I had a lot of fun making this picture, mostly due to the fact that I hate babies.Reverse Grip Bench Press
I've suggested that people do this lift in the past, but I've apparently neither explained it sufficiently, nor placed enough emphasis thereupon. As such, allow me to introduce you to a lift I consider to be far superior to the bench press- the Reverse Grip Bench Press. To be honest, I don't know who invented this exercise, or when. I'll bet that it was within the last 60 years, when the bench press became tremendously popular, but it really didn't get much press until Anthony Clark hit the scene. Clark was an absolute fucking beast, and he ended up benching over 800 lbs with this grip. An article on Clark's exploits with this lift is what got me interested in it, and I've dabbled with it on and off for the last 15 years.
Many people on the internet have taken to recommending that lifter avoid this lift, as it bears a high possibility of injury and is banned from use in competition. The fact remains, however, that it's a fucking awesome lift, and if you do it correctly, you're not going to injure yourself. This brings us, thus, to an explanation of how this lift should be conducted. I train without a lifting partner, because I'm a lone fucking wolf like that. As such, it's well-neigh impossible to do a traditional reverse-grip bench without a liftoff and a competent spotter. Instead, I set up in the rack and do these from the bottom position, which bears a couple of advantages. First, it helps with my bench power from the bottom position, and drive from a pause is pretty much the entire shitteree for raw powerlifters. Second, unless some natural catastrophe occurs that destroys the building in which you're lifting and brings the fucking rack down around your ears, you should remain pretty well insulated from the chance of injury. Thus, you're just going to take a shoulder width grip and start from the bottom of the lift (setting the pins in the rack at or about your chest weight on the bench, and press the bar up from your stomach. The more you arch, the shorter the movement, and the more you can press, so arch fucking hard. I recommend chalking the hell out of your hands to improve your grip- I'm willing to bet the vast majority of the reported injuries on this lift occurred because the bar slipped out of their hands.
The bar should be lower on his abdomen (toward his navel), but you get the idea.
As far as sets and reps, I either do lots of singles or a few sets of 5, and change it up from day to do. Lately, I've been hitting this one 2x a week, as I've abandoned regular bench press altogether. Why have I done so? Because I know a lot of people with shoulder problems, and all of those people list the bench press as their favorite lift. Additionally, when I bench frequently, I have a harder time getting into position for BTNs and back squat. As such, it's all reverse grip bench press for me, as it seems to have awesome crossover to the regular bench press, without all of the shoulder impingement and bullshit.
One last thing- DOING THESE IN THE SMITH MACHINE IS FUCKING STUPID. It's like painting a bloody, double-bladed axes pink and bedazzling it. Do it in the fucking rack or don't do it. No one gives a fuck how much you can do in the smith machine, and telling people what you can do in the smith makes you look like an ass and puts them in the uncomfortable position of having to dispose of your body for sapping them of valuable testosterone points with your nonsense.
Curl and Press
I know- we all have the same mental image of this exercise. Some fat broad in the gym with 2 lb, rubberized pink dumbbells, doing endless repetitions of this exercise while standing directly in front of whatever particular set of dumbbells it is that you'd like to use. She's frequently doing this in perfect rhythm with her friend, who's usually skinny and using the same bullshit weights. On a side note, what the fuck is with random broads thinking that they have to synchronize each repetition with that of their lifting partner? Is there some synchronized swimming channel they're always watching to acquire this universal and bizarre training technique?
Anyway, the other place wherein you'll see this exercise jocked is the randomly awesome but generally useless magazine Men's Health. It's not always wrong, and the articles in that mag are generally better researched and far more educated than those in any magazine outside of Muscular Development. In any event, it was not that bastion of douchery and consumerism that got me into the exercise, either. The guy who's responsible for talking me into this exercise did so from the grave- Hermann Goerner. The Curl and Press was Goerner's bread-and-butter exercise, which he did three times a week with kettlebells at the outset of his workout. His set and rep scheme for this consisted of approximately 10 sets, going from 55 lbs. to 110 lbs. in 5½ lb. jumps (2½ kilo) jumps. These were done very strictly – usually only 1 or 2 reps with each arm, working up quickly to the 110 lb. bells. I've done them with both dumbbells and kettlebells, and thoroughly enjoyed them. I did them in alternating fashion, curling and pressing one bell at a time for singles. I think my form's likely a little looser than Goerner's, and I like to occasionally go really fucking heavy by turning this into a curl grip clean and one arm press They're a nice break for the joints in your arms and shoulders, which can take a pounding from more explosive movements like jerks and behind the neck push presses, and can help your log clean and press, bicep strength and size, and will generally add some low impact volume to your upper body pressing movements.
If they're good enough for him, they're good enough for you.Jump Squats
This is another exercise that you'll generally find darkening the pages of Men's Health, but it's actually useful if you do it right. First, I recommend you drop the fucking dumbbells- leave them to the bodybuilders and the women. Start with your regular warmup weight in the back squat, and drop ass to grass. Sit there for a second, so that you've got no bounce and no momentum, and then fucking explode so hard that you leave the ground. You're not trying to set any records for height, here, but just trying to pop hard enough to leave the ground. As I get heavier, I'll generally pause less or not at all, but still try to drop below parallel before firing out of the hole. I'll generally work up to singles, doubles, and triples with 315, and find that it's a nice change of pace from heavy back squats, and it helps with my explosiveness out of the bottom and my overall squat depth.
Captain Kirk was all about gettin' low.
I can hear lots of you winding up- this is insane/it's only possible with steroids/injury/I'm a giant bleeding vagina. It's not my job to convince you that you're not as weak as you think you are. Is this a high risk movement? No more so than getting behind the wheel of your car every day. Can you injure yourself doing heavy jump squats? Probably. You could do one of two things- fall over, or snap your spine in half. To the first, don't do it. Falling down is stupid, unless you're Michael Douglas- that movie fucking rules. For the second, sure, you can snap your spine right in half if you land flat on your ass on the ground, or if you land with your knees completely locked. Frankly, if you do either of those, you deserve to injure yourself. Your back and legs serve as giant shock absorbers. Thereby, the force various "exercise scientists" across the internet describe as crushing one's spine in their railing against heavy jump squats is dissipated, as it's absorbed in greatest part by your thighs, rather than your spinal column. Furthermore, the spine is in greatest danger of injury when bending or twisting, and the explosive nature of this exercise demands a vertical, or nearly vertical posture, which places you in strongest possible spinal position. You can improve this still further by practicing soft landings (where your ankles and knees flex in concert to absorb the shock of landing), which will reduce the amount of kinetic energy that will be absorbed by your intervertebral disks by 150-fold over a hard landing. (Zatsiosky, pp.140-141)
In other good news, the switch from slower, more grinding back squats into explosive, yet heavy jump squats will shift some of the load in the exercise, and should alter the movement enough so that you can can circumvent some of the bottleneck effect that Zatsiorsky describes in Science and Practice of Strength Training. The bottleneck effect occurs when a comparative strength imbalance in one joint limits the total amount of weight one can lift. Because the exercise is performed in a fundamentally different way, and the loading protocols are significantly different, it might be possible to utilize this exercise in particular to overcome sticking points in both the squat and the deadlift.
So give these exercises a try. They'll give you something different to do in the gym, and might turn out to be some staples in your workout. At the very least, they'll make those sensitive parties among you pause before beginning to bitch anew.