November 2004 archives

November 1, 2004

Turning theory into practice - 102.5 kg!!

Filed under: Workouts

after the factThe curse has been lifted!

I now understand precisely what Simmons means by “standing up on the shoulders”. The arch might not seem too severe, but since the butt is now only lightly touching the bench I only have two points of stable contact: feet on the ground and traps/neck on the bench. Getting into the new position was easy after a few practice swings, but once there I was a blowfish out of water.

Slowly worked up in weight, beginning with several sets with an empty bar, while keeping toes in the air to make sure I was only driving from the heels. I felt like I had zero explosiveness and missed my old groove more than a bit, but eventually found myself at 95 kg/210 lbs. Since it went up without too much effort, I figured I could just as well follow The way of the Fool and max out despite feeling like a monkey straddling a canyon.

Went up in 2.5 kg/5.5 lbs increments. A couple of sets later I was faced with the menacing 100 kg/221 lbs. The bar path was horrible, but quite easily muscled it to lockout. Continued on to a strenuous rep at 102.5 kg/227 lbs and then failed at 105 kg/232 (VIDEO 3MB). Whoa! Eye of the tiny Tiger!

In retrospect, I’d say that getting the weight further up on the back definitively makes the lift a bit easier. At the same time I am stronger than ever, which seems to tell me that the full implications of this little but significant change have yet to be realized. Give me some time to get comfortable in this position and re-calibrate my groove and you’ll see the weights jump a bit further. If I wouldn’t have done so many tiring sets before 105 kg/232 lbs I’m pretty sure at least that would have made it to the top. Tempting as it would be to switch back to Westside with all its max attempts, I will forge ahead with Blakley for the time being. If I keep the momentum going I’ll soon be repping with my former max. That would serve it right!

ME Bench, 1 November 2004

Technique training working up to 90 kg/199 lbs with toes in the air

1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs
1 @ 97.5 kg/216 lbs
1 @ 100 kg/221 lbs PR!
1 @ 102.5 kg/227 lbs PR!
0 @ 105 kg/232 lbs

A few sets of pulldowns and rope pulls

Total training time: 40 min

November 3, 2004


Filed under: General

Tired, little motivation. Did some standard rehab stuff, then played around with doing a little of this and that including deadlifts, zercher squats and even some good mornings - all with a bar bending load of 40 kg/88 lbs. No complaints from the back department, so unracked again for a few deep sets of pause squats. Perhaps time to attempt a slow return to heavier weights again before the circle closes.

Rehab, 3 November 2004

Muscle activation, lat pulley: 25 reps each of facing, right and left @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Upper body cable turn: 25 @ 40 kg/88 lbs, 20 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Various lower body movements with 40 kg/88 lbs bar
Pause squat: 3x5 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Barbell side bend: 3x10 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
Twisting incline board sit-up: 10

Total training time: 55 sleepy minutes

November 4, 2004

Sans Prophylactic Press

Filed under: General

First it was sets of Sushi benches, then a week later Salmonella presses. After the initial confusion about Jim Wendler’s new exercises cleared the game was on.

Hey Jim, I was wondering what new terms for raw benching we have to look forward to over the coming months beside sushi and salmonella?
I’ve got a new one brewing for tomorrow. In fact, I’m going to do some raw benching just so I can use it.

…which he did of course. I’m too jelly brained right now to do what any self-respecting blogger would do (i.e. give his own punny contribution or turn the tables by renaming shirt benches). Regular readers will no doubt know that I consider one of Wendler’s contributions just perfect anyway.

November 5, 2004

The chain is only as strong as…

Filed under: Workouts

It is always a pleasure to see some of you turn from yet another hit in the web logs into a reader with a name and, usually, a loaded barbell that you are not afraid to use. After some astute observations on my benching form, Mike had this to say about the subsequent video:

Just finished watching your video and wanted to send congrats about the PR. Your form from the side looks a lot like kennellys’. It seems your weak point is right where the transfer of shoulders to triceps takes over. I have a few exercises that will help this as it was once my weak point. Try Dips, Reverse Grip Bench, and seated front presses. Give these some serious work on your Blakely assistance day. Your lockout is very strong, which is quite evident on the 221 attempt.

