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Bodybuilding Supplements ~ Lifting Routines
A lot of Bench and other lifting terms described A-Z
What you gain is determined by you!
Benches ~ Wide Grip Benches
This exercise works the anterior delts and pecs to a greater degree
than regular benches, and they basically take the triceps out of the movement. So they
help the bottom and middle part of the lift.
However, wide grip benches place quite a bit of strain on the wrists. Wrist wraps might
help in this regard. But if wide grip benches still cause undo discomfort, then it would
be best to avoid them. But if you can tolerate them, they are an excellent exercise. Use
a grip about one hand width wider than for one's regular bench, and pause at the chest as
with regular benches.
Cambered Bar Benches
A cambered bar is a bar that is bent up and across in the middle.
The idea of using it is, by keeping the "bend" at the top, one can lower the weight to
below the chest. This will then help one get the weight off of the chest at the bottom
position. So these might be a good exercise for raw lifters. However, they can be rather
awkward to do. The bent part has a tendency to flip down. Also, they can be dangerous as
the bend is so high that one could end up going too far down and pull a muscle. You may not want
to use this routine as it has injured a lot of lifters.
A safer alternative would be to use dumbbells. The advantage of dumbbells is you can lower
the weights lower than on barbell benches, just as with a cambered bar. But unlike a
cambered bar, if something doesn't "feel right" you can dump the weights and maybe
avoid injury. See below for further details on dumbbell benches.
Lockouts/ Rack Benches
These are partial bench presses. The idea is to do these from just
below wherever ones "sticking point" is. To do partial benches, one could just do a benches
as normal, but only go part way down. But the problem with this is the danger factor.
You can handle a lot more weight on partial benches than on regular benches.
We would recommend putting a flat bench in a power rack. Set the safety bars just below
ones sticking point. There are then two possible ways of doing these. For the first, set
the hooks in the power rack at the appropriate height to be used as the bench uprights.
Take the bar off of the rack pins as normal, then lower the bar until it just taps the
safety bars and press it. Do not pause on the bars.
The second method would be to rest the bar on the safety bars. Slide underneath the bar,
press it from a dead stop, and then lower it and rest it fully on the safety bars. Then
again press it from the dead stop. Experiment with each method to see which works best
for you. Or use one method for one routine, and the other for the next. Given the heavy
weights utilized, it might be prudent to wear wrist wraps when doing this exercise.
This exercise is similar to power rack lockouts. Only here, one places
two to four boards (nailed together) on the chest. Lower the bar until it taps the boards
and then press the weight. See Chris Lift's board bench routine.
The lifter uses 50-60% of his/ her one rep max and moves the bar very quickly. However, the lifter
should maintain control of the bar at all times. It is also imperative that one maintains
correct form throughout the performance of the lift The lifter also has to be careful at
the top of the lift that the momentum of the bar does not cause an injury. Bands and chains
can be used to slow the ascent of the bar at the top. For benches, be sure not to bounce
the bar off of the chest. Do them touch and go, but don't bounce.
This is a specific form of speed work for those whose sticking point
is in the middle part of the lift. Put a bench in a power rack and use two sets of safety bars.
One set of safety bars is placed so that the bar is about 3-4 inches off of the chest and the
other set of bars about 2-3 inches below lockout. Place the bar on the bottom set of safeties.
Slide underneath the bar. Quickly press the bar up and just tap the top set of safety bars
and then lower it quickly and just tap the bottom set of bars. Repeat for the required number of
reps, then rest the bar on the bottom set of safeties, and slid back out.
Decline Bench Presses
These work the lower pecs and anterior delts. But they are very
awkward to do. You are almost hanging upside down, which can cause a headache for many.
And it can be difficult to press the weight up without "wobbling" as you do. But if one
get get the hang of them, declines are an effective exercise. They work the lower pecs,
which are involved in regular benches, especially if you arch when benching. We see a lot
of lifters doing decline benches. If they would spend more time on incline benches they
would be better off. The flat bench works the lower chest and many lifters look
almost like they are grower female breast from doing declines. Get the power, do inclines
following your bench routine. Some big arch powerlifters may benefit from doing a lot of decline
benches but most people get enough lower pec work from flat benches. Most lifters need upper chest work.
