study has shown that international caliber weightlifters and powerlifters experience less clinical or symptomatic arthritis. (12) Other critics of the squat have stated that it decreases the stability of the knees, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Studies have shown that the squat will increase knee stability by reducing joint laxity, as well as decrease anterior-posterior laxity and translation. (13,14) The squat is, in fact, being used as a rehabilitation exercise for many types of knee injuries, including ACL repair. (15)
One of the most, if not the most critical factor in squatting is spinal position. It is incredibly important not to round the back. This can lead to problems with the lower back, and upper back as well. The back should be arched, and the scapulae retracted, to avoid injury. This position must be maintained throughout the entire lift, as rounding on the way up is even more common than rounding on the way down, and people who make this mistake are the ones who perpetuate the “squats are bad for your back” myth. Furthermore, spinal position is essential to maintaining a proper combined center of gravity (CCOG). The farther one leans forward or, even worse, rounds the back, the more strain the erectors are forced to bear, and the less the abdominals can contribute to the lift. To say nothing of the fact that the greater the lean, the greater the shearing force placed on the vertebrae. Proper spinal alignment will assist in ensuring that the majority of the force the spine must bear is compressive in nature, as it should be. Another reason for descending below parallel is that the sacrum undergoes a process known as nutation (it tilts forward, relative to the two ilia on either side of it). At only 90 degrees of knee flexion, the sacrum is still tilted backward, which inhibits proper firing of the erectors and gluteus maximus and minimus. Going through a full range of motion completes the rotation of the sacrum and allows maximal muscular recruitment.
“Squats are bad for your back” is yet another cry of the weak of both leg and spirit. While an improperly performed squat can cause problems, so can improperly performed barbell curl, yet many of the people who use the squat rack only to curl do not seem to have a problem strengthening their elbow flexors. While the squat can be hazardous to the back among the untrained who often incline the torso to an unsafe degree, as well as round the back, skilled athletes have been shown to minimize trunk segment torques by maintaining a more erect posture. (16) It has been positively shown that maintaining an upright torso during the squatting motion reduces both spinal compression and shear forces. (17) Several studies have shown that weightlifters experience not only less back injury and pain that many other athletes, but often even less than inactive individuals, which clearly displays that a proper weight training program, which includes squatting, is beneficial in avoiding injury. (18,19)
The placement of the bar is another very important consideration when squatting. If one places the bar high on the traps, more emphasis will be placed on the quads, and a low bar squat recruits more of the lower back and hamstrings, by virtue of back extension, simply because the lower the bar is placed, the greater the degree of forward lean. Even when high bar squatting, the bar should NEVER be placed on the neck. This is far more stress than the cervical vertebrae should be forced to bear. When a powerlifter squats with a low bar position, the bar should be placed no lower than three centimeters below the top of the anterior deltoids. For other lifters, comfort and flexibility will go a long way towards determining bar positioning. When gripping the bar, at first it is best to place your hands as close together as possible, to maintain tension in the upper back, and to avoid any chance of the bar slipping. As a general rule, the lower you place the bar, the wider your hands will have to be. Anything placed between the bar and the lifter, such as a pad or towel, decreases the force of friction and increases the chance of the bar slipping. It is to avoid injuries that this practice is banned in competition. Also, this will artificially raise the lifter’s CCOG, which makes it harder to balance under a heavy load.
Look slightly upward when squatting, to avoid rounding the upper back. The movement should be initiated from the hips, by pushing the glutes back, not down. This will assist in keeping the shins vertical. On the way down, keep the torso as close to vertical as possible, continue to push the hips back, and push the knees out to the sides, avoiding the tendency to allow them to collapse inward. The manner in which the lifter descends will greatly influence the manner in which the ascent is made. When the necessary depth is achieved, begin ascending by pushing the head back, and continue to concentrate on pushing the knees outward.
One of the most common mistakes made while squatting, or performing any exercise for that matter, is improper breathing. At first, the lifter should inhale on the way down, and exhale on the way up. Many advanced lifters will take several large breaths, hold it all in on the way down, and then exhale forcefully at their sticking point on the way up. This technique, known as the “Partial Valsalva,” requires practice like any other.
There are many other types of squats, but all of them are secondary to the squat itself, which is appropriately termed the “King of Exercises.”
The front squat is performed in a similar manner, but the bar is held in the clean position, across the anterior deltoids, not the clavicles. The hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width, and the elbows should be elevated as much as possible. The bar is maintained as high as possible by elevating the elbows. This allows the lifter to maintain a more upright posture, and increases the emphasis on the glutes, while lessening the involvement of the lower back. This exercise may allow a lifter who lacks the flexibility required to perform a full squat achieve a reasonable depth while improving flexibility. The front squat will place far more emphasis on the quadriceps muscles and less recruitment of the hamstrings takes place. 7 (20) When comparing the squat to other exercises, it is important to note that the squat causes less compressive force to the knee joint, and greater hamstring activation, than both the leg press and the leg extension. (21)
Another popular type of squatting exercise is the split squat (“lunge”). In this type of squat, the legs are placed at approximately shoulder width, but one foot is out in front of the athlete and one is placed to the rear, as if a lifter has just completed the jerk portion of the clean and jerk. The athlete descends by bending the front leg until the knee is slightly forward of the toes. The shin of the front leg should be ten degrees past perpendicular to the floor. It is important to maintain an upright posture when doing so. As when squatting, co-activation of the hamstring serves to protect the knee joint during flexion, (22) which is very important as often a greater degree of flexion will occurring when performing the split squat.
Certain misinformed and so-called “personal trainers” will have people squat in a smith machine, which is, quite simply, an idea both hideous and destructive. This is often done under the misguided “squat this way until you are strong enough to perform a regular squat” premise. Even if one overlooks the obvious fact that it is better to learn to do something right than build bad habits from the start, there are numerous other factors to be considered. The smith machine stabilizes the bar for the lifter, which does not teach the skill of balancing the bar, balance being important to any athlete, as well as the fact that free weight squatting strengthens the synergists which goes a long way to preventing injuries. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the smith machine leaves far too many weak links. To say nothing of the fact that free weights provide a greater transfer of functional strength than machines. (23)Furthermore, the bar moves straight up and down, and very few people squat in this manner, which means that the smith machine does not fit a lifters optimal strength curve. (24) The smith machine also requires that the lifter either squats with his torso much closer to vertical than would be done with a real squat, which mechanically decreases the involvement of both the spinal erectors and the hamstrings. While this would be fine if it was done by the lifters muscular control, when the smith machine does this it is disadvantageous to the lifter by virtue of decreasing the ability of the hamstrings to protect the knee joint. Another mistake made, aside from simply using it in the first place, is allow the knees to drift forward over the toes, the chance of which is increased by the smith machine. As was previously mentioned, this greatly increases the shearing force on the knees. This from a device touted by the ignorant as “safe.”
