“Get stronger and the muscle will come.”
This was my mantra right from the beginning of this journey. My mentor early on stressed to me the importance of working at getting better in my lifts, strengthening the body as a whole and learning how the muscle groups work together in synergy for ultimate power.
Even though my sights were set on building muscle, strength gains quickly became a priority with the assurance that eventually the muscle would come. So with that in mind, I set out to become as strong as I possibly could get and very quickly I was starting to lift some impressive weights. I figured this whole getting strong thing was a piece of cake because it seemed like every day that I woke up and went to the gym, I was stronger than the day before.Eventually, as all of you know very well, those gains started to slow down to the point where I was at a plateau and felt like I had maxed out my potential.
Eventually, as all of you know very well, those gains started to slow down to the point where I was at a plateau and felt like I had maxed out my potential. Of course, this wasn’t true and just like all of you I battled through it, got the gains rolling again until the next plateau hit.
You see, in this game, there are always going to be ups and downs that you ride out or grind through. And along the way, you pick up some very powerful training strategies to help you progress even more so and without those plateaus you would never have to troubleshoot to learn more about your body and what it needs to further your gains. The following strategies are things that I’ve picked up over the years that has helped me break many personal records in multiple lifts and crush previous strength barriers that I felt were holding me back. Follow these strategies and they will do the same for you as well.
Probably the two exercises with which I have benefitted the most from utilizing rack presses is the bench press and the squat. The idea behind performing any type of rack press is to limit your range of motion during the eccentric phase of the lift so that more emphasis or focus can be put on the contraction or locking out phase of the movement. Many times the inability to perform or complete a max lift is because you simply cannot finish the movement at the top or locking out portion. If you can get stronger in that part of the movement then, theoretically, your max or near maximal lift capacity should increase.
To get the most from rack presses, find yourself a power cage or even a smith machine, set up the safety racks so that when the bar touches it on the negative, you are at a point where the bar is roughly 75 percent down the total distance of what a full range of a negative would be. From there, allow the bar to touch the safety racks and then explode up during the concentric phase. Lots of people will simply allow the bar to slam into the safety racks but don’t do that; always maintain control, let the bar either kiss the safeties or rest completely on them and then press up or stand up with explosive power.
De-load with Bands
This strategy can become a very fun event as the amount of weight you’ll be able to use is quite ridiculous if you ask me (depending on what type of band resistance you use). De-loading with resistance bands is used to help you once again with the locking out phase of a movement. What the bands offer you is a little or a lot of help during the negative portion of the rep as they will take on much of the weight you are using only to give it back to you once they have been given back their slack on the positive or concentric portion of the rep.
I’ve tried this on many different exercises, but the one that stands out in my mind as being the best one for improving power is the leg press. I’ve always liked loading up the leg press and going as heavy as possible and using the bands has been a tremendous help for improving my top end strength.
If you’ve never tried de-loading before you’re in for quite a different experience. When you first unrack the weight, you’ll be thinking that you’re never going to be able to move it. Then once you start your decent, you’ll be thinking ok, this isn’t so bad. Then on the way back up you’ll be wondering why you’re able to handle so much weight and then it’ll hit you. The bands will start to slack the higher up the weight goes and then all of a sudden you’ll be taking the full brunt of all of that weight, and this is when that new top end strength is going to have to come into play.
Partner Assisted Negatives
This tactic is something that I love using for trying to increase my strength. Using negatives with a weight that you cannot handle by yourself and performing a set like that with a partner helping you raise the weight has been used lots of times to increase overall strength. But rather than doing that, I like performing partner assisted negatives where you are fighting the weight and your spotter versus having them help you.
To do these you simply put on a weight that is heavy enough for you to get 4 to 6 good reps, have your partner place their hands on the barbell bell or weight stack or machine handles and when you’re ready, start lowering the weight slowly while your partner adds, even more, resistance to what you’re already moving by pushing against you or pulling down on you. Fight them and the weight all the way to the bottom of the rep and then once there, have your partner ease up or let go completely allowing you to explode the weight back up all the way to the top.
The extra load provided by your partner creates a ton of damage to the muscle tissue, and the release at the bottom that allows you to explode back up hits those fast twitch muscle fibers, and that will make you strong.
This type of training is intense, and full recovery is extremely important. Always follow your workout with a serving of VP2 and a handful of BCAA 4500. This potent combination will speed recovery and ignite immediate protein synthesis. You never want to allow your body to slip into catabolism after training. This critical time for precision supplementation is vital to maximizing results.