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24 October 2013

Crazier Than A Bag Of Fucking Angel Dust

"Crazier than that?" you say?  Ok, maybe not crazier than that, but still pretty fucking crazy.

Some months ago I realized that my bench press should be, though did not seem to be, the easiest of my lifts to improve in a hurry.  For the life of me, I could not figure out why I sucked at the bench- just that I did.  Part of my problem, it seemed, was the fact that I despise benching, and when I do multiple heavy sessions of bench every week the tendinitis in my elbows flares up and anything I do pressing-wise sucks for a while.  Additionally, it seemed that every single failure on bench press occurred in the bottom quarter of the lift, as is the case with most raw lifters.  It's rare you see a person fail at the lockout of the bench press, unless that person has pointedly neglected training their arms.  If that's the case, the prescription for fixing their bench should be handing someone nearby a tack hammer and having them beat the shitty bench with it about the face, neck, and head until they cease respiration, because they're too stupid to deserve to live.
An aside:  There seems to be a never-ending spate of people decrying "vanity" lifts as useless.  THIS JUST IN: Almost any time you lift a weight, it's useful.  The guys who focus on vanity lifts definitely out bench the pussies talking shit in the corner while "skwatting ATG, bro" with 135 lbs. like they're some sort of mythical gods of the weight room.  I'm not suggesting you should start squatting on a bosu ball, but for fuck's sake think before you start preaching bullshit on the internet like you're a modern day weightlifting Socrates.  I'm looking at you, endless stream of pussies decrying people curling in the squat rack in spite of the fact that half of you would fold up like wet origami under the bar if you tried to squat the weight being curled.

As I'm doing this wildly uncommon bit of introspection, one thing stood out at me- I needed to bench more.  Because I hate benching so much, however, and invariably end up doing naught but singles without a spotter, which simply exacerbates my elbow tendinitis and makes overhead pressing painful, I decided reps were the answer.  "But", I thought to myself, "I fucking despise doing reps.  Like, more than Hitler hated the Jews.  More than Pol Pot hated people who could read.  More than Stalin hated people without mustaches.  More than the Westboro Baptist church hates logic, dignity, and self-respect."  That left me in a bit of a pickle- either I was going to have to do something I hated with the passion of Lindsay Lohan's infested, fiery crotch, or I was going to have to find a different route.



Then, it occurred to me- I should do the dumbest fucking thing of which I could think for the bench.  Something so incomprehensible and inexplicable that I couldn't help being amused by it.  I started doing neutral grip barbell floor presses with chains.  Those were great, and helped with my explosion from around my sticking point, but I felt like I could get crazier.  I looked over at the bench and thought, what about a fat bar with chains?  I tried that, and enjoyed it- the fat bar kept my bar path perfect, because if you get your bar path wrong with a fat bar, that shit is going to roll out of your hands and either crush your pelvis or smash your face into a bloody pulp.  That got me driving the bar hard up in a straight line, rather than back toward the rack as I usually did.  Chains, however, are a tool for geared lifters with bulletproof bench shirts and less muscle than you'd see on your average twink.  They're not useful for raw lifters other than a monotony breaker, or in the event they feel like emulating Branch Warren and using them for dips (which I think is about as fucking retarded as the sound of deaf people arguing, but to each their own).



Thus, I looked for something else, and what I came up with was something I didn't know had been done before, but as it happens, there really is nothing new under the sun.  In an effort to make the bench press as absurd as possible and put the maximum amount of stress of my weak point (which is most raw lifters' weak point), I hung kettlebells off of the fat bar with resistance bands.  Frankly, I thought it was hilarious enough to continue doing, and then was informed that this idiocy actually has a name- Crazybells.