There is a great debate about the use of belts when squatting, some sources insist that you must wear one, while others state quite the opposite. It is worth noting that there are plusses and minuses to wearing one. Using a proper belt while squatting can serve to increase intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) which will serve to stabilize the spinal column, reducing compressive forces acting upon the spine and reducing back muscle forces. (25) However, muscle activity of the trunk appears to be significantly reduced when using a weight belt, which can lead to the muscles of the trunk receiving a less than optimal stimulus when using a belt. (26) Other proponents of belt use have shown that the use of a properly designed power belt may improve a lifter's explosive power by increasing the speed of the movement without compromising the joint range of motion or overall lifting technique. (27)
There are numerous methods of utilizing the squat in any athlete’s training program. While a variety of rep and set ranges are optimal for a bodybuilder who wishes to maximize hypertrophy, an athlete’s must carefully plan a training program to meet their goals. Even though squatting will lead to gains in size, strength, and jumping ability, the more specific the program, the greater the results. When an untrained subject begins lifting, numerous programs produce gains in practically all areas, but this changes rapidly, with limited progress being made unless something is altered. (28)
To utilize the squat to gain in size is both simple and complex. Individuals will respond to a variety of rep ranges in different manners based on fiber type, training history, biomechanics, injuries, etc. Bodybuilders, who are concerned exclusively with gains in size, should squat heavy, as fast-twitch muscle fibers have the greatest potential for hypertrophy. However, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (growth of muscle tissue outside of the sarcoplasmic reticulum) will contribute to overall muscular size, and is obtained by training with lighter weights and higher reps. Rate of training is once again an individual decision, but as a general rule, the greater the volume of training, including time under tension (TUT) per workout, the longer one must wait before recovery is optimized, allowing supercompensation to take place. A word of caution about performing higher repetitions while squatting: As the set progresses, the degree of forward lean increases. While this is desirable to increase the stress on the hamstrings, it takes the emphasis off of the quadriceps, as well as increases the risk of injury. (29)
An athlete wishing to improve his vertical jump should not only squat, but perform a variety of assistance work specific to both improving squatting strength as well as specifically improving jumping skill. As jumping requires a great expenditure of force in a minimal amount of time, exercises such as squatting should be performed to increase muscle power, as muscle cross-sectional area significantly correlates to force output. (30) When wishing to increase one’s power through squatting to assist in the vertical jump, one must train to generate a high degree of force.(31 ,32 ,33 ) This is done by squatting a dynamic manner, where one is attempting to generate a large amount of power while using submaximal weights. This has been shown to provide a great training stimulus for improving the vertical jump. (34) A program consisting of a session once-weekly heavy squatting, ballistic lifting, and plyometric training, with each being performed during a separate workout, should provide maximal stimulus while allowing maximal recovery and supercompensation.(35,36)
When training to improve one’s overall squatting ability, expressed as a one-repetition maximum (1rm), once again a variety of programs may be utilized. The most common is a simple periodized program where, over time, the training weight is increased and the number of repetitions decreases. This sort of program is utilized by both Weightlifters and Powerlifters alike. A sample periodized program is included in Appendix B. Some sources state that you must train to failure, while others state that one should train until form begins to break down, leaving a small reserve of strength but reducing the risk of injury. It should be stated that there is no evidence that indicates training to failure produces a greater training stimulus than traditional volume training.
Far and away the most complicated, and controversial training program is the conjugate training method. Using this method one trains to develop maximal acceleration in the squat during one workout, and in another workout (72 hours later) generate maximum intensity in a similar exercise to the squat. This is based on an incredibly lengthy study by A. S. Prelepin, one of the greatest sports physiologists of the former Soviet Union. (37) This method also uses the practice of compensatory acceleration, where an athlete attempts to generate as much force as possible, by not only generating maximal acceleration, but by continuing to attempt to increase acceleration as the lifter’s leverage improves. The addition of chains or bands can increase the workload as well as force the athlete to work harder to accelerate the bar. Utilizing this system, the squat is trained for low repetitions (2) but a high number of sets (10 – 12), with training intensities being 50 – 70% of the athlete’s 1rm. Rest periods are short (45 – 75 seconds), and the squats are often performed on a box, which breaks up the eccentric-concentric chain, and inhibits the stretch reflex, forcing the athlete to generate the initial acceleration out of the bottom of the lift without the benefit of the elasticity of the muscle structure.
During the second workout, an exercise which taxes the muscles recruited when squatting, but not an actual squat, is performed for very low repetitions (1-3, usually one). The goal on this day is to improve neuromuscular coordination by increased motor unit recruiting, increased rate coding, and motor unit synchronization. This allows the athlete to continue to generate maximal intensity week after week, but by rotating exercises regularly optimal performance is maintained. For one microcycle, a squat-like exercise is performed, such as a box squat, rack squat, or front squat is performed, then the athlete switches to a different type of exercise, such as good mornings, performed standing, seated, from the rack, etc. for another microcycle, then switches exercises again, often to a pulling type exercise such as deadlifts with a variety of stances, from pins, from a platform, or any number of other variations. Once again, chains or bands may be added to increase the workload. A sample training program is included in Appendix B, and a variety of maximal effort exercises can be found in Appendix C.
Assistance work for the squat is of the utmost importance. The primary muscles which contribute to the squat, in no particular order, are the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors/extensors, abdominals, and spinal erectors. When an athlete fails to rise from the bottom of a squat, it is important to note that not all of the muscles are failing simultaneously. Rather, a specific muscle will fail, and the key to progress is identifying the weakness, then strengthening it. A partial list of assistance exercises is provided in Appendix D. While it is impossible to simply state that if x happens when squatting, it is muscle y that is causing the problem, some general guidelines follow. If a lifter fails to rise from the bottom of a squat, it generally indicates either a weakness in the hip flexors and extensors, or a lack of acceleration due to inhibition of the golgi tendon organ (no stretch reflex – train with lighter weight and learn to accelerate if this is the case). If an athlete has a tendency to lean forward and dump the bar overhead, it generally indicates either weak hamstrings or erectors. If an athlete has trouble stabilizing the bar, or maintaining an upright posture, it is often due to a weakness in the abs.
The above factors assume that proper technique is being maintained. If this is not the case, no amount of specific work will overcome this problem. Drop the weight and concentrate on improving skill, which is far more important than training the ego, and less likely to lead to injury.
Safety is the key issue when squatting, or performing any lift. With a few simple precautions, practically anyone may learn to squat, and do so quite effectively. The rewards are well worth the effort. Squat heavy, squat often, and above all, squat safely.
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9 Uhl, T.L. and P.V. Loubert. 1990. Axial compression effect on anterior displacement of the in vivo tibeofemoral joint. Master’s thesis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.
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21 J Biomech 1998 Oct;31(10):963-7 An analytical model of the knee for estimation of internal forces during exercise. Zheng N, Fleisig GS, Escamilla RF, Barrentine SW
22 Biomed Sci Instrum 1997;33:360-5 Co-activation of the hamstrings and quadriceps during the lunge exercise. Hefzy MS, al Khazim M, Harrison L
23 Stone, M. H., Johnson, R. L., & Carter, D. R. (1979). A short-term comparison of two different methods of resistance training on leg strength and power. Athletic Training, 14, 158-160.
24 Phys Ther 1995 Feb;75(2):133-44 Neuromuscular coordination of squat lifting, II: Individual differences. Scholz JP, McMillan AG
25 Lander, J.E., Hundley, J.R., and Simonton, R.L. The effectiveness of weight-belts during multiple repetitions of the squat exercise. Med Sci Sports Exercise. 24(5):603-609. 1992.
26 The Effectiveness of Weight-belts During the Squat Exercise. Lander, JE, Simonton, RL, and Giacobbe JKF. Med Sci Sports Exercise. 22(1):117-126. 1990.
27 Attila J. Zink, William C. Whiting, William J. Vincent, and McLaine, A.J. The effects of a weight belt on trunk and leg muscle activity and joint kinematics during the squat exercise. 1999. Journal of Str Con Res.
28 Influence of two different modes of resistance training in female subjects. Hisaeda H; Miyagawa K; Kuno S; Fukunaga T; Muraoka I
29 Lander, JE, Hundley, JR, and Simonton, Rl. The Effectiveness of weight-belts during multiple repetitions of the squat exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 24(5): 603-609. 1992.
30 Force-velocity relationships and fatigability of strength and endurance-trained subjects. Kanehisa H; Ikegawa S; Fukunaga T
Choi, J. Y., Takahashi, H., Itai, Y., & Takamatsu, K. (1997).
31 Comparison of training effects between power-up type and bulk-up type in strength training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 29(5), Supplement abstract 54.
32 Hellebrandt, F. A. (1972). The physiology of motor learning. In R. N. Singer (Ed.), Readings in motor learning (pp. 397-409). Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger.
33 Christina, R. W. (1996). Major determinants of the transfer of training: Implications for enhancing sport performance. In K-W. Kim (Ed.), Human performance determinants in sport (pp. 25-52). Seoul, Korea: Korean Society of Sport Psychology.