In subsequent e-mails, he suggested close grip declines or flat benches as a second best replacement for dips (no dip stand at the school gym) and gave me this example routine:

Blakely Bench Day
Bench - 4x6
Dips or Decline or Close Grip - 3x5
I highly recommend Dips working up to your bench max in total weight(BWT+Added wt.) for 5 reps.
Rear Delts - 3x8

Blakely Assistance Day
Reverse Bench - 1x1 with about 90%, 3x6 Blakely style
Shoulder Press - 4x6
Rear Delts - 3x8

I’ve decided to give this routine a shot. Felt it wise to take some extra rest following Monday’s maxing out, so just looked over the set up for the new exercises before proceeding to lat and biceps work. Declines on Monday. But before that I will of course attend the WPC World Bench Bash and the WPO Bench Bash For Cash here in Helsinki on Sunday.

Blakley accessory day, 5 November 2004

Wide-grip pulldown facing away from machine: 3x5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Close-grip pulldown to upper chest: 4x7 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Modified row: 14 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Low incline hammer curl:
         4 @ 21 kg/46 lbs
         3x8 @ 16 kg/35 lbs (continuous tension)
One-handed cable curl: 10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs

Total training time: 42 min

November 7, 2004

Meet report: WPC and WPO Bench Bash, Helsinki

Filed under: General

Half way there
Finnish lifter Eero Jälkö with 250 kg/551 lbs under the attentive gaze of head referee Mike Sweeney (WPC Bench Bash 7 November 2004, Helsinki, Finland).

This blog is not particularly well-known for its thorough meet coverage; in fact, it is rare to see any mention whatsoever of the latest results in the powerlifting world. But when the World Powerlifting Organization (WPO) arranges their inaugural bench meet outside of the States in my home town… well, then I’m all there and excited like the rest of Strength Finland. I must say the occasion left me with newfound respect for competitive benching, shirts and all.

There was a lot at stake in this WPO Bench Bash for Cash since the event was the last qualifier for the WPO World Record Bench Bash at the 2005 Arnold Fitness Weekend in Columbus, Ohio. This meant an open door to Arnold’s for any lifter who could outbench someone on the US dominated qualifying list. As it turned out, the Americans chose to sit tight back home and await the outcome. In retrospect, a few of them shouldn’t have.

Murtomäki smokes 300 kgThe minimum requirement to even lay down on the WPO bench was a result of 205 kg/451 lbs in the lightweights, 250 kg/551 lbs in the middleweights and a whopping 317.5 kg/699 lbs in the heavyweights. The meet was left open to new competitors until the very last minute and total radio silence was kept on who was going to show up until the meet actually began. The meet was also preceded by a World Powerlifting Congress (WPC) Bench Bash where anyone who managed to break the minimum requirements were entitled to stay around for the real deal in the afternoon. Finnish lifter Jani Murtomäki, only 23 years old, had unofficially announced his intention to do just that in the heavyweights and his tremendously explosive opener at 300 kg/661.2 lbs left the audience with little doubt over his seriousness. In the end, 317.5 kg/699 lbs turned out to be too much for his first meet ever. By afternoon all WPC lifters had abandoned their bench shirts for the audience.

A little uneven towards lockout but accepted - Hämäläinen with 340 kgWhereas the WPC meet was a predominantly Finnish affair lifted in three groups, the WPO meet had a more level field of Ukrainians, Finns, Swedes and Russians lifting in a single group. Those among us who are not so knowledgeable about federations and powerlifting politics could only silently wonder whether there are no great benchers in the rest of Europe. This thought did not stay around to haunt as the speaker, whose English was perhaps not quite the best at all times, announced that several lifters had opening attempts that, if successful, would qualify them for the Arnold’s immediately. After the opening round was dispensed with the middleweights saw Ukrainian middleweight Vitaly Ponomarenko (310 kg/683.2 lbs) push Jim Kilts (280 kg/617.2 lbs) off the qualifying list, while Finnish heavyweights Mikko Hämäläinen (330 kg/727.5 lbs) and Tomi Rantanen (330 kg/727.5) sent cold greetings to Bart Quinn (305 kg/672.2 lbs) and Joe Ladnier (325 kg/716.2 lbs). Next round, Russian lightweight Andrey Tschesnokov (225 kg) joined the club, then it was middleweight Finnish lifter Esa Vinni’s turn with a new Finnish (and European?) record of 290 kg/639.2 lbs. The only lifter not having a ball was Vladimir Kravtsov of Russia with no passed lift due to what seemed to be a problem at achieving lockout with the right arm. If he had made his 332.5 kg/733 lbs lift he would have been in too. What a show!

The WPO event also had three female guest lifters who posted some impressive numbers. Anna Rosén, Swedish WPC lifter Göran Rosén’s better half, worked up to 155 kg/341.5 lbs with a smile on her face, while seasoned Finnish lifter Tarja Rantanen fell just short of the Finnish Record with a 160 kg/352.5 lbs lift. Strongest among them was Lyudmila Hayduchenko with a 190 kg/418.7 lbs third lift.