When I came to that realization, it occurred to me that this method of training was pure fucking genius.  Physiologically, bands adjust the force curve to make the lift much harder than it would normally be, plus they stress the dogshit out of your ligaments, tendons, and the entire cast of supporting muscles.  Basically, it'd be as if Mike Tyson had decided to take up Crossfit at the peak of his career and had his entire entourage take up MMA, forced overeating, steroids, and powerlifting, all in an effort to roll up a whole nation's army in a street fight.   The ability to handle much greater loads with far greater stability when you're using crazybells occurs because the load is increased to Oprah-in-winter-bulking-phase levels in the bottom position (where you leverages are the poorest), and decreased where you leverages are the best because of the rebound of the bands and bells from your drive skyward, even though the instability of the lift is vastly increased at the top so you end up looking like someone with Parkinson's trying to balance a clay pot on your hands in the middle of a hurricane.  In the end, your muscular activation is greatly increased throughout the lift (Kohler), but the potential for injury is reduced because the load is most unstable at your strongest point.



Adding to all of that massive goodness is my inclusion of the fat bar, which adds a lot of muscular tension in addition to training you to use the most efficient bar path.  The muscular tension addition occurs because of something Pavel Tsatsouline refers to as "irradiation":
"It seems preposterous to a bodybuilder that clenching your cheeks and bracing your abs will strengthen your grip, but that's the way your body works. What I teach is just the opposite of isolation. Isolation is impossible anyway. There is something called irradiation.
Whenever you intelligently contract other muscles — your glutes, your abs, your diaphragm, and if you're working the upper body, your grip — you automatically increase the intensity of the contraction of the target muscles" (Shugart)

The Exercise Itself

This isn't fucking brain surgery, people.  You loop the band through the kettle bell handle (and you can sub 25 lb plates if you don't have kettlebells), slide that fucker on the inside of the bar, and then put your plate weights on the outside if you're not suffering from brain damage or some mental disorder that causes you to spend an inordinate amount of time doing shit that's not lifting while they're in the gym.  Loading and unloading the bands every time you want to change plate weight is stupid.  From there, it's touch and go bench.  Do not pause.  If you pause, you obviate the entire point of the movement because you're not taking advantage of the extra weight provided by the stretch at the bottom.  Here's a video showing you Talia's first attempt at crazybells (which she now loves) and a couple of my heavier sets.  I think I ended up with about 325 in bar and kettlebell weight for three, which is maybe 25 lbs less than I could do at that point with a dead weight bar, to give you an idea of the loading protocols.



The way I structure my benching using these is thusly- I have one ultra-heavy day and one goofy day.

Ultra Heavy Day

Work up to a weight I can double for at least 5 sets, then carry on with singles until I have to dump the weight in the catches.  This means I'm benching for about an hour with 30-90 second rests.

Goofy Day
5-10 sets of 3-5 reps with as much weight as I can handle for 3-5 reps.  I stick with 30-90 second rests and just go until I can't.  Afterwards, I do a bunch of face pulls and rope pushdowns.

The key, as you can see in the video, is to fucking EXPLODE out of the bottom.  This is going to get rid of that nasty stall nearly everyone has at the bottom of their heavy benches.  Stick with these and they will bear fruit like no assistance work you've ever seen, ridiculous-looking  or otherwise.  I would imagine it bears saying, as I know that some of you are going to bemoan your lack of a fat bar, that you can get Fat Gripz.  You won't have the benefit of using a non-rotating dead bar, but you will get the irradiation effect.  Thus, they're worth the $35.

Now, quit your' bitching about your shitty bench and start benching like a goofball to get that shit poppin'.


Did someone order the thickness entree?

Source:
Kohler JM, Flanagan SP, Whiting WC.  Muscle activation patterns while lifting stable and unstable loads on stable and unstable surfaces.  J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):313-21.

Shugart, Chris.  The Evil Russian Speaks: Part 1.  An Interview with Pavel Tsatsouline.  T-Nation.  5 Apr 2001.  Web.  22 Oct 2013.  http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_interviews/the_evil_russian_speaks_part_1

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29 comments:

  1. How do you restrain yourself not to fuck Talia every training session, I workout at home but if I ever saw a sexy ass broad with her clunge in the air (whilst benching or not) I dont think I'd have a choice but to plunder the shit out of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha. She's pretty sprung on her boyfriend, bro.

