The bench press is performed in multiple ways; a variety of grip widths, feet up, feet on the floor, different speeds of movement, variable ranges of motion, various percentages of 1RM and more. All affect muscle activation during the pressing movement.
There is a ‘sticking region’ when bench pressing as a result of a poor mechanical force position, rather than lack of muscle excitation of the prime movers during the movement. This sticking place is the weakest link in the upward transition of the weight – a point whereby the athlete is deemed most likely to fail.
We have successful and unsuccessful attempts at bench press performance and failure does not always occur in the region attributed to where there is poorer mechanical force. Yet, we often attribute failure to achieve to the sticking region rather than ‘other factors’ such as velocity, fatigue, mental focus, effort and stability.
Getting unstuck in the sticking region:
As an athlete we commit to certain patterns of behavior that have helped us in the past. To Get Strong and improve performance change the formula that you are accustomed to and address the aforementioned ‘other factors’ when training, which will enable you to achieve a different result.
The hand has its greatest gripping strength when utilizing a ‘power grip’, that is squeezing with all five fingers. When the thumb is negated, grip strength has the second greatest capability called the ‘hook’ grip.
Grip strength without using the middle finger, ring finger or little finger all make the hand’s strength much lower. The little finger’s contribution to loss tends to have a greater effect on the dominant hand, as opposed to the non-dominant hand.
The most important contributor to overall hand strength is the middle finger. Next are the ulnar digits, the combination of the ring and little fingers. Exclusion of the ulnar digits when gripping can lead to roughly a 35 to 70% drop in hand strength.
Having every finger strong and continually working to develop stronger hands can be a difference maker in athletic competition and life’s work. Make every digit count to keep success at your fingertips.
There are an abundance of techniques utilized and taught to target the hips when squatting. Ankle, hip and thoracic mobility, posture, quad dominance, bar weight, bar height, stance and form adjustments are just a few of the things coaches address. To offset spending time teaching appropriate techniques coaches and athletes often select alternative exercises.
In general to target the hips, leg presses are not utilized because the weight gets heavier and heavier as the weight is lowered into the bottom position. This causes the hips to stay engaged during the movement inorder to protect the spine impeding overall development.
Having an exercise with the correct strength curve allows the hips to stretch so they can maximally contract to accelerate the weight upwards. This is why Pendulum created the Hip Press a must in overall lower body growth.
Pendulum Hip Presses at the University of Cincinnati
In 1919 Lange wrote a scientific treatise entitled ‘About functional adaptation’…Uber Funktionelle Anpassung.This is what he said:
“…. If, however, the muscle performance is increased merely by working against the same resistance as before for a longer time, no increase in the contractile tissue is necessary.”
This thinking when applied to weight training became systematic and progressive resistance exercise (PRE). The magnitude of which PRE had to be sufficient enough to cause physiological adaptation. As mentioned it was first described by Lange….and became recognized as the ‘Overload Principle’.
In Physical Education students learned to index their activity systematically and progressively by multiplying the three components of the overload principle together to foster physiological adaptation.
AI (Activity Index) = Load or Intensity or Tension x Frequency x Duration
Somehow, we began thinking overload was something extrinsic to the organism and it was about sets and reps. In strength training the words ‘Load became Weight’, ‘Intensity became Effort’ and ‘Tension was thought of as and rightfully so, Muscular Tension’. The words Frequency and Duration became synonymous with Workouts, Sets and Reps.
College ‘Exercise Science Programs’ have worked to say NO to the above. No, we must look inside the cell and manage time under tension. The muscle does not understand sets and repetitions, it only understands the time it is being stressed or the amount of strain. Thus, the activity index for the modern physical educator leaving a college in exercise physiology strength training has become:
AI (Activity Index) = Load or Intensity or Tension x Time
More accurately YES, but in order to advance as science has in indexing the overload principle, physical educators, coaches, and strength coaches must develop methods of science as taught.
No matter what exercises you do, molecules obey the same rules of chemistry and physics that all biological systems obey and they are intrinsic to the organism… that is the rules within their molecular environment.
Outside the internal organism you may get results with intensity, frequency and duration. You may be managing exercise stringently, but the molecules are feeling their own time tension.
The athlete just lifted 7 repetitions with 225 pounds on the bar and the molecules may be saying, that felt more like 40 seconds of lifting practically nothing.
As physical educators we must administer exercise addressing time under tension, physiology dictates that we do.
Dr Keith Baar from UC Davis describes the overload principle for molecules inthe most important paper since Lange, “The signaling underlying FITness.”
Overload within the cell = Load x Metabolic Stress x Calcium Flux
For the Molecules, when they index their activity it is:
AI (Activity Index) = Strain on tensiometer x ATP x Calcium muscle tissue on a tensiometer
Any questions regarding training, ask Molecules, because they know how to GET STRONG.
Probably the most frequently used exercise in the field of strength and conditioning is the squat. Pendulum has taken the complexity of this exercise and the need of understanding the biomechanics of the movement, for the purpose of achieving optimal muscular development out of the performance equation.
The technique a coach explains is where the athlete places their hands, aligns their feet in the center of the foot pad and then is instructed to squat down. The machine adjusts the load in relation to the mechanics of the movement. Getting Strong will then come with effort.
Neck pain in general is a public health problem that has increased remarkably. Independent of age the prevalence is high and equal to low back pain. Epidemiological data from studies indicate that approximately 70% of university students and 65% of people who work from home have neck or back pain. Unavoidable use and use of personal computers and cell phones for texting are the major contributors to the increase of the prevalence of this physiological issue.
When the head protrudes so that it is placed anterior to the trunk you have flexion of the cervical spine, as in looking down at your cell phone. When gazing at a computer screen on a table or desk the lower cervical spine remains flexed, while the upper cervical spine extends in order to keep a horizontal gaze when looking at the screen. These unnatural neck positions utilized with technology are the leading associations with modern day neck pain. Forward head posture leads to strain forces on the joints and ligaments of the cervical spine and increases gravitational forces on the posterior neck muscles.
Training on the Pendulum Neck Machine
To offset our habits or needs in utilizing technology’s unnatural positions neck training, that is, a continual strengthening of the musculature of the head and neck should become a regular part of fitness. The sternocleidomastoid muscles working bilaterally help stabilization of the head by flexion of the lower cervical spine and extension of the upper. Training with the inclusion of the posterior chain muscles of the neck leads to realignment and the normalization of posture that is being taken away.
Keep your neck aligned and strong by making neck training part of your fitness routine.
Recovery methods from training and practice are important in athletics. Post exercise nutrient timing, supplementation, fuel stations, aquatic therapy, cold water immersion, underwater treadmills, steam, massage, compression, contrast therapy, and recovery rooms are some of the many strategies coaches and athletes utilize to enhance performance.
In managing the balance between stress and recovery the most difficult for a coaching staff and often the athlete to manage is sleep. Sleep deprivation increases catabolism and decreases anabolism; which impacts muscle repair, it changes appetite and impacts energy expenditure and it decreases the regeneration of carbohydrate stores. Reduced sleep results in impaired protein synthesis and can blunt training adaptations and recovery. Sleep plays the key role in post-exercise fatigue reduction and the reversal of the processes that lead to fatigue.
The stresses of competition, schedule, training, practice, travel, school, studying, socializing, family and much more affect adequate rest and it’s important to understand adequate sleep is not a one-size- fits-all recommendation.
When designing practice schedules, meetings and workouts coaches should be aware of the implications of sleep on fatigue and recovery. A continual emphasis on its importance addressing napping and evening habits so that the athlete and those involved understand how lack of this factor interferes with all the effort that has been engaged in development.