1/7/10, Strength-Endurance

Here’s a slightly different variation on the 21-rep, rest-pause, extended set theme today with the floor presses.  I combined a wide-grip floor press, followed immediately with a narrow-grip floor press, while still maintaining the 21-rep theme.  In other words, the individual reps looked something like this: unrack with a wide grip, perform 1 wide-grip floor press, rack, immediately adjust hands to a narrow grip, unrack and perform 1 narrow-grip floor press rep.  Repeat for the Rx number of reps.  I took pauses as necessary with no regard as to whether the pauses were uniform (i.e., I didn’t worry about whether the pause followed a wide-grip rep or a narrow-grip rep).  Notice I pulled the plug at 20 reps on the narrow-grip part of the combo (I didn’t attempt the 21st narrow-grip rep), as I struggled with rep 20.

But Why? Why?  Why?…you hate the bench press, right?

While I’m personally not a big fan of the conventional bench press, I do believe that some variations of the movement are beneficial.  Of course, the bench press is like any other exercise in its usefulness being totally relevant to the individual;  for some trainees (especially those with short arms relative to torso length),  the bench press can be an excellent pectoral and upper-body power development movement.  For most people, though, there just (in my opinion) is not much carry-over value to be derived from the classic, flat bench movement.  Power lifting, of course, is a different animal altogether that requires specific bench press acumen – that’s a sport-specific topic, and not what I’m discussing here, or trying to achieve with this movement.  There are no sacred cows in my exercise toolbox, and I’ll unabashedly tweak any movement to fit my needs.  I modify the floor press to support my needs and goals by, among other things (1) performing dumbbell and barbell versions of the floor press, and (2) bracing myself in a glute-bridge which places me in a more natural, “flat” pressing position.  Notice I said “natural” and not “competition legal”.  Again, two different animals.

In this specific instance, I chose to alternate between both extreme hand positions of the movement, with the wide-grip (index finger a thumb’s width outside the bar’s outer smooth ring) version emphasizing the pectorals/shoulders, and the narrow-grip (index fingers approximately 6″ apart) emphasizing the triceps.  The obvious follow-up question is, why not just perform a regular grip floor press and be done with it? And true enough, I could have.  However, by going to extreme hand positions, I was able to really “isolate”/emphasize the pectorals (wide grip) and triceps (narrow grip); in other words, I am a natural “tricep” bench presser – my chest being the weak link in the movement.  Alternating the hand grips in this way allows me to push my pectorals and triceps both sufficiently and concurrently.  Note: notice the amount of work being performed in each part of the movement.  The bar travel on the wide-grip press is approximately 1/3 that of the narrow-grip press, with the same loading in each portion.  This translates to a significant power differential as well.  Note as well that if I were attempting to increase my bench press overall, I would be more concerned with bettering my weakness (chest), and this would necessitate a totally different angle of attack.  Know your goals, and plan accordingly.

Today’s workout: approximately 15 minutes of rigorous, ballistics and dynamic stretching, then –

  1. wide-grip/narrow-grip floor press combo: 135 x 3, 3; 185 x 3; 205 x 2; 225 x 11 (wide) & 10 (narrow)
  2. GHR: bw x 5, 5 (ballistic sets), 30 x 3; 40 x 3; 45 x 21 rest-pause – mostly grouped in 3s and 2s