June 17, 2006

10 responses to Week 21: Sumo deadlift baseline

  1. Victor Says:

    Hmm…I don’t know why you bother with this exercise(shoulder press).I don’t think it helps the bench ,and it feels like crap doing it.
    I don’t mean to ofend you but personaly ,i haven’t used it in over a year and my bench has gone up several times since(without its help).The closest thing to it that i do is a 45′ incline bench.Now that relly helps .
    Thats my story,and i’m sticking with it ! :) :):)
    GOOD LUCK!!!

  2. Scott Says:

    Kris, your sumo technique looks pretty similar to mine (well, the last time I was anywhere near a bar). The legs straighten a little before the torso moves.
    Having said that, I really wouldn’t bother trying to change it - it may just sort itself out as you get used to pulling sumo.

  3. Kris Says:

    Victor, no offense taken. Constructive feedback as to what I may be doing right or wrong in my training is both welcome and valuable. I am no expert on powerlifting although I do try to do some research on my facts before I proclaim them as gospel. Opinions do diverge on whether heavy shoulder pressing help the bench press. To me, the easy answer would be: sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

    Firstly, if you are a raw bencher you will need a lot more power in the delts than shirted benchers since you lack the artificial bounce off the bottom provided by the shirt. The old powerlifting legends who lifted before bench shirts radically changed mainstream powerlifting did tons of shoulder work especially military presses and behind the neck presses. It is also common to see some form of direct shoulder pressing recommended nowadays for raw lifters as is chest/delt tie-in work (flyes) that you would seldom see a shirt bencher bother with. When benching without a shirt, strong shoulders are also important to prevent injury as raw benching is much harsher on the shoulders than benching in a shirt. Take for example the rotator cuffs. Sure, you can increase your bench a lot without doing any external rotation work (such as L-flyes) but you will eventually get injured when the rotator cuffs can no longer keep up with the increasing stress. I believe this also holds, at least to some degree, for the front and side delts. Shoulder flexibility is also an issue here; if the behind the neck press “feels like crap” in the sense that you have a hard time getting into the position naturally without feeling strained, then I would definitively consider some shoulder mobility work. Going to the other extreme, i.e. hyperflexible shoulders, is not advisable though as overmobility can also cause injury, but behind the necks should not strain healthy shoulders.

    Secondly, if shoulders are a weak point, like they appear to be for me, direct shoulder work might be necessary. Weak points come and go, so shoulder work might be necessary at some points in your lifting career whereas you can make good progress without it at other points. Whether this statement makes any sense or not also depends on what paradigm of lifting one embraces. One the one hand, there is the school of thought that advocates doing a lot of specialty exercises to hit weak points (such as Westside), on the other hand many think that the strength in the three competitive lifts is best increased by doing those three lifts (for example, many Russian cycles). Representing the latter standpoint, Korte argues that a bench press is going to work all the muscles required by a bench press and would ask why bother with direct shoulder work, or any assistance work for that matter, when the bench press will work the shoulders in the precise manner required by the movement. If it makes sense subjectivally to diverge as far from the competition specific movement (the bench press) as to do heavy shoulder pressing definitively depends on what conscious or unconscious theoretical premises one holds.

    Thirdly, and very unscientifically, it is not fun to be able to shoulder press tiny amounts of weight even if this has nothing to do with progress in the bench press. This in itself is a motivating factor for me.

    To some degree, I think the controversy over the role of heavy shoulder work centers around the fact that it is very hard to balance heavy shoulder work with heavy bench work without overtraining the shoulders while shoulder pressing is not necessarily the only way to strengthen the shoulders. In conclusion, I would say that I think direct shoulder work is not always necessary if shoulders are not a particular problem, but I would keep a close look at where my shoulder strength is especially if they don’t pass the structural balance test (even if I were a shirted bencher).

    These where my cents, feedback encouraged. :-)

  4. Alberto Caraballo Says:

    I’m with Scott on this one, it’s not too bad. Looks pretty good, better than you let on, Kris. Stay in the “sit” position a bit as you pull before straightening your legs. You’re a martial artist, it’s just like a horse stance. Budge the weight with some leg power and hold a good arch statically, then start using your hips and glutes to help your back along. Your back looks strong, just like you Finns!!!

  5. Kris Says:

    Scott and Alberto, thanks for the technique feedback. FWIW, the horse stance is not part of the martial arts I am trained in. Like you say, my back is comparatively stronger than my legs. My form looks good on lighter sets, but as soon as the going gets tough I even set up with a much steeper back angle to pull it up with my low back. Not good. More squats, more squats, more squats…

  6. Gords Says:

    Kris - I enjoyed the first part of video most. That was fun to watch. Hey - I agree with you in that even if the shoulder work doesn’t help the bench, its nice to be well rounded and have strong shoulders and neck. Keep up the good work.

  7. Alberto Caraballo Says:

    Ever notice that the power benchers of old like Williams, Arcidi, and Cole were also monster shoulder pressers? And that this preceded the era of the big bench shirts? Prioritized right with good balance, overhead presses should be an integral part of any lifter’s arsenal. Besides, in athletics and in regular life, most people press upwards at some angle. I prefer DB work, though. . . . . not as restrictive as bar work.

  8. chris d. Says:

    I’m with everyone on the shoulder pressing. I’ve added it into my recent workouts and I’m kind of curious to see where the bench goes with it. I’m a raw lifter and everything that I’ve read has said that overhead work is what helps. Only time will tell!

  9. Måns Says:

    And I’m the weirdo who can military press quite a lot of weight by training my shoulders with flyes, mostly. :D But hey, that’s just me and I know I’m strange.

  10. Kris Says:

    Chris, will try to catch up on your blog, am also interested in seeing where that goes.

    Måns, but then again, you have done your share of heavy shoulder work in the past. And you can’t bench 120 kg with feet on the bench without strong delts. Still… :-)

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