Incline Bench Presses
A very good exercise for working the upper pecs and anterior delts.
The higher the angle of the bench, the more the delts will be worked and the less the pecs.
An angle of about 45-60 degrees is generally recommended.
Close Grip Bench Presses
This is a great bench press assistance exercise.
It is good for working the anterior (front) deltoids and triceps in a way that
will directly benefit the bench press. This exercise especially helps the top
third of the lift. The grip should be as close as is comfortable. We grip the bar
on the smooth sections of a power bar, in-between the center and outer knurling
sections where out hands are about 9-10" apart. The elbows should be kept close to the body.
Three Second Dead Pause
Some do this with all sets on all routines. You just pause the weight at your chest for
three seconds then press to lock out.
Three Second Pause Benches
As the name implies, pause the bar at the chest for a slow
three count ("1--2--3"). Doing this will improve one's lift off of the chest, and it
will make the wait for the press signal at a contest seem short. This is another good
exercise for raw benchers. Shirted benchers become weak in this area as they get dependent
on their shirt for the low chest help. You don't get stronger if you lift in a bench shirt all of the time.
Others like to use a simple routine for pauses that involves using a weight you can only lift for 2-3 repetitions (after a warm-up) then
putting it down and resting momentarily (10-15 seconds), then perform another 2-3, rest,
then another and so on until you can longer lift the weight. Using a spotter is highly
Bench Press Described
Creep-Downs or Super-Slow Rep Benches
Repetitions done at a much slower than usual rate. The typical time under tension performed is 10 seconds up and 10 seconds down. This one can become very difficult to perform due to the extended time under load, but is relatively safer because momentum and the need for maximum weight are greatly decreased.
Cheating involves performing a number of repetitions of an exercise until you can no longer perform it utilizing strict form. From there you continue to perform the exercise by "cheating" just enough to get the weight past the sticking point in the range of motion so that you can continue to perform a few more reps. This requires strength, control and stability in many of the critical joints and muscles that, if performed incorrectly, can cause serious injury. Use caution with this technique!
This system consists of performing a series of exercises performed one after the other with minimal rest. Several recent studies have compared the effects of circuit weight training to other more traditional modes of endurance exercises such as a treadmill, cross-country skiing, jogging, and/or bicycling in relationship to energy expenditure, strength and improving overall fitness. It has been shown that circuit training is just as beneficial as traditional forms of cardiovascular exercise for improving fitness and increasing excess post-exercise oxygen expenditure (EPOC). Typically, this style of training uses 1-3 sets of 8-20 repetitions and all exercises should be performed immediately after one another. Examples would be 4-5 exercises of push, pull and legs grouped together. This style of exercise has proven to be extremely productive and time efficient for both cardiorespiratory, muscular fitness and changing body composition. Currently, many popular fitness chains base their entire program on this concept.
Circuit System ~ Peripheral
This system is a variation of circuit training. It uses different exercises for each set
through the circuit and can be divided into 2-4 sequences, all of which contain different
exercises for each body part to be trained. A single sequence consists of 4-6 exercises for
each of the main body parts. For example, you can perform the first sequence or 4 exercises
in a row with 8-15 repetitions, then you rest for 30-45 seconds and perform the second sequence
and so on. This style of resistance training is also extremely effective and allows for a good
variety of exercises to be performed for each body part while still being time efficient.
This style involves performing two exercises for the same body part back to back with little to no rest. For example, you might perform a set of bench presses for the chest and then do a dumbbell fly right after it without taking any rest between the two exercises. (This is todays common "super-set" definition).
Dips ~ Weighted
These are very taxing to all three major muscles groups used in the bench
press, the pecs (especially the lower pecs), anterior delts, and triceps. If you are unable
to do dips with your bodyweight, then you have a couple of options. The first is to only
do partial dips, gradually going deeper with each workout as you are able. A second option
would be to have a spotter hold your legs and give you as much assistance as necessary to
complete a full dip.