34 Wilson, G. J., Newton, R. U., Murphy, A. J., & Humphries, B. J. (1994). The optimal training load for the development of dynamic athletic performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 25(11), 1279-1286.
35 Morrissey, M. C., Harman, E. A., & Johnson, M. J. (1995). Resistance training modes: Specificity and effectiveness. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27, 648-660.
36 Kraemer, W. J., & Newton, R. U. (1994). Training for improved vertical jump. Sports Science Exchange, 7(6), 1-12.
37 A. S Prelepin. 1969. Preparation of elite Soviet Athletes. Technical Report #1012-62, Moscow: All-Union Research Institute of Physical Culture.
Appendix A: Anatomical References
Trapezius (i): The lower half of the trapezius (“traps 3” and “traps 4”) assist in retracting the scapulae and maintaining proper alignment of the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. The Trapezius also assist in maintaining the head in an erect position. This serves to secure the bar in a stable position on the upper back, as well as maintain a proper arch in the upper back (thoracic vertebrae).
The Levator Anguli Scapulae, Rhomboideus major(b), and Rhomboideus minor all function to retract the scapulae, maintain alignment of the cervical vertebrae, retract the scapulae, and maintain proper position of the shoulder girdle while support a fixed load (barbell). Levator not shown, inferior to the scapulae(g). These muscles are of the utmost importance in maintaining the bar position while squatting.
Latissimus dorsai: These wide muscles which cover the lumbar and lower half of the dorsal regions will contract isometrically to avoid compression of the shoulder girdle. They assist in maintaining rigidity in the spinal column, which allow proper arching (lordosis) of the spine while squatting.
The Erector spinae(1), Sacro-lumbalis(b), Longissimus Dorsi(2_, and Spinalis Dorsi(3) all serve to maintain the spine in the erect posture. They also serve to bend the trunk backward when it is required to counterbalance a weight such as when squatting. Numerous smaller muscles function to stabilize the spinal column during back extension, by contracting to maintain vertebral alignment. It should be noted that during a heavy squat, the erectors and their synergists will be quite heavily taxed. Due to the need for the athlete-barbell system to maintain a proper combined center of gravity (CCOG), there will be a certain amount of forward inclination of the trunk taking place, to maintain barbell position over the athlete’s base of support (the foot).
The abdominals: The Rectus(f), Obliques internus(c ), Obliques externus(b), Transersalis(d), Pyramidalis, and Quadratus lumborum all contract isometrically to support the trunk under a compressive load. Pyramidalis (not shown) is a small triangular muscle sheathed within the base of the rectus.
Serratus posticus superior and inferior: Both assist in maintaining rigidity in the torso by contracting isometrically to support the chest cavity as well as providing support for the lumbar vertebrae. Figure Four: Serratus superior (g). Not shown, inferior, below superior.
The intercostals: External intercostals(1), Internal intercostals, Infracostals, Triangularis sterni, and Leytores costarum all contract isometrically to stabilize the ribcage under a compressive load. Only externals are indicated. Other muscles in this group are inferior to the Externals.
The Glutei function to adduct the thigh. The Gluteus maximus(c ) and medius(2) rotate the thigh outward, and the minimus(1) rotates it inward. The Gluteus maximus extends the femur and brings the bent thigh into a line with the body. The Gluteus medius and minimus flex the thigh. The Glutei also function to achieve an erect posture after squatting.
The hamstrings, which consist of the Biceps Femoris(g), Semimembranosus(i), and Semitendinosis(h), serve to flex the knee. They also function to extend the torso, such as when rising from a squatting position. The Semitendinosus and, to a lesser extent, the Semimembranosus, assist in rotating the thigh inward.
The Illiacus(o), Psoas magnus(c), and Psoas parvus(q) (often called the illio-psoas muscle group), acting from above, flex the thigh upon the pelvis, and at the same time rotate the femur outward. Acting from below, the femur being fixed, the muscles of both sides bend the lumbar portion of the spine and pelvis upon the femur. They also serve to maintain the erect position by supporting the spine and pelvis upon the femur.
The Quadriceps function to extend the knee joint, while the Sartorius flexes the leg upon the thigh and the thigh upon the pelvis. Rectus (1), Vastus Externus (2), Vastus Internus (“medialis")(3), Sartorius (c ). When the knee is bent the Sartorious assists the Semitendinosis in rotating the tibia inward. The Rectus assists the Psoas and Iliacus in supporting the pelvis upon the trunk upon the femur.
The Pectineus(f), the Adductor Brevis (g), the Adductor Longus (h), and the Adductor Magnus (not shown, inferior to the other adductors) powerfully adduct (move inward) the thigh. The Pectineus and Adductor Brevis and Longus assist the Psoas and Illiacus in flexing the thigh upon the pelvis. The Gracilis (I) assists the Sartorius in flexing the leg and rotating it inward, it is also an adductor of the thigh.
Appendix B: Sample Training Programs
Basic Periodized Program:
Week One: Squat 50% 1rm, three sets, 10 reps.
Week Two: Squat 55% 1rm, three sets, 10 reps.
Week Three: Squat 60% 1rm, three sets, 8 reps.
Week Four: Squat 65% 1 rm, three sets, 8 reps.
Week Five: Squat 70% 1 rm, three sets, 8 reps.
Week Six: Squat 75% 1 rm, three sets, 5 reps.
Week Seven: Squat 80% 1rm, three sets, 5 reps.
Week Eight: Squat 85% 1rm, three sets, 3 reps.
Week Nine: Squat 90% 1rm, three sets, 3 reps.
Week Ten: Squat 95% 1 rm, three sets, 2 reps.
Week Eleven: Squat 100% 1rm, three sets, 1 rep.
Week Twelve: Squat 105% of previous 1 repetition maximum for one repetition.
Basic Conjugate Training Program:
Each workout is performed once a week for a three week microcycle.
Day One: Maximal Acceleration:
Box squat: 10 sets, 2 reps, 50% 1rm.
Box squat: 2 sets, 2 reps, 60% 1rm.
Arched Back Good Mornings: 3 sets, 5 reps.
Reverse Hyper Extensions: 3 sets, 8 reps.
Russian Twist: 3 sets, 10 reps.
Seated Calf Raise: 3 sets, 15 reps.
Day Two: Maximal Effort, performed 72 hours later:
Front Squat from low box: 1rm.
Glute-Ham Raise: 3 sets, 5 reps.
Reverse Hyper Extensions: 3 sets, 10 reps.
Weighted Sit Ups: 3 sets, 8 reps.
Calf Raise: 3 sets: 10 reps.
Repeat for three weeks (total) and then switch to:
Box Squat: 10 sets, 2 reps, 55% 1rm.
Box Squat: 2 sets, 2 reps, 65% of 1rm.
Pull Throughs: 3 sets, 12 reps.
Reverse Hyper Extensions: 3 sets, 6 reps.
Hanging Leg Raise: 4 sets, 12 reps.
Donkey Calf Raise: 3 sets, 8 reps.
Sumo Deadlift with plates 6” off floor (lower by 2” each week for the next two weeks): 1rm
Split Squat: 3 sets, 5 reps.
Reverse Hyper Extensions: 3 sets, 10 reps.
Weighted Side Bend: 3 sets, 10 reps.
Calf Press: 3 sets, 10 reps.
After three weeks, again rotate exercises.
Appendix C: Partial List of Maximal Effort Exercises
Low Box Squat
High Box Squat
(either lift may be performed with one of the following:
Cambered Squat Bar)
Saftey Squat Bar)
Chains or bands may be added.
Low Box Front Squat (modified as above)
Good Morning Squat
Overhead Squat(may be performed off a box, with a variety of stances.
(either lift may be performed from a variety of pin heights in the power rack)
Deadlift from platform
Trap Bar Deadlift
Snatch Grip Deadlift (may be done from various heights)
Round Back (Only for advanced lifters. If you are not sure, you are not advanced.)
Good mornings on floor with legs outstretched
(all may be modified as per the squat)
Good mornings can also be performed to various pin heights in the power rack.