All in all this was a well-organized meet, something Mike Sweeney was quick to point out on several occasions. The meet ran without a glitch, on schedule and with a judging policy that appeared fairly strict to the untrained eye. Faith for arranger Ano Turtiainen is indeed high as Helsinki has already been promised the WPC World’s and WPO European Championships for 2005. Turtiainen’s now legendary Metal gear, the official sponsor of this event, was not only well-represented on stage, but they also had a big booth selling everything from training pants to bench shirts. Besides some supplements and a little something at a small booth manned by Sakari Selkäinaho from, there wasn’t too much else on sale. In the end, that was not why most of us were there anyhow, but a few videos would probably not have hurt sales.

Giving two 75 kg suitcases a goThe warm-up area was just behind the main lifting platform and it was fun to follow the lifters warm up in the background, which provided good opportunity for further reflection on bench set-up and foot positioning… A grip contest arranged by (”iron grip dot com”) was also held in the breaks between groups (gallery from the event). Two 75 kg suitcases were to be gripped with one hand. Anna Rosen managed to break the current Women’s world record (1 second) in this novel grip competition with a 7 second hold. The main prize in the men’s competition was taken by a construction worker with no lifting experience.

Below are the WPO results as gleaned from the scoreboard. These are not official, but I have no reason to doubt that they will change. I also have clips of many key lifts, but I am going to clear them with Ano before I add them to this entry. In all fairness it did say “no videotaping of this event”, so nobody really expects him to say yes.


Women’s guest class

1. Haydychenko, Lyudmila (UKR) 89,60 180,0 0,0 190,0 190,0/270,18
2. Rantanen, Tarja (FIN) 89,10 160,0 0,0 0,0 160,0/228
3. Rosén, Anna (SWE) 90,00 140,0 150,0 155,0 155,0/220,1

Men’s lightweight class

1. Tchesnokov, Andrey (RUS) 74,90 210,0 225,0 0,0 225,0/251,325

Men’s middleweight class

1. Ponomarenko, Vitaliy (UKR) 99,70 310,0 320,0 0,0 320,0/293,12
2. Vinni, Esa (FIN) 99,10 270,0 277,5 290,0 290,0/266,22

Men’s heavyweight class

1. Hämäläinen, Mikko (FIN) 137,40 330,0 340,0 0,0 340,0/286,62
2. Rantanen, Tomi (FIN) 128,50 330,0 0,0 0,0 330,0/281,49

And finally, the results put into the Men’s qualifier list presented at the event (picture). Again these are unofficial. Last year’s top three (boldfaced) plus the five best benchers of the three qualifiers are eligible to receive an invitation to the Arnold’s. Newcomers from today’s meet are marked with an * and outgoers are striked out. Note that the lightweight class only had three lifters out of five in it, hence no dropouts in that class.



Markus Shick 273
Joe Mazza 247,5
August Clark Jr. 240
Brad Heck 232,5
* Andrey Tchesnokov 225,0
Taylor Tom 222,5
Brian Schwab 217,5


Scott Albano 320
Jesse Kellum 300
Chip Stewart 300
* Ponomarenko, Vitaliy 320
Scott Rabine 311
Brad Hein 307,5
Rene Imesch 300
* Esa Vinni 290
Michael Wolfley 287,5
Jim Kilts 280


Gene Rychlak 397,5
Shawn Lattimer 390
Ryan Kennelly 372,5
Clay Brandenburg 370
Chris Cooke 365
George Halbert 347,5
* Mikko Hämäläinen 340
* Tomi Rantanen 330
Joe Ladnier 325
Bart Quinn 305

November 8, 2004


Filed under: Workouts

makeshift declineFour hours of sleep on top of five the night before - not precisely the prerequisites for an astounding bench session. The warm-up weights felt jarring and the actual work sets were no better. Bailed out after two mediocre first sets on the bench. As dictated by the new routine, I next did 3x5 of declines. Laying head down on an incline bench with feet wrapped around the end beams on the rack proved to be a great setup. Will pile on a bit more iron on these next week when I will hopefully be a bit less zombie-like.

Modified Blakley bench, 8 November 2004

Bench: 4,3 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Decline bench: 3x5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Pulldown to upper chest, wide-grip: 3x6 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Pulldown to forehead: 3x10 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Plate curl:
            2 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
            7,4 @ pinch gripping 5 kg/11 lbs, 2.5 kg/6 lbs and 1.25 kg/3 lbs plates
Reverse cable curl: 10,8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs

Total training time: What is time anyway?

