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Bullet Proof Your Body: Upper body part 1

 

Hey guys and gals, here is the second edition of my “bullet proof your body” series. Today we’re going to go over some horizontal pressing and pulling which you can basically just call chest and back. In case you’ve forgotten here’s what can happen if you incorporate these lifts into your program:

  • If you do these exercises you will get strong
  • If you make these exercises a part of your life the odds of you ever losing your independence due to age will decreases dramatically
  • You’ll be far less likely to hurt yourself
  • You’ll look awesome
  • People of the opposite sex will be attracted to you and people of the same sex will be jealous of you

We’re going to start today out with the bench press. I consider the bench press more of a shoulder exercise because the bar doesn’t allow for any independent and free movement of the arms thats necessary to really hit the chest. That being said, the bench is usually a consistent lift for me. This is easily my weakest lift out of the three big ones (bench, deadlift, squat) but I am making steady improvements. In this video I get 225 for 6 which is a major jump from a year ago and a massive improvement from when I stepped on my college campus for the first time five years ago and thought 185 for a single was legit. Anyways let’s look at the good and the bad in this video.

The good: Good start stance. What you want to do with the bench press is get a nice arch in your back (*this is the power lifting stance, not everyone has to do this). You can get this arch by bringing your feet back and spreading them apart. You should be stiff in every part of your body especially your glutes and your core. Upon lowering the bar we want to keep our elbows tucked in and not flared out in order to spare the shoulder joint any pain.

The bad: I have dancing feet. As I get into the last few reps I start moving my feet around which is a mistake. I should be driving my feet into the floor to get as much power as I can. My tempo also isn’t anything to be happy with. I should be controlling the bar a lot more on the way down. Mind you for lifting heavy tempo isn’t necessarily as important as it would be if you were trying to put on muscle. For building muscle three seconds on the way down and one second on the way up is ideal. For strength these numbers vary.

 

Next we’re going with the top half bench press which shocks the CNS and can help people who have problems with their lock out. Start out with the bar in a position that allows the arms to begin at a 90 degree angle to slightly above 90.

 

After that I like to add in some work that will stimulate growth. This is called optimized volume training. I swiped this concept from strength coach Christian Thibadeau. Basically what you’re going to do in this situation is take dumbbells you feel comfortable doing five reps with. Get those five reps done then move right into a smaller assistance lift such as dumbbell flys and complete five reps. Rest two minutes then repeat four more times for the best results.

The last exercise video that I have for chest is my three point pushups. I love these for a finisher to a good pressing day. Pushups are a great movement pattern that everyone should be doing. I would argue that they are a better exercise than any of the other chest exercises I have shown before. They're great because the stimulate good scapular movement, strengthen the serratus anterior and strengthen the core along with the shoulders, triceps and chest. For the three point pushup start with your feet elevated and do 10-12 pushups. Then put your feet on the ground for 10-12 pushups and finally elevate your hands on a box for 10-12 pushups. Repeat 3-4 more times.

So that finishes the pressing part of the workout. We want to have balance so we’re going to be pulling in the opposite direction to hit the back. Some of my favorite exercises are:

The seated cable row:

 

Dumbbell rows:

 

I’ll also add in trx rows, half kneeling cable rows, and face pulls.

 

 

-Justin Kompf

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