Appendix D: Partial List of Assistance Exercises
Exercises for the lower back and hamstrings:
Good Mornings(see Appendix C)
Glute Ham Raise
High Repetition Deadlifts (done with glutes pushed to the rear, only lowered to just below knee level)
Reverse Hyper Extensions
Exercises for the hamstrings:
Manual Hamstring Curl
Leg Curls (this is the least effective of the entire list)
Exercises for the Hip Flexors:
Ultra-Wide Sumo Deadlifts
Overhead Squats done to a low box with a sumo stance
Spread Eagle Sit Ups
Heavy Step Ups
Exercises for the Abdominals:
Weighted Sit Ups
Medicine Ball Throws on decline board
Standing Ab Pulldowns
Hanging Leg Raise
Exercises for the Obliques:
Weighted Side Bends
Weighted Sit Ups on decline board with twist
Exercises for the Quads:
Supertraining: Siff and Verkoshansky, 1999.
Physiology of Sport and Exercise, Wilmore and Costill, 1994. Human Kinetics.
Science and Practice of Strength Training, V. M. Zatsiorsky, 1995. Human Kinetics.
The Weightlifting Encyclopedia, A. Drechsler, 1998. A is A publications.
Gray’s Anatomy, H. Gray, 1998. House of Collectables.
The Training of the Weightlifter, R. A. Roman, 1988. Sportivny Press.
A System of Multi-Year Training in Weightlifting. A. S. Medvedyev, 1989. Sportivny Press.
Power: A Scientific Approach. F. C. Hatfield, 1989. Contemporary books.
Squatting, Westside Style, Dave Tate, 2000. Elite Fitness Systems.
Biomechanics of Sport. J. Garhammer, 1989. CRC Press.
Designing Resistance Training Programs. S. J. Fleck and W. J. Kraemer, 1987. Human Kinetics.
Weight Training: A Scientific Approach. M. H. Stone and H. S. O’Bryant, 1987. Bellwether Press.
26-Jul-2005, 11:02 AM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n
The Bench Press
Written by “Arioch”
For more than three decades, the lift commonly viewed as the test of strength has been the bench press. From its inception in competition, it has been the most popular lift in single lift competition, and often, when someone who has no idea what powerlifting or Olympic lifting is all about, will pose the question “How much do you bench?” to anyone who lifts. It is the second lift in a powerlifting competition, and even athletes who are strong on the other two lifts need to develop proficiency in the bench press to achieve an exceptional total. While this lift is practiced by nearly everyone, even those who have no idea what a snatch, clean and jerk or squat is, this document is primarily written for powerlifters or those who wish to develop a maximal bench with minimal risk of injury.
The bench press is executed while lying flat on the back, the only contested lift where this occurs. The agonists (prime movers) in the bench are the triceps, deltoids, pectoralis major and minor, and the latissimus dorsai. Numerous smaller muscles are used to stabilize the body while lifting, but these are the primary focus. Performed properly, the bench can produce incredible muscular hypertrophy of the pressing muscles, although specific assistance work will still need to be performed to achieve maximal poundages.
The set up for the bench consists of lying flat on the bench, with the head, shoulders, and hips on the bench, and the feet flat on the floor. While some federations may allow variations of this, as a general rule it is good to practice this set up. Certain lifters may not be able to reach the floor, and may use plates or blocks to allow the athlete to achieve a respectable amount of leg drive. One of the most overlooked aspects of the bench is the amount of power that can be transferred from the legs to the torso, but this is only possible if the hips are driven strongly into the bench, and the abdominals and lower back are used to keep the torso stable. This is made easier for the athlete by arching, where the lower back is extended. This also serves to allow the lats to be recruited more efficiently by the athlete. The scapulae should be retracted to their fullest extent. This can not only shorten the bench stroke as well, but decrease the angle of rotation of the shoulder joint, limiting opening of the acromial process.
The grip will influence numerous factors; bar path, muscle recruitment and activation, bar placement, and risk of injury. As a general rule, most powerlifters will use a wide grip, shortening the distance the bar must travel and reducing the necessary work to lockout the weight.(10, 36) A narrow grip enables lifters to generate more force initially, but hinders force production at lockout. A wider grip has been shown to limit initial force production.(31) It is also worth noting that a wider grip generally allows far less horizontal bar displacement than a closer grip. Contrary to popular belief, a wider grip does not stress the pectorals more than a closer grip, although the triceps are recruited to a much greater degree with a narrower grip due to the greater vertical displacement of the bar.(10) While there is no greater recruitment of the pectorals secondary to a wider grip, the muscles will be subject to a greater stretch, which can result in increased force generation.(19) It goes without saying that the thumbs should be wrapped firmly around the bar, which will not only help ensure the safety of the lifter, but will make it easier to keep the wrists straight. Keeping the wrists straight allows the bar to be supported over the radius and ulna, instead of being held in position by the much smaller and weaker tendons of the wrist.
Unracking the bar is a part of the set up, and can result in a poor lift if it is not given the attention it deserves. Ideally, the bar should be taken out of the rack by the lifter, allowing the athlete to tighten the lats as the bar moves into position. However, since it is not an ideal world, a spotter is often used. If the is the case, the spotter should provide no more assistance than absolutely necessary, and a poor lift off can be worse than no help at all, especially in the case of smaller lifters, who can be pulled not only out of position, but clear of the bench by an overly enthusiastic ‘assistant’. When the bar is unracked, it should be taken at full extension, both because the athlete must demonstrate control of the bar for a successful lift in competition, but to ensure that the muscles are tight and the set up is correct. A single second of adjustment can avoid what seems like an eternal struggle to press a weight that is out of position.
Elbow position on both the descent and ascent will determine many things, including risk of injury to the shoulders, activation of the lats and triceps, as well as bar position. This is one of the most ignored factors when benching. It will be discussed in more detail during both the raising and lowering phases, but one thing will be mentioned first: do not flare the elbows out to the side “to place more emphasis on the chest,” as bodybuilding lore often states. This will result in a severe amount of strain at the shoulder joints, as it opens the acromial process to an extreme degree.
The descending phase is critical, and will directly determine the ability of the athlete to press the weight. When the bar is lowered, it should be brought low on the torso, to the apex of the arch. This serves to decrease the distance that the bar is pressed, reducing the work done by the athlete during both the eccentric and concentric phases. To enable the bar to be lowered properly, the elbows should move toward the lifter as the bar comes down. This should be done with a feeling of ‘rowing the bar down’ with the lats, but achieving the feel of this can take time. Tension should be maintained throughout the body as this is occurring, to preserve the potential energy of the stretch reflex.(7)
The pause is required in competition, and while this is one of the many things that separates a competition bench from a gym lift, it is often one of the most important. The ability to preserve a stretch reflex is crucial to any athlete who needs to hit a big number in competition. When the bar is paused, the most important thing to do is not relax, tension must be maintained throughout the entire body. The stretch reflex can be maintained for up to two seconds in a trained athlete, although a novice will struggle to achieve 25% of this result.(7)
The concentric portion of the lift is the most difficult, and can present a variety of problems to the athlete. One fact that should be noted is that, once the bar is paused, the lifter should not allow the bar to sink further, using the ribcage or stomach to propel the bar upward. This is heaving, and is cause for a lift to be turned down. As the bar begins to ascend, it should be driven upward with as much force as possible, both to take advantage of the myotactic response, as well as to push through any possible sticking point.(13, 30) The elbows should be maintained as close to the body as possible until the sticking point is reached, at which point they should flare outward, reducing the movement arm about the elbow and improving the leverage of the triceps.
The bar should be driven upward in as straight a line as possible. Quite simply, this requires the least amount of work on the part of the athlete. Some lifters are taught to push the bar back (‘back to the rack’) and this is quite incorrect, even though several good benchers do so. Benching in this manner increases the amount of work that the lifter must perform, and decreases the involvement of the lats. Some coaches and athletes are under the impression that this will more fully utilize the musculature of the upper back, but this is not the case. It would be if the athlete were vertical instead of horizontal, however, as the bar is simply drifting over the face, the athlete is in no way utilizing muscular force to pull it there.
