I just wanted to take a minute and wish everyone a Happy Holiday season to you and yours. Be safe, spend time with those you love, and be generous to those less fortunate than ourselves.
One of the first things that people notice when they walk into our gym is the plethora of chains that we have. Many of our athletes are eager to train with them because it is a new and exciting training tool that just oozes being a real badass. While I am always amused by their enthusiasm to use the chains, I always try and explain to our athletes WHY we are doing what we are doing, instead of having them blindly plunging into a workout without understand what is going on. For today's intents and purposes, I am going to discuss why we bench with chains, and how you can properly incorporate chains into your benching workout.
When benching without chains, the resistance is constant throughout the entire range of motion. A loaded barbell has the same load at the top as it does at the bottom. When benching properly with chains, the resistance varies throughout the range of motion. This is called an accommodating resistance, and it is a GREAT tool to use to allow benching with a full range of motion while focusing on increasing the concentric or "lifting" portion of the bench.
For example, please look at the following picture of Everett Tune, a College Football player that we have training with us. In this picture, Everett has 295 pounds loaded onto a barbell, along with 2 chains clipped to each side of the barbell. At the top of this bench press, Everett has roughly 340 pounds on the bar, as some of the chains are "deloaded" on the ground, and are not contributing to the overall weight on the bar. Since the chains weigh 20 pounds each, and there are 4 of them, that is 80 pounds of chain. About half of them are deloaded at the top, giving us our weight of 340 pounds.
Now take a look at Everett in the bottom position of his bench press. Here, nearly all of the "chain weight" is deloaded onto the ground. In this position, the load is pretty much the weight of the barbell, in this instance 295 pounds.
So, as you can see, as Everett presses the barbell upwards, each link of chain will lift off of the floor, making the resistance heavier and heavier as he approaches the lockout portion of the bench press.
Benching with chains is a great way to improve your lockout strength and still bench with a full range of motion. In addition, they really reinforce the concept of "pushing through" on heavy bench press efforts. When chains are loaded into the bar, you can't just go through the motions in the middle of your press, you have to focus on accelerating the bar throughout the entire range of motion.
Please keep in mind that when benching with chains, or performing any other lift for that matter, it is important to set up the chains so that they are completely deloaded in the bottom position. Otherwise you are not creating an accommodating resistance, but just an unstable resistance that does not change throughout the range of motion.
A common practice that we like to use here at PTS is to bench with chains for 3 weeks, and then take them away during the 4th week...your lockout strength will thank you for it!
Have fun with the chains, and save yourself the trouble, buy them from EliteFTS...it is an investment well worth it. A lot of people ask me if they can make them on their own, buy them from Home Depot, etc., etc...I say save yourself the time and trouble, and buy quality equipment that is specifically designed for this purpose.
Here is the full video of Everett's Bench Press:
So sorry it has been such a long time between posts...things have been busy here at PTS to say the least!
I thought I would write a quick post about nutrition today, since that seems to be the missing link in many training programs.
To steal an idea from John Berardi, the premier sports nutrition guru out there (www.johnberardi.com), protein should be the base of every meal you eat, and each meal should contain EITHER good fats from olive oil, natural peanut butter, eggs, etc.. OR low glycemic index carbs from sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grain bread, etc.
The ONLY exception to this is the window right before, during, and after a workout, when high glycemic index carbs may be included with protein (i.e. a sports drink with whey protein).
He also suggests that to keep insulin levels in check you should NEVER consume a high carb and high fat meal (i.e. pizza, donuts, Big Macs), or if you do so, include it as one of your 5 weekly "cheat" meals.
In addition, P+C meals should be based around physical activity. P+F meals should be based around inactivity. Here is a sample meal plan for someone who is training in the afternoon or evening:
Omelet with 2 Whole Eggs, Egg Whites, Diced Veggies, 1 Slice American Cheese
AM Snack: (P+F)
Handful of Nuts
Lunch : (P+C)
Turkey Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread with Honey Mustard, Fruit, Cucumber Slices
PM Snack (1/3 Before, 1/3 During, 1/3 After Training)
Large Sports Drink With 1 Scoop Whey Protein
Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Round Eye Steak, Stir Fried Mixed Veggies
You have to EARN your carbs...on non training days, simply have a P+C meal for breakfast, and have P+F meals for the rest of the day.
Everyone is different, and not everyone has the same degree of insulin sensitivity. For those trying to gain weight with a very fast metabolism and can tolerate carbs very well, some meals will HAVE to be high in both carbs and fat (pizza is a good selection here, along with peanut butter and banana sandwiches) in order to intake enough calories.
If you are looking to get leaner, give this plan a try, and remember, a lean protein with every meal, and EITHER low GI carbs OR healthy fats with every meal!