Training Madness

What is the benefit of a training madness column?

It’s called “Training Madness” because sometimes it’s best to just get into the gym and say, ‘You know what? Today I’m going to totally freak my body out. Screw doing something normal, let’s get crazy.’ Then you come up with some shit and just try to keep from puking before you’re done.

Wow, that’s sounds intriguing and a little nuts. So what would be a crazy lat program that would fall under the training madness umbrella?

Here’s a fun one with a bit of a backstory. I own and train out of a great hardcore gym that has all sorts of fun stuff to freak your body out. So, one day I grabbed every possible attachment I had in a pile by the lat machine and blasted every angle I could. In the end, I found nine possible attachments or angles that fried my back. After four sets of 12-20 reps on each one, all I could say was ‘Ow!’ and ‘Wow!’

How did the workout break down?

It was definitely a lot of volume, but try this on for size. And remember to stay intense throughout this awesome workout.

  • Regular Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns: 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Reverse Close-Grip Straight Bar Pulldowns – 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Seated Row Bar Pulldowns – 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Overhand Close-Grip Pulldowns – 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Rope Attachment Pull Around the Body – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Strong Band Through the Hook (This gives a crazy rebound) – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Reverse Seated Medium Grip Behind the Neck Pulldowns (pull only to earlobes) – 4 sets of 15 reps
  • Overhand Medium Grip Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Ultra-Wide Overhand Pulldowns – 4 sets of 10 reps

After that, you’ll have trouble lifting your arms up.

That is a ton of exercises and sets. So why would something like this be beneficial?

For one, a workout like this allows the muscle tissue to get stimulated in ways it definitely isn’t used to. That itself sparks some true growth, not to mention the pump you’ll get from this freaky workout. Believe me, the pump will be insane. Obviously, this is not something you use every workout or even once a month. My recommendation is to do something like this about every 12 weeks or when you need a jumpstart. Think freaky and results will come.

Is there any other madness or tips that would be important to know?

It’s nothing too out of the ordinary, but remember it is crucial to keep your training different. That makes it interesting and it certainly keeps your body guessing.

BENCH/CHEST

Cory, what do your bench press numbers look like?

My best raw bench press off the chest is 375 pounds and my best in a shirt is 475. I also have done a 410 raw press off of 1-board and I’m certain I could have done a 400-pound bench raw at that time. But my diet phase started the next day and I never got to try it. Also, I’ve benched 225 29 times and 315 9 times.

That is some pretty impressive strength. So how did you get there? What is the best advice you could give to a guy trying get his bench up?

For a lot of people, their chest can grow but their bench doesn’t seem to follow. If that’s the case, your problem could be your triceps and lats. That means you’re probably weak out of the bottom, which has a lot to do with back thickness and stability. If you’re lacking in the triceps department, you’ll lack tricep power, which is crucial for locking out the weight. To bench big weight, you have to be stable and able to lock out the weight at the top. To remedy this, I recommend doing lats and triceps as much as 3 times a week to get them up to speed. Keep it simple, too: just throw in some extra undergrip pullups and add some tricep pushdowns to your workout, and that might make a big difference.

Powerlifters talk a lot about training the nervous system for getting used to handling big weights. What exactly does that mean and how do you do that?

Board presses are one of the best ways for your body to get used to handling big weights. If you’re not sure what a board press is, here’s a simple explanation: You get a series of 2-by-4's that are stacked on top of each other and that helps you train different levels of your press and overload your triceps. One method is alternating between a 1-board, 2-board, 3-board and a 4-board. My best 4-board raw bench is 475, my best 3-board raw bench is 455, my best 2-board press is 425 and my best 1-board bench is 410. Once your tricep strength improves, they will be thicker and able to lock out about anything.

So, what is the best exercise – other than the actual bench press, of course – for getting your bench numbers to shoot up?

A close-grip incline barbell press is a great exercise. If your close-grip incline is up, your bench press will be strong as well. This exercise gives your triceps a full range of motion, while also building up power in your shoulders and upper chest. A good recommendation is three to four sets of five to eight reps as your second exercise after the bench press. My best close-grip incline is 315 for 1 and 285 for 3, which I just did a few weeks ago. A lot of people neglect the incline for some reason, but don’t do that. Make your incline freaky strong and your bench press is sure to skyrocket.

What goals do you have for the bench press in the future?

I’m in powerlifting mode right now and that 475 in a shirt came at 235 pounds. But I’ve got some big goals. I want to bench 500 at 205 pounds over the next year, and I know I have it in me. I got the opportunity to train at the famed Westside Barbell one day and I hit 550 off a 3-board and 525 off a 2-board. That was an awesome experience and it just motivated me to do bigger and better things in the future. My goal now is to bench 400 raw (at around 205) and bench at least 500 in a shirt.