Common errors that occur when benching are discussed briefly. They all have several things in common. First, they all indicate that the lifter is not strong enough to move the weight properly, and should decrease the poundage until their ability grows to match his desires. Second, they all indicate that the lifter needs further education in the realm of strength training. Third, they all have the potential to cause injury.
Excessive arching is common among gym lifters, who should know to keep their hips on the bench. However, when the ego takes over, the body often loses control. The lifter will push the hips up off of the bench, in order to improve his leverage. While this can help someone lock out a lift they would otherwise have missed, it can caused a great deal of strain on the vertebrae of the lower back and the neck. The lumbar vertebrae will be compressed unevenly, increasing the shearing force the spine is subject to, and putting the lifter at risk for serious injury. An even more extreme form of arching can have the lifter actually compressing the vertebrae of the neck.
Bouncing the bar off of the chest is another common technique exhibited by those who seek to impress their friends with the fact that they have survived as long as they have. This is, quite simply, an easy way to damage the ribs, sternum, or even completely fracture the xiphoid process. In addition to the potential for injury, people who utilize this ‘technique’ will begin to develop a weakness in the bottom of the bench press, necessitating further bouncing of the bar, which is quite a viscous circle.
One last error will be discussed, and that is the improper use of spotters. While a spotter is a good idea when benching, using one (or more) to perform the lift instead of pressing the weight to full extension is not a habit that the serious strength athlete should develop. While there may be a place for heavy negatives in the recreational athletes program, there is a disadvantage to performing them as well, in that they cause the greatest degree of microtrauma to muscle fibers than any other standard type of training. While a muscle may be able to handle approximately 120% of its maximal concentric load during the eccentric phase, this does not in any way serve to optimize the CNS, and it is, in fact, more fatiguing to the athlete than standard training, increasing the recovery time and lessening the amount of training time. (29, 41, 60, 61)
There is at least one school of thought which would have athletes believe that there is little benefit to performing a regular bench press, and that machine type bench exercises are just as good, if not superior to the bench press. Unfortunately, research does not support this. Studies have shown that not only is there greater muscle activity during the bench press (20, 31, 33) but that there is also greater recruitment of the stabilizing muscles to support the musculature used in the bench press (16, 17, 45) This is particularly true of the deltoid, and while all muscles of the deltoid are active to one degree or another during any movement of the upper arm, with one head being the agonist and the others synergists,(40) this difference is highly significant with respect to the bench press.(33)
Lifters, whether powerlifters, bodybuilders, or recreational lifters often argue about which muscles are most involved in the bench. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer. The following information is compiled from electromyographical analysis (EMG) performed within several studies, and in every case the EMG signal was quantified by calculating the integral of the EMG pattern (IMEG) as the area under the linear envelope.(60) The data were analyzed through a repeated measures ANOVA (analysis of normal variance) using type III sums of squares where possible.(1) This method of review was also used when assessing % maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). All anatomical references were reviewed with respect to electrode placement with respect to both anatomical accuracy as well as sensitivity as diagnostic tools (9, 12, 19, 24, 25, 37, 39, 42, 43, 61)
What the above paragraph indicates is that, when all factors are considered and standardized, including individual variations such as biomechanics, fiber type, rate of force development, etc. the following can be surmised (all data based on averages of 60% and 80% 1rm):
% MVIC of agonists:
Anterior deltoid: 95%
Pectoralis Major: 75%
The most active portion of the triceps was the long head, which is even more active with a narrow grip. This is true even when overhead pressing, assuming the elbows are fully adducted. This is secondary to the greater degree of elbow flexion, in which the triceps brachii functions as the agonist.
The anterior deltoid will be more active the more the trunk is inclined, as well as being more active with a wider grip. This is due to the fact that the anterior deltoid is not merely an flexor of the humerus, but also an adductor of it. Wide hand spacing during a vertical press will cause mainly glenohumeral abduction, whereas with a narrow grip the primary movement is flexion.
The sternocostal head of the pectoralis major is little affected by hand spacing, but is directly affected by trunk inclination. The greater the inclination, the less the activation. There is also a slightly greater activation of this muscle with a wider hand spacing, due, in general, to the fact that with a wider grip, the elbows tend to move away from the midline of the body, which increases the degree of horizontal flexion of the humerus.
The clavicular head of the pectoralis major is affected by both hand spacing as well as trunk inclination. The narrower the grip, the greater the activation, as well as the greater the inclination, the greater the activation. There are several factors for this, including the fact that vertical bar displacement is greatest during an incline press. This is also due to the fact that the clavicular head is involved in horizontal flexion and adduction in addition to pure flexion. The clavicular head will maintain its function as a flexor of the glenohumeral joint until humerus moves above the horizontal position. This is why it is rather inactive when the torso is vertical, as little flexion is occurring.
The latissimus dorsai is highly active at the initiation of the concentric phase, with greater activity the closer the elbows are maintained to the torso, due to the degree of adduction required. The latissimus dorsai is an extensor at the glenohumeral joint as well as being a humeral adductor, which explains its activity during every type of pressing.
Numerous training programs have been devised, and will not be discussed here in great detail. A modest discussion of the various methods of training will be mentioned.
Maximal effort method: The maximal effort method consists of lifting a maximal (1RM) load, with the goal being improvement of both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination. The CNS system is maximally stimulated, with CNS inhibition being reduced, and the greatest number of motor units are recruited using this method.(61) The primary disadvantages of this method are that it induces minimal hypertrophy, as only one or two reps are performed, as well as the fact that the CNS will attenuate rather quickly, and so exercises must be rotated regularly. If more than one set (repetition) is to be performed, then a lengthy rest period may be required. (3, 4, 21, 53)
Repeated effort method: This method utilizes submaximal effort with higher reps to stimulate maximal hypertrophy.(61) The basis for this method is that the larger the muscles peak cross sectional area (PCSA), the greater the strength of the individual muscle. The disadvantages to this method are that the CNS is not highly stimulated with this method, as well as the fact that as the muscles become fatigued, form begins to suffer, decreasing proper motor unit recruitment patterns. As multiple sets are normally performed using this method, rest periods should be long enough to allow the athlete sufficient recovery time, but, over time, the athlete should strive to reduce the rest time in-between sets (3, 4, 21, 46, 53)
Dynamic effort method: This method uses sub-maximal (light) weights to increase rate of force development.(61) This method will also potentate the myotactile response, as the weight is moved quickly. Repetitions are low, to ensure proper technique, and sets are high, to allow for greater motor unit recruitment. Rest periods should be kept low, as the various systems, such as the CNS, musculoskeletal, etc. are not heavily taxed during a single set. (4, 21, 41, 53)
A brief discussion of assistance work and its effects, as well as specific bench techniques, is quite appropriate. Assistance work is of critical importance, a point which has often been illustrated. When an athlete cannot progress in a certain lift, it is not the lift itself which is weak, but there is a weak link (muscle group) in the kinematic chain. The key to successful assistance work is determining which muscle group is the weakest and determining the appropriate technique to strengthen it.
General guidelines are hard to present, but, nevertheless, an attempt will be made.
Weak at the initiation of the concentric phase (out of the bottom): Strengthen lats, pecs, as well as learn how to recruit lats properly.
Weak at the midpoint: Strengthen the shoulders, and work on specific exercises to train the sticking point.
Weak at lockout: Triceps, triceps, and triceps. The triceps are active throughout the entire lift, but most active the closer the bar moves toward lockout. Specific exercises to strengthen the lockout can be used as well.
Bench assistance work will be divided into several basic categories, with a general discussion about the effects of each category of exercises, with extra discussion for specific functions of individual exercises if necessary. The categories include flat benching exercises, partial pressing exercises, bench-like exercises, assistance work for the triceps, assistance work for the deltoids, assistance work for the traps, assistance work for the lats, assistance work for the biceps and forearms. The use of chains and bands will not be discussed, but will be the focus of another discussion.
