Keepers and Throwbacks, Part II

TAGS: throwback, keep, buechlein, wendler, strength training, training

[Editor’s Note: A lot of things that Glenn mentions in this article are his opinion and will not sit well with purists. Please note that this article is his opinion. For example, Travis Mash and Joe Bayles have both had success with the Zercher Squat. Also, weight releasers are extremely useful. But Glenn also makes some valid points, too. So take everything in stride. – Jim Wendler]

The other day I jumped into my 1993 Dodge Dakota Sport affectionately known as the Green Hornet because of its sleek emerald green paint job and began my weekly trek to my chiropractor in order to receive my prescribed dose of ART. I made it a couple of blocks when I spotted a burly bearded man standing on the corner by a stoplight holding a homemade sign. My first thought was that he was a transient hoping to entice someone into letting him work for food. However, judging by his pouch that looked as if he was carrying a busload of joeys, I surmised he could not be looking for food, much less work of any kind.

I rolled up to the stoplight and was finally able to read the sign. It proclaimed in bold black letters the exclamation that Jesus Saves! About the same time that I read the sign a toothless lady in a pick-up drove by and apparently was struck by the Holy Spirit because she let out a yelp that would have won top honors at a rodeo. The burly messenger of God had clearly made her day. I had no such luck.

The first thing that popped into my head was that at least someone in America saves. I mean after all the average credit card debt is over $8,000.00 and I would bet the typical US resident only saves 2-5 % of their net income. Let Jesus serve as an example to all you greedy capitalist pigs. Like many people who can best be described as pack rats, I feel as though sometimes even Jesus saves too much without regard to why he is doing it. Is everyone worth saving? I mean how many “do-overs” do people get? For instance, if I do a lousy job as a teacher and get fired can I go to the school board and say I had an epiphany and I am a born again educator? Better yet, once I am born again as an educator I will then dictate to everyone else how to be a better educator because I now have a special status.

So, let’s all admit that some things are not worth saving. There must be a good purging every now and then to get rid of the riff raff.

The following is a list of exercises that I personally feel are not worth saving. The reasons for throwing them back are for two basic reasons. They either served no benefit for my training goals and aspirations or they typically caused me pain and discomfort which in turn impeded my progress. Please do not become offended by exercises I have chosen. I do not wish to be relegated to persona non grata simply because of my candor. I also must say that I have the utmost respect for the individuals who are associated with certain exercises or products. Here are my seven or eight that for me aren’t that great.

Throwbacks

  • Speed benches (dynamic day)
  • Weight releasers
  • Illegal wide benches/ full ROM
  • Lock-outs
  • Rolling d-bell extensions/Tate presses
  • Pulldowns
  • Zercher Squats

Speed benches as a separate day sorry but I must throw away. Boy, this one will make you a reviled pariah quicker than stink on shit. I will not fall prey to the contagion of the masses though. OK, here are my reasons why. First, I already have speed and I am explosive when I bench and I work on it every time I lift on my max effort day. My bench form needs to improve when I am shirted up, not when I speed bench. It is easy to bench with perfect form with 60% of my max, but I tend to lose my technique when performing 800 lb. 3 board presses with my bench shirt. Common sense tells me to spend time perfecting form with the equipment. Speed day causes me more pain than benefits. Lastly, I rarely bench full ROM anymore, so dynamic benches without touching the chest would be a waste of time. I can certainly see the positives of having a dynamic bench day for many lifters, but I cannot save this one since I have not done it for a half dozen years.

Weight releasers must be thrown back because they are evil. Bad things happen when I am around them. It is as if the Polish people are seeking a vendetta against me because of my German ancestry. Let the blitzkrieg go for heaven’s sake. That was in ‘39! The weight releasers are analogous to putting giant running boards on my little truck. They look cool and are a neat little addition, but they are not needed and in the long run only cause discomfort because I would keep hitting my damn shin on them as I climbed aboard. Seriously, these always caused me a shoulder injury and I personally feel they are obsolete because of the bands. I will confess that when I used the releasers I usually went 110% on the lowering and 80-90 % on the concentric and this proved to be too much. For example if my raw bench was 550, I would lower 600 and then press 405-455. A lighter load would perhaps be both more productive and safe. I have not utilized these to squat, but when benching they leave too much room for error because they are herky- jerky. After analyzing cost verses benefits the weight releasers must be let go. You’re fired!

Illegal wide benches used to be a regular part of my supine pressing. As with most relationships things change and parting is the only solution. If you love something set it free. If it never comes back then it was never meant to be. The illegal wide has not returned in years and their absence has not caused my heart to grow fonder. Rather, my shoulders have thanked me on a daily basis for recognizing the ruse of the illegal wide. The once seductive exercise was beneficial because it mimicked my hand placement in meets. Not saying I bench illegally wide, but I do go as wide as allowable. I also gained starting strength and larger pecs while benching wide. Again, the downfall of this for me was the discomfort caused by going wide and using a full ROM. I now use a foam pad as a substitute for going to the chest. So, I guess I really have resorted to shacking up with the illegal wide’s sister. She doesn’t go all the way down, but she goes far enough to satisfy.

Lock-outs are a staple in many lifters arsenal, but I have recently eliminated them due to my observations regarding their usefulness and carryover to a meet. Before you get your cookies shook let me explain. I now feel that boards are simply better than lock-outs. Lock-outs tend to get me in a bind and for some reason they cause me elbow and forearm pain. I just feel too locked in. Unless done with precise technique they are not at all a good indicator of actual lock-out strength and meet success. Depending on one’s power rack and pin settings the proper bar placement may not be attained. I have had much more positives doing high board lock-outs with bands. My groove is better and I just feel more comfortable.

Rolling dumbbell extensions and Tate presses were once always served at the Power B Diner. Occasionally customers still try to order them without much luck. Why did I remove these hot sellers from the menu you may ask? Well, it struck me that these did provide me with an excellent pump and I got to the point that I could utilize astronomical dumbbell weight by groovin’ with the right rhythm and roll. Bottom line is this. I believe these did nothing to improve my bench. I substituted exercises that mirror the actual bench movement with more success. Examples include Triceps Death , Beekers, weighted chain push-ups, and heavy 4 boards for three second holds and sometimes with band tension included. Honestly, we all know tri’s are vitally important for the big bench but yet lifters play around with band pushdowns and other pumping exercises? These are good for rehab and to implement prior to dates to ensure a proper arm swell. The use of these movements as the main exercises is similar to trying to kill an elephant with a pellet gun. The triceps need to be destroyed! I will say that locking out 700 lbs. with triceps constructed by way of pushdowns and extensions is not going to happen. The heavier approach has worked better for me, so I changed my offerings. Kinda like the McRib these can come back every so often just to reminisce and to satisfy the few people who actually feel as though they are pleasing to the palate.

Pulldowns were mentioned in the first part of my article so I will not be redundant. I will add only that I despise men who mow their yards with gloves on. These are the same people who clearly would use pulldowns in the gym. ‘Nuff said.

Zercher squats I must return to sender. Years ago I thought these were the cat’s pajamas and the bee’s knees. I guess I was drawn to the fact that this exercise was devised by a guy in prison because of the lack of a power rack. I did these and even had my high school athletes play around with them just to see who had testicular fortitude. More people complained of pain in the crooks of their arms than in their core. Every time this was done people scrambled for pads, towels, etc. to lessen the pain of holding the bar. You may be saying, “Suck it up and lift the damn weight. I know I did.” However, an old sage of a coach asked me about the Zercher one day and I told him the story as to how they came about. He simply replied that we were not in a prison and we had power racks. Point taken.

Good Lifting!

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