Saturday, March 15, 2014

Triceps Power Cheats - Chuck Sipes (1966)

Bench press power is generated in three different muscle groups – deltoids, pectorals and triceps. At the moment the brain triggers the signal to drive that monstrous weight off the chest, the three muscle groups leap into action, and as a coordinated unit, each group presumably exerting maximum effort, acts to launch that load into the weightlessness of the locked out position. However, inherent in any shared effort lies the possibility that someone may be dogging it, relaxing a little. The history of weight training has proved to e a constant game of hide and seek. Truant muscles are no longer safe from the prying efforts of modern power lifters. In the case of the bench press, the triceps, with its natural capacity for development, became suspect when it appeared to be riding on the efforts of the delts and pecs.

At first no one could say for sure. Maybe it was the delts. So they tried military presses. They didn’t prove to help the bench press a great deal. Then they figured maybe it was the pecs. So they tried parallel dips with plenty of weight. Pat Casey did them endlessly, dropping to an extremely low position, but they ground up his shoulders, and he stopped. Extreme range of motion like the military and dip was out, the pecs and delts were out. That left the triceps, Isolated exercises through a full range of muscle movement, although proven best for development, do not satisfy the heavy “group firing” demands of muscles used in power lifting. This raised the question: Where is the triceps the strongest? The answer to that , if you stop to think, is the short chop motion before the lockout. But since the first part of the bench press is all delts and pecs, the triceps never really gets going until the upper lockout stage. Here is this big muscle with all its potential riding through the lift on the momentum of the pecs and delts. And if you think again, where does the movement usually stall out? That’s right – just short of the lockout.

Thus comes into being the “Triceps Power Cheats,” a movement that is spanking the triceps into unprecedented effort and routing prone records up the line. The movement flanks the regular bench press on the alternate workout of the week in which the bench press and bench squats are practiced. In terms of two workouts a week, Saturday (heavy) and Tuesday, the power cheats fall on Tuesday. Naturally this triceps work follows the regular bench press program. They are done on both the flat bench and high incline. The additional power one can get from these cheating triceps movements can positively increase your bench press limit.

The first triceps movement is done on the flat bench. The bar can be placed across the bench just behind the head and pulled over into the press position above the forehead as Bill West does them. Or each repetition may be a complete pullover and triceps extension lower the bar nearly to the floor as Pat Casey prefers to do them. By doing a complete pullover for each tricep rep Casey gets the added lat development and rib box expansion of the compounded movement. This brings up the fact that the lats also assist the initial bench press movement. The lats act like a shelf on which the triceps rest when the bar is across the chest preparatory to pressing. A sudden firing of the lat muscle gives the triceps an initial thrust upwards. Heavy triceps further increase this advantage. The additional meat and power both act to increase this thrust. The power triceps extensions give the desired size and strength.

Bill West does a pullover to the chest, taking the bar off the bench directly behind the head. He sets a narrow grip, his thumbs one inch to one inch and a half inside the knurling. The chest is merely a good position from which to start the exercise since the bar never touches the chest again during the set. From the chest the bar is rocked to a bent arm position just behind the head, elbows up. From this position the bar is driven up and somewhat forward to a locked elbows position. The elbows are kept high throughout the set, and only the bar is lowered behind the head each time. It is sort of a half pullover triceps extension movement. It could be called Pullover Triceps Cheat.

West uses a towel of pad behind his head on the bench in case his knuckles rap the bench. He does not try for a pump. This is purely a power exercise, a half cheating movement designed to strengthen the triceps through the lockout phase. Increased triceps size comes as a natural byproduct of the movement. It is not an effort to pump the triceps because a full pump would inhibit the full power thrust.

It is characteristic of power lifters to get an enormous pump with only a few continuous low-rep sets. They have the ability to exert full fire-power on every rep, a capability the average bodybuilder does not have. This points to another possibility in bodybuilding: Greater pump and development through more intense concentration and total firepower. Pat Casey, for example, with his capability for massive fire-power, is able to pump himself to a complete standstill with five sets of five on any exercise. They observe with doubt any power lifting programs that show a high number of reps in many consecutive sets.

Bill West’s Triceps Power Cheat routine:
135 – 10
185 – 5
205 – 5
205 – 1
255 – 6 singles
No flush out set
Bill has done 290 maximum single.

Pat Casey , on the other hand, proceeds somewhat differently on the same exercise. He takes the pullover from the floor and continues the movement as a triceps extension straight to the top. Unlike Bill West’s method, Pat lowers the bar to the floor each time, which calls on the lats and further effects the triceps. This move may be called a Full Pullover Triceps Extension.

Pat Casey’s routine:
135 – 10
225 – 5
275 – 5
305 – 3
325 – 1
340 – 1
355 – 1
370 – 1
325 – 1
305 – 1
275 – 8

Casey does the starting rep by pulling over from the floor, but he has another method of taking the weight from the supports of the prone bench while in a sitting position. With the bar in the clean position at the shoulders he hooks his feet around the base of the bench and lowers his back to the bench. From there he can lower the pullover position and start the movement. This eliminates the big effort of getting the bar off the floor on the initial rep and in a manner of speaking “cocks” the muscle like a gun. He can handle any of the weights listed above in this manner. He can come to a sitting position, on completion of a set, with the weight at the shoulders, and place the bar back in the rack, no small feat of situp strength.

After the flat position comes the incline position. A 60 degree incline bench is optimum. West prefers to take his bar out of the squat rack while on the incline bench or merely clean it and then sit on the bench. Either way a narrow grip, thumbs about six inches apart, is used, and the movement extends only from a position directly above the forehead to arms length lockout. The upper arm is held in the same vertical plane as the bar. The hands are turned so that the bar rests across the palms, directly over the wrists so that the forearm does the supporting, and not the bent back of the hand. If the wrists tend to hurt in this position, the grip may be widened somewhat, but there is better triceps action with the narrower grip. The entire movement is a half-press only. Bill, on occasions, prefers the triceps pump he gets from this movement if he lowers the bar to the chest each rep, still with the narrow grip. Short, quick pumps make this exercise. This exercise follows the flat bench triceps work.

Bill West’s routine:
135 – 10
150 – 10
170 – 7 sets 7

Casey does his own version of this exercise which may be called the Power Rack Triceps Lockout. He places the 60 degree incline bench under the power rack and presses the bar off the pins placed at forehead level. He uses a narrow grip and does short, quick, pump press movements. If he goes very heavy on the flat bench triceps work, he will make this movement more of a triceps pump exercise, and it goes simply like this:
226 – 6 sets 7 reps

As a final tag on this triceps day Bill may do sitting French Curls with the barbell weighing only about 100 pounds – 3 sets, 10 reps.

It becomes apparent the great role the triceps plays in bench pressing when two national power lifting champions like West and Casey become emphatic about Triceps Power Cheating exercises. They have proved its validity with every contest as their records continue to soar.

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