November 10, 2004

WPC and WPO Bench Bash videos

Filed under: General

Good honest work

Filed under: Workouts

The sudden relapse into lumbago after several months of hard rehab work made me lose a lot of the enthusiasm I had. After a hiatus of two months, I now seem to have regained faith. It was a joy to blast the back with hyperextensions off a swiss ball with a barbell on the back (clip to come at some point), and even worked up to 10 @ 70 kg/155 lbs on the, gulp, deadlift! As I’ve noted before, the key appears to do slow reps. Will slowly try to build up the weights from here and see what happens. So far everything is dandy. Wrapped up with some heavy ab work and also fell in love with the incline sit-up board. Just what my hip flexors need.

Rehab etc., 10 November 2004

Barbell hyperextension on swiss ball:
           2x10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
           2x10 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
Deadlift (slow):
           10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
           10 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
           10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
           10 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Upper body cable turn: 3x20 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Barbell side bend: 3x10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
Incline board sit-up (full reps): 7,6,4
Standing cable crunch: 10 @ 35 kg/77 lbs
Arm and leg extension kneeling on stability ball: 4 (ball very shaky, fell off)

Total training time: 73 min

November 12, 2004

Math challenged

Filed under: Workouts

reversedTime to get serious about the modified Blakley assist day. Sleep has not been plentiful this week, and thus took a nap followed by a bottle of Nitric Force in an attempt to redeem the three hours of nocturnal rest I had yesterday. Alert enough.

Used this workout to get a feeler for what suitable starting weights would be as I didn’t have the foggiest on how much I could move on the reverse grip bench or seated press. The reverse bench felt surprisingly natural, but I could definitively feel a degree of wrist strain using my normal bench grip width. After two easy 80 kg/177 lbs lifts, my sleep deprived brain, surging with artificial caffeine energy, convinced me I had just done an easy rep with 90 kg/199 lbs. With unfailing logic, I thus loaded two plates on the bar. Before I knew it, the bar and I were locked in a cold embrace, unable to part. Then following three repper with 82.5 kg/182 lbs (lost my groove, but six reps is doubtful) makes me think good starting weights for the reverse bench is 90 kg/199 lbs for the single and 77.5 kg/171 lbs for the 4x6.

Decided to do the seated press in traditional Westside style, i.e. off pins set at chin height with back support. This makes for less eccentric strain on the muscles since the bar can be semi-dropped down, while allowing for maximum explosivity by relaxing in between reps. After a decent six rep set with 60 kg/133 lbs, I wanted to see how many reps I’d get with 70 kg/155 lbs. The answer was two; a bit better than I’d thought off hand. Next week I will begin the sets with 62.5 kg/138 lbs. Wrapped up with some lat and cuff work, then home to sleep. My main goal next week is definitively to sleep more and give Sanna more time. The workload has been pretty severe for the last couple of weeks, but should ease up a little now.


Modified Blakley assist, 12 November 2004

Reverse-grip bench:
            10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
            6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
            5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
            3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
            2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
            2x1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
            0 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
            3 @ 82.5 kg/182 lbs (lost groove)

Seated pin press, medium grip:
            6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
            6 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
            6 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
            2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs

One-handed cable row: 4x6 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Lying L-flye: 3x8 @ 8 kg/18 lbs

Total training time: about an hour

November 15, 2004

Upping the ante on the decline

Filed under: Workouts

one steep hillThe change in bench technique still feels awkward, but progress towards my short-term goal of 4x6 @ 90 kg/199 lbs continued with 5,5,3,3 @ 85 kg/188 lbs - a big improvement over last week’s mediocre session. Increased the weight on the decline to 85 kg/188 lbs, but narrowly failed to reach the 3x5 goal (VIDEO 2.9M). Don’t know if it was the flat or decline, but the workout left me with some strain on the inside of my left arm. Probably nothing the sauna, some light massage and rest won’t fix, but it remains to be seen if my body can cope with the twice-weekly heavy full-range pressing. Speaking of saunas, the good thing about living in Finland is that saunas are routinely part of a normal apartment like ours - there are approximately 1.8 million saunas to the 5.2 inhabitants (one sauna per every three persons!). I heat up ours about five times a week now and hardly a day goes by when I don’t reflect on how lucky I am to have one at finger’s reach. Nothing like a 90 ‘C/194 ‘F sauna after a strenuous workout. If progress stops I can always blame it on the vitamin B supplement I “occasionally” ingest after the sauna.

