A Matter Of Strength: Lift Like A Powerlifter
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Like most boys, I read a lot of comic books. While all comic book heroes were muscular, none compared to "The Incredible Hulk" in my opinion. He was green, seven feet tall and weighed over a ton. In addition to his tremendous girth, he had superhuman strength. In my young mind, I equated size with strength. Most guys still do. I don't.
As both a competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder, I know that bodybuilding and powerlifting have drifted apart. In the old days, bodybuilders like Grimek, Park, Oliva and Schwarzenegger trained hard and lifted heavy, like powerlifters. Except for a few, today's bodybuilder is a lot more specialized.
Combining both strength and power training will give a physique a look of raw power not seen on many of today's bodybuilders who practice "pumping" movements exclusively. Compare the bodies of Ronnie Coleman (a competitive powerlifter) with Flex Wheeler. When it comes to freaky mass, Ronnie's physique screams pure power.
If you're looking to add some monster size to your frame, picking up a few power moves may be the ticket. You know the ones I'm talking about, basic, classic lifts like the squat, row, deadlifts, and bench press. Technique is equally important. Your goal should be to add weight progressively without sacrificing form.
I've seen guys lifting heavier than they should in the gym so often, I'd laugh if it weren't so pathetic. I tell these guys to keep the bar high on their traps, feet shoulder-width apart, and avoid the use of knee wraps and a belt (except on the heaviest lifts). Recently, I squatted 805 pounds with a narrow stance (without a belt or knee straps) in an APF meet. Powerlifting gives you strength like this.
Whether you're benching, deadlifting, rowing or squatting, be sure to do the lift like a bodybuilder: lift with strict form and proper movement. At the same time, strive to increase your poundages. Be careful not to overtrain, especially when training to increase strength. The bigger and stronger you get, the less you need to train. That's right, you heard me.
The bigger you get, the less you need to train. What do I mean? Listen, when you first walk into a gym, you might bench 100 pounds for ten reps for a total of 1000 pounds. A year later, you might bench 200 pounds for the same reps, totaling 2000 pounds. So in the same time that it takes to crank out ten reps, you're placing twice the stress on those same muscle groups. This is just one set. Can you imagine the kind of muscle-tearing, bone-busting stress you'd be putting on your body over the course of an entire workout?
Now consider that as you get older, your recovery times get longer. That is, you don't recover from workouts (or injuries) as quickly as you used to. This, combined with the fact that you're training with heavier weights, increases the risk of "overtraining." If you're gains have stopped coming, give yourself more rest, fewer sets, or both. Don't slack on the intensity though.
When determining the number of sets you needs, keep your total number to a minimum. Eight to ten sets for the large muscle groups and four to six for the smaller muscle groups should do the trick. If, for example, after ten sets of legs or six sets of triceps, you have energy to spare, it means that you haven't worked hard enough or used enough weight. Load up the bar next time.
I'm not going to kid you. Training for high levels of strength and muscular development is hard work. Extremely hard work. There's a word for guys who train like animals in the gym: "grinders." Grinders are guys who squeeze out one rep after another when it looks like they're flat out exhausted. This kind of effort produces results. So train hard and train right. The results will come. In no time, you'll go from Bruce Banner to the Incredible Hulk.
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The Critical Bench Program
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