Flat bench: This lift needs to be examined in and of itself as it can be used with a variety of methods, techniques, and set and rep schemes, all of which can have an effect on bench performance. When trained dynamically, the athlete should use a weight that allows the production of maximal force, which will generally occur somewhere between 50 – 60% of the 1RM. This allows for greater force development, allows the lift to be trained again more frequently as it is performed in a very rapid manner, lessening the eccentric stress and resultant fatigue, as well as maximizing the utilization of the stretch reflex.
The paused version of the bench press can be used to develop starting strength. Many athletes will train with an extended pause (two or three seconds) to help them further develop the necessary explosion off the chest, as well as the ability to maintain tension in the paused position.
Heavy negatives: Not advised for the strength athlete. By the time an athlete is advanced enough to perform them, the amount of recovery time necessary will reduce practical training time. This exercise may be useful for novice athletes to become accustomed to the feel of heavier weights through synaptic facilitation.
Illegal wide grip bench. Very useful for strengthening the bottom portion of the bench which will occur secondary to hypertrophy, as these are generally performed in the six rep range. The only caution is that this exercise can severely open the acromial process, and should be used sparingly, and only by athletes with healthy shoulders.
Pressing from the pins at chest level can work the start of the bench as well, but it is difficult to recruitment maximal power from the torso, as there is no stretch reflex, and no resulting tension. This can place the athlete at greater risk for injury as well.
Benching with a cambered bar or a buffalo bar can also work the start of the bench, but once again care must be taken to avoid injury to the shoulders as the acromial process is quite open using these types of bars.
Close grip bench presses have been a not only a standard method for powerlifters to strengthen the triceps and thus the lockout of the bench, but have even been used by weightlifters as an assistance exercise to increase their ability to execute the press decades before powerlifting was a recognized sport, including the great Tommy Kono. (for the trivia-minded, Kono cleaned and pressed 350 pounds at a bodyweight of 182.5 pounds)
Reverse grip bench pressing can provide quite a bit of stimulation for the triceps. This method is little used, but could be far more prevalent if athletes did not overlook this very useful exercise. It is, in fact, even more surprising when one considers that the heaviest bench ever executed was performed with a reverse grip. This was a standard assistance exercise for legendary bencher Rick Weil, who eventually utilized it as his competition style, pushing 551 lbs. at a bodyweight of 181 lbs.
Partial bench exercises can take a wide variety of forms, and will be further subdivided into several categories: initial, or the start of the concentric, lockout, which will be used to refer to any portion of the bench higher than ½ of the distance to lockout, or specific. One difficulty arises in that exercises with specific variations with respect to the height at which they are performed, such as board presses, and presses from the rack, will fall into a different category based on the bench stroke of the individual. An athlete with a short bench stroke may find that the three board press strengthens the lockout, whereas an individual with a very long bench stroke will find that it strengthens the start or the mid-range of the bench. The same is true for partial presses from the rack. One of the keys to making partial exercises effective is that they must be performed in the correct range, with the joints at the proper angle.
Partial training is based on the attenuation principle, where the intent is to train in the range of motion where there is demand for maximal force production. This method is used to overload the musculoskeletal system as well as the CNS with supramaximal loads in the area of the ROM where maximal force is produced.(40) This also produces a decline in neural inhibition.(55) Numerous studies have shown that there is an area of the ROM where maximal force production occurs, and this area is often referred to as the ‘sticking point’.(13, 31, 57) Studies have shown that partial ROM training increases strength primarily at the trained ROM, although there is a certain amount of variance. (18, 27, 28, 48) It is worth noting that partial ROM exercise produces greater torque compared to full ROM exercise. (47, 58) One other benefit of performing partials is the lessened eccentric phase, which will result in less microtrauma, allowing quicker recovery.(29)
Board Press: Allows the lifter to maintain tension throughout the torso but still work a partial ROM. Much of the weight is transferred to the athlete at the bottom of the rep, when the bar is paused.
Rack Press: Similar to board press, but harder for the athlete to maintain tension in the torso. This exercise is easier to vary, as changing pin heights is relatively simple, but there is greater risk of injury if the athlete does not achieve the appropriate levels of muscular tension prior to the concentric phase. This exercise can also be used to push very heavy weights, allowing the CNS to be better conditioned for handling heavier weights.
Floor Press: Good for working the initial portion of the bench. For lifters with weak triceps, this may not be the best assistance exercise.
Isometric press: This exercise involves utilizing a power rack with the pins set just above and below the sticking point. The athlete will then press the weight off the pins, forcibly contacting the next set of pins. This will be repeated for a total of three times, and when the bar contacts the pins the third time, the athlete should push against the pins for at least six seconds, with the goal of exhausting every possible muscle fiber.
Work for the triceps is basically the same. Variations of extensions, as the function of the triceps is to extend the elbow joint. There are a great many types of extension, so many, in fact, that they would be the subject for an entire document of their own. The purpose of all of them is to increase the strength of the triceps through hypertrophy, and a wide number of set and rep schemes can be used. Only a couple exercises will be mentioned specifically.
Dips: Good for the novice, who is not used to pushing heavy weight. As the athlete becomes more advanced, there is the matter of diminishing returns. Perhaps it is because of the strain on the shoulder joint, the fact that so many muscles are involved that it is hard to target a specific weakness with this exercise, or for some unknown reason, but advanced athletes seem to benefit very little from this exercise.
French Press: Yet another overlooked exercise. Whether seated or standing, this exercise provides a benefit many other do not: it fully stretches the long head of the triceps, which crosses the shoulder joint. This can be quite beneficial for a lifter who has been doing short range isolation movements.
Pushdowns: These exercises do very little to truly develop functional strength, and should be used only for active recovery or as GPP.
Exercise for the shoulder girdle are of the utmost importance. Not only the anterior deltoid, which functions as an agonist in the bench press, but the medial and posterior deltoids, the trapezius, as well as the rotator cuff and rhomboids.
Pressing exercises, whether with barbells or dumbbells, are one of the best all around shoulder exercises. The anterior and medial deltoid will be directly stimulated, and the posterior will function as synergists. The traps will be used to support the musculature of the shoulders during overhead pressing as well. Pressing can also be performed from various pin heights within the rack, adding extra variations to the lifter’s arsenal.
Pressing behind the neck is often viewed as dangerous, and this is true: if the athlete does not maintain adequate flexibility in the shoulders, strength in the external rotators, and a certain amount of flexibility in the chest. As at least one of these factors is generally sadly lacking, this variation of pressing exercise can be quite hard on the athlete.
Snatch Grip Press Behind the Neck: This exercise is rarely performed in the United States, as Olympic weightlifting is not as popular as it once was. This exercise is one of the reasons when Overhead lifting was the rule, rather than the exception, that rotator cuff injuries were few and far between.
The strength and recruitment of the latissimus dorsai is essential to a big bench, and so correspondingly the lats should be trained in the manner which not only most closely simulates the motion of the bench, but allows the athlete to achieve greater recruitment of the lats. As the lats are basically worked in two directions (there are minute exceptions which are not very applicable) exercises will be grouped into two categories.
Chins/Pullups/Pulldowns: All excellent movements for strengthening the lats, and chins and pull ups are superior to pulldowns due to the greater number of motor units recruited. If an athlete is going to perform chins or pull ups, care must be taken not to bounce out of the bottom portion of the exercise, as this can cause bicep tendonitis or other elbow problems.
Rows: While certain types of rows have been shown to display a higher EMG activation rating, such a s dumbbell rows, the athlete working to improve the bench should make the row as specific as possible. Ideally, this will be with the chest supported, the bar held in the same grip, and it is rowed in the same plane as the bench is executed. Rotating different variations of this exercise can be useful.
The trapezius is a muscle that helps stabilize the entire shoulder girdle, as well as the neck and head, and is often neglected in many conventional programs.
The basic exercise for strengthening the trapezius is the shrug. This exercise can be performed with barbells or dumbbells, and can be performed in an explosive manner allowing more weight to be used as well as increasing the effective ROM.
