Training articles


(by : Michael McDevitt)

When our goal is to push as much weight as possible from a dead stop to arms length in one smooth motion, we tend to train the obvious muscles with speed and explosion, that being chest, triceps and shoulders.On the bench press these muscles are the primary movers and in the order shown, but sometimes the back complex is overlooked. This is a mistake; a thick and wide upper back will give you more support and stability on the bench press. Remember with our legs straight on the bench we need all the stability we can find and proper back training will increase stability. Another aspect of good benching is a proper and arch: this arch is necessary & the key to better benching if the athlete is able to attain it. The primary muscle used to promote this arch would be the rhomboids, trapezius and the spinal erector muscles.What follows is a training routine to promote strength and thickness into the muscles that will give you more stability and arch during the bench press.A few keys to this routine are holding the contraction on each and every rep. Go for form more than weight on each exercise but increase weight whenever possible. This should be a twice a week workout you do except for the last 5 or 6 weeks of a competition cycle. This routine should take 20-30 minutes!The contraction and hold are the same on most upper back exercises so I am going to try to explain this first. If you are doing a pull down to the chest OR cable row/seated row you should visualize someone sticking their fingers into the middle of your back between your shoulder blades. While holding the weight, retract your shoulder blades without bending your elbows and squeeze those fingers in between your shoulder blades-then complete the exercise by bending the elbows and pulling into the chest. This is actually a two part motion, first you are retracting the shoulder blades and then you pull the weight into your chest-that's one rep! This may or may not sound simple to you but it is a motion that most people in general don't do or don't know they are doing it, so it takes perseverance and practice to get to right. The more you do this motion the greater range, contraction and better result you will have.The following is the routine I would recommend for any lifter who is interested in increasing their bench pressing ability, especially if you have never trained back or you have not tried this method of contracting the rhomboids and trapezius.I want to suggest one other exercise that I feel is one of the best to attain this result and that is Lying DB Rows. With this exercise you would lay face down on a bench. You would position two dumbbells on the floor underneath you; the bench should be low enough so you do not get a complete range of motion. When the dumbbells tough the floor your arms are still slightly bent. Your body position is arching your back as best as possible, head up as high as possible, knees bent if possible and if you need someone to hold you to keep your stability please have them hold you. Now, if you've gotten all that you should be face down on the bench with your knees bent, your back arched, your head up, and your hands holding the dumbells. Now keeping your arch, pull the dumbells up to your ribcage, hold for a count of two and slowly let them back to the floor (letting them rest for a second) and repeat.




Lying DB Rows

3 to 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps 

Seated Cable or Machine Rows

3 to 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps 

Pull down to chest

3 to 4 sets x 10 to 12 reps

Floor hyperextensions

3 to 4 sets x 15 to 20 reps (no weight)

Remember more weight is good, form and holding the contraction is better!!The only difference for a novice, intermediate and elite level lifter is number if sets and the amount of weight used. Less fro a novice and more as your training experience grows.Explaining this is written word without demonstrating the form visually may not come across so well so read carefully and practice. Enjoy your BIG BACK training!