Archive for category Exercise Index

45 Degree Back Extension

One of the most underrated movements for the posterior chain is the 45 degree back extension. This is a great alternative to the reverse hyper and the traditional hyperextension.

The best part is that it is such a simple and pure movement. The machine is a simple design and allows you to lock you legs in. The key is a full range of motion particularly at the bottom of the movement. The extension at the top should be to about 45 degrees.

You can use bodyweight for higher reps and add resistance such as chains or the safety squat bar as Jackson demonstrates in the video. I prefer higher reps of 12-15.

I am always looking for variety in posterior chain movements. 45 degree back extensions are an excellent way to achieve this.

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Pause Squats

I have been a fan of pause squats for a long time. I remember reading Ed Coan articles back in the 1990’s and he was a big fan of the movement. As I pretty much did everything that Coan did back then, I included them in my training.

The technique itself is pretty simple. You perform a regular power squat to below parallel. The difference is that instead of driving out of the bottom, you remain in the bottom position for a count of 2-3 seconds and then drive from the bottom. I like to keep the reps at around 3-5 reps. The weight will be less than you squat and you are better working on explosion with a light to moderate weight.

There are several reasons why I rate the movement:

– Pause squats reinforce “tightness” at the bottom of the squat or in the “hole”. This is important for obvious reasons. Too often lifters get loose at the bottom after they have hit depth. This results in the lifters getting out of position and usually leaning forward and being forced to do a good morning with the lift. Box squats reinforce the need to remain tight.

– Pause squats reinforce squat depth. I am no angel here. Most of us tend to squat too high in training. This is not good. Pause squats to below parallel are a great for learning about depth. Being able to gauge your own depth is important. Learning to sit down in the “hole” will help here. Of course there is a danger that lifters will perform pause squats above parallel. This only serves to compound depth issues. The key is to do everything below parallel. Make it a habit!

– Pause squats teach explosion out of the “hole”. The ability to squat huge weights is dependent on a big drive out of the bottom. Focus on exploding as fast as possible at the completion of the pause.

Ed Coan squats

I recommend pause squats for raw and equipped lifters. I have my lifters perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps after their regular power squats. They are an assistance movement. Keep the weight relatively light. Start very light and work up to 50-60% of your squat weight. The emphasis is not on weight but on technique and explosion.

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Safety squat bar

My return continues. My quad tendon feels 100% and I am training my quads hard. Still feeling a bit weak but making progress.

I am enjoying using the safety squat bar. It loads up my quads and also gives the shoulders a break. Today I worked up to 180 kg for a comfortable 5 and then backed off with a lot of volume. Feeling really positive about bringing my weak quads up and then transferring this into a bigger squat and deadlift. Here is the top set. Nothing too special but I will post something each week. Trying hard to use my quads and not my hips and lower back which always want to dominate.

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Extra workouts- triceps

I train my triceps several times per week, usually between 2 and 4 sessions. 2 of these sessions are full workouts and the rest are extra workouts.

Today was an example of an extra workout. I use these sessions to get some extra work in. But I am conscious of recovery so I use a range of machines, bands and cables. The reps are higher. Today I hit:

Machine close grip bench press- I worked up to 8 plates for 15 reps. In total I did 5 sets of 15 reps (total 75 reps)
Band pushdowns. I choked a green band over the power rack and did 5 sets of 25 reps. (total 125 reps).
Rope pushdowns. 4 sets of 25 reps. (total 100 reps).
Overhead rope extensions. 4 sets of 25 reps. (total 100 reps).

That’s a total of 300 reps in about 25 minutes. The weights were light but the reps were obviously higher than if I were doing a major tricep workout.

The video below shows an example of each movement. I think extra tricep work is underrated. You need to monitor recovery of course but extra workouts have certainly helped my bench and tricep development. Think variety and use lots of different movements.

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Bench press variety for powerlifters

Recently a wrote an article about raw bench pressing.

A big arse raw bench- My top ten tips « biggerstrongersmarter.

I have had a few questions and comments from people regarding my comments about “not benching”. My comments are based on my experience that lifters reach a plateau and then need to break through this. Doing the same thing over and over again is usually not the way to do this. So I suggest moving to an alternative movement to freshen up the mind and work on weak points.

The bench press is a key movement of course for powerlifters. But I do believe we often become a little bit obsessed with it. You don’t need to flat bench all of the time. Not in the off-season anyway. Raw lifters particularly should be looking for alternatives. There are plenty of other movements which are very effective alternatives. The incline bench for example is my first choice. Most of us have weak upper chests and the incline is great for addressing this. It provides much needed variety. I went away from flat benching for 12 weeks at one stage and concentrated on increasing my incline bench. The result was I improved my upper chest and bench physique overall. Better than that, I also found that my flat bench had taken a big leap forward when I returned to it.

Here is a video of myself doing incline with chains a few months back. The weight was 170 kg plus 40 kg of chain. I followed up with 140 kg for 10 reps.

Variety is the key weapon for raw powerlifters. If you stall then change the movement. Break new ground and when you stall change again. Keep getting stronger and improving weak points. It’s not meant to be complicated. We make it complicated.

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Band pushdowns

I get a lot of comments from guys who think I over train my triceps. They don’t bench as much as me (or lift as much as me) so I’m not so sure the advice has merit. Not that I would ever criticise them as it’s not my style.

I am training my triceps about 4 times a week at present. But remember this includes 1 heavy day and the rest are extra workouts where I just go for reps with bands, cables or machines.

The goal today was to complete 400 reps on band pushdowns in as few sets as possible. I chocked a medium band around the top of the power rack (yes I had to use a chair to get it up there). I started of with sets of 50. Not sure how many sets it took me. I was down to 8 reps by the time I finished. My triceps were full of blood.

This is all I did today for triceps. A simple but effective workout for recovery and tricep development. This approach to tricep training has helped me push my triceps to another level along with my bench. Could be something in it.

The picture below is not me!


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T NATION | The Trap Bar Deadlift

Here is a good article on the trap bar deadlift. I think it is an under used exercise. I rate it as a max effort exercise and like to go heavy. I note that it is used by the likes of DeFranco who believes that the deadlift is too taxing on the back for athletes.

Let me know what you think.

T NATION | The Trap Bar Deadlift.

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