For most guys Monday is chest day. It’s the first workout of the week and you gotta start things off with “Chest”. Don’t ask me why this is, it just is for some weird unknown reason…
So, on Monday afternoon you can walk into any gym in the country and see several eager young muscle building enthusiasts doing the “Bench Press & Deadlift Dynamic Duo”…
It’s like a workout ritual or right of passage of sorts. Most young guys have been guilty of this at one time or another. I’ll admit it… Yes, I’ve been guilty of doing this in my younger days and that’s why I can spot this situation a mile away…
The workout consists of one guy doing the bench press with two or three big 45 pound plates on each side of the barbell. While his faithful spotter is standing by preparing to deadlift the barbell off his friends chest.
After pacing back and forth the gym and getting “psyched up” our bench presser plops down on the bench and takes the weight off the rack. The bar drops towards his body like a rock.
As the bar makes impacts with his chest it bounces nearly half way back up, but then all of a sudden the bar comes to a Dead Stop!
Our bench presser pushes and struggles with all his might, screaming out some primitive growls and grunts, while arching so much that his ass lifts eight inches off the bench…
But it’s to no avail, the bar doesn’t budge!
Now it’s time to call for backup as our faithful spotter / deadlifter jumps in and starts pulling on the bar, while simultaneously yelling “Come On, It’s All You!”
With the combined effort of our bench press & deadlift dynamic duo, the barbell defies the force of gravity and somehow gets pressed and pulled to lockout. Then the bench presser jumps up, raises his hands in the air, and victoriously shouts: “YES, I Did It!”
Now obviously I’m having fun here and just slightly exaggerating this story, but not by much.
Just think of all the guys that you have seen do this at one time or another.
(Or maybe you’ve even done this yourself… Gasp!)
Do you think that this bench press & deadlift circus act really builds strength?
Do the folks that routinely go through this silly Monday afternoon chest workout ritual strike you as strong lifters? (Probably NOT.)
The strongest lifters you will see are those who have complete control over the weight throughout the exercise – be that bench presses, squats, shoulder presses, curls, or any exercise they do.
This is not to say that these people are always the ones lifting the biggest weights. I’ve seen some guys that I consider to be strong, lifting moderate weights, but doing it in a way that dictates strength.
The difference between these lifters and the previously mentioned lifters is made crystal clear as time passes on.
Just keep track of the progress of the lifters who push themselves hard, but regularly use good lifting form. Chances are they will be the ones who make consistent long-term improvement with their lifts and muscular development.
Where as the “circus act” lifters who are always trying to max out and “test their strength”, are usually doing the same thing week in and week out until they are side lined with a muscle tear or some other major injury.
Gains in muscle and strength don’t come overnight. It takes consistent training over the long term and one cannot be consistent with their training if they are injured. Improper form and fast jerking of excessive weight will eventually lead to an injury, it’s just a matter of time.
The reason why the good lifters make better gains in strength and muscular development is found in their lifting form. They control the weight during the eccentric (lowering) portion as well as the concentric (lifting) portion of the exercise.
Muscle tension is at its greatest during the eccentric contraction. Controlling the weight through the eccentric phase has been shown to increase strength and development at a faster rate then controlling it through the concentric phase alone.
However, this emphasis on the eccentric phase of the rep doesn’t mean that the concentric contraction should be ignored. Once the weight is lowered to the bottom of the exercise in a controlled manner, it should be lifted up with maximal force. Increasing the force of the contraction leads to increased power output and directly effects the intensity of the exercise.
When starting any new training routine or implementing a different lifting technique you should always start off conservatively and make gradual progress overtime. So, if this lifting form is new to you, then you may have to adjust your training weights to somewhat less then normal for a short period of time, until you become comfortable with the form.
Use this lifting technique on every rep of every set, even your warm ups. Don’t make the mistake of using sloppy form during your warm ups and then trying to lift strict during your work sets. Use proper form all the time so it becomes second nature to you.
As you get comfortable with this style of lifting you will develop a rhythm for it and you will not need to consciously think about your lifting form, you will just lift with good form automatically.
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