Modified Blakley bench, 15 November 2004

Bench: 5,5,3,3 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Decline bench: 5,4,4 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Pulldown to upper chest, wide-grip: 4x10 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Rope pull: 3x8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Seated hammer curl: 6,5,4 @ 21 kg/46 lbs

Total training time: 79 min

November 16, 2004

New journal and IPA forum

Filed under: General

Been busy sleeping for the last few days (really!) and am somewhat behind on both e-mail and announcements. Got an e-mail from Mike who told me he started a new journal with with the intention of documenting his way towards a 550 lbs/250 kg bench by the end of 2005. Mike is also going to a meet on December 11, so his journal should provide an interesting read.

If anyone competing in the IPA reads this, you might also be interested in the new IPA Power message board.

Review: The Bench Press by Biasiotto and Arndt

Filed under: Reviews

book coverThe first powerlifting book to graze my vast shelves was Power (1998) by legendary Judd Biasiotto. Described as a book written by a “guy weighing 131 pounds [59.5 kg] with legs that look like a pair of pliers in shorts who can squat 575 pounds [261 kg]”, Power was packed with twenty-eight short chapters on everything from psyching up to lifting technique. Suffice it to say, this little gem dynamited with valuable information made me more than a little favorably disposed toward Biasiotto’s and Arndt’s The Bench Press. I had been aware of this book for some time, but my recent foray into the finer points of benching technique made me finally decide to invest some of my hard-earned cash on it ($14.95 USD for the book and $12.00 airmail from Subtitled Training & Techniques of the World’s Greatest Bench Pressers, this sounded like just the ticket to learning more intricacies from lifters who benched during the era when heels were firmly planted on the floor (the style I currently use).

The 126 page book consists of chapters around 10 pages long on a selection of immortal benchers from both the States and Europe who saw their heyday between the 1960s and mid 1990s: Anthony Clark, Ken Lain, Ted Arcidi, Craig Tokarski, Chris Confessore, Jim Williams, Mike Hall, Frank Pfaumer, Michael Brügger and Karl Saliger. Loaded with great photos contributed by Powerlifting USA, the chapters tell the story of how these men began their benching career and how they progressed towards the huge lifts they left their mark with. It is intriguing in its own right to read how Arcidi lived in a cellar after being disowned by his father for pursuing a lifting career or how Williams got into lifting by giving a local YMCA barbell a spin in between dancing every Saturday… not to mention how Clark decided to use a reverse grip in order to “break the world record backwards” as proof of God’s strength. The last part of every chapter discusses the lifter’s training on the level of what exercises they believe are most beneficial and what routine they have found to work best for them. Lastly, every chapter also contains a power tip from every lifter that can be anything from “bench with as wide a grip as possible” to “do plate raises for the delts”.

On the whole, the books was a lot more general than I had hoped for. The life stories contribute little towards an understanding of how these lifters honed their technique and training routines over the years. The discussion on training methodology rarely goes beyond “arch your back” and “have long-term goals” and exercises are usually mentioned without much explanation of finer points or why they are important. The Bench Press comes across splendidly as a candid account where the lifter’s tell their own story in their own words, but it would be a mistake to think that this is a good manual on how to learn the dark arts of benching. In my opinion, it should really be subtitled something like Biographies of the World’s Greatest Bench Pressers. As such, it is a great book that should really be owned by anyone interested in powerlifting history or anyone who wants a quick inspirational read with some great photos.

That being said, there is one major exception and that is the section on Ken Lain. He is introduced as a technician who cared for the nitty-gritties of flawless technique. The first thing that struck me [hard] was a discussion on rowing the shoulders back on descent.

One thing Lain does differently is the “shoulder row”, as he calls it. “If you stick your arms straight out in front of you, and shrug your shoulders to your ears, your arms will drop six inches, without even bending at the elbow. So when you are coming down with the bar, you actually row your shoulders towards your ears. This will decrease the distance that you’ll have to drop the bar. Plus you are giving yourself a lot of strength and power off the bottom, by bringing the lats into play.
Biasiotto, Judd and Arndt, Klaus: The Bench Press, Solaris 2001 [2nd ed.]; pp. 39.

Don’t know if anyone besides Lain is known to do this, but this is sure interesting stuff. After talking about the essentials of arching, he goes on to talk about how he grips the bar.

