Westside Barbell receives lots of calls and e-mails seeking lifting advice: from technique, to periodization, to how to use lifting gear. We always respond with an answer based on a strong foundation of knowledge and experience. Here are some of the most common mistakes being made by lifters that we have corrected.
- ■ Always push the bar in a straight line up from where it makes contact with your lower chest—not from your chest in an arc back over your face. If you’re pushing the bar back over your face, you end up rotating the elbows outward, which causes a rotator injury and pec tears. The triceps must be the strongest muscle group involved in this lift. This ensures that the triceps start the lift, and not the pecs, which are highly susceptible to injury.
- ■ It’s better to use your thumb around the bar than a thumbless grip because the harder you squeeze the bar, the more muscles you activate.
- ■ Do not overarch the lower back; the upper back supports the weight of the bar.
- ■ Do not lower the bar too slowly. Faster is better, as long as you maintain control. This way, you’ll have more reversal strength (40% of your eccentric muscle potential is optimal).
- ■ If you tuck your feet up close to your hips, you will lose leg drive. If your butt comes of the bench, flare your feet out in front of the bench and push with your heels.
- ■ If you are weak of the chest, build your upper back and lats; the lats control the path of the bar. If you lack strength at lockout, build your triceps.
- Work on bar speed, both eccentrically and concentrically, and always use bands or
- chains for explosive and speed strength work. Use 25–30% at lockout with good tension also at the chest.
- ■ After the bench or deadlift, pick three to four special exercises for both lifts. For benching, the lifter should do two sets of dumbbell presses in one of four angles, with moderate weight. For example, you could perform dumbbell presses for 50 pounds for easy sets of 15 reps, then triceps extensions, followed by upper back and lats, and finally rear and side delts. For deadlifting, do reverse hypers, inverse curls, rows, and abs.
- ■ Remember that 80% of your training should consist of special exercises, and only 20% with the classic lifts. For recovery, 72 hours should separate speed and max-effort workouts. Small workouts can be done on of days or later in the day.
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