The other method for strengthening the traps as well as the upper back would be the Olympic lifts. While learning the classic (full) versions of the snatch and clean and jerk could be counter productive, partial versions of the quick lifts can be readily learned and provide a degree of stimulation to the upper back that is unparalleled by other forms of lifting.
The power snatch is one of the best exercises for strengthening the upper back that has ever been practiced. In addition to strengthening the traps, posterior deltoids, rhomboids and teres major, the external rotators are strengthened quite thoroughly. This exercise, or a variation of it, is often used for this very purpose.
The power clean will work the traps quite well, and more weight can be used than in the power snatch. This exercise will work the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and teres major, but it does not strengthen the external rotators to the same degree as the power snatch. If strengthening the external rotators is the primary goal, dumbbells can be more effective.
Pulls: Whether executed with a snatch or clean grip, performed from the deck, the hang, or pins, Olympic pulls can work the traps through an incredible range of motion, and there will be some stimulation of the other muscles of the upper back.
Biceps: The only function the biceps brachialis serves is as a stabilizer in the bench press. For this reason, there is little reason for the athlete interested in strengthening the bench to spend much time curling. The brachialis serves as a stabilizer as well, and often more so than the biceps, so reverse curls and hammer curls can be of some use.
Forearms: The muscular of the forearm is far more important to the bench than the biceps. The brachioradialis serves to stabilize the elbow joint, and the extensors and flexors stabilize the wrist joint.
Reverse Curls: This exercise primarily strengthens the brachioradialis, but also serves to strengthen the brachialis.
Hammer Curls: Similar to reverse curls, with less effect on the brachioradialis, but more stimulation of the brachialis.
Wrist Curls: Can be used to strengthen both the flexors and the extensors.
Grip work: Grip work in general can be divided into a few categories as well, but the primary interest of the athlete seeking to improve the bench is static contraction.
A final note: Aside from the obvious cautions about using spotters or a power rack, there is one other difficulty that is often overlooked. The bench press will heavily work the internal rotators (supraspinatus and infraspinatus) but not stress the externals to any great degree. The external rotators (subscapularis and teres minor) are equally important, and should receive attention. While mention has been made of the fact that some of the Olympic lifts work the external rotators, this needs to be stressed. If these moves are not utilized, a certain amount of specific work for these small muscles should be included. The key aspect to any training program is that the health of the athlete is paramount.
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26-Jul-2005, 11:03 AM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n
Written by “Arioch”
The deadlift is a heavy compound movement that should be included in the exercise program of any lifter. As this lift will strengthen not only the entire back, but the musculature of the hips, abdominals, and legs, as well as work the grip, proficiency in this lift is a must. Like the squat, the deadlift will stimulate a growth response from the body that should carry over into strength and size gains in other areas.
There are two basic styles of deadlifting, conventional and sumo. Each style will be explained, and compared to the contrasting style. While certain aspects of deadlifting are similar, such as the fact that the lifter is basically picking a weight up off of the deck, and raising to the highest possible level without bending the arms, a great many differences in biomechanics occur as a result of the differing styles.
The conventional stance consists of the athlete standing with the feet approximately shoulder width apart, or slightly narrower. To position the feet properly, slide them forward as far as possible without moving the shoulders in front of the bar. The hips should be as close to the bar as possible as well, but the lower back must remain arched. The head should be elevated so that the athlete is looking forward and slightly upwards. The shoulders should be back, but slightly rounded. Retracting the shoulders causes the shoulder girdle to elevate, increasing the distance the lifter must pull the bar. The athlete must grip the bar tightly, and to ensure that the bar does not roll, a mixed grip (one hand supinated, one hand pronated) is often employed.
The true beginning of the deadlift is the set up, or the first phase (as it is known in Olympic lifting), which has already been described. The next step, before pulling the bar free from the deck is to fill the abdominal cavity with air. While drawing in as much air as possible, the goal is to push it down as far as possible, not fill the chest cavity. Filling the chest cavity with air elevates the shoulders, which will increase the distance the lifter must pull the bar.
The deadlift is initiated by simultaneously extending the knee and hip joints. The knee will extend due to the contraction of the quadriceps muscles (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and rectus femoris), and, during the extension, may move slightly to the rear. The hip joint will extend secondary to the contraction of the gluteus and the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus). While the entire hamstring is active to a certain degree during the deadlift, the semitendinosus and semimembranosus are recruited to a much greater degree to extend the hip joint.
The bar should be pulled into the body, as well as up. This keeps the athlete from falling forward during the lift, as it helps maintain a far more stable combined center of gravity (CCOG). This is where the placement of the feet is a significant factor. If they are too far forward, causing the shins to be closer to the bar than necessary, the bar must be pulled around the knees, instead of past them. This shortens the lever arm distance and reduces the resistive torque.
During this period, and indeed, throughout the entire lift, the musculature of the upper back and shoulders (trapezius, latissimus dorsai, teres minor, subscapularis, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, as well as the anterior, medial and posterior deltoids) will be undergoing an isometric contraction to hold the bar in a stable position. In the arm, the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis will also contract isometrically to stabilize the elbow joint. The forearm flexors are extremely active during the gripping of the bar.
The erector spinae (iliocostalis thoracis, iliocostalis lumborum, longissimus dorsai, and spinalis dorsai) will contract during the lift, along with the intertransversarii, interspinalis, rotores, and multifidus muscles to bring the spine into an erect position. These muscles become more active once the back is extended past a point that would be 60 degrees away from vertical. The inter-transversarii, interspinalis, rotors, and multifidus will also serve to stabilize the vertebrae and discs. In the conventional deadlift, the torso is inclined far more than in the sumo style, in direct contrast to recommendations for a more erect torso to reduce shear force on the lumbar vertebrae (4, 9, 12).
As the bar travels past the knees, and up the thighs, several key points must be noted. It is imperative that the knees not re-bend once they have begun to straighten. In addition to the extra strain this will put on the ligaments and tendons, secondary flexion of the knees (hitching) is cause for disqualification during a competition. Another mistake that is often made as the lift nears completion is the lifter will try to pull the torso back, when it is far easier to simply push the hips forward. This technique will allow the athlete to shift some of the strain from the erectors to the larger muscles of the hips, including the gluteus. At the top of the lift, the shoulders should be pulled back to indicate the completion of the lift. This is not necessary for routine training of the deadlift, but a powerlifter should practice this to avoid unnecessary red lights.
The major difference that occurs in the sumo deadlift is the placement of the feet. They are placed much wider, sometimes even twice shoulder width, although this is an extreme. The toes are turned outward, sometimes to the point where the angle of the feet approaches 160 degrees. There are several biomechanical advantages to this stance. The distance the bar must travel is greatly lessened as the hip angle is on average 12 degrees greater than the hip angles of conventional deadlifters, while the knee angle is approximately 13 degrees greater. (7, 12) The trunk angle is significantly closer to vertical, which, from a pure safety standpoint, the sumo stance decreases both L4/L5 moments as well as shear forces. (4) Furthermore, the sumo stance allows the lifter to keep the bar closer to the body, which shortens the movement arm to the lumbar spine. (12) This stance can reduce the total distance the bar travels by as much as 25 – 40%. (7)
The functional technique in the deadlift is different as well. The athlete pulling a conventional deadlift will push straight down with the feet, whereas in the sumo deadlift, the knees must be pushed out over the toes. This is important, to avoid lateral shear force on the knee, as well as the fact that it allows the lifter to engage the larger muscles of the hips earlier than in the conventional stance. As a function of the bar being closer to the lifter, it will contact the legs earlier. As the bar slides up the thighs, it is important to ensure that the fingers of the pronated hand are not torn open by the friction thus generated. A modest amount of baby powder or talcum may be applied to the legs to reduce the chance of this occurring.