“Most people will grab the bar with their hands, just staying straight on it, and then let the wrists rotate backwards. Take a pencil and let it rest on your thumb and the bottom of the heel of your hand. Look, that is the way my grip is. The tip of my little finger rides right on top of the bar, because I twist my hands slightly forward. By doing this, I’m putting the bar in a direct line to the center of my wrist. […] [This way] you get your delts in a better position to work for you.
Biasiotto, Judd and Arndt, Klaus: The Bench Press, Solaris 2001 [2nd ed.]; pp. 40.

This makes me think Lain’s book Add 50 to 75 lbs. to Your Bench Press might be a worthwhile read, but that is a different story…

November 17, 2004

HardCORE rehabbing

Filed under: Workouts, Music, Rehab

workout in a nutshell

Well… the weights were still pathetic, but heavier than last week. Pounded the midsection hard with weighted everything, including hyperextensions off the swiss ball and heavy barbell side bends. Bravely continued to up the weight on the deadlift. Perhaps, perhaps… wet dreams of ME SQ/DL and so on.

Today’s music was Finnish death metal band Norther’s Mirror of Darkness and today’s lesson learned that if you bounce a barbell off pads it is liable to come right back up and hit you in the forehead.

VIDEO (6.1M)

Rehab etc., 17 November 2004

Barbell hyperextension on swiss ball:
           6 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
           8 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
           8 @ 35 kg/77 lbs
           7 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Deadlift (slow):
           6 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
           6 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
           6 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
           6 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Upper body cable turn: 3x25 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Barbell side bend:
           8 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
           6 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
           5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
           5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Incline board sit-up (full reps):
           3 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
           7,4 @ bodyweight
Standing cable crunch:
           6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
           5,3 @ 45 kg/99 lbs

Total training time: 98 min (and a lot of this fits into a five minute video…)

Jamie Jamieson’s powerlifting blog

Filed under: General

Jamie’s blog, apparently started four days ago, is another Westside report from the trenches. He already posted his first video clip, so I like it already.

November 18, 2004

How much can you bench with feet in the air?

Filed under: General

The Åland Islands, a Swedish speaking island province of Finland, is fairly well-known in the country for the strong lifters coming out of their powerlifting club Ålands Kraftsportklubb (ÅKK). This reputation is well-deserved as the club has won medals in competitions ranging from National Championships to World Championships and was awarded the “Finnish powerlifting club of the year” award in 2003. Two days ago, the club posted a bench press challenge that, translated loosely from Swedish, reads as follows:

The bench press can be seen as a decent universal indicator of upper body strength. As we all know, there is more than one way to better one’s chances at benching big weights including arching, lifting the buttocks off the bench during the lift or by forcing oneself into a tight bench shirt. A more fair indicator of actual strength could be the bench press with feet in the air. This page was born to collect your numbers in this lift. It would be very interesting to see how all you proficient benchers out there perform on this lift!

[…] The rules are simple: The feet must remain in the air for the complete duration of the lift, the bar must go down and up. We don’t care about pausing on the chest and so on as this will only result in speculation on whether the lift was acceptable or not; it is raw power that matters here!

As an example, the club has posted an 11MB video clip of club member Ove Lehto benching 235 kg/520 lbs at a bodyweight of about 125 kg/276 lbs. He has quite a hefty bounce at the bottom reminiscent of the way shot-putters train with extra padding (clip of shot-putter Manuel Martinez bouncing 300 kg/663 lbs off his chest), but you can’t argue with this 1.88 times bodyweight lift that currently makes Lehto the leader of the small pack that has submitted results. By way of comparison, Lehto benched 262.5 kg/580 lbs raw in the same workout and has posted a 300 kg/663 lbs shirt bench in competition.

Speaking of the devil, benching with feet in the air has become an official sport here in Finland. Developed a few years ago in the army, hence known as “military bench” (sotilaspenkki in Finnish), the objective is to bench bodyweight (2/3 bodyweight for women) for max reps with feet in the air and a bare upper body (t-shirt for women). A counter is placed at lockout to keep track of the reps (picture). The Men’s Finnish National Records in the three weight classes are currently 53 @ 60 kg/133 lbs (below 80 kg/177 lbs class), 44 @ 80 kg/177 lbs (80-100 kg/177-220 lbs class) and 32 @ 102.5 kg/227 lbs (above 100 kg/220 lbs class). In the two women’s weight classes the records are 45 @ 37.5 kg/83 lbs (below 65 kg/144 lbs class) and 27 @ 50 kg/111 lbs (above 65 kg/144 lbs class). Military bench competitions have also spread abroad (link in Finnish) through Finnish peace keeping forces, but so far it appears to be a peculiarly Finnish pastime… although not quite as peculiar as wife carrying, boot throwing (not long ago Nokia was most famous for its rubber boots) and air guitar… but I digress.

