By: Louie Simmons
There are many
things about strength that I don't understand. One, in particular, is how
the heck did the father in The Courtship of Eddie's Father turn into the
Incredible Hulk? Even Vladimir Zatsiorsky, Lazar Baroga, and Alexsei Medvedyev
could not help me with this. However, these men have taught me many things,
most of all to think. For chains, call Topper's Supply at 1-614-444-1187; ask for
Ivan. For Flex bands, call Jump-Stretch at 1-800-344-3539.
At Westside, we do not specialize in the
bench press, yet we have 7 men who have officially done over 600. Our fifth
strongest bencher is Jerry Obradovic, with 644.
On March 7, at the Arnold Classic, George
Halbert benched a world record 657 (298 kg.) weighing 220. George dropped
to 220 on October 18, 1997, and made a 600 pound bench. In
5 months he made 657 by doing special work with bands and chains. On speed
day, which is Sunday for us, George does his benches with 335 for 8 sets
of 3 reps. This is slightly over 50%. The reps are very explosive;
the 3 reps are completed within the same time frame that his max single
Chains or bands are used to accommodate
resistance (40-60 pounds of chains, 100-160 pounds of resistance with bands).
If one does the power or Olympic lifts with only a barbell, his or her
potential to create additional speed or force is limited by the one-dimensional
weight on the bar. If one is to do speed work, he or she should use
no more than 60% (based on a no-bench shirt record or 55% or your best
meet bench with a shirt) for the 8-10 sets of 3 reps. This is for
explosiveness, strength, and accel- eration. This is exactly why
you must use bands or chains to accommodate- resistance.
Without them the bar moves too fast at the top. My data come from not one
or two lifters, but 14 men that can bench at least 551 at Westside.
George knows his minimax, or sticking point,
is about 2-3 inches from the top, so after speed work, George hits the
triceps first, then delts and lats. George also will do a small amount
of lat and triceps work on Monday and Friday.
On max effort day, Wednesday, George has
a favorite exercise. He will use a bar with a 5 inch camber. He places
two 2 x 6's on his chest. By doing this, the bar descends only 1-1/2 inches
below his chest, not the full 5 inches, which would be too stressful for
our lifters. He will use Flex bands, which add 160 pounds of tension
to the bar. He will either work up to a max single or do 3 sets of
3 reps. His best is 475 for 3 triples. With the Flex bands,
it is 635 at the top.
Please note that we never use a bench shirt
on our speed day or our max effort day.
The Flex bands provided added eccentric
overload, which not only builds muscle size but also increases reversal,
or starting, strength. Because of the added tension, George will use the
bands for only 3 weeks because of the additional muscle soreness.
George also likes to do floor press with
chains. Because the bar rack is so close to the floor, the chains
are dropped over the sleeve of the bar. George will warm up with the bar
and then add chains ; until he has 200 pounds of chain. Then weight is
added, and he works up to a max single. His best is 445 plus 200
pounds of chain. George will always go for a new max, and many times he
misses. As the chains come off the floor and the weight accumulates at
the, top, he sometimes falls at his minimax, or sticking point. He
will push as hard and as long as possible at this point, about 3
inches from lockout. By doing this, he is working at his weak point
and devoting valuable time to it.
At the Arnold Classic when the
298 kg. hit his sticking point, he blew past it to lockout. How?
First, by developing a tremendous start and, second, by increasing the
bar speed on speed day.
On max effort day, the chains
develop and teach acceleration merely through trying to outrun the chains.
Also, when George misses at his minimax, he is performing functional
isometrics in the best possible way. As the chains add to the
weight of the bar, we can determine the precise point at which George fails;
now we know where his weak point is with a particular weight. Conventional
isometrics - that joint-jarring pressing against immovable pins - is unnecessary.
The bands work in the same way,
but with added eccentric work, from the bands pulling you down. This
additional eccentric work also builds muscle mass.
After each workout George
will try to increase his triceps work, in volume and weight.
The triceps are worked first after the main exercise, the delts second,
and the lats and upper back third. Remember, this is
done after the dynamic day work on Sunday and after the max effort
day work on Wednesday.
You must bring up your weaknesses
through special work as well as develop special strength such as
starting, accelerating, eccentric, and concentric strength.
We do primarily slow work on the stability ball. Always try to cover
Let's talk about Mickey
Tate. At 41, Mickey did a strong 650 at a body weight
of 285. He also concentrates on speed work and works the muscles
in the same sequence as George, but on max effort day, he does more mini
cycles of incline press than, let's say, floor press. You will have to
find what exercise works best for you, and you should use it closest to
Jerry Obradovic also does
a lot of incline work.
J.M. Blakely likes to do
the same max effort work as George but also does a lot of J. M. presses.
Kenny Patterson, our biggest
bencher with 728, does board presses off a 3 inch board the first
week, then off a 2 inch board the second week, then floor presses
without chains. Every fifth and sixth week, we suggest high-rep
work with dumbbells or with a barbell using an ultra-wide grip.
Rob Fusner was our sixth
600 pound bencher. He likes to use extra-wide benches
for a max 6 reps. This particular exercise took Billy Master's
bench from 523, where he was stuck for over a year, to 584, which
he smoked at the 1997 APF Nationals.
At 50 years old, I
benched 600 on February 1,5, 1998. 1 like to do 3 sets of heavy (155's
or 125's) dumbbells to failure on a stability ball. This is commonly known
as the repetition method.
We will throw in Weight Releases on
speed day or max effort day and get a good response for a few weeks and
then switch to something else.
Using chains, bands, or Weight
Releases is known as the contrast method, where the weight is different
at different points of the lift. Remember, you must work at all angles
of a lift.
Good equipment is important. This
is 1998; don't get left behind. Learn how to use a shirt. In the,
immortal words of the Road Warriors, "if you are going to a knife fight
take your guns.' That is precisely what we do. Don't let resistance
stop you in your tracks; use it to your advantage.
Reproduction of this article, in whole or part, for any purpose other
than personal use is prohibited without written consent. Copyright 1998
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