To target the anterior delts and lower pecs you need to lean forward about 15 degrees. Done
in this fashion dips help mainly the middle third of the bench. If you do them straight up
and down then your triceps will get most of the work, and the exercise will help mainly the
top third of the bench.
Be sure to go down as far as your flexibility allows but not so far as to overly tax your
shoulders. And be sure you are thoroughly warmed-up before attempting deep dips. I would
recommend doing them after another major bench movement. Also, always do at least one warm-up
set before your work sets. Be sure to do them in a slow, control manner so as not to hurt your
Dumbbell Bench Presses
Doing benches will dumbbells actually works more muscles than
barbell benches. This is because more stabilizer muscles are needed to keep control of
the dumbbells. However, it is because of the unwieldy nature of dumbbells that they can
be more dangerous. If a dumbbell "gets way from you" while performing a lift, you could
pull something trying to pull it back in place. To avoid this, be sure to concentrate at
all times while using dumbbells. Of course, that's good advice when lifting in general,
but even more so with dumbbells.
The biggest difficulty with dumbbells is getting them into place. I would suggest the
following: Set the weights at the foot of the bench and sit on the end. Pick up the
weights and swing them onto your thighs, pointing up. Then lean backwards keeping your
legs bent. Only when you're lying on the bench, lower your legs to the floor, and then
rotate the weights into place. Keeping the legs bent while going back will help prevent
straining the back. Just be careful you don't roll off the bench before you put your legs down!
Dumbbells can also be used for doing incline and decline benches. And the same comments
above would apply for these exercises as well. The only difference is, for declines you
would have to have someone hand the weights to you after getting set, as they're no way
to safely get in position while holding the weights.
Flyes/ Peck Dec/ Cable Crossovers
These are very popular chest exercises, but none of
them are really that effective for building muscular size or strength. And there is
very little carry-over to benches from such exercises. The various bench press
variations above are much more effective. But these movements might have a place
at the end of a chest workout to pump up the pecs.
Yet another way to do partial benches. Simply lie on floor in a power rack.
Use the hooks in the power rack for the uprights. Take the weight off of the racks and lower
the bar until the elbows just touch the floor and and then press up. Don't really care much for threse.
This one requires a lifting partner for most exercises. After performing the exercise to
concentric muscular failure, have a lifting partner help you crank a few more repetitions
out with his or her assistance.
Laterals (Front and Side)
Front laterals work mainly the anterior delts. So there
would be some carry-over to benches. However, the bench variations above would be
more effective. Side laterals work mainly the medial delts, so they would be little
benefit to benches. Presses would be a more effective exercise for powerlifters to
include than side laterals for shoulder development. But either form of laterals might
be useful to pump up the delts after a chest/ shoulder workout.
Reverse Grip Bench
For this exercise, the lifter holds the bar with a palms up (curl) grip.
Using a reverse grip forces the elbows to stay in to the sides and thus emphasizes the triceps.
Ladder Sets to Drop Sets
You start this technique with a certain weight that allows you to perform the desired number
of repetitions and you increase the weight and drop the number of reps to a max the do it in reverse
by increasing the reps and lowering the weight on the way down.
This training system has been popular since the 1940's and consists of performing a multiple number of sets for each exercise. Multiple set training has been shown to be superior to single set training as you advance. Your body responds to the added sets, reps and intensity to allow you to continue to improve. This style of training must be used correctly to avoid the damaging effects of overtraining.
Single Set System
This is one of the oldest training methods. It consists of performing one set of each exercise. Each set usually consists of 8-15 repetitions in a controlled tempo. ACSM guideline recommend performing this form of exercising for promoting sufficient development and maintaining muscle mass. While multiple sets may be more beneficial for strength and muscle development in more advanced trainees, the single set system has been to shown to be just as effective for the beginner. By applying variations to rest periods, repetitions and intensity, single-set training can be very effective.
This one is similar to forced reps, except that the emphasis is placed on the eccentric, or
negative, portion of the movement. Perform the normal repetitions for an exercise to failure
then have a workout partner help you up through the positive portion and fight against the
eccentric weight as it is lowered.