November 19, 2004

Gripping moment

Filed under: Workouts, Handiwork

a gripping conventionTook full advantage of the school’s carpentry facilities and made myself a 2″/5 cm wooden pinch grip block to reinforce my grip tool arsenal consisting of the Captains of Crush (CoC) Trainer and I grippers and a Rolling Thunder (RT) with loading pin. I haven’t done much work with the RT of late as it has been safely stashed away in my locker at the commercial gym. Since I now call the school gym home, I finally went ahead and dragged my chalk, RT, mini bands etc. over. Will start working the RT twice a week in an attempt to get my max up to 60 kg/133 lbs from its current 50 kg/111 lbs.

I was still aching from Monday’s heavy pressing and reluctantly concluded that the wisest thing to do was to forego the normal Friday action. Instead dedicated the workout to grip and forearm work. The pinch block was fun, and it was again painfully revealed just how stronger my left hand pinch grip is when I hit 20 kg/44 lbs… Wrapped up with some incline shrugs and jungle pulldowns followed by a set of rocket power abs where I managed a new PR of 3 reps despite having pretty sore abs from Wednesday. Måns also did some heavy Pjotr rows that I captured on today’s clip (3.6M).

Grip and accessory work, 19 November 2004

Reverse grip barbell curl: worked up to 3,4,2 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
Behind the back wrist curl: worked up to 8,4 @ 62.5 kg/138 lbs
Plate curl:
           2 @ 10 kg/21 lbs
           8 @ 8.75 kg/19 lbs
Rolling Thunder: worked up to 5,3,2 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
2″ wooden block pinch grip:
           5 @ 10 kg/21 lbs
           1 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
           1 (left), 0 (right) @ 20 kg/44 lbs
           0 (left) @ 25 kg/55 lbs
           0 (left) @ 22.5 kg/50 lbs
Captains of Crush: 8 @ I
Incline shrug: worked up to 10,8,6 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Jungle pulldown: 4 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Rocket power abs: 3

Total training time: forgot to time

November 20, 2004

Marie breaks WABDL deadlift World Record… RAW!

Filed under: General

This is already the second time I get to congratulate a reader for breaking a world record! Last Sunday Marie Rochat broke the WABDL world record in the deadlift with a 353.6 lbs/160 kg deadlift in the Teen women 16-19 148 lbs/67 kg class. She thus deservingly won the World Championship in her class with a result that pound for pound was the best of all the Teen deadlifts. And most incredible of all, it was done unequipped! What can I say, except that her blog Barz-a-Bending still reads like good fiction, only it’s not. Amazing.

Winter descends on Helsinki

Filed under: Workouts

Not freezing
Winter whirled in today with over 20 cm/8″ of snow covering everything from trees to cars. The lantern keepers at Helsinki Railway Station, arguably the most muscular Finns ever built by purely isometric work, stood firm (sculpted by Emil Wikström, 1914).

November 22, 2004

Could have been worse

Filed under: Workouts

Apparently my body still had trouble spelling recuperated. It was more like decoupéfated, and can only be grateful that I didn’t lose more than one rep on the bench (lost a rep each on the first two sets, with a single rep comeback on the third) and three reps on the decline. Hopefully I’ll recauperaite enough to see some gains come Friday. Then lifter be happy.

Modified Blakley bench day, 22 November 2004

Bench: 4,4,4,3 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Decline bench: 4,3,3 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Modified row, close-grip: 4x10 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Lying L-flye: 6 @ 8 kg/18 lbs, 6,5 @ 7 kg/15 lbs
Rolling Thunder: 5,3,2 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
2″ wooden block pinch grip: 3x5 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Captains of Crush: 6,5 @ I
Captains of Crush holds: 2 sets @ Trainer + 1.25 kg/3 lbs plate
Pushdown with minibands (to flush some blood): 2x15

Total training time: 77 min

Something to drool over

Filed under: General

The Elite FTS Exercise Index Squat-Deadlift DVD was released a few minutes ago. It “goes over every single aspect of the squat, deadlift and all accessory and supplemental lifts”. Need I say more?

November 23, 2004

More blogs

Filed under: General

Found a couple blogs of interest in the blogroll over at Barz-a-Bending. First up is Skinny Bastard Training Log, the blog of an Olympic lifter (began 1 August 2004). Definitively always a good idea to keep an eye open to what other strength athletes are doing - I for one still want to learn the Olympic lifts at some point.