      Delete
    2. Still, you must have the discipline of a shaolin master, especially being the maniacal deviant that you seem to be. How long before you get 400 overhead?

      Delete
    3. Tore my bicep, so it will be a while.

      Delete
  2. I bought a 5' length of pipe with 2" inside diameter and two 18" pieces of 2" outside diameter pipes and slid them in about 4" then spot-welded them to make a fat bar. Total cost $25.00. Been using it for 8 years with no problems.
    Any welding shop can run a quick bead around the "seams" for a 12 pack of beer (ask the welder what her drinks).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I stole my neighbour's washing line and used that. About two days later she waved at me naked through her bedroom window, I don't know if the incidents are related but the next thing she buys is getting stolen.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. You can never do too much upper back work.

      Delete
  4. That chick in the forest was MADE to be fucked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah and also I like how she clearly isn't tucking a tail between her legs.

      Delete
  5. I'd rather take up permanent residency in Florida and spend the rest of my life drinking glass shard-laced gasoline cocktails with mayonnaise on top while getting titty fucked by rape demons than try to enjoy bench pressing. I do have to applaud your thinking behind using the fat bar.
    When you put yourself in a situation where you HAVE to do an exercise right you'll get it right or get crushed, you'll find a way to get that shit right and right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. Shit got my bench up to a spotterless, liftoffless, touch and go 405 right before my bicep blew off.

      Delete
  6. Cool post... How long would you recommend these before returning to regular bench pressing?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't quit regular benching. Incorporate both simultaneously.

      Delete
  7. Are you still doing your fun day you named after a philosopher from an allegory about being stupid?

    I've been watching Pure Strength '99, it's been the funniest strongman show ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, though now that I'm one armed, most of my days are like that, haha.

      Delete
  8. Just remembered the Westboro Church. They might be lacking in dignity but they are not lacking logic: Before they started protesting fags, the Old Evil One was a lawyer who focussed on defending blacks when most people wouldn't. Now they rile up the public and survive, as a family of lawyers, by provoking people into breaking the law.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll be goddamned. That's crafty. Crazy, but crafty.

      Delete
  9. Hey Jamie,

    Why do you go overhand grip on the fat bar? Does that bother your shoulder at all?

    My last max attempts got stuck at about 6 inches off my chest, would you consider that lockout or bottom quarter?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't train reverse grip outside of a couple of weeks out from competition because it puts too much strain on my biceps.

      Sounds like bottom half. Definitely not lockout. You're probably flaring your elbows at the transition point from pecs to triceps.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the reply. Do you just not bench until a few weeks out? (Doing lots of heavy dips, tricep and shoulder work?)

      I tried benching from pins for the first time last week and at my work weight I couldn't get it up off my upper abs, as I usually do, but could get it from sternum/below nipple line, so I might try doing it from there.

      Delete
  10. Ive come to the conclusion that almost everyone with a short torso and reasonably long arms is going to really struggling to build a massive bench press.Ive done sets of 4 reps with 280kgs totally raw on both squats and deadlifts and never got my paused bench over 380lbs,i tore my pec off trying crazy shit to build my bench....it sounds totally negative but after 28 years trying ive had to conclude that a big bench isn't happening,especially after a severe pec injury.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You might have to change your name to "Ubermensch, except while supine".

      Delete
  11. Long time follower, first comment. Loved the crazy bells! I've been reading your blog since the friends don't let friends do front raises. I don't own kettlebells but substituted the 25's with no problem. I think I have a similar problem on bench, I lay down as if I'm taking a nap, like you mentioned once. These crazy bells seem like they would build a steady base which I appear to be lacking. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jamie, it seemed that I tore my scapholunate ligament in my right wrist with all the asinine amount of pulling that I have done in the past two years. It was well worth in terms that I had a ridiculous amount of strength gain. I went to the orthopedic doctor and he told me to take some time off.

    I'm sure you're well acquainted with injuries. Any tips on how I can truncate my time off?

    ReplyDelete
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