Saturday, September 27, 2014

Upper Back Training for Powerlifters, Part Four

Part Four: Residual Effect Bench Press Peak
Greg Reshel (1994)

In the last three articles we have mentioned that the muscle groups that stabilize the upper back are important for all three powerlifts and by strengthening them you will indirectly cause all three of the powerlifts to move forward. A deep foundation in upper back training will allow you to achieve a much higher potential in your sport. Simply, you will be capable of much higher lifts and totals. Do not neglect to introduce upper back training into your routines.

Last month we described a 'power bodybuilding' upper back training routine. This month we will present one of three peaking routines using upper back training to help peak for a meet. The first of these articles will cover a bench press peak using residual effect training of the upper back to peak a plateau busting bench press.

You may remember that 'residual effect training' refers to the specific type of training that exhausts a muscle or group of muscles that are key players in a performance movement. The athlete must then allow five to eight weeks for the muscles that have been intentionally fatigued to recover through a very cautious peaking cycle. The other muscle groups must work harder than usual to accomplish this peaking cycle. The exhausted muscles overcompensate in their recovery and are unusually strong at the peak of their recovery for a period of two to three weeks. These two factors result in a carefully planned and timed peak that is far stronger than a performance achieved through a regular peaking cycle. The residual effect peaks are a little more risky for the athlete because of the timing involved. However, the potential for an outstanding performance is incredible and you need to experience it yourself to believe the difference.

Residual Back Training- Residual Effect Bench Press Peak

Note: This workout is designed for intermediate and advanced level athletes that have just completed an off-season program and are fit, healthy, and ready to push the heavy weights. You need to allow 12 weeks for the program. The first six weeks are used as a pre-exhaust period to tire out the lower traps, rhomboids, and teres muscles. The second six week period peaks the bench press motion and allows the upper back to recover. You will be sore and fatigued after the first six weeks but you will not be injured or find it painful to proceed. Do not be afraid to push yourself in the first six weeks and definitely concentrate on the upper back exercises to work them hard and strict so that the proper muscles get the work. You will train every four days in this program. If you are young, less than 35 years old, you will most likely be able to handle this routine as a twice per week schedule. However, the master lifters and athletes with slower natural recovery times may want to allow 5 or even 6 days between training sessions. When you use a 4 day training cycle you will need 12 weeks before the meet to complete the cycle.

Pre-Exhaust Routine:

1) High Pulley Row to Lower Pec Area, 4 sets of 12 reps, heavy weight.
Use a grip on a straight bar that is approximately the same width as your contest bench press grip. Sit on a low stool or on the floor keep your feet out in front of you with your knees bent. Lean back about 45 degrees and keep your back flat, shoulders back, and head up as you smoothly row the bar to your lower pec height. Release slowly to arms' length. Make sure that you squeeze your shoulder blades together and down toward your hips as you're rowing the cable attachment. Keep your chest up!

2) Standing Low Pulley Upright Row, 4 x 8, moderate weight.
Stand about 1-2 feet from a low pulley apparatus. Use a straight or cambered bar attachment with a 6-10 inch grip. Keep your head up as you keep your back flat and lean slightly forward from the hips. Bend and lift your elbows out to the sides to your throat or chin height. Release slowly to arms' length. Remember to always lead with your elbows while keeping your back flat and shoulders held back.

3) Bench Press, warm up as needed to reach your work sets, then follow this chart:

Workout 1
8 x 3 @ 65%, 2 x 10 @ 55%

Workout 2
3 x 3 @ 68%, 5 x 5 @ 60%

Workout 3
6 x 3 @ 68%, 2 x 10 @ 55%

Workout 4
3 x 3 @ 72%, 5 x 5 @ 65%

Workout 5
10 x 2 @ 72%, 2 x 10 @ 55%

Workout 6
3 x 3 @ 77%

Workout 7
8 x 2 @ 76%

Workout 8
3 x 2 @ 80%

Workout 9
6 x 2 @ 75%

Workout 10
3 x1 @ 84%, 5 x 4 @ 60%

4) Barbell Bent Arm Pullover, 3 x 10, moderate weight.
Lie face down on a flat bench with your head hanging slightly over the edge of the bench. Grip a straight bar with an 8 to 16 inch grip and start with the bar on your chest at mid-pec. Lift the bar up and over your head just barely clearing your face and nose and then lower it past your head to the floor. Keep elbows close together at all times. The bar should stop just below your head height. Return the bar to your chest along the same path very close to your face. Use the muscles of your shoulder blades to lift the weight.

5) Seated Bent Forward Lateral Raise, 5 x 7, fairly heavy.

Peaking Routine:

1) Bench Press, warm up briefly but as needed so that you are ready to perform your heavy workk sets following the chart below:

Workout 1
3 x3 @ 70%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 2
Triples to 76%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 3
Singles to 80%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 4
3 x 3 @ 70%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 5
Triples to 80%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 6
Singles to 84%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 7
3 x 2 @ 74%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 8
Triples to 84%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 9
Singles to 88%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 10
Singles to 92%, 2 x 15 @ 55%

Workout 11
Pause singles to 70%

Open at 90%, 2nd at 97%, 3rd at 106%.

2) Slight Decline Triceps Extensions, 3 x 12, light to moderate weights.
Stop doing these after the 8th workout.

3) Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes, 3 x 10, light weight.
Stop doing these after the 9th workout.

 The bench press charts give the weights as percentages to make it easier for everyone to try the routine at least once. Get your calculator out and use your current max single as the number multiplied by the percentages to give your working weights. Always take the next even five-pound jump lower than the number you calculate. When in doubt go with a lighter weight than the number you calculate - this is a very aggressive workout routine. 

Note: You must expect that the bench the bench presses you perform in weeks 4 through 11 will be very difficult. They will be more difficult than usual because your upper back stabilizes the bench press and as your upper back becomes fatigued it will get more and more difficult to push the bench press motion. The 92% you push on Week 11 will be as hard as any max attempt because you are not fully recovered from the upper back fatigue. Do not give up. Your strength will be there for your contest if you did not overestimate your current max in the beginning.


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