To the date a year ago I discovered Chris McClinch’s training blog. Now he’s back with a new blog called The Thinking Lifter (started 15 November 2004).

November 24, 2004

Front squats and good mornings

Filed under: Workouts

Squat training is really starting to feel meaningful again as the back seems to respond well to the recent baby steps towards ME SQ/DL workouts. After two weeks of light deadlifts, I unracked for deep front squats with a medium stance. The last set of five at 60 kg/133 lbs was not quite a max set, but a lot stiffer than I’d hope. After no serious squat work for a year I will just have to swallow the fact that my quads are weak (always have been, but…) and build up the weights from the beginning. Then did good mornings off the pins set at navel height. It was pretty scary to unrack 70 kg/155 lbs, but in the end the set was still far below max weights and the unloading at the bottom made it feel a lot safer. Some heavy twists and ab work later the non-existent blood sugar made its absence dizzily felt. Post-workout shake.

Rehab/light SQ/DL work, 24 November 2004

Front squats, deep with medium stance:
            5 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
            5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
            5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
            5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs

Good mornings, off pins set at navel height:
            5 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
            5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
            5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
            5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
            5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs

Low cable twist:
            10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
            10 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
            10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs

Cable side bend: 2x10 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Decline sit-up: aborted after three reps as the lower abs were painfully fried

Total training time: 47 min

November 26, 2004

Pinocchio Fear Complex (PFC)

Filed under: Workouts

A cold one up closeThe heavy increase in pressing - up from two pressing movements and one extension movement to four pressing movements per week - has taken a hard toll on delts, triceps and chest. For the first time in two weeks I felt fairly good, but despite rubbing the taut bands in the front delts hard with both the Thumbsaver and an anti-inflammatory gel some tightness remained. It feels like I am slowly adapting to the new routine (lots of sleep helps), but might still give the decline bench the boot to lessen shoulder strain; Mike also suggested moving back to the normal Blakley split if I don’t recuperate well. Am also moving the heavy singles back to the bench on Monday from the reverse-grip bench on Friday as I feel it will help my work sets feel better.

Pretty good workout today, but had some problems keeping my respectably sized nose clear of harm’s way as I hit it twice on the seated overhead press. On the Westside Bench Workout tape, this exercise is done against a padded board that allows the lifter to lean the upper body slightly back to clear beaks and other valuables. The back rest of the nearly vertically inclined bench I use effectively prevents even the slightest lean and as a result I am forced to press more (safe style) or less (mangled nose style) forward at the beginning to clear the head before hovering into a more optimal bar path. Next time I’ll put a board or something against the rack, for I’m sure as penguins not going to press with head turned sideways.

Blakley accessory, 26 November 2004

Reverse-grip bench: 6,6,6,6 @ 77.5 kg/171 lbs
Seated pin press, medium grip: 4,5,5,3 @ 62.5 kg/138 lbs
Reverse-grip pulldown, upper chest: 10,10,9,8 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
One-handed cable power clean: 12 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Shrug: 3x7 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Rolling Thunder: 5,4,5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs (about one rep less with left)
2″ wooden block pinch grip: 3x5 @ 16.25 kg/36 lbs
Captains of Crush: 3 @ I (grip fried, so…)

Total training time: 95 min (spent 10 min on a pulldown experiment that failed)

November 29, 2004

Dead Bull

Filed under: Workouts

Bull remainsThis workout can best be described as a sad déjà vu experience. I knew I wasn’t fully recovered long before I benched what turned out to be an unusually sticky 95 kg/210 lbs. Threw in the towel after failing to put a serious dent in the 85 kg/188 lbs work sets.

Obviously, I need to back off before I get seriously overtrained. This is definitively a suitable week to do just that as I am going to Sweden on Thursday for an extended weekend. But despair not fellow lifters, for I ain’t giving up on Wednesday’s good mornings (to be taped).

Blakley bench, 29 November 2004

Bench pattern warm-up (the usual)
Heavy bench singles, paused: 1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs
Bench, paused: 4,4 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Rolling Thunder: 5,5,3 @ 40 kg/88 lbs (slightly less with left)
2″ wooden block pinch grip: 5,4,5 @ 17.5 kg/39 lbs
Some Captains of Crush work

Total training time: fast as lightning

November 30, 2004

Front Squat Hands-free style

Filed under: General

Back squatting without hands has become a concept in some powerlifting circles in Finland. Here’s a clip of zuuhis79 from the Finnish forum doing a 150 kg/332 lbs front squat hands free. Anyone?