Strongman Tips for Big Gains
Looking for the very best tips for strength? If you’re seeking personal records, it’s time to check these eight off your strongman list.
5. Put It in Reverse
Try benching and squatting the same way you deadlift … from a dead stop. Reverse movements for the squat and bench should be done in the power rack with the safety bars set at the point where the bar would be at the bottom of both movements. (For the bench the bar begins and ends an inch or so above your chest.) You begin each rep from the bottom of the exercise with the bar actually touching the safeties. The key is to allow it to settle on the safeties each rep. The removal of the downward (negative) phase will eliminate elastic tension, helping you develop strength at your sticking point (because the movement is now harder without the use of the stretch reflex) when you return to standard training techniques.
6. Antagonizing Strength
Try a light set of rows for back before every set of bench presses. A muscle is stronger if its antagonist, or opposing muscle group, is contracted immediately before it’s required to work. Not many techniques in the gym allow for a particular muscle to be able to make a gain in strength by indirect means. If you do a row before a big bench press, your bench press will be much stronger. One important key is to not go to failure on the row because doing so will actually hinder the bench press. You can apply this antagonistic technique to virtually every bodypart and lift.
7. Path of the Bar
In bench pressing, many bodybuilders lower the bar to their chest and then press it straight up toward the ceiling. Make sure you aim for your lower chest, not your middle or upper chest. You’ll find you’re much more powerful if you take the bar a little lower on your pecs. Then, as you explode upward, allow the bar to travel in an arc over your face so that it moves back and straight up. The arc motion will allow for more pectoral involvement, as opposed to the straight up-and-down motion, which places undue involvement on the triceps and lessens the stress on the chest.
8. Strong Tools
Finally, if your gym bag lacks a good belt and a pair of pulling straps, you’re not fully equipped. Use a belt on your heavier lifts because it helps you develop intra-abdominal pressure and keeps your spine from injury. Many guys will tell you they want their “core” to work, but don’t listen to them. If you’re going heavy enough, neither you nor the strongest Olympic lifter on the planet can produce enough pressure to support your spine, so throw on the belt. Don’t let pride get in the way of not only your best lift, but also of preventing serious injury. Keep it off on your lighter-weight sets. As for pulling straps, those same guys who say they don’t wear belts will also tell you they want their forearms to do the work during heavy pulls. Again, bad advice. First of all, your forearms are still at work, and you never want your back and legs to be at the mercy of your hand/grip strength. You can train your grip separately, but for now throw on the straps and pull as much weight as you can. You will be stronger with them!