Overhead Presses/ Overhead Dumbbell Presses
Overhead presses work the upper pecs,
anterior delts, and triceps as benches do. So they do provide some benefit for the
bench press, especially for the middle part of the lift. However, most of the stress
when doing presses is on the medial (middle/ top) delts, which are mainly used in a
supportive role in benches. So the carry-over to benches is not as great as with the
above exercises. But still, presses can have a place in a powerlifter's routine to
maintain muscular balance in the shoulder. Great size and strength builder.
Pyramid System or Ladder System
The pyramid system involves a triangular or building approach that can either progress up in
weight with each successive set while the repetitions decrease then decreasing the weight with
each set back down to the starting weight. In the light-to-heavy approach, you start with 10-12
repetitions with a lighter load and increase the resistance while simultaneously decreasing the number of repetitions performed
with each following set.
With this one you perform an isolation exercises for a muscle and then immediately follow it with a compound exercise. Since you have ‘pre-exhausted' the muscle, you will increase the intensity and fiber recruitment when you perform the compound movement with the assistance of other muscles. An example would be to perform a chest fly (an isolation movement) then follow it up with the bench press (a compound movement).
The split-routine involves breaking the body up into parts to be trained on separate days.
This is the system most body builders and strength athletes predominately use. Many exercises
and sets for the same body part are performed to optimize muscular strength and growth
(hypertrophy). By breaking the body up into parts that are trained on different days,
more work can be performed for one or two muscle groups in the allotted time for a workout.
This also allows for more recuperation time between workouts, which they need due to the higher
total volume of work performed. There are a wide variety of split routines you can incorporate
depending on your schedule.
This system originally was defined as performing two sets for different, usually opposing, body parts one after the other with as little rest as possible. For example, doing a chest press exercise and then doing a cable row for the back. This term is now commonly used to refer to just about any group of exercises that utilize this type of system of training, namely compound, giant and tri-set systems.
You add in a set for a smaller muscle after each exercise performed for a larger muscle. An example would be adding in a bicep curl after doing dumbbell rows for your back.
Close grip benches, dips, band and chain benches, and the various
partial bench movements described above work the triceps very effectively and in a
manner that would have the most carry over to benches. The triceps also get a lot of
work from any other pressing movement. And for many, this will provide more than
adequate triceps work. In fact, including direct triceps work could lead to overtraining
the triceps. Also, one has to be careful as such exercises can be taxing to the elbows.
However, some might find that isolation triceps exercises benefit the lockout on the
bench and/ or serve to pump up the triceps at the end of a bench workout. And for
such purposes, there are many good triceps exercises, but the various forms
of Lying Tricep Extensions (French presses), triceps pushdowns and triple tri supersets are probably the best.
Tri-Sets - Tri Supersets
Tri-Sets use three exercises done one after the other for the same body part or muscle group.
You might perform a set of shoulder presses, move directly to lateral shoulder raises and then
perform front shoulder raises. One of the best Ticep routines is is the Evett Tri-Superset
where lying tricep extensions, bent arm pullover and close grip bench are all performed at one time without
stopping. Big benchers usually swing around to the bar to do the close grip in order to use more weight.
Upright rows are a unique exercise in that they are both a bench press
and a deadlift assistance exercise. They are a bench assistance exercise since, as
with presses, they work the medial delts. However, they are a deadlift exercise in
that they work the traps. They also work the biceps.
The wider one's grip the more upright rows work the delts, and the narrower the grip, the
more they work the traps. Also the delts do most of the work until the upper arms are
about parallel, and then the traps take over. So to focus on the delts, use a wide grip
and only come up to parallel. To focus on the traps, use a narrow grip and raise the bar
to chin level. To work both evenly, use a shoulder width grip and raise the bar to the
top of the chest.
But it is important to mention that some consider upright rows to be a dangerous exercise.
They put the shoulder in an unnatural position, which can lead to injury. Personally, we
no longer do them for this reason. But it is up to the reader if they are worth the risk
or not. But if they are done, be careful to use correct form. Stay upright with no forward
or backward bending, and raise and lower the bar in slow, controlled manner.
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the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not
intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease.
Always consult with your professional health care provider
before changing any medication. Do not do any of our routines
without having been declared physically fit to exercise by your