One factor that has not been discussed that makes the deadlift unique among the three powerlifts is that unlike the squat and bench, there is no eccentric (lengthening, or lowering) portion prior to the concentric (shortening, or raising) of the bar. This has the function of negating the stretch reflex, a fact that is often overlooked by many athletes and coaches alike. There is a way of generating a small stretch reflex, which may help when initiating the lift, but nothing like the reflex that can be generated during the other two powerlifts. In the conventional stance, a slight rocking of the hips, which will cause the knees to flex as well, can be employed. The lift should be initiated when the hips are at the lowest point, and this movement must occur rapidly. Care must be taken when doing this, as if the hips descend too far, the lifter will be at a biomechanical disadvantage.
Unsurprisingly, there is a difference when using this technique when pulling sumo. This technique (often called ‘diving’) can allow the sumo lifter to generate a greater stretch reflex without moving out of position, unlike the conventional deadlift. Because the feet are father apart, instead of just raising and lowering the hips, the hips should be lowered rapidly then thrust forward at the bottom of the descent. This allows not only for a greater stretch reflex, but for an even more erect torso than lifters who pull from a static position.
Variations on the deadlift
There are several varieties of the deadlift, and can be used not only to assist in deadlift training, but can also significantly strengthen muscles that can be impeding progress in another lift. Some of these lifts can be used in place of the deadlift during training as well.
One of the most common variations of the deadlift is the partial deadlift, or rack lockout. These are usually performed in a power rack, with the pins set at a variety of heights. Pulls can be done from one inch above the deck to a couple of inches below lockout. As a general rule, the shorter the ROM, the more weight that can be handled. The primary function of the partial deadlift is to not only overload the muscles of the back, as well as increase motor recruitment. (5, 18) At times, the amount of weight that can be handled during the execution of a short range of motion rack pull can be so great that it surpasses the amount of weight the athlete can hold. In this case, it may be necessary to employ straps to secure the weight. (6)
Another common variation is the stiff-legged deadlift (SLDL) which will work the hamstrings to a much greater degree than the conventional deadlift. (2, 10) This lift should begin just like a conventional deadlift, and should be pulled to the top in the same manner. The knees will be stiff, but not locked, as the bar is lowered as far as possible without allowing the back to round. The lower back should remain arched throughout the entire lift, and if the back begins to round despite the best attempts of the athlete, it is necessary at this point to begin the concentric portion of the lift and raise the bar. The bar will travel away from the lifter as the hips are flexed progressively. There is greater torque on the hips and lumbar areas because of the greater horizontal distance from the bar to the base of the support than in the conventional deadlift. (3, 4, 17)
Despite the fact that numerous “muscle mags” often illustrate a lifter performing this exercise while elevated, this should be avoided by all at first and most athletes for the duration of their career. The greater the range of motion, the greater the chance of lifting with a kyphotic (round back) posture. (10) Artificially increasing the ROM will serve only to increase the chances of this occurring. It must also be noted that a comprehensive stretching program is essential to not only athletes, but everyone wishing to improve the ROM of this exercise.
The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is used primarily to strengthen the hamstrings, gluteus, and lower back, although this technique causes less stress to the lumbar area. Unlike the SLDL, the RDL is initiated from the floor, although the set up is roughly in-between that of the conventional deadlift and the SLDL. (23) During the ascension, the knees should begin to straighten in advance of the hips, with the goal of keep the torso at the same angle as in the beginning of the lift for as long as possible. This should occur while maintaining normal spinal curvature. Pulling in such a manner allows the athlete to keep the bar closer to the base of support, decreasing the strain on the lumbar area when compared to the SLDL. As the knees fully straighten, the hips shall travel toward the rear slightly, then the hips are then powerfully flexed, fully utilizing the hamstrings and erectors to complete the lift. This lift is often performed by Olympic style weightlifters to increase the strength of the clean pull.
Another variation that is not often performed is the Snatch Grip Deadlift (SGL). This version of the deadlift is similar to a conventional deadlift, with the only difference occurring in the placement of the hands upon the bar. The grip is at least one and a half times shoulder width, while larger lifters will often grip collar to collar. A good general guide to novices is to extended the arms out to the sides, then bend only at the elbow. The bar should be held at approximately the width of the elbows. The difficulty of maintaining the grip in such a position, as the mixed grip cannot be used, will require the used of straps for those not very experienced in utilizing the hook grip. This lift will further stress the musculature of the upper back, particularly the trapezius. (19) This lift is often performed by Olympic style weightlifters to increase power of the first pull, making it easier for the athlete to raise weights from the deck.
A simple method of increasing the ROM of a deadlift is for the athlete to stand on a block. Once again, care must be taken to avoid kyphotic lifting posture. The increase in ROM will necessitate a decrease in weight.
There are far too many methods of training to improve the deadlift to list here. A few will be briefly discussed.
Periodization. This is a simple yet effective method of decreasing the volume while increasing the weight. This process occurs over a period of weeks or months. It is by far the most common method of training, although lifters are branching out in new directions daily. This method has been discussed in great detail in numerous other works, and will not be discussed further here.
Conjugate Training. This is a system of training the musculature of the lift without overtraining the CNS with respect to a single lift. The deadlift is not trained heavy throughout the cycle, and in some training cycles, may be trained only rarely. This method was first used in Olympic weightlifting by the incredibly successful Soviet Dynamo Club.(24) It was later used by the original Westside Barbell Club in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as some lifters on the East coast, including Bill Starr, a former Olympic weightlifter turned coach. (21). It is currently the system employed by the new Westside Barbell Club, of Columbus, Ohio, under the coaching of Louie Simmons, the most successful coach in powerlifting history.(20) This method will involve heavy assistance work for the lift itself, such as partial deadlifts, good mornings, etc. A list of assistance exercises can be found at: www.elitefts.com
An interesting variation for training the deadlift was employed by the great Don Rheinholdt, the first man to squat 900 lbs. in competition as well as being one of the first to deadlift over 800 lbs. He would set up with his opener in the power rack eight inches off of the deck, and pull it. He would then drop the pins one inch every week until the week before the meet, when the plates were just a single inch off of the floor. This allowed him to preserve his lower back while maintaining proper form.
A final word on a couple of myths. Numerous “experts” have cautioned against utilizing the deadlift, incorrectly stating that it is hazardous to perform. This is true, if the above cautions are not employed. While there can be a place for round back lifting in the program of the highly advanced lifter, this is a mistake for most and will not be discussed further. Other self proclaimed authorities state that you must wear a belt when deadlifting. A belt can help increase intra-abdominal pressure, as well as increase the force generated when deadlifting. However, the majority of the deadlifting done by any athlete should be performed without a belt to further recruit the core muscles (abdominals, obliques, etc.).
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26-Jul-2005, 06:54 PM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n
27-Jul-2005, 02:23 PM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up now!
Alright, well I'm up and ready today to go do the Wednesday workout of the single-factor today, but I've encountered one problem: my legs still feel like they've been torn apart by a band of savage primates. I have no idea how I'm going to squat today, not to mention deadlift. I mean it honestly hurts to simply move my damn legs right now. Should I go even lighter than planned today? I'd be all about going as heavy as possible if I was instructed to, but I'm not sure I'm even physically capable of squatting myself let alone weights today.
27-Jul-2005, 02:43 PM
Re: Bill Starr's 5 x 5 program... Variation per Madcow2 (thanx) So here it is! K up n
Ok - soreness/DOMS has to do with lack of conditioning for the load applied. People who get consistently sore all the time generally train a body part 1x per week which is a shitty frequency on a consistent basis and runs into detraining. Also the frequency is so low you don't really build conditioning so you always get some form of DOMS if you work a lot.
Quote posted by siamesedream
Nornally, if you are a little sore, stretch out and train through it. You'll get to a point soon where you don't get sore at all.
That being said, it sounds like you are major sore where me touching your legs would bring out a scream. You can't train like that. What you should do is do some stretches and some very light and easy work to put some blood in the muscles and facilitate recovery (it really works). Massage, hot/cold can help too. The bottom line is that it's going to take you a bit to be able to tolerate this if a single day got you that sore but trust me, soon DOMS will be just a memory and a pretty rare occurence (but you'll be gaining well which will further drive the point home that DOMS is not related to a stimulative workout but is conditioning driven. Give it a few weeks.
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