by: Dakota Plesa
This tale is true, and mine.
Where the wind does not blow,
And the birds always crow,
Where Helios has domain,
And the Anemoi never claim,
Lays a bar abound with iron.
Dirt, rust, chalk, and sweat
All coat the very bar.
One gripped by champions:
Even those yet to come.
It is there I stood.
It is there I stand.
The leather cinched tight about my core,
The white powder coated my palms.
I stepped forth.
Knurling cut deep into my hands,
And with a bounce of my hips,
And a grunt fit for Atlas,
My heels drove into the ground,
And a weight of forty stones
Defied gravity at my will.
My fortified skin did not hold;
It was torn from my hand.
Blood streamed from this hole
Into a pool of sweat and chalk.
Yet I was not done.
The weight was now thirty,
And the reps were aplenty,
So with my sanguine hand
I once again faced the bar.
Unyielding was the pig iron
Which lay at my feet.
Three times I did lift,
To be done thrice more,
And thrice more again.
A spectrum clouded my vision,
A void filled my ears,
And vertigo took its hold.
A small grin adorned my face –
Furnished with purple dots.
A failure of vessels
Meant to contain my blood.
In one half of a fortnight,
I shall face the bar again.
The same tale to be told,
And the same end to unfold.
The iron shall never be conquered,
But I shall not sway.
For this sweat is mine,
For these hands are mine,
For this blood is mine,
For this pain is mine,
For this heart is mine.
And so is this tale.
by Joe Giandonato, MS, CSCS
It's no secret, every guy loves to train their chest. Lifters and athletes alike often dedicate one to two days a week to training their chest. Whether the goal is to fill out tank tops and V-necks, or increasing their bench pressing prowess, the exercises presented below will help you get there.
Behind bars and in hardcore gyms, the upper chest is dubbed "the hood". In prison, a well developed "hood" represents toughness and when it comes to pressing heavy weights, having a big "hood" helps.
The hood is primarily comprised of the clavicular aspect of the pectoralis major, which orginates from the medial half of the clavicle, or collarbone and along with the sternal portion of the pectoralis major, inserts along the lateral lip of the bicipital groove of the humerus. The clavicular head of the pectoralis major is responsible for shoulder flexion and along with the sternal head, jointly adducts, horizontally adducts, and internally rotates the shoulder.
Electromyographical (EMG) studies, which involve the attachment of electrodes to the skin surface above the muscles, revealed that the Barbell Incline Press and Reverse Grip Bench Press elicited significant recruitment of the clavicular
aspect of the pectoralis major.
Barbell Incline Press
The Barbell Incline Press was found to recruit more fibers of the clavicular head of the pectoralis major, when performed at a 40 degree incline and with a narrower hand placement .
•Lie on an incline bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
•Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width grip.
•Have a spotter assist with unracking the bar.
•Pull your shoulder blades back, flare your lats and tuck your chin to your chest.
•Engage your core and keep your hips locked with your heels firmly planted on the ground.
•Draw the bar to your chest while keeping your upper arms at a 45-degree angle.
•Drive the bar up so it's over your chin.
Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-5 with 3 to 5 minutes rest between sets if strength is your goal; or 3-5x6-12 with 2 to 3 minutes rest between sets if your goal is size.
Reverse Grip Bench Press
Reverse grip bench presses performed on a flat bench, which involve a supinated, or underhanded grip, were also found togreatly stimulate the clavicular fibers , however, the grip does limits the amount of weight you're able to lift.
•Lie on an incline bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
•Grasp the bar with a firm underhanded grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
•Engage the muscles of your upper back and lats to ensure optimal shoulder positioning.
•Imagine yourself "rowing the bar" to your lower chest as you lower it.
•Touch the chest or come within an inch or two of the chest, pausing briefly before pressing the bar back to starting position.
Since handling loads equal to your normal bench press won't be possible off the bat, Josh suggests a three week wave with reverse grip bench cluster sets to maximize "hood development"
•Week 1 do 60 % of your “regular” bench press max for 3 reps rest 25 seconds, repeat this for 5 minute, last set do as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure.
•Week 2 do 60 % of your “regular” bench press max for 4 reps rest 25 seconds, repeat this for 5 minute, last set do as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure.
•Week 3 do 60 % of your “regular” bench press max for 5 reps rest 25 seconds, repeat this for 5 minute, last set do as many reps as possible, stopping one shy of failure.
•Week 4 - off
1. Barnett C, Kippers V, Turner P. "Effects of variations of the bench press exercise on the EMG activity of five shoulder muscles." J Strength Cond Res. 1995.
2. Lehman GJ. The influence of grip width and forearm pronation/supination on
upper-body myoelectric activity during the flat bench press. J Strength Cond Res. 2005.
Show off your hood with a Jailhouse Strong shirt! http://shop.joshstrength.com/Jailhouse-Strong-T-Shirt-JHS1.htm
by: Josh Bryant
If your goal is to move up to the prestigious night shift at Chip N Dales from your dreaded day shift, fill out your county blues or just look at little more dapper in your corporate sports coat—read on!
This information is provided to help you build a better physique.
Throw on Straps
For a bodybuilder, deadlifts serve to build the posterior chain and barbell shrugs serve to build the traps. If your grip is the limiting factor in either of these exercises, wear straps. Obviously, you will want to build a strong grip, but not at the expense of sacrificing muscular development.
If an exercise has a limiting factor that sacrifices the work the muscle performs, eliminate this factor (in this example, wear straps) or find a new exercise.
This is why BOSU ball squats belong in a Coney Island side show, not as part of the serious muscle building process. The take-home point is simple: Let the muscles you are training limit the weight you use in training if hypertrophy is the desired result.
Decline Presses for Chest Development
Declines are a favorite for overloading the lower (sternal) portion of the chest. Like the incline or the flat bench, dumbbells can be used.
Declines seem to be most effective at an angle of 20 to 25 degrees.
Many EMG studies now confirm declines work the entire chest!
Remember that the pectoral muscles perform two primary functions; flexion and adduction of your upper arm. Both of these happen during the upward phase of a decline bench. This why six-time Mr. Olympia, Dorian Yates, feels the decline bench is superior bodybuilding for chest development.
An added bonus is more weight can be handled, which means more muscle damage and more mechanical tension both catalyze hypertrophy.
This study examined the effect of restricting blood flow to the upper arm muscles during a low intensity bench press regimen. Subjects were divided into a control group and a blood flow restricted group. Both groups bench pressed 30 percent of their one repetition max twice daily, six days a week, for four weeks; the workout totaled 75 repetitions.
The blood flow restricted group bench pressed with elastic cuffs on both arms, and pressure increased progressively on both arms, with incremental increases in external compression starting at 100 mmHg and ending at 160 mmHg.
Amazingly, the blood flow restricted group increased muscle thickness in triceps by 8 percent and pectoralis major muscles by 16 percent. Interestingly, the muscle thickness of the control group stayed the same.
Yasuda, T., Fujita, S., Ogasawara, R., Sato, Y., & Abe, T. (2010). Effects of low-intensity bench press training with restricted arm muscle blood flow on chest muscle hypertrophy: a pilot study. Clinical Physiology & Functional Imaging, 30(5), 338-343.
How this could apply to you?
Both groups in this study were novices. Barring injury, no one seriously trains with 30 percent of his one repetition max to ignite muscle gains.
Injury is where this study is potentially applicable. When novices start to train, initial strength gains are neural, meaning they get better at the movement; strength gains, because of increased muscle mass, take much longer.
By restricting blood flow to the upper arms with light weight, the injured bench presser may be better able to hold on to his bench press limit strength and his hard-earned muscle hypertrophy.
This all sounds great on paper. Hopefully soon, a similar study will be performed on healthy elite bench pressers with maximal weights.