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Adjustments With The Adjustable Bench

A manMike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, strength training often requires adjustments.

When I began my career I purchased dumbbells. At the time the heaviest dumbbells I could obtain weighed 100 pounds each. I decided to have a special set made that went up to 150  pounds to accommodate some of the stronger athletes.  I was excited about my purchase until the dumbbells arrived. Getting them off the truck and rolling them into the weight room was memorable.

DumbbellThe problem was the 140s-150s I ordered for the team had flaws as they touched the athletes forearms on the descent of the weight and began to bend upon hitting the floor.

Later in my coaching years, these poorly designed dumbbells became great door stops as well as decorative pieces. A little artsy as they were obtusely shaped.

What troubled me about using the new heavier dumbbells was watching the athletes bring these large chunks of steel from the rack to the weight bench.  I was concerned someone would blow their back out as they waddled over, especially after practice, when they are in a fatigued state.

My rule was …..’If it looked dangerous, it was.‘  Using a maximum of 100 pounds quickly became my dumbbell weight room limit. 

The advent of the adjustable bench solved my 100 pound limit rule for dumbbells for the strong athletes.

Adjustable BenchOnce a week in the off-season program, we would start with the dumbbells on the adjustable bench in the flat position. We called this level one. The goal was to achieve 10 reps.

Each rep was paused at the top and the weight was descended under control.

Upon completion of the 10th repetition the bench was quickly adjusted by a spotter to the next setting, a slight incline. The athlete had to get 10 more reps immediately at this new adjustment, level two.

The rule was simple, four levels and 40 reps. The object was to achieve 10-10-10-10 continuous repetitions, stopping only to allow the spotter to adjust the bench height up.

Once their rule was matched, the athlete raised the weight the following workout.

The problem for the athlete was the rule of achieving 10 repetitions at every level was set in stone. If 10 continuous reps couldn’t be achieved and it required setting the weights down because of fatigue, the athlete was to stay on the bench until the goal of 10 repetitions at each level was met. 40 repetition had to be accomplished even if it meant all the subsequent repetitions were singles.

The good news was rest between attempts was not at issue. The lifter had a spotter who could get him water as he was to remain on the bench, encourage him, send out for food, or even just commiserate until the task was completed.

I liked using this little program to Get StrongI liked it because the athletes didn’t.